Okay Embrace leave a lasting impression with ‘Drought (Song of California)’

Centered around twenty-year-old wunderkind David Schaefer, who cut his teeth in the L.A. indie rock circles in his teens with the band French Negative, Okay Embrace find virtue in the bedrock of a bygone era of indie rock: the guitar solo.

On the group’s debut single “Drought (Song of California),” the comparisons to Dinosaur Jr. and Yo La Tengo are obvious and tempting (as are the associations with Third Eye Blind and Semisonic), but it’s the forthrightness and immediacy of the Schaefer’s vocals/lyrics that distinguish Okay Embrace from the cluster of 21st century indie bands fighting for attention and adoration with flashy guitar tricks. Schaefer, with his grounded, commanding voice, finds empathy in the bedridden mother swapping poetry lines with her child and the fire abatement officer lamenting his own inefficacy.

The guitars are fuzzed out and sun-faded, which serve the clarity of Schaefer’s singular voice and hark back to alt rock’s heyday in the 90s. There’s a drought in California, as we all know, but through Embrace’s perspective, it’s a global concern. – sean hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

While She Sleeps make a welcome return with ANTI-SOCIAL

Some artists will become the flag-bearers for their genre; a hallmark of quality and THE starting point for any genre. However, some bands will take that flag down and put up their own, reshaping the genre and changing the face of it, or creating a whole new genre. Step forward, While She Sleeps.

Ever since introducing themselves with The North Stands For Nothing, WSS have been a band on the rise, somehow remaining solidly consistent across three full-blown releases, peaking with You Are We last year. Whilst classed as a metalcore band, they, like Architects, transcend the genre with their approach to musicianship and production.

So at some point, they’ve got to run out of puff, right? Potentially, but with the release of their new single ANTI-SOCIAL last night, the Sleeps brothers don’t look like that’ll happen any time soon.

There’s something different with this track, but it’s hard to put your finger on it. The track still contains the classic Sleeps trademarks – big riffs, and bigger gang screams – but feels more progressive than You Are We.

It’s not like they’ve turned down and pursued a poppier sound, it still hits with the same venom and angst as ever before. You could argue the heavy, ominous synth is something new, but not exactly outside their range. The sound just feels like an upgrade, but not from one album to the next, it feels like they’ve learnt a lot and are applying it to their craft.

Past the synth however, it’s business as usual with frantically picked guitars, thunderous riffs and a chorus of screams. It just… it just feels like an evolution of the band. As if they’ve gone from being a Pikachu; an absolute unit, roundly popular, to a Raichu; even more electric and more powerful than ever before.

ANTI-SOCIAL is the first release from Sleeps’ fourth full-length album, SO WHAT?, due next March, and whilst we’re just one track in, you’d be foolish not to already be tipping the band to release an album of the year contender in 2019.

However, this album does come with an added pressure. The band have sold out halls, institutes and academies across the land, and SO WHAT? will be crucial, in that it could be the album that takes them to the arena-filling and festival headlining level, and turn them into metal’s latest giants. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

WhyNo? bottle the sweet essence of carefree youth on ‘Strawberry Sundays’

There’s something about a breezy, bouncy indie track that transports you back to your youth. Reminding you of a carefree time where your only worries were blagging warm Carling from the offy and getting invited to a few house parties, as bands like Two Door Cinema ClubBombay Bicycle Club and Any Other Indie Band With “Club” In The Name rattled out of an iPod dock in the front room.

With their new track Strawberry Sundays, Glasgow four-piece WhyNo? have clearly bottled that sweet essence of carefree youth, as Strawberry Sundays feels as if it was pulled straight out of your sweetest teenage dreams. It’s a real breezy track that’s easy to listen to and actually makes a Sunday like today as sweet and juicy as strawberries themselves. It’s a very summery track, the sort that you could enjoy a few cans in the park with, or something to make a driving playlist that little bit more relaxing.


Formed in 2017, WhyNo? class themselves as a “Surf / Indie / Punk / Garage / Slacker / Rock” band, something you can hear more of in their first release The First Ones, as Beach Babes &  Tidal Waves and T.H.C. mix in more of those influences, whereas Strawberry Sundays feels like a classic indie track. According to the band themselves, “Strawberry Sundays, released on a Sunday, fittingly enough, marks a change in the band’s sound, with a “less garagey” sound, “now akin to the likes of Hockey Dad, Skeggs and The Lapelles“, with Strawberry Sundays firing the starting pistol on an upcoming EP release.

The “Hey! Hey! Hey!”‘s on the track are also reminiscent of a brighter time. This track doesn’t re-invent the wheel in any way or introduces new concepts, it just shows you how exciting the wheel used to be. The airy feel of the track is quite nice as well, it gently dances around your head and doesn’t really go too hard on you. What it is, is a very promising indie banger from a brand new band.

From the band’s mouth itself, WhyNo? want to “bring good vibes to the Glasgow music scene”, but with Strawberry Sundays, it’s hard to see why they couldn’t take their good vibes to a wider audience. Stay tuned.

Aja is out to kill on new track ‘Finish Her’

words by michaela barton (@MichaelaBarton_)

Anyone who has watched All-Stars season 3 knows Aja is a force to be reckoned with and whether she’s dancing or rapping, she’ll floor you faster than her flying death drop. Her new track is a grime rap stuffed full of attitude and a wit sharp enough to cut her haters.

Finish Her is named and stylised after the Mortal Kombat games with the official video playing into this, the track incorporating soundbites from the visceral beat-em-up games. Though the track can be enjoyed alone, paired with the video it’s a treat. Aja seeps attitude in her delivery and is utterly enthralling, clearly demonstrating how she has leveled up her performance skills since her earlier debut on Season 9 of Drag Race. In the video, her looks from season 3 All Stars become characters and she gets played against herself, moving up in levels with each defeat. Sound familiar, Drag Race fans?

The backing track is a standard grime loop – the timings alternate to keep things interesting and there’s some nice synth work but in general, there’s nothing too adventurous or experimental on offer. However, that just gives the lyrics their time to shine. In true shady queen fashion, she’s ready to spill the tea (or, as demonstrated in her video, completely destroy the entire tea set).

Aja isn’t afraid to call out anyone and no one is safe on this track. Most people know Aja received plenty of hateful comments from “fans” of Drag Race, especially surrounding her feud with Valentina and this track acts as one giant clap back. There are a few sly lines about people believing a ‘wolf dressed up in glam’ which are likely directly about Valentina. The biggest lyrical fuck you in this track though is definitely reserved for her haters. She makes it clear she doesn’t care what people think: ‘I’m getting my laughs, I’m getting my tan, I’m living my life abroad with my man. What the fuck did you amount to? Commenting on who looks like who?

There are so many brilliant lines that demand the listener’s undivided attention. Aja’s music doesn’t come across like a drag queen using her status to try out a musical career. Aja has real musical talent and is a killer rapper, she could easily stand alone as a musical artist without her drag career.

The success of RuPaul’s Drag Race may be helping some drag careers attract more fans, but the double-edged sword is swung hard by online haters. So, for anyone who thinks their opinion of a drag queen is worth anything, Aja leaves you with this:

If any fucking bitch got some shit to say, say it to my motherfucking face or else it ain’t fucking shit … If it wasn’t for a contract half of y’all would’ve been slapped.’

Some Villains give a glimpse of new EP with The Skin

By Sean Hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

The more alarming of the two words in Some Villains’ name isn’t its noun. It’s that determiner “Some.” It implies that there’s a formidable current of evil out there, but these four Englanders are no cause for concern. Comparatively, they’re benign, operating somewhere between the borders of villainous and just. The band’s villainy is small cog in some nefarious machine hell-bent on churning out dismay and dread; they’re only a blip on the radar, the lesser of many, many evils. They’re just some villains, nothing more.

This is the guiding principle behind Some Villains: to exist in the ether between facile classifications. Their Facebook mission statement explains that the band’s music is an attempt “to straddle the line between the experimental and the accessible.” And on the group’s latest track The Skin, the Villains strike that balance with aplomb.

Heralding the group’s forthcoming EP Outliers is this lead single, a slow burning rocker that distills the influences Some Villains have been championing all throughout their career. Musically, The Skin’s verses most immediately recall Sonic Youth, particularly their song Cross the Breeze (both numbers utilize the same two chord oscillation). Some Villains, however, are far cleaner than the New York No-Wavers, forgoing the dissonance that permeated Daydream Nation in favor of a clearer, more direct sound. The other major influence on Skin is that of Queens of the Stone Age. Featuring a hefty drum and bass foundation and singer Edward Graves’s fervent-yet-aloof vocal delivery, the band evoke the sound of QOTSA in a way that sounds neither contrived nor dispassionate.

Some Villains’ ethos charges them with the task that many bands before them have grappled with and faltered: creating wide-reaching appeal while still maintaining their artistic integrity. It’s nearly impossible to have it both ways, and SV know this. Still, their forays into experimental territory aren’t alienating and their use of familiar rock tropes never feel like a compromise. It’s a tightrope walk, to be sure, to play to the experimental crowd along with the tamer mainstream audiences. But sunny down snuff, they’re all right by the heroes and villains.

Track Review: As The Cycle Continues by The Mawb

by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

As we mentioned last time we caught this Ayrshire rock outfit, The Mawb are going through a transition of sorts at the moment: all it’ll take is a quick listen of new single As The Cycle Continues to make you question whether or not this was the same folk who brought you the piano romp Farewell.

Everything about this just feels unequivocally harsh though still bearing an abundance of appeal: the first few seconds of sole drumming is all the song really offers in terms of peace as for the rest of its duration, we’re graced with overpowering assortment of guitars that almost threaten to drown out the solid vocals during the chorus. Touching on topics such as materialism and superficiality, it’s worth venturing further to uncover something but if you’re here for the instrumentals then you won’t be left shortchanged, especially when an impressive guitar solo rears its head.

While there have been a lot of changes, The Mawb‘s mantra of not being your average rock band is still something they abide by and with tracks like this, they’re sure to stand out among the abundance of lad rock flooding the scene.

Little Brother Eli tease new chapter on Tooth

by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

Last time we met Little Brother Eli, they were in the running for Best Unsigned Band and teasing a new chapter in their 3 year spanning career. Tooth is the single to mark the start of this evolution and right off the bat, the dreariness of Oceans seems to be all but olbiterated; it’s pretty clear that the act are swapping out moody rock in favor of a more disco friendly affair.

That’s not to say they’ve chucked all remnants of their former selves into the skip. The guitars are still here but this time round they’ve got a noticeable groove to them and front-man Josh is still packing a fair amount of power in those vocals of his which get their own bit to shine on an isolate bridge. It’s a shame that this bridge only seems to fold back into the same chorus as the tension it evokes makes you assume it’s really building up to a chaotic conclusion. As is stands though, Tooth feels like a natural transition for Little Brother Eli whose cautious approach seems to be paying off – it’ll be interesting as well as exciting to see how far the band are willing to dive into these electro heavy waters on future singles.

Best Tracks Of The Week (15th-21st Jan)

Contributions from Sean Hannah(@shun_handsome), Charlie Leach (@Yungbuchan), Ross Malcolm (@RossM98) and Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Young Fathers – In My View

Continuing down a pop route shown on their previous single, In My View is a sultry, anthemic, heartfelt ballad for the Scottish trio Young Fathers. Through its pop leanings, this song still contains some of the hallmarks of a Young Fathers‘ song: lo-fi mixing, skewed and sometimes eclectic harmonies, and the varied and talented vocals of Massaquoi, Bankole and Hastings. If these two singles are anything to go by, their new album Cocoa Sugar could be an introspective, delicate, pop album – another exciting evolution for this excellent band. CL


Peach Club – Venus

Opening up their latest EP Cherry Baby, this Norwich GRRRL band don’t wanna keep their first impression subtle or timid as they blow into a well-paced, menacing anthem on liberation and sexuality. Having impressed with last year’s Bad Bitch, another track that wasn’t afraid to spit back with venom, Peach Club have established themselves with this latest cut and EP that is chock-full of bravado, fierceness and outright badassery. LM

listen here

Rejjie Snow – Egyptian Luvr (feat. Aminé & Dana Williams)

In the run-up to his debut album dropping in February, Rejjie Snow releases a hint of what is to come in his first release of 2018: Egyptian Luvr.  Egyptian Luvr is a surprisingly bright and chipper track compared to others in his discography. Lyrically he exceeds his usual standards, going for a more emotional approach. If this track is anything to go by, the Irishman’s gonna have a belter of a year. RM

Preoccupations – Espionage

Heralding the group’s forthcoming New Material album slated for release on March 23, PreoccupationsEspionage finds the group in peak form, hitting all of the post-punk/goth tropes they’ve become known for. Moonbeam synths, cavernous drums, and Matt Flegel’s rasping vocal knell comprise this frantic dirge, which culminates in a call and response akin to Joy Division’s Interzone. “We are bound,” Flegel ululates, to which the band responds, “Till we’re deeper in a dead sea”. SH

Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, James Blake – King’s Dead

Featuring on the upcoming Black Panther soundtrack, King’s Dead is suitably epic without being bombastic. With Mike Will Made It and Teddy Walton on production duties, resulting in a beat that just won’t quit, this track is undoubtedly the best we’ve seen yet from this OST, packing in an insane amount of energy with incredible flow and playful lyricism on Jay Rock and Future’s part respectively. It’ll be exciting to see how a track like this fits into a family friendly Marvel flick, though. LM

Mount Eerie – Distortion

Last time we saw Mr Phil Elverum, he left us all bubbling messes in his heartfelt, grief full open letter to his late wife Geneviève. While he’s not completely put the situation behind him (and how could you), he has managed to make something into art by giving his work a wider scope: much like his memory of his partner, the guitars linger on as he crafts a 11 minute colussus that is utterly interesting and emotionally evoking. LM

Track Review: Motion – Of The Night

By Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)

Scotland has something of a pedigree when it comes to post-punk. Two prominent indie labels, Fast Product in the capital and Glasgow’s Postcard Records, formed during the peak years of the movement spanning the late 70’s/early 80’s, not to mention a wealth of acts including Simple Minds and Cocteau Twins. It comes as no surprise, then, that some of the most compelling artists to emerge from the country in recent years happen to fall under that very same banner.

Enter Motion. The Edinburgh-based psych rock outfit proudly wear their influences on their sleeves, bonding over a shared love of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Stone Roses. Make no mistake though, they’re out to forge their own legacy. Last year’s Motion EP relied rather heavily on the shoegaze template but it demonstrated plenty of promise and featured some solid tracks, particularly Everything – a marriage between Kitchens of Distinction’s wall of sound and the ominous basslines of Peter Hook.

Their latest single Of The Night isn’t a radical departure from the EP; instead, it’s a subtle evolution, one which begins to take them in a new direction. They’ve cleaned up the production, scaled down the reverb and in the process managed to set themselves down the path towards establishing their own sound. The vocal delivery is reserved, perhaps borderline deadpan, yet the guitar is summery and infectiously upbeat, meshing together to create a satisfying contrast of textures.

All three musicians are adept at laying down the foundations of a track, this much has been apparent since last year’s material – engaging melodies and tight drumming. Of The Night signals their first conspicuous effort to go further and introduce more diversity, more developments in between choruses. It always helps to have a killer riff to bounce off, though, and Band’s is truly an earworm; it’s safe to say it will hang around in your memory for a good while. One point worth mentioning is that, although not necessarily a negative, the lyrics are relatively straightforward. With time, though, their songwriting will surely continue to develop and greater expression will follow suit.

Black Foxxes Share New Song ‘Sæla’: Review

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Black Foxxes are one of Britain’s brightest musical prospects. The West Country power trio are a noisy mix of heavy grunge, hard rock & light indie, with their debut album, I’m Not Well being an incredible body of work. It’s been an exciting year for them, with a handful festival appearances, a headline UK tour & a slot supporting Deaf Havana. However, seconds out, round two; how does a band like that follow up a hot debut? 

Step forward Sæla, their brand new single and the answer to this question. Icelandic for ‘Blessed‘, the song has a real positive feel to it right from the first chord. Wondering why a West Country band are writing in Icelandic? Singer & guitarist Mark Holley wrote most of the album out there and is already getting ready to write album number three. Time off? What time off? There’s no rest for the wicked, and to borrow a phrase from the early 2000s, Black Foxxes are well wicked.

This is actually quite a dancey tune, something you can easily bop to, with the intro & chorus riff having a real uplifting & bouncy feel to it. The lyrics are pretty uplifting as well, compared to some of the lyrical themes on I’m Not Well, which had a darker vibe to it. However, seeing as the album that this single supports is called Reiði, which is Icelandic for ‘Rage‘, only a fool would assume that this album is going to be all sunshine and rainbows.

But Sæla is just a really nice track. It’s a happy little track at just under three minutes but doesn’t leave you feeling underwhelmed. It’s just right, like a well-cooked steak or a bath that’s the right temperature. Just enough to brighten your day, like a nice cup of tea. Mark Holley’s voice is fantastic on this, the way it can go from a soothing voice to a roar is sublime. The heavy ending to this song is brilliant too and really picks up the pace.

Whilst only offering a small glimpse into what Reiði is going to offer, Sæla is a very promising sign, and if the rest of the album is of this quality, Black Foxxes star will only continue to rise.