ALBUM: Noga Erez – ‘KIDS’

A stylish, swaggering collection of songs that explore personal growth, morality and what it means to disconnect from, or reconnect with the world around you, Tel-Aviv producer & pop renegade Noga Erez has shared her second album KIDS. Released via City Slang, Erez has worked closely alongside her collaborative & life partner Ori Rousso to create this razor sharp, intensely catchy record that proves she’s got the musical mileage she sings of.

Since the release of her acclaimed debut album Off The Radar in 2017, Erez & Rousso have been busy working on the songs that form the tracklist for KIDS. “These are songs about what we inherit from past generations, how we pass things on,” Erez explains. “KIDS talks about humanity’s potential for both beauty and destruction.” Through her witty lyrics, slick production and commanding beats, Erez blazes a unique trail through these binary opposites, acknowledging the darkness along with the light.

Opening the record with a sample of her Mother’s voice exhaling “Kids these days,” Erez hits the ground running with the triumphant sounding ‘CIPI’. Despite admitting to feeling depressed and pessimistic throughout the track, the joy of the lyric “You think you are the boss of me / when most the time, you’re my bitch” centres Erez as the ringmaster of this provocative, intuitive showcase of sound. On ‘VIEWS’, Erez & Rousso stylishly explore the absurdity of paying for exposure on social media. Collaborating with LA-based hip-hop artist Reo Cragun, her clear vocals glide over slick beats and pop hooks to create an infectiously powerful anti-fakeness anthem.

When we interviewed Erez back in 2019, she spoke of dealing with an “inner violence” and how her art helps her deal with her own internal conflicts. These sentiments resonate deeply after listening to ‘You So Done’. It’s a resilient, emotionally charged offering that delves into her memories of a toxic relationship that she started having un-nerving flashbacks about. “What a joke, what a joke you made me / What’s a Queen to a Joker, tell me?” Erez taunts over spacious beats and warped electronics. She has transformed this inner violence into a powerful lament that radiates with artistic confidence – exposing the chinks in her emotional armour with a poignant, polished flair.

On the infectiously upbeat ‘End of the Road’, Erez explores the thrill of the unknown via her commanding beats and slick rap verses, casually shrugging off the tight grip of human mortality. Following track ‘Bark Loud’ sees this “underdog” pack a serious rap punch with her effortless flow, whilst the trippy, jazz infused beats on eponymous track ‘KIDS’ featuring San Francisco MC BLIMES are intoxicating. Erez & Rousso’s spirited duet ‘Story’ explores the way our personal history can affect our behaviour towards those we love. The pair take life’s challenges on the chin together (quite literally in the accompanying video) and shine a spotlight on the grit and the joy that’s needed to maintain a close relationship.

The free-flowing ‘Knockout’ smoulders with Erez’s formidable charisma, and contrasts beautifully with the buoyant ‘NO news on TV’. “I don’t wanna look at my phone anymore” she muses in the track’s opening line, fatigued by the constant flow of bad news. But rather than encouraging listeners to switch off from the world, Erez highlights that this apathy is an unhealthy privilege, and one that many communities do not have. The fierce sounding, politically charged ‘Fire Kites’ melts into the brooding, deceptively sweet ‘Candyman’, before the record closes with the soft sounding, aptly named ‘Switch Me Off’.

A truly impressive record that spotlights her talent as a producer, vocalist, MC and performer; Noga Erez’s new album KIDS pulses with an authentic, unique energy. Erez & her partner Rousso have created an uncompromising musical force that ignites the ear drums, and transforms the personal and political into a formidable piece of art.

 

Follow Noga Erez on bandcampInstagramTwitterFacebook & Spotify

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Gazelle Twin & NYX – ‘Deep England’

A new species of performer who offers listeners an unflinching, but intensely thrilling perspective on the past, present and future; electronic artist Gazelle Twin has collaborated with NYX drone choir to create Deep England, a shadowy, graceful collection of sounds that radiate with unease.

Inspired by the tracks that formed Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz’s 2018 album Pastoral, and informed by British paganism and ritualistic paraphernalia, Deep England is a dark fable that serves as a warning to listeners not to get swept up in national apathy. Radically reworked and presented alongside original compositions by NYX, Paul Giovanni and William Blake, Bernholz and NYX present their vision of Britain in its “post-truth” sphere, embroidering a new tapestry of sound for these jarring and uncertain times.

The chiming bells on opening track ‘Glory’ begin the warped aural ceremony, underscored by NYX’s sublime meditative drones. The crystalline notes of the recorder break through, before Bernholz questions “Will you become the saint you want to be?” in her magnificent operatic voice, with the choir echoing her ghastly sentiments. This is dialled up to blood curdling effect on ‘Folly’, with the lyric “What species is this?” being delivered in a multitude of ways. The power of the singular and the collective voice is the lifeblood of Deep England. The fascinating ways in which they are distorted, rippled, extended or layered will keep listeners gripped throughout.

Lifted from the cult 1973 film The Wicker Man, a goose-bump inducing interpretation of ‘Fire Leap’ continues the aural séance. Overlapping recorders – instruments of nostalgic folly turned into frightening farce – are made all the more sinister by the chanted motif “Take the flame inside you / Burn and burn below”. This warped incantation bleeds into the abrupt, skittish ‘Better In My Day’. It buzzes with a nervous energy, with Bernholz and NYX snarling their way through the lyrics in frenzied, breathy fashion. They continue to “pick the wound” of tradition with morbid fascination on ‘Throne’, singing and hissing of “insolvency” and racking up debts.

The stunning vocal harmonies on ‘Jerusalem’ and the eponymous ‘Deep England’ set the cells alight. Underscored by the now familiar hypnotic drone loops, these intense hymn-like offerings cast shadows and shed light simultaneously, with the latter dissolving the ears over eight and a half minutes. Composed by Sian O’Gorman, the ominous ‘Golden Dawn’ closes the album on a heavy, but hopeful note. The title refers to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret society devoted to the practice of the occult and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s a cinematic, aural exorcism delivered with spellbinding flair.

Whilst Bernholz’s unique vision of Britain’s past was brought vividly to life on her original record Pastoral, with the support of the NYX drone choir her vitriol is able to take its fullest, most nerve-shredding form on Deep England. It’s a phenomenal artistic accomplishment, a jarring reminder that our dark past is never too far behind us and it’s truly unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Listen to Deep England on bandcamp or Spotify

Follow Gazelle Twin on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Follow NYX Drone Choir on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Album Credits
Performers: Adélaïde Pratoussy, Cecilia Forssberg, Elizabeth Bernholz, Natalie Sharp, Ruth Corey, Shireen Qureshi and Sian O’Gorman.

Co-produced by Marta Salogni, Sian O’Gorman (NYX) and Elizabeth Bernholz (Gazelle Twin). Mixing & additional programming by Marta Salogni and mastering by Heba Kadry.

Photo Credit: Jamie Cameron

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: New Pagans – ‘The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All’

An intuitive rumination on the personal and the political, New Pagans‘ debut album The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All is a gritty, deeply poetic consideration of inequality and social injustice. Released via Big Scary Monsters, the Belfast band’s first full length record dives into the paraphernalia surrounding religion, romance and women’s pain, and resurfaces having transformed these tired archetypes into aural talismans of strength and defiance.

Formed of Claire Miskimmin, Cahir O’Doherty, Conor McAuley and Lyndsey McDougall, New Pagans blend elements of post-punk, grunge and pop to explore internal & external conflict in their music. On their 2020 debut EP Glacial Erratic, the band crafted six abrasive, yet melodic tracks that have formed the foundation for their first full length record. With the addition of five new songs, The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All is a sharper, fully fleshed out vision that sees the band’s scathing, yet sensitive approach to song-writing flourish with defiant flair.

“The demand for perfection is disturbing,” sings vocalist Lyndsey on opener ‘It’s Darker’. Based on a real life confrontation she had at a party with an aggressive male musician, the track will strike a chord with anyone who has had their opinion publicly devalued. “Everyone’s looking and I’m upset” she reveals, working through the unsettling feeling of being spoken down to via relentless riffs and commanding percussion.

Informed by overheard conversations on a Belfast bus, ‘Charlie Has The Face Of a Saint’ flows with a stream-of-consciousness narrative. Throwaway phrases like “I’m doing my part” or “You’re easy to have when you’re down on your knees” float above the loud/quiet verse/chorus structure, with the conflicting voices unable to provide answers, they simply exist in the ether. The spiralling ‘I Could Die’ follows, with its manic riffs and urgent vocals, before the powerful ‘Bloody Soil’ breaks through. It feels like the soundtrack to a social uprising, with its intense riffs and chant-able chorus.

A tribute to the sister of artists William Butler and Jack Butler Yeats, ‘Lily Yeats’ is an aural confidence boost to the song’s protagonist, and to the women who need encouragement to step out of their brother’s shadows. “My daughter needs to know that she can do the same,” sings Lyndsey over erratic riffs and pummelling beats, before dual male/female vocals drive home the message that it’s everyone’s responsibility to amplify the volume of women’s stories.

Lyndsey’s sharp focus on weaving her own stories of pain, self-autonomy and motherhood with other historic female narratives is the lyrical lifeblood of the album. She allows her own joy, grief and frustration to run parallel to others, with the band’s driving rhythms creating a musical space for the resilience and strength of these women’s histories to shine through. Singles ‘Harbour’ and ‘Yellow Room’ epitomise this.

On ‘Harbour’, Lyndsey celebrates the joy and the struggle of her own pregnancy, while on ‘Yellow Room’ she unravels the conversations around women’s mental health and the lack of support that new mothers often receive. Inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s semi-autobiographical short-story The Yellow Wallpaper, ‘Yellow Room’ is a racing, urgent exploration of female isolation. Through the medium of Gilmans’ text, the band traverse these underlying doubts via crystalline vocals and charged, powerful riffs, challenging and updating the narrative around women’s mental health.

A humble, shimmering ode to the perseverance that’s needed to keep a long-term relationship going, the band’s treatment of love and its many faults on ‘Admire’ is far more romantic than any Valentine’s bouquet. “Let’s preserve our old ways / let’s preserve them always” sings Lyndsey, her voice floating above atmospheric guitars and swirling bass lines. The song builds to a cacophony of shoegaze noise, removing all sense of doubt about remaining faithful to your partner.

On ‘Ode To None’, the band rip up more outdated traditions of conventional storytelling, declaring “We’re the new pagans / dedicated to nurture”, while on the aspirational ‘Natural Beauty’, Lyndsey dismantles what it means to be an ambitious artist. It serves as a reminder to take your art seriously and to have confidence in your abilities, which is wonderfully expressed in the empowering sentiment: “It’s in her destiny to be better than you.”

A riotous, refreshing call for accountability and a take down of sexist double standards, ‘Christian Boys’ seethes with righteous fury against the unfair judgement of women who are involved with hypocritical men. Based on the experiences of Lyndsey’s friend – who had been having an affair with a Christian leader in Northern Ireland before his marriage to a virgin bride – The urgency in the repeated lyric “Christian boys are the worst I know / Christian girls should take it slow” exposes the hypocrisy underscoring the track’s narrative, calling out those who blame others for their own mistakes. It’s a powerful and necessary statement to close the record with.

On The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All, New Pagans uproot musical genres, challenge stunted narratives around social history, gender and relationships and manage to cultivate a powerful sonic resilience against them. It’s a hugely refreshing and impressive album that deserves all of the praise it’s received so far.

Order your copy of The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All here.

Follow New Pagans on bandcampTwitterInstagramFacebook & Spotify

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: The Other Ones – ‘The Other Ones’

London based pop-punk four-piece The Other Ones join Reckless Yes for the release of their self-reflective and self-titled debut album, following their two self-released extended plays: 2017’s Perfect Girl, Normal Boy and 2019’s Picking Up the Pieces. The result is an evolution of the infectious sound they have cultivated over the past five years; a fusion of punk-rock riffs and melancholic pop influences, from Buzzcocks and My Chemical Romance to The Smiths and Kate Bush.

Introducing The Other Ones with opening track ‘Drown You’, bassist Vicky and guitarist Nick whet the appetite for the rest of the record with their unrelenting energy; the power (pop) couple’s distorted riffs offset against front-woman Steph’s and Nick’s spellbinding vocal harmonisation. Next, the cathartic ‘On Top of Me’ reflects on mental health and the struggle that we have all experienced at some point in our lives: “I wake up every day / I wish I could run away / You say it’s getting better / Why do I feel the same?”

‘Forever Young’ is another self-reflective track, this time nostalgic for younger, care-free days; oozing fuzz and swooning vocalisation. Shimmering pop-punk that is the perfect addition to your next mixtape! Relationships are explored next in ‘Money’ (“We never kiss / We never touch / We only talk about money!”), a track that drenches the listener in distorted sound. Originally recorded for their first EP, The Other Ones instinctively let loose on this reimagining; particularly drummer Francis with a thrashing percussive soundscape reminiscent of Jord Samolesky’s latter work in Propagandhi.

Slowing everything down for ‘Out of My Head’, scuzzy guitar riffs define the track’s soft-loud-soft dynamic, transitioning into the acoustic track ‘I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend’, where gender identity is left ambiguous. Raw emotion (and a spacey bridge) dominates ‘Better Off Alone Again’, whilst ‘Wasted Youth’ sees The Other Ones picking up the pace with Vicky’s throbbing bass-lines and a punchy drum assault from Francis.

‘Sad Case’ is yet another reimagining from Perfect Girl, Normal Boy, further showcasing Nick and Steph’s overlapping vocal abilities, but it is the title track, ‘The Other Ones’ that truly defines their impressive debut. Propelled by the scuzziest of riffs, ‘The Other Ones’ is a fitting anthem for the misfits of society – the freaks who won’t conform to societal norms – firing on all cylinders with a fierce, impassioned performance from Steph. Fuck all societal expectations to be a certain way… Strive for complete self-expression: “We are the other ones / We are the other ones / We are the other ones / We are not alone!”

Closing The Other Ones’ self-titled LP is the ethereal acoustic soundscape ‘I Think Too Much’; an unexpected, but welcomed, departure from the preceding ten tracks of energetic DIY punk rock.

With their debut, The Other Ones have delivered infectious hooks, emotionally-driven melodies, and enough feverish feedback to reinforce their underlying message: Fuck you to anyone who has ever told you that you’re not enough just by being yourself. “We’re the freaks and we don’t belong.”

 

The Other Ones‘ is out now via Reckless Yes. Buy on bandcamp.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

Photo Credit: Keira Anee Photography