What We've Been Listening To This Week...Silverbacks, The Blinders, Magick Mountain, Dense, On Video, IDLES, Pleasure Heads, Lumer
By Jon Milton and Mark Glenister
Friday was an amazing day for new album releases, the Blinders, Silverbacks, Protomartyr and Samantha Crain dropping new material and Leeds label Come Play With Me releasing their first album, a compilation of their featured artists from the city. This of course brings the challenge of having the time to give them a proper listen in a relatively short period of time, and as such our views on Protomartyr and Samantha Crain will have to wait to be heard another time.
Silverbacks have released a string of impressive singles over the last two years, most of which appear on their similarly impressive debut, Fad. The album starts at an excited gallop with a couple of those singles (Dunkirk and Pink Tide) setting the tempo at a sprightly pace that’s pretty much maintained throughout. Intermission tracks ‘Dud’, Travel Lodge Punk’ and Madra Uisce are wisely used to add a bit of space in between the bands energetic post punk and help to make the album a rewarding listen. The Parquet Courts and Pixies influence on the band is obvious, but the band have properly developed their own sound, which clearly domes through. Good stuff.
The Blinders debut album Columbia was a stunning piece of work; a raw, emotional journey, beautifully constructed and delivered. Following that up was always going to be a hard job, so how have they done on its follow up ‘Fantasises Of A Stay At Home Psychopath’?
Well, Circle Song, released in April was a great start, an ode to ‘Drive in Saturday’ / Rock n Roll Suicide era Bowie, sounding uniquely like the Blinders, but a fresh, revitalised version of the band. Next however the band released two Blinders by numbers songs, Forty Days and Forty Nights and Lunatic with a Loaded Gun; and ‘Mule Song’ an indifferent, Idles-like track.
I guess this is the story of the album for me, of a band at the cross roads, uncertain of which way to turn. Do they continue to churn out crowd pleasing songs that repeat themselves, or pursue new avenues? Fantasies also exposes some of the bands weaknesses, namely their limited instrumentation and overt reliance on Thomas Haywood's powerful rasping vocals to cover up the limitations of their songwriting. Take Black Glass for example, which lumbers along for six minutes apeing the last minutes or so of Fleetwood Macs ‘The Chain’. It’s just a little lacklustre and lacking direction.
Don’t get me wrong - this isn’t a bad album, far from it, and fans of the band will defend it to the last, it just doesn’t feel like they’re going anywhere fast, and have perhaps become weighted down by the hype and levels of expectation placed upon them.
Come Play With Me are a Leeds based label that usually release singles from the city’s up and coming talent. On this, their first full long player, they’ve brought together a number of those bright young things to create a richly diverse album that takes psych rock, indie pop, jazz, grime and more. Highlights are the Crulligan Remix of Team Picture which kicks off proceedings, Jasmine’s jazzy ‘Mindstate’, Van Houten’s demo of their recent single ‘Better than This’, Magick Mountain’s live version of ‘The Shitty Beatles’ and Electric Chair by Dense, although the album is good throughout. Listen/buy here.
Magick Mountain also released a new single this week, their first for three years. King Cobra is a quality piece of garage / psych rock which fuses the White Stripes and Hendrix to great effect. Staying in Yorkshire for the moment we also wrote about a new version of Lumer's By Her Teeth this week, in an article that you can read about here.
We featured lively indie rockers / poppers On Video on the site last year after they released their excellent Clap Trap EP, and they’ve released another damn catchy single this week ‘Stuntman’, which is their second for Permanent Creeps.
Elsewhere on the singles front IDLES released A Hymn, another taster of their forthcoming new album. After the all out energy or Mr Motivator and the powerful, anthemic Grounds, A Hymn seems an interesting song to bring out as a single, more of an album track really, although perhaps that’s the point of showcasing what promises to be a great record.
Finally, we featured the new single by Pleasure Heads on Friday, a song that deals with smartphone dependency, unconscious surveillance and modern day despondency. Its got a really catchy chorus too, and you can read about it here.