SCATTERED ASHES Single Review: Dublin goths manifest sonic claustrophobia on debut single “Love Is Not Enough”

© Scattered Ashes, 2021

By Varun Govil

There are two facts that have become undeniable: First, post-punk is back and it’s here to say, and second, the Irish know how to write brilliant guitar music. From the return of My Bloody Valentine to streaming and the dominance of bands like The Murder Capital, Fontaines D.C., and Just Mustard it’s clear that the Isle is unrelenting in its output of groundbreaking artists. With the emergence of gothic quartet SCATTERED ASHES, it seems as though that output is not slowing down anytime soon.

With support from radio legend Steve Lamacq and help in the studio from Dan Doherty (former producer for Fontaines D.C)and Pete Maher (the man behind U2 and more), the Dublin-based band have made it clear that they have all it takes to match the recognition that many of their aforementioned contemporaries obtained. Listening to their debut single “Love Is Not An Option” it becomes easy to see why right from the first chord. Entering the sonic space with a yelping guitar chord that gives way to a playful yet dark bass line, the track makes its presence known. With a bed of light synths and graceful guitars supporting the verses of vocalist Rob Dalton, it’s not long before the cynical and poetic personality of the bands come into full effect.

© Scattered Ashes, 2021

While it’s hard to ignore the heavy influence of Joy Division, Bauhaus, and even Bloc Party at times on the sound, the track is much more than a retelling of post-punk and its countless revivals. Not limiting itself to the reserved performances of the 20th century but also creating an aura of claustrophobia that many bands on the airways fail to capture, SCATTERED ASHES can not be mistaken for anyone but themselves. From the ferocious drumming on the choruses to the triumphant cries and clamouring backing vocals there’s a palpable life to the 3 minutes and 45 seconds of music. Simultaneously, though, the restraint of the guitars and Dalton’s almost spoken voice keep the space tight and in contrast to the pummels of the drums. 

The first track from the band and a prelude to an upcoming three track EP, “Love Is Not An Option” is emblematic of the staying power of all things goth. A powerful reminder to not take my ears away from Ireland, SCATTERED ASHES have made a convincing case on why you should keep tabs on them.

Their recent single is available on all good streaming platforms.

Music Video Review: Jarring visuals and edgy lyricism: Legss put forward their first offering of 2021

© Legss, 2021

By Lana Williams

London’s up-and-coming alt-rock quartet, Legss, are Ned Green (Vocals), Max Oliver (Guitar), Jake Martin (Bass) and Louis Grace (Drums). The post-punk experimenters are two EP’s deep and are set to release accompanying visuals for the title track of their sophomore offering. Directed by the band and Luke Kulukundis and filmed by Rory Edmonds and Mollie Gallagher, the video is set to be an exciting accomplishment, adding to their resume of delightful musical creations.

Ambitious, ageless and authentic, ‘Doomswayers’ takes us on an alt-rock sonic journey through London, following a poignant protagonist with utter potency and incredibly ability. The lyrics and unwavering vocals exacerbate the dark side of post-punk with a certain edge that takes their music to a next level.

Speaking on the video, frontman Ned Green informs: “The video for Doomswayers is the concluding statement from our EP. A sprawling, epic, emotionally-charged, scatty, nauseating, vitriolic visual accompaniment, set in a 17th Century, modern, time-warped LondWinium-by-Sea, to a three-part throwaway Violin Concerto in D Major, found in a tip and then transcribed into the six-minute title-track EP-closer that you can all love, listen, and now watch today.” 

Doomswayers’ is teeming with jagged riffs and tongue-in-cheek lyrics that tackle themes of modern-day urban life of crowded streets and intense volatility that come along with the 21st century. The opening monologue sets the scene for razor-sharped observations and critical orations that is present throughout. The track lends a unique view into the inner workings of a bustling city, dark undertones and volatility alike.

Legss have the mesmerising ability to produce off-kilter tracks which is blindingly brilliant, they’re poets that just happen to have a penchant for searing instrumentation.

Legss are set to support the eccentric Pom Poko on their upcoming tour: HOME | pom poko.

Listen to their single here.

Solis Single Review: ‘Be Together’ Is Bold And Beautiful

© SOLIS

By Lana Williams

For any fans of Phoebe Green, Abbie Ozard and Lauren Hibberd, Solis is the star for you.

Irish hailing, Manchester based, stellar songwriter Solis has released her dazzling new single ‘Be Together’. Boasting expressive lyricism and enormous explorations into poignant feelings, Solis’ latest release offers a dreamy escapism. ‘Be Together’ acts as the second offering from her upcoming debut album which is set to be a sonic wonder. 

Her ethereal aura expressed through the track has unsurprisingly caught the attention of multiple media outlets, such as BBC radio Manchester. 

Talking on the track, Solis shares:

“”Be Together” tells the story of someone who longs to be in a relationship all the time. When someone finds it difficult to be on their own and becomes infatuated by another they wish to be with… The middle section with the cannon vocals is symbolic of the commotion, confusion and lust that has consumed the person’s thoughts. It’s not autobiographical, but there are elements of the unnamed narrator that I definitely relate to. Loneliness and missing human connection is something that we all can understand after the coronavirus pandemic.”

Her haunting vocals and psychedelic compositions beautifully melt together in a way that is fondly reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. Pouring with emotion and fruitful longing, this non-auto-biographical cut has received a glowing reception and sees her start to break out in the Manchester music scene.  

Her honest and unvarnished approach to difficult topics and symbolic libretto gives a unique, sincere perspective on the all-consuming commotion and confusion that comes along with difficult situations.  Related to current climates, her commentary on missing human connection offers and all-too relatable tale of the tribulations that have encroached on all our lives over the past year.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Solis creations, approaching imminently.

Solis’ new single is available here, and you can keep up with her on her social media here.

Imiss: Japanese Post-Rock Juggernauts’ New Single “Make Your Call” Wows

 © Imiss, 2021

By Lewis Oxley

Japanese post-rock is one of the sub-genres that can generate many feelings. From excitement to fear, intrigue to confusion, there is no doubt of its power to entice you once you’ve trudged through hours of searching on Spotify. The band, Imiss, are proof that this statement is true on their track ‘Make Your Call’.

The track opens up with a cinematic wall of sound underpinned by intense drums helping create a full-bodied effect. The drums’ synchronous pattern compliments the rather uplifting string section to evoke a large soundscape which is gripping and transient. The band’s utilising of the studio draws on their ability to compose music that draws on the dreamy effects of cinema in particular, the surroundings of their native Japan and its awe-inspiring landscape. 

The awe-inspiring scoundscape demonstrated in the music is matched with the lyrics, which conjure the other side to Japanese life,  the beautiful romanticism keeping Japan an enigma yet to unravel itself. This is expressed through the lyrics: 

Every day, every night / We’ve been drawing / when the sky is filled with stars and rainy days/ Every day, every night/ We’ve been drawing/ ‘cuz we fell in love with our dreams...

These lyrics capture an authentic poetry that resonates with a spiritual quality and the added theme of dreams captures a tranquil state of being while you sink into the shimming soundscape.

This track fills a need for wonder and a lust for life that only atmospheric post-rock can provide. Lets hope Imiss can make post-rock not just big in Japan but around the world.    

Listen to their new single here, and follow their Twitter and Instagram here.

RORY WYNNE SINGLE REVIEW: ‘Make You Mine’ Melts Even The Hardest of Hearts

© Rory Wynne, 2021

By Neve Robinson

Stockport’s self-proclaimed resident rockstar (or rather, Stockstar…no? I thought that was quite good) is back with a bang! Make You Mine has been on the airwaves for quite some time now – if you don’t know it, get to know it. This seasoned and slightly overloaded reviewer may or may not have had this on the ‘to review’ pile for a while (I sincerely hope Rory doesn’t mind about this gross negligence of mine), but it’s hopefully worth the wait. Why? Well, there isn’t much more for me to say in regards to this record other than positive poring over it – it’s a seductive, synthy sizzler of a single that dreamily oozes from one catchy hook to another. I caught myself humming the chorus as I typed out this review; while I’m sure it’s not a comparison he’s never had before, this indie-pop enigma of a single echoes the likes of Blossoms, which by many a Mancunian’s standards is quite the fabulous feat.

The blanket of lockdown bleakness has been perfectly punctured through with Make You Mine, an irresistible song that tugs at the sides of your mouth until you’re doing one of those things – what do you call them? Oh yes, smiles. Most of us have been strangers to this seldom-experienced sensation for some time given the gloom of recent months. And yet Rory raises spirits effortlessly in just over three minutes. It’s a real talent to have, that, to transform the whole fabric of one’s mornings. That’s just what this song did for me when I played it for the first time. Having been moodily cocooned in duvet domains for a large part of my morning, a decided lazy day, a quick blast of Wynne’s new winner of a track had me up, showered and ready for the day. It seems that Wynne has truly achieved his goal with the song – “The perfect tune to mark a new chapter.” It inspires a real sense of new beginnings. In a year (hopefully) not totally fraught with captivity and miserable masses. But rather, a celebration of Spring, an advent for adventures to come. The track is pure joy, plain and simple.

Is it a love song? Is it a lust song? A mixture of both, I feel. Wynne himself describes it as a “coming-of-age movie lyrically”, and indeed, this would seem an accurate assertion. It’s a bonafide Bildungsroman (look it up, it’s a mint word), a narrative journey of sorts, and I found myself feeling strangely connected to the subject matter despite having little knowledge on the trials and tribulations of love myself. Considering indie lyrics can, sometimes, fall foul to cop-out-cliches and fairly paint-by-numbers production, to have such an intriguing tale behind the words really does amplify its specialness as a track. It’s unique to many records I’ve heard of its genre – and in fairness, I think by now living in South Manchester for the past few years, I’ve heard a lot.

I think what struck me most when listening to it, was how much I longed for live gigs again. I’ve stated this on previous reviews, I’m sure, and I’m equally sure that you are bored of reading this sentiment of mine – but when one hears a song like this, the thought of being crammed in a sweaty swarm of strangers bouncing to the beat is a thought most tempting. Wynne has wowed before with his live performances on his own tour, a triumphant headline show at Liverpool’s brand new Jimmy’s, and a rowdy successful residency of heralded headline shows here in Manchester. The thought of hearing his chocolately, smooth vocals slipping their way into a crowd makes me absolutely itching to return to normality and gigs in the greatest city in the world (no bias, honest..)

I’m hoping, in excuse for my inexcusable tardiness with said review, that this will re-remind people of what a talent Rory truly is. Wynne is one to watch, there’s no doubt about that, and he only grows bigger and bigger in his creative exploits as he experiments with different instruments, genres and vocal styles. I expect furthermore releases in this enjoyable vein – I particularly enjoyed his previous single, Roses (slightly different to the Outkast one, but still properly good, promise). I can’t help but feel Tom Ogden and the gang should probably watch out. Stockport’s new indie titan looks well on his way to rethroning them as Stocky’s finest export…

‘Make You Mine’ is available on all good streaming sites. You can follow Rory on Instagram here, and Twitter here. Listen to this new single below:

SWINTON SWINES! ‘No Fightin’ Single Review Sees SWINE Solidified As Not Only Punk Purveyors, But Indie Rock Icons Too

© SWINE, 2021

By Neve Robinson

Imagine The Libertines (circa their shining self-titled era) – no, wait. Babyshambles, yeah. And imagine Cabbage (circa, well, now really). Picture this. They’ve procreated and had a beautiful albeit unruly Salfordian sonic child that just kicks off all the time. Unrelenting. A bit loud. But nonetheless, bloody irresistible. Oh yeah, and it’s wearing a pig mask. Well, that’s probably the most accurate description that I can offer for the raucous Swinton band SWINE’s recent single ‘No Fightin’ – a Valentine’s Day release that’ll certainly have you falling in love with the band brilliantly baptized with a boar’s moniker.

Clocking in at a mere 2:44 minute runtime, the record is perfectly engineered to be as replayable and catchy as possible, much like the punk songs of the seventies they draw their heaviest inspirations from. In their own words, ‘No Fightin’ is an ode to the most perfect imperfection – that of ourselves, and in our relationships with others. “We, or those who we love, or anyone, are not perfect. It’s self reflection to some extent, as some of the lines in the song are things that have been said to me.” So says Michael Blakemore, frontman of the band. The lyrics portray “an unhealthy relationship for both people involved, and a plead for peace.” It begs the question: in life, is there ever truly ‘NO fightin’? Is there any need for said ‘fightin’ (I’m enjoying not using a g on the end of the word, by the way, it feels very rock ‘n’roll of me.) Well, boxers and pro-military American conservatives would beg to differ, but that’s by the by.

SWINE have softened their sound somewhat from their earlier releases with this number. They are a band that are undoubtedly constantly evolving. This single is sort of like pushing our boundaries a bit. “We’ve got a stigma of being wild and chaotic,” says Michael, the vocalist, “but this tune really shows how we can mix it up and incorporate bits of different genres in to our personal sound.” And truly, they have dabbled in quite the myriad of genres here. SWINE’s debut EP ‘Fools Britannia’ is pure punk paradise start to finish, with ‘Pablo Picasso’ a real standout from the record echoing the likes of The Stranglers. Then followed 2019’s ‘They Hate Us’ accompanied by B-side ‘Diluted’ – both tracks building on their new-wave foundation and treading into ska territory. The songs on this record in particular are topical, they’re fresh. They touch on issues of classism, fascism and sexism that work seamlessly with the ska influences interspersed throughout the verses. Later on in the year, ‘Gazza B‘ was released, a song open to interpretation (before listening, I had presumed this was a post-punk ode to Mr Take That himself. I’m still unconvinced I’m totally wrong.) This record is even more different than the last, with more of a sound of the Fall as it is rich with that same strain of fuzzy feedback ferociousness Mark E. Smith possessed. While the band definitely aim for a everpresent undertone of punk rock noise throughout every song they perform, they make effort to mix and merge into a mesh of different genres. I think that’s what makes them so refreshing and intriguing as an upcoming band, this constant exploration and metamorphosis of styles and substance. They refuse to settle on one constant, and to me this is a clear as can be sign of a true crew of creatives.

© SWINE, 2021

So. I’ve got a bit of a quibble with this tune, personally, and I’m going to have to state my case for…well, a fight. My only criticism is that this was released during lockdown. Why, SWINE, why? For you have robbed us of a live reveal! How I would love to experience this for the first time live. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve really listened to a lockdown release and truly hungered for a great gig. And by God, can SWINE put on a great gig. They have somewhat of a legendary stage presence in many Manchester music circles, supporting the likes of Strange Bones in their live outings. I’m yet to experience them for myself, sadly, but I’ve seen videos, and have heard tales from peers of chaotic Lux Interior-level performances. I’d be especially intrigued to see how they would handle this track. It wouldn’t be a typical punk performance, and for frontman who spits spectacularly into a swarm of sweaty sh*tfaced fans behind the mask of a hog, I’d be curious to see how they’d handle a gentler number life. It’s an indie-rock triumph, and while I personally prefer their punky roots, their first foray into indie-rock territory has paid off enormously. Kudos to SWINE, and save me a ticket when things finally recommence so that I can be present to a riot incited by you Swindon lads. Oh to be sweating in a crowd at The Bread Shed, privy to the first live smashing out of ‘No Fightin’. I’ll be fighting to get to the front.

‘No Fightin’ is available on all semi-decent streaming platforms, and the band’s socials are here. Listen to it below:

YNES Single Review: Bedroom-punk belter ‘Better Job’ is a defiant middle finger to Sunak’s stifling of creativity

© YNES, 2021

By Neve Robinson

“I don’t know man, maybe I should get like, a grown-up job, a real job, A BETTER JOB!” Within the first few opening seconds of her new single, the unrelenting, firecracker visionary YNES makes her views clear on Rishi Sunak’s ludicrous suggestion that musicians and other people in the arts sector should “retrain and find other jobs”. And by God, if you weren’t convinced of the ridiculousness of this comment before, you undoubtedly will be after listening to this powerhouse of a protest record. Better Job may well be one of my favourite singles of the year, and we’re only in February.

Why does it pack such a resonant punch and make such an impact on the listener? I should say firstly, that it’s certainly a sentiment shared by countless other creatives who work hard to create content enjoyed and consumed by those criticising them for not having so-called ‘practical’ careers. As a writer, I completely empathise with YNES’ anger. To be denied of the only thing I have personally ever felt I was talented at/had a real motivation to work diligently at for others’ enjoyment, Sunak’s savage condemning of my craft was a kick in the teeth. And what a committed creative YNES is. She has been for many years been working hard at her craft, constantly evolving, spanning every genre from indie-dreamy pop to punk, and gradually garnering up quite the following of her illustrious career. I myself have followed YNES on social media for years now, initially interested by her cool chameleon looks. Even her dress sense oozes individuality and artistry – she looks like a rockstar. She has the voice and the lyrical talent; taking heavy inspiration from artists like Kate Nash, her social commentary is biting and endlessly intelligent. But I think what I most enjoyed about seeing her content, and why I ached to review her new single, was her incredible confidence. She is above all a deeply strong woman, and one I deeply admire; she is one of the most open and honest artists I have ever come across. She is unfazed by negativity, and instead brazenly looks it in the eye and tells it to f**k off. This is why I completely have faith in her lyrics. You can tell how much she cares about the records that she makes, how much passion she has for the words she screams. YNES is no plastic-punk. She’s 100% the real deal, in her ideals and her fierce feminist rhetoric intrinsic to the single.

 © YNES, 2021

Better Job has been a long-anticipated release. After Sunak’s comments, YNES uploaded a 30 second jingle to social media titled Better Jobs. A direct response to Rishi, YNES states quite clearly that “she’d rather die than have a better job” – to be pigeonholed into what the government deem as ‘respectable’ jobs at the detriment of losing her creative spark would be an existence YNES can’t picture herself existing in! The skit gained a lot of traction – a tasty 8k views and an interview on BBC – and it inspired her to write a full song from the foundations of the video. “Having witnessed the subsequent lack of support for the industry regarding Brexit, and just everything else at the moment – I decided to spend Lockdown 3 writing and recording a full track from home,” YNES explained in her correspondence with me. “I know so many people who are feeling dejected and hopeless at the future of the arts, and I really believe that we need to stay passionate – together. I really feel as though the song will resonate with people.” And resonate it has. The song stands up for all of the creative voices that the government encouragement of retraining has stifled. It’s a song that inspires a real sense of unity, a real sense of US VS THEM. It’s a cathartic expression of her own frustration as well as trying to make it clear that our spirits shouldn’t be crushed by the dismissal of our talents. It’s a sentiment I’m behind, I can tell you.

The song also celebrates the beauty of individuality and not succumbing to the cookie-cutter shapes society tries to mold us as workers into, which YNES herself is an emblem of. I think I would describe her as A New Romantic Britpunk Babe, a general glittery delight of a human, or probably just as Annie Lennox’s (possibly) biological daughter. Perhaps an amalgamation of the three. She asks playfully to be taught how to be a “morally upstanding member of society“, which her ethereal alien appearance and non-acceptance of bullsh*t doesn’t quite fit into (dictionary-definition wise, at least). And, nor should it. She offers that maybe she could “wear a tie” – but because she’s a woman, it’ll “have to be a miniskirt“, referencing the misogynistic way women are treated in the workplace as well as a cutting comment on how androgyny is shunned. Gender conformity is a more easy way to be squeezed into the mold of ‘acceptable member of society.’ But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? What is our motivation to play by societal rules, what is our reward? I think I’d much rather be happy in my skin and dye my hair funky colours and be gloriously and unabashedly me than to lose my soul to corporate means. Sparks of light and talent and joy shine through the cracks in this hollow work-obsessed society we inhabit. Sure, most of us “can’t afford to be the next Rolling Stones or Bowie” and have to work jobs on the side. It’s like YNES herself states, “radioplay doesn’t pay these days!” But the difficult trials and tribulations that come with being an artist and keeping the flame lit of our creative endeavours is worth it. And it ironically has entertained and kept sane the very same people that are critical of the industry. So, Rishi, if you want us to retrain, “we’ll all get better jobs – but you can throw away your DVDs, you can unsubscribe from Netflix, and delete your music library” – because without the wonderful artists like YNES of the world, there would be no art to escape into.

YNES’ vivacious vocals and unrelenting guitar riffs make for a DIY dream of a punk record. It is a true testament to the talent of YNES, and I truly wish her nothing but success in her career. I’m excited to see her bloom even more, and I hope to hear records from her similar to this in the future – it’s very unique from anything she’s ever produced, really, and I for one am digging it. Keep being fabulous YNES, and please, please don’t ever get a better job!

© YNES, 2021

You can follow YNES’ social media here and here. YNES’ new single, Better Job, is out today – the 12th of February, and is available on Spotify now. Listen to it below.