The opening sounds to Johnossi‘s latest album are echoed, processed vocal samples followed by a solitary, flowing riff – a good sign of what is to follow. Despite not being one of the pre-release singles, Blood gives a sense this album will be a push on from 2013’s Transitions. Following it up is one of the singles titled Air Is Free, which speaks of a shoot to fame and freedom to do “whatever I want” and it creates the sound of freedom itself. Rebellious in its own way and still funky as anything, the track is centred around “moving into the light” which is backed up with a large electronic base of horn section, and the strummed guitar tone brings a chordal tune to the piece.
The high point of the album in total is Weak Spots, which is a bold and funky rock track in parts reminiscent of a Royal Blood-esque sound with some indie flavour in the prechorus. The explosive drums signalling the chorus and the effortlessly cool bluesy lead guitar riff just screams star quality, and the vocals throughout convey the lyrics with clarity yet with a classic rock punch throughout. The rhythm here is undeniably catchy, and the track is sure to be a fantastic addition to Johnossi‘s live set.
Vocally, the album is fairly diverse throughout. From Hey Kiddo‘s classic rock vocals with a rasp-filled power to a more folky feel in On A Roll, and John Engelbert’s mastery of all the styles attempted demonstrates his quality as a vocalist. Backing vocals add a depth to the album that is crucial – the contrast between audio space being filled and being almost empty is something the band use for dramatic effect to great avail. The backing holds tight harmony both with other layers and the lead vocals to create a weave that overlays the instrumental well.
Overall, a solid release from an experienced band which will continue their steady rise toward the household name status every band wants. Johnossi haven’t hit anything very groundbreaking here, but what they do immaculately is play to their own strengths to produce a good collection of songs with very little filler material present which is rare in the modern days of demanding more and more.
Two new tracks titled Parasite and Making Waves were played on their Closure tour in October. They told us: “Parasite really takes on the theme of the album we’re going to be recording soon. Parasite is a song that I wrote when I wanted to experiment with songwriting because normally I’d just go out and drink loads of coffee and do lyrics and that. Chris had this riff and this song written out and sent to me and I thought I’d try and write the song a bit intoxicated so I drank quite a lot this one night, wrote a load of lyrics, fell asleep, woke up the next morning and went over to Chris to put together the song. Parasite is all about the feeling you have of being invincible when you’re drunk but it’s a bit dirty as well, hence the name. Making Waves is just about being a rascal on a night out! You can take that as you want…” Read the full interview here.
At very short notice following the breakdown of the Of Mice & MenCold World tour, Hands Like Houses announced two shows playing latest album Dissonants in full for the first time: London and Southampton. Fizzy Blood jumped at the chance to support at the London show and travelled down from Leeds to do so, bringing with them their usual energetic show.
With their blend of moderate alternative rock and indie punk, many of the crowd were taken slightly by surprise. Fizzy Blood are very different from Hands Like Houses, but in a way the pairing really worked; the two bands both blend many influences to create a fusion of genres within their own sound while remaining pretty heavy in parts. While not many of the audience members knew the tracks produced by the band, there was a lot of interaction and Fizzy Blood left the stage satisfied with their set. [8/10]
When Hands Like Houses emerged, the intimate venue had an atmosphere almost tangibly electric. Trenton made a point of telling everyone that this was the first time they had ever played Dissonants in full, and kicked straight off with I Am to get the momentum going. The band shredded through Perspectives and Colourblind with little time to stop for a breather much to the instrumentalists’ torment, but the joy on the faces was clear for all to see.
Towards the end of the set, the speeches became more common as Trent realised those around him needed to breathe for a while with the intensity of the show. These came in the form of explaining where Dissonants came from in terms of concepts, as well as there the individual tracks came from in the heads of the members. Following these though came plays of some of the conceptually biggest tracks of the album, namely Momentary, Motion Sickness and Grey Havens.
The biggest interaction however came from Degrees of Separation which is the most pop-style track on Dissonants. The crowd without exception were moving to the beat and the majority were singing along, and many felt that this made up for the lack of the track’s inclusion on the Cold World tour setlist when it hit local venue the Forum three weeks ago.
After the final notes of Bloodlines rang out, Trenton thanked everyone for coming in the usual style, and Hands Like Houses left the stage, yet the audience wanted more. Chants of “one more song” came ringing out, and with a good half hour to go before the curfew the band knew they couldn’t just leave them wanting more. A few minutes passed as they scrambled together a plan for what to do next, and with a dashing of crew members about the venue they returned to the stage.
Trenton announced “we were here to play Dissonants in full and we’ve done that…” and asked “what do you want from us?”, leading to fans screaming various songs both from their catalogue and others’. He made reference to the fact he couldn’t hear anyone and said they were going to “just play something and hope”, breaking into No Parallels from the 2013 Unimagine album before finishing up on usual set-closer Introduced Species.
Overall, the night may well prove to be the “coming of age” night for Hands Like Houses. They’ve recently completed hundreds of miles on the Of Mice & Men tour and have played one of the most energetic and fuelled events Boston Music Room could have ever seen. Even playing some songs for the first time couldn’t knock the band from their stride – they are in the form of their lives.
Opening up the bill for Blood Youth were London-based band Cope, who took to the stage with an incredibly political agenda. Playing through material from their upcoming release in November, the band made statement after statement in their music and almost a standup set from their frontman Adam Bates while he mocked Parliament, Brexit and the state of the world at the moment. The tracks were heavy, the band were energetic and charismatic, and the crowd took them to heart.
Second up were Zoax, a band that many members of the crowd were here to see and clearly knew very well. As they played through a setlist predominantly from their self-titled debut full-length, the crowd quickly warmed to the bizarre and often verging on offensive antics of the band. Frontman Adam Carroll has an enigmatic stage persona which brought the performance onstage to another level as he stood on the monitors and belted out the funky yet heavy tracks one after another.
In no time though, he was off the stage and strolling with his wired mic through the crowd and causing mischief. He managed to snatch pints, get shots donated to him, and even jump behind the bar (yes, with the mic still in hand…) to pour a cocktail of various drinks and encourage one of the members of the bar staff to drink it. He then proceeded to crawl back down the bar, knocking drinks left and right and stood on the end of the surface to announce the band would be playing more tracks as the band, who remained onstage, proceeded to play the opening riff to Ksychia. Only left with a couple more tracks, Zoax calmed down long enough to play an emotional rendition of The Wave and finishing off in true style with Devil Dance.
This band are most definitely an essential watch at any show/festival at the moment, and they are sure to be growing pretty quickly pretty soon.
Last up were headliners Blood Youth, coming out to a fully warmed-up crowd. They kicked off the set by briefly thanking everyone for coming out and pausing before ripping through Mood Swing from the Closure EP: a fitting opening to a hugely powerful set. The moment frontman Kaya Tarsus walks out on stage, he always seems to be extremely relaxed but after the routine of having a mouthful of water and crouching down, he comes out of nowhere and blasts through tracks with ease. The breakdown following “I’m in a real bad place, get away from me” was crushing to the very definition, with the sound system being cranked up so high it felt like a fan to those lining the barrier-less stage-front. They followed up with Dead Space, 24/7 and Cold Sweat before even taking a pause to breathe around speeches, and they only got more ferocious from there.
New tracks Parasite and Making Waves made appearances either side of old favourite Piece By Piece, during which guitarist Chris Pritchard decided to climb his amplifier stack and play standing atop it, much to the panic of the tech who clutched anxiously to the boxes to steady them.
Blood Youth finished up with a speech about the end of an era as they are going to record an album next month and how Closure was the track that will lead them into it, so they played it with one of the largest crowd interactions of the night, second only to their final track taken from 2015 EP Inside My Head which was the track the band put all their successes down to: Failure. The message within the track seemed particularly poignant for some reason as several members of the crowd were in tears as they screamed the lyrics “Failure, I am nothing to no one, and Iʼve been running for one day too long. Failure, having nothing but bad luck” and the particularly relevant “we are living our life from the ground up” as the band continued to forge their path through the biggest headline show they’ve ever played and making a career for themselves as they hit the 18 month anniversary of being a band.
We took the chance to interview Yorkshire hardcore outfit Blood Youth ahead of their biggest headline show to date as the Closure tour hit Boston Music Rooms, London.
How’s your time since Butserfest been?
Chris Pritchard (guitar): Superb!
Kaya Tarsus (vocals): Well we did Festivile and Underground Festival, which led into this tour. Amazingly, loads of people have been coming up to us on this Closure tour and saying ‘oh I saw you at Butserfest’ so that was obviously very good one for us to do.
How was Festivile?
Kaya: Festivile was cool. That was just a really cool festival. The vibe, everyone was there just having a good time, there was no awkwardness or anything.
Chris: Good heavy scene as well.
Kaya: Arcane Roots played which was cool, and obviously Frank Carter. Just a really good time.
Kaya: Good! They’re great guys… We’re sick of them now [laughs].
Chris: I remember the last interview where you said “they were here and they just left” and we didn’t even know what they looked like [all laugh]. They have great accents though, Irish and Scottish.
Kaya: Yeah they’re just really great guys, fun to tour with.
Kaya, I saw your tweet about watching [Marvel Netflix series] Luke Cage this tour, so what else do you guys do backstage and in the bus?
Kaya: Well, we listen to all sorts of music but we do it in kind of themes. Last night, we had a little “memory lane” session where we were listening to bands we liked when we were 14, like Killswitch [Engage], As I Lay Dying and a load more.
Chris: Xbox too, quite a lot of that.
Kaya: This tour I just brought an iPad and sat to watch The Office – the US one, of course.
Chris: I kind of spend each tour obsessing over one song and playing it on repeat. This tour, that’s Band of Horses – The Funeral. It’s just a great track.
Sam Hallett (drums): I’m rewatching Breaking Bad, so it’s just that on my phone.
Chris: Basically zero partying really.
Max Dawson (bass): Or talking to each other… [all laugh]
Coming onto music then, what do you regularly listen to on tour?
Chris: Finntroll, Korpiklaani…
Kaya: Yeah, when we lock in on our own devices, everyone’s listening to loads of different stuff. I’ve been listening to the new Touché Amore album which is amazing, and I’ve kind of rediscovered Foals as well.
Chris: New Every Time I Die has been a jam as well.
Max: New Boston Manor record too.
Kaya: The 1975… It’s just a great time [laughs].
What do you eat on tour?
Kaya: A lot of bread. A lot of carbs in general, really. Sam and I are vegan so obviously we’re the pickiest ones.
Sam: We’ll all do a team effort though and go for burritos or something like that.
Kaya: Morrison’s salad bar is sick!
Chris: Pizza. We’ve had a lot of pizza this tour.
Kaya: A lot of Chinese food as well. Little boxes, those boxes from noodle bars. Stuff like that really.
Chris: Pretty much nothing healthy, though… Apart from those broccolis on the table. [They had a packet of raw broccoli sitting on the table in the dressing room next to an open pot of hummus…]
Kaya: Yeah I just like having raw broccoli with some hummus.
New tracks then, Parasite and Making Waves? What’s the story behind them?
Kaya: Oh yeah, you got them right! Well, Parasite really takes on the theme of the album we’re going to be recording soon. Parasite is a song that I wrote when I wanted to experiment with songwriting because normally I’d just go out and drink loads of coffee and do lyrics and that. Chris had this riff and this song written out and sent to me and I thought I’d try and write the song a bit intoxicated so I drank quite a lot this one night, wrote a load of lyrics, fell asleep, woke up the next morning and went over to Chris to put together the song. Parasite is all about the feeling you have of being invincible when you’re drunk but it’s a bit dirty as well, hence the name. Making Waves is just about being a rascal on a night out! [all laugh] You can take that as you want…
Chris: It was originally named something else but it didn’t really fit to the album ideas for the follow-up to Closure.
Kaya: Yeah, we kind of tweaked it. We used to play it last year because we didn’t have the Closure EP yet and Inside My Head wasn’t long enough for a full set so we wrote this extra song to fill out the set and it’s making it onto the album.
Is the album ready to record?
Chris: Yeah, we’re actually going into the studio next month.
How excited are you guys for the new Green Day album?
Kaya, Sam & Max: Not at all really.
Chris: I love Green Day but at the same time it’s just one of those things really.
Kaya: I respect them as a band of course, but it’s just not my thing.
Chris: I’ve been looking forward to it, I dabble in their stuff from time to time [laughs]. Big part of the childhood so I’ll definitely give it a listen.
What would be your ultimate gig lineup? You can either include yourselves or not, and it can be a band from history too…
Chris: Let’s pick four bands each! I’ve already got mine: it would be us, Slipknot headlining, Every Time I Die second and Children of Bodom.
Kaya: I’ll go: us, Every Time I Die and then The Smiths.
Max: I’d go The Wonder Years because they’re my favourite ever, but then Trivium as well and Metallica Black Album playthrough…
Sam: Funeral For A Friend, Taking Back Sunday, us and Deftones.
Lauren Reading-Gloversmith, manager: Would you play a normal set for that or would you change it up?
Chris: No, we’d go full-on… [all laugh]
Huge thanks to Blood Youth for taking time out for us again, they’re a great live band as well as on record so check them out! Keep an eye out for the review of their London show too, coming up shortly…
While the heavens had opened, Blood Youth took some shelter to eat lunch in the press area after just getting off the bus at Butserfest and interviewer James Maddern took this opportunity to have a chat.
How are you guys feeling about the performance later?
Kaya Tarsus, vocals: We’re looking forward to it! We’ve been in the van for about seven hours so it’ll be nice to come here and do what we do, we always like playing shows. We literally got here twenty minutes ago so we haven’t really had a look around yet but it looks great so far. It should be pretty sick.
What can we expect to see on the Closure tour at the end of the month?
Kaya: We’ve gone all out with it production-wise, we’ll be playing new songs.
Chris Pritchard, guitar: We have pyro! [laughs]
Kaya: We don’t actually have pyro (Chris:Do we fuck…) We have new songs, a bigger set and this is the biggest thing we’ve ever done.
Where do Zoax fit into the equation on the tour?
Kaya: Well, they played before us at 2000 Trees and we were like “this is so sick”, then afterwards and our team asked “who do you want to bring out on tour with you?” and we said “we saw Zoax and they were insane so let’s ask them”. We haven’t actually met them, I’ve heard they were right here a little while ago [laughs] but yeah, they sound great and we’ll see them soon.
You’ve mentioned new songs a couple of times, are they making an outing later on?
Chris: Is that a cheeky “is there an album?” [laugh] We can’t say…
Kaya: They’re not coming out today, no. We were thinking about it but if people hear them tonight they won’t come to the tour so you know, wait til we’re headlining and see them then.
Are the new songs the Blood Youth style we know or are they a shift away?
Chris: It’s a step in the right direction.
Kaya: It’s the same. Not like “oh it’s the same old Blood Youth” type ‘same’ but it’s more like Blood Youth V2.0 in a way.
Sam Hallett, drums: Listen to the ‘In My Head’ EP then the ‘Closure’ EP and you’ll realise it’s progressed naturally, but in a good way – the songwriting and everything.
Chris: Then hearing these newer songs it’s the same natural move. I know a lot of bands say “let’s try something new for this record” (James: so no synth-pop-rap shift then?) [laughs] No, none of that but I wish… It kind of happens on its own, they sound a little bit different but better.
Anything else at all you can reveal for us in the near future?
Kaya: There’s a lot of stuff going on that’s exciting. It’s just a sort of “watch this space” deal currently.
Chris: And come to the Closure tour! Big things are going down, be there.
Huge thanks to Blood Youth for being involved in this, and especially Max for holding the mic all the way through and not saying a word!
What happens when you put a rapidly growing band in an attic room in a central London record store? In the case of Moose Blood last night, the roof gets blown off.
When the show and signing was announced as free with only an album purchase necessary, just about every fan of the band in and around the capital jumped on the opportunity. Filled to capacity, the room was brimming with excitement as all the spectators walked past the signing table to get in; seeing the unstoppable band and getting their excellent new record signed was only moments away. The soundtrack to all of this buzz was, quite predictably, the new album Blush, which was only released yesterday.
Walking out with the usual “we’re Moose Blood, thanks for being here”, frontman Eddie Brewerton looked truly terrified. The band are known for their timidity, but when Honey began it was easy to see why they’re growing at the rate they are. The crowd were jumping about within fractions of a second of the first note, much to the band’s delight; the grin was visible on guitarist Mark E Osborne’s face the whole track.
After another “thank you for coming, it really does mean a lot”, they announced they would be playing next “the first song [they] wrote”, and the crowd that meant only one thing: it was time to go crazy to the tune of Bukowski. For perhaps the first time in 363 Oxford Street’s in-store show history, crowdsurfing was rife. The massive singalong appeal of the track meant the atmosphere went from “enjoying” to “electric” in less than a verse. This carried over into fan favourite Swim Down with further crowdsurfing before delving back to first official single Boston, much to the crowd’s delight.
Due to the sharp glares of security personnel, Eddie reluctantly told the crowd “I’ve been told to say ‘no crowdsurfing'”, but with a “not that you were anyway” and a wink to calm the groans from the crowd. As he tuned his guitar down for some more new material he acknowledged his awkwardness, even to the extend of calling himself “bad at this talking thing” and resorting to filling some of the silence by literally saying “words”, resulting in laughter all round (not least from drummer Glenn Harvey, the instigator of the Roam Twitter banter).
When finished tuning, he asked if they were allowed to play some new songs, and with the crowd as hooked as they were was a bit of a pointless question. Glow was first up, closely followed by Sulk and Knuckles which only got a better and better reaction as they went through and the set built to a massive crescendo with Gum.
Through the quiet first verse, Eddie stopped singing at moments as he was evidently overwhelmed with the response the track got, as were the rest of Moose Blood. As the guitar started building to signal the crashing into the second verse, the crowd were mimicking every sound they knew from the record with excitement and anticipation of the mania that was to come when the crashing rhythm of the second verse came in.
The band finished up with roars from the watching few hundred, dripping with sweat in the boiling attic room having clearly given the show their all before dashing to get changed before the signing.
Moose Blood are building their popularity at an incredible rate, but it is clear to see they still have fans from the beginning coming to their shows. They have done the impossible task of hitting the more mainstream rock market while keeping the alternative fans gripped, and their live prowess is formidable to the level of challenging the very best. The fanbase make the band’s slogan come to life: it seems that emo really is a gang.