Tuff Love – ‘Resort’ ALBUM REVIEW

First impressions of the up-and-coming Tuff Love may lead you to think of a Scottish Elastica, though it quickly becomes apparent that these girls are like no other with their refreshingly unique style and image. ‘Resort’ is the first full album to be released by the Glaswegian duo, and is compiled of chronologically listed songs from their previously released EPs ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’. It’s very handy, as it allows the listener to experience the band’s journey from their foetus days (which actually weren’t that long ago considering that ‘Junk EP’ was released in May 2014) to their blossoming current selves.

Extremely likeable and undoubtedly talented, members Julie (guitar, vocals) and Suse (bass, backing vocals) have brought a fresh new sound to the table that demands to be explored. The juxtaposing flowery vocals and angrier instruments entwine beautifully together to form an unlikely partnership that is further complimented by Suse’s sweet backing vocals.

From ‘Sweet Discontent’ to ‘Carbon’, ‘Resort’ is a musical metamorphosis. The album opener is one of the grungier tracks from the compilation, and offers the listener a sample of the sound that Tuff Love had originally set out to achieve. In fact, the first half of the album in general features tracks that are a little more punk-fuelled, such as ‘Slammer’ and ‘That’s Right’, whereas the latter part leans more into the fuzz-pop style which makes you somewhat reminiscent of the 90s Britpop scene. ‘Threads’, for instance, immediately makes you want to don the sunglasses and head out for a beach party with its upbeat guitar melody and dancey bass line. ‘Amphibian’, on the other hand, is a lot mellower though not by any means less entertaining. The audible aesthetic of the track is quite aquatic, playing to its title in an interestingly experimental way. It sports possibly the catchiest chorus on the album and it doesn’t even feature any actual words! You can imagine an army of adoring fans throwing this melodic chant of ‘ah’s right back at them.

They remain very much loyal to their style during their development, but by the album’s close, there is a noticeable increase in self-confidence. The vocals, though still soft-spoken, emit strength that wasn’t quite as prominent in the earlier tracks. The album ends on a high with ‘Carbon’, the floaty vocals and spacious instrumental layers make you feel as light as a feather. At times, the guitar gives way to the bass and allows it breathe, adding nicely to the airy aesthetic.

Tuff Love is proof enough that you don’t need to over-do it with the instruments in order to create a brilliant and meaningful sound. Feeling and atmosphere trump flashy overly-complicated guitar riffs any day. If they keep up the good work, Tuff Love will undoubtedly flourish.

‘Resort’ is out now, via Lost Map Records.

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Churchhouse Creepers – ‘From Party to Apocalypse’ ALBUM REVIEW

Just by looking at the album artwork, title and track listing, you can already predict what the Icelandic trio ‘Churchhouse Creepers’ have in store for you on their debut album ‘From Party to Apocalypse’. The cover features a mess of party-goers gradually shifting from fun-loving drunkards to a screaming squabble of people fearing for their lives. Also, you can’t miss the various explosions, spaceships and the colossal cat creature emitting laser beams from its eyes in the background. With such a visual eruption, it’s instantly made apparent that this band likes to have a good time. A light-hearted approach is imperative when tackling the Akureyri-hailing Churchhouse Creepers.

Upon first listen, ‘From Party to Apocalypse’ (released on the 28th of November 2015) thunders past the listener like an adrenaline fuelled hurricane.  It shows a lot of promise in the opening few tracks; the album’s opener ‘Party’ makes you want to get up on top of the dining room table and dance like you are in a glam metal music video. The song name is almost forceful – ‘party’ seems to be instructing you to let your hair down and get your groove on, which sets the tone for the entire album. The vocal tones are powerful though not intimidating, and the range is impressive. The instrumentals sound familiar, but are otherwise flashy and exciting. The general atmosphere conjured makes it feel as though you really are at a party listening to a group of your mates play.

‘No Monday’ says what we’re all thinking. Who wouldn’t want the apocalypse to hit and obliterate the concept of routine completely? No more Mondays and every day is a party (when you’re not busy fleeing from Catzilla). However, if it wasn’t for the interesting intro, it would have been difficult to tell when one song ended and the other started. Already, you can sense that a pattern is forming.

Obnoxious instrumental breaks, isolated vocals…we’ve heard tracks like ‘What Mama Don’t Know’ all before, but hey, we all have our influences. You are bound to produce something vaguely recognisable every once in a while, whether you’re being intentionally ironic or not. Churchhouse Creepers may sound generic, but they have fun with it and make the sounds their own. For me, ‘What Mama Don’t Know’ is an album highlight. It’s perhaps the only track on the album that offers a slight poppy refuge from the surrounding thrash, with the verging on stadium-esque ‘woah oh oh’s, which allow you time to catch a breath (and a quick one at that) before chugging swiftly onwards.

As the album progresses, you start to feel less like the life of the party and more like the one sat playing on their phone in the corner. It’s not that the tracks get boring as such, but they definitely begin to run the risk of blurring into one big ball of symbols and distortion. Perhaps this was intentional; after all, the entire concept is of a party ascending into the apocalypse, so the whirlwind of sounds and images is not at all out of place here. Though at times, the instrumentals verge on mere musical masturbation. A lot of the riffs are so cliché and repetitive that they almost stop being impressive and start getting very tedious very quickly. However, with a title such as ‘From Party to Apocalypse’ you know instantly that you’re not signing up for twinkly power ballads, and it can’t be denied that the music is very fitting of its topic. Besides, if you’ve got the talent, why not flaunt it?

The tone of the album gradually becomes notably more aggressive as it nears the apocalypse end of the spectrum. Songs such as the album’s closing track ‘Apocalypse’ become less hair metal and more ripped skinnies and lip rings. The angst is strong in this one, but again, you can’t take the Churchhouse Creepers too seriously, otherwise you wouldn’t even make it past the first track.

All in all, for a debut album ‘From Party to Apocalypse’ isn’t at all bad. The Churchhouse Creepers have announced to the world what they’re all about, and are sure to appeal to a lot of likeminded music fanatics. They provide a light relief from some of the more serious and uptight artists on the music scene. In the future, we can hope we will see them explore their talents and really show off what they are capable of with a greater range of sounds.

‘From Party to Apocalypse’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://churchhousecreepers666.bandcamp.com/album/from-party-to-apocalypse

2016’s Fresh Finds

With the first month of the New Year coming to a close, I thought I would share three of my latest musical finds from this month which will undoubtedly be accompanying me throughout the rest of 2016. Be sure to check them out for yourselves, and feel free to let me know what you think!

#3 Tuff Love

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Earlier this month, I had the privilege of reviewing the debut album of Glasgow’s exciting new musical duo Tuff Love. Their album ‘Resort’ (due for release on the 29th of January 2016 via Lost Map Records) is a chronological compilation of all their previously released songs, and so it allows the listener to accompany them throughout their musical metamorphosis. I was instantly grabbed by their fuzz-pop style, which features flowery vocals surfing smoothly on a wave of instrumental distortion. It is the general juxtaposition of the softly-sang vocals and angry guitars that makes this band both exciting and calming to listen to.

Their image too is different and refreshing. Fresh-faced and up-front, their visual style is reflective of their music. Although I am a fanatic of extravagant and artsy fashion when it comes to a band’s wardrobe, it’s nice to see a more simple and stripped back image. I feel that this way allows you to get to know the face behind the music rather than just another disfigured pop persona, and lets you explore the band on a more personal level.

I look forward to find what 2016 has in store for Tuff Love, or more, what Tuff Love has in store for 2016.

Personal favourites so far:

Crocodile (Dregs EP, Resort)

Carbon (Dregs EP, Resort)

Amphibian (Dregs EP, Resort)

Sweet Discontent (Junk EP, Resort)

http://www.reallytufflove.com/

 

#2 IAMX

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I am a little late to the party with this one, as IAMX was founded in 2004 by the Middlesbrough-hailing former Sneaker Pimps member, Chris Corner. Feeling that the new songs he was writing didn’t quite sit right in Sneaker Pimps, Corner decided to pursue them in a new musical project instead. The resulting IAMX is a multi-genre musical experiment, whose topics such as decadence, alienation and gender-bending wouldn’t look out of place on an early Manic Street Preachers album. However, the actual sound is more similar to that of Muse or Placebo with the mix of alternative synthpop and dark caberet musical styles. Visually too, Corner’s androgynous image is noticeably Molko-esque, and the visual art element of the act is very Avant-Garde. I find it very exciting that the experimentation doesn’t end with the music.

I was introduced to IAMX by a friend. I fell for the aesthetic of the ‘President’ video instantly and was hooked by the music from the get go. Granted, some of the of the songs demand an acquired taste, but are definitely worth sitting out. In a way, I am glad to have discovered IAMX so late, as I can now experience the chronological artistic development on a much larger scale.

I am excited to unearth more treasures from Corner over the coming months.

Personal favourites so far:

President (The Alternative)

Bernadette (Volatile Times)

Avalanches (Volatile Times)

Simple Girl (Kiss + Swallow)

http://iamxmusic.com/

#1 The Only Ghost in Town

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Stumbling across The Only Ghost in Town was my best accident this month by far. The trio, (comprising of members Dan Saraceni, Devin Petitte and Carolyn Haynes) have been writing and recording music together since 2009. Hailing from the south of New Jersey (the state that gave us the Misfits, My Chemical Romance, The Gaslight Anthem and so many more influential bands), The Only Ghost in Town seem to have a lot to live up to. However, they don’t let this overshadow their music. They don’t strike me as a band strenuously reaching for that No.1 hit single; they write purely for the love of music, and that is reflected by their beautifully crafted songs.

Their sound reminds me personally of a mix between Pavement and Frank Iero (maybe it’s the Jersey accent?). Their grungy aesthetic is somewhat reminding of the 90s Seattle scene, yet there is a whole new ingredient that sets them apart from their predecessors; perhaps it’s the sense of feeling completely content within the moments that their songs are playing? Whatever it is, it’s incredibly special and deserves to be nurtured.

When I see the shockingly small total of Facebook likes the band has, I can’t help but feel as though I am selfishly keeping them a secret for myself. I can only hope that 2016 will open The Only Ghost in Town up to a larger audience whose ears can benefit from their music as mine have.

Personal favourites so far:

Another Summer (False Color Images)

Half Speed (False Color Images)

The Milky Way (False Color Images)

Nothing good for me (All of the Stars Are For You EP)

http://theonlyghostintown.bandcamp.com/