Monday, 18 February 2013

Three Dollar Bill –the college experiment; that will get marked!


Three Dollar Bill –the college experiment; that will get marked!

Comprising of Alfie Marston on guitar and backing vocals, Luke Rivers on bass, Jordan Carriers on drums and lead vocalist and lyricist Karac Nelson, ‘Three Dollar Bill’ was formed by their tutor at Halesowen College as part of their music course. So named by beanie wearing Alfie because “that’s all we’re worth”.  They are a fun, friendly, passionate and really rather good, if improvised! You really get a sense of these guy’s talents and individual tastes and styles. You’d never be able to tell that they didn’t choose to be each other’s band mates; they all just gel so well together. I spent my Monday evening sat in the corner of a rather nice rehearsal room in Base Studios, Stourbridge quietly observing the band; well that’s when I wasn’t sticking a flashing camera in their faces. The room had a casual friendly vibe to it and the music was loud noise, vibrations running up and down my body, and that was just jamming and tuning up! Tonight was jamming and rehearsing songs for the gig at Base Studio’s on the 27th February, £2 on the door which opens at 7pm. I will also be reviewing the night as another Halesowen band ‘Canary Adams’, plus the currently unnamed Halesowen Tutors band will be playing.

Cover songs ranged from Led Zeppelin ‘Immigrant Song’, to Skints ‘Cultural Vultures’ to Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Suck My Kiss’. Their music, even on the covers, is energetic and passionate. Karac’s vocals are strong and flexible as he smoothly yells above the screaming and pounding instruments. These lads know their stuff. Other influences include Jeff Buckley (Karac), Rancid (Alfie), Bay City Rollers (Jordan, I pray this is a joke) and Iron Maiden (Luke).  “Village People!” shouts the usually quiet black haired Jordon from behind the drum kit at the back of the room. Conversation later also included The Spice Girls, and funny fake stories behind the formation: “we were all in a strip club when this stripper came up to us and said we looked like a band” quips curly haired Luke, joined by guitarist Alfie “and the first drum beat we came up with was first tapped out on Jordan breasts”. There were also intriguing stories of Karac taking his top off on stage when playing an original song ‘The Garden’, encouraged by Jordan  “just love those nipples”. They played ‘The Garden’, with it’s completely “innocent” lyrics. It’s fast, choppy, with a bouncing reggae beat and punk spiked guitar. It was a song that showed that they were not afraid of letting rip into their instruments and showcased Alfie’s guitar skills with his scratchy guitar solo. Their other original songs followed in the same vain. “Lie Through Your Teeth’ was a bit more straight forward rock while “Shot Them Down”, which is on Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/three-dollar-bill) made me want to dance and grind to its bouncing choppy reggae beat.

 When asked if they were serious about being in bands I received a chorus of overly enthusiastic ‘YESES’. Some members admitted that simply being in the music business would be good enough for them, but being in a band is the dream. Oh so relatable. And I wish them all the luck in the world but if they keep working hard, find their band, find their style and keep that passion I saw sparkling today, I don’t see why not.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

My Chemical Romance- Surrender The Night/Burn Bright-last of Conventional Weapons


I’m not too fond of 'Surrender The Night' to be honest, last single or not. It seems very typical and standard to me. This song could be by any band of the genre if it wasn't for Gerard’s distinct and recognizable vocals. The guitars all blend together and I don’t even know what Gerard’s singing. But it’s fun, full of energy and passion, like all their songs are and is very much an all American rock song. Maybe I’ve become too of a music snob, but I know that they are better than this, and, for me, this doesn’t sound like My Chemical Romance.

But don’t worry because ‘Burn Bright’ saves you from the disappointment of a rubbish final single. Thank the Lords, it’s the comeback song! Yet again the B-side has proven better than the A-side. It’s got military style drumming, clear strong vocals and distinct guitars. The complete opposite of ‘Surrender The Night’. This has a fresh sound and feel to it, but in a fantastically good way


that is most defiantly MCR. It’s choppy, edgy and exciting with its multiple time changes. This single just goes to show the ups and downs of experimenting with your sound; it doesn’t always pay off, but boy when it does! This song has got the same feel as ‘Famous Last Words’ from ‘Black Parade’, that sense of ‘I don’t give a fuck’, particularly as Gerard repeatedly wails “you made me who I am”. It is very much the song to end an album, the one that makes you immediately press ‘play’ all over again.

So, that’s it, Conventional Weapons, our peak into MCR’s gap years is over. I think we can all agree it’s been a roller-coaster  there’s been ups, down and even the odd eh moment. As a journalist I completely agree with the bands decision to scrape this album and only make it available years later to the dedicated fans, without any big publicity surrounding it. It was a throwback album at the end of the day, no matter how good the songs have been. But as a fellow fan, I’m on my knee’s thanking them and counting the days until we have new songs.

Conventional Weapons; by a band who keeps proving to be unconventional.

So which one was your favorite? 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

History Of Apple Pie- 'Out Of View'-


                   History Of Apple Pie- 'Out Of View'- (Marshall Teller Records)

History Of Apple Pie are candy and glitter coated dirty fuzzy guitar pop. The albums melodic, its fast, its slow, each song dominated by its own soaring swooping guitar. Stephanie Min’s soft silky subtle vocals are the perfect contract to the harsh guitar sound. ‘ Grunge revival’ my arse.


The album kicks off with feedback and the no messing straight forward ‘Tug’, while ‘See You’ is a much quieter calmer song with plodding melodic guitar and splatters of fuzz guitar. Single ‘Mallory’ is youthful, fun and energetic, with its woozy guitar, pop melody and simple creamy vocals. The amazing thing is that even though recently this same guitar sound has been reproduced over and over, the odd band truly makes it sound fresh and their own. Bands like Chapel Club and The Joy Formidable all manage to sound utterly different to each other, and to HOAP.  I believe that HOAP have set themselves apart with their sprinkle of innocent youth and squirting of solid pop melodies.

Each song brings something slightly new to the table, like the ‘The Warrior’ starts out with a chilled spaced out atmosphere but is taken over with a frenzied guitar, vocals echo round in a circle. It’s a perfect balance of airy dream pop and down to earth smothering noise. You can really see the positive influence of Joshua Third (The Horrors), the main engineer for the album, on this track.  ‘Glitch’ is another example of how they have perfected this sugar coated scuzz sound. ‘You’re So Cool’, the band’s debut single, is practically cute, it’s so innocent and summery, while ‘Do It Wrong’ has a more serious frenzied tone to it.

There is never a dull or quiet moment on the album, each track leads seamlessly onto the next without a single pause, only a few seconds of connecting sounds, like feedback or bizarre synth noises, at the end of a track. I think it’s a nice touch, most albums have awkward pauses or the album sounds like one huge song.

‘Long Way To Go’ has a different feel to it, with its drum machine and acoustic guitar leading with the woozy guitar filling the background. It’s relaxed, like sunset at the end of a long summer’s day.  Anyone who has heard 30 seconds of The Horrors, wouldn't have to check the song credits to know that Joshua Third and a few of his fellow band mates play on the last track ‘Before You Reach The End’. It opens with strange squelching synth noises, scratchy acoustic guitar that may be ever so slightly out of tune, deep bass and soaring guitar. It’s noisy, every space filled with a different noise, her vocals soft as feathers.  In my opinion one of the best tracks on the album along with ‘Mallory’ and ‘You’re So Cool’.  The album end’s with nearly two minutes of feedback, perfection.

A stunning debut I’d have to say. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4rH2faXHjA - Mallory 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_lcoWhgiu8 - You're So Cool

PINS- LUVU4LYF EP- All female moody punk perfection.


PINS- LUVU4LYF debut EP- Bella Union 
(Available on 10" Glitter Gold Vinyl and Digital Download)


Four tracks of all female moody punk perfection.

Opening track and single ‘Luv U 4 Lyf’ (love you for life) is dominated by pounding drums, deep bass accompanies and a jangly low key guitar fills the background. It’s moody and bold with bored, no messing vocals. The song explodes about half way through in as a classic punk riff takes control of the song. It’s simple, short and catchy.
‘Little Sting’ is more atmospheric, with an early Siouxsie and the Banshees feel with its slower pace, howled echoed vocals and screaming guitar. It’s darker, rawer, grittier. It’s the sound of a forest in the heart of the night.

‘Say To Me’ returns to the fast, pounding, imperative sound of 'Luv U 4 Lyf', but with a raw guitar dominating.  It’s a moody, hip swaying, bored and commanding sound as she summons you to ‘surround me/now astound me’.  
‘You Don’t Need To Be’ despite being a live track has very good sound quality, whilst also retaining that unrefined live sound and feel. Her vocals are ghostly, bass questioning and drums loud and proud. It’s another dark atmospheric track but with that demanding feel. Inspired perhaps by ‘Seventeen Seconds’ era (The) Cure?

 The EP is filled with clear influences of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus while also having that strong powerful female presence of X Ray Spex. It’s an ageless sound done in a new yet old but very exciting way. I for one cannot wait for their first full length album, as four tracks simply isn't enough.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOBXvEwn01U - LUVU4LYF