Photo: Jamie Sinclair | Words: Karl Johnson
‘Plastic Champ’ (Blue Flowers label)
It’s always a treat when a debut single as fully-formed as ‘Plastic Champ’ arrives in your inbox, in this case it’s the first release of Blue Flowers-signees Mylar. The music video for the track follows the band as they drink pints and perform in an undisclosed public house, surrounded by chaotic cartoon creatures that bring an otherworldly and unruly feeling to the visual. The song itself is a heartfelt synth pop number built around the touching and intricate vocal melodies of Tom Short, backed by buoyant electronic textures and a punchy drum structure. The London quartet play Laylow in London on Feb 23rd, their debut EP ‘Elsewhere’ arrives April 8th via Blue Flowers.
‘Sertraline’(Black Dog Records)
Clwb Fuzz don’t hold back, new cut ‘Sertraline’ ticks all the boxes of a certified hit. It moves with an effortless heavyness and bathes in a washed out fuzz and subtle psychedelia, vocally Emily Kocan’s lyricism glides ghost-like yet impressively fearsome through the mix. The mesmerising music video tips its cap to the occult and the mystical power of nature, showing flashes of the band doused in eye-watering technicolour. Clwb Fuzz’s power lies in their dynamics, the band know when to push and pull as Cam Wheeler’s squealing synths mirror the vocal melodies and the guitar moves out of the rigid groove to mind-altering effect (did I hear some slide guitar?) – the Cardiff five-piece join a pack of new guitar bands revelling in the freedom of a new wave of exciting guitar music.
It’s an easy task to completely immersive yourself into the pensive soundscape of Manchester outfit Crush, such is the thoughtful way in which each instrument plays its part. New single ‘Bckwards 36’ balances a powerful haze of shoegaze influences alongside hypnotic drum beats and a deep-flowing bass groove, the experience is reminiscent to bobbing your head under crystal clear waters and suddenly feeling total tranquillity and clarity for the first time. Instrumentally the sound never overshadows Amber Warren’s ethereal vocal delivery – which is a stunning centrepiece of the track – in fact it provides a heavenly backdrop for the vocals to bounce from left to right before hitting you right in the gut. You may not be able to stop the Wolf Alice comparisons from some, but dig deeper into Crush’s back catalogue and you’ll find a unique brand of emotion-led songwriting that submerges you into their world one delay/ reverb-laden gem at a time.
‘Anna’ (Servo Records)
Leeds duo Bugmen have unleashed their debut single onto the world, it comes in a ball of hectic punk-fuelled fuzz with a chorus that unsuspectingly climbs to great hooky heights. Lo-fi in its production and bathing in the warmth of analogue synths, ‘Anna’ is a riotous opening statement complete with jagged and frantic guitar lines that sit alongside vocal melodies that wrap around your spine and force you to dance. With one foot in the sound world of The Velvet Underground and another in the hook-laden choruses of noughties indie – Franz Ferdinand in their most organic state – Bugmen’s debut single locks in and doesn’t let go for a full 2 minutes and 49 seconds. Despite the track’s natural upbeat feel, ‘Anna’ sandwiches talks of anxiety and depression within its high-octane guitar attack proving that dance (or frantic foot tapping) is undoubtedly good for the soul.
‘Return of the Birdman’
Like a long-lost hit from the late 60’s, ‘Return of the Birdman’ has time travelled into the future to remind us of the value of mind-altering psychedelic rock in testing times – and fragile times they are. The track’s driving introduction builds into a fury of gritted guitar stabs and pummelling drums, unwavering in its task in creating a hypnotic garage-cum-psychedelic rock frenzy. Though the track arrives and leaves in seemingly a heartbeat (3 and a half minutes), the vocal delivery is quite the trip, floating above the hard-hitting instrumental groove and offering alternative thinking patterns and warning of the return of ‘the birdman’. Though the trio are minimalist in their production and don’t overplay their hand instrumentally, the effect is one of complete intoxication.