Moral Panics – Ataraxia EP Review

If you’ve not heard the hype surrounding Moral Panics, where have you been hiding?!Despite their undoubtedly cool persona and ocassional unruly stage diving antics, don’t be fooled as their new EP ‘Ataraxia’ is sounding more mature and perfected than ever.

I’ve become fairly familiar with this band over the past year, having seen them more times that I can remember and being a regular listener. The prospect of releasing another EP is always a brave move as it will undoubtedly be compared to the success of past releases, but thankfully Moral Panics have nothing to fear as they return with this seemingly cool and enhanced sound.

‘Mammoths’ is the first track and what a track it is. Having previously reviewed this as a single a few weeks back, I cannot stress highly enough just how good it is! It’s the perfect opener for the EP, giving a taster of the brilliance that later unfolds. Introducing a slightly newer sound, it’s a bit different from their previous material but is definitely up there with my favourite Moral Panics tracks, bursting with passion and conjuring a storm of dexterity. If you have time I’d definitely check out the music video for it as well.

The second track ‘Here’ kicks off with a classic drumbeat, and the introduction of the bass and sprightly riff overlaying it adds an unmistakable groove that sounds pretty immense when played at full volume. It’s slightly more chilled than the opening track, which I quite like as it allows you the opportunity to properly get into the EP without being too overwhelmed from the outset. There’s an element in the chorus that reminds me of Two Door Cinema Club, yet this influence is mixed with something a bit more cutting that rules it out from being a generic indie track and throws a bit of grunge in there.

‘Calidore’ launches straight into an oscillating riff and an unmistakably catchy one at that. It’s eerily beautiful – the marginally upbeat undertone, which is almost cancelled out by a more sincere and sorrowful vocal, creates a divine result that captures what this EP is all about and the direction Moral Panics are pursuing.

Track 4, ‘Lungs’, is another gritty track that combines thoughtfully crafted lyrics, powerful drumming and an explosion of a chorus that is simply electric. The bass in the verses allows Dan’s intense vocal to flourish, and once again the lads have come up with another timeless and effortless melody that just screams out their iconic sound – but version 2.0.

If you’re going to recognise one Moral Panics song it has got to be ‘February’. Featuring on their previous EP ‘Wlvs’, this was the song that initially got me into the band. It’s quite clever including this as the closing track to the new EP – despite a slight tweak in their sound that old flare and spark is still there and is burning brighter than ever. There’s always been something so raw and exposed about ‘February’, and that paired with the emblematic tune just allows you to escape for a few minutes.

It’s easy for bands to pigeonhole themselves with the same sound and influence being regurgitated over and over. The ones who excel are the ones who bring something new and exciting to the table, and for me this is why Moral Panics have always been the ones to watch. They have got everything spot on, and ‘Ataraxia’ is what they have to show for it. The sound is evolved and frankly quite mesmerising, and if that doesn’t persuade you to give it a listen I’m not sure what will.

Alisha G

Bonsai @ Sugarmill

Saturday night at The Sugarmill, it’s very rare I can say I felt the youngest there but I did. It was genuinely an amazing night full of great talent.

The Taskers opened the show. They released their latest album last month called Pleasure Point. Listening to the recordings you can hear the variation of sounds and themes, live the album tracks are even better. Every little layer is performed in 100% effort by all three members. Listening to Undone is a lot different to watching it. To actually see all the dancey beats, shimmering cymbals, tinkering keys and simple vocals live it brings all those Logic Pro loops to life. Smear is a Radicals Rising favourite, characterised by Band of Skulls-like lightning riffs and choruses that could trigger a catastrophic avalanche. There are songs with cheery breezy riffs, the whole set list touched almost every musician emotional. One of Stoke on Trent underrated live bands.

Thieves Asylum never fail to disappoint. The music and performance has no faults, they have worked hard to get what they’ve got and it’s beginning to pay off. The swift changes from one song to another is unnoticed. Starting with a weighty entry and into, Radicals Rising’s favourite Katapult, combining their heavy beats, monster riffs and the swaggering vocal. Their new tunes already have their trademark stamp built in and can’t wait to hear them again. Despite Joe’s guitar string breaking the band improvised and carried on, if that’s wasn’t an example of professionalism I don’t know what is. They know how to act and play like a band. Spot on, they set the standard high.

With the crowd warmed up, Bonsai were ready for their first headline. It was my first encounter with Bonsai, majority of the band have been in bands before but this time the chemistry between all members on stage is real. Bonsai have clear dynamics between dark and light tones throughout the whole set, as well as the music varying, the stage presence did too. We saw Chris full of excitement kinda like the love child of local bands Rinse and Moscow then we saw his adoring to the acoustic section of the set. Covering Catfish and Bottlemen and Kings of Leon was a good idea, it got the crowd going and singing back, it won’t be long till people are singing Ned lyrics or Houdini lyrics back at the band.

Logical Drama – Siberia 

Any decent human being would look forward to new music. Unfortunately, I’m not a decent human being. In the case of local atmospheric six-piece Logical Drama; I’m doubly hesitant, because every single track I’ve reviewed, I’ve found to be faultless. And so I’m agonisingly awaiting the day that this chain of perfection sadly ends.

Has that day arrived? Thankfully, no, no it hasn’t. 

In all honesty, my expectations for the new single ‘Siberia’ were all the more inflated with the arrival of a fresh vocal influence in the form of Joel Hughes. And without discrediting previous works, I definitely detected the new-found dynamism the change has offered. Vocally evolving from a melancholic drone to a tuneful anguish. 

As you’d expect, ‘Siberia’ bears all the classic characteristics of a Logical Drama single; of course you have those wrenching guitars, of course you have that grovelling bass and of course you have those ominous strings. But this track is distinctive in that no other Logical Drama song has engulfed me in sound as immeasurably as ‘Siberia.’ I could probably sit here all day and throw out synonyms for ‘dark’ or ‘dread’ and it’d most likely describe ‘Siberia’ in a general sense, but that’d just demean the music itself because there are a collection of instances in this track where Logical Drama just truly clinch you. The initial slow and icy violin, an abundance of piercing sound effects thrown into the background, and not to mention that delightful tempo change just after the minute mark that overthrows the entire mood of the track.

I’m not all that fond of music that’s comfortable, or puts me in a position of ease. I think that’s why Logical Drama sits so well with me – it’s detached, callous and evocative. They aren’t making jogging music here; they’re making music the way it should be made, to be sat down and listened to. You either completely embrace it, or completely misunderstand it… and I know which side I’m on.

It’d be banal and predictable journalism if I said this single is the symbol of a band establishing its sound, but I don’t think it is at all. I think Logical Drama will almost certainly advance their sound further, and will get even better. 

Please never stop making music. 

FS

Moral Panics – Mammoths – Single Review

Moral Panics are more than just 4 local lads making music together; they are a force to be reckoned with so it’s not surprising that they’ve nailed it once again with their new single ‘Mammoths’ from their upcoming EP ‘Ataraxia’. With a recent replacement in the band it’s been eagerly awaited to see if they would still hold that same magic we all know and love, and ‘Mammoths’ see’s them manage to keep their signature sound but somehow still kick it up yet another notch. After witnessing Moral Panics headline just the other week at The Underground it’s unmistakably clear that this band are still going onwards and upwards even after the success of their previous EP ‘Wlvs’.


The track launches you straight into Dan’s euphonious vocal over a timeless indie riff, which progresses with the buoyant drumming that characterises their sound down to a tee. The chorus is pretty monumental with a release of energy that hooks you immediately. Live Moral Panics completely captivate the crowd, and on record it’s no different. Before I’ve compared their sound to that of Foals, but this track seems almost slightly heavier and holds something else in there that makes it utterly brilliant. Without a doubt these lads are one of the best local live bands you’ll see and luckily the release show for ‘Ataraxia’ is just around the corner on 8th May at The Sugarmill so I’d definitely get yourselves down there to witness it.


This single definitely show’s that this EP is looking to be bigger and better than anything else they’ve produced and once again they’ve somehow managed to fire out something great in what feels like no time at all.


Alisha 

The Taskers @ The Met 18/4/15

There’s a lot you can buy with £5. A pint, a reduced CD, a cup of coffee. A bunch of flowers for the one you love. But on Saturday night, £5 bought me a seat at The MET in Stafford to see The Taskers launch their brand new album titled Pleasure Point, with a little help from their friends.

Wilcox:Hulse kicked the night off excellently, with a laid back ‘folk and roll’ infused set. Opening with ‘From The top Down’, a song carried by the warmth of the acoustic guitar, and the ever growing need to tap your foot, Wilcox:Hulse were the best choice to begin proceedings. Along with songs like ‘Upon’, a song about Stoke-on-Trent, ‘Coming Back’ and ‘The Year Of ’42’, the acoustic duo appeared to be entirely immersed in every word they sang, and every chord they played.

Next to take to the stage was Sons of Clogger, a four piece folk rock punk and bit of everything band. Playing songs such as The Bearded Lady, The Ventriloquist and King Of The Gypsies, Sons of Clogger put a big slice of personality into all aspects of their performance. I could tell this was a good set, just by looking at the clapping, cheering and stamping of feet from the audience. The four piece from Stoke-on-Trent ended their lively, dancey slot amongst an evening of fantastic musical madness with Get Yourself Off Home, which contained equal amounts of the obscurity and enthusiasm they began with.

With every audience member left walking on the ceiling after Sons Of Clogger’s fast paced fusion of fantastic songs, it was Gavin Osborn who had the job of bringing everyone back down to their seats. To the untrained eye, which included every member of The MET’s audience, Gavin Osborn looked as though he’d have a hard time filling the Clogger shaped hole that had been left on the stage. Yet, in the best and most brilliant way possible, he did it. Opening with a song that centred around Adam Woodyatt and his much loved character Ian Beale, (yes, you heard me right) Osborn instantly won everyone’s compassion. This compassion remained throughout the entirety of Osborn’s performance, and continued to grow with every story he sang to us. One song that really struck me was Albert Went Out To See Rock Bands, a beautifully sung story about an elderly man he’d seen moshing at a Charlatans gigs. Gavin Osborn’s set was entirely relevant and very culturally aware, leaving me to beg the question ‘How have I never heard of you before?’

With Gavin Osborn’s set completed, it was time for The Taskers to take their place before us. Quite accidentally, I’ve seen them at several points in their career and watched them evolve into the four-piece they are today. I was no stranger to a typical Tasker set list, which could make me biased, but not one person in that room could deny the brilliance of their performance. The Taskers were most definitely on form.

Opening with the title track off their new album Pleasure Point the four-piece, consisting of Jack Tasker on guitar and vocals, SBT on drums, cajon and vocals, Jack Rennie on bass, keys, percussion and vocals, and Sarah Pickwell on cello, brought energy levels sky high. Ripping through a load of new tracks including Chemical War and Shit & Blossom, it’s really clear that The Taskers have found their sound – and I absolutely love it. Songs such as Undone and Ghost remind the audience of how effortlessly they make even the calmer, more laid back songs seem, and provide a small break in proceedings. A beautiful moment occurred in Ghost, as all four members appeared completely lost in every corner of their music. One of the strongest songs from their set was most definitely Denmark, an acoustic, mellow song that was entirely ripped apart in front of us all. With a hauntingly beautiful cello accompaniment, and the extent of SBT’s vocal talent being showcased for all to see, Denmark has to be one of my favourites from the evening. Not only is it a pleasure to see four talents come together and make brilliant music, it’s great to see such confidence between them all. The Taskers continued on with Rafts, a folky number, Smear, Hogs From Hell (oinking and snorting included), Trials and, the ever beautiful, Mountains To The Sea, until eventually ending on an impromptu rendition of Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young. Bringing the night to a rocky end, The Taskers left the stage and headed to the pub next door to sell copies of their brand new banger of an album.

I left on a high, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the audience did too. Our ears had observed a rocky, folky, dancey, funky, up beat, laid back, well connected and well rehearsed evening of great talent, and all for the price of a cheap bouquet of flowers. Such raw and real talent like that of The Taskers is hard to come by, and the fact that they’re probably the nicest people going is certainly a benefit. What does the future hold for The Taskers? I don’t know, but I do know that they’re only going to get better.

Em Jones

I’m Your Man – Malthouse – Single Review.

No, this isn’t an Indie cover of the Wham tune, this is the latest effort from Malthouse who have grown in stature during the last few months with their unique brand of the 60s influenced Soul Pop.
Ever since the band formed in late 2013 they have become one of the most underrated yet acclaimed bands in the area, this is probably due to the fact that they are doing something different. They could easily play it safe and go for Arctic Monkeys or Noel Gallagher influenced rock, or go for something like the quintessential hipster would and go for Foals. But no… They have gone for something different, they have gone retro but not down the same route everyone else goes, instead they have gone a different direction. Every band aspires to end up in the same place but some have different ways to get there, Malthouse are that sort of band!
The new track ‘I’m your Man’ is their newest single and possibly the best thing they have released in my opinion since ‘Lay me Down’ which was released around a year ago. If its comparable to anything modern day think ‘Mad Sounds’ on AM, but that still isn’t doing this track justice.
I listen to this and I think to myself ‘I’ve heard this song before,’ but I haven’t. It’s the quality of Malthouse that they can write a song that gives me a nostalgic feel, It’s an underrated characteristic that not many bands can pull them and to their credit they do it superbly!
Tom

The Taskers – Smear – Track Review

Opening with a gritty punch of solo guitar, Smear, taken from The Taskers upcoming album Pleasure Point, provides you with a small glimpse of what’s to come. And it looks pretty good if you ask me. With every verse built upon a foundation of raw and jagged bursts of guitar that rise and fall with every corner, Smear hits you head first with anger and passion. Something that really has to be noted is the positioning of the guitars within this first verse. How something so small can add so much to a song is certainly a question you will find yourself asking, when listening to this killer track. The chorus carries a similar feel to what has been laid out before it, but brings so much more. Supported by the eery backing sung behind the melody, the chorus confirms the brilliance of this song – in case you haven’t realised that by this point. A short interval pours even more grit into the Smear mixture, before rounding the three and a half minute song off with just as much, if not even more, power and rage as it began with.

The Taskers have always known how to deliver a solid and well-rounded piece of music to our ears, but they might have just raised their own bar with Smear. Could they possibly raise it anymore? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. By the sounds of it, the only way is up for The Taskers.

Em Jones

Parisian Youth Culture – Drought – Single Review

Parisian Youth Culture are certainly not in a drought as the name of their new single may suggest, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I’d say it’s more of abundance of pure indie rock genius.

Straight away the rippling sounds of the suspenseful intro crash down, before the delicate tune of the guitar that repeats throughout the verses launches into action, adding a soft touch to the track. Not long after, the climatic chorus provides an explosion of sound with classic indie riffs and a hearty drum beat. The lyrics “I’m on my way” echo through, latching the tune straight into your head right before the next verse kicks in. The intertwining of the soothing and thrilling elements create the perfect recipe for a memorable and nostalgic indie rock track that sends you on a roller coaster ride driven by emotion and flare.

Everything about ‘Drought’ is spot on, even down to the singles artwork that I was really impressed by. Their image is polished and professional and the attention to detail is demonstrated through the eloquent material they produce.

Parisian Youth Culture are playing on the main stage at the Lymelight Festival in Newcastle Under Lyme on 4th May so have a listen, either on their SoundCloud or Spotify, and get yourselves down there – you won’t be disappointed.

Alisha

The Manalishi – Alive – Single Review

When listening to the opening seconds of The Manalishi’s first single, you could easily presume that these 4 lads were influenced by early Guns n Roses, even Manic Street Preachers territory under Richy Edwards, however when the vocals come in it’s plainly obvious that these 4 lads have a little more to them than that. First and foremost these are a rock and roll band, not a band influenced by one particular brand of music, they are a combination of each of the members personal influences combined together in one music blender! In lead singer Josh an early Liam Gallagher esque vocal with a Noel sense of melody, in lead guitarist Jovi a man influenced by late 80s classic rock, in bass player Ross a melodic bass player who counts the likes of Flea as one of his main influences and Jack a hard hitting drummer whose liking for Bonham and Grohl comes as no surprise. These characteristics make ‘Alive’ a splendid opening example of the bands style of music!
Its obvious this band have a lot of talent and this debut single ‘Alive’ suggests that, however it’s clearly obvious that the band is still in its baby stage, and these lads have to take their first steps before they can walk, and with tunes like this they could could be running very soon!
Tom K

Delamere – Bright Young Things – EP Review.

As far as the local(and arguably more Worldwide) indie music scene goes, it can be pigeon holed into many different sub-genres, Delamere are definitely a band that appeal to the more intelligent(almost Hipster) type of Iindie follower, their 3 track E.P is a fine example of their enjoyable brand of electronic indie.
Opening up with the brilliant and very Foals influenced title track ‘Bright Young Things’, this opening atmospheric track is an excellent example of the talent that lies within the band and it promises for an excellent EP.
Second track ‘Regress’ carries on with the theme of the first track, an excellent rhythm section complimented by atmospheric vocals. Its gives you another example that the band are not only a force in the studio but with its atmospheric groove it proves that the bands can also a force on stage as well.
The third and final track is easily the most chilled out record on the EP and although it takes nearly a minute to kick in, your patience is duly rewarded and with it being the final track on the EP it ends up having the final say yet it leaves the most obvious lasting impression of any song on the record!
E.P’s only last 3 or 4 songs, but with the strength of the songs of here you kind of hoped that the EP would carry on to something to would go towards the LP format. It’s an excellent collection of songs, it’s no doubt that Delamere are not one of the most talented bands the area, but arguably also the best!
Tom K