Five Favourites: The Inspirations Behind Grawl!x’s ‘PEEPS’

Having previously received acclaim for their previous three albums, including last year’s Appendix, Derby-based Grawl!x, is now set to release their brand new album later this week.

To celebrate the release of their new album, Grawl!x will be playing our gig at The Finsbury this Friday, and we cannot wait to be captivated by their soaring cinematic soundscapes live. 

Hi there! My name is Maria & I’m in Grawl!x. We’ve got an album coming out called PEEPS. It’s about friends & how important they are in the face of impending doom, but it’s also fun – YAY!!! Here’s five tracks that influenced the making of this record.

Jon Hopkins – ‘Immunity’ 
A big impetus for this album was a trip I took a few years back with a friend a mine. We went and stayed over in North Wales for a night & just sortof hung out. On the way back we stopped by this beach which, given a spot of gorge weather, felt briefly like the hazy Mediterranean. I sat and had a ponder while my friend played with her dog. It was a lovely moment as I’d been having some mental problems and I just felt everything would be OK, despite all this doom & gloom in me bonce. On the way there, we listened to Immunity and the title track is my fave. It was such a eureka moment the first time I heard this; it was like “oh, dance music can be heart breaking, tender & beautiful in an almost classical sense”. Having just done a rather slow piano record, it seemed like a logical progression to pop a beat in there somewhere. He’s rate clever.

Deerful – ‘N1c’
Not sure how I got turned onto Deerful (probs through Haiku Salut who are lovely peeps!), but I absolutely love her voice and synth work. There’s so many from her first record Peaches I could pick but I just heart the vibe in this one. I gather she uses algorithms which blows my mind, but then I am a country bumpkin! Plus, it references The Postal Service, which is like one of my favourite albums ever. It was such an honour to have her sing on two of the tracks for PEEPS. We’ve still yet to meet, so it’s like my first online friendship if that’s rate to say? I remember getting the stems back one shift at work (I’m a projectionist), and I was just geeking out diving around in the dark projection booth. Proper highlight. So, thank you for that Deerful.

Yves Tumor – ‘Limerence’
This is such a beautiful track, and that it comes from such an enigmatic, challenging artist makes it all the more beautiful. It’s just one of those tracks that just makes me yearn for bygone folks & memories of loveliness. When the vocal sample comes in, it’s so unexpected but so playful; juvenile but perfectly encapsulates that sense of youth. It evokes a lot it me face brain.

Emma Kupa – ‘Katie NYC’
This is just one of my fave friend songs. When I was looking at songs about friendship, the most common tendency tended to be that they were a bit – dare I say – cheesy. This is a stark example to the contrary. It’s just so sad and heartfelt. You’re proper there with her and her loved one who’s suffering. I think we’ve all been there where you want to help some one, and you feel so helpless. Of course, sometimes just being present is enough. I might be reading into it too much. I just love Emma’s solo music & proper hope to hear some new stuff soon.

Animal Collective  – ‘My Girls’
I couldn’t not include this song for many reasons. It’s been such a huge influence on my life. If I could ever write a song halfway as good as this, I’d be happy. I’d been in mostly rock bands up to the point this came out, and it just reconnected me to the joy of electronic instrumentation. It’s catchy, beautiful, clever – it’s just so good, I’m listening to it again now! As well as all that, it’s been there in my life at such crucial points. I remember driving with my Dad one time going to the beach in my twenties, and just had a lovely day. I played it at a DJ night recently, and we all had a good grind. Plus, pretty sure me and my friend played it on the way back from that trip to North Wales. Friends are proper important, I think, but friends with music is like the best cake you can ever go swimming in. Quote for the ages I think you’ll agree.

Huge thanks to Grawl!x for sharing their five choices with us! 

PEEPS, the upcoming album from Grawl!x, is out on Friday 14th February via Reckless Yes. Pre-order on Bandcamp now. And catch them live to celebrate at our gig at The Finsbury that night, along with Piney Gir, Captain Handsome and I Am HER.

 

Photo Credit: Laura Mi

Five Favourites: Peggy Sue

Set to release their upcoming fourth album next month, London duo Katy Young and Rosa Slade – aka Peggy Sue – create beautifully captivating offerings filled with luscious harmonies and a shimmering energy. A celebration of self love, the reverb-strewn, uplifting sound of latest single ‘In Dreams’ showcases all their is to love about them, a band who have now found themselves again after a four year hiatus.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Katy and Rosa, who have shared their “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with them. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to watch the new video for latest single ‘In Dreams’ at the end of this post.

Porridge Radio – ‘Lilac’
Katy:
I fell in love with this song last summer, when we played a show for She Shreds with Porridge Radio at Great Escape. The refrain “I don’t want to get bitter, I want us to get better, I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other”, really spoke to me then and is a pretty good rule for life to be honest. I may or may not have recorded a sneaky bootleg on my phone at the time, but luckily it’s now out for real and sounds much better. They have a new album coming this year that I’m excited for.  

La Luz – ‘Sure As Spring’
Katy:
We did a support tour with La Luz in 2018 – there wasn’t really any reason for us to do it because the record wasn’t finished, but it was exactly what we needed to kind of force us into being a band again properly. I think their music has been a big influence on this new album – their sound is obviously incredible but it’s also clear and cohesive and consistent in a way that I think we strived for. Taking influence from lots of places is really important, but there’s something really powerful in turning all of that into one continuing sound that is all your own, which is something we’ve really tried to do on Vices more than we ever did before. But probably even more than any of that, being on the road with those girls was really inspiring, and their encouragement and support was a massive confidence boost exactly when we needed it.

Big Thief – ‘Paul’
Katy:
It feels like it’s so much rarer that I become totally obsessed with a band now – something that felt like it happened about once a week when I was younger. But Big Thief have been a bit of an exception to that in the last few years. At least five friends sent me this song, knowing I would love it. It’s so beautiful and tender and catchy as hell. I have probably had the first line in my head for three years straight. 

Beth Gibbons – ‘Tom The Model’
Rosa:
It’s kind of a cheat to choose this song; the chorus borrows so much Nina Simone’s ‘Do What You Gotta Do’, another of my all-time favourites, it’s a bit like sneaking two songs into one choice. When it bursts into that chorus, it’s the ultimate release after the slow creeping verses. The horns and strings are lush and kind of ominous. Beth Gibbons’ voice soars – walking that line between delicacy and pure force. I’ve always liked that she embraces darkness so unapologetically, and can make sweetness or desire as threatening or powerful as they are gentle. Listening to her music always feels like a solo experience. It’s impossible for me not to enter into the world her songs create wholly.

Landshapes – ‘Red Kite’
Rosa:
I love this song – it has made me cry perhaps every time I have watched Landshapes perform it. There’s a deep feeling of pride watching close friends play a song you think is truly objectively beautiful. The song just builds slowly and surely like this swelling wave. Jemma’s guitar solos have the ability to shift Landshapes’ songs into a totally different place, and when Luisa sings “in the face of everyone I swear this time I’m done”, it’s like this wave crashing down in a sort of haunting catharsis. Dan, Landshapes’ drummer, also played drums on Vices, and it’s a joy watching and listening to the different things he’s brought to both bands.

Massive thanks to Katy and Rosa for sharing their Five Favourites with us!

Vices, the upcoming fourth album from Peggy Sue, is out 21st February via French Exit. Watch the new video for ‘In Dreams’ here:

 

Track Of The Day: Charmpit – ‘Bridges Go Burn’

London DIY band Charmpit have indeed been charming our ears, and our hearts, for some time; having wowed us with their energy-filled charisma live on more than one occasion, and following the joyous sounds of their Jelly EP, they’ve now announced the release of their debut album, out next year via Specialist Subject Records.

Taken from the album, new single ‘Bridges Go Burn’ is filled with all the sparkling fuzz, jangly, shimmering hooks and luscious honey-sweet harmonies we’ve come to know and love. An empowering ode to moving on from toxic relationships and standing up for yourself, it’s a perfectly uplifting, luminous slice of ‘Anarcutie’ pop-punk to soundtrack this week’s anxiety…

Of the track, the band explain:

We grew up in the 90s and 00s surrounded by examples in books/movies/songs of falling in romantic love and breaking up. Pop culture offered us so many blueprints for romantic relationships and comparatively few about other loving relationships. But in our experience, ending friendships, or being estranged from family, was heartbreaking, often more heartbreaking than our romantic breakups. We wanted to contribute a breakup song about friendship and family heartbreak to pop culture. It can take time to burn a bridge, especially when it’s guarded by a troll. You can forgive yourself for taking the time you needed to exit that toxic relationship. And when you exit it, you can write a pop banger so it ain’t so dang depressing. Strike a match, light it up, better bitter than deep fried!

Filmed at the band’s home, Charm Gardens in East London, watch the new video for ‘Bridges Go Burn’ here:

And keep your eyes peeled for the debut album from Charmpit, out in 2020, via Specialist Subject Records.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Five Favourites: Maija Sofia

Following the success of last single ‘Flowers’, Irish artist Maija Sofia has now announced the release of her debut album, Bath Time – a collection of songs that were written in the run up to the Repeal The 8th Movement, and all addressing the issue of the silencing and misrepresentation of women.

Creating poignant, stirring slices of alt-folk, filled with beautiful melodies, rich luscious vocals and a raw emotion, Maija Sofia is fast becoming a firm favourite and we can’t wait for the album release.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Maija, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ at the end of this post.

Katie Kim – ‘Day is Coming’ 
Katie Kim is one of my absolute favourite songwriters and this song is from her incredible album Salt. I love how dark, foreboding and ominous her work is while managing to be tender and emotive at the same time. She marries heavy, droning, gauzy harmonies with strange, unexpected vocal melodies and it creates an atmosphere in her work that’s like a sliver of sunlight trying to push through heavy black storm clouds. I love how the chanted refrain “day is coming” towards the end of this song sounds like a wild, horrific pagan ritual, but also sounds redemptive and oddly reassuring.

Radie Peat – ‘Katie Cruel’
I first heard Radie perform this song with the above mentioned Katie Kim when they did a really special collaborative performance in the Pepper Canister church in Dublin, and she’s since recorded an amazing version with her band Lankum who I would include in this list as they are probably my favourite band at the moment, but they surely need no introduction. I knew this song first from Karen Dalton’s gorgeous version but I love how Radie’s drawling almost terrifying voice merges with the harmonium and fiddle drones and makes it a totally new song.

Rachael Lavelle – ‘Perpetual Party’
Rachael Lavelle is an up and coming artist also based in Dublin that I’m really excited about. She has one of the hugest most eerily expansive voices I have ever heard and her songs are dark, gothic, evocative but also euphoric and have a strange, off-kilter sense of humour. This song is a perfect example of what makes her work so singular; she blends aspects of influence from Laurie Anderson, Jenny Hval and Julia Holter, but just makes it completely her own. Every time I see her live I’m more blown away.

Lisa O’Neill – ‘Along The North Strand’
For one reason or another I have a deep love of murder ballads in which the roles are reversed and it’s the women doing the murdering; same goes with folklore, the bible – Judith and Holofernes, Salome and John the Baptist, you name it, I love them all. This is a song Lisa O’Neill learned from a little-known traveller singer Kitty Cassidy and it appeared on her last album, the brilliant Heard A Long Gone Song. Lisa is also an one of my favourite songwriters, and that last album is a perfect mix of original songs and traditional songs, blending her wild, jagged mountainside stormy sea of a voice, her plaintive, poetic lyrics with accompaniment from some of the best trad musicians in the country like Cormac Begley and Christophe Capewell.

Rising Damp – ‘Rising Damp’
Rising Damp is the solo performance project of Michelle Doyle who also plays in the great punk band Sissy. I’ve been lucky to share the same bill with Michelle a few times now and every time I’m blown away. I can’t really describe it properly, but a Rising Damp show consists of synths, drum machines, vocal effects and fervently anti-fascist spoken word/shouting, all delivered with Michelle’s wild, hypnotic feral energy. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a Rising Damp show – go!

Huge thanks to Maija for sharing her Five Favourites! Listen to latest single ‘The Glitter’ below:

Bath Time, the upcoming album from Maija Sofia, is out 22nd November via Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records.

ALBUM: Brix & The Extricated – ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’

Known as the Super Blood Wolf Moon, this rare celestial event occurs when the first full Moon in a calendar year is at its closest approach to Earth, during a total lunar eclipse; a collision of the Super Moon, the Blood Moon and the Wolf Moon.

Just like the moonscape that inspired its name, the soundscape of Brix & the Extricated‘s latest LP Super Blood Wolf Moon is a collision of raucous post-punk hooks, infectious progressive rock riffs, and euphoric melodies that honour and transcend the historical output of the band’s founders: vocalist/guitarist Brix Smith Start and bassist Steve Hanley, ex-members of The Fall.

Super Blood Wolf Moon is the third record from Brix & the Extricated – following their 2017 debut, Part 2, and 2018’s sophomore release, Breaking State. Opening with ‘Strange Times’, a gentle, shimmering guitar ballad of global despair that musically recalls Brix’s earlier indie pop band, The Adult Net, it continues with ‘Hustler’ – a different beast altogether. The Fall-esque second track combines the musicality of Brix, Steve, and his brother, drummer Paul Hanley’s, ’80s output – referred to lovingly as the “Brix Smith years” – with lyrical elements of unforgiving brutality: “I know, you know / I know, you know / You’re just a two-bit hustler / It’s coming back to crush ya!”

‘Wolves’ is the defining track of Super Blood Wolf Moon; reflecting on pack mentality and driven by the Hanley brothers’ driving basslines, drum beats and the triple cascading guitar collision of Brix, Steve Trafford (also ex-The Fall) and Jason Brown: “I run with wolves and sleep beneath the stars / The clothes I wear is just to hide the scars / The cross I bear is etched into my skin / I run with wolves, they’re my next of kin.”

The edgy, hypnotic, pulsating bass guitar of Steve Hanley on ‘Waterman’ is complemented by Brix’s haunting vocals, transitioning to the catchy, almost upbeat pop of ‘Dinosaur Girl’. But don’t let your ears deceive you. Brix sings honestly of depression and over medication culture – “Below the excavation / Lies the remains of a Prozac nation / Just a dinosaur girl.”

‘Crash Landing’ explores themes of drug addiction and suicide against a psychedelic guitar soundscape, enhanced by the inclusion of violinist Sarah Brandwood-Spencer’s blissful strings, whilst Brix and Steve Trafford share vocal duties, providing fantastical female/male harmonies for ‘Wintertyde’, arranged against spectral harpsichord.

Brix & the Extricated’s social commentary continues on ‘Wasteland’; a dark, operatic track that explores climate change, the destruction of our environment, and conspiracy through intense drum strikes, thunderous guitars, and sweeping strings. Whilst penultimate track, ‘Tannis Root’, is just as heavy, combining staccato rhythm guitar riffs with punchy, powerful basslines.

Closing Super Blood Wolf Moon with a heightened sense of foreboding, ‘The God Stone’ begins with Sarah’s deeply moving strings, building up to a crescendo of eccentric electric guitar. A fitting finale to an often uncomfortable and challenging record seeped in classic pop melodies, abrasive post-punk and brooding social commentary. Prepare to be extricated!

Super Blood Moon Wolf is out now via Grit Over Glamour Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

LISTEN: Maija Sofia – ‘The Glitter’

Following the success of last single ‘Flowers’, Irish artist Maija Sofia has now announced the release of her debut album, Bath Time – a collection of songs that were written in the run up to the Repeal The 8th Movement, and all addressing the issue of the silencing and misrepresentation of women.

In keeping with this theme, new single ‘The Glitter’ tells the story of Jean Rhys, a Carribean novelist who came to England aged sixteen and struggled with feelings of displacement. Flowing with beautiful, folk strewn melodies and Sofia’s rich luscious vocals, it sparkles with a raw emotion, creating a poignant, stirring slice of alt-folk. 

Listen to ‘The Glitter’ here:

 

Bath Time, the upcoming new album from Maija Sofia, is out 22nd November via Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

 

ALBUM: Gaptooth – ‘Sharp Minds, Raised Fists’

Gaptooth – singer, songwriter and producer Hannah Lucy – wears her influences on her sleeve (quite literally, if you check out the video for ‘Post-Patriarchy Disco’). And, like the feminist punk bands she loves, Sharp Minds, Raised Fists has purpose and a pure punk attitude. Yet the poppy synths, crunchy guitars and electro beats make it feel accessible, too.

And accessibility is everything when your message is so important. Gaptooth’s impassioned lyrics are a call to arms; a rallying cry against the patriarchy and capitalism. It’s hard not to get fired up by them. In ‘Red flags’, you feel and share her anger: “We wanna stay sexy and not get murdered,” she sings, “We’re still walking home with our keys in our fists.”

‘They Cut, We Bleed’ is peppered with samples from marches arranged by the feminist direct action group, Sisters Uncut. It feels ground-breaking and powerful. Meanwhile, ‘I Am Not My Productivity’ is an anti-capitalist anthem for anyone who feels like work is sucking the life out of them. And God, there’s a lot of us!

Sharp Minds, Raised Fists includes some more personal songs, too. ‘Mixtape Song’ and ‘Why I Left You Standing Outside Pizza Express’ offer an insight into both Hannah Lucy’s life and what it means to be a woman or non-binary person today.

This is an accomplished, important record. It sounds great; a real triumph of song-writing, performance and production. But more than that, it feels like Sharp Minds, Raised Fists could really inspire and empower people. It could soundtrack a movement.

You know the old adage about how everyone who attended the Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester started a band? Similarly, perhaps this record will make people start a revolution.

Sharp Minds, Raised Fists is out 11th October. Pre-order on Bandcamp now.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Keira Anee Photography