Today, LA-based post-punk quartet Cuffed Up are sharing their driving and propulsive new single “Bonnie,” as well as well as announcing their new EP Asymmetry, out on October 22nd via Royal Mountain Records. Pre-order here.
The band explains new single Bonnie:
““Bonnie” is an anti-love anthem about the grief and pitfalls of a serious relationship crumbling due to lies and deceit. This is explored through the eyes of Bonnie (of Bonnie & Clyde fame), in an alternative universe where Clyde selfishly leaves Bonnie for dead. Bonnie is arrested and she decides to give Clyde up to the cops out of pure spite. Not because he left her in a dangerous situation — purely because of the end of their romantic, albeit toxic relationship.” With a video directed by Torrefranca (an award-winning filmmaker outside of Cuffed Up), it stars himself and Jewell in a role-reversal swapping the roles of Bonnie and Clyde.
For Asymmetry, Cuffed Up paired up with producer Brad Wood (Touché Amoré, Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair) spending a week honing the songs through experimentation with sounds and ideas and the result is a collaborative effort that tackles one’s own mortality, abandonment in relationships and reckoning with shame.
Cohesive yet expansive, soaring yet direct, Asymmetry draws lines across the globe to the burgeoning post-punk scene in the UK, while also leaning into ‘90s indie rock and grunge, a loud and rhythmic rainbow of post-punk that is fluid and versatile. Whether it’s the aforementioned “Bonnie”, Torrefranca’s brutal reckoning with his own health struggles on “Terminal”, the inventive freeform of Jewell’s guitars in “Canaries” or Ordonez and Liptock’s fidgeting and dexterous rhythms in “One By One”, Asymmetry is a line in the sand for Cuffed Up, a declaration of intent from the young band who are poised to breakout from their West Coast home.
There is an unspoken “curse” placed on artists who win the Mercury Prize that their next outing never quite lives up to its award winning predecessor. What Visions Of A Life showcased was a band at an important moment. Diverging their sound into various territories and sounds of punk, dream-pop, shoegaze and alt-rock; moving anywhere and everywhere. On Blue Weekend the band distill these sounds into a fluid story of self-doubt, longing and emotional triumph.
Throughout the narrative of Blue Weekend the band extract various stories of social affairs like the night out on the raging “Smile” or the trip through Los Angeles on “Delicious Things”. Picked from different worlds and places, they all collide together with the underlying narrative with the desire for freedom and happiness. “Could I belong here? The vibes are kinda strong here / Ask me if I’m from here and I won’t say no” sings Ellie Roswell on “Delicious Things”. She may be dabbling in pills and inhabiting with a “bad man named Adam” but you can feel this great sense of liberation pouring out of every moment. From the swaying harmonies to the coastal drifting guitar lines, the sound of this song is as delightfully delectable as the title.
Speaking of shorelines, the album is bookended by “The Beach”, which acts as the albums cinematic opening and closed with “The Beach II”, a dream-pop ballad that touches on the small beauty of those summer moments spent enjoying the natural world with friends. Not only do these songs set the scene for the album but they help bring about this narrative of connection. Although this album was largely written before any notion of the last year happened, it remains even more potent that these songs should define the journey through the album in this way.
There’s a certain dynamic switch that the band tap into on this album, and it’s one they play on for most of the track-listing. On “Feeling Myself” they switch from sultry mellotron chords and a lounge like beat, to suddenly burst out into a wash of synth-wave balladry. It sweeps and crashes over you like a wave of emotional triumph. It’s not only a switch up within the song itself, but coming straight after the pop-punk driven “Play The Greatest Hits” you feel as though you’re coming down after the excitement of a night-out and feeling the solitary blues you get in the morning after.
The title of the album Blue Weekend, comes from both a literal sense of seeing a blue sky at the weekend. And the melancholia of knowing that your weekend, no matter what happens, is going to leave you feeling blue. This sense of complete and utter disparity from the rest of the world is where the band finds their greatest moments on this album. “The Last Man On Earth” truly is an anthem for the abandoned. “And when your friends are talking / You hardly hear a word/ You were the first person here/ And the last man on the Earth” exclaims Roswell as she pulls apart every last emotion you thought you could hide. It’s that juxtaposition of being somewhere whilst feeling a million miles away that the band capture perfectly through slow building pianos and Beatles-esque guitar passages.
For all the moments of subtle beauty, like the fluttering and gut-wrenching “No Hard Feelings”, there are equal moments of outright bravado and showmanship. Playing it large has always been a trope for Wolf Alice, look back at “You’re A Germ” from debut My Love Is Cool and you’ll find a young band exploding with unkempt energy, packaging everything into every moment. On “Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)” you’ll find a track that is almost overpacked to the brink of spilling out at the sides. This move into folk-balladry is awry with beauty in the vocal and guitar passages, but just feels that slight bit too over-produced. Layers of harmonies sweep over each other to become so angelic that it feels as though the rawness and spirited energy that Wolf Alice has been known for has died a studio induced death.
The curse of the Mercury Prize seems to have been lifted though thanks to the incantations that Wolf Alice distill on this album. It showcases a band that have defined and refined their sound to become their most substantial and free-flowing album to date. Heartbreak and headbangers ensured, this is one for those dark nights sat alone.
When a band emerge with a sound that is so refreshing, yet brings together so many wide influences and sounds, you get something truly special. A cornerstone of alignments and crossed paths thats end result is something truly spectacular. Every part of that is true of You, Nothing., your new favourite shoegaze/punk/pop-punk/ dream-pop band. Formed of Gioia Podestà on guitar and vocals, Federico Costanzi on Guitars and synthesisers, Giulia Cinquetti on bass and Nicola Poiana on drums and drum machine. The band hail from Verona, Italy but have their sights set on the world. First emerging last year with debut single “Waves”, the band showcased their ability to create tender and yet ever expanding soundscapes that were shrouded with an underlying wave of longing. They’ve now broken out with their debut album “Lonely // Lovely“, that will have you head-banging one moment and feeling hopelessly nostalgic the next. It’s a remarkable showcase of just how diverse the band already are and leaves an incredible wealth of potential for whatever they want to go from here. We asked the bands a few questions about who, what, why and when they’re all about.
What drew each of you to music and how did you get into it?
We have all been playing for several years and we have all had various projects of different musical genres. The thing that unites us the most is that we all play because we need it, an essential need like breathing.
Where did the band form?
We formed in October 2019 in Verona, thanks to an ad from Federico on Facebook, where he wrote that he was looking for a singer, bassist and a drummer to start a project with shoegaze influences.
How would you describe your sound?
In our sound there are different influences; we easily pass from shoegaze to post punk, until we reach pop. We have combined the musical genres to which everyone is most attached and this album is the result. We do not feel we belong to a specific music scene and we want to continue in this direction, because it is precisely what characterises us most.
What’s the creative process behind a song?
It all starts with Federico (guitar) who writes the complete musical part or simple riffs, which are then elaborated in our rehearsal room together with Giulia (bass) and Nicola (drum). Lastly come the lyrics written by Gioia, the singer.
What does the album’s title mean or represent to you?
We like that each person can give their own personal meaning to these two words. In reality, the title of the album was a fairly casual juxtaposition of the two words, over time we have given it a deeper meaning, understood as a dualism between our more ethereal side and the more pounded and pounding part. Even the album cover depicts this concept through two girls (Alina and Ania, sisters in real life) in a mirrored position, with two similar but different energies.
What were some of the main themes you were trying to explore on this album?
The recurring themes in the songs on the album are loneliness, the search for oneself and the desire to escape. Perhaps the fact that most of the songs were written during the first lockdown in Italy helped, especially with regard to loneliness and the desire to escape.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
The bands that most influence our sound are Slowdive, Beach House, My Bloody Valentine, DIIV and Joy Division.
Favourite concert you’ve been to?
Gioia : The XX in Milan (2017) and also Be Forest in Verona (2019) Federico: Sigur Ros, Jesolo (IT) 2013 Nicola: The Deftones in Bolzano (IT)
Favourite show you’ve played?
We as a band have only had the chance to perform live twice so far, including one without viewers, on Twitch. So we can say that our favorite live was in October, when we presented our album live for the first time, at Colorificio Kroen which is one of the most important live clubs in our city, but also in Italy. People were sitting and spaced out, but it was still a great experience.
What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowedagain?
The first show after all this bad period, we imagine it outdoors, maybe at a nice festival with various bands, lots of people and no restrictions. It would be great, and we hope this wish will come true as soon as possible.
Where would you like to be in a years time musically?
In a year we would like to release a second album, and be able to promote and play it live all over the world, without restrictions, with people standing and crowded at concerts. Playing in Italy remains important for us, but the biggest dream of all four is to travel the world thanks to our music. Opening the concert to some bands we adore would also be a dream.
What’s a cool fact about you that people might not know?
A cool fact about us that we noticed, is that a lot of people, blogs and webzines, are describing us as a very young band, but we must tell you the truth: we are almost in our 30s and over. We admit that we still feel like teenagers.
Nottingham based post-punk outfit Do Nothing return with the follow up to 2020’s Zero Dollar Bill EP, a release that was laden with abstract lyrics thanks to front-man Chris Bailey’s obscure musings. The new EP takes its name from two ideas, the first being the fact that glue used to be largely produced using horse bones, a horrifying thought on its own. And the other being a synonym for limbo land, somewhere we all seem to be stuck in at the moment. Recorded in Bristol with producer Ali Chant, and in Cardiff with Tom Rees (Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard) last summer, the band took to recording each members part separately rather than the live feel of their debut, allowing for more experimentation in production.
Opening with the dance bass driven title track “Glueland” the band immediately sets a new marker for their sound. With everything in this track feeling slightly more succinct than their previous outings. The drums are tight and driving, the guitar glistens and glides through various funk infused moments and the vocal lines and harmonic rises sway through highly intoxicating melodies. It’s a great progression on the bands sound, whilst still keeping the gritty and almost anthemic sound of previous releases towards the latter half. This tightness is then continued onto the Radiohead worship song “Uber Alles”, through the eerie minor chords and almost math rock styled bass line it gives a new alternative direction to the bands sound. Each melody of guitar, bass and vocals all flowing carelessly on top of each other to create a river of encapsulating sounds. It sounds almost like Arctic Monkeys would sound like if they were interesting.
Bailey’s carefully plucked, not easily understood, yet wonderfully enticing ruminations make a standout return. On “Rolex” he sings of “meeting the Marloboro man” recalling that “He said “Here’s a clue for ya, Jack”, Stuck a finger in my eye”. And on “Glueland” he refers to himself as “Going round in circles like a little baby eel, In a glass of water, all the way to Glueland“. These abstract lyrics help to drive the strange narrative of this EP along and serve as impressionistic views into the workings of his mind. You can get the general gist of what he’s singing about, but it’s best to not look too deep, only he truly understand it as he says.
Unfortunately with all the greatness the first two tracks brought, the last two seem to be trying to live off their legacy too much. Although the riff on “Knives” is catchy enough, it feels as though the band seems a bit tired. Bailey’s vocals are buried in the mix and the bass lines and drum beats that drove the first half of the EP with their intoxicating groove seem to have just run out of fuel and are operating on free trial mode. Then on “Great White Way” the song begins with an atmospheric and swirling soundscape, to slowly add different layers of drums and guitar lines. But over its near 5 minute run time, the song doesn’t offer that much progression to warrant the full length, instead often getting lost in loose jams and understated instrumentals. They may have been trying to lean into a more dreamier side of their sound, but this came at the cost of losing the experimental flair they evoked in the first 3 tracks.
Being only their second EP the band still has plenty of time to flesh out what they truly want their sound to be. Whether they lean towards this more structured and planned out sound of this EP, or infuse it with the raw sound of their debut, only time will tell. One things for sure, we’ll be looking forward to see wherever the band takes us next.
South London post rockers Goat Girl return with the follow up to 2018’s debut release Goat Girl, an album that was tinged in grunge and disdain. A lineup change with new bassist Holly Hole joining to replace Naima Jelly, a burn injury that cancelled a tour and a global pandemic in between, there’s certainly been many hurdles to getting this album released. With production being helmed by Speedy Wundergound’s own Dan Carey they have expanded their sound into new territories incorporating elements of synth-pop, jazz and soft-rock delivering a gratifying and woozy sophomore outing.
The band have never been ones to shy away from political messaging and throughout this album they continue to challenge the burdens of capitalism, casual racism in the media and climate change. Opener “Pest” cleverly flips around the phrase of “Beast from the east”, realising that this way of phrasing suggests that these extreme weathers are a result of the eastern hemispheres industrial revolutions, where in reality we are the ones that started the chain of pollution. “Pest from the west, drums on his chest” sings lead singer Lottie Cream in her deadpan style. Backed by a symphony of encapsulating rising guitar lines and bubbling synthesisers, the sound is easy on the ears whilst simultaneously impossibly menacing.
Although this album was written before any notion of a pandemic began and the fallout from it there are themes that resonate with a collective more wider than they might have originally thought. Lead single “Sad Cowboy” may seem upbeat through its use of club based synths and driving groove but lyrically the band speak on notions of feeling isolated from society, due to the often felt naivety of the many to some of the failings of homelessness, austerity and gentrification. And this contrast is cleverly woven into the lyrics. “Where colours play in the sky again, Through the windowpane, night time dissipates” where Cream is singing about these dreamlike surroundings that contrast her state of mind in the chorus where she sings “Slippin’ my hold, It comes and it goes, The feeling we’re told, Isn’t so”. Conveying the feeling of becoming detached from a world that is a much crueler place than is casually perceived.
But away from the socially commentary the band displays an incredible amount of rawness in their detailing of their own struggles with mental health. From the breezy but moving “Anxiety Feels” that details L.E.D’s struggle with anxiety and isolation and the choice between whether to involve medication. “I don’t wanna be on those pills, heard they make you numb, find another way to get my fill” she declares as the track opens. But it’s only when the chorus melodies and harmonies kick in that the true weight of this songs is felt, it may only be simple declarations of “finding it hard” but you can hear the unconcealed emotion oozing out. And one of the highlights of this album comes in the form of “Closing In” both lyrically and sonically. The simple melancholic synth melody of the verse create a truly ominous sense of unease that perfectly captures the tenderness that Cream is writing about. But she depicts her illness as an entity that comes and goes through the clever lyricisim of “I feel the ghost, she slipped through my bones, pushing around and allowed to expose”.
Compared to the gritty and grinding sound of their debut album, there’s a certain amount of dreaminess and psychedelia washed over this album. The guitars are cleaner, the mix is smoother and the grooves are looser. But in this new formed freeness the band revere in their collective sound, allowing each movement to become funkier and more expansive than ever. The likes of which are found all over the descending groove of “Badibaba” which also introduces the new injection of jazz elements into the bands sound through the off beat vocal melodies and slinky bass lines. And on “P.T.S.Tea”, that tells the story of how drummer Rosy Jones was scolded with hot tea on a ferry by a man who didn’t even acknowledge the event, the song may open with an upbeat synth-pop intro but it slowly descends into a jazzy and psychedelic soundscape that feels like your swimming in the discontent that the band creates with their swirling vocals.
That’s not to say however there aren’t moments that get lost in the looseness and the gritty feel of the first album is missing. “Jazz (In The Supermarket)” showcases the bands talent to build on different movements from an instrumental perspective, but with its early placement in the tracklisting and four and a half minute run time it slows down the flow of the album without adding too much that can’t be found later on sonically. And the blissful swaying jazz verses of the first half of “A-Men” become somewhat overshadowed by the drawn out second half that take just a bit too long to reach their conclusion.
This album takes a look at the world, both retrospectively and introspectively and tries to understand and question our ways of life whilst seeking for change in both aspects. Sonically Goat Girl may be leaning towards a more woozier sound than their debut, but the songwriting and undying drive to seek and inspire a better world is still as potent as ever.
New-York based art-punk trio Palberta return with their fifth full length album, coming two years after the release of 2018’s Roach Going Down. Recorded at Matt Labozza’s (PALM, Shimmer) home studio which is located in the original home and family lamp-store of Paul Reuben (Pee Wee Herman) within in the space of four days. The band took to capturing their tightly woven and yet joyously chaotic live aesthetic as closely as possible by only using a maximum of three takes for each track. The end result was a weird and wild album that focuses on tight cut minimalism over heavy ragers and pays an ode to Egg and Bacon sandwiches.
The elements that shape this album are shifting time signatures, catchy riffs and vibrant harmonies. Throughout the tracklist they seem to stick to this tried and true formula, whether they’re singing about cows on “The Cow” or sweet love songs on live favourite “Corner Store”. And this allows the bands sound to stay continually cohesive, almost feeling like one long jam as each song emerges into the next. It’s said sometimes that the band don’t have a drummer, guitarist or bass player, but rather 3 of each. They will constantly swap instruments during live performances, whilst still retaining that integral level of control and synchronicity. And this can be heard all over the album, as each building block of their sound remains constantly dynamic.
That doesn’t mean to say they’ve lost their sparky edge however as “Fragile” is as erratic as it is intoxicating. As the dreamy vocals lull you into a false sense of security whilst almost warning you for what is about to come “Don’t step too close, don’t step that close”. This juxtaposition to the frantic and menacing descending riff that chugs along through the song is encapsulating. And as the vocals build and harmonise you feel as if you’re being conjured under a spell as the band dances around you in time to the driving beat. These hypnotising harmonies are also highlighted on “The Way That You Do” as the song moves from dreamlike infatuation on the chorus to anxiety instrumental passages, the vocals act as almost a blanket that welcomes you back into safety.
These repeated lyrics are another element of the minimalism that the band seems to strive for on this album. On numerous occasions the chorus line will be repeated and the verses will left to be taken over by the instrumentals, creating some jagged but more often than not groovy melodic riffs. On tracks such as the slow jam of “Red Antz” however there’s a certain distinction that these songs stand out as having more flow over their repeated lyric counterparts. “Yeah I can’t pretend what I want” they repeat for nearly 3/4ths of the runtime of “Big Bad Want”, they are driving the message home in true punk fashion but more often than not it can become somewhat tiresome with the clean sound instrumentation.
That’s perhaps the biggest downfall of this album, that it constantly feels like there’s something missing, or the songs just need that little bit extra to boost them into life. Don’t get me wrong you can certainly bang your head to the pounding beat of “Summer Sun”, but like the real summer, it’s over before it can truly be enjoyed. The result of these short bursts of 2 minute jams almost leaves the album feeling like a radio show, with jingles coming in and out, they’ll be bouncing around your head all day but you always feel like you can’t quite pin where the sound came from. Although this formula isn’t uncommon for the band, there’s just that spark of energy missing this time. And even on the longest song “All Over My Face” it feels as if the band aren’t sure where to take the song as it takes in so many different movements and ideas that it’s hard to keep track of where the song is going.
Whilst this album may bounce around from song to song, melody to harmony almost every minute of its run time there’s no denying that Palberta still remain as intriguing as ever. You can call them punk, you can call them pop, but with whatever style they choose to swap around with next, that signature flair of intoxication with their sound is sure to remain.
The best things in life come to those who wait. And it seems to have been quite the age since Shame first broke out into underground stardom with debut album Songs Of Praise way back in 2018. The release and subsequent success of that album almost paved a way for the new age of post punk and independent artists to be able to break into the top spots on the UK album charts. Since the release the likes of Black Midi, Sports Team and IDLES have all found themselves racing up the charts in fashion that hasn’t been seen in many years for these ‘guitar bands’. The south London 5-piece now return with their long awaited, long delayed sophomore album Drunk Tank Pink. Taking its name from both the colour that is supposed to invoke a more relaxed state of mind as well as the bedroom that lead singer Charlie Steen moved into after two years of relentless touring with the band. Where Songs Of Praise sought to understand the teenage angst that is felt as you start to come away from your childhood, Drunk Tank Pink is about finding your identity as an adult, where your place is in this brutalist world. “I’m half the man I should be” chants Steen on “Human, For A Minute”.
Written and recorded before any of the horrors of the past year took place, the themes of this album preceded many of the feelings of isolation and longing to get somewhere that were felt by many people, but perhaps that’s the beauty of this songwriting. “In my room, in my womb, Is the only place I find peace, All alone, in my home, Yeah, I still can’t get to sleep” sings Steen on “March Day”. The innocence of not knowing what was to come, and yet capturing the spirit of us all without trying to jump on the bandwagon of lockdown songs allows the emotion felt in this track to become more pure, and therefore more relatable to us all. But you can hear the descent into a wealth of anxiety as this album goes on, through to the second half Steen now sings “I devote all this timе, To a world that’s not mine, Then I fade far away, Then I fade far away, As I talk to myself, You emerge ill of health” on “Harsh Degrees”, slowly feeling as though he’s losing his place in the world the more time he spends alone with himself.
It would have easy to repeat the same formula of Songs Of Praise which sonically was centred largely around the raucous riffs that burst along every second of the way. However this album takes its time in allowing each sound and idea to be played out in full. There’s elements of funk sewn into the riffs and beats of the off-kilter “Nigel Hitter” that demand you to get up and groove along. And then there’s the slow chugging hopefulness of closer “Station Wagon” that asks you to take a step back and look at the beauty of the world, as the ballad like piano and controlled drum beats chug along until the track reaches its frenzy fuelled closure. “But nobody said this was gonna be easy, And with you as my witness, I’m gonna try and achieve, The unachievable, Because one day, That vapour will be in my pocket” declares Steen as he looks to the heavens above.
One reoccurrence that the band leans heavily into is the big anthemic chorus, from the climatic closing of “Born In Luton” to the euphoric half time explosion of intensity on “Water In The Well”. They serve as emotive outbursts that allow the stories that Steen is singing about to be presented with an air of pure cathartic bliss. This grandeur not only amplifies Shame’s blistering sound, but allows it to become even more bittersweet. The maturity that is sung about within the lyrics is also matched within the songwriting. The movement from the off-beat guitar riffs to the half-speed chaotic chorus calls on “Snow Day” perfectly distills the intensity and erratic nature of becoming in love with the idea of a time, as it takes over your every thought. “And then I fall to you, In my mind”. The crashing drums and colliding guitars fly around the soundscape whilst simultaneously keeping their mark of driving the the song to its colourfully flourished finish line. But they don’t have to have the flailing guitars at every moment to sound truly haunting. The epitome of the bands songwriting as well as this albums production value comes in the form of “Human, For A Minute”. Through its closely patched chugging bass line, deadpan vocal delivery and truly sinister guitar lines this song embodies the lack of self worth that many young adults begin to feel in their early twenties. There’s so much darkness packed into this song that from the moment you first hear it you get sucked into its deep endless ravine of self depreciation.
But this isn’t to say the power and chaos is gone from their sound. The three track run of “Great Dog”, “6/1” and “Harsh Degrees” is packed with that full faced intensity that was found all over their debut album, each song leading into the next without giving you a second to breath. It’s fast and furious but unlike the film franchise, the songs don’t overstay their welcome. Sometimes however the riff and beat on certain songs can become a bit too predictable and leave you yearning for those changes in pace. Although only a few songs into the tracklist the flurrying early 2000’s indie paced guitar lines of “March Day” and “Water In The Well” feel as though they’ve been heard many times before and don’t quite match up to the grandeur of many other moments in the album. Hidden behind explosions of sound, they are exciting in their drive but don’t really offer anything new in terms of sonic exploration.
Whether you’ve been bullying the band on twitter or patiently awaiting the second coming of these boys from the south, one things for sure, they have delivered the goods. And not just a second helping of what we’ve all had a good taste for, but an album that has been grown and allowed to mature along with us until it was ready to be consumed. The confidence and bravado of Shame has never died down in this time and that can be felt all over this album as the band look to challenge themselves at almost every turn.
London post-punk rockers have released a new single ‘Alphabet’. This is the first new music from the 5 piece in two years after their standout debut album Songs Of Praise that saw them win the Rough Trade album of the year award. They have also released a haunting accompanying music video directed by Tegen Williams.
The band said about the new single on twitter “Many years we have toiled. Brutal winters and fearsome summers have passed. But on this day, this great day, we finally bestow onto you our new single.”
The band have also announced their first headline show since 2018, at London’s Electrix Brixton on April 22nd 2021. Tickets go on sale on Thursday 18th of September at 10 am.