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LIVE REVIEW: Loserpalooza II

September is probably too early to call my favourite gig of the year. But I don’t care how many more of my music idols I see. Nothing will top the second annual Loserpalooza all-day festival in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Aatma and the Peer Hat are usually places of hipster-orientated pretension, but the independent label Society of Losers invited their most magnetic misfits together to curate an unmissable line-up on the 7th September 2019.

Those who grabbed a ticket to the sold-out show placed money exactly where it is needed in the music industry; in the hands of the artists that are essential right now. The revolutionary powers of Punk and alternative music are fairly limited in terms of national impact. But the raucous experiences of escapism which musicians can offer are priceless.  You’re not parting with your money to gawp at musicians as they parade themselves as deities and watch their egos palpably swell. Instead, you get an invitation to share in the riotously friendly disorder which ensues.

While each of the acts contributed something incredible to the festival, special mentions have to go to Salt the Snail, Witch of the East, and the headline act Hands off Gretel.

Salt the Snail

The first time I saw Salt the Snail I had no idea what to expect aside from well-crafted snappy, witty, explosive Punk. The second time around, I thought that maybe I’d be able to anticipate what’s coming. Nope. There are stage antics, then there’s the full-frontal physical experience which is seeing Salt the Snail live.

There’s no hiding from the giant inflatables which are bouncing around or trying to pretend that you’re not endeared. With stunts such as making “the tallest singer in the world” (the vocalist carrying Crapsons’ vocalist on their shoulders as they braved the pit), it’s hard not to appreciate what the band orchestrated in aid of audience amusement.  Even the highest brows would melt under the manically charismatic energy of Salt the Snail’s frontman.

After treating us to their boisterously cathartic tracks, they equipped a good majority of the audience with improv music instruments and led them to the next stage where the cacophony carried on until the next act was ready to start.

It sounds ridiculous. It was. But watching the frenzied effervescence of Salt the Snail, who was also responsible for the event made me pretty sure that if they started a cult, I wouldn’t need much tempting before I joined.

Witch of the East

The fact that Witch of the East attracted a rave review from the editor in chief of Alternative Press shortly after they released their debut album “Queen of Insecurity” in 2019 tells you everything you need to know about the artist.

Aeris Houlihan’s solo project may be fresh from its inception, but her music also provides the freshest brand of hypnotically sexy grunge which has hit your ears in this decade. That may seem like a massive over-exaggeration but listen to “When You Fuck Me” and tell me that I’m wrong, and the darkly salacious tones are equally as potent when you get to hear them live.

To ease us into the set, Aeris played her first track acoustically before taking to her electric guitar connected to a dazzling array of effects pedals.

From transfixingly poised stripped-back aural alchemy to the bewitchingly dark industrial-laced Grunge which the artist has come to be renowned for, Witch of the East’s set proved be one which invoked a myriad of emotions.

I’ll make very few apologies about making the admission that the seductive soundscapes on offer from Witch of the East had the desired effect. You’d have to be dead from the waist down or a liar not to admit that those dexterously played riffs falling into layers of reverb with the hauntedly lascivious vocals weren’t almost pornographic.

Hands off Gretel

Not only does Lauren Tate possess vocals which make you wonder “what if Christina Aguilera had joined Babes in Toyland” she also possesses an incredible unfuckwithable energy that no other woman could witness and not feel empowered by.

Salivating front-row perverts may follow Lauren wherever she goes, but her vocals project far past them and resonate within a crowd which is uplifted by the fearless expression which she pours into each of her tracks.

After the release of their second studio album “I Want the World” I was ridiculously excited to hear the screams which would shatter the larynxes of most people on tracks such as “Milk”, “Kiss Me Girl” and “S.A.S.S” and they definitely didn’t disappoint.

The fourpiece powerhouse possesses a synergy which is rarely heard or seen in underground music, they definitely belong in the mainstream. But for now, people who attend events such as Loserpalooza can revel in the insane talent on display as they blast their unique brand of 90s Grunge/Punk nostalgia through the speakers.

Artist Links

Salt the Snail: Facebook, Bandcamp, Spotify

Witch of the East: Facebook, Spotify

Hands off Gretel: Facebook, Spotify

Society of Losers: Facebook, Bandcamp, Website

You can also check out the Spotify playlist featuring one track of each of the 16 bands who performed. Whatever your musical inclinations you’re sure to find something that will get the dopamine flowing.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

GreenBones – Death from Below: A Volatile Revival of Grunge

If you like your Grunge to come with cutting angular guitars and vocal volatility, you’re sure to appreciate the latest single from the up and coming Alberta, Canada-based artist GreenBones “Death from Below”. Mudhoney fans are sure to become suitably enamoured at the sporadic vocal stretches which are accompanied by a bouncing, punchy, relentless rhythm that will take you right back to the golden age of Grunge.

While Death from Below sits in a cleaner mix than most of your average Grunge tracks, the potent stylised energy sits just as hard around the fuzz-spilling guitars and high-octane drum hits. GreenBones are definitely one to watch – there’ll be plenty more to come from them this year.

You can check out the official music video to GreenBones latest track Death from Below via YouTube now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Lucy Jay revives 90s Grunge with the charismatically magnetic single “Oh Mandy”

With a prelude which kicks off to the same effect as Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll”, it didn’t take me all too long to realise that Lucy Jay’s latest single “Oh Mandy” was going to be a captivating offering of fiercely magnetic Alt-Rock ingenuity.

The unpredictable switch-ups in vocals were reminiscent of Bikini Kill’s deftly placed sporadic screams which made sure that you were paying attention to the charismatic, playful and in part chaotic performance. But if Lucy Jay has anything on the iconic 90s artists, it’s the level of talent on display in the instrumental arrangement. With the synergetic tight progressions, all deftly weaved together with a clean polished production the track, the Alt-Rock visceral energy was more potent and indulgent than ever.

You can check out the official music video to Lucy Jay’s latest single Oh Mandy by heading over to YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Takhian – Antimatter: The Grungy Reinvention of Post Punk We Never Knew We Needed

With vocals which possess the same velvety reverberance as Matt Berninger from the National, becoming enamoured by up and coming artist Takhian’s single “Antimatter” came all too easily.

Antimatter is just one of the singles which feature on the artist’s debut album “Hyperplanes” which comes together as an act of genre-defiance. Attempting to slap a singular genre label on Antimatter would be an exercise of futility. But you’ll be able to expect a slightly jagged Garage Rock tonality from the Indie Jangle Pop guitar progressions which sit in a mix of sludgy basslines and softly rhythmic drum fills which all wrap together with a slightly Psychedelic mesmeric feel.

You can check out Takhian’s restoratively immersive latest single Antimatter along with the rest of their debut album for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Neverlanded – Fluffy Unicorns United EP: Grunge Just Got a Bit Filthier

90’s Grunge may have been revived a fair few times before, but never with the same veracity as contained within the “Fluffy Unicorns United” EP from the North London-based powerhouse Neverlanded.

For a start, the vocals are so filthy they almost make Courtney Love sound in the same league as Taylor Swift (no one tell her I said that please – I don’t want a Courtney beef, but I do want to allude to how reverberantly delicious and droning the vocals are). And you can also be sure that the energy of the instrumental arrangement is set to the exact same standard as the vocals. Every aspect of each of the four tracks has such a raw, desperate, clawing energy which perfectly captures the essence of grunge – Punk; with a little bit of stylistic apathy.

Just as IDLES have reinvented Punk with an explosively caustic and relevant energy, Neverlanded has done the very same for Grunge and I see very little reason why the charismatically gorgeous souls can’t ascend to the same heights.

Even after the final track faded out the potency of the energy contained within this EP was still resonating. If you want a record which has the capability of making your heart pound just as it did the first time you listened to Hole, Babes in Toyland, and L7, you’ve just found it.

The Fluffy Unicorns United EP will be released on April 1st, 2019 and will be available from all major streaming platforms. In the meantime, you can check out their earlier releases by heading over to their SoundCloud page.

Keep up to date with news on the release via Facebook

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Photo credit to Shotison Media

Music

Samuel Yuri – Storm: Instrumentally-Driven Grunge Catharsis

https://youtu.be/nJp7XuNi30o

I’m yet to happen across a track by Samuel Yuri that I haven’t instantly fallen in love with. ‘Storm’ from his latest album ‘Epic Scales’ was certainly no exception to this rule.

With a grungy sensibility the track unfolds under a slightly more antagonistically raucous sensibility than the other tracks from the album. But the muddy reverb and the biting lyricism certainly wasn’t lost on me, neither were Samuel Yuri’s intensely gruff vocals which were almost delivered in a spoken word capacity. Each aspect of the track is powerful enough to make you feel like you’ve just been taken upon an epic aural journey by a track with a tempo which will almost guarantee guitar-driven catharsis.

If you’re a fan of Megadeath, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Nirvana or Soundgarden chances are that the decadently raw track will go down a storm. So, it would seem that Samuel Yuri chose a pretty apt name for the single!

You can check out Samuel Yuri’s track Storm for yourselves by heading over to YouTube now.

Keep up to date with all of the São Paulo based artist’s latest releases by following him via Facebook, after devouring the entire Epic Scales album, it’s safe to say that I’m left with an appetite of high-octane instrumentally captivating Alt Rock that I’m sure only Samuel Yuri can deliver.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

HITLIST – Adrenaline: Bitter-Sweet Sludge Pop

Adrenaline from HITLIST on Vimeo.

Oh good God damn. HITLIST’s latest single Adrenaline may be the best female-fronted Grunge sound to come out this side of the 1995. The track has that same essence of bitter-sweet raw attitude wrapped in platitudes of pain, essentially, the same sound that fuelled the first wave of the Riot Grrrl scene. Yet, HITLIST found a conceptually pioneering way to express their angst with an intricate blend of Pop, Rock, and Punk. The instrumental Grungey undertones of the Alt Pop Rock hit matched HITLIST vocalist’s alchemic energy with a procession of sludgy yet sonorous cataclysmic melodies.

Between the angular guitars, the crisp, thrashing drum rolls and the steady rolling bassline you’re in for a visceral treat from the up and coming artist’s latest single.

Any fans of L7, Juliette and the Licks and the Pretenders will be in heaven with this nostalgically inspired, fresh offering of aural empowerment.

You can check out HITLIST’s latest single Adrenaline for yourself by heading over to Vimeo

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

CRUEL MULE – Space Brain: 90’s Grunge Sounds Even Sweeter in 2018

Fans of Sonic Youth, Janes Addiction and Mudhoney drop whatever you’re doing and plug into CRUEL MULE’s latest single Space Brain right now.

The track may have been released earlier in 2018, yet, it was pretty hard to believe that the archaic wonder which is Space Brain was created this side of the 21st century. The infectious reverb sits atop of the mix, in which you can expect a progression of relentlessly rolling guitar riffs, which if I’m being brutally honest, were pretty God damn sexy. The crashing of the symbols added to the cataclysmically chaotic mix, and then there were the vocals, the sweetly antagonistic vocals which you couldn’t help getting bitten through the pure unrestrained angst that was being projected into the mix.

You can check out CRUEL MULE’s single Space Brain from their debut EP ‘The Demo Days’ yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud now. Each of the four tracks on the EP will make you fall a little deeper in love with their archaic sound. It was about time that the Classic Grunge sound saw a revival. CRUEL MULE may just be the band to lead it.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

KLC – Good God: A 90’s Female Fronted Grunge Revival with a Country Twist

You know when you hit play on a track and you get the instant ‘Oh my God’ reaction? Yeah, well, that happened when I checked out KLC’s latest track Good God which is ironic I suppose. But given my affinity for Courtney Love and Courtney Barnett I can be forgiven for being a little bowled over to hear KLC splice their sound and add in a little Country Blues vibe around it. It’s pretty impossible not to fall in love with the up and coming artists dulcet aural prowess. With vocals so raw, lyrics so empoweringly resounding and a beat as textured it’s hard to see why KLC isn’t already a household name. I may have been able to draw some comparisons to KLC’s sound, yet her prodigally conceptual style is one that I would never tire of. Thankfully alongside her single Good God KLC released an 8-track album ONLY YIN, each track is as ethereally stunning as the last.

I really can’t recommend fans of Riot Grrrl, Folk, Blues Rock and Country alike give KLC’s latest track Good God a listen. Head on over to SoundCloud to check it out for yourselves.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Music

Camcorder – Ashes: Turns out Grunge Can Sound Sweet This Side of 1990. Who Knew?

https://youtu.be/5i_WeLbagqM

Ashes is just one of the blinding new singles from Camcorders debut album Camcorder Suck! (Their words, not mine. I think the Alternative Rock outfit is one of the sweetest Lo Fi hits to great my ears this year.

The instrumental breakdowns to Ashes stand as testament to the elemental skill of this powerhouse of talent. I get the impression that Camcorder are a band steeped in humility, and there’s no sweeter sound. If you’re a fan of Dinosaur Jr, I can almost guarantee that you’ll love Ashes. However, Ashes is more than just an assimilation of sounds previously created back in the 90’s, they’ve added immersive Pop Punk elements that really amp up the sound for an anthemic aura full of high-angsty- vibes. As a massive Eddie Vedder fan, it’s hard for similar vocal artists to even compare to his vocal majesty, yet Camcorder vocalist has that beautifully iconic drawl to his vocals that draws you in to the pure emotion that he’s blasting through the mic.

You can check out Camcorder’s frankly beautiful Grungey Pop Punk track Ashes on SoundCloud which was released ahead of their debut album release which is due to drop on April 9th, 2018.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

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