Thinking About… Kit Trigg

Rock can go two ways. On the one hand you have the boundless narcissism and delusional egos of Vince Neil and Axl Rose, where their very existence as musicians seems pretty much dependent on their own sense of self worth*. On the other, you have the underwhelming, self-deprecating breed of genius. London’s Kit Trigg very much falls in the second camp.

Comprised of Kit and Nic, who assure us “we’re fucking terrible”. An expanded description offers little more info, telling us “we’re fucking terrible”. They seem pretty set on the idea… You may also be interested to know that they enjoy “exploding”, and “running really fast” as well as the usual stuff like music, poetry, wrecking shit and crying. Oh yeah, they like sex too. Actually Kit and Nic sound a lot like my teenage relationships.

But, don’t let them fool you. Kit Trigg’s Thrasher EP is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. Very much blues rock, the limited options of guitar, vocals and drums are hardly lacking. Grounded in deep, gritty riffs that explode into overblown and overdriven thrash, Kit’s vocals are like Little Richard dragged over broken glass.

The title track is an awesome mix of deep blues and raw punk meltdowns, riddled with beautiful guitar work. Followed by Loser which launches out pure high octane thrash before descending into a lead-weight Stevie Ray Vaughn. Coming back down on Rolling Lady, Trigg ventures into a more soulful place that blends blues with roots and soul, bringing harmonics and a restful pace.

Back to some deep blues melodies, mournful and velvety guitar work opens up Bad. Six minutes drives by while Trigg works his way through heart wrenching vocals, delicate riffs and huge amounts of gain once the drums kick in and the guitar starts wailing. It’s a pretty incredible noise from the small outfit, and the most incredible vocals I have come across all year.

Previous releases I Feel So Much Better and Lucky Smile are also well worth listening to. Channelling some definite Nirvana feels with wrenching vocals and oscillating energy. If you’re in London, you can catch Kit and Nic live at The Victoria, Dalston on September 14.

*I’m sorry… I still fucking love Mötley Crüe, and Guns ‘N Roses. Not as much as they love themselves, but I don’t even fucking care. Sorry for all the swearing.

Thinking About… Paradisia

If you caught the post on the excellent new Lowes, then you’ll have noted the mention of The Night VI. If they never came across your radar, then you can check out what we had to say about them here. However, as someone then kindly pointed out to me… there’s something new in the works there as well.

Earlier this year, social media indicated a bit of a change over on the band front, redirecting enquiries to a new outfit called Paradisia. An all-lady trio, their sound shifts subtly towards moody folk while still retaining a pop sensibility. Channelling artists like Joni Mitchell with their melodic simplicity, this is somewhere between soulful diva and street busker.

Paradisia’s debut original release, Silent Lover, is a beautiful, brooding piece. Light yet gritty vocals have a touch of Janis Joplin or Carly Simon around them, and instrumentation hits the treble range with a harp and keys. Delicacy appears to be your word of the day, with swishy percussion and careful melodies.

The band have seen recent acclaim for their cover of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, hitting high on Hype Machine. Although, for my money I would look to their originals. Already more than promising, Paradisia are fresh from supporting Carole King and looking towards more headline shows and festivals – including a support slot with Birdy.

Thinking About… Lowes

What am I thinking about Lowes? It’s a good question, and so far the best answer I’ve come up with is that it’s good. Really good.

The UK newcomers seem to have subtly stolen into the social media slipstream (so much sibilance…) over the past twenty four hours, with their debut track Awake All Night. Already being touted as the next London Grammar, the female fronted Lowes will definitely go on to swell the ranks of a certain genre.

Combining the pop sensibility of power refrains and piano lines, mournful and pensive melodies speak amore of alt-rock ballads. Taking the move away from electronica and rock that might push their contemporaries, Lowes actually skirt something that reminds me of 90s R&B – like the classic En Vogue.

Awake All Night gives up some anthemic and addictive chorusing. A melancholic overlay stops short of full on pop, along with the sparse instrumentation. File this one next to Wolf Alice and The Night VI for your daily allowance of luxurious, grunge tinged alt-pop.


Thinking About… Oli Hannaford

For some people, ‘pop’ is almost a dirty word. Denoting the manufactured money side of the music industry, bubblegum and shiny hair. It’s easy to forget that pop is simply short for popular – and it’s also easy to hate to popular kids. But if we look at the legends of the genre; Michael Jackson, Madonna, Justin Timberlake… These artists did exactly what the tag ‘popular’ promises.

And part of that is through their ability to craft a true pop song, or composition. Someone once told me that Michael Jackson’s song are riddled with hooks, every instrument written as an infectious line of its own. This is where I’m going to draw the comparison with UK producer and singer Oli Hannaford.

Hannaford isn’t shaping up to be a full frontal pop artist, but he possesses that same ability to drench a track in addictive melodies so hooky, they’re like aural velcro. Having made his debut last year with the poignant Free Things, Hannaford has shared his first track of 2016 with Lily.

Launching with Free Things, Hannaford made a strong play for a number of territories. Lyrically he’s a traditional songwriter, but dipping into jazz and funk with a brass sections and playing with productions that touch on EDM and sparse electronica. Lily follows a similar narrative in its dance-ready feel and experimental writing.

With a similar foundation in modest beats and pulsing synths, Lily has a lighter touch lead by a summery steel pan and warm electric guitar licks that have Mark Knopfler written all over them. Like Free Things, the song is teeming with irresistible little hooks and licks. Lily doesn’t quite sink into the deep place that resonates so well in Free Things, but it is just as infectious.


Thinking About… Jamie N Commons “Let’s Do It Till We Get It Right”

Since UK singer-songwriter Jamie N Commons first featured on this site back in 2012, his writing has steadily picked up the pace. Unfortunately you can no longer listen to tracks like The Preacher and Lola here, and we didn’t actually write much about them (because they were just obviously cool, apparently) – so you’ll have to just believe us. But now, on his latest single, Let’s Do It Till We Get It Right, and Mr Commons is delivering some serious toe-tapping, fire tongued material.

With the voice of an evangelical preacher pushed through a cement mixer (in a good way, promise), Let’s Do It Till We Get It Right has Commons preaching at full throttle. A skiffle beat ushers in a quick pace, and a hooky, hefty blues guitar riff is just messy enough to suggest proper 50’s rock ‘n’ roll. Not to mention the quick-fire lyrics, as he spits out his suggestion “let’s do it till we get it right” faster than you could say “hand jive”.

Listen below and look out the latest self-titled EP from Jamie N Commons out today pretty much!


Thinking About… SILENTJAY x Jace XL

Melbourne is currently bringing forth the fruits of a particularly fertile music scene, of which R&B outfit SILENT JAY x Jace XL are offshoots. As fellow backing singers for the impressive experimental soul outfit Hiatus Kaiyote, the duo have collaborated on a throwback, soulful R&B project. With the release of their Sacrifice EP, SILENT JAY x Jace XL looked to “reconnect with our youth” and rediscover their mutual love for the genre.

The real elements of 90’s R&B are very much present throughout Sacrifice; in the smooth melodies, dual male vocals of the caramel variety and slow grind beats. But this is not the return of the Mac, SILENT JAY x Jace XL bring glitchy production and a jazz influence to lend texture to an otherwise smooth surface.

Opening track Just Waking Up has a sparse but soulful feel that leans heavily on vocal harmonies and sharp percussion. Lyrically this one also airs out a kind of 90’s love sensibility, and illustrates a dream-like instrumentation. Title track Sacrifice picks up the pace and introduces an effective brass section. Also examining relationship dynamics, there is something classic about the turn of phrase from SILENT JAY x Jace XL.

The centrepiece of the EP is easily picked as the addictive Rockabye. With a true ear worm vocal sample, and lyrics that weave between spoken word and melody, SILENT JAY x Jace XL really pull old school R&B into the present day. Taking elements from jazz and hip-hop, the organic layering throughout the track comes together as something really accomplished.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so?, the release proffers a soulful cover of Jeff Buckley’s Everybody Here Wants You. Turning the sweet ballad into a slow grind piece of lounge electronica. But thankfully without disturbing the beauty of the original, which of itself is a stunning, haunting piece of songwriting.

Exploring sunshine and rain on the final two tracks. Brisvegas talks to the heat hazed, overly bright sunshine of Queensland with sharp beats and near-sluggish vocals. While Vibrate is a rainy day project, icy and clean with quivering synths and what sound like reversed beats. These two final tracks delve into more experimental territory, playing with genre and production to an ultimately successful end. If the beginnings of Sacrifice were placed in the 90’s, by the end SILENT JAY x Jace XL have brought us well up to date – and potentially pushed even further forward than that.

Sacrifice is out now via Rhythm Section. You can buy it here.

Thinking About… Summer Flake

You may have known Melbourne’s Summer Flake (aka Stephanie Crase) in a different incarnation. And in a different location, as Crase found her musical feet amongst the Adelaide indie pop scene – as part of No Through Road, Birth Glow, Hit The Jackpot and Batriders. However, over the last couple of years she has found her own feet as Summer Flake; a lush, harmony laden project driven solely by Crase.

Meeting with critical acclaim for her debut releases, including her 2013 album You Can Have It All, Summer Flake is also part of the excellent Rice Is Nice family. This year saw the launch of her much anticipated sophomore album, Hello Friends, which finally arrived last month.

The grunge roots of Summer Flake are impossible to escape, in the familiar electric guitar and drums, raw instrumentation and melodies that bridge the gap between optimistic and melancholic.  Also Crase’s surprisingly sweet vocals which drift across the heavier compositions like Juliana Hatfield, or a 90’s kinderwhore vibe.

On being asked whether there is anything we should know before listening to Hello Friends, Crase replied “It’s not meant to be easy”. On first listen, the beautifully crafted melodies and hypnotic writing on the albums goes down as easily as a cold pint on a summer’s day. However, there is an inescapable sense of angst, and even awkwardness that runs throughout the record.

Opening track Son Of A Gun gently draws you into Summer Flake’s feel for melody and texture. With the lightness of a stripped back composition, there is actually a fair amount of depth to the song in the ripe guitar and layered vocals. Elsewhere, Crase pushes out a much punchier sound; Make Your Way Back To Me sees her light vocals resting on a chugging bassline and guitar that sit somewhere between grunge and a kind of rock ‘n’ roll swing.

One of the stand outs on the album is definitely the intriguingly named Wine Won’t Wash Away. Racing with percussion and vocals that are almost falling over themselves, echoes of classic rock filter through Crase’s distinctive writing. Summer Flake is most definitely not an exercise in vocal ability, as the lyrics meld into the music. Rather than sitting forward, they work themselves into the intricate interlacing of instruments, a wall of sound and texture.

Hello Friends is at once a velvety, warm space created by Summer Flake, but also a thought provoking record that grapples with something a bit edgier. As you find lyrics at odds with melody, and new depths to Crase’s writing… Hello Friends pushes you to consume it in a rather old fashioned way. Lie on your bedroom floor, and just listen. Stare at the ceiling until you start to see sense and meaning on that plaster.




Thinking About… Beach For Tiger

It’s rare for a band to simply burst, immaculate, into being. But, unless there’s something we don’t know, that’s pretty much what London’s Beach For Tiger have seemingly done. Maybe immaculate is the wrong word; watching their live show last year, comfortingly  there are still some creases to be ironed, edges to be tidied and probably just a bit of confidence to be accrued.

However. In terms of songwriting, as a young band with only one track to their name and – I’m pretty sure – no hidden backers lurking in the shadows, Beach For Tiger are there. And this much is fairly apparent in the band’s opening release; Coco.

A sunny hybrid of psychedelic tropes and indie melody, the band term themselves “psych pop”. Which is as fitting as it modest, and somewhat belies the impressive maturity that crafted Coco. Driven forward by an upright beat and bass line, bright guitar lines skirt pop and funk while dreamy licks periodically haze the track – like a retro, wavy TV effect. Signifying that the psych has arrived, along with vocalist Peter Anderson’s kaleidoscopic vocals.

Already picking up more interest with this first track than Jeb Bush’s campaign trail, Beach For Tiger can hopefully ride this wave until their follow up release. Look out for live shows around the London area.


Thinking About… The Honey Ants

With a sound that’s about as sweet and smooth as you would expect from a band named The Honey Ants, the London duo’s latest track Lies hits the sweet spot. Following on from their debut release, EP1, last year, this new song is a reworking of a previously recorded version.

Originally a slow nod acoustic track, weighty with Americana overtones that suggest some sleepy bayou down in Louisiana, or last orders at a small town saloon – complete with a honky tonk sounding piano. The new recording feels more grown up, and more considered. Porch living is all very well, but maybe works best in situ? Transposing the accomplished harmonies that The Honey Ants do so well from the saloon singalong to something eerier and altogether more poignant.

Punctuated with a steely sounding electric guitar, the track still resonates with the Americana influence but now it’s balanced by the altogether more sophisticated sound. Flowing slickly, the vocals echo with an almost church like sound  and climb to a chorus feel. Backed up by a sturdy kick drum, the honky tonk is forgotten in place of a heartfelt build that rests on those vocals. If the original had charm to it, this new version of Lies has matured into a beautifully crafted song.

Alt-folk can be a tricky area to navigate, full of the pit falls of cliche and laziness. But The Honey Ants clearly have the integrity that the genre demands. Taking a trip through their soundcloud, a really good cover of Nirvana’s Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle works surprisingly well in this guise. With a refreshed, melodic lilt but also retaining the looming melancholy of the grunge sound. Worth a listen.


Thinking About… High Tension

It’s swings and roundabouts here, flying from one end of the emotional – and musical – spectrum to the other. Then probably back again. So today we’re feeling the aggression with Melbourne’s High Tension.

You may notice that High Tension are fronted by the awesome Karina Utomo, you may also notice that she’s a woman. And while it would be easy to go off on one about how unusual it is to see a woman fronting a hardcore band… We’re not going to do that. Mostly because, while it is unusual and Utomo deserves all the acclaim for taking on something that it so associatively male, to focus on that would be differentiating High Tension in a way that they don’t need. They stand out because they are putting out some great music, and Utomo absolutely nails it fronting the band with her energy and the skill behind her vocals.

Obsessively refining her scream as she moved into the hardcore arena, Utomo intersperses her excoriating uncleans with a ringing, challenging vocal. Brutal and tearing on the breakdowns, at her most frenetic Utomo’s feminine pitched voice has a psychotic, frantic edge to it which pushes the sound that much further. And musically the songs are solid and tightly performed underneath those ear-bleed screams. Backed up by looming, bass heavy riffs, High Tension are all about the fight. More so than ever in their video for Bully, released earlier this year. Stomping drums and judicious feedback across the sound, the clip takes on a kind of female fight club. Commenting on being a woman in this genre of music, Utomo does say that the crucial thing to overcome is actually the internal fear and your own demons. Or your own personal bully.

It’s a badass video, full of badass women and badass music.

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