VVOLVES - When I'm Down


When I’m Down

Released: Oct 03 2011

Genre: Indie Rock

Label: Peski Records

Rating: 3.0/5


By: James Murray

Originally written for The 405

Stylised band names seem to be in fashion. VVOLVES might not take their quirkiness to the lengths of tUnE-yArDs – but with such bands it can be difficult to see beyond their barefaced attempts of flamboyance. Luckily, in both cases, these bands carry the unique punch to justify their textual gaudiness; though in the case of VVOLVES their music certainly isn’t as far-out as the title suggests.

It’s incredible how swiftly bands can move on and adapt their musical style, and there are fewer cases where this is more relevant than with VVOLVES. In January of this year their self-titled EP was released; a fast-paced, electronic influenced indie pop record, quite comparable to Klaxons and other (controversially labelled) nu-rave bands of the 00s. The When I’m Down EP, however, takes a much more melancholy approach. The feel-good aura is still tangible, but VVOLVES focus has shifted away from their original eccentricity – instead taking a step backwards into the shadows of their 80s influencers.

‘Clearer’ is a suitably named opener. With a strong focus on vocals that aren’t present in earlier releases, it wouldn’t be outrageous to compare the record to the earlier sounds of The Cure. VVOLVES have definitely moved away from their electronic roots, but it’d be unfair to brand them as backwards or dated. The nostalgic value is certainly there, but more relevant music tendencies give this band their splash of originality. Incongruous to their generally uplifting sound, at times eerie patches of musicianship arise – in closing track ‘Where You’d Start’, vocals aside, much of the track wouldn’t sound out of place beside some of The Horrors later work.

The When I’m Down EP isn’t ground-breaking, but it’s a successful music experiment for a band making such a radical side-step. Later releases will clarify whether changing direction is a smart move, but When I’m Down certainly shows signs of potential. VVOLVES show no lack of musicianship, the only worry is whether this newly-found panache carries enough novelty to stand out from the rest on a musical level, and not just on print.

VVOLVES – Where You’d Start


Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost


Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Released: Sept 12 2011

Genre: Indie Rock

Label: True Panther Sound

Rating: 4.o/5


By: Amy Rylett

Father, Son, Holy Ghost is the second album from the San Francisco based indie rock band Girls.

Christopher Owen’s song writing is what makes this album great – it’s sweet and sincere with lyrics to tracks such as Honey Bunny and Magic lingering in listener’s heads. “Just a look was all it took; suddenly I’m on the hook – it’s magic” The majority of tracks are melodic and have a sense of longing which is probably why it’s so popular; each song is highly relatable. Paired with a voice resembling Costello’s, Owens seems to have the whole teenage angst thing down.

Opening track, ‘Honey Bunny’, has a Buddy Holly-esq surf guitar melody, and upon hearing it for the first time it sounds strangely familiar. However that’s probably what makes it such a good opener – it’s reminiscent of a lot of the popular indie tracks from this past summer. It’s innocent and there’s no hidden agenda; it’s a simple, sweet song, nothing more, nothing less.

There’s more of the same to come in the form of ‘Alex’, the second track on the album, again with relatively catchy lines and even catchier guitar. However it’s the third track, ‘Die’ which is when you can tell that this is more than a summer soundtrack. On this instrumental it’s easy to see influences from other artists – White Denim seem to have played a part in the disjointed feel to this song – the fact that it grabs your attention and leaves you feeling a bit thrown about before placing you gently down into a sort of Pink Floyd chasm as it tails off into the next.

‘How Can I Say I Love You’ is rather disappointing compared to the previous three tracks. It’s just quite boring and mumbles on, although it does pick up with the interesting guitar midway through. Then along comes ‘Myma’; another lazy, longing love song which the band seems to have perfected over the course of making and producing Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

The whole tone of the album changes when it comes to ‘Vomit’. A lot deeper on the emotional side of things, it tells of “Nights I spend alone; I spend them running around looking for you baby”. With almost painful guitar and the slightly gravely sadness that Owen uses throws up memories of being alone. It builds up to The Great Gig in the Sky heights with Bob Dylan sounding keyboard and haunting female vocals. A powerful track indeed.

As the ordeal of ‘Vomit’ lingers, Just a song offers some alleviation. It’s still burdened with the longing that it seems only indie bands can fully utilise but this time with strings and what sounds like chords from a Laura Marling track, patched together with almost tribal drums and a February Stars esq crescendo. Magic follows on after this, almost annoyingly upbeat after the past tracks. Thankfully, Forgiveness drifts quietly in with its nonabrasive lyrics and flowing guitar then a similar pattern with Love, like a river. This change in pace and genre makes it seem as if the first half of the album never happened.  The last track, Jamie Marie, is tender and hopeful and draws this accomplished album to a gratifying close. All in all, ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ is a beautiful, well produced and honest album.

Listen to ‘Vomit’ below:

Bass Music 1

Adam F and DJ Fresh present Bass Music 1 the first in a new series of digital only compliations from arguably the biggest drum and bass/dubstep label around. Hosting an incredible range of artists both past and present including the likes of Pendulum, Nero, Chase & Status and DJ Fresh, Breakbeat Kaos have more than enough material to form an incredible compilation record.  With DJ Fresh making history with Louder, the UKs first dubstep number one, Breakbeat Kaos are currently enjoying plenty of success in exciting times. Bass Music 1 is set to be released on October 3rd and will be available at all good digital download stores.

The tracklist for Bass Music 1 will be:

1. WTF?! – It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop (Dubbed Out Mix)
2. DJ Fresh – Fight
3. DJ Fresh – Gold Dust (Flux Pavillion Rmx)
4. Adam F – Shut The Lights Off (Caspa Rmx)
5. Afrojack ft. Eva Simons – Take Over Control (Adam F Rmx)
6. Nero – Act Like You Know
7. Chase & Status ft. Roll Deep – Top Shotta
8. DJ Fresh – Hypercaine (Nero Rmx)
9. WTF?! – It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop (Sidney Samson Rmx)
10. Pendulum – Tarantula
11. Pendulum – Axle Grinder
12. DJ Fresh & Sigma – Cylon
13. DJ Fresh – Hypercaine
14. Brookes Brothers – Tear You Down
15. Adam F – Shut The Lights Off (Adam F & Sigma Rmx)
16. Nero – Act Like You Know (Dubstep mix)
17. Sigma – Front To Back (Original Sin Rmx)
18. Camo & Krooked – Can’t Get Enough
19. Sigma – Baltimore
20. Sub Focus – Timewarp VIP
21. Flux Pavillion – Hold Me Close
22. Ginuwine ft. Timberland & Missy Elliott – Get Involved (Adam F and Herve’s Stadium Kaos Rmx)
23. DJ Fresh – The Gatekeeper
24. Brookes Brothers – In Your Eyes ft. Johnny Osbourne
25. Pixel Fist – Seduction

Visit Breakbeat Kaos at Twitter and YouTube for more.

Khuda - Iecava



Released: June 01 2011

Genre: Post-Rock

Label: Field Records

Rating: 3.3/5


By James Murray

Originally Written for The 405

Two-piece bands are hard to come across nowadays – but when they do crop up you’d expect something stripped down, something minimal. This isn’t the case with Khuda, as the Leeds based duo stretch out the capabilities of their guitars and drum kit to create an explosive, atmospheric demonstration of post-rock.

With instrumental records, tight production is vital. Fortunately, Iecava is sublimely produced. Each track interweaves subtly – which is somewhat paradoxical as this record is some way off elusive. In fact it’s quite the opposite, considering there’s only two common instruments used throughout the records thirty minute run-length Iecava is frenzied, intense and exertive.

Only the individual can decide whether lyrics or instrumentals make the greater impact – but if Khuda send out one message with their second LP, it’s that instrumentals can be arranged and manipulated to evoke imagery and emotion in ways that vocals cannot. Iecava can be described by a phrase thrown about much too often in musical critique:‘A journey’. Khuda have clearly attempted to create a rollercoaster album full of highs and lows, breakdowns and musical explosions – and despite their instrumental restraint they’ve succeeded. The emotion and imagery unleashed on the listener throughout the record would make it fitting for the big screen. Epic adventure films are craving the overwhelming passion stored within Khuda compositions.

Album titled track ‘Iecava’ is a highlight of the LP. Despite its toned down nature, fast-paced layered guitars evoke images of fear and imminent danger as nonconforming drum rhythms add to the tracks sense of urgency.

Iecava is a brilliant display of musicianship; but even with only eight tracks in total – towards the latter end of the LP diversity is crippled by their lack of either lyrics or additional instruments. Most of the tracks use the same formula of steady, atypical drumming overlaid by fast-paced guitar riffs – which is impressive, but can become monotonous in the long-run.

‘Tyche’ is a fitting finale – and the albums most adventurous and experimental display. Heavy use of cymbals and guitar distortion on top of regular tempo changes offers an intriguing, more experimental approach that isn’t upheld for the entirety of the record. Iecava is explosive, impressive and beautifully composed – but the real question is whether having only two members will limit their future development as a band.

Four 0 - Tales of the Unexpected

Four 0

Tales of the Unexpected

Released: Out Now

Genre: Ska / Reggae

Label: Do The Dog

Rating: 3.5/5


By Alexandra Lyon

Four 0 are a male quartet that originate from Bournemouth, England. Recently they released their newest album, Tales of the Unexpected

Four 0 tag themselves as “indie”, but there are also heavy elements of ska, punk, rock and even reggae. This makes for an interesting combination as the album progresses through its ten tracks, jumping from crisp, chunky electric guitar riffs to the twang of ukuleles. Its novel sound is exciting and original, and would make even the most sour-faced of listeners crack a smile.

The first and probably the catchiest track on the album, Step Back, is delightful. Full of energy and rock-band enthusiasm, it combines classic gritty electric guitar with a reggae drum beat and Wailers-esque rhythm guitar to form a track which is as baffling as it is brilliant. With an irresistibly memorable hook, “Step back, heart attack!” the track lingers in the mind long after it has been heard.

The same could be said for most of the songs on the album. The boys in Four 0 breeze through each song with a southern charm that seems much more refined than it was when they released their EP, and even their first album. They sound more “grown-up”, as it were. Not any less fun, but infinitely more polished and confident.

Other tracks to take note of are Desert Rains, mainly for the almost animatedly happy introduction that gives us Tyrone Moll and a thoroughly Mexican “Areba!”. Throw in a flawless drum beat, a rumbling bass guitar and a pair of maracas , and you have a track that sums up the attitude of all four boys in a playful six minutes and four seconds.

Ukelay Saturday is also guaranteed to lift the mood of any listener, with vocals reminiscent of those by the Wombats front-man, Matthew Murphy, and Clash Horns is a reminder of the chaos that is the album’s general sound. The boys’ genuine musical ability is also showcased best in this track, with impressive, fast-paced guitar scales resonating from every corner of the track. Also, Lost and Lonely will evoke smiles and a nodding of the head from most listeners, though it can seem as though the boys are trying a bit too hard at times. Some of the lyrics are questionable, nice, but questionable nonetheless.

It is encouraged to vary an album from track to track to keep the flow of excitement moving, and yet it can easily become grating that the sounds are just slightly too varied. Each song is enjoyable in its own way, but at times it sounds like a playlist of different bands playing each song rather than them having their own distinctive sound. The band states that their influences are “anyone that plays good music.” – this may be artistic, but the album is contradictory of itself in many ways. Some fans will appreciate its quirkiness, whereas others will marvel at the fact that a meaty electric guitar has been used on the same album that features a ukulele.

Four 0 – Tequila, Salt and Lime

Dennis Hopper Choppers - Be Ready

Dennis Hopper Choppers

Be Ready

Released: July 04 2011

Genre: Folk Rock / Psychedelic

Label: D.Wink

Rating: 4.0/5


By Diether Scholten 

Last June Ben Nicholls’ one-man-band evolved into a multiple-guest-star orchestra-like ensemble – Dennis Hopper Choppers. With a two-day recording marathon in a south-London based studio Be Ready took shape.

Be Ready spawned in the area where movies like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly were shot. This movie-stage sure has left it’s fingerprint on this new album, as every song manages to creates some kind of story-telling atmosphere which will prove to be a bit of a challenge for the director of the music clips, if there even will be…

The opening song, Good To Me, could be used in a spaghetti western which is due to a shrill trumpet that Ennio Moricone could have thought up himself. Ben Nicholls’ deep and rich voice throughout the introduction takes you on a cinematic trip.

Climaxes in this roller-coaster record are the over-melodic All That I Once Thought, and the semi-aggressive bass-line and chorus throughout My Destiny.  Nicholls really shows the power of his voice in going from a deep and slow, repeating ballad to an incredible build up in Number 1, leading through its climax in a jazzy saxophone-solo.

In between these climaxes great mood-setters can be found. Some tracks seem to capture the tunes of certain areas, Persia for example, as displayed in Good To Me. And after a long ride on a chopper, with All Could Come True and Long Trip Home some slightly tempered Russian folk can be heard in Moscow Nights. Further down the road Razor Gang sounds like a gang of choppers rampaging over a busy highway. Approaching the end of the album, Heart To Dry has “walking lonely in the Spanish desert” written all over it.

The final track, Come To My Party feels like one grim package of all previous songs; offering a great build up that leads to a final closure.

Whether in the mood for some folk rock or not, the tracks on this album succeed in creating atmosphere – and with just a 2-day recording session this is a job well done.

Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me

Underground Railroad - White Night Stand

Underground Railroad

White Night Stand

Released: June 13 2011

Genre: Indie Rock

Label: One Little Indian

Rating: 4.5/5


By: James Murray

The return of Underground Railroad comes in the form of White Night Stand: a drastic but positive progression from the raw sounds of previous LP, Sticks and Stones.

The Parisian-via-London three piece, through the creation of White Night Stand, have found a deep and grungey style of rock music bursting with originality. Throughout the record’s fifty minutes of playtime, Underground Railroad experiment with a diverse tracklist, from the long-lasting album centrepiece Seagull Attack to the Radiohead-esque vibes of new single Ginkgo Biloba.

Through the album’s twists and turns, one of many highlights is We Were Slumbering – an experimental drum-driven track that takes full advantage of production effects without becoming an obstacle melodiously. The unforgettable chorus dissolves into darkness as Raphael Mura’s digitalised vocals trail into eerie nothingness.

Previous single Russian Doll sits a comfortable five tracks into the LP, and is without a doubt the album anthem and expected future encore. The fast-paced nature of Russian Doll feels somewhat out of place on a predominantly slower record, however, it captures the true meaning of the record through it’s busy composition. In the words of Raphael: “I was writing about all these dark bars in London, the weirdness of meeting new people and not understanding someone, or how they function.”

The height of experimentation comes in the form of nine minute track Seagull Attack. Switches of pace, vocal styles and instruments makes for an adventurous progression, exploiting a range of sounds – with stringed instruments taking a high role, and at points sharing similarities with ex-Leeds band Grammatics with their orchestral indie rock sounds.

White Night Stand is an impressive record and an extreme development on earlier sounds. Underground Railroad have transferred their musical style from 90s sounding indie rock to forward-thinking experimental rock music. A powerful and successful return.

Underground Railroad – Russian Doll