Violence, addiction, birth and horror movies - welcome to the wonderful and frightening world of the Palpitations…
Imagine what it must be like to be a doctor: the things you see, the different types of people you meet, the life and death scenarios that form part of your day to day ‘routine’. If you formed a band, you’d have some pretty interesting stuff to write about, right? Particularly if your experiences came from working in an urban, multicultural setting such as Luton, one of the most populous towns in the UK. The Palpitations are that band, and they’ve just released their first single Siren, which chronicles their first hand exposure to working with victims of addiction and violence.
Siren is an anthemic post-punk number, reminiscent of Interpol, Radiohead and Joy Division, that unsurprisingly begins with a guitar line that replicates the sound of a siren. Siren’s lyrics relate to two members of the band’s experiences of working in a hospital and witnessing the ravages of addiction on a female patient, a by-product of emotional and physical violence perpetrated by men. When speaking about the subject matter, which appears across some of their other songs too, singer Nishant remarked:
‘Often, women are the victims...but I keep in mind that men are also capable of hurting themselves. The end product is grief. The hospital is a grief factory. The narrator or the subject of each of our songs is either a perpetrator or a victim. Sometimes, both appear in the same song’.
Personally I find this fascinating, and a little macabre – it reminds me some of the stuff that Siouxsie and the Banshees used to write like Eve White/Eve Black (which interprets the dissociative personality disorder written about in the ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ by Corbett Thigpen and Hervey M Cleckley), albeit in this case the narrative is first hand. The bands’ Soundcloud page describe Siren as referring to 'violence against women against the backdrop of all-consuming addiction’, a statement that appeared somewhat open to interpretation, so I asked Nishant to provide some further context:
Having worked and lived in Luton for the last five years, I have seen patients from all backgrounds. The patients that have stuck with me the most are those that have suffered from addiction. They have poured their hearts out, they have described indescribable pain and sacrifice. I have been a keen student of addiction, and I have seen all types - a 14 year old heroin addict, a heroin dealer who games the NHS for medication, prostitutes at the mercy of nefarious men, 70 year old sex addict...and everyone in between!
The band also quote Anthony Burgess on their Soundcloud profile from ‘A Clockwork Orange’, and if you listen very closely to the outro of Siren, you’ll hear a friend of the band Sarah-Jayne Riedel (Dutch Mustard) providing backing vocals using a mish mash of these lines and designed to be an additional texture to the song. It turns out that the band are very keen on making their songs sound cinematic, and Nishant is a huge fan of horror movies:
Horror movies are a huge, huge passion of mine. Any time I feel terror watching a movie, I truly admire the director. Nobody should feel terrified by watching a fictional story, so for a director to put us in an uncomfortable space is something that I find fascinating. I want our songs to run like horror movie vignettes - some songs may seem danceable and moshable, but ultimately I want the listener to examine why and how they can feel the urge to dance to our bassline, at the same time feeling uncomfortable once they unravel the lyrics.
I mostly write songs while watching horror movies. I strum along to the beat of a horror movie in unusual tunings (Siren is dropped D, capo 4), and sometimes I'll jot down dialogue that I find interesting. A Clockwork Orange always stuck with me. We reference the concept of ultraviolence many times, and sometimes I feel like the film/book could have been set in Luton itself.
Other subjects covered in their material include a psychiatric patient who drilled a hole in his head in order to release demons (Hole in my Head) and a patient receiving a terminal diagnosis (Shadow of Your Sun). Not exactly cheery stuff, but certainly an extremely interesting take on the world.
Given the demands of the medical profession I was curious to understand how the band managed to balance work with music, and whether there was a real desire to pursue the latter:
Myself and Tom (vox) are both doctors, and we do find it tough to coordinate our schedules (we are currently four with Brett on guitar, and our session drummer Florin). But it's not a huge deal. If you have a passion, you will find a way. If you don't have the passion for success, you'll find excuses.
Yesterday, I finished my night shift in Luton at 9am. I delivered four babies overnight in emergency theatre. After that, I edited photos and videos for our single promo. We had rehearsal in London at 6pm. I arrived back in Luton at 1am, and kept working on videos until 4am.
Blood, sweat, tears. I want every frame of our videos, every second of our songs to form a cohesive narrative.
Blood, sweat and tears indeed. With further singles ‘My Carnivore’ and ‘Lights Out’ planned for next year, and the best part of an album written, 2020 should be a pivotal year for the band.
You can listen to Siren here
Links to videos and interview in blue
All good things come to an end. Last night saw Yak play their last ever gig, putting in an electric performance that had the place absolutely rocking. Seeing a band this good calling it a day is sad, but on the other hand it’s surely better to burn out than fade away, and they certainly went out with a bang.
There appeared to be signs of disquiet in the Yak camp in August when the band tweeted ‘dirty laundry is aired…wheels firmly buckled…enthusiasm dwindling…the occupants self-evicting’. An interview with Soho Radio the following month seemed telling also, with Oli Burslem sheepishly saying ‘dunno’ when asked what was next for the band. A few more cryptic social media posts and an equally non-committal interview with imnotfromlondon.com seemed to confirm that the band were coming to an end.
Coming on as ever to Terry Riley’s ‘A Rainbow in the Curved Air’ Yak took to the stage with Heavens Above and then proceeded to play their way through the highlights of their excellent two albums ‘Alas Salvation’ and ‘The Pursuit of Momentary Happiness’. This really was a blinding set from start to finish, with the older songs like Use Somebody and Harbour the Feeling sounding as fresh as ever alongside newer tracks like Bellyache and Fried. We even got a version of Smile seamlessly blended into Alas Salvation and Hungry Heart, accompanied by a full-on stage invasion.
Naturally a Yak gig wouldn’t be the same without Oli laying on the outstretched arms of the audience playing his guitar at some point, and he of course duly obliged, showman to the last. The band signed off with ‘This House Has No Living Room’ with Oli’s battered guitar tossed into the air as a valedictory gesture.
This really was an amazing show. Perhaps it was the knowledge that this was the last time that this great band were going to play that heightened the atmosphere in the venue: the audience seemed to be so at one with the energy of the performance in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, it was quite incredible.
In many ways this was the sort of night that will go down in rock and roll history as one that will be talked about for years to come, and I felt honoured to have been there.
Yak were the inspiration behind this blog and I am eternally grateful to Messrs Burslem, Davies and Rawson for the life changing gift of music that they have given me. They have truly made a difference. If ever I meet one of them there will be a pint ready with their name on it.
Farewell Yak, and thanks for the memories. You came, you conquered, and you absolutely rocked.
Reminds us of the Stooges, MC5, the Cramps, Funkadelic, Parliament, Schoolly D
Links to videos in blue
Debauchery, sleaze, unhinged, twisted, sinister. All words used to describe Warmduscher’s music across various media and at different times. So, what would should one expect of their live performances? Just pure entertainment, and FUN is what I made of it. Five days after seeing the band play, I’m still buzzing from what I saw, it was awesome.
For those of you reading this and unfamiliar with the band, Warmduscher’s play an exotic mix of garage-punk, doo-wop, p-funk, hip-hop and occasionally disco. The band were formed on New Year’s Eve 2014 and are made up of members of the Fat White Family, Paranoid London, Childhood, Mutado Pintado and Insecure Men.
There have been three albums so far: Khaki Tears, Whale City and the just released Tainted Lunch. Khaki Tears is deranged. It sounds like a bunch of musicians/deviant getting off their heads and putting a bunch of jams together. Sinister and chaotic, it comes in at just under 30 minutes and I like it. Next up and released last year was Whale City, which sounds like the band realised that they were actually pretty good, and this whole Warmduscher thing might have some legs. Its kind of more song based, with some great sing-a-long numbers Big Wilma, 1000 Whispers, the Sweet Smell of Florida’ alongside the more manic numbers like I Got Friends and ‘Whale City’ and the creepy interludes ‘No Way Out’ and ‘The Beginning’.
The latest album ‘Tainted Lunch’ was released on 1st November and it marks a further expansion in the bands’ sound. This time we get some p-funk led numbers Fill it Don't Spill it and ‘Dream Lotion’, Tom Tom club like disco Disco Peanuts and the insanely catchy hip hop Burner. There’s more maniacal garage-punk with Grape Face and the title track, and even a couple of guest appearances from Iggy Pop and Kool Keith. It’s an excellent album, possibly one of the best this year.
I caught Warmduscher at their sold-out show at Village Underground last week. The band swaggered on stage and showcased tracks mainly from Tainted Lunch and Whale City. The energy they generated on stage is hugely infectious, and the crowd bounced up and down to pretty much every song. I normally don’t get involved in the mosh pit, but for this lot I made an exception. Frontman Clams Baker Jr, resplendent in his Stetson and tracksuit, held court throughout, much to the audience’s delight.
Midnight Dipper, the lead single from Tainted Lunch was one of the many highlights of the set although it was all pretty darned special. They played, left the stage, and then returned, and for the last two numbers Blood Load and the Sweet Smell of Florida the stage filled up with members of the audience jumping about. Clams thanked the audience at the end and reminded us to come and see them again. I’ve already bought tickets for another gig next year. If you see them playing near you, I’d recommend you do so too.
Tainted Lunch is out now.
Links to videos in blue
The 1990s was an amazingly creative time for dance music. The number of genres spawned over that decade is mind-boggling - house, breakbeat, lounge, drum & bass, hardcore, happy house, techno, ambient and more all surfaced, in some corners infiltrating mainstream music and in others taking experimentation to new levels.
It is from this golden era that Amongst the Pigeons has taken its influences, and these influences really shine through on new album ‘Those Stolen Moments’. According to the press release accompanying the album, it has been 7 years since the last ATP album and 5 years since they said they would not be making any more music, but things have changed, pretty much by accident in July 2018 while producer/performer Daniel Parsons was in Perch, his local coffee shop.
While working on his laptop he started recording some of the ‘clinking’ in the background and very quickly turned it into a beat. Upon returning home and going to his ‘shedio’ the song was fully fleshed and became ‘Perching’; the first new ATP song since 2014. Perching is indeed a very interesting tune. Imagine that you’re in a coffee shop yourself but in an altered state of consciousness, this would form the perfect soundtrack. Quirky and almost filmic, it’s quite trippy.
There was no intention at this stage for Daniel to continue writing but the ideas kept on coming, albeit encumbered by the challenges of having to juggle a full-time job (including a 4 hour daily commute), spending time with a young family and doing all the other tasks that seem to engulf our daily lives. The efforts to try and harness these ideas within time constraints inspired the album title ‘Those Stolen Moments’.
Perhaps the most obvious influence on the album is Orbital, particularly on tracks like Inflight Entertainment, the 25th Hour, and Water into Whiskey, but there’s also a nod to a number of other artists, such as Juan Atkins, Model 500, Autechre, Future Sound of London, Carl Craig, Slam, B12 and the Black Dog. Beautiful Negative Space for example could have found its way onto a Black Dog album, At Any Opportunity wouldn’t be out of place on a Slam album and Thinking is Addictive, which features a speech from Eckhart Tolle about humans needing to be mindful, sounds like it could have been written by Model 500.
That’s not to say however that these tunes are carbon copies of the artists that have influenced them. The benefit of creating music influenced by an era is that you can avoid some of the mistakes made, and Those Stolen Moments does this well by keeping its 9 songs brief and to the point, and adding its own unique style to the mix. At a mere 27 minutes long, the album flies by, with almost every track around the 3-minute mark, and there is minimal reliance on 4/4 beats.
In many ways Those Stolen Moments is a celebration of the best bits of 90s dance music, avoiding its excesses and using inventive beats and creative sounds to great effect. ATP wear their influences with pride too, judging by the video to 25th Hour, which features footage of ravers from the 90’s. Anyone who remembers picking up instructions from a designated petrol station to find the location of the rave, arriving at said rave with immense anticipation before dancing the night away, might want to give that a watch!
Those Stolen Moments is released on 15th November.