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 STREAM: TABS – ‘Love Like This’

“It’s so powerful for butch women to take that feeling of hate and being ‘incorrect’, and turn it into something amazing.”
(‘Why I Love My Butch Lesbian IdentityCosmopolitan)

TABS (previously writing and releasing under the name Detour City) tells her story of being a butch lesbian in an increasingly hostile world in new EP Love Like This.

A singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer based in East London, TABS has written, recorded and produced the EP herself. Inspired by the soundscapes of Massive Attack and Bjork, as well as the storytelling songs of Joni Mitchell and k.d lang, it’s a poignant and powerful collection.

Whilst signed to major labels (Polydor, BMG) TABS felt misunderstood. As a club promoter of Butch, Please! – an amazing lesbian club night which we love – she connected with butch lesbians all over the world and began the journey of making the EP. Seeking authenticity, she self-releases this EP with the support of her queer community.

Speaking about the EP, TABS explains:

“My story. My way. As a woman and a butch lesbian trying to write music I found the industry difficult and I found it hard to be heard. It took guts to walk away and choose a different path. I can’t help but write music. I’ve done it since I was two years old and singing has saved me over and over again. So, in these turbulent and unsettling times, I want this music to tell my story.” 

Dealing with themes of family rejection, the struggle to be herself and the violence she has suffered – Love Like This is a deeply personal exploration of hopes and fears in these turbulent times. Go listen, we love it!

 

Love Like This is out now. Buy a digital or hard copy over on TABS’ Bandcamp. To hear more from TABS check out her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Track By Track: Ziv – ‘Near Mint’

22 year old singer, rapper and beatmaker from Jerusalem. Ziv has been making music since the age of 13. Writing, recording and producing all her music herself, she’s had a strong sense of dedication to her own music from early on, quitting high school at the age of 16 to pursue her dream of studying music, which she did at the esteemed RIMON School for Jazz and Modern Music.

Now, having just released her new EP Near Mint, Ziv has showcased her shimmering, dreamy sounds and seductive vocals by creating an exquisitely crafted blend of mega chilled, lo-fi hip hop.

To tell us more about the EP, Ziv has given us the lowdown on each track:

‘Fav Shirt’
This song is a harmonic depiction of my bed as a deserted island, shared with a lover, a joint, and Netflix binge watching, while wearing my fav shirt – his huge T-shirt. A memory of me and my ex-boyfriend.

‘Lips To Kiss You’ 
This is a song about experiencing and sharing an intimate moment, compared to other habits of nature.

‘9/11’
My heart got broken so bad, it felt like a 9/11 attack on my body. The pain in my heart was so physical, and the struggle was real and harsh, but singing about it made it easier to cope through.

‘Bigger me’
‘Bigger me’ is an experimental pop song, the only song from ‘Near Mint’ to use auto-tune, which gives it a strange sound and a strong feeling of tension. The lyrics are about the relationship between a therapist and her client, finding himself in a familiar dark place in life, in a loss of control and the fight to get out to a better place.

‘Feels like’
I wrote this song on Yom Kippur, the holiest day according to Jewish tradition, a day of self-examination, observed mainly with a fast. I personally self-examined by smoking weed in my room and thinking about my ex-boyfriend – the first time I felt love, and everything I learned from it. I was flipping through samples and this one hit my heart – I knew it was meant to be.

Huge thanks to Ziv for this track by track lowdown. Listen to Near Mint in full on Spotify now. 

Photo Credit: Silvi Cohen

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: 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