EP: Rookes – ‘Liminal’

Rookes is a solo electro-pop project based in London. She has just released her second EP, Liminal, using ’80s synth sounds as a frame for her powerful voice, reminiscent of the best of the Eurythmics or Yazoo. This sets the scene for a four track EP, in which Rookes explores her own love experiences during two years of exploration of her queer identity across the London dating scene. 

‘Salvage’ is a slow, shimmering start dealing with post-breakup feelings, becoming more urgent and uptempo with the chorus, whereas ‘New Lovers’ has an eerie ’80s feel, with spiralling synths. However, the synths gain a harder edge as the song goes on, expressing the fear of a dangerous love (“do me no harm”). 

Lead single, ‘Liminal’, is catchy and poppier, where a lover is asked to take a romantic risk; suggesting both hope and caution, it’s a beautifully uplifting ballad. ‘Constellations’, however, closes the EP on a poetic note, oozing a dreamy warmth alongside soaring strings and shimmering synths.

This EP is polished, dramatic, and features intriguing songwriting. And you can dance to it! The emotions and experiences are completely relatable in songs centred on looking for love; finding it (but not being ready), and then losing it again. A stirring collection that will leave you wanting more of Rookes’ glistening soundscapes. 

Liminal is out now. Stream on all online platforms.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

EP: Foxcunt – ‘A Visit From Foxcunt’

Who wouldn’t want a visit from Foxcunt? Fuelled by a shared love of “cider, art and dismantling state oppression”, which are, in my book anyway, ingredients for a top night, their latest album is riotous, shout-along political punk, as outspoken as their deliciously swear-y name suggests.

The band take shots at the patriarchy, post-Brexit Britain and the stress and monotony of life today. Current single ‘Anxiety Dream’ is a clear standout. Its crunchy guitars have a nervous, post-punk energy, intensified by the lyrics, which list the worries from an anxious brain. Meanwhile, ‘Competition’, with its homage to punk classic – Jilted John’s ‘Jilted John’, asks why, if life isn’t supposed to be a competition, “why are you always trying to win?”

Feminist-anthem-in-the-making, ‘Make Her Smaller’, could become the first dancefloor-filler to rail against gaslighting, coercion and emotional abuse. But while its post-punk brilliance and poppy harmonies will have you raising your fist in the air, ‘Rip Yr Fucking Cock Off’ is angrier, feistier and calls for direct action. It could start a movement, or a fight. Depending on the amount of Strongbow you’ve consumed.

Their ode to post-Brexit Britain, ‘BSE’, asks us to consider whether we’re as ‘great’ as we think, recalling the days of so-called Mad Cow Disease. A duet with alternating shouts of “Creutzfeldt!” and “Jakob!”, it channels a kinda wayward Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood.

In addition to the musical nods, the band wear their influences on their (album) sleeve, too. With artwork seemingly inspired by sloganeering feminist artist, Barbara Kruger, the band’s passions are everywhere.

Ultimately, A Visit From Foxcunt is an angry, joyous and empowering experience. But, while the band are blistering on record, I can’t help but think their energy will translate even better live. Next time they play ‘round my way, they’re definitely getting a visit from me!

 

A Visit From Foxcunt is out today, available on Bandcamp and Spotify. You can catch Foxcunt live at our monthly Finsbury night on 13th December!

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Micky Strickson

EP: Vulpynes – ‘Dye Me Red’

With four unforgiving, relentlessly scuzzy songs, Irish grunge duo Vulpynes release their second EP Dye Me Red.

Kicking off the stormy ride with a riveting riff dripping in fuzz, Molly and Kas launch their EP’s roller-coaster ride with ‘I Can’t Sit Still’: immediately introducing listeners to a perfect taste of what’s to come. Tastefully driven angst spoken through guitar tones meets hard hitting vocal melodies that marry in a chaotic yet sparse way. No matter the moment, Dye Me Red hosts a harmony between noise and sparseness throughout, allowing each instrument their room to thrive and dance within their own vein. With such tight instrumentals in correspondence to rebellious, catchy melodies, Vulpynes draw wisps of early Foo Fighters or The Distillers with a chanting tone throughout the whole of this EP. 

It is hard not to feel Riot Grrrl energy with the powerful vocal doubles coating Dye Me Red. At just the right times, listeners feel like they’re invited to the party with the EP’s punchy communal vocal layers. ‘Bitches Are Like Waves’, the follow up track to ‘I Can’t Sit Still’, serves a protest-like disposition. As much as this song emotes lyrically, it also draws severe attention with its instrumentals. With delicate percussion sounds in a punk setting and classic guitar character, Vulpynes do an incredible job of showcasing the dance-ability of electric guitar. It is indeed hard to sit still throughout the journey of this EP’s sounds, there is truly an undeniable movement to it. 

In more ways than one, Vulpynes embody their lyrics – “won’t settle down, gotta settle up” -throughout their music that doesn’t wait for anyone. ‘The Hunt’, the EP’s finale, is a noisy, ghostly outro that haunts the EP with its feet sturdy in the ground. With elements reminiscent of Kim Gordon, Molly and Kas leave us with a hushy universal sentence: “I am not your prey.” Through their bold lyrics, sharp instrumentals and unique chemistry, Vulpynes create a space for everyone to celebrate themselves as emotional human beings. Dye Me Red is an empowering, charging EP for anyone seeking a release. 

 

Jillian Goyeau
@jillybxxn

EP: Breakup Haircut – ‘What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet!’

You know when you fall for a band without even hearing a bit of music? Breakup Haircut had me at the press release. Formed just three months ago for First Timers fest – a festival where every band plays their debut show, they’re now releasing their first EP.

What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet! is joyously lo-fi pop punk with, in the band’s words, “boppin’ bass” and witty lyrics that’ll put a big smile on your face. With songs like ‘I Wish I Was Cool Enough To Move To Berlin’ and ‘I (Don’t) Wanna Do Things’, it’s funny, relatable and, refreshingly, shows that the band don’t take themselves too seriously.

With this EP, Breakup Haircut sound like they are having the best time making music together, and their enthusiasm and sense of fun is infectious. You won’t be able to resist it.

What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet! is out via Hell Hath No Fury Records on 27th September. Catch them live for yours truly at The Finsbury on 11th October – we can’t wait!

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: @thsheridans

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