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James Maddern

citizen

Live: Citizen – The Bodega, Nottingham 4/10/17

Opening up to a tiny yet packed Bodega was Honey Lung, London natives with a serious sound. Frontman Jamie Batten led the grunge-shoegaze four-piece out on stage and it was clear the band was inexperienced, yet they just had the star quality that’ll get them a long way in time to come.

Guitarist Charlie Gardner, bassist Dave Sherry and drummer Omri Covo all back up Batten immaculately but the show is all about him. His understated stage presence combined with his vocals and lead parts show he is an all-rounder and the real deal. The young band played through tracks from their debut EP Kind of Alone as well as newer singles Stuttering Mind and finishing up on Sophomore; they showed the Nottingham crowd exactly what they’re about. [7/10]

See them playing Sophomore on Reading Festival’s BBC Introducing stage this summer:

By the time Citizen hit the stage, the small attic room was already unbearably hot – the subject of many comments throughout the set. Opening with Jet from their new album, vocalist Mat Kerekes wasn’t planning on hanging about for introductions. Within minutes, the first crowdsurfers had emerged atop the energetic pit in front of the stage, and it only got more lively from then on in.

The whole set was very reflective in nature: not only did the band comment on the length they’ve been together producing music and on how As You Please is the best album they have made during that time, but nearly half their time onstage was spent playing tracks from their 2013 debut album Youth including Sleep, Roam The Room and How Does It Feel. To the (rather vocal) dismay of a couple of audience members 2015 track Stain did not feature, though their persistence in suggesting it earned them a well-deserved “f*** off” from guitarist Nick Hamm.

Closing the main body of their set with The Summer was a fantastic decision for the crowd participation. The heat in the room had already got sweat dripping from the ceiling and had received many comments from band and audience alike, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the singalong that ensued. The fan favourite track had crowdsurfers, stagedivers, fingerpointers and mic-grabbers all going for it to bring the night to a close as Citizen went to leave the stage. They never quite made it off the small plinth though – they lingered on stage right in full view to have a chat about what they were going to play for the “one more song” the crowd wanted so badly. They came back with As You Please closer Flowerchild to finish off a stellar set in style.

Very exciting band in terms of their new album and their stage show at the moment; if you’re not aware of Citizen yet then get on it with this album cycle, you won’t regret it. [9/10]

See In The Middle of It All from their new album As You Please below; the album is due out Friday:

citizen as you please

Citizen – As You Please

Citizen have been selling their album at a few tour dates in the UK ahead of it’s release this Friday (6th October) so a few people have heard it – not to mention the fact it leaked a week ago, as guitarist Nick Hamm told the Nottingham crowd on Wednesday.

The fact it’s leaked didn’t curb the enthusiasm of the Michigan five-piece about their latest release however, and for very good reason. Kicking off with Jet (their current set-opener), As You Please gets off on just the right foot: hard-hit drums with relaxed verses climaxing in true Citizen style with both pushed and falsetto high vocals throughout the chorus. The song sounds like their traditional style yet a lot more mature – a natural progression from the band just starting out their recording career back in 2009.

The album varies hugely in style though, with In The Middle of It All bringing in synthesised vocals and the rest of the album sounding like a spectrum ranging between 2013’s Youth and 2015’s Everybody Is Going To Heaven seamlessly. The ending of the mentioned second track chops various tracks in the mix at varying intervals which creates a kind of faulty-record effect that is likely to confuse a lot of fans at first listen or during a half-listening session.

A lot of fans old and new are always interested in Eric’s bass tone – this album is just as phenomenal for that as both the others before it. The quality of it is hard to describe, but the crunchy (almost punky) tone underpinning the emo madness keeps Citizen in check both in the mix and live. Vocally too, Mat Kerekes smashes everything he touches. Whether it’s his cleaned up verses or the straining chorus pushes, he displays that he is the very best fit for the band’s style – whether that be crunchy like the debut, more shoegaze-influenced like the second or halfway between the two where As You Please sits.

The collection closes with Flowerchild which is also acting as one of their closing songs in shows now, featuring an acoustic guitar opening in the record version. By itself, the song shows off the talents of every single band member in their own style. The shift from acoustic to thrashing and loud to soft demonstrates everyone’s different styles, and Kerekes shines bright as a frontman as always. The final 30 seconds of the album being instrumental to play out the fantastically-written and performed fifty minutes of material before it is a fantastic decision that just leaves the listener to relax after the catharsis – the band has pushed out their point and left their audience to do just as they please.

Fast and angsty or slow and emotional, this is genuinely a stunning album that backs up Citizen‘s claims that As You Please is the strongest collection of work they have put out so far.

Blessthefall

Live: Blessthefall – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 30/9/17

In terms of live performance, The Five Hundred are a total throwback. Complete with 8 string guitars and 5 string bass, the dance moves are somewhat reminiscent of a 2009 crab-filled Attack Attack! set. That’s where the similarities end though; guitarists Mark Byrne and Paul Doughty put together some fantastic chugging riffs and slick leads which combine with the thumping bass and drums for a real suckerpunch sound.

Unfortunately, the boxy and untreated venue didn’t do much for the heavy tones of the locals; frontman John Eley’s vocals were often lost in the somewhat sludgy sound bounding around the room to the extent that it looked as if he was forcing himself to go louder in parts in order to be heard. That aside, a solid set from good local talent. [6/10]

Harrogate natives Blood Youth were the touring support on this run, bringing their melodic hardcore mania to the Rescue Rooms stage. Well-experienced in playing their debut full-length Beyond Repair by now since its release in April, the heavy verses blew the audience away as is the custom of the three-piece. A better set of tonal settings allowed each band member to cut through the sludgy sound in the venue and despite some microphone issues while walking out onto the stage, frontman Kaya Tarsus put on a phenomenal show.

It’s rare to have someone who has fantastic clean vocals as well as screams and even more rare for them to be backed up by musicians who can also sing, but all three permanent members can harmonise and take over each other’s parts seamlessly; drummer Sam Hallett doing a line in the chorus of I Remember to allow Kaya to breathe indicating the seamless transitioning.

In the middle of the set, Tarsus informed the crowd about filming a video for the self-proclaimed “hesviest Blood Youth song” Parasite, which got the full response it deserved. A great crowd reaction throughout for the band, proving they are one of the best touring bands right now, period. [9/10]

Headliners Blessthefall were last up to work their magic for the Nottingham audience, which perfectly did the job of topping off the night. Having the two vocalists allows Blessthefall an opportunity of having the depth in both vocalists’ voices to do each half immaculately, but having the designated frontman being the clean vocalist in a heavy band means Beau Bokan can move around a lot more – he spent nigh-on half the show in the crowd giving high-fives and hugs.

Ploughing through tracks old and new only showed off Bokan’s vocal abilities, combining with Jared’s screams (also immaculate throughout the set) and Eric’s silky-smooth leads led to a melody/aggression combination that was backed up with the rhythm section to a T. A fantastic set from a band who seem to have a lot to prove over the next couple of years. [8/10]

See some fan-filmed footage of 2015 album track Dead Air performed on Saturday:

keep the coffins coming the patience frank iero

Frank Iero and the Patience – Keep The Coffins Coming [EP]

Frank Iero has always dreamed of working with Steve Albini, and when he finally got the chance he put together a combination of a recent single, an old rarity track, an unreleased song and a cover to give the producer a platform to produce his magic with the band. The EP comes less than a year after The Patience‘s second album Parachutes (which we rated a solid 9) ahead of their European tour over the next few months.

Opening the EP is Parachutes track I’m A Mess which is already a fan favourite before this release, but the Albini-influenced version has the raw feel of a live track with what sounds like a natural reverb underlying the dry recording. That aside, there isn’t much difference between the regular studio recording but a good performance of the song which is made almost more gritty with the odd error here and there as could be expected live. Following up is a piece that Frank released back in 2014 as a solo song which featured his twin daughters Lily and Cherry, titled BFF. This version is far more upbeat as a band version tends to be, giving a sense of gravity to Iero’s pained lyric “things just don’t feel right when you’re not by my side” among others.

The most hardcore-influenced of the four songs on the EP comes under the title No Fun Club third on the tracklist. The signature Frank far away/distorted screaming sound fills any empty space left by the heavy distortion on all the guitar and bass sounds throughout to produce a fast, punky feel for the minute and a half it takes up. Closing up the EP with a classic Johnny Cash cover, Iero has the fuzz-filled guitar tone for which he has become infamous since his My Chemical Romance days. Resting on a lilting tempo, the version has been performed live a fair number of times but the capturing of the emotion in the frontman’s voice ensnares the essential essence of The Patience and everything they do: messy, rough yet perfectly imperfect in the best way.

bronx v

The Bronx – BRVNX (V)

As their fifth self-titled album under the The Bronx branch of their music, fans are expecting the latest album by the LA punks to be refined and high quality – two features which come in abundance in just about every track.

Opening track Night Drop at the Glue Factory is raw and overdriven from the start, before introducing distorted vocals that bring the sound almost to a hardcore-influenced Foo Fighters vibe which is executed fantastically. Fuzz-fuelled solos and hard-hit pacey drum parts. The seamless transition into Stranger Danger is the first but most certainly not the last, as the five-piece glide seamlessly between sub-genres with every track.

The album demonstrates something for everyone: hardcore elements in Sore Throat, a power-blues feel in Broken Arrow, some softer (almost indie) rock aspects in Side Effects that would fit immaculately into any time of day on Radio X among others, and tracks including Two Birds and Channel Islands have tones almost resembling classic 80’s crunch rock sounds to bring the album a retro side with wah ripping up and down through the frequency bands to provide a depth to the riff sounds throughout all of the guitar fill work present on the song.

It is often easy to pick some standout pieces from albums to separate the wheat from the chaff ahead of listeners’ first experience, but every song on BRVNX is just as strong as each other – the deciding factor on a favourite for fans is likely to be which subgenres of rock they prefer most and how they like the band’s execution of said style!

Vocally, the album is just as diverse as the instrumental styles. Frontman Matt Caughthran manages to pitch his vocal frequencies to cut through the mix through every style of rock The Bronx display so well, showing his diversity when contrasting more hardcore tracks like Sore Throat which features fairly heavily distorted sounds the whole way through with Side Effects which provides far more melodic and dry vocal work.

In terms of production, the band have gelled amazingly with Rob Schnapf (Beck, FIDLAR) to create a collection that showcases the various points of talent they hold in a style where they seem incredibly comfortable. Seamless transitions between elements in every song illustrate the songwriting capabilities they have been honing over the past fifteen years and it feels like that side of The Bronx has come into fruition now more than ever in this cycle.

Overall, the confidence and songwriting prowess of all involved have made this album a force to be reckoned with – a certain contender for a lot of ‘album of the year’ lists!

Astroid Boys Broke

Astroid Boys release ‘Dirt’, announce debut album ‘Broke’

Grime rockers Astroid Boys have had their debut album announced a few weeks now, and the reaction it’s getting is pretty mega.

In case you missed it, the album will be titled Broke and it is due out September 29th. Preorder it here.

The band’s MC Traxx said of the album: “This album is called Broke, because we live in a broken society with a broken system, broken education; a broken world. Sometimes this can leave you feeling broken. First step to making a change is to recognise the problem. Being broke scares most people to death because we are taught that money = happiness, and without it we can’t survive. Says who? I’ve had some of the best nights of my life without a single penny in my pocket. I could never be Broke.”

See the lead single Dirt below:

Better Than Never

Live: Better Than Never – The Black Heart, Camden 14/8/17

Taking to the stage first was Midlands acoustic man Luke Rainsford who brought in a fair crowd considering he was first up and had come a long way. Opening with Home Safe, Luke played through material from both of his full length albums with aplomb as he always does, blowing away both fans and first timers alike with his honest lyrics and catchy hooks. Closing with his personal favourite track FrameLuke looked as though he was going to cry as he screamed out “I know that I’ll never learn” to an already emotional crowd as the cathartic close to a set that always seems to short from his restrictions – just about the only criticism that can be made about his live shows. [9/10]

Better Than Never

ICYMI took to the stage in the difficult situation of following Rainsford, but the energy and vocal ability of frontwoman Elin Allan stood them in good stead for the set to follow. Playing through their tracks proved to be fairly hit and miss up to their cover of NSYNC‘s Bye Bye Bye (yes, really) which turned the whole set around. The version featured heavy guitars and the attitude of Allan shining through to sweeten the crowd up before finishing with their single Get Out to finish off the set. The band have big things coming towards the end of this year, so keep an eye out – they’re one for the future. [7/10]

Better Than Never

As the only local band of the night, pop punkers All These Years took to the stage. It appeared throughout that the band weren’t particularly well known among the onlookers but pretty quickly gained some fans with their more punk-influenced tracks as they hopped about the stage being generally offensive in the best possible way. Playing through the material from both EPs and latest single What Was Left UnsaidAll These Years put life into what was previously a fairly still crowd, perfectly filling their role as a support for the show. [8/10]

Better Than Never

Coming off the back of their debut EP release a couple of weeks ago, touring newcomers Maypine were absolutely filled with confidence hitting the Camden attic’s stage. They played through the EP’s five tracks with a couple of additional originals, but the real gem in the set was their emo rendition of Fix You by Coldplay which they released back in July (if you’re curious, listen here). The set was filled with enthusiasm, talent and hope – qualities that can are lacking in a lot of new touring bands, which are virtually never captured in the same capacity as Maypine have them. [9/10]

Better Than Never

Finishing up the night came Better Than Never who, surprisingly, drew less of a crowd than Maypine though the remaining audience were the rowdiest of the night by some margin. Blasting through both EPs, frontman James Harris bounced around with no visible intention of slowing down as he hyped up the crowd. Later, some growls mid-song produced a few looks of confusion from those not fully aware of Forty Eight from the band’s latest collection Head Under Water as they expected more pop punk tracks, but that didn’t subtract from any enjoyment on anyone’s faces. Towards the end of the set, Luke Rainsford was floating around the front of the crowd making gestures before he (somewhat unsurprisingly) made another appearance to duet Panama with Harris. A good performance to round off the night. [8/10]

Better Than Never  

ahead of myself

X Ambassadors release ‘Ahead of Myself’, announce show

X Ambassadors are back, and they’re here with new material. The new song is called Ahead of Myself, and it comes as the first taste of new material from the New York rockers since their 2015 debut album VHS.

In addition, the band have announced a show in London following their upcoming appearances at Reading & Leeds festivals. It will take place at Student Central in London (formerly University of London Union/ULU) on 29th August, so it will be a pretty intimate event! Grab tickets here.

Hear Ahead of Myself below:

frank iero and the patience keep the coffins coming

Frank Iero and the Patience have a new EP

That’s right, Frank Iero and the Patience will be releasing brand new material less than a year after their 2016 debut album (since the name change), Parachutes.

The new songs will collectively be known as the Keep The Coffins Coming EP which will hit the shelves on 22nd September this year via Hassle Records who released Parachutes last year. The collection also features artwork designed by Krokodil guitarist and BBC Radio 1 Rock Show’s Daniel P Carter.

Frank said: “When we were done touring .stomachaches., I talked to my manager Paul about what we should do. I had my bucket list and one of the things on there was to work with Steve Albini. Paul asked how long I’d wanted to work with Steve and I was like, ‘Since I was, like, eleven!’ I wanted to make a Steve Albini record. Paul said he’d call him and I was like, ‘You can’t do that… that would be weird. Don’t do it.’ And he was like, ‘That’s my job!’ He called him, Steve said he could do it and he had three days. Next phone call I made was U-Haul; I fuckin’ packed the U-Haul up and drove the band to Chicago. I got to record an EP with my friends and one of my heroes in this giant firehouse building in Chicago. The EP is this missing link between .stomachaches. and Parachutes. It’s everything I wanted it to be. It’s fuckin’ awesome!”

Preorder the EP on limited edition 10″ vinyl or digital at the Hassle Records store right here.

Frank Iero and the Patience are also set to hit a seriously extensive UK tour through September and October, check out the dates:

Wed 20 Sep 2017 Newcastle Uni – Tickets
Thu 21 Sep 2017 Liverpool Arts Club – Tickets
Fri 22 Sep 2017 Leeds Key Club – Tickets
Sun 24 Sep 2017 Manchester Academy 3 – Tickets
Mon 25 Sep 2017 Brighton Concorde 2 – Tickets
Tue 26 Sep 2017 Bristol Fleece – Tickets
Wed 27 Sep 2017 London Tufnell Park Dome – Tickets
Fri 29 Sep 2017 Wiesbaden Schlathof – Tickets
Sat 30 Sep 2017 Lindau Club Vaudeville – Tickets
Sun 01 Oct 2017 Leipzig Taubchenthal – Tickets
Tue 03 Oct 2017 Zurich Dynamo – Tickets
Wed 04 Oct 2017 Vienna Arena – Tickets
Thu 05 Oct 2017  Nuremburg Dynamo – Tickets
Fri 06 Oct 2017 Cologne Gebaude 9 – Tickets
Sun 08 Oct 2017 Cardiff Globe – Tickets
Mon 09 Oct 2017 Norwich Waterfront – Tickets
Wed 11 Oct 2017 Edinburgh La Belle Angele – Tickets
Thu 12 Oct 2017 Aberdeen Garage – Tickets
Fri 13 Oct 2017 Glasgow Garage – Tickets
Sun 15 Oct 2017 Sheffield Plug – Tickets
Mon 16 Oct 2017 Nottingham Rescue Rooms – Tickets
Tue 17 Oct 2017 Colchester Arts Centre – Tickets
Wed 18 Oct 2017 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms – Tickets
Thu 19 Oct 2017 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms – Tickets
Fri 20 Oct 2017 Aldershot West End Centre – Tickets

counterparts servant you're not you anymore

Counterparts release single ‘No Servant of Mine’

With their latest album due out later this year, Canadian hardcore band Counterparts have released their latest single. It is titled No Servant of Mine and has a video out to accompany it, which you can watch below. The album itself is their third full-length which is due out on 22nd September, titled You’re Not You Anymore.

Vocalist Brendan Murphy said of the track: “No Servant is about relationships failing  whether they be romantic, platonic or business oriented. One way or another, the connection between two or more people is gone and we have to carry on knowing that it may be for the better. The song is my way of saying ‘If you no longer care, then go. You don’t need to stay because you owe me nothing.'”

Watch the video of No Servant of Mine here:

Catch them playing these dates with Napoleon and Polar:

11th November Patterns, Brighton, UK
12th November Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, UK
13th November Vintage Bar, Doncaster, UK
14th November Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK
15th November G2, Glasgow, UK
16th November Rebellion, Manchester, UK
17th November Think Tank, Newcastle, UK
18th November The Dome, London, UK
19th November Joiners, Southampton, UK
21st November Patronaat, Haarlem, Holland
22nd November Lux, Hanover, Germany
23rd November Poglos, Warsaw, Poland
24th November Firlej, Wroclaw, Poland
25th Durer Kert, Budapest, Hungary