ALBUM: Asylums – ‘Alien Human Emotions’

Released via their own label Cool Thing Records, a strong sense of fun and frustration fuels Southend-based rockers Asylums‘ brand new album, Alien Human Emotions. The band’s second record is a turbulent, tenacious collection of tracks that buzz with enthusiasm and self-awareness.

After the success of their critically-acclaimed debut Killer Brain Waves in 2016, Asylums have embarked on a new aural adventure. If they were presented differently, the tracks on Alien Human Emotions would shrink your heart with sadness, but the band’s riotous delivery makes this record a hopeful, heart-swelling affair.

The album kicks off with ‘Day Release To The Moon’, documenting a grand, but turbulent emotional journey that will “pull us closer to the sun / annihilate everyone,” with Jazz’s manic guitar riffs masking the dark side of vocalist Luke’s pessimistic wish. Henry’s relentless percussion punches through on second track ‘When We Wake Up’, which assaults the senses from start to finish. Luke’s anthemic lyrics invite listeners to take a “front row seat for Armageddon,” which sounds tempting against their back drop of manic guitar noise. ‘Bottle Bank’ follows with more of Jazz’s trademark spiralling riffs and Mike’s thundering bass lines, leaving listeners sweaty and short of breath just three tracks in.

The eponymous ‘Alien Human Emotions’ comprehends emotional black holes via dense bass lines and thoughtful lyrics, before the gentler ‘Millennials’ provides a moment for introspective reflection. Named after a social label that’s doused in negativity, Asylums have reclaimed the term and turned it into a thought provoking, comforting tune.

Just as listeners are on their way back down to earth, the toxic punk blur of ‘Napalm Bubblegum’ blasts them back into the band’s sonic atmosphere. Luke’s visceral Essex intonation and Henry’s savage drumming provide the ultimate punk-infused sound to bounce around your bedroom walls to. ‘Pause’ is an aptly named interlude track – even Asylums need to take a second to catch their breath sometimes.

‘Graveyard Tourism’ is a distraction from “morbid fascination”, whilst the timely ‘Homeowners Guilt’ dissects feelings towards “characterless buildings” and the unfair working-class reality of having to always make sure ends meet. The penultimate ‘Sexual Automation’ starts the gentle descent down to earth, manically resisting the “impulses you can’t castrate.” The rawness of ‘The Company You Keep’ closes the record on an optimistic note – an ode to true love, friendship and a poignant reminder to appreciate the people around you.

Alien in the sense that it blasts you into an sonic universe, but Human in its quest to make sure no listener feels left behind, Asylums’ Alien Human Emotions is an intense, joyful second record that kicks and comforts in equal measure.

 

Order your copy of Alien Human Emotions here.
Follow Asylums on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Kana Waiwaiku

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: July 2018

British summer time is in full swing, and the gorgeous/overwhelming heat makes every day feel like a summer holiday *wipes beads of sweat from brow*. If you’re stuck behind your desk however, fear not! We have a red hot set of new tunes to see you through the rest of the month. Take some time to scroll through our track selections, and hit play on the Spotify link at the bottom of the page…

 

Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Blind’
Taken from their self-titled album released in 2008 – the same year I attended London Pride for the first time – and without a doubt, the theme tune to me fully embracing my sexuality; feeling proud of who I was and strong enough to come out happily in all aspects of my life. Last weekend marked the end of the Pride Festival in London, with the Pride in London march on Saturday, where I marched with Switchboard the LGBT+ Helpline that I am a Trustee for. It was a great experience, and only mildly marred by the TERFS protest at the beginning. As a cis-gendered lesbian I denounce everything they stand for and pointedly want to say that I do not agree with any of their statements. I marched for the achievements we have made in society throughout the years to now, but also for all the essential changes still to come…one thing remains the same, it’s about standing for equality. Equality for everyone, everywhere. (Tash Walker)

Indian Queens – ‘Pretty Little Thing’
Equal parts driving and delicate: Hackney trio Indian Queens have shared their new track ‘Pretty Little Thing’ – and it’s as attractive to the ears as its namesake suggests. Released via Cool Thing Records, the single is an infectious blur of hypnotic vocals and shoe gaze guitar sounds. They received a standing ovation after their set at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival last month, and this track has been swirling around my brain ever since. (Kate Crudgington)

Handsome Eric – ‘Oh No’
I fell a bit love with Handsome Eric on seeing them support Shamir last week at Camden Assembly. As the raw, honest emotion of Stephen O’Dowd propels the track, whirring hooks and a driving energy bring to mind Manchester artist, and personal favourite, Kiran Leonard. Totally luscious lo-fi scuzz of the best kind. (Mari Lane)

Nova Twins – ‘Lose Your Head’
GIHE faves and last week’s guests on the radio show, the immense Nova Twins have just released their ferocious new single ‘Lose Your Head’. Having received acclaim from the likes of The Guardian, and none other than Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, the duo continue to prove themselves to be one of the most exciting bands around with the snarling vocals and addictive, frenzied energy of this latest offering. (ML)

The Empty Page – ‘Deeply Unlovable’
We’ve been massive fans of The Empty Page’s gritty, grunge-fuelled offerings for a while now, and we cannot wait for them to blow us away once again at The Finsbury on Friday! (ML)

Queen Kwong – ‘Raptures’
Slow-building bass lines and mesmeric vocals combine on Queen Kwong’s ‘Raptures’ to form a beguiling request to escape unwanted memories. No stranger to adversity, Queen Kwong (aka Carré Callaway) shows how her “cursed mind” is still as sharp as ever on this brilliant new single. (KC)

Carolyn’s Fingers – ‘Twice Born’
LOVE THIS! Experimental pop band Carolyn’s Fingers always deliver such refreshingly unusual music, where I just don’t want to even try and predict where their music will go to next. There is something about there music that consistently dabbles with art/performance and still I am yet to see them live. A firm ambition of mine. Totally DIY in every way, we full support Carolyn’s Fingers. (TW)

Gazelle Twin – ‘Hobby Horse’
Warped, uncomfortable, but morbidly fascinating: avant-garde artist Gazelle Twin has returned with a new image and this un-nerving new single. I can’t wait to hear more of her unusual electronic cacophonies on her upcoming record, Pastoral, on which she “exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present”. Sign. Me. Up. Now.  (KC)

Pitou – ‘Give Me A Glass’
So gentle, so beautiful, and so delicate. ‘Give Me A Glass’ by Pitou is taken from her new EP I Fall Asleep So Fast, released via Mink Records. I think this track is just mesmerising, and it probably helps that it was the first song I listened to after meeting my niece for the first time. So here’s to raising that glass to the new addition in my family! (TW)

Anna Aaron – ‘Why Not’
Love love LOVE! From the disjointed off-beat vocals, to those heavy beats that underpin this track; how can you not enjoy this?! Described as “crunching electronic pop sound”, I think that perfectly sums up this raw slice of intentionally aggressive music. (TW)

Lizzo – ‘Boys’ 
Another utterly empowering and ferociously fun offering from GIHE favourite Lizzo, ‘Boys’ is filled with all the refreshing wit that we’ve come to know and love from the Minneapolis artist. Reminiscent of the legendary Missy Elliot, this track’s funk-filled groove and joyous sex-positive spirit provides the perfect summer anthem. (ML)

Belako – ‘Over The Edge’
I saw Spanish band Belako at Finsbury Park last Saturday kicking off a day of fantastic music from QOTSA, Iggy Pop, Brody Dalle, Deap Vally and more…. And they are now my new favourite band – it was one of the most impressive, engrossing sets I’ve seen for a long time. They delivered each gritty slice of post-punk with a raw, swirling energy and explained that his track ‘Over The Edge’ is “against gender violence” – a poignant and necessary subject. And I just love its immense, gnarly passion. I’m now thoroughly addicted to their latest release Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence. (ML)

Asylums – ‘Millennials’
Essex indie rockers Asylums have returned with their highly anticipated second album Alien Human Emotions – released via their own label Cool Thing Records – and ‘Millennials’ is one of the stand-out tracks on the record. Slower in tempo, but just as powerful in delivery; the single laments the “generational generalisations” that millennial kids face in today’s society. (KC)

Introducing Interview: Indian Queens

Born and raised in Hackney Wick, London trio Indian Queens have no issue with talking about the way their surroundings have influenced them as people and as a band. Jennifer, Katherine & Matt create thoughtful, atmospheric sounds reminiscent of bands like Warpaint and Radiohead (who the band have a mutual love for). We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Jennifer to talk about their upcoming release with Cool Thing Records, what inspired their previous track ‘Us Against The World’, their anticipations for their gig at St Pancras Old Church, and most importantly: pre-gig pizza and prosecco…

Hello Jennifer, for anyone who doesn’t know, how did Indian Queens come to be?
Me and Katherine are sisters, so we go way back and we grew up round the corner from Matt. We have a mutual love for Radiohead and equal addiction to salted popcorn and Jameson whiskey – preferably all together.

Your upcoming single ‘I Get No Rest’ is due to be released in November. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind this track? I’m particularly interested in where the lyric “Free, as long as you obey” came from…
The track is a soundtrack to a late dark night in London. I could see a single picture in my mind that sparked the lyrics to this track. I also wrote them during a massive political shift in this country.

This track actually took us ages to complete. We had all the parts but just couldn’t fit it together.Then Brexit happened, and a general election – neither of which I agreed with. Then in particular to London, Grenfell Tower happened – and it felt like a lot of rich ‘important’ people were taking the piss out most of our lives.

Free, as long as you obey”. To me this feels like how most of the world turns and it’s not a bandwagon I want to jump on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impossible not to in a lot of respect. But it fucked me off.

I listened to your previous single ‘Us Against The World’ too, and it struck me that independence is a theme in both songs. Would you agree? Is independence something you are conscious of when writing and releasing new music?
It is very important to me. There is also a massive disproportion of men and women in the music industry, which is thankfully changing. I feel that it’s allowing women to have a new sense of independence. After all it’s not as though we can’t have the same roles, we just weren’t given the opportunity. Girl power!

‘Us Against The World’ can be about you and anyone. When time starts speeding up it’s a comfort to have someone on your side. That childhood feeling that it’s us against the world. That nostalgic feeling that you’re invincible. That was what that track was about.

You’re now a part of the Cool Thing Records family. How did you hear about the label, and how are things going so far?
We met Mike (Asylums bassist/Cool Thing Co-Founder) years back when we were all playing in different bands, so we can really relate as musicians and songwriters. We also love their DIY approach, and it felt very natural to be releasing through them.

You’re playing a headline show at St Pancras Old Church on November 29th. What are your anticipations for this gig?
I can’t wait! It’s such a beautiful venue. We have an amazing support too, another East London female based band called Wyldest.

Do you have any pre-show rituals to help calm your nerves before you play live?
Prosecco and Pizza!

As a new music blog who promote women in music, we were wondering what new music/female artists you’ve been listening to lately. Any suggestions?
An amazing Oxford band we know called Candy Says. They do film soundtracks too which is sooo cool! Another female artist on our record label called Beckie Margaret is doing really beautiful stuff.

What does the rest of 2017 hold for Indian Queens?
We are getting new tracks mixed at the moment towards our album out next year, so very excited to get those back.

Finally, if you had to sum up your music in three words, what would they be?
Too Damn Serious 🙂 haha

Huge thanks to Jennifer for answering our questions. You can buy tickets for Indian Queens’ gig at St Pancras Old Church here. Follow Indian Queens on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Introducing Interview: Beckie Margaret

(Originally posted on Gigslutz)

When Parallel Lines first announced Beckie Margaret’s debut London gig at The Waiting Room earlier this year, I immediately scrawled it in to my diary. As an avid fan of Cool Thing Records (the label Beckie is signed to) and all of the artists on their roster, instinct told me this was going to be something special. My instinct turned to panic when they (very kindly) asked me to DJ on the night under the name of Get In Her Ears, but the panic subsided at the thought of chatting to Beckie before the gig and spinning a few 90s grunge classics throughout the night.

I met Luke (Asylums/Cool Thing Records) outside the venue, and was introduced to Beckie shortly afterwards. We joked about both being from Essex and my questionable DJ skills, before heading down to the backstage area of the venue to have a proper chat. Although Beckie is new to interviews and gigging, speaking to her about both was effortless and genuinely enjoyable. We laughed our way through interruptions (that’s what happens when you sit on a chair in front of a door) and talked about her influences, her expectations, and where she’d like to perform next…

So, Beckie, when did you first start writing your own songs?

I started playing songs when I was about 7, and then when I was around 9…

That’s so young!

I know! I think it’s because I just loved poetry and words from a really young age, so just out of curiosity I started using other peoples poems and putting them to guitar. I mean, obviously they weren’t very good – I was 9 – but I’ve always been interested in English language and literature. I think the poems were just things that I’d find on the internet, or in old non-recognisable books in charity shops…God knows.

That’s cool. So your inspiration came from poetry originally, but are there any songwriters/musicians in particular that your song-writing is influenced by?

I love Jeff Buckley.

ME TOO! Sorry, carry on…

Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, they’re probably my main ones. When I started to self-produce, James Blake became a massive influence in terms of arrangement, but for song-writers it would definitely be Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver. Purely for the organic emotion, that gets me.

Same, especially with Jeff. How did you hear about your label Cool Thing Records? Did you approach them or did they approach you?

Luke (Asylums/Cool Thing Records founding member) is a teacher and he taught me song-writing, and he’s one of the reasons I’m doing my song-writing degree at ICMP (The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance). I’m in my third year of that now. I left college, started my degree, self-produced my single ‘Cars & Catacombs’, got it mixed and mastered and ready to go, but I didn’t know how to release music.

I dropped Luke a message asking if he could recommend any websites and how to release new music, and he asked me to send it to him. I was like, “why does he want to listen to it?” and I remember saying to my boyfriend “I’m really nervous, why does he want to listen to it?” – the next thing I knew, I was in a meeting with Luke and he said he wanted to sign me. I literally just thought I’d get a link to a website when I sent the message.

That’s great, he obviously had faith in your talent if he took you under his wing straight away?

He’s great, he’s always helped me. Even when he taught me back in college he understood that sometimes I didn’t always work as well in a group so he’d let me sit on my own, and just let me be, you know?

It’s great that you’ve got that level of support from him. 

Your sound differs quite dramatically from the other acts who are also on the Cool Thing label (Petty Phase, Suspects, BAIT, Asylums). What do you like about these bands? Is there something in their sound that inspires you in your own performances or song-writing?

I think it’s mostly just about being yourself and each band doesn’t really care about trying to be like anyone else. I think that’s what Luke looks for, as well as quality. I really love how different and versatile everyone is. It’s a real support system as well, everyone’s behind each other all the way and that’s what makes it an inspiration for me. Music is music at the end of the day, as long as you can emote to it, it doesn’t matter what genre it is!

You’re about to play your first London headline show for Parallel Lines at The Waiting Room. How are you feeling? What are your anticipations for the night?

I’m hoping I won’t just be playing to my Mum. I’m new to gigging, so I think it’s just about remembering you’re doing it because you love it and to not take it too seriously. I just want to enjoy it, which is actually harder than it sounds. I’m just gonna focus on my band mates and get lost in the music, and if it goes wrong – it goes wrong!

That’s a good attitude to have! I know you’ve only just started to perform live, but once you’ve established a larger following (which I’m sure you will) do you have a “dream venue” that you’d like to perform in?

KOKO. I love KOKO. We’ve (Cool Thing Records) had discussions about potential followings and finding a following that’s loyal, and not big – kind of like Lucy Rose. I saw her at a festival recently and I went up and spoke to her and we were just having a chat about her music and her little dog, but no-one else really came up to her and knew who she was. I’d like to be like her, to be respected but not be mobbed, you know?

That sounds cool. What new music have you been listening to recently?

This is gonna sound really weird, but I starve myself of music as part of my creative process. I tend to listen to Brian Eno, Philip Glass and drone music because it provokes lots of thoughts and helps me to write my own songs. I’ve been starving myself of music while writing single 3 (listen here to single 2). I have listened to Nothing But Thieves new album though, and Anderson Paak, and I’ve gone back to Bon Iver recently too. And of course, the Cool Thing guys too. I couldn’t help myself in those areas!

Of course! So, what’s next for Beckie Margaret? More song-writing? Recording? Live dates?

Everything really, we’re going to be stepping it up a notch. I’m already working on single 3, I’m working on a cheeky EP, and just getting ready for next summer really. I’m going to make this my project for the final year of my degree too, so very busy. It’s good to be busy though!

Huge thanks to Beckie for answering our questions, and to Cool Thing Records for being as cool as ever. Follow Beckie Margaret on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut