EP: Sandunes – ‘Spare Some Time’

A calming, electronic mediation on the necessity of expressing emotion; Sandunes has shared her new EP, Spare Some Time. Released today (May 22nd) via !K7, the four track creation is an aural salve for overwhelmed ears, flowing with shimmering synth textures and soothing beats that remind listeners to take stock of the love in their lives.

Based in Mumbai, Sandunes (aka Sanaya Aredeshir) has focused less on musical technicality, and more on emotional catharsis on this collaborative offering. While for some this decision might compromise high production standards, that’s not the case here. Spare Some Time is equally as polished as Sandunes’ previous releases, which are predominantly created from her home studio in Bombay.

Ambient electronics and stretched out beats permeate opening track ‘Love It Less’. Featuring the smooth vocals of Jbabe, the track was crafted from an intimate jam session between the two producers. It blends seamlessly into the atmospheric ‘Burn Every Bridge’. “The only way out is through / Burn every bridge to you”, muses vocalist Landslands, cautiously urging listeners to let go of the past. Sandunes’ tentative beats and fluid synths help to relay this gentle message too.

“Bittersweet acceptance” sounds intoxicating on ‘Fifty Percent’, thanks to the soulful vocals of Mumbai songwriter Ramya Pothuri. The vulnerabilities expresses in the lyrics are softened by Sandunes’ use of bright electronics. Closing track ‘Simple Thing’ sees the producer subtly celebrating the restorative nature of love in all its forms, through uplifting synths and IAMI’s buoyant vocals.

“I feel like it’s very important for me to be prudent, but also celebratory about feminine freedom, as a working, performing, producing, musician from India”, Sandunes explains. Her ability to be clear about her her status, and the emotional response that sparks is what makes Spare Some Time such a cathartic, reassuring listen. “We’re deprived in our isolation of the tremendous benefit that togetherness and connection brings” she continues, but with records like this; that connection is ultimately strengthened.

Listen to Sandunes new EP on Spotify. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo credit: Viktor Sloth

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Liar, Flower – ‘Geiger Counter’

Released via One Little Indian Records, Liar, Flower‘s new album Geiger Counter – the latest project from KatieJane Garside (Daisy Chainsaw, QueenAdreena, Lalleshwari) and Chris Whittingham – is a collection of songs that blend honey-sweet vocals with dreamy, beautifully produced instrumental soundscapes.

Opening track ‘I Am Sundress (She Of Infinite Flowers)’ is a hauntingly beautiful offering that gives way to the hypnotic rock concoction of ‘My Brain Is Lit Like An Airport’. The angry soundscape then transforms into the psychedelic, deconstructed ‘9N-AFE’. Its robotic, glitchy sonics make it a stand-out track on the record.

The rock-tinged stylings of ‘Mud Stars’ juxtaposed with melodic ‘Broken Light’ teases your brain with its varied range. Following track ‘Even The Darkest Clouds’ is an off-kilter banger that uses lacerating guitars and booming beats with raw vocals, throwing Geiger Counter into complete tortured disarray; essentially making it a cacophony of mismatched musicality.

In comparison, next track ‘Blood Berries’ is a slow lullaby with a foreboding touch. The pair’s brilliant production skills are shown off proudly on the post-punk sounding ‘Little Brown Shoes’. The tail end of the record is sunshine after a storm, as the instrumentals begin leaning away from the tinges of gloom, lust and loathing which have remained front and centre for most of the LP.

The sultry, seductive ‘Baby Teeth’ flawlessly blends into the country-tinged ‘Hole In My Hand’, while the light touches of title track ‘Geiger Counter’ provide a simple, yet memorable melody. Final track ‘Doors Locked, Oven’s Off’ is the perfect closer that brings together the darker sounds of the album with its airy corners, ending the record with the strongest instrumentals thus far.

A disorienting combination of loud violence and gentle caresses that keeps listeners on their toes throughout; Geiger Counter is as meditative as it is nightmarish, as mysterious as it is all-knowing. The record grows on you with each track and by the end of it, you’re ready to play it all over again.

Listen to Geiger Counter by Liar, Flower on Spotify

Malvika Padin
@malvika_padin26

Still Spinning: Hole – ‘Nobody’s Daughter’

Our brand new “Still Spinning” feature focuses on records that we consider to be iconic (whether that’s for popular, or personal reasons), and celebrates our enduring love for them. First up, Features Editor Kate Crudgington talks us through why Hole’s fourth album, Nobody’s Daughter, released in 2010, is still one of her most influential listens.

Admired by plenty, and maligned by equally as many; Hole‘s front woman Courtney Love has been a controversial figure in rock music for over two decades. Actively antagonistic towards the 90s Riot Grrrl movement (even though many consider her music & persona to be the living embodiment of it), Love has carved a career that’s so notoriously independent, I often forget there are four other talented musicians in her band.

That being said, the majority of these musicians were absent from the recording of Nobody’s Daughter, which was initially conceived as Love’s second solo record in 2005. It’s probably worth mentioning that Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins played a role in the writing of this album too, but I don’t want to get in to production credits. What I want to get in to is how Hole (and by default, Courtney Love) have created some of the most cathartic, memorable music I’ve ever heard.

There’s no denying Love has exhibited plenty of toxic behaviour in the past, but I feel her male counterparts in the industry are rarely treated with such judgement, disdain or hatred. I don’t care if her vocals aren’t pitch perfect, or if she plays chords “the lazy way” (as my first boyfriend once put it). What I care about is how her music offers an alternative to angry young women, growing up in a world that consistently tells women to minimise their anger.

Nobody’s Daughter is the first Hole album I listened to in full. I was about to turn twenty-five, and I was livid after being dumped on public transport by my first boyfriend after a 3 and a half year relationship. My cousin Rebecca – an original 90s Riot Grrrl – gave me some of her Hole CDs, and from the opening lyric of the eponymous track, I was hooked. “Made something better, kept it for himself” seethes Love, taking me right back to the rage I felt the morning after the breakup. I was so embarrassed, so humiliated, and so frustrated that I couldn’t communicate that properly to friends and family. I’d been waiting for permission to tell the truth about my post-breakup feelings, and Nobody’s Daughter granted me that permission in a heartbeat.

It’s worth noting I took the lyrics on this album very seriously/personally, which is probably why I prefer the ragers, and not the quieter tracks. The way Love snarls “Don’t tell me I have lost, when clearly I’ve won” resonated with me deeply post-breakup. I needed that level of petty competitiveness to get me through. Love could be referring to any number of things on ‘Nobody’s Daughter’ – including her own complicated relationship with Frances Bean Cobain – but to me, that track is a defiant middle finger to anyone who had a pre-conceived idea of how I would behave or react post-relationship.

Vicious second track ‘Skinny Little Bitch’ is another example of how I framed Love’s aggressive lyrics to fit my own feelings. The track rips into life in such a violent, infectious way, it’s hard not to screech the lyric “You will never see the light, I’ll just obscure it out of spite” without feeling fan-fucking-tastic. Of course, I don’t advocate women tearing down other women – especially not about their weight – but whether you frame yourself as the bitch Love’s hating on in the song, or as the bitch who’s tearing this girl a new one – it’s hard not to find respite in the spite, even if it feels misdirected when I listen to it now.

The third rager is ‘Samantha’. It comes after alt-folk tracks ‘Honey’ and ‘Pacific Coast Highway’, both of which feel like they could soundtrack a Bonnie & Clyde style getaway movie. They’re not bad tracks by any means, but they’re easy to skip over when you know ‘Samantha’ is on the horizon. “Watch her wrap her legs around this world, can’t take the gutter from the girl” seethes Love, over roaring guitars and buzzing bass lines. I love the accompanying video to this track, where she’s tearing through a desolated city, wearing a wedding dress with the word “cunt” embroidered on it.

I think the most vicious line on the record is “If you were on fire, I would just throw kerosene”. I was intoxicated by Love’s ability to speak the psychopathic unspeakable. The follow-up lyric “I love so much I hate, and I hate what you have seen in me” still strikes a chord today. The binary opposites of love and hate, and how they’re a hair’s breadth apart in feeling, is something that fuels Nobody’s Daughter, and is probably why I invested so much time listening to it in the aftermath of a breakup.

I’m out of the ragers zone now, and rolling around in ‘Someone Else’s Bed’. In the midst of hanxiety (hangover anxiety), I would listen to this and take a sick kind of joy from the lyric “I quite enjoy your suffering, Oh I want to watch the view”. Turns out, I’m pretty mean/melodramatic on a hangover, and clearly enjoy stewing in my own emotions. When I listen back now, I smirk at how much time twenty-five year old me dedicated to being angry and upset about something I couldn’t change.

I have to confess, my attention drifts towards the end of Nobody’s Daughter. ‘For Once In Your Life’, ‘Letter To God’ and ‘Loser Dust’ go over my head. Things pick up again when Love starts shouting and screaming on ‘How Dirty Girls Get Clean’. It smoulders with her trademark fury, even in the opening verses where it’s just Love and her acoustic guitar. ‘Never Go Hungry’ closes the record with a quiet determination. “I’m hungry for, life a little less cruel” muses Love, a sentiment that still fills me with hope.

Nobody’s Daughter taught me many things, but mostly it taught me that feeling irrational, or angry, or mad at a situation you can’t change is okay. It also taught me how destructive those feelings can be. It was my introduction to Hole’s discography, and led me to discover Live Through This, another Hole album that I feel forever indebted to. Say what you like about Courtney Love – and the whole Hole saga – Nobody’s Daughter is a fierce, frenzied record that deserves repeated listens (purely for the ragers).

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Harkin – ‘Harkin’

Armed with experiences from a life of touring and collaborations, Harkin has taken her first steps towards a solo journey with her eponymous LP. The album is set for release on 24th April via Hand Mirror, a new label set up by Harkin and her partner, poet & live arts organiser, Kate Leah Hewett.

Well known for being a touring member of Sleater-Kinney, Wild Beasts, and Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett; Harkin has teamed up with Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) and Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak & Bon Iver) to help record her debut album – but this doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s all Harkin, through and through.

Opening with the booming guitar of ‘Mist on Glass’, Harkin is off to a powerful start as bold, sharp vocals carry through from one track to the next. The swagger of ‘Nothing the Night Can’t Change’ gives way to the softer sonics of ‘Decade’, before the first highlight of the 10-track production comes in the form of thumping beats and husky vocals of ‘Up To Speed’. Next track ‘Bristling’ follows the same path, with a soundscape of drums and guitar.

At the halfway point, ‘Dial It In’ passes by, followed by interlude ‘Red Virginia Creeper’ before the undeniable stand out track of the album breaks through. The foreboding, looming and brilliant ‘Sun Stay With Me’ is the beginning of an eerie mood that travels through the remaining tracks of the album. Penultimate offering ‘New France’ is soaked in reverb-ridden sonics, and spoken word-esque delivery, vibrating with a presence that’s felt even after the last notes fade.

Harkin closes with the ringing acoustic stylings of ‘Charm and Tedium’, with a razor sharp focus on Harkin’s raw vocals. Completed over 16 days dotted between Harkin’s gruelling tour schedule, Harkin is a collection of gritty but smooth songs that showcase a unique trajectory; combining the warmth of nostalgia, with the glitchy pace of the modern world.

Pre-order your copy of Harkin’s debut album here.
Follow Harkin on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Tomm Roeschlein

Malvika Padin
@malvika_padin26

ALBUM: Indian Queens – ‘God Is a Woman’

Described by lead vocalist & guitarist Jennifer O’Neill as “a late night record”, London trio Indian Queens‘ debut album God Is A Woman is a sublime offering, designed to dissolve uncertainty and soothe anxious minds. Set for release via Cool Thing Records on 3rd April, the band have written thirteen dizzying tracks that are equal parts driving and delicate; shimmering with cinematic flair.

Formed of sisters Jennifer (guitar/vocals) and Katherine (bass) O’Neill, and lifelong friend Matthew Dudan-Bick (drums), Indian Queens were born and raised in Hackney Wick. Influenced by the restless city that surrounds them, the trio’s soundscapes reflect both the darkness and the light on a personal, and a universal scale. This is epitomized on opening track ‘Bubblewrap’, a beguiling lament about the state of the planet. It smolders with dense beats, atmospheric guitar and Jennifer’s captivating vocals. “We were born in plastic bags / conveniently stored / bubble-wrapped indoors”, she muses, conjuring up images of over-protection and suffocation. Despite the track’s haunting context, Indian Queens still manage to lull their listeners into acceptance, and hopefully into action too.

Based on a childhood memory of the O’Neill sisters’ grandparent’s house, the nostalgic ‘Pretty Little Thing’ rings out with warmth and understated joy. Jennifer’s extended vocals in the chorus and the rose-tinted guitar sounds make this a truly uplifting track. The eponymous ‘God Is A Woman’ is a tentative, elusive exploration of tolerance, hope, and faith. “Who wants to start a revolution?” sings Jennifer, with a sharp awareness and those “fingers crossed”. The band’s ability to tap into both the personal and the political with the flick of a guitar pedal is extra impressive here.

‘Some Kinda Blue’ is a frustrated, jaded, but intensely affecting invitation to rekindle the flames of a valued relationship. The guitar seems to reflect the quick-switching nature of emotion; one moment it’s shimmering and atmospheric, the next it rings with distortion. Thudding beats, buoyant riffs and hopeful lyrics permeate ‘Wanderlust’, which is a joyful pact to “live for the day”. ‘Us Against The World’ is an intoxicating blend of all that makes an Indian Queens’ track so affecting. Jennifer’s comforting lyrics, charming vocals and agile riffs, Katherine’s buzzing bass lines, and Matthew’s considered percussion are truly magnetic here.

A restless, searching spirit fuels ‘I Got So Much I Wanna Say’, and continues throughout ‘I Get No Rest’. The sweeping, all encompassing sounds on following track ‘Concrete Lips’ and the repeated lyric “there’s something ’bout you that I can’t forget” combine to make a heady, moody lullaby. The dreamy, gentle ‘Warning Sign’ precedes the lusting, disorientating ‘You Came Over Late’, before anti-party anthem ‘Shoot For Sexy’ kicks in with its intoxicating beats. Despite its suggestive lyrics and smoldering bass lines, it’s a track best appreciated under low light with intimate company. Lust paves the way for adventure and hope on poignant, exhilarating final track ‘Walk’.

On God Is A Woman, Indian Queens have crafted a dazzling collection of meaningful songs that provide a welcome rush of blood to the head. It’s impossible not to be caught up in their captivating sounds. Invest immediately.

Pre-order your copy of God Is A Woman here. Follow Indian Queens on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Kana Waiwaiku

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: The Wants – ‘Container’

Formed by Madison Velding-VanDam and Heather Elle from New York art-punk band Bodega, The Wants‘ debut album Container is a punchy, defiant, riot of a record that simultaneously reflects and resists anxiety, on both a personal and wider scale. With its swaggering beats, techno influences, and to-the-point lyricism; it flows seamlessly from track-to-track demanding uninterrupted listening from the offset.

The Wants began taking shape when drummer Jason Gates and Velding-VanDam met in New York in 2014, but became fully formed while Velding-VanDam and Elle were working together under the Bodega moniker years later. Realising they all had a passion for electronic music, the three began writing together, and Container is the result of this collaboration.

Instrumental opener ‘Ramp’ commands attention with its thudding kick drum, while eponymous track ‘Container’ pulses with brooding bass lines and deadpan lyrical delivery. Pounding instrumental ‘Machine Room’ bleeds in to ‘Fear My Society’. “Will you love me if I’m a failure?” agonises Velding-VanDam, over funky beats and surprisingly buoyant synths. It feels odd to dance around to a track that’s fueled by anxiety and alienation, but it’s a natural response to The Wants driving rhythms.

Making space to individually review each of Container‘s tracks feels odd, as the record is such a cohesive creation, where each track transitions smoothly in to the next. Instrumental ‘Aluminium’ blends in to the unsettling ‘Ape Trap’. “I will stay a deviant, or else I die of boredom” Velding-VanDam sings, desperate to escape his metaphorical cell. Instrumental ‘Waiting Room’ builds on this tension, until its relieved by the confessional ‘Clearly A Crisis’. “I have no intimacy, I’m never vul-ner-able” – Velding-VanDam takes care to repeat, and speak this line with intense clarity.

The funky beats on ‘Nuclear Party’ float around as the cute threat of “kiss my bombs” ricochets between your ears. The bouncy ‘Hydra’ follows, before eerie instrumental ‘Voltage’ closes the record on a somber note. It’s a striking offering, with each scratch, pulse, and echo captured clearly. The band recorded the album in their bedrooms and their rehearsal space — a re-purposed HANJIN shipping container situated in the middle of a dumpling factory parking lot — so it’s a testament to their personal, and joint production skills that these elements can be heard in the mix.

With their myriad of influences – including the literature of Jenny Holzer, the sounds of The National, and a love for techno –  The Wants have created a sonic space on Container that’s somewhere between the catchy electronics of Depeche Mode, the angsty lyrics of early Sonic Youth. It’s a distracting record, in the best possible way, and deserves your undivided attention.

Listen to Container in full here. Follow The Wants on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Madison Carroll

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Post Louis – ‘Descender’

From the office to the tour bus, Stephanie Davin has spent every spare moment of her time writing what would become Descender, the debut album from Post Louis. Alongside her responsibilities as lead singer and one fifth of this experimental art-rock band, Davin worked endless hours in the corporate world; eventually breaking away from the machine to push the boundaries of her creative expression in a remote cottage in Wales.

Accompanied by songwriter/co-founder Robbie Stern, and without the distractions of working life, Davin would craft the foundations that would become Descender. When their material was presented to the rest of the band, each song structure would be meticulously deconstructed and reconstructed within the walls of the Sjømannskirken in Rotherhithe, becoming a kaleidoscope of angular guitar riffs, scuzzy pop melodies, and breezy soundscapes.

Opening track ‘Fishwife’ begins with Davin asking “How do you stop an overflow?” The uncertainty felt in the midst of a “bad patch cresendoes into a cacaphony of surf guitar, pulsating basslines, and thunderous drum beats. “The angler man is sinking and the walls are rusting through and through and my love is green as the sea is blue because all I had I gave to you”

‘Stress Fracture’ features tenor saxophone, courtesy of Alex Hitchcock, tumbling over the backing vocals of guitarist Andy Stern – paralleling Davin’s emotional songwriting and off-kilter lead vocals –, whilst ‘Little Jack’ studies the pain caused by loneliness (and the wolves loneliness can create when mixed with sexual desire – “She says you’re gonna be a wolf some day”).

Don’t let the breezy intro to ‘Janaskie Pt I’ fool you… Adam Turner-Heffer’s punk rock basslines are as infectious as Mattis Moviken’s meticulous drum strikes, resulting in a thrashing big instrumental tidal wave that had me reaching for rewind. Its companion piece ‘Janaskie Pt II’, and the instrumental track ‘Labyrinthitis’, lead into the title track ‘Descender’; reflecting on the exhaustion of working long laborious hours and the effect this can have on your life – “I’m working now from evening till dawn / Sun rises up and then you are gone…”

The poetic lyrics of ‘Like Bad Dreams’ are followed by ‘Ghostwriter’ – an anomaly on Descender – which sees Andy take over lead from Davin with the opening line, “How did you stop that overflow?” However, it is ‘Winter Pollen’ that hits me hardest in the gut. When Davin was constructing this particular song, the Me Too movement was beginning to open many eyes to a world most of us were ignorant of. This bravery was followed by anger, exhaustion, but ultimately empowerment. ‘Winter Pollen’ reflects the urgency of this movement with a heavy guitar sound that provides the backdrop for Davin’s frustration. “I make music with my brothers and I love them so / But it’s hard not to be angry, hating all the time / When Brock Turner spends three months in prison for his crime / When somebody spikes my mother’s drink at our first show…”

Both ‘Angular Man’ and ‘December’ close the album; each track incorporating contrasting instrumentation. As Davin sings the final line of the album – “In my darkest hour I fear I’m not strong” – the underlying theme of the Descender becomes more apparent. A reflective and poignant collection on the exhaustion that comes with living. 

 

Descender is out now.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

Photo Credit: Maya Sacks