Tuesday, 16 June 2015

REVIEW: Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool


When the world met Wolf Alice, something changed. Two parts bratty punk pop to one part teen-diary confessional, their assent to popularity felt both organic and well-deserved, miles away from the flash-in-the-pan success of some of their more testosterone-charged counterparts. Based on the solid foundations of a formidable live show, three thrilling EP's and a quiet confidence in front of the press, the London foursome set themselves up one of the most anticipated debut's from a UK band in quite some time.

Pressing play on My Love Is Cool, it becomes clear that they have no interest in retaining their tag as a 90s grunge outfit. Opener 'Turn To Dust' is disconcertingly spacey, relaxed affair, the calm before the storm, if one were to trade in such cliches. Exploring subtle places that their previous singles haven't, it's softly-sung vocal is almost playful, with lilts of musical theatre that hint at a desire to do things on a grandiose scale.

Segueing into familiar favourite 'Bros' (re-recorded for the album), it at first appears as if we may have lost Wolf Alice's feral streak entirely. The original was faster, louder and rougher around the edges - all the reasons we fell in love with them in the first place. This newer recording is a suspicious new baby in the household, one we're not sure we like. And then we stop being stubborn and realise that in the context of a wider record, it all makes sense - the toned down guitars and extra choruses turning it from a wide-eyed boozy festival "love ya" declaration into something genuinely quite beautiful and poignant. It becomes the perfect sibling to 'Silk', the musical manifestation of an evening sat on a bedroom windowsill as a teenager, desperately hoping for something exciting to happen in your life and yet being a little scared that it might. Always sad and relatably angsty, but with a certain knowing that belies the youthful memories.

The idea of darkness lurking under the surface of perfectly-painted smiles is one that runs heavily through 'My Love Is Cool.' The effervescent psych-pop of 'Freazy' feels carefree, a summer festival anthem in the waiting, but the kiss-off of it's chorus ('you can hate us all you want but/ it don't mean nothing at all') feels remarkably direct. The stop-starting guitar lines of 'Your Loves Whore' adds an eerie undertone of Ellie's dusky vocals, while 'Lisbon' has all the epicness of a closing track right in the middle of a record, just to keep you on your toes. It's a record designed to subvert expectation; not just for the sake of being controversial, but for the sake of avoiding the inevitable pigeonhole that comes from being a '90s band' or a 'grunge band' or even lazier 'a female-fronted outfit'.

Not quite as loud and thrilling as their live show, but an excellent collection of songs nonetheless, My Love Is Cool is an impressive stab at that difficult debut record, evidence that they are much more diverse than their initial EP's suggested. Taking their bandname from the title of a novel that details a feral outsider growing into a full-fledged human, they have recreated their own legend here in musical form - blending the prim and british with the aggression of something wild. It's a masterful blend that can mean no bad thing for their longevity.

Stream My Love Is Cool on iTunes here

Thursday, 11 June 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Brand New, Gorilla Manchester, 01.06.2015







What do you get when you force the Pixies into a head-on collision with Smashing Pumpkins? Dinosaur Pile Up. The Leeds-based three piece have been support slot favourites for nearly 10 years now, their brand of high-school american rock is much more entertaining live than it is on record, setting the emo-nostalgia tone that will weigh so well over tonights proceedings. Drawing heavily on the 2013 record 'Nature Nurture', their set is loud and passionate if not entirely original, culminating in the album's title track, massively improved by a rabid cameo from Jesse Lacey himself.

When Lacey returns with his day job, thing are far from middle of the road. Flowers adorn their mic stands (presumably an ode to Manchester, and the musical legacy of The Smiths), smiles are wide and the room is sweating with the heat of a venue at full capacity. As Brand New roar into new track Mene, they strain the PA system to the max, vocals barely audible above the pin sharp guitars.  As starting a set with a brand new (excuse the pun) song is wont to do, the audience appear somewhat apathetic despite its frenetic pace, a statement of intent for the new era. Things sound amazing, but don't appear to be translating.

Whether its down to how fast tickets sold out, the fact that it's Monday night or the relatively high ticket price of £25, this is no traditional pop punk audience. Pogoing is reserved only for the huge fab favourites 'You Won't Know' 'Sic Transit Gloria', 'Seventy Times Seven', with subtle nodding and polite cheers being the preferred mode of appreciation. There isn't a single crowdsurfer or on-mates-shoulders piggybacker in sight.  It's a far cry from the bands reputation as hellraisers, but it isn't overtly suprising - their break out album Deja Entendu is now 12 years old, and many members of tonights audience can probably barely remember high-school, let alone the lovestruck dramas and the late night poetry session that went along with it. 

That doesn't mean to say that tonight's gig is bad. It isn't. A far cry from in fact -Brand New have never sounded this good. From a rare outing of 'Brothers' to old album highlight 'Sowing Season', they are clearly on form and grateful for the opportunity to play a smaller, more intimate show.Before starting a poignant solo closer of 'Soco Amaretto Lime', Lacey tells a story of his impending 37th birthday, his new wife and stepson and how he can no longer find anything in one of his bands most popular songs to relate to anymore. "I miss the nativity of youth he says, because being young is great. But being older is great too." 

It's a sentiment that rings true in front of fans who have clearly grown with this band, and almost a relief to hear after observing the suspiciously sedate audience. Here, on a monday night, it's validation that it's okay to take an evening off of being responsible to be a teenager again for one evening. On the cusp of releasing their fifth album, maybe adulthood is finally looming for one of our childhood bands.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Five reasons to be excited about Wireless festival 2015

It's no secret here at SIS HQ that we love a good festival, and have quite a few lined up for both work and play this summer. However, there is still one event that we'd give our (proverbial) right leg to attend, and that festival is Wireless. Now in it's tenth year, this years line-up reads like a who's who right now of hip-hop and RnB, and we simply cannot stop looking wistfully at the poster wondering when we can book our tickets to London. To get you in the mood, here are the top five artists we'd be down the front to watch...



ILoveMakonnen

Although best known for the inescapable 'Tuesday', our love affair with Makonnen Sheran transcends one hit wonder. Blending a woozy autotuned vocal with serious earworm choruses, his lackadasical approach is the perfect accompaniment to short festival shorts, cheesy instagram selfies and sweaty cocktails.



MNEK

First things first, if you're not following this hilarious guy on Twitter, please go do it now. Done? Okay, now we can continue. Silky smooth soul mixed with forward-thinking pop, this 20 year olds production credits are a longlist of the noughties best and brightest, showing that he is definitely in with the right crowd. We haven't stopped playing his single 'Wrote A Song About You' since it came out.



Ciara

Every noughties child will undoubtedly remember the glorious empowerment of 'Goodies', but what they may not know is that Ciara dropped her ace sixth album, Jackie, earlier in the year. Set to blend fearless dancing with classics old and new, we're hugely looking forward to reviving our 'One Two Step' dance routine.



George the Poet

Musicians are often criticised for failing to use their voice for good, which is why George The Poet might just be the saviour of grime. Covering everything from mental health and the economy to young motherhood, he's wisdom belies his years, a sobering change of pace amongst the David Guetta's and Avicci's of the line up.



Nicki Minaj

Bold, brash and brilliant, Queen Nicki has gone from hip hop heavyweight to pop starlet without compromising any of her artistic integrity on the way. With festival bangers aplenty, who knows what her setlist will comprise of? We're praying for a Beyonce cameo for 'Feelin Myself'...



Drake. Drake, All Of The Drake.

Having played 'If You're Reading This, It's Probably Too Late' near daily for the past four months, it's far to say that it might make our summer to see our favourite Canadian live in the flesh. Making up for having to cancel his Wireless appearance last summer, expect fireworks, orange puffa jackets and hopefully no awkward cameos from Madonna.

Fancy going to Wireless Festival? Book tickets here