The Rifles – ‘None The Wiser’

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For the past decade or so The Rifles have been plodding away, doing their mod (The Jam in particular) influenced indie thing and picking up a loyal fan base along the way. Since their formation in 2004, three albums have been released – debut No Love Lost in 2006 introduced the quartet’s aforementioned style, follow up The Great Escape did much the same while 2011’s Freedom Run shifted towards more grandiose, orchestral pop in places.

It’s been far from plain sailing, having to overcome financial problems, rows with banks and enforce line-up changes. Yet a full decade since their first gig and eight years on from their debut, The Rifles are still with us when many of the 2006 vintage are long since gone. With the original line-up back in place following the return of bassist Robert Pyne and drummer Grant Marsh to the fold alongside Joel Stoker and Lucas Crowther, The Rifles have resurrected their early sound, energy and enthusiasm.

There is an abundance of upbeat, punchy melodies and spiky guitars, riffs and hooks you could hang your hat on. It feels as though the band have just reverted back to where their strengths always lay and embraced them. The incessantly catchy ‘Minute Mile’ leads the super-charged opening, with the bouncy two minute injection of indie power pop of ‘Heebie Jeebies’ and ‘Go Lucky’ continues the momentum, and the latter nodding towards their fondness for The Jam. ‘All I Need’, ‘You Win Some’ and ‘The Hardest Place To’ offer a less exuberant side to their personality; preferring to fill the air with some subtle but energetic strumming, spritely drumbeats and luscious harmonies and melodies. While the albums finest moment ‘Shoot From The Lip’, isn’t too far removed from the catchy, heartfelt, quirky pop of Pete & The Pirates.

While it’s unclear if None The Wiser will be enough for The Rifles to transform their cult status; this is highly enjoyable, infectious, tight and melodic indie, done ever so well, and you know what? Sometimes that it’s quite enough.

Douga – ‘Kids of Tomorrow’

Douga UK 2014

Manchester’s Indie-psych extraordinaire’s, Douga have announced they will release their debut LP, The Silent Well, in May.

Predominantly revolving around songwriter Johnny Winbolt-Lewis, Douga proved their caliber for charming and clever jams with debut EP, Mono No Aware. Latest track and album opener, ‘Kids of Tomorrow’ is on a whole other level. It vastly surpasses anything they’ve produced in the past and suggests something rather special may be upon us come May. ‘Kids of Tomorrow’ is a mesmerising marathon of Krautrock, warm psychedelia and Americana which hurtles along with an energy that electrifies and never fails to capture your attention. It is a stunning reminder of their talent that combines melodic harmony, understated arrangements and an ocean of warmth, leaving us with a blistering jam and an appetite whet for more.

You can stream ‘Kids of Tomorrow’ below or download it free here. There’s no exact date yet for The Silent Well, but it’s penned in for release in May sometime. 

Yasiin Gaye – ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man (Soul Mates Remix)’

Yasiin Gaye

Yasiin Gaye is the latest project of Amerigo Gazaway, formerly operating under the Gummy Soul guise and the brains behind the Fela Soul mixtape/mashup albums, and one of an elite few who’s done mash ups justice.

Gazaway’s latest project unites rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and soul legend Marvin Gaye for a dream collaboration. Carefully weaving Bey’s dense raps and Gaye’s soulful vocals over his new arrangements, he’s aiming for a quality far closer to Gaye’s famous duets than that of a mere ‘mashup’ album. ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man’ is a hugely impressive prelude; taking one part Yasiin Bey in the form of ‘Travellin’ Man’ and one part Marvin Gaye in the form of ‘Innercity Blues’, put them together and you’ve got ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man’. This is apparently the first installment of a whole new series called ‘Soul Mates’ and suggests great things for Yasiin Gaye and the broader series on a whole.

Yasiin Gaye is released on February 25th. You can stream or download ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man’ below: 

Blood Red Shoes – ‘Animal’

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“How does it feel, to reveal what you already know?” snarls Blood Red Shoes’ Steven Ansell on the savage, rampaging beast that is ‘An Animal’. It’s a pretty apt utterance from Ansell, as it reaffirms what we’ve known for a rather long time, the Brighton duo are one of the best in the business when it comes to full-blooded indie-rock.

‘Animal’ is the second track to have been unleashed from Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter’s forthcoming self-titled album, which is out on March 3rd. The track certainly indicates a return to top form after 2012’s somewhat underwhelming In Time To Voices. Brilliantly raw and heavy, this is the duo sounding as big, brash, boisterous and obliterative they’ve ever sounded in the past. Hating that shitty job hasn’t sounded that compelling for sometime. 

You can check out ‘Animal’ & the accompanying b-side, ‘Wretch’, which features Drenge’s Eoin Loveless and Ian Clement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUWfid5nIcY

Introducing: The Adventures of Bert & Henry

The Adventures of Bert & Henry

Bert and Henry are two galloping troubadours from the ragged Welsh coast.

The duo play acoustic pop songs with a rootsy, blues and folk underbelly, and they do it very well. Their music’s got a real charm to it and an earthy, kind of organic feel to it. Bert & Henry’s adventures, for now at least, are confined to two songs, which is just enough to get a feel for what this pair are all about. ‘Mary Ann’ utilizes an array of acoustic instruments, gentle strum and lovely vocal harmonies, airing a broken hearted tale in a more traditional folk fashion than it’s companion, ‘Not Waving But Raving’. The latter veers further left of field. It’s a powerful, stomping bassy country blues tune that’s fed through a vortex inhabited by Captain Beefheart influences, with a twist of The Small Faces, when they were knocking out their unique brand of late-Sixties Cockney psychedelia. Both tracks don’t take themselves too seriously either, and have just the right amount of off-kilter oddity and quirkiness.

That’s it. Simple. Now it’s time to check out ‘Mary Ann’ & ‘Not Waving But Raving’. Both tracks are below and available as free downloads. You can’t say fairer than that. 

Radstewart – ‘Insane Parties’

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Praises were sung from rooftops when paths were last crossed with Radstewart and their wonky and wonderful, ramshackled lo-fi indie adventures a few weeks back.  

The Cardiff four-piece kick off 2014 with news of a new EP Wiccans & Beatlemancers, out March 17th, and have released new track ‘Insane Parties’ to get us all in the mood. ‘Insane Parties’ is lo-fi, slacker pop, as fresh as it is irresistible and laced with clever songwriting, dry-witted and sardonic lyrics. It also contains the fabulous line, “If you go out and get drunk, in an native American headdress, then you’re a cunt”. One the best incidentally, since HMHB’s “Is your child hyperactive, or is he perhaps a twat?”, in their song, ‘Surging out of Convalescence. An insidiously catchy, plucky and utterly fun slice of lo-fi indie.

Wiccans & Beatlemancers  will be released on March 17th through Alcopop! Records. Until then? Plenty of time to lap up ‘Insane Parties’, available to download free below & ‘Garage Faery’, a fizzing track taken from a recent split 12″ release on Art Is Hard / Reeks of Effort.

Introducing: Saint Max and the Fanatics

Saint Max and the Fanatics

Saint Max & The Fanatics are Max, Eliot, Fraser, Muir, Scott and Aldo, who hail from both Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.

Together they create a joyous little racket. A quintessentially British sound with an open door policy on influences, incorporating a whole raft of luminaries from a rich pop family; Ala The Libertines’ devil may care attitude, the bouncy ska-pop rhythms of Madness and soulful horns of Dexys Midnight Runners. These echoes are never too much to bear, rather, they are effectively stitched together with swooping vocals, frenetic choruses and razor sharp lyrics, marking 18-year-old frontman Max Syed-Tollan as a songwriter beyond repute. While spritely gems such as ‘Soul Surrender’, ‘Afraid of Love’ & ‘Glasgow’ set the agenda for their insidiously catchy debut album, Saint Max is Missing and the Fanatics are Dead, there are pensive and emotive moments between the rhythmic frenzy of this indie-punk-ska-soul combo. Emotive and stirring renditions of ‘Sadsong’ & ‘Book Review’ offer a wistful and wilful insight, and display an added capacity to his songwriting.  An insidiously catchy, plucky and utterly loveable band, who manage it all with swagger and style. 

You can check out some choice picks from Saint Max and the Fanatics below or give their debut LP a listen here.