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Fightmilk: Contender – album review and interview

Fightmilk Fightmilk: Contender

(Reckless Yes)

Vinyl | CD and Digitally

Released 14th May 2021

London based four-piece Fightmilk release Contender on May 14th via Reckless Yes, on vinyl, CD, and digital.

Formed in the beer gardens of South London in 2015 when Lily and Alex decided to turn their then-recent respective breakups into Fightmilk, they created an indie-pop soundtrack by which to navigate millennial life. When the previous album, 2018’s Not With That Attitude, arrived it was a step up from their first EPs, Curse of Fightmilk and Pity Party, which had been released on the legendary Fierce Panda. This album marks another step forward with Fightmilk appearing more confident both lyrically and musically and also welcome new member Healey (formerly of Wolf Girl) on bass.

Slightly delayed by the pandemic, I guess you could use the adage, good things come to those who wait. In the case of Fightmilk’s second album, this is indeed true. Although who am I actually kidding? It’s not just good, it’s fucking brilliant.

There are many things I like about Fightmilk, which I think you will too, here are my Top 3

1. Their insane ability to knock out catchy tunes with the occasional barbed lyric, reminiscent of Kirsty MacColl.
2. The fact they have fun and don’t always take themselves too seriously. (Just check out the video for I’m Starting To Think You Don’t Even Want To Go To Space). It is The Wiggles do Star Trek on a shoestring budget.
3. Despite the fun and frivolity, the songs themselves aren’t superficial. The aforementioned track in particular calling out those who commit to delivering but then back out.

What Fightmilk have delivered with Contender is, at its core, an ‘indie pop’ album but it has a depth and sensibility which rewards repeat plays. Tracks such as Lucky Coin, Cool Cool Girl and Overbite will have you punching the air while simultaneously playing imaginary drums and air guitar. What you find underneath the hooks though is a new level of maturity and perception in the lyrics from Lily Rae, as well as offering positivity and encouragement she is also challenging motives and behaviours.

Sitting comfortably amongst the more up-tempo pieces are more reflective moments, such as Girls Don’t Want To Have Fun and the slightly darker If You Had A Sister. When the latter was released as the second single from the album it was at odds with anything Fightmilk had released before. Now it fits in perfectly as part of the album and delivers one of the many high points. The song builds slowly allowing the lyrics dealing with misogyny to resonate before the band let loose ahead of the final, cutting ‘maybe if you had a sister, you wouldn’t be this way’.

Rather than take you through track by track, which would get repetitive, I sat down with Fightmilk to talk about the making of the album, the stories behind the songs and much much more…

LTW: Firstly congratulations on Contender, it’s a great album!

Thank you! We’re very, very pleased with it and can’t believe it’s finally out.

LTW: It must have been frustrating that the album was so close to completion when the first lockdown hit?

Lily: It was and it wasn’t! When we went into the studio to do the bulk of the record in late 2019, we hadn’t written three of the songs, and the aim was to get that sorted and record them in May 2020. We were almost ready to go pre-lockdown, but actually having that time to rethink some of what we wanted Contender to be was quite beneficial. For example, we wrote ‘Girls…’ very close to when we were initially due to record pre-lockdown and it was a very, VERY different song prior to having some time to take a step back and really think about where it would sit on the album and how it should sound. It’s one of our favourites off the album now.

LTW: What will Fightmilk be doing on the 14th May to celebrate its release?

Nick: We’ve got something in the works! It’s been tricky being so on the verge of potential normality but having no certain timeline to book gigs, but we’re trying to cater for that and have something for people to enjoy on release date and compliment the album itself. A bit cryptic, but as soon as we’ve concrete plans we’ll be sharing them EVERYWHERE.

LTW: I’m looking forward to getting an actual physical copy. The artwork for the album and the couple of recent singles using old photos look great. Is there a story behind this?

Lily: Thank you very much! The girl on the album cover is actually my grandma Patricia, competing at a sports day (and bossing the high jump) in Malta in 1941. She was very sporty as a teen and won Champion Girl Athlete that day. She’s also third from the front on the Hey Annabelle! artwork. It was just luck that someone caught such an amazing photo of her mid-jump sixty years ago, I feel like it embodies the album perfectly – she looks absolutely fearless. And she might not do as many high jumps now but she’ll decimate you at table tennis.

LTW: One of the things I really love is that there is so much going on musically yet there is always space for everything regardless of whether it’s harmonies, a guitar solo, a drum fill, or some keyboard. How much of it was mapped out before going in to work with Keith TOTP and Jonny Solway at Dean Street?

Lily: For this album, we had to wait a long time between recording sessions but it forced us to sit on the songs we had and work on them for longer than we had previously. Some things only really occurred to us after we’d had a while to listen to the songs and rewrite bits (Girls Don’t Want To Have Fun had three iterations) and think of all the fun extra things we could do like vibra-slaps, rounds of applause, getting our mate Michael M in to do some Mclusky shouting (also we’re gigantic children and love funny noises.)

Alex: One of the things that we were hoping we could achieve with Contender – and to some degree the p*ndemic has really emphasised it – is have the album be its own separate thing from how the songs come across live. There’s a few songs where we’d need an entire other Fightmilk to play it onstage exactly like the record. So I think that sort of allowed us to be…not exactly indulgent with it, but to be a little more considered and less satisfied with just getting a good live track down and leaving it at that. Like, we’re probably never going to bother getting a synth player in, there was no way we were going to let ‘Overbite’ out into the world without a super-emo Moog line at the end.

LTW: It really feels like a ‘proper’ album the way it’s structured as opposed to a handful of tracks thrown together, especially with the short instrumental passages which open each side and ahead of the closing track. Was there much deliberation around running order or did it come together quite naturally?

Nick: Thank you! We knew we wanted those instrumental passages to break it up a bit, and act as sort of reprised versions of some of the songs, but in terms of the tracklisting, it was a bit of a back and forth, to the point that we got external help!

Lily: All the band were certain we wanted Cool Cool Girl as the closer for THE LONGEST TIME, and Overbite opening side 2! But then our friend Miles suggested Overbite as the closer and it just really, REALLY works. I feel like after Maybe and (bartender) it almost acts as an encore to the album? It’s glorious.

LTW: With the opening track, Lucky Coin, I’m reading this as someone getting themselves out of a shitty relationship and focussing on the future. Is it about someone specific or more generally about a situation someone could find themself in?

Lily: It’s about standing up for yourself. Lyrically it was inspired by having a real fuck-this-I’m-out moment after years of dealing with the kind of friendship that leaves you drained and which you’ve piled a lot of unreturned energy into. We’re a hilariously anxious band and I like opening the album with a big announcement that says “I AM FINISHED WITH THESE AGONIES”. I was a people pleaser and desperate for everyone to approve of me for a lot of my 20s. It’s a good song for turning 30 to!

LTW: Similarly Banger #4 and Overbite appear to be very empowering, the latter especially leaving the album on a positive note/message that you should love who you are and everyone potentially is a contender?

Lily: If our first album was our ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ record, this one is definitely more ‘actually, you know what, it is you.’ We’re a cursed generation where everything has gone wrong and we’re being constantly blamed for it, and there are impossible standards to meet all the time – whether it’s ‘you don’t look right’, or ‘you’re not productive enough’, or whatever. I’d like the take-away from listening to it to be ‘you’re a good person and you’re doing your best, even when everything is terrible.’

LTW: Why Contender?

Alex: We settled on the title halfway through recording. Contender was just a word we all liked in Cool Cool Girl, which is the oldest song on the record, so it wasn’t exactly a manifesto, but it had definitely been in the ether for the entire time. And there’s definitely a running theme of coming out the other side of something as a better person, isn’t there?

LTW: Whose idea was it to add Tim Curry into I’m Starting To Think You Don’t Even Want to Go To Space?

Alex: That was a moment of studio brilliance from Keith! We’re a bit gutted we couldn’t include it (on the digital version) of the song because we’re too scared of getting sued by EA.

LTW: What are your Top 5 video games?

Lily: Overcooked, Overcooked 2, The Last of Us, The Last of Us 2, and Peggle.

LTW: I’m an INTJ. Do you think with Cool Cool Girl you could be the first band to mention Myers Briggs / Personality Tests results in a song? Have you checked that Fightmilk, as a band, are compatible?

Lily: I had a “job” once where we all had to take the Myers-Briggs test together as a team and then talk about our results and it just turned into us all being profiled by our boss in a very creepy corporate way, so I’m very sceptical of stuff like that. I don’t think I’ve ever had the same result twice? But I think I’d be more interested in knowing what kind of biscuit I was or which member of Westlife would be my boyfriend. I think there are definitely more insightful personality tests, but ultimately nobody wants to be told they’re a prick, do they?

LTW: Do you have a favourite moment on the album? Mine is the way the bridge extends and takes it up a notch leading into Lily’s vocal at the close of If You Had A Sister

Alex: Aw cheers. I really like that bit too – I’m morally averse to guitar histrionics, so that’s my Slash-outside-the-church moment, relatively speaking. My favourite bit is either the harmonies on the second verse of Maybe (the closest we’ll ever get to sounding like Yo La Tengo…) or the last minute of Girls…, because that was the most fun to assemble in the studio. Lots of extremely fun trial and error there.

Lily: I love the horrible throat-shredding screaming I get to do in Cool Cool Girl, and the beautiful drop after the big climax in Girls Don’t Want To Have Fun. Oh, and the little opening homage to Bruce Springsteen in Lucky Coin!

LTW: For all the fun in your music and how you portray yourselves, there are some serious moments to this record which shouldn’t be ignored. You have a track questioning individuals commitment after they’ve nailed their colours to the wall but don’t deliver, and one looking at how expectations of women are placed squarely as a focal point of men’s actions. Would you say this more mature element has come as you’re growing in confidence as songwriters and musicians?

Lily: The first Fightmilk album was very much a painful heart-on-sleeve break-up album, and it was very cathartic for both me and for Alex writing it. (It does mean that I think now sometimes we get pigeonholed as a “break-up band”, though!) I feel braver and better as a writer with this album. I don’t feel like I have to resort to self-deprecation as much, I can back myself and my writing where I used to feel like all I could do was write songs about exes (though I do still love those…). My own politics, particularly feminism, have been a lot more front and centre with Contender, though I still seem to end up writing in code a lot. I love noticing little motifs and Easter Eggs in records, and there are a lot of fun tiny things that I hope at least one person notices in this album.

LTW: Tell me about Cool Cool Girl.

Lily: It’s loads of fun to sing and to play and it’s a huge rock monster but it’s also supposed to feel a bit tragic. It’s about being constantly told that ‘feminist music’ doesn’t appeal to a male audience, but even if you adopt the same sexist attitudes to try and succeed, you’ll still never really be seen as a contender. I find it upsetting to see women in bands, in the same position as me, dismiss and distance themselves from other women artists by saying things like “I’m not like other girls,” “I don’t get on with other women,” “Other people can complain about misogyny, I just want to make music.”

Nobody wants to have to complain about the inequality of the industry we’re in, but belittling our sisters isn’t going to unlock some secret door to the Dudes Club – that door is closed to us. We have to support and respect each other. Cool Cool Girl believes she can do anything and be anything, but only if she’s not like other girls.

LTW: I guess this is an apt time to mention something else I know you’re passionate about… female representation at festivals…

Lily: We got informed by a promoter recently that the only reason there isn’t equal representation on festival line-ups is cause men have more hustle, so there’s still a long way to go to even convincing parts of the DIY scene that we’re worth the effort. The argument used to be ‘there just aren’t that many women and nb people in bands!’ (there are) and then it was ‘audiences don’t like it’ (they do) and now it’s ‘you just can’t be bothered to get off your arses and book your own festivals’ so as long as the goalposts keep moving, the headliners will still be boring, white, straight, cis boybands who all went to Dulwich College.

Any artist or band that doesn’t – literally – fit the bill has to prove so much more just to be heard, let alone taken seriously, to be seen as a contender by men. You’re either Florence and the Machine or you get one tiny stage to share between all of you. Men are not pitted against each other like this.

Fightmilk

LTW: Are there any particular venues or towns/cities you’re looking forward to playing later in the year? Is there a tour planned?

Nick: Oh man… there’s not really any particular place we’re more excited about than any other just the very idea of playing a gig is enough! Realistically we’re a bit wary of booking a full-on tour just yet, but we’re starting to look at doing a few little shows here and there. We’ve missed it so SO much.

Lily: Give us a gig. Any gig.

LTW: Which Fightmilk track would you recommend to someone to listen to who’d never heard you before?

Nick: Oh boy we’re all gonna have a different answer here. I’d say ‘Overbite’ is us in our most accessible and condensed form?

Alex: Actually, Nick, I’m with you. If your first exposure to us is Overbite, you might peg us for a purely pop-punk band afterwards, but hopefully, you’ll like what you hear next.

Lily: Lucky Coin is my favourite. It’s the happiest, most upbeat and jump-up-and-down-getting-beer-everywhere song we’ve written and it makes me feel like punching the air in a jean-jacket every time I hear it.

LTW: You’ve had some great merchandise Bandcamp. After tea towels, mugs, pennants and coozies (or Stubbie Holders) what’s next? I believe Supergrass used to do ironing board covers?

Lily: Erm. Nappies?

Alex: A physical copy of our new album.

Lily: Alex’s answer is better.

LTW: Has Nick found the Fightmilk fridge magnets/bottle openers which were part of your early merch but lost (He’s had a year to find them?)

Nick: I really don’t want to talk about this

Lily: But we do need to talk about this.

LTW: Have you had a chance to play/rehearse as a band in the same room again yet?

Lily: Mid-April, we finally did it – we all saw each other in person again at Brixton Hill Studios and tried to remember how the songs went. We played them VERY fast because we were all so excited to see each other. Alex was too loud, I forgot most of the chords, Nick sped up more and more in each verse, Healey’s bass made some impressive fart noises. It’s like riding a bike. And then we had a pizza party round at Alex’s. Everyone had a good time. It was all so refreshingly normal. Here’s to more of that.

LTW: At the risk of sounding ungrateful, have you been writing/planning Fightmilk album No 3 when you’ve been stuck indoors?

Lily: I had six months of absolutely sod all, then had a mad burst of creativity and wrote a ton of songs – some of which might survive and make it to album 3, but writing in a weird vacuum means you have absolutely no idea if they’re any good, so I might have just written a nine-minute ode to pickled eggs or something without realising. Now it’s back to nothing again, cos Nick bought an Xbox.

Nick: There’s bits and pieces of demos in various forms, but as just mentioned, we’ve only just started getting in a room together again so it’s been a case of learning how this album actually goes first before stepping into the world of writing Album #3.

LTW: Finally… when we spoke back in June last year Lily said to celebrate the end of Lockdown she was going to take everyone for bowling and shakes at Rowans. Have you booked it?

Nick: Woah! Very well remembered! Every ounce of my being wants to go to Rowans, but it was a hotspot for muck and grossness BEFORE there was a pandemic, so we might wait a bit for it to fully heal before we go and get loaded on their extremely strong slushy cocktails and bowl a perfect 13 point game.

Lily: That offer still stands! I will not consider lockdown officially over until we’re all in a karaoke booth together, doing bad harmonies for Heaven Is A Place On Earth and trying to keep a Rowan’s Kiss from coming back up.

Fightmilk

Follow Fightmilk on Bandcamp, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Fightmilk: Contender – album review and interview appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Hearts Beating In Time: Death Is Cancelled – single review


Heats Beating In TimeHearts Beating In Time

Death Is Cancelled

Reckless Yes

DL and Streaming

Out Now

Malta-based Hearts Beating In Time has digitally released Death Is Cancelled via Reckless Yes.

Death Is Cancelled follows the single Simone’s which was released back in November 2020 and was reviewed here. Hearts Beating In Time is the solo project of Rebecca Theuma. She says of this track “To me this song is a celebration of life and death, and the love in between. It is a song to dance to when the abyss opens up in front of you, and you’re dancing with the people you love the most as it consumes you. I like to call it the existential anthem of my life.”

Like the previous release Rebecca brings together floating echoey vocals, moving beats and layered synth sounds which deliver a delicious serving of sparkling electro-pop. It’s easy to get lost in the track, especially the vocals which remind me of the influential Kirsty Hawkshaw, possibly best known as the lead vocalist of the 1992-94 group Opus III.

Throughout their songs, Hearts Beating In Time capture the struggle between feelings of hope and futility, the disappointment of losing love, and the highs of fleeting encounters alongside the naivety of unknowingly finding meaning in the meaningless.

Death Is Cancelled is taken from the eagerly awaited forthcoming album Songs For Girls

For more information on the artist, visit BandcampInstagram, or Facebook

Hearts Beating In Time
Image credit: Rachel Micallef Somerville

All words by Iain Key. More writing by Iain can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive. You can also find Iain on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Hearts Beating In Time: Death Is Cancelled – single review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Fightmilk: Overbite – single review

Fightmilk
Fightmilk:
Overbite

(Reckless Yes)

DL | Streaming

Out Now

Fightmilk have digitally released Overbite, the 3rd single from their delayed 2nd album, Contender, which is due 14th May via Reckless Yes.

OK, so I know when writing for Louder Than War we should be impartial, like a referee I guess, but sometimes it’s hard not to show your colours. I fucking love Fightmilk.

Ever since seeing Fightmilk supporting Art Brut at YES! In Manchester in early 2019, they have been my favourite current band. I’d only been offered a ticket that night at the 11th hour and accepted as I knew Charlie, then the Wedding Present drummer, was part of the main act. I had no expectations but it was a cracking gig and fell in love with the Kirsty MacColl influenced lyrics; catchy tunes and fun extruded from the support band immediately. For the first time since a teenager I bought an album from the merch stand. (If you’re interested, that last one was the single Hey Girl from a band called The Thanes who were supporting the Soup Dragons at Manchester International in 1987).

As at all good merch stands, it was the lead singer on point. In this case Lily Rae, the coolest front person/woman since Sleeper’s Louise Wener. Since then Fightmilk’s debut, Not With That Attitude, has been played at least a couple of times a week; along with the 2020 singles I’m Starting To Think You Don’t Even Want To Go To Space and If You Had A Sister.

The current single Overbite, is accompanied by a superb video from illustrator & designer Jono Ganz. The track is a great addition to the Fightmilk canon, with uptempo, catchy hooks and harmonies galore. The cascading guitars (Alex) effortlessly mixing with the drums (Nick) and bass (Healey) underpinning Lily’s vocals. It’ll stay with you for days once you’ve heard it!

With 3 strong singles taken from the album already, Contender, due on 14th May is on course to be a knockout of an album.

Fightmilk

Follow Fightmilk on Bandcamp, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Fightmilk: Overbite – single review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Hannah Rose Kessler: My Theories On The Apocalypse – EP review

Hannah Rose KesslerHannah Rose Kessler

My Theories On The Apocalypse EP

Reckless Yes

CD | DL | Streaming

Out now

Following on from recent singles Come Feel Me and A Thousand Cuts, Hannah Rose Kessler releases My Theories On The Apocalypse. The EP will be released digitally and on limited CD through independent record label Reckless Yes on 19 March 2021.

The arrival of Hannah Rose Kessler’s EP at any another time would possibly offer a review suggesting the artist had produced a compelling, acutely personal piece of work. You could say that it’s possibly cathartic at times but equally a primal scream relaying shocking experiences. The fact it’s arrived right now, following the murder of Sarah Everard, with the spotlight that’s rightfully been put on misogynistic attitudes and behaviours in society means that unintentionally Hannah is not just speaking from a personal perspective, but for all women.

Superficially she comes across as a delicate English Rose, however, her music is challenging. These aren’t songs about merrily skipping through fields on summer afternoons. My Theories on the Apocalypse is gritty, it’s accusatory, it’s angry and it’s fucking frustrated. As summed up by my friend, Nikki, my barometer on such things, “it is what it’s like to be a woman in 2021.”

Over the 6 tracks on this EP, Hannah is an open book, and as mentioned previously in my review of A Thousand Cuts, she holds nothing back. It is uncomfortable to listen to. After several plays, it comes to me that what Hannah has understood is you don’t and can’t educate from a position of anger, she invites the listener along from a point of empathy. She hasn’t alienated men at all, she’s been very reflective on what has happened, how she feels and what that’s done to her as a result.

This is perhaps best demonstrated in Your Female Rage, delivered from the male perspective, an amalgamation of all males rather than any one specific. This is particularly unsettling, highlighting that strangers feel that they have the right to make comments, for example objectifying an individual and suggesting everything negative that’s happened has been brought on the ‘victim’ themself, which you may think only an abusive partner would say.

Every so often a record comes along which reflects/captures what’s happening in society at that moment. This is one of those records.

Hannah Rose Kessler

For more on Hannah, you can visit BandcampSpotifyFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Hannah Rose Kessler: My Theories On The Apocalypse – EP review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Hannah Rose Kessler: A Thousand Cuts – single review

Hannah Rose Kessler
Hannah Rose Kessler:
A Thousand Cuts

(Reckless Yes)

DL | Streaming

Out now

Hannah Rose Kessler has released ‘A Thousand Cuts’ this week. The single follows recent single Come Feel Me ahead of her EP My Thoughts On The Apocalypse, which will be available digitally and on limited edition CD on 19 March 2021. 

In a similar way to last years release Adult Life EP from Eilis Frawley, A Thousand Cuts is an uncomfortable listen. The song taking shape after the singer experienced a summer filled with sexual harassment. Hannah explaining “I was followed out of a coffee shop by a man who “just wanted to tell me I was beautiful”, an Uber driver asked how much I would charge him for sex, then when the chef at work tried to kiss me while my hands were full of stupid miniature doughnuts, I broke down.”

Like the Frawley track, Stats, it holds nothing back and is designed to be uncomfortable.

“I wanted to make the song’s bassline sound almost like the sexy thumping music at the cliche strip clubs in films, where dodgy, suited men make deals, while girls spin around poles in the background like props. I basically wanted to make a song that would sound like something horny men would like, but then once they’re listening, tell them what they have done to me and many others with their ‘harmless’ comments.”

When I reviewed Stats, I put it on par for uncomfortableness with Rhoda Dakar and The Special’s The Boiler. With this release, Hannah Rose Kessler may have just matched that.

Uneasy, challenging but essential listening.

Hannah Rose Kessler

For more on Hannah you can visit BandcampSpotifyFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Hannah Rose Kessler: A Thousand Cuts – single review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Interview: The Other Ones on their debut album

The Other Ones

The Other Ones

Reckless Yes

CD | DL | Streaming

Out now

The Other Ones’ self-titled debut album is out now. Released on Reckless Yes after a couple of strong singles; The Other Ones and Forever Young.

This full-length debut sees the power-pop/punk four-piece deliver more frenetic tunes; occasionally with buzzsaw guitars, always with memorable hooks and often with feedback underpinned by thumping drums.

It’s a strong album that rips along at pace without a weak link. My personal favourites are On Top Of Me and the stripped back centre-piece I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend. The latter being a chance to catch a breath. Most importantly this track really shows off Steph’s voice which is often a welcome part of the mix. Don’t get me wrong, the strength of the Other Ones is that all four members bring something to the party; but this is the first time that her vocals have been so exposed. An analogy if you will bear with me; for those of you who love a bit of EMO (and who doesn’t?); it’s like the contrast between Gerard Way’s vocals on a track like Thank You For The Venom (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge) against Cancer (The Black Parade).

Hopefully, that clears that up…

The Other Ones
@keiraaneephotography

To ‘celebrate’ the release of the long-player I sat down with the band Steph (Vocals); Vicky (Bass); Francis (Drums); Nick (Guitar); for a chat about the album, songwriting, and much more…

LTW. You’ve released a few singles and EPs over the years, over what period has the album been written?

S: The album I suppose has always been on the go, we are always writing in rehearsal rooms and just coming up with new ideas. We had so much that we wanted to get it out there finally as the songs went down so well live when we played them! It’s been amazing to get then recorded and finally be able to get them out there.

N: The album was more or less a continuous process over the last couple of years. We can’t afford the time or money to do really concentrated album sessions, so we booked a few weekend recording sessions, doing live takes of our songs in big chunks, and then just booked odd days to finish them up, periodically releasing some as EPs or singles. The problem we had is that (especially once Francis joined) we kept writing new songs, so we wanted to make sure that we released all of the songs we had left on the album.

V: Exactly, the album seems to have flowed over time and from playing songs at gigs and things we’ve gradually fine-tuned them into what we want the songs to be. I think once Francis joined and we decided on our “final” lineup there was a sense of urgency and more collaboration, so I’ve always thought the album was the culmination of our first chunk of Other Ones’ material, and now we’re onto The Other Ones 2: The Franninator

LTW.  Have you had a different mindset when working towards creating the album? Rather than individual tracks?

S: I think the album was amazing to work on as there are SO many different tracks and ideas that we are able to put all onto one release! It really shows us as a band and how much we are able to do musically.

N: I think we sort of did, but mainly because we had refined our working relationship with Matt (Matt Hill, the engineer at 3Sixty Studios) really well by that point. Our recording process is, generally speaking, to record live takes of a load of songs over a weekend, then we pop back in later to do guitar overdubs and vocals etc when we can. The overdub sessions are always pretty spontaneous, as we rarely have anything more than a rough idea of how supplementary guitar parts etc will sound. By the time we got down to doing the album, we had really got into a groove with this. Actually, I decided really late in the day that we had recorded Sad Case in the wrong key, so we got back in the studio and did that whole track in a day.

V: I think in terms of mindset it goes back to the evolution of the sound of the band and our writing process, moving from just “Vick and Nick” songs to move into a collaborative effort shaped how we record the songs. Instead of going in with a defined way in which the songs would sound, everyone would tweak little bits and it could end up sounding different – kudos to Matt for making us drunkenly sing over and over again.

LTW.  Are you excited that it’s finally out there?

S: Definitely! It’s been a long time coming and we’ve worked so hard as much as we could to get it all done. Also, it’s been great being in the studio so much being able to just put all our ideas into everything we have done. Altogether a hell of a lot of fun!

N: Yes! It really feels like this album is a cap-stone to everything we have done so far. The four of us have a really tight bond, and that has caused us to write a lot of great new songs, so I am glad that now the album is released we can get to work on album two!

V: Omygosh yes. I never thought I could say “Hey my band made an album.” That’s pretty cool.

The Other Ones by The Other Ones

LTW.  You’ve been together for 4/5 years? How did you come together as a band?

N: Vic and I started writing together as she was learning how to play the bass, and we eventually decided that we should try and get a band together to play some of the songs. That proved to be an arduous process, and we went through loads of different members. For a long time, we were a trio, with me doing all the vocals, just so we could start performing!

However, we knew the songs we were writing really needed a female vocalist for the right impact, so we kept searching until Steph answered one of our online ads. Her voice is just so perfect for what we were doing, that I don’t think we ever really felt the band started until she got on board. After going through a few dodgy drummers we met Francis, who immediately fitted in perfectly. I think the key to our current line up is that we are really close as friends, and that makes everything else about being in a band so much better.

S: I was scrolling through and through online looking for bands one night and once I had listened to The Other Ones I knew it was something I’d absolutely love to be a part of. I spoke to Nick and we met in a little pub near my work and spent about an hour and a half just chatting (mostly about Kate Bush and David Bowie). I’m so glad he wasn’t a catfish.

V: Nick somehow talked me into this. It went from “maybe I should play an instrument” to “oh I’ve booked a rehearsal.” Genuinely I kind of fell into it. Probably a good way to learn though as it’s been a learning curve the whole way, it did mean that I got to meet my best pals and play music. Steph has neglected to mention when we first met I was doing my ironing and watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which now seems very rock and roll.

F: We became a band when Nick, Vicky and Steph joined a couple of years ago. Before then it was just me.

LTW. Which bands have had the biggest influence on your sound?

S: For me, influences come from everywhere. I was a huge emo kid back in the day so I probably give off a bit of that. My Chemical Romance and The Used were huge favourites of mine so I love giving emotional performances.

N: I think the biggest influence for me are my two favourite things: concise, catchy pop songs and big, noisy guitars! I’m a huge fan of 60’s pop like Motown and The Beatles, where the focus was on melody and fast-moving harmony, and I love trying to write music like that that also incorporates loud, jangling guitars. All four of us have different tastes, but it all comes together as our own sound once we get in a room.

V: I grew up listening to mainly either Scottish bands, Country Western or pure 80’s so my tastes are a bit all over the place. In terms of the band, I’m very influenced by what I’m listening to at the time and what music is matching my mood. I’m a big fan of Phoebe Bridgers and Future Islands right now so slightly melancholic pop is how I feel. I would say the biggest influences (lyrically) are probably The Smiths and Pulp. I love a good kitchen sink song.

LTW. You have quite a punky sound and look.  What does punk mean to you?

S: Finally being able to not give a fuck.

N: Freedom and emotional release.

V: Complete self-expression without boundaries

F: Living it large

LTW. Is there a set approach to your songwriting? Does the music or idea for lyrics come first?

S: This usually starts with Nick – Nick will have a great idea and send it in whatsapp and we can all build on it. One of us will have an idea and we all build on it collectively once we are in a rehearsal room and you can hear it becoming exactly what we want. The lyrics usually come after me humming/lala’ing along to the track!

N: It really varies a lot. My main concern when writing is the vocal melody and the underlying harmony, so when writing on my own I will often be writing a song without any lyrics at all, which is usually where Steph and Vicky step in. Sometimes I will turn up with a song totally finished, lyrics and all, like Sad Case or Out My Head, and sometimes the band all work together to finish something, which is how we finished On Top Of Me.

Sometimes Vic will write a set of lyrics, and I will have a melody kicking about that fits the vibe, so we will re-write them to merge the two. During the various lockdowns Vic and I have been writing together a lot more, just sitting on the couch throwing melodies and lyrics back and forth until a song feels done, which has been a great way of working.

V: I tend to write lyrics based on a certain event or a feeling, so if I have an idea I’ll emote all over the paper and then see what Nick thinks. Together we’ll whittle it down into some semblance of something and then ping it back and forth. Sometimes it can just be a riff or a couplet that I sing to him (badly) and he translates it into music for me. My musical input is mostly going “no not that note more of a eeeeeeeeee noise.” (Helpful I know).

F: The drums come first, then the music and the lyrics don’t really matter.

LTW. With your lyrics, is there a deliberate consideration about how you position gender identities? Would you say this has an impact on your music?

V: I would say that gender does influence our songs but not in a conventional way. None of us really believe that gender is a fixed identity and this has woven into our songs so that it doesn’t matter how you identify you can still sing along. Case in point; “I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend” written by Nick, sung by Steph but the gender make up in the song is ambiguous and I like that.

Neither Nick or I (I don’t want to speak for Francis or Steph) feel particularly comfortable in a defined “masculine” or “feminine” framework so I think that disparity influences our songs and what we can explore. I’d love to do more stuff like this as society is having more and more conversations about gender. If a person out there can relate to one of our songs and go “huh that’s how I feel” then we’ve done our job.

N: Yes – it’s very important to what we do. Even before we ever wrote songs together, one of the things that Vic and I really bonded over was that we both don’t really fit the expected mould of our respective genders, and that kind of rigid thinking about gender has always seemed very silly to me. It’s a struggle finding yourself as you grow up, not feeling like you meet a certain societal expectation to be a certain way, I suppose that’s really what the song “The Other Ones” is about.

The human ability to express gender and sexuality is limitless and beautiful, and I think that should be celebrated. We try and do that by just weaving these things into the songs in a natural way. For example, in Out My Head, Steph is singing specifically about a woman, but the song is really about the emotional desolation that comes from losing somebody, in this case, it just happens to be a woman singing about another woman.

LTW. Which Other Ones’ track would you recommend to someone to listen to who’d never heard you before?

S: (Tempted to say Holiday by the other, The Other Ones!!!) I think possibly On Top Of Me – it really shows us a band and the sort of topics we tend to sing about. It was also one of the first more ‘collab’ efforts as a band and we really love the song!

V: Probably On Top of Me – it’s just great.

N: I’m really partial to Better Off Alone – it’s got a big melody, big guitars, a spacey bridge. It’s special to us as it’s the first song we wrote with Steph.

F: Get Your Hands Off Me

LTW. Over this period Music Streaming has become the main way most people consume music, how hard is it to build an audience? I imagine there are pros and cons.

N: I think the immediacy of streaming is great, but the problem with it is the economics. I’m beyond thrilled whenever anybody listens to our tunes, and streaming makes it easier for people to find new music like ours than it’s ever been, but it certainly has helped create a culture where music is expected to cost next to nothing. It’s practically impossible to make money from your music being on Spotify or whatever, and the music industry is already stacked very heavily against working-class people participating as it is.

V: I agree with Nick. It is definitely a mixed bag. In terms of audience building, I imagine it was much easier to build an audience when music had to be physically purchased to be enjoyed, but I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to that stage.

LTW. You signed to Reckless Yes last year. How did that happen?

N: When we were looking at labels Reckless Yes immediately stuck out to us, as we liked the bands on their roster and they had, for want of a better word, a great “vibe”. We had been in touch with them a while ago when we were still recording, and they asked us to keep in touch and let them know when the album was recorded. We sent them the rough mixes of what we were doing and they seemed to like it!

F: They sent through a contract but I don’t have a printer so I just did a digital signature.

LTW. From the outside, it looks like there is quite a family feel to the label and an affinity amongst acts. How are you finding it?

N: That is exactly how it feels, and it’s wonderful! Pete and Sarah have fostered a really great little community, it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

V: It’s really lovely actually, I still get a bit OMGITSTHEM when we go on roster calls and the like, the first one we had I was fangirling over being on Zoom with Fightmilk, but it’s a really nice atmosphere. RY definitely feels like a family everyone is very supportive and mutually appreciative.

F: Feels like being a baby kangaroo tucked into its mother sack.

LTW. Had you had an opportunity to meet/play with many of the others before the pandemic hit?

S: Unfortunately not enough! We’ve had a few zoom sessions though – can not WAIT to play with the others.

V: We cannot flipping wait. It’s surreal to go from oh I wish I could play with them to oh wow I can play with them!!!!

LTW. Are there any particular venues or towns/cities you’re looking forward to playing once we’re allowed out?

S: Everywhere and anywhere!!

N: In London, I particularly love playing The Victoria, but I would really like to get playing outside of London a lot more.

V: I’d literally take a car park right now. I keep telling them we could do a tour of Kirkcaldy (and it’s 18 odd pubs) but no one seems keen?

LTW. Last question. What are your Top 3 favourite songs of all time?

S: This changes a lot, my repeated song right now are

  • Famous Last Words – My Chemical Romance
  • The Last Sunrise – Aiden
  • Space Oddity – David Bowie

V: Ah jeez.

  • I Know It’s Over – The Smiths
  • Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
  • Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

N: Oh God, that’s hard. I have no idea, so will give you 3 songs that I have been playing a lot recently

  • C2.0 – Charli XCX
  • Mayor of Simpleton – XTC
  • Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers

F:

  • Propaghandi – Night Letters
  • Roddy Frame – English Garden
  • Snoop Dogg – The Just Eat Song
The Other Ones
@keiraaneephotography

For more on the band, you can visit Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Interview: The Other Ones on their debut album appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Hannah Rose Kessler: Come Feel Me – single review

Hannah-Rose-KesslerHannah Rose Kessler

Come Feel Me

Reckless Yes

DL | Streaming

Out now

Hannah Rose Kessler releases the track Come Feel Me on 12th February, her first for Reckless Yes and a taster for her EP due in March.

Cumbria based Hannah has self-released two solo albums previously, Not Your Little Girl (2017) and Invincible Beautiful Dangerous (2018); and additionally was lead singer of her own London-based band, The Quim Smashers (performing a genre she called “punk burlesque”). Describing herself as “a sassy female version of Tom Waits”; Kessler says of Come Feel Me, “I wrote this track while stuck in a very liminal period of my life. It’s about the desperate clawing for intimacy, validation and recognition you see in groups of unhappy people. I tried to bring out a sense of fatigue and anxiety with the beat and the oppressive bass, to contrast with the gentle vocal delivery. When the drop comes, that’s the break in tension, during which life appears to briefly make sense, but then it’s back to the same old feeling, only you’re not sure whether you mean the words you say or if you’re just saying them out of habit: ‘I’m lonely, so lonely’”.

 

It’s an extremely hypnotic track that seduces you into listening time and time again. With a PJ Harvey feel and a subtle ‘early Mute’ electronica/industrial undertone. Come Feel Me whets the appetite for what’s to come. Based on her previous output and this release it will be interesting to hear the upcoming EP from this emerging artist and producer.

For more on Hannah you can visit BandcampSpotifyFacebookTwitter and Instagram

Hannah-Rose-Kessler

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Hannah Rose Kessler: Come Feel Me – single review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Nervous Twitch: S/T – album review + interview

Nervous TwitchNervous Twitch

Nervous Twitch

Reckless Yes

LP | CD | DL | Streaming 

Out 29th January

Leeds based Nervous Twitch release their self titled album this Fridaytomorrow via Reckless Yes. It’s their fourth following 2015’s Get Back In Line, 2016’s Don’t Take My TV, and 2017’s I Won’t Hide; all of which were re-released to digital streaming during 2020.

I always find that there is a bit of a dip with quality new releases between December (which is dominated by compilations) and throughout January so for me this is the first significant release of 2021. I’d been looking forward to hearing it for some time after the three strong singles preceding it, Keeping Faith in Something, Tongue Tied and Alright Lads.

Not only have Nervous Twitch have managed to capture their energetic live performance on this record; with raw catchy pop songs and just about time to catch your breathe between tracks; it looks bloody fantastic too. A stylish black and white sleeve to house the cream vinyl, but more on that later.

As mentioned in previous reviews on Louder Than War, the band they aren’t afraid of having their influences on show (from the 60’s onwards) but rather than being copyists they mix them together to create something unique. Erin’s vocals and bass; Jay’s infectious hooks and buzzsaw guitar are unpinned by Ash’s solid rhythms to create something special.

Rather than do all the talking, Iain Key sat down with the band to discuss the album and all things Nervous Twitch.

LTW : Congratulations on the album, it looks and sounds great. Are you excited that it’s finally out there?

NT : Yes! it’s definitely a project we’re proud of and it has kept us going through the last year or so. It’s been great to share the singles with people and were excited for people to hear the album.

LTW : Erin, you’re responsible for the look/art/image of the album. How important was it for you to have a cohesive package?

NT : I’ve been responsible for all the artwork, merch, record covers etc for as long as the band has been around. It’s important to me that what we’re trying to portray in the music comes across visually. I wanted to create something that was a homage to the cut and pasted aesthetics of zines and posters mainly from the 70s punk era (think Jamie Reid), with influence graphic art created for bands in the 90’s wave of garage punk, but bringing little bit of a modern smoothness and simplicity to it, kind of like our music.

Nervous Twitch

LTW : Has it been difficult building towards the release in such challenging times?

NT : Initially we thought it would be, we thought we have to completely turn around how we work things. In the past we would have planned to promote a new album, and usually we play a lot of gigs and the majority sales for records and merch is at gigs. But we have overwhelmed by our amazing fan base in recent times and have definitely seen a shift in online sales, especially with Bandcamp Fridays, we have ended up doing well with sales of our existing merch and sold out of all our previous records. We can’t thank them enough for their support.

We’ve had great support from Reckless Yes too, and we’re happy to be working with them, picking up tips as we go along with how to do things. Ultimatly were just just grateful we’re an already relatively established band, it must be really tough just starting out now, we really feel for new bands.

LTW : You take a lot of influences in style and sound from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s particularly (even covering Velvet Underground and The Flatmates in a recent live stream). Was that always part of the plan or is that something that developed?

NT : We’ve always been inspired by music from those eras. We often do the occasional cover in our set, but we threw in all our faves for the recent live stream for a bit of fun. We’ve never had a plan as such, apart from to  work hard at crafting good songs. But on the whole a massive part of our record collection is from those eras, so it’s bound to work it’s way into our sound! Personally (Erin) I would cite The Vaselines and Wreckless Eric (although probably some of his more recent music!) as my influences when it came to writing, amongst others of course!

LTW : If push came to shove which bands would are your favourite acts from those eras?

NT : How long is a piece of string? But to list some; Ramones, Blondie, The Modern Lovers, Television Personalities, The Vaselines, The Beatles, The Pixies, X-ray Spex and everything from Cyndi Lauper to The Wedding Present!

LTW : There seems to be a lot of humour (and the odd bit of sarcasm) in Nervous Twitch. How do keep each other entertained?

NT : Like every band I guess we have our in jokes, which are usually spawned from too little sleep and too many late nights whilst touring (when we could!), and trying to keep ourselves in good spirits for playing. We did go through a phase of creating animal themed dance moves!

LTW : Is there a set approach to your songwriting? Does the music or idea for lyrics come first?

NT : It varies, sometimes the music first, sometimes the words first. Usually one of us will have an idea, bring it to the table, and we all work on that idea; but the odd time we’ll start from scratch together either around a melody or a phrase.

Nervous Twitch

LTW : Which Nervous Twitch track would you recommend to someone to listen to who’d never heard you before?

NT : We have many different sides to our music; observational (So Rock n Roll, John Power, Alright Lads): spiky post punk sound (This Modern World, A Little Self Discipline, Keeping Faith in Something): heart-on-our-sleeve pop songs (Tongue Tied, Look at You Now); which makes it hard to pick just the one song to define us or our sound, but if we had to say one for now, Fickle You, from our new album. (Jay)

Tough one, but for me, Bag for Life (Ash)

LTW : The debut release from the band was 10 years ago, does it feel that long ago?

NT : Wow is it really! I do feel like I’ve been saying to people for a couple of years now that we’ve been together for 5 years, ha ha!

In some ways it feels like the release of Get Back in Line (2015) was start of things for us. Before then we were just finding our feet, and figuring how we do things. But we have covered a lot of ground in those years, so we’re proud.

LTW : One of your earliest releases was a cover of The Runaways ‘Cherry Bomb’, and the follow up was the Bad Reputation EP (although sadly I don’t think you’ve covered the track Bad Reputation yet that I can see). Is there a bit of love there for Joan Jett?

NT : Jay wrote the song (Bad Reputation) without a conscious relation to Joan Jett, and coincidentally we ended up covering The Runaways not long after; I think we ended up recording it just as we thought our version was ace. Our line up was very different when we recorded the Cherry Bomb cover, Erin was on the drums at that time… But, yes, there is a lot of love for The Runaways and Joan Jett, Bad Reputation is up there with one of my fave ever albums (Erin), and the Runaways debut come to think of it!

LTW : Over the last decade music streaming has become the main way most people consume music. How hard is it to build an audience? I imagine there are pro’s and con’s?

NT : I think we all joined this band because we wanted to play music and maybe a few gigs, but as a band you have to become experts with social media and creating a brand to sell to people and compete for a voice through the internet; I feel it can become a little hard and tiresome to keep up with, especially when we’re all very much analogue people and prefer face to face contact. But on the positive side we can connect with people, especially right now we’ve been trying to maintain a relationship with our fans over the country (and world!) and want to try and do our bit in providing some entertainment or fun with our audience, even if it’s just from a post or a video.

LTW : You signed to Reckless Yes last year. How did that come about?

NT : They’ve been on our radar for some time, and they’ve put us on a few times in Derby. We’re fans of a lot of the bands they work with and admire how they do things. They’re also great people, and we feel like we’ve made some lasting friendships.

LTW : From the outside it looks like there is quite a family feel to the label and an affinity amongst acts. How are you finding it?

NT : It’s definitely been great to be part of the Reckless Yes community. It is so much more than a label. Pete and Sarah put so much into it and we can’t thank them enough for that. They definitely bring a great vibe to everything. And on top of that it’s great how all the bands come together and support each other too.

LTW : Had you had an opportunity to meet/play with many of the others before the pandemic hit?

NT : Yes, we’ve played with (and are fans of) Chorusgirl; Duck; Fightmilk – looking forward to playing with them again when we can!

LTW : Are there any particular venues or towns/cities your looking forward to playing once we’re allowed out?

NT : Anywhere, ha ha! Can’t wait to get playing live again! But we have many cities we love playing to name a few; Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield, Hastings, Bristol, Edinburgh. We’ve had a few gigs rescheduled including Wales Goes Pop in Cardiff, which is planned in for September. And we were booked in to support The Rezillos at The Brudenell Social Club, which has been held off for the time being; massively looking forward to playing with one of my teen hero’s! (Erin)

LTW : Last question. What are your Top 3 favourite songs of all time?

NT Nice to end on a hard question! To avoid arguments we have  just decided to divide it up equally and all pick a song we love!

Erin – The Honeycombs, Have I the Right?

Jay – Ben Lee, Pop Queen

Ash – Do you realise? – Flaming Lips

Nervous Twitch can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, and Spotify

Nervous Twitch

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey

The post Nervous Twitch: S/T – album review + interview appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Nervous Twitch: Alright Lads – Single Exclusive

Alright Lads Nervous Twitch

Nervous Twitch

Alright Lads

Reckless Yes

Download/Streaming from 15th January

Alright Lads, the new single from Nervous Twitch is out this week via Reckless Yes. The band give Louder Than War an exclusive preview of this, the third single from the Leeds three piece’s self titled fourth album which is due on 29th January.

The track reflects the nit-picking know-it-all lad who’ll swagger up to a band after a gig… “We’ve all met one. We’ve all had our taste in music, style of playing, or our equipment analysed and ultimately put down and humiliated – but do they realise that they are the hilarious ones? Yeah, let’s face it, no-one likes a know-it-all!”

Mixing 60’s girl group sound with punk and a cool C86 Indie vibe, Nervous Twitch deliver another angular pop track. Having reissued their first three albums (2015’s Get Back In Line, 2016’s Don’t Take My TV, and 2017’s I Won’t Hide) to digital streaming in 2020, Alright Lads is as catchy as previous singles Keeping Faith In Something and Tongue Tied and another taster for what promises to be a surf-rock punk-pop packed album.

Nervous Twitch can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, and Spotify 

Alright Lads Nervous Twitch

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post Nervous Twitch: Alright Lads – Single Exclusive appeared first on Louder Than War.

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The Other Ones: The Other Ones – single review

The Other Ones

The Other Ones

Reckless Yes

DL | Streaming

Out now

London-based power pop/punk four-piece The Other Ones have released the first single from their forthcoming debut album. It’s also their first release for Reckless Yes after several self-released singles.

It’s an absolute screamer, rather than politely knocking and introducing themselves with this single the band are kicking in your door and making themselves at home. It is an urgent rush that will blow away any cobwebs which are still hanging around from 2020.

In their own words… “this does what it says on the tin. The song is about being an Other One and owning it. Shouting a big fuck you to anyone who told you you’re not enough just by being yourself. We are not alone and there are many of us out there. Embrace being a weirdo and scream along with us.”

Imagine a mash up of The Ramones and The Buzzcocks with Kate Bush on vocals, theatrics supplied by David Bowie and huge dollop of emo influenced by My Chemical Romance… the band blend these all together providing frenetic, instantly memorable hooks and catchy chorus lines which will stay with you for days.

For more on the band you can visit Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The Other Ones

 

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

The post The Other Ones: The Other Ones – single review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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