Wild Smiles are three musicians from Winchester who don’t mess around.
Their debut ‘Always Tomorrow’ – straightforward in its pursuit – is unpretentious. While the deep-running, yet quick-to-stick lyrics address lost loved ones and the challenges of adolescence, the music is an easy-to-the-ear rock out.
Marked by drums that bang away like naïve enthusiasm and a guitar that pirouettes through a haze of noise and fuzz, their style is in one piece even though their influences seem fragmented. What John Holmstrom described as ‘Bubblegum Heavy Metal’, epitomised by the Ramones, is perhaps also apt for Ben Cook and brothers Chris and Joe Peden’s straight-sailing approach.
Early US punk being the groundwork, there’s some garage and grunge in there too, which – although rooted in the 60s and 90s respectively – is reminiscent of the wave of late 2000s UK bands like the Kaiser Chiefs. Though their music is dubbed ‘indie’, it shares a similar connection to the past.
Any band that releases three EPs within a year should be pretty satisfied with themselves.
In fact, it would be considered a fairly bumper year. But to be the band that released three truly fascinating EPs in a year well, that is to be the band who can rest up very happy at year’s end.
And here sat (proverbially at least) with their feet all over the furniture are Little Comets, surely as smug and satisfied as anyone this year upon the release of their third EP of 2014, ‘The Sanguine‘.
Third, and most interesting.
Foo Fighters return after three years with ‘Sonic Highways‘ and, as everyone has come to expect, all the usual components parts are there: powerhouse performances and extremely strong writing.
You cannot fault the Foo’s penchant for reliably ploughing a very specific and enjoyable furrow. At only eight songs in total, ‘Sonic Highways’ could almost be a mini album, yet although it may be reasonably compact in length, it is a very full album.
This is an instance in which a band has merely weeded out all the unnecessary to truly focus on the whole – something that so many albums would benefit from; rather than being a mixed bag of twelve tracks, it’s simply just eight extremely strong ones.
Jack Jones – Guitar and lead vocals.
Wayne Thomas – Bass and vocals.
Kyle Williams – Drums, vocals and piano (and violin after a few drinks).
‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust‘ – the most recent release of Irish folk duo The Lost Brothers – deals with ‘old problems’ in a manner the green nation’s people know best.
With soft, lost-in-dreamland voices that have the same sorrowful compassion as Christy Moore’s lullabies for the working man, the album speaks of loneliness, heartbreak and a tough life. Conveyed through romantic harmonies of a mellow and innocent nature, the despair common to the genre is presented in a way your mother would be happy with.
Unlike Irish folk hits like ‘The Wild Rover’ or ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech’s musings won’t have you wind up in a pub, trashed and sing-screaming your head off. Rather, it’s like listening to the quiet suffering and enlightening regrets of a worn-out wise man who’s at pains to make your life a better one.
“The weekend starts here!” Johnny Marr whoops and, although he’s technically incorrect (it’s still only Wednesday, even in Leeds) the audience hollers back their agreement, leaving him at least morally in the right.
Not holding back their enthusiasm, tonight’s assembled punters are a soft touch for the singer, but you sense with this lot of doughty ex-football casuals that outside of the confines of an audience with their hero things always have the possibility of escalating quickly.
Jake Bugg‘s refreshing and insouciant take on rockabilly and skiffle was recently brought to the First Direct Arena in Leeds, the huge audience he drew to the venue a sure sign that most people these days are fully aware of what Bugg does.
And, dare we say, after experiencing a plush drinks reception and some spankingly new facilities at the arena, we were in no way distracted from just how exciting his deconstruction of rock and roll actually is.
Especially as it is a form, style and sound that was always intended to be heard live.
Marcus (vocals, guitar), Liam (guitar), Nic (bass) and Nath (drums).
The Twilight Sad are constantly trying to develop their sound; once Scottish noise-makers utilising feedback with ferocious power and beautiful melodies, then analogue-synth driven dynamos, all haunting keyboard beeps and songs that are as dark as the night.
Now, a combination of all those elements has been focused, honed and channeled into ten marvellous pop tunes that encompass ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave‘, full of structures, catchy nuances and crystal-clear melodies that elevate them to ethereal levels of sonic quality.
‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’ hits with a sense of immediacy and intimacy, as though peeking over the bushes, and grows with a harrowing, underpinning grand piano sequence and small strangulations of fidgeting guitar parts that add some venom to the veins of a powerful intro. The vocals sound like an astronaut’s last cry for help from the darkness of outer-space, and the mesh of instruments that collide together pour some stunning colour over a tune which at first glance would to be nothing but a dull black and white that shades a forgotten city.
Tarek (drums and lead vocals)
Pete (rhythm guitar that chugs like a train and vocals)
Andy (surf guitar with all the whammy you can imagine)
James (bass and vocals)
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