Alternative Friday

Passionately championing new music

Welcome to another review by my AlternativeFriday colleague Major
Tom
, who this time offers this thoughts on the debut album by Alvvays…

AlvvaysAlbum1

 

Artist: Alvvays

Album: Alvvays

There’s probably a fair bit the discerning music fan already knows about the Candian Indie quintet Alvvays. Firstly they are from Toronto – led and formed by lead singer Molly Rankin. Secondly it’s pronounced Always…or is it Alvvays? Hmmm, I’ll get back to you there. Third – and this is for certain – their recent single Marry Me Archie is simply one of the best things you will hear this year: a soaring, effortless, melodic triumph, that brings to mind label mates Camera Obscura at their very best. Think French Navy and Lloyd I’m ready to be Heartbroken… it’s that good.

 

 

On to their full length, self titled debut long player released just last month. Unsurprisingly (given the above Camera Obscura reference point) there is nothing groundbreaking on offer here, with the indie jangly/distorted guitar template very much at the albums core. Of course this is a genre which has become increasingly stale and so-so at best in recent times. Indie landfill / Indie by numbers if you like. I may have made that last one up…

Anyway I digress. Apply to Alvvays none of the above on this highly impressive release. Highlights? There are many, with not one weak link on offer. That said, Archie is still the stand out track, but not by that much. Adult Diversion and Next Of Kin are both ridiculously catchy and infectious tunes – Indie sing-a-long classics in the making. Elsewhere the Californian Surf, Best Coast style, is never far away and lends a beachy, yet melancholy feel to proceedings – especially on slower paced tracks such as Ones Who Love You and The Agency Group. Lyrically we are also in melancholic, even dark territory: unrequited love, partners with an adversion to matrimony, a lover drowned in the river in Next Of Kin. Rankin’s vocals are outstanding through out – deadpan yes, disengaged no. An exceptional and compelling performance, that lends a personal, vulnerable and yearning feel to each song.

 

 

In short then: Have we heard it all before? Almost certainly we have. Should we be more demanding? Probably. However… Alvvays positively breath life back into the jaded indie guitar world and enhance it with a collection of just great tunes and melodies, which are fresh enough to override any ho-hum heard-it-all before thoughts.

Ultimately this is just great pop music, which brings a smile to the face and more than a few tugs on the heart. Ultimately we’re all suckers for that, right?

Score (out of 5):

four

Website | Soundcloud | Twitter

ShallowsVol3b

 

Welcome to the latest Q & A with London indie band The Shallows, who also popped up last year in New Tunes #19. They have had 3 EPs released to date, with the most recent, Fear and Hope Vol.3, coming out in June, which again highlighted their knack of writing and performing highly infectious indie tunes. The four members that made up The Shallows have, however, now gone their separate way, but frontman Tom Skelton is continuing the project (and has new tracks in the pipeline) and he faces this Q & A, but what have the film Frozen and fresh Chai tea got to do with rock ‘n’ roll?

Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

 

 

~ How was the band formed / how did you meet?

Michael and I met at uni, he was making fresh Chai tea and I asked for some. I initially went to play some drums for a recording for him but then ended up writing a song with me singing and then we carried on writing every Saturday for the next 5 years.

~ The 3 EP’s were recorded in Spain. How did that come about?

Michael works with a guy called ‘Youth’, he’s the bass player for Killing Joke and Is also in a band with Paul McCartney. Anyway, he is quite big in the recording game and has a studio at his Spain abode based on Olympic studio room 1. Youth gave us the opportunity to go out there for 10 days to cut a collection of songs we’d been working on for the previous couple of years.

~ What song of yours are you most proud of, and why?

That’s tough as I think they’re all quite varied. The Enemy really sticks out for me, I love the zombie vibe. More Now Than Ever is also a killer tune. The middle 8 is well Beatles.

 

~ Is music your full time job?

Yes Music is my full time job. At least that’s the way I see it.

~ What are your fears and hopes?

I’m afraid of not doing music anymore.
I’m hoping that some people in the music industry actually reply to my emails.

~ Now you have released the 3 EP’s what’s the plan?

Carry on writing. Nothing really happens when we release an ep. There’s a little reaction online but we have no money, no pr, no marketing, no label, so not much happens. Not to sound negative but it’s a bit of an anticlimax. Gigging is tough in London too so we’re probably just gonna keep it real and keep writing and releasing and hope that one day we’ll make some money which will enable us to put a band together and gig around Europe or Japan. Japan would be rad.

~ If you could curate a festival stage, what five bands/artists would you invite to perform?

Sun Kil Moon
Sage Francis
Bon Iver
Moderat
Isbells

~ What’s the least rock thing you’ve done in the last week?

Watched Frozen.

~ What song would you sing at a karaoke if no one you knew was watching?

If I could turn back time by Cher

~ Can you suggest any new up and coming bands we should be checking out?

Lonesound – website
Tax the Heat – website

~ If you could claim one song as your own – wiping the original from all memory – what would it be?

Curtis Mayfield – Move on up

 ~ What’s your favourite small venue?

Empire Records in St Albans.

~ When you look to get a new live band together, what instrument would you trust me to play without wrecking the performance?

Jim you can play whatever you want, if you suck then that’s cool. Just come and have fun with us.

 

I hope you enjoy another variety pack of great new music, as there’s surely something here you’ll fall for…

Dietrich Jon – Lions
Indiana band Dietrich Jon are no strangers to Alternative Friday, having already appeared in New Tunes #27, while Lions is another example of the superbly melodic country rock they produce.
Soundcloud | Twitter

 

Winters Island – Ares
This indie-electro track from London 3-piece band Winters Island has a highly infectious tune. Add in the strong vocals and polished production and you have an outstanding pop tune.
Website | Soundcloud | Twitter

The Shy Lips – She Was Born in Bahia
This is a highly catchy indie rock track from 4-piece Swedish band The Shy Lips, which has a great bass groove and sing-a-long vocals that will surely draw you in on the first listen.
Website |Soundcloud | Twitter

 

3D Shark – Sick Note
Don’t let your boss catch you singing this pop punk track, which comes from 3D Shark’s recent EP Some Boys Like To Hide Away, which intriguingly also includes the tracks “Ronnie O’Sullivan”, and “My Name is Brian Clough”! You can also see the entertaining video to Sick Note here.
Soundcloud | Twitter

There’s another eclectic mix of great new tunes in this show. Enjoy…

 

 

The Shallows – Ghost
The Vaselines – One Lost Year
Darlia – Dear Diary
Benjamin Booker – Violent Shiver
The Hosts – September Song
John Wean – New York Doesn’t Love You
The King Blues – Keep The Faith
Catfish & the Bottlemen – Kathleen
Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me
The Go Team – Titanic Vandalism
Roxy Music – Street Life
The Waterboys – Trumpets (remix)
John Newman – Love Me Again
John Grant – I Wanna Go To Marz
Port Isla – Simple Sunrise
Darkside – Heart

LostWinterQA

Welcome to the latest Q & A in which we meet Lost Winter, a 3-piece that formed around 18 months ago, and led by by Richard Westwood, who in his own words, was “a bored guitarist living in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire”. By spring 2013 he had been joined by the powerful vocalist Charlotte Francis of the Leeds based band Rhythm Aire. Completing the line-up, playing bass guitar, is Richard Flynn, an old friend of Richard’s, and member of the band Glass Harbours.

Their aim is to release four EPs, one for each season of the year, the third of which – Spring – came out in April, while they have already featured in New Tunes #20 and #29, but what have Stephen King, Wayne’s World, waistlines, and a Tandoori Chicken Mossolom got to do with anything… and who are Ozzy & Brian?

Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Rhythm Aire | Glass Harbours

 

 

~ Describe your music for those who may not have come across it?

That’s the hardest question of all! We’re fans of different artists and bands and some of these influences find their way in to our music. Charlotte is a classically trained musician with a strong jazz, soul and blues influence. Flynn comes from an electronica, hardcore and metal background whilst I’m really in to artists like Tim Hecker, Forest Swords, Peals and James Blake. So I guess you could say our sound is….. emotive indie pop? Or something like that!

~ What was the idea behind the release of a specific number of EPs, and the seasonal characteristic behind them?

To be honest, the idea evolved as the project evolved. I had so much fun writing “Winter” it seemed pointless to call it a day after releasing one EP. The next step involved working out how long it would take to write a new set, save the cash and source the artwork for another recording. Inevitably the answer led to our “Summer” EP and the idea grew from there really.

The DIY approach to making music is also something that’s also totally integral to Lost Winter and the way we release and promote our songs and I hope this is something we never have to compromise.

~ When is the fourth EP due?

With any luck ‘Autumn’ should see the light off day by mid-October with a single preceding it in August or September. We wanted to write a record that had elements of all the other Lost Winter EPs (the big vocal tracks, interludes, instrumentals & samples) with songs that still pushed us forward as a band. So expect to hear Charlotte’s amazing vocals alongside more chilled out post rock instrumental tracks! I’m really confident that ‘Autumn’ will be our best EP yet.

~ And after that?

I don’t really know what we’re going to do! We’ll probably see how we feel in the New Year and take it from there. But it won’t be the end of Lost Winter, that’s for sure.

~ Have you performed many of your songs live yet?

Not yet, but never say never!

~ As and when you do get to perform live, which famous person would you love to drive the tour bus?

(Charlotte) Johnny Cash. I wish I’d seen him live, and I’d love to be driving along to a gig singing along to “Ring of Fire” or “A Boy Named Sue”, or if in a more sombre mood, I absolutely love his cover of “Hurt”. I cry every time I hear it, and have when I sing it too – although on second thoughts maybe we wouldn’t want to get to a gig all teary (not sure Richard and Flynn would cry though – I’m just overly emotional)!!

(Rich) I’d go with Johnny Cash too.

(Flynn) – Oooh, right! I’m thinking someone like John Lennon or Paul McCartney. Can I have both? To be in the presence of such song writing geniuses, who could also rock with the best of them, would be amazing!

~ Are there any other new local bands to you that we should be investigating?

(Rich) I’ve never met Fraser McGowan from Caught In The Wake Forever, but his new LP, “My Family Goes On Without Me” is my favourite record of the year by a mile. It’s a stunning album.

~ Which famous song by another artist would you love to have written yourself.

(Charlotte) Hmm. Where do I start?! I’m going to go for Etta James, “At Last”.

(Rich) “Washer” by Slint. Slint are playing Leeds in August, which is a dream come true for me.

(Flynn) I would say ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ by Mogwai! It’s one of those tracks that really hits you, especially live. If not that, then any Beatles track!

~ What do you all do to relax away from music?

(Charlotte) Music is my relaxation, mostly! Although I do like to meet up with friends in a good bar in Leeds, or to watch a good film with Scott (husband), Ozzy and Brian (our two amazing cats)!

(Rich) A Stephen King book usually does the trick.

(Flynn) Spending time with the family, but with a house full of girls (as I’m sure Rich will agree) isn’t really relaxing though! Rugby League for me, coaching and playing takes up a lot of my spare time.

~ To Rich – what’s the best thing about Charlotte and Flynn?

Charlotte is a great laugh and an amazing improviser in the studio. You never know what you’re going to hear next, but you know it’ll be amazing. Artistically, it’s a really exciting process to be around.

Flynn, our bass player, is probably the best musician I know. He can adopt his bass playing to suit any genre without losing his own individual style.

~ To Charlotte/Flynn – what’s the worst thing about Rich?

(Charlotte) Erm – his accent?! Only joking! Can’t really think of anything to be honest! We’ve always got on really well, there’s nothing that annoys me about him! I’d say he’s very much a perfectionist when it comes to song writing and the post production, and the tiniest thing he hears that’ s not quite right means he’ll head back into the studio until he’s happy (which can mean hours and hours of his own time spent getting it perfect). But that’s probably a good thing – no, it definitely is.

(Rich) I’d agree with that!

~ Favourite takeaway?

(Charlotte) Chinese. Salt and pepper chicken wings to start followed by a special chow mein or a special foo yung. Lovely (although not for the waistline!!)

(Flynn) I have to agree with Charlotte, Chinese all the way!

(Rich) Curry – Tandoori Chicken Mossolom.

~ Favourite film?

(Charlotte) I have so many films that I love! “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is up there, “Requiem for a Dream”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “and Amelie” – I could go on… One more. “Stepbrothers”. It’s just so silly.

(Rich) ‘Breadcrumb Trails’ or ‘Some Kind of Monster’.

(Flynn) – Couple of faves, Waynes World and High Fidelity (even though the books are better).

 

Enjoy an hour of new tunes, and one or two vintage ones too…

Lonely Tourists – Another Statistic
Swinging for Mars – Minimum Wage
Johnny Panic & the Fever – Heads Will Roll
Kasabian – Stevie
Dexters – Oceans
Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are
Public Service Broadcasting – Signal 30
Dietrich Jon – Her
Circa Waves – Young Chasers
Bob Marley & Wailers – Iron Lion Zion
Crystal Fighters – Follow
Bastille – Daniel in the Den
Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes
Future Islands – Light House
Cold War Kids – Miracle Mile
Spector – Fri Night Don’t Ever Let it End
Chris King & Hotel Radio – True

Aside from all the new music here, I’ve recently posted two more Pick ‘n’ Mix entries on Fresh on the Net.

So, forget fizzy cola bottles, flying saucers, and fruit salads, and find out what sick notes and horror movies have to do with a pick ‘n’ mix!

Enjoy the music!

Pick ‘n’ Mix #3                       Pick ‘n’ Mix #4

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