Reminds us of: The Stooges / Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, Dead Kennedys, The Damned, The Fall, Jesus and Mary Chain, Pere Ubu, Devo
Links to music in Green
I’m not sure where the best place to start is when describing Viagra Boys. The name? The music? The live experience? The attitude? Perhaps the easiest one to get out of the way is the name, so I’ll start there. Like the subject of another blog (the Nude Party), it’s not a good name but don’t let that put you off, they just don’t take themselves too seriously.
The music? Dirty. A bit punky, a bit rocky, pretty noisy and with lyrics that are firmly tongue in cheek. They released their first EP in 2016, and followed this with another EP in 2017. Debut album ‘Street Worms’ kicks off with Down in the Basement about a man with a fetish who hides his habits from his wife:
And now you're down in the basement, All dressed up in latex, One red light bulb hanging from the ceiling, And a live goat standing on a small chair in the middle of the room, Now how you gonna explain that, man?
Lead single from the album Sports (have a look at the video) parodies the alpha male, another single Just Like You celebrates not being a psychopath, Shrimp Shack chronicles their ‘I couldn’t give a..’ attitude and in between each of these there are other salubrious tales. The album originally came out last year but has recently been re-released with some extra tracks.
Live they are something special. Pure entertainment, all six of them. Lead singer Sebastian Murphy roams around the stage with his top off revealing pretty much all over tattoos (he is a tattooist by day), supported by what looks like a bunch of mean assed bikers. I wouldn’t mess with them. There’s so much energy on show that it’s infectious. It quickly gets the crowd growing and you can’t help but enjoy yourself. Have a look at my Instagram for a clip of them doing ‘Sports’ at All Points East, and have a look at their Instagram which shows a bit of footage of a gig in Hackney a couple of nights before which looks absolutely mental.
Having just toured the UK they’re not back over here from the looks of things until August for the End of the Road Festival, and then they’re supporting Sleaford Mods in November. Hopefully they’ll get some headline gigs either side of these dates – if they do, go and see them, you won’t regret it.
Reminds us of: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Black Sabbath, Cream, The Byrds, Hawkwind, Motorhead, The Oh Sees, Faust, The Allman Brothers
Links to websites and music in Green.
If you’ve had a look at the newmusicsocial Instagram account, you’ll have noticed that I like to celebrate my vinyl collection, and in particular bands that remind me of artists that I profile on this site. It has been quite some time since I actually bought vinyl though, as my existing collection takes up a considerable amount of space, and substantially adding to it would bring logistical challenges. Something however impelled me to buy the latest 7 inch Green from Swedish Death Candy, and I will certainly be purchasing the 40th anniversary copy of Joy Divisions’ first album ‘Unknown Pleasures’ when it’s released next month. Why buy ‘Green’ then? Well, I do have something of a fondness for the band, but I also I really miss the unconfined joy that you get with receiving music in such an aesthetically pleasing format, so I took a punt.
Green also comes as a package with A Date with Caligula which is a great tune and one that appears on my latest playlist for May. If you’re tempted to purchase, be quick as there’s only 300 for sale on their Bandcamp page. I generally tend to like the odd psych-rock tune, but often find a lot of the artists from this genre a little too heavy for my liking. Whilst very part of that movement, Swedish Death Candy stand out for me as they balance heavy Sabbath like rock with more frequent nods toward Jimi Hendrix, and technically these guys are phenomenal musicians who can write well-structured songs.
Their debut EP ‘Liquorice’ was released on Hassle Records in 2015 with the lead track Living Your Life Away also appearing on their first album. Excellent stand-alone singles Won't be Long and Oh My followed in 2017 alongside a further 2 singles.
Their eponymous debut album was also released in 2017: it’s a joyous cacophony from start to finish, channelling Black Sabbath on songs like Last Dream (interesting video for this by the way) and Broken Engrams, Cream on like Love You Already and Living Your Life Away (another trippy video), the Oh Sees on Pearl and even the Byrds on tracks like Avalanche. In amongst all of this the spirit of Jimi Hendrix looms heavy throughout. I’ve always thought that the best place to start learning the guitar would be Hendrix and it seems like Lead Singer/Guitarist Louis Perry agrees with me, as his playing is superb. Check out their session for KEXP here.
Last year saw ‘A Date with Caligula’ released on download, again with a heavy nod toward the Oh Sees, and Green came out last month. They are regularly gigging - as with a lot of bands that I’m uncovering as I go along I am yet to see them play live, but I am assured that they are excellent and will make sure I catch them as soon as I can, and will post my findings on Instagram
I recommend listening to the album loud from start to finish, and like me I expect even if you’re not particularly into head-banging you will find your head going (probably by track 2)!
Guest Article by Peter Smith: Impress Your Teenage Daughter! “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” by Billie Eilish
Reminds us of Lana Del Rey, Sigrid, Grimes, not many older artists actually but at a pinch Tracey Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Sinead O’Connor …
For those (like me) who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, the musical generation gap was huge. Our parents grew up pre the whole rock music era, so even Merseybeat or the pop tunes of the summer of love sounded strange and threatening to many of their generation. By the time I was watching Bowie doing Starman on Top of the Pops as a 14-year-old, I was literally getting the “I can’t tell if he’s a boy or a girl” comments from my parents. Luckily (for them, anyway), I was off to university just as the Ramones, then the Pistols, Jam, Clash, Elvis Costello and more formed the punk soundtrack to the next few years of my life.
Today, things are very different. Teenagers are likely to be combing through their parents (or even their grandparents) vinyl collections for obscure gems, and whilst some of us might struggle a bit with grime, it’s nothing like my Dad’s vitriolic reaction to Hot Love by T.Rex (OK, I had played it 6 times straight through …)
While I was frequently asked to “turn it down”, today’s parents may be puzzling over the enigma of Billie Eilish, who is now the 6th most listened to artist in the world on Spotify. But today’s parents will be saying, “can you turn it up? Why is she whispering? Can’t she sing louder?”
Eilish has come up through the YouTube route, putting songs online since she was about 13, and now aged 17 her first album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is out, and is already huge.
Much of the time, Eilish sings gently, mutters and whispers her way through this collection of resolutely low-fi pop songs, although my parents would have appreciated the fact that her vocals are generally comprehensible. Her older brother Finneas is a co-writer and producer, but she seems to be her own woman rather than the front for a back-office Svengali. Whoever is responsible for the sound has interesting ideas though – it is very minimalist, and often Eilish sings to just a sparse rhythm track, with some multi-tracking on her vocals to keep her company and maybe some occasional keyboard interventions.
It can get a little cutesy at times – “8” is particularly annoying with its ukulele and little girl vocals. But it can also work very well – “when the party’s over” features vocal harmonies and a simple piano accompaniment and is genuinely lovely. Occasionally a heavier dub-step feel creeps in, before a song reverts to softness. Vocals can be distorted, but the tunes are generally pretty strong, and her voice is pretty and naturalistic, conveying emotion successfully without vocal histrionics.
Eilish has built her huge following by being a spokeswoman for her generation of young woman. She sings about their concerns, and it can be quite dark at times – growing up, the pressures of friendship, first boyfriends and so on. But there is some humour and irony too. “wish you were gay” for instance is about liking a guy who doesn’t reciprocate her feelings, so she wishes that his sexual orientation was the reason for the rejection.
Whilst those of us who aren’t the target market may not relate to that (!), I found the album surprisingly enjoyable. It is unusual particularly in its soundscape, but the songs are at heart “just” good pop songs, and it is a whole lot better than what many teenage girls listened to in my era (Bay City Rollers, Donny Osmond…). There’s much to admire and little to dislike here, and I’m looking forward to seeing her at Reading Festival in August, although I suspect the huge Radio 1 tent may be packed to overflowing with excited kids who will I’m sure know every word of the songs! She is low key in her dress, appearance and demeanour too – the polar opposite of the Kardashian culture, so credit for her on that front too.
It’s hard to relate Eilish to acts of a previous generation given the modernity of the production – I’d just sum up by suggesting that if you like tuneful, clever pop, female singers, and don’t object to the occasional bit of electronics, then you’ll be fine …
Reminds us of: The Rolling Stones and therefore Primal Scream, The Velvet Underground, Sonics, Inspiral Carpets, the Doors, the Mysterians, Stephen Stills, the Byrds, Gram Parsons, loads of other 60's bands
Links in Green
Back in the days before instant access to music via the internet, I broadly had two options when it came to listening to albums for the first time – buy or borrow. The buy option could be from new or second hand, and the borrow option would normally involve taping the album if I liked it (or getting a friend to tape the album and giving me the tape). LP Hartley was certainly right when he said that ‘the past is a different country, they do things differently there’.
If the album was a new release, I’d normally have heard, liked and possibly have bought a single from the album, and have read a review in either the NME or Melody Maker. This degree of familiarity would ensure that I’d be happy to part with my money. ‘Classic’ albums (either referenced by one of the artists I liked as an influence or championed by the music press) were however a bit of a lottery. I remember clearly buying ‘Horses’ by Patti Smith and The Clash’s eponymous first LP second hand from Romford Market, getting them home and putting them on, only to be hugely disappointed with what I heard. In fact I think I took them both back either that day or the next.
One album does that sticks out in my memory as a good find however, was Let it Bleed by the Rolling Stones. A great album from start to finish, I still love this album, as well as its predecessor Beggars Banquet and the follow up Sticky Fingers. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was also a big Balearic tune at the time which gave the Stones kudos. I also actively sought out music by bands like the Byrds and the Velvet Underground, having realised pretty quickly that I liked certain music from this era. As music has become more accessible I’ve continued to hunt down classic albums of that time and also from the early seventies such as Manassas. Which brings me on to the Nude Party.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: the Nude Party is a terrible name for a band. They started playing gigs in the buff by all accounts, which is how they came across that moniker, but have unsurprisingly had to curb their naturist tendencies when they started to play regular venues. It’s not as bad a name as the Viagra Boys, but it’s not far off. Bad name withstanding, the Nude Party (let’s call them TNP) make good music that sounds very similar to that of the Stones, late period Velvet Underground, Byrds, Gram Parsons etc and on this basis they get the thumbs up from me. Their quirkiness also reminds me of the wonderful Colorblind James Experience, who wrote I'm Considering a Move to Memphis which if you’ve not heard you should – it may bring a smile to your face.
TNP come from Boone, a town situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and a centre for Blue Grass musicians and Appalachian storytellers. They released their first ep Hot Tub in 2016. Their self-titled debut album was released last year and they’re about to embark on a few UK gigs, including a stint at the ‘All Points East’ Festival. Songs like Feels Alright which I put on my April playlist could fit right into the Velvet Underground’s third album or Loaded whereas Records could easily have appeared on ‘Exile of Main Street’ with the vocal performance uncannily close to Mick’s. The use of organ on tracks like Water on Mars and Live Like Me make for an Inspiral Carpets/Doors/Mysterians type experience. Elsewhere you can hear shades of the Byrds and the Sonics as well as probably loads of other 60’s bands. There’s a good review of the album in Pop Matters which I fully agree with and you can read about here.
If you’re a fan of any of these bands or of this mid-late 60s period music, give TNP a go. It’s not ground-breaking, but it is a decent listen and the songs are well crafted. The other great thing about TNP is that they should remind you to dig out all of those old classic albums again. Obviously if you haven’t heard those albums you are in for a double treat!
Reminds us of: Loop, Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Killing Joke, Joy Division, Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Can, My Bloody Valentine, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Links to songs in Green
There’s something about guitars generating a wall of sound that I find completely satisfying to listen to. It is immersive and allows you to get lost in the music. My first exposure to this came through listening to Loop when I was a teenager, and Crows provide a similar experience, albeit the musical structures used by these bands differ, with Loop favouring repetition and Crows slightly more song based.
Crows’ first single Pray was released in 2015, and it’s an excellent introduction to the band, sounding like a cross between Head on and Heavens End by Loop. Pray was followed by the ‘Unwelcome Light’ and ‘Cold Comfort’ EP’s in 2016 - both records are absolute quality, with lead tracks on each Goodnight Evelyn and The Itch stand outs. After this the band stayed quiet (at least on the release front) until 2019 with their debut album Silver Tongues released in March, preceded by the ‘Chain of Being’ and Wednesdays Child singles in January and February.
The album starts a bit sluggishly with lead track ‘Silver Tongues’, which doesn’t make for an easy start to the listening experience, but picks up quickly after here. Lead singer James Cox’s vocals seem to veer between sounding like Ange Doolittle, John Lydon and Ian Curtis at times, with the sneering Lydon-esque tones coming out by the frantic second track ‘Demeanour’. ‘Empyrean’ soars majestically while ‘Wednesday’s Child’ and ‘Hang me High’ channel early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. ‘Crawling’, which originally appeared on their first single continues the pummelling of your senses, and seems to incorporate a Boards of Canada drum pattern.
The excellent, stand out Chain of Being is perhaps the most accessible track on the album, with the bassline very reminiscent of ‘Age of Consent’ by New Order. ‘Tired and Failed’ follows, this time evoking the Ian Curtis vocal and a riff that sounds a little similar to ‘Classic Girl’ by Janes Addiction. We drift into Nick Cave territory initially with First Light//False Face but the track builds and builds into an epic crescendo, and the album’s closer ‘Dysphoria’ feels like a noisy cousin to Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’.
The album was released on Balley Records (owned by IDLES) and recorded in the dark. At times the production feels a bit muddy, and it’s undoubtedly not an easy listen, but Silver Tongues is ultimately an excellent album.
The band have just completed a short UK tour, and then playing some gigs in the states and Europe as well as festivals such as Latitude. They also have an impressive and eclectic taste in music – have a listen to their playlists on Spotify to find out more.