Monday, 17 June 2013

These Paper Satellites - 'Here Goes Nothing, There Goes Everything'

A lot of bands cobble together their debut EP, and sometimes even their debut albums, putting together a rough and ready set of songs that they’ve found to work well in the practice room or live environment and which they feel best represents their potential…

Often little thought is given to cohesiveness or tone, they simply need an audience to hear enough of what is to come from them, to be intrigued enough to follow their every move from here on out. Or so goes the dominant logic. As such, it can be utterly refreshing when a band comes out with a debut that is unabashedly expansive and grandiose, one which makes an absolute statement of intent, instead of simply hinting at what is to come from them. These Paper Satellites do just that with Here Goes Nothing, There Goes Everything; a set of ludicrously ambitious and accomplished prog rock/post-hardcore which crafts an immersive listening experience full of theatrical twists and turns.

From the very opening, we know we are in for a sweeping piece of epic storytelling as lead vocalist Chris Knight announces that he is ‘sailing on a stolen ship with [his] brothers’ amidst a slow building introduction awash in cello and piano atmospherics. Navel-gazers they ain’t. This segues seamlessly into first track proper ‘Ages Coming (Hey Hey)’, which comes in all stuttering rhythmic percussion and waves of lush clean guitars before giving way to an all out gallop and wailing leads awash in glorious reverb, the kind you can most easily envision ringing out from a cliff top.

These become a mainstay for many of the EP’s high points, and along with the generous use of sweet vocal harmonies, help call to mind the pre-punk 70s luminaries of classic journey-faring rock. However, there are so many reference points contained within the band’s sonic patchwork: the section of ‘Murders’ with its ‘whoa-oh’ gang vocals could be culled from Alexisonfire’s glory years, and later mutates into a floaty piece of shimmering post-rock; and there’s a real earthy, bluesy quality to their most thoughtful moments, particularly with the fingerpicked guitars and gravelly vocals at the start of closer ‘High West’.

Perhaps the only issue is that this sort of high-concept approach doesn’t work quite as well given the limited space of an EP, offering as it does the depth of a novella in place of a fully fledged opus. As such it’s hard to get a sense of what’s going on that lends import to a character speaking lyrics such as ‘lately I’ve been dreading my dreams, they’ve got me armed to the teeth’. However, this is hardly a fault; the band manage to captivate us enough within these five tracks to show what they’d be capable of given room for expansion. Perhaps the clue was in the name: These Paper Satellites are clearly aiming for orbit, and whilst they don’t quite manage it on launch, they are surely on the right trajectory.

Pay what you like for Here Goes Nothing, There Goes Everything

Check out These Paper Satellites

Originally published @

Friday, 31 May 2013

Juffage - 'HHV'

MM are proud to present the second in Juffage’s month-long series of live videos recorded on his mammoth tour of Europe at the tail end of 2012. Intimate and beautifully shot, these videos give a unique feel for the passion and intensity of this unique solo performer…
‘HHV’ recorded at a session in Lille, France, captures Chicago-born Jeff at his most poignant and arresting, with its soft waves of synth and melodica, haunting vocals and eventually, at the song’s resolution, almost glitchy live drums. In trademark style, all of these instruments are performed by Jeff himself with his DIY approach to weaving sonic textures, limited by his physical capabilities if not his imagination and musical ability.
Whilst he has no plans to tour at the moment with his time devoted to recording new material, these videos really whet the appetite and we strongly recommend you go check him out when he finally hits the road again.
In the meantime you can check out the first video of the set over at The 405 HERE
& keep your eyes peeled on Juffage’s Facebook page for the next instalment HERE
Also, check out our review of his recent Sonic Couldron experiment in Leeds over HERE

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Juffage's Sonic Cauldron @ Left Bank Leeds, 26/04/13


Juffage’s usual live show always has the feel of a controlled experiment with his madcap and erratic one-man multitasking approach to setting up the complex looping of various instruments, cooking up a rich, dense musical brew.
However, this special one-off show is his most ambitious work to date, as he replaces the stew-pot of your regular gig venue with his immense ‘sonic cauldron’: the former church at Left Bank is converted into a surround sound arena, with numerous speakers, amplifiers and boomboxes places on all sides of the audience. With him being joined by some helping hands, from such sources as Sky Larkin and Vessels no less, this results in a weird and wonderful sonic experience like no other.
This is aided by the fact that the main man himself, aka Jeff T. Smith, has managed to put together a line-up of leftfield and progressive acts that make the best use of Left Bank as a performance space. This is clear from the opening strains played out by Ten, an ambient ensemble whose control and poise is phenomenal as they fill the room with their mournful, haunting and ultimately beautiful soundscapes. Those who have made it down early are truly rewarded by their fine emotional ebbs and flows.
More have gathered by the time bass virtuoso Steve Lawson takes to the stage, initially alone, yet soon joined by saxophonist Andy Williamson who begins, quite unexpectedly, at the back of the church, before encircling the crowd and eventually joining Steve at a raised platform just above him. The duo create uniquely loop-layered compositions with high levels of improvisation. Lawson’s bass set-up is as complex as the music itself, with an array of effects the likes of which few bassists would ever care to fathom, but which allow his 6-stringed instrument to sound like any other he wishes, ranging from as you’d expect, to distorted blues guitar, to synthesiser tones in an instant. While the babble from the bar does at times reverberate around the hall, Lawson’s innovative approach, coupled with Williamson’s passionately played sax, proves totally captivating for those gathered close.
Thankfully the audience grant These Men’s polite request for the necessary hush to break into their a capella ditties. Their harmonies are pitch perfect, their quaint storytelling is charming, and their manners are impeccable. Having last seen them through the fog of a hangover in a café on a Sunday morning, I didn’t think there would be a better setting for this most unusual of acts, but it turns out I was wrong. The acoustics suit them perfectly and they seem even better without having the task of soothing a sore head.
Juffage and his borrowed cohorts take to the stage with a word of explanation: tonight’s set will comprise of entirely original compositions written with the show in mind and the plethora of speakers are being governed by a specially designed computer programme that ensures that the experience will be entirely different depending on where you stand around the room. This of course makes it difficult to objectively characterise a performance that will be, in the band’s own words, totally subjective and unique to each individual. However, following the encouragement to move around proves most rewarding: in one spot the guitars and vocals shine through the mix, in another a few minutes later the electronic instrumentation takes centre stage. Not everyone makes this decisive break with gig etiquette however, being far too polite to consider shuffling past others, but tonight is all about the sonic journey, rather than an occasion where you might require a view of the action.
In any case, no matter where you stand, the experiment of the ‘cauldron’ is a success. The sound is dense, yet not without clarity and focus. And despite the relative lack of exciting chaos that have come to be synonymous with a Juffage show, the extra musicians allow for the songs to be played as originally intended, with all of their nuances left intact as Jeff is no longer limited by his own physical capabilities.
While this show is much more about music and sounds than the man, it is a shame that this is the only time we will see the maverick performer this year. As his sole live project of 2013 it has proven to be a worthy one though, and has certainly whetted the appetite to see what he will come up with next time around.
Check out Juffage @
And check out the awesome work being done at Left Bank @
Photos: John Toolan via Music to Wash Up To – Visit HERE

Monday, 22 April 2013

And So I Watch You From Afar - Manchester Academy 3, 20/04/13


You know those shows that come along every once in a while where you really feel like you’re witnessing something special?
You get the feeling that every night on the current tour by Northern Ireland’s finest post-math-dance-rock merchants And So I Watch You From Afar has been that way. On the back of their most polished and accomplished work to date, All Hail Bright Futures,  they pack out the smallest of the Manchester Academy venues on the last night of a stretch originally scheduled for November but cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Judging by the way everyone filters in early, they’ve been biding their time ever since the news broke.
First up though, Londoners Antlered Man have the task of warming up a crowd already nearing boiling point and are thankfully more than up to it. Drafted in for the remainder of these dates at the last minute owing to Gallops’ absence (which we now, unfortunately, know the reason for), their blend of obnoxious jagged noise, stoner grooves and weird nuances (penny whistles, megaphones, singing in character?!) they prove the perfect curveball to kick off proceedings for a largely unsuspecting crowd. Their sound is refreshingly pushing against trend, unlike anything else on the scene at the moment – think a mix between the frenetic, psychotic nature of Future of the Left and System of a Down segueing into the sort of grooves Kyuss would be proud of.
We’ve just about managed to get our head around what we’ve just observed before the tinkling guitars of recent album-opener ‘Eunoia’ shimmer from the PA and the four Belfast boys take to the stage. From here they launch into ‘Big Thinks Do Remarkable’ and it’s clear that energy and enthusiasm are in abundance, and immediately spreading around the room. The huge grin across the face of guitarist Rory Friers is replicated wherever you look and the euphoria is both palpable and clearly humbling to those onstage. By the time they slam into the groove of ‘Ambulance!’, what appears to be the happiest pit in the world opens up and will remain in full swing for the rest of the evening. “This song’s about only doing things that make you happy”, Friers tells us before old favourite ‘Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate’, although he seems to be preaching to the converted on this occasion.
While other instrumental rock bands tend to work on the formula of slowly building to intense emotional peaks, with the occasional out and out banger thrown in for good measure, ASIWYFA have set themselves apart by favouring the latter. On paper, this relative lack of light and shade should be to their detriment, but both on record and in a live setting they have perfected the art of structuring a set of material and are somehow able to sustain their high throughout. The encore gives us chance to catch our breath as they revel in the moment, apparently reluctant to start closer ‘The Voiceless’ as it would signal the end of this run of dates. Its glittering crescendo leaves few keen to head home themselves, and we can only hope they make good on their promise to be back sooner rather than later.

Check out Antlered Man @

Check out And So I Watch You From Afar @

Review originally published @

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Deftones @ Manchester Academy, 18/02/13

deftones 5
Deftones’ White Pony provided a real watershed moment for the late 90s metal set. With its ethereal atmospherics meets hardcore bombast dynamic the band truly demonstrated that they were misplaced in the nu-metal boom. It’s just a shame that such a classic work has been used as a benchmark against which each of their preceding albums has been judged and in turn almost unanimously deemed to come up short. It’s only when treated to a set spanning their body of work that you can appreciate how well older material stands up to the test of time, and how the last 13 years’ worth of their output has succeeded on so many levels in remoulding their masterwork’s template.

Three Trapped Tigers are undoubtedly a musician’s dream and a soundman’s nightmare, given their complex set up of various synths and effects and the virtuosic intricacy of each bandmembers’ parts. So it’s perhaps forgivable that some things are slightly off at the beginning of their set. Particularly noticeable is the volume of their sparse wordless vocals, which should be the icing upon the cake but are instead brought jarringly to the fore. Such wrongs are righted quickly however and by midset those gathered early are hypnotised by the Tigers’ brand of otherworldly math-psychedelia and their most ascendant passages are mesmerising. Their ambitious soundscapes are well suited to the massive PA in the Academy, even though they are well and truly humbled to be here on this tour, gracing ‘the biggest stages [they] have ever played on’. A number of jaws almost audibly drop when it comes round to the noodling guitars and synths and unorthodox percussion of ‘Cramm’, which not only provides a showcase of the sheer (apparently effortless) ability of all three members, but also their hookiest melodies which get heads nodding in unison. Undoubtedly a few of those entranced this evening have been seduced into coming back for more.

By contrast, the more traditionally arresting post-hardcore riot of letlive. seems pretty pedestrian, musically speaking. While their assault is pleasingly angular and hammered out with a great deal of enthusiasm, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it has all been done before, the most clear comparison point being Glassjaw, which really is a tough act to follow. What they lack in originality however, they more than make up in showmanship thanks to frontman Jason Butler’s seemingly boundless energy. While the sort of intense show they put on usually works best when penetrating your personal space in a pokey sweatbox, they deserve credit for managing to uphold the spectacle in a much bigger setting. At one point, insanely enough, Butler even pulls off an incredibly impressive mid-song front-flip. Unfortunately the energy drops in the middle of the set as they deliver a straight-out-of-2004 ballad reminiscent of The Used and their ilk, but is thankfully restored in time for Butler to pull off the obligatory ‘punk band in a big venue’ move of the stage dive over the barrier. 

By the time they’ve left the stage, the atmosphere is thick with expectation. For the first time in the evening, once the capacity crowd filters fully into the room, movement becomes a shuffle and is no longer voluntary by the time Chino Moreno and Co hit the stage with ‘Diamond Eyes’. From the opener it’s clear that the band are on form and they really feed off the devotion of the crowd, the core demographic of which has clearly grown up with their music. Their enthusiasm is rewarded by a nice early one-two punch of the classics ‘Be Quiet and Drive’ and ‘My Own Summer’, which really whips the room into a frenzy. If anything, we can be thankful that we’re calmed down when they peg it back, with the monolithic churn of ‘Rosemary’ from the recently released Koi No Yokan.

One of the bigger surprises in the set comes with the inclusion of a powerful rendition of White Pony’s ‘Passenger’, which works surprisingly well with Chino alone as opposed to its usual interplay with Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. Paired with the hypnotic swirl of ‘Entombed’, with its tapped guitars and Chino’s soaring vocal, the rapturous response confirms this as the most majestic segment of the evening. From here on in, they don’t quite sustain this peak, which is perhaps understandable, and the set does drag at points towards its close. The mass singalong to perennial favourite ‘Change (In the House of Flies)’ does however provide another welcome lift.
deftones 1
The level of energy and enthusiasm the band play with is what we’d expect of a group of teen upstarts, and when they bound back onto the stage for an encore comprised entirely of cuts from debut Adrenaline, it is hard to believe that such songs are nearing 20 years of age. It’s apparent that despite all they’ve been through, with the tragic car crash in 2008 from which permanent bassist Chi Cheng is still recovering, Deftones show no signs of letting up. While they may never produce another epochal masterwork, their output is always high-calibre, their shows vibrant, and they have retained hero status where their peers have trawled the depths of mediocrity. For this we should be thankful.

Check out Deftones @, letlive. @ and Three Trapped Tigers @

Photographs by Jason Broadhurst

Monday, 28 January 2013

Robot // Alien - Concealing the Lifting EP

Sheen is all well and good, but when it comes to heartfelt guitar pop, sometimes the fuzzier and scuzzier the better…
Such is the case for Manchester’s RoBoT//aLiEn, whose thrashy, synth-laden ditties just sound right with the fi nice and lo. After all, a studio polish would just detract from the charming sense of paranoia that pervades this EP release.
Opener ‘Forever Please?’ provides the perfect introduction to the Robot, aka Rob Allen (geddit?!), with its interplay of distorted chords and tinkling keys. Speaking out to a generation of disillusioned  young adults, its chorus references retro childhood favourites “It’s like a life of claymation/I’m turning into Morph/opening up Trap Doors” and its pop sensibilities eventually give way to discordant fuzz guitars, seeing out the track with an outpour of frustration.
While essentially a straightforward pop song, the nostalgic feel and blissful melodies of ‘You Are Traffic’ provide the perfect antidote to anyone disillusioned with the genre’s ongoing bastardisation. The lyrical theme is continued, albeit over a more solid groove, as Allen questions whether “life is something I can’t plan“. Such control soon gives over to just under 2 minutes of bombastic stomping crunch however, as ‘Putdown, 2001!’ delivers on the opening track’s parting promise of raucousness.
The latter part of the EP explores the more psychedelic aspects of Allen’s sound. The synth-heavy ‘Poppy’ which instils a sense of foreboding through its off-kilter combination of sweet melancholic verses juxtaposed with choruses delivered part-monotone, part-harsh screams. Ultimately this is dissipated by closer  ‘A Little Love’, which provides the clearest insight into the eclectic influences bearing on the record, equal parts 90s grunge pop and 60s guitar pop proper.
The 5 tracks on ‘Concealing the Lifting’ showcase RoBoT//aLiEn’s refreshing noise-pop songwriting and demonstrate why he has gained the attention of 6Music amongst others.  With a little luck he’ll be breaking out of Manchester in no time.

Download ‘Concealing the Lifting’ @

Check out RoBoT//aLiEn @

Article originally published @

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Tangled Talk Records

Tangled Talk Final

Aside from such legendary imprints as Sub-Pop, Def Jam and Discord, few labels can lay claim to being one of the homes of a musical movement. However, as one of the originating hotbeds of the burgeoning #UKSwell scene, Brighton’s Tangled Talk could possibly have a stake in such a hall of fame.

Not denoting a genre as such, the hashtag started as a joke in reference to the US ‘Wave’ of bands such as Defeater and Touché Amoré (and for some involved, it still is), but soon came to stand for a shared ethos of bands looking to foster a spirit of camaraderie within the UK’s heavy music scene. In practice, the term denotes a collective wanting to play heavy music that is free of pretence and macho stigma.

Founded back in 2008, Tangled Talk, along with Holy Roar, have played a key part in the unearthing of the intelligent heavy music acts that have gone on to form this strong grassroots community and have continually put out absolute stormers of modern hardcore. The label soon became home to some of Swell’s core bands such as The Long Haul and Pariso, and jointly released the sadly defunct Kerouac’s records along with their Holy Roar brethren.

It’s not all about the screamy stuff however. The label has diversified this year with releases from party punks Gnarwolves and alt-folk act Mothbites, and has previously handled UK distribution for spoken word supremos Listener.

Label founder Andrej can pride himself not only on the talent of the bands on his roster, but also the loving craft of the physical products developed for them, with their emphasis on unique vinyl pressings. These range from the resplendent (see Vales white ‘snow-drops’ number) to the bizarre (Gnarwolves’ ‘sneezing wolf’ 12” complete with ‘snot-splatter’ effect) and recently, Pariso opted for a format that is both personalised postcard from the band and playable record in one!

Tangled Talk releases begging to be checked out:

The Long Haul – Debtors
South coast hardcore with blues sensibilities buried amongst breakneck time changes and unreserved fury. Expect big things from a debut full length.

Vales – Clarity
Released in January under the moniker Veils until a pesky threat of legal action, the original pressing of this debut EP may be rendered a future rarity. Vital, angular modern screamo from deepest, darkest Cornwall.

Kerouac – Cold and Distant, Not Loving
Everything the contemporary hardcore record should be, showcasing their ability to create haunting beauty out of disparate elements and chaotic noise. If only we could have had another before they called it a day.

Gnarwolves – CRU
Breathing life into pop punk with their total lack of pretence, uplifting zest for life and rousing sing-a-longs. This is party rock at its finest.

Pick up all these releases and more in some lush formats over at

Illustration by @DeanSmithers

Article originally published at