EP: Timid Deer – ‘Melodies For The Nocturnal, Pt. 1’

Salisbury band Timid Deer consist of Naomi Henstridge, Tim Milne, Tom Laws, Matt Jackson and Jason Allen, and their new EP, Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt.1, sees an expansion in sound from acoustic folk to a more melancholy indie. 

Opening track No Country’ sets the tone for what is a gently melodic, minimally atmospheric, and ethereal EP. The piano intro, bass notes, and Naomi’s gentle sweeping voice lead into a haunting love song – “Take me to the river..we can drown together with wild flowers all around”. The synths and guitar solo add to the atmosphere, without being invasive.

‘Sinner’s Heart’ continues the same elemental themes, with a slightly jazzy feel and dreamy atmospherics coming to the fore, whilst conjuring the image of a spurned lover fighting back. Things take a darker turn with the creeping aura of ‘The Tide’ with its ominous piano intro, with flowing waves getting deeper, washing the lover away; “You my lover, will pay the price.”

Lead track ‘The Shallows’ continues the story – “I’ll be waiting in the shallows… we can wash away our fire… our sorrow” – set to a slow rock mix with layered vocals, whilst final track ‘Sleepless’ is a dreamlike love song oozing soaring angelic vocals and a spine-tingling beauty. 

The band intends to write and record a follow-up EP later this year, and we can’t wait to hear what they create next. If, like me, you are a bit of a Goth at heart, Timid Deer come highly recommended.

 

Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 1 is out now. 

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

EP: Ghum – ‘The Coldest Fire’

London based quartet GHUM have been organically fusing post-punk with grunge for over three years, resulting in dangerously dark pop that is often as hostile as it is haunting. Their ghostly sound has continued to evolve during this time; from the brooding atmosphere of their  2017 self-titled EP, to the raw emotion of their 2018 double A-Side single: ‘I’m The Storm / Undone’.

After numerous musical endeavours across England, Spain, and Brazil, vocalist Laura Guerrero Lora, bassist Marina MJ, drummer Vicki Butler, and guitarist/vocalist Jojo Khor formed GHUM through a shared love of The Cure and PJ Harvey. Yet, despite their similar interests in alt/gothic rock, each member of the band is a distinctive personality – the band as a whole being self-described as a mix of “passion, anger, logic, precision, timidness, volume and emotion, all at the same time.” Their upcoming EP, The Coldest Fire, is the band sharpening the edge of their knife – an ever evolving, always mysterious, brutally honest sound, that perfectly encapsulates all these elements.

Opening track ‘Saturn’ was the first song to be recorded, and it is immediately apparent that GHUM are not afraid to explore darker territories. The combination of Vicki’s technical drum strikes, Marina’s rhythmic basslines, Jojo’s expansive, borderline psychedelic guitar, and Laura’s mesmerising vocals are reminiscent of early Warpaint. ‘Saturn’ is an atmospheric track with dark pop sensibilities that completely immerses the listener throughout.

‘Get Up’ introduces itself with a bewitching, dark bassline that propels the scuzzy, whirring guitar riffs and rumbling beats that follow to a climax of anger and isolation. Echoing the track’s title, Laura’s determined, ardent voice bellows out the hauntingly anthemic, indignant chorus with such fierce emotion – and a delicate use of Spanish – that you will soon find yourself brooding on the dancefloor. “What I felt is what you feel / Tu me lo hiciste una vez [You did it to me once] / Now I want to see your tears…”

Halfway through The Coldest Fire, and no less hostile than the previous two tracks, ‘1000 Men’ is a textured guitarscape of abrasive, crushing rhythms and piercing bass. The vocals leading the melody move gradually through grunge to an eerie finale that left me with chills down my spine – “A thousand men can’t keep me safe.”

By the closing track, ‘In My Head’, I was left reflecting upon the whole sombre experience of The Coldest Fire; an intense four-track extended play about unpredictable love. The band themselves have described The Coldest Fire as “a re-introduction to GHUM,” and I’m inclined to agree. The EP displays the confidence of a band expanding, but not compromising on their grunge/pop sound or post-punk identity.

 

The Coldest Fire is out on 28th June on Everything Sucks Music. Pre-order via Bandcamp now. And catch GHUM live at the EP launch at The Shacklewell Arms on 13th July. 

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

EP: Panic Pocket – ‘Never Gonna Happen’

Two years ago BFFs Sophie Peacock and Natalie Healey picked up a synthesizer and electric guitar, and formed synth-pop duo Panic Pocket so that they could play First Timers 2017; a festival addressing the lack of diversity in the DIY music community, and inviting those who have never played in a band before to perform. If you looked at the definition of Do-It-Yourself, Panic Pocket should be cited as an example.

The talented, self-described “lo-fi electro-pop heroes” have since signed with Reckless Yes and have now released their debut four-track EP, Never Gonna Happen. The EP is proof of the power of friendship. Sophie and Natalie write hook-laden indie-pop, with lyrical tongue-in-cheek wit and melodic charm reminiscent of The Paris Sisters and The Ronettes, with the harmonious, often salty, vocal interplay between the two of them their greatest strength.

Are you helping me to do my fucking job? ask both Natalie and Sophie as they punch their way through opening track, ‘The Boss’. It’s difficult to comprehend that neither of them have ever played in a band prior to forming Panic Pocket; their enthusiasm is infectious as they demonise life encounters through relatable personal expression, and their own brand of humour. Shit bosses are the fucking worst, but a miserable sexual encounter in track 2, ‘You Have to Laugh’, has the band asking “what is the fucking point?”

Track 3, ‘Pizza In My Pants’, laughs at the societal expectations that women should settle down, get married, and have children. I’m not fussed with pro-creation, I prefer my Playstation the duo exclaim, in defence of the nagging undertones from family and friends. By the final track, Panic Pocket have already torn apart the expectations of others, so ‘OK Cupid’ hears the band looking at themselves with self-deprecating humour, wondering why they keep falling for those on social media: I feel like I know you, but I don’t know you… Will you be my girlfriend?

With Never Gonna Happen, Panic Pocket have crafted catchy synth-pop songs full of punk-rock attitude and an undeniable sense of fun. And, speaking of punk-rock, Sophie and Natalie are joined by members of fellow indie-pop alumni Wolf Girl on this EP; further fleshing out their earlier sound heard on previous recordings like ‘Don’t Get me Started’/’Front Teeth’, with both drums and bass guitar driving proceedings into glam punk territory at times.

Never Gonna Happen is a big fuck you to societal norms; an extended play that documents a band discovering their own path musically and personally. But don’t panic! Sophie and Natalie are definitely headed in the right direction.

Never Gonna Happen is out now via Reckless Yes. Catch Panic Pocket live at The Finsbury for us on 10th May, along with Crumbs, Charismatic Megafauna and Rookes – we can’t wait!

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

EP: Hockeysmith – ‘Tears At My Age’

Self-described as “Kylie on acid”, Falmouth-based Hockeysmith‘s new EP Tears At My Age is a sympathetic lo-fi dance-pop infusion designed to overcome romantic unhappiness. Released via Ex-Local in January, Hockeysmith (aka Annie Hockeysmith) has created four new tracks that cover uncomfortable emotions in a breezy, effervescent way.

Most listeners will be able to identify with the sentiments expressed in eponymous opening track ‘Tears At My Age’. It’s five minutes of ambient electronics that wash away the shame of tears shed by girls over their undeserving lovers. Hockeysmith has reclaimed these sad hours and transformed them in to something positive here via shoe-gazey synths and gentle vocals.

Up next is shimmering electro-pop gem ‘Lonely Loving Me’. Speaking about the track, Annie explains: “I wrote this in a cabin in Cornwall one winter after listening to tuns and tuns of early Kylie Minogue. It explores the idea of loving and being loved as an ambitious person. It can be lonely loving yourself and lonely for someone else”. It’s an 80s inspired feel-good tune designed to get you moving around like Minogue, whether in your bedroom or on the dance floor.

Inspired by both dance & rave subculture in her hometown of Falmouth and in the frequently visited Copenhagen, Hockeysmith’s love and exploration of these scenes shows clearest on the final two tracks of her EP. ‘Messed Up’ is six minutes full of excitable dance beats that form the perfect backdrop for getting “dressed up messed up” to. It’s an ode to the blissful but tainted state of diluting your sorrows on a night out, encouraged by siren-like synths and layered beats.’Dare You’ sees Hockeysmith’s former sadness come full circle, as she calmly embraces the idea of loving anew and moving on. More rave-inspired beats and gentle vocals combine in hypnotic fashion here, closing the EP on an optimistic note.

On Tears At My Age, Hockeysmith has crafted an intriguing mix of synth textures and beats inspired by her surroundings in Cornwall and experiences in Copenhagen that work together to distill any shame or uneasiness leftover from broken relationships. A definite mood-lifter.

Listen to Tears At My Age on Spotify. Follow Hockeysmith on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Maria Kelly – ‘Notes To Self’

Notes to Self is the new EP from Maria Kelly, an Irish alt–folk artist now based in Berlin. It features four songs dealing with themes of holding on, hiding behind, letting go and how we must do all three in order to move on. All were inspired by a diary Maria kept documenting her feelings on relocating to a new country.

Opener, ‘Prelude’, sets the mood with Maria’s soft, melodic vocals, acoustic guitar and a lovely production which blends delicate synth sounds, enhancing the song and opening it up. It sums up the feelings of holding onto memories, as the song builds up and ends on the words “replay it”. ‘june’ is an intimate communication poignantly capturing feelings of restlessness – “does the city feel this crowded to you?” 

‘july’ is confessional, conveying the idea that we are ultimately in control of how we feel, and must take responsibility for what we choose to dwell on. Building to a lovely lyrical chorus – “… don’t fight it, hold on tight” – the pace and pitch of the music and voice blend perfectly into the powerful emotional ending. 


Closing track, ‘a
ugust’, is my favourite, showing Maria coming out the other side, and taking a new direction. More uptempo than the previous songs (“the taste of something new, something I can hold on to, something that isn’t you”), the electric guitar brings it to life juxtaposed with Maria’s gracefully soaring and cooing vocals; the sound of falling in love.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas, but I do want this EP. Overall, the production is superb, never interfering with the delicate beauty of Maria’s song craft. If ever you have felt isolated and vulnerable, these songs capture the mood beautifully, bringing you heartwarming introspection and the feeling that everything will be all right in the end.

notes to self is out on 7th December 2018 via Veta Records.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

EP: Hanya – ‘I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t’

Demonic and dangerous, sorrowful and tormented; such are said to be the properties of the Japanese mask after which Hanya name themselves. It too, makes a pretty good description of this first EP from the Brighton two-piece.

The mix of sounds created by the pair – originally the solo project of Heather Sheret before being joined by drummer Jack Watkins – has grown over time and through the course of I Used To Love You, Now I Dont mixes together a range of 90s influences from shoegaze to Britpop, while remaining fresh.

Opening with the simple, if awkward, strum and percussive shimmer of Old/Newover four minutes the track builds through layers of reverb-laden vocal, and guitar riffs that begin as Britpop chimes and twist into shoegaze distortion.

Radiois a glowing ember of a track, drifting upwards into the endless dark, turning slowly and filling you with ominous gloom. Sherets vocals are a honey laced with vinegar as the soft drawl becomes sharp yowl. Of the track Sheret has explained: ‘Radio’ was written at a time of big stomach churning foreboding for me. It reflects thinking that something external can help at a time like that, like moving somewhere new, meeting someone, stupid vices, anything that we reach out for to give us some feeling that shitty times can be fixed.

 

In this track are the real echoes of shoegaze as spiralling riffs conjure forth Mazzy Star and Slowdive. You spiral with it, sinking into its depths, but it lacks the awe of those influences – something made up for on Honey.

This starts off the same way, the gloop and gloom pulls you in but rather than cycling this way throughout, Watkins drumming picks up part way through; a percussive foil for that soft-echoing vocal, pinning down the bolshier guitar.

Closer Trust Fund Babysteps away in tone being a far more upbeat number, closer to Salad and Sounds From The City era PJ Harvey. It rattles along with more jangle than distortion, with a bite in the lyric as much as a shimmer to the percussion.

Hanya build a sound which belies their two-piece set up and as a debut I Used To Love You, Now I Dont is full of promise; an understated addition to established genres.

I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t is out now via Leisure Records. Listen here. And make sure you catch Hanya live for us at The Finsbury on 14th December, along with Fightmilk, Handsome Eric and Candy Cane!

Sarah Lay
@sarahlay

EP: L.A. Witch – ‘Octubre’

With All Hallows Eve just a couple of weeks in the past, West Coast garage trio L.A. Witch bring us the appropriately named Octubre. Physically released on what the band have dubbed ‘Halloween Orange’ vinyl with a cover depicting a spider web background behind a bat perched on a headless torso, the EP combines five – mostly unreleased – tracks whose lifeless bodies have been reanimated and reworked by the band and producer Gregg Foreman.  

The record kicks off with thumping, distorted drums courtesy of percussionist Ellie English. Just at the point where the doom starts to get a little too creepy, ‘Haunting’ snaps into its sludgey bass (from Irita Pai) interspersed with top-line cymbals. Spry-sounding guitars moan all the way up the mix, enveloping Sade Sanchez’ slurred vocals like a dense fog, before a non-lyrical chorus of sharp chords shines through. The layers build as the song continues, its broken guitar effects repetitively flickering between shadow and light.

 

‘Sleep’ is a more upbeat Western style stomper, replete with a hooky tremolo lick and Sade’s old-timely croon – “Ooh baby, where did you go?” she intones. The track’s honky-tonk piano helps it capture the gothic tendencies of the Bad Old West until the ringing alarm of its middle eight leads into a surf-style guitar solo and a coda of the song’s chorus.

Next up, old style ballad with a whirly organ swing in its verses, ‘BB’s Momma’ is a deceptively simple slice of garage. On its opening half, Sade sounds like a laconic Wanda Jackson, whereas its second is a freak-out jam, combining bubbly guitar, piano thrash and stabs from the organ. Something in its jarring repetition and lyrical nihilism brings forth Murder Ballads era Bad Seeds.

Penultimate effort, ‘Heart of Darkness’, is the only track previously released – taken from a 2013 self-titled and self-released EP. Largely acoustic, it mostly consists of guitar and bass, with a single bass drum acting like a clarion, and some heavily distorted vocals. It’s another Western-esque take, as though Joseph Conrad’s tale of ivory greed and insanity has been transported to the West Coast in the 1800s, Colonel Kurtz and all.  

The EP closes with the appropriately named ‘Outro’. Also led by acoustic guitar, its waves of picked notes dovetail with electric feedback that creaks like seagulls, and ultimately winds up resembling Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. And before you know it, it’s flown by.

Designed as more of a teaser of where the band might go in the future than necessarily a glimpse of a future output, L.A. Witch have crafted an EP that does more than just satisfy the completists. Whereas the band’s eponymous debut dealt in a straightforward blend of garage and rock ‘n’ roll, Octubre suggests a willingness to tell stories, switch up styles and blend layers of sound. And, with the nights getting colder, darker and mistier, perhaps it’s November that heralds the season of L.A. Witch.

Octubre is out now via Suicide Squeeze Records.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego