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Solvor Vermeer
There’s something magical contained in the music of Norway’s Solvor Vermeer – a singer-songwriter from the north of Norway, who after playing in varying styles of bands for seven years is recording her own music to be released on Lazy Acre Records at the start of next year. If the bedroom-demo’s currently doing the rounds are anything to go by then her new release could well be one of the albums of 2010. We grabbed the Scandinavian chanteuse for a chat. On her myspace page the description states, ‘When I was a little girl I once told my mother there was so much music inside my head. I’ve been trying to get it out of there ever since.’ Vermeer’s response to questions on her in-head soundtrack poignantly and beautifully sum-up the essence of her heartfelt dreamy pop: “Chaotic bits and pieces of melodies and lines in different colours. Like someone running barefoot through a misty forest singing, and every now and then you can catch up with them and hear what the melody’s like.” Evoking the icy elegance of the Scandinavian landscape, comparisons can be drawn to the music of mum and Sigur Ros as well the list of her personal inspirations. “There are so many artists that have inspired me over the years, it’s hard to say which one’s had a direct influence on me and my music. Joni Mitchell, Amiina, Low, Cat Power, PJ Harvey and the list goes on..I know after the summer of 2003 I changed the way I looked at writing, arranging and producing music. I remember I listened to a lot of different bands and artists at that time, and they’ve probably influenced me more than I know of. If I didn’t listen to Sigur Ros that summer I had Stina Nordenstam and the song “Crime” on repeat.” She describes her new work: “Like a piano trying to say what the voice couldn’t express and then some words filling out the missing pieces. Throw in some glocks, sitar, me trying to be a choir and some percussion and there

you have it. My sound on the new EP is a little different from what I’ve been doing for the last few years, simply because I had more instruments and a better studio available. I love just playing around in the studio without a plan, and just following the music wherever it takes you. The songs that will be released this winter are simple and mellow, like the demos, but also more playful and fairytale-like and the some songs have a lot of instruments on them, and pretty much all of them have a lot of backing vocals. I just love dubbing and big vocal-arrangements, I wish I were a choir! Live it’s more of a classic piano based singer-songwriter sound since I can’t play four instruments at a time and I can’t be a choir.” From her surroundings and influences

she has forged a sound that is fraught with a sense of longing: “Most of the lyrics are about something missing, searching for something. But at the same time there’s always a little bit of hope in them. When I was younger I was terrified about writing songs about love, pain, heartache.. well you get the picture. Now I just write about whatever’s in my head. It’s done me good to see that a song doesn’t turn into a Mariah Carey-ballad just because you mention the word “love”.” So after all that has Ms Vermeer successfully translated the wonderful sounds inside her head: “No, still trying. I’m getting better with every song though. I’m hoping this can be a lifelong project and then finally when I’m 90 I can rest assured I got it right in the end.”

To our mind Solvor Vermeer is getting it right already, making some of the most beautiful, emotional pop we’ve heard in a while. Her plans for the future mean we will hopefully be seeing and hearing a lot more from her, “[I will] release the EP and start recording a full-length album. Play wherever I’m able to, make new friends, see new places. Think less and laugh more.” Solvor Vermeer’s final thought: “Wherever you go, go there with all your heart.”


There aren’t many bands that get a full-page feature in the NME before they’ve released a single song, so it’s a testament to the combined power of 24-part (at the last count) all-girl choir Gaggle that they managed it so quickly. To see Gaggle live is to submerge yourself in a fierce spectacle... a wall of women in brightly coloured shamanic cowls, spread across all age groups and ethnicities, and all baying for vodka, cigarettes, and the blood of anything with a Y-chromosome. They belt out misandric chain-gang shoutalongs (“tie his legs together/throw him in the river”) and draw the attention of even the most chatty room like an electromagnet. ‘Crows’ is the best song on offer, with a sinister, bassy backing track - it illuminates a way forward for a band that must change to thrive. Gaggle is a teetering, many-headed monster with a life of it’s own, so make sure you see the spectacle live in case they break apart and vanish back into the ether.

Simon Bookish


Moggz flit with abandon between dark, glitch heavy electronica and downright filthy drum and bass breakdowns – spearing sub-bass runs with mental percussion as sparks of melody fly from the wreckage blinking in the dark before being swallowed whole by swathes of glitchy drums and insane bass attacks. Listening to them is like following endless neon strip lights through the brain of a madman before arriving in a candy coated control booth – all flashing LEDs and overflowing ashtrays on the console. Great darkly menacing electronica.

Simon Bookish is an elusive and fascinating composer and pop star from London via Leicester. He came on the same prodigious wave as troubled alterna-diva Patrick Wolf, but don’t let that put you off - the most recent Simon Bookish album Everything/Everything offers a unique brand of mind-boggling sonic pointillism that far outstrips Wolf’s sorry recent efforts. You may have noticed that record not exactly breaking down the door of the mainstream media, but for the keen-eyed music geeks among us the steadily mounting critical applause has comefrom all the right places. In fact, if you Google ‘Dumb Terminal Pitchfork’ you might find a taster. Everything/ Everything is a loosely woven concept album based around the themes of knowledge, science and information overload and, by extension, the stuff of modern life. Intelligent arrangements, whimsical humour, arch delivery, shards of autobiography and vivid poetry combine into a stunningly ambitious construction. Simon Bookish is a singular artist who deserves to stand alongside the best of his generation... richly-deserved recognition can’t be far away. Compiled by Ben Mainwaring, John Brainlove and James Thornhill

Solvor Vermeer images: Kristine Hellemo

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Confession: we absolutely love those TV shows like ‘When Pets Go Bad’ and ‘Americas Dumbest Criminals’ – the screech of tyres, the shattering bone, blood-sprayed idiots getting their comeuppance. Car Crash TV - in musical terms it’s a perfect parlance for Pens. Comprising three enthusiastic (if musically limited) young ladies with impeccable riot grrrl sneers the girls also have in their arsenal a set of tunes that race along with not a care in the world. Despite the impression that the whole thing could come crashing down at any moment under the weight of the clouds of fuzz and the break-neck pace on show, the girls somehow scrape though and in doing so have delivered one hell of a fun wonky-pop-packed debut. Sniffin’ Glue once printed three chord diagrams and told its readers to go form bands and it’s exactly this kind of ramshackle template that the girls have picked up on. Gloriously cacophonous!


New term, New music
In June we launched our Heads Up new music blog. With so much great new music blasting from our office stereo we needed to share....These are just some of the picks of our recent new music finds....

Swound! Richard Walters

We’ve been banging on about Swound! for a few years now, since their early demos, but they’re not massive yet so we’re banging on about them again. Swound! are a band you couldn’t make up: four brothers from the Isle of Man, based in Nottingham who are unsigned but have been included on a Kerrang compilation and are the first unsigned act to write and perform a track for Nickelodeon’s mad-cap and acclaimed kids show Yo Gabba Gabba (their track apparently teaches kids about the importance of resting and eating jelly when you are ill). They also just happen to be one of the best live rock bands around in the UK. They claim their band name is the Japanese word for jumping really high and if you’ve ever enjoyed the quirky indie-rock of Weezer, the rock brilliance of Cable and the humour-filled brutality of McClusky this bunch of reprobates are for you. New single ‘Predator 3’ was released on November 3 – go get it!

Former Oxford resident (now full time Parisian) Richard Walters has since his early releases on Big Scary Monsters developed into one of the most feted songwriters on the scene. Recent album The Animal collects everything that that is great about the man’s work – the spidery webs of acoustic guitars, the gentle swathes of strings and pianos adorning the mournful alt-folk on show. The highlight of Walters work has always been that tremulous falsetto - as easy and wafer thin as it is emotive and powerful - and so it is that it takes centre stage throughout; tiptoeing gently around hushed acoustic guitars and a shuffling lo-fi beat, best exemplified by ‘Brittle Bones’ a 3-minute calling card that seems set to see him firmly at the front of the pack in the race to become this years thinking mans songwriter of choice. Internet Forever
Internet Forever are one of those bands that seem to arrive on a silver platter, fully formed and already totally awesome. They gigged heavily in London throughout 2009 with a set containing all five of their compulsive, lo-fi fuzzpop songs, cherry picking sought-after slots at Upset The Rhythm, White Heat and Club NME, to name just a few. Vice magazine, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Pinglewood, Pitchfork and Fader all queued to bury them in critical garlands. Quite what they did so, so right is hard to fathom, but their songs speak forthemselves. ‘Cover The Walls’ is anthemic indie-pop that carries a lo-fi sensibility alongside a John Hughes-y teen triumphalism. ‘3D’ is a hyper-catchy paean to meeting 2.0 people IRL. ‘Break Bones’ is such a fearsome earworm that an unfinished demo was played on Radio 1, and it had a fan-started cover versions page on MySpace before it was even released (it still isn’t). The world seems to lie at Internet Forever’s feet right now... it’ll be very interesting to see where the road leads them.

The Little Hands of Asphalt

Anyone of an Elliot Smith or Bright Eyes bent will find much to love with this band - dealing as they do in a similarly hushed brand of melancholic alt-folk. Signed to How Is Annie Records in Norway the band recently played the Oya Festival along with the likes of Wilco and Arctic Monkeys and have seen many “album of the year” style plaudits through Europe. You can check out a free EP available from the bands UK label (Lazy Acre) but their new album Leap Years is well worth a listen too - a perfect late night summer soundtrack.

Implosion Quintet

Dancer vs Politician
The music of Dancer vs Politician, quite literally spans the globe. The brainchild of Sanni Baumgaertner, a Berlin native who has made a home for herself in Athens, Georgia, USA for the past 10 years, the music is bathed in the cultural ambience of her two homes. Sanni chats to me on a rainy Athen’s morning via internet chat, whilst strangely the sun blazes in the usually damp Midlands of the UK. Maybe it’s the fact that Dancer vs Politician’s optimistic, summery indiepop is blasting from my computer speakers that has brought out the sun. Sanni explains how the project developed, “Dancer vs. Politician was born when I started recording the album A City Half-Lost in Athens, GA. For a while I lived in Berlin and Athens, flying back and forth a lot, so I had a band in both places. It became a bit of an international collaboration that I think also influenced the music.” For any musician Athens is undoubtedly a place to draw you in, considering the musical talent that this small town has spawned (REM, the B-52s and the Elephant 6 collective to name a few) but was it the musical heritage that drew her to the Georgia town? “No, originally I came to Athens as an exchange student at the University of Georgia. During my stay here I started to get more and more involved in the Athens music scene and it has drawnme back to Athens again and again. It is really quite special for such a small town.” The Euro-American crossfertilisation is apparent in the sound Sanni has created with lyrics sung in both English and German and the music built of the foundation of her influences. “I love Belle & Sebastian, their instrumentation and beautiful melodies. On the darker side I am also drawn to The Velvet Underground. Other bands that influenced me on this album are The Postal Service and Azure Ray, a former Athens band.” When taking Dancer vs Politician into the live arena drawing on the Athens scene gave Sanni a smorgasbord of talent to add to an ever-changing band of musicians, to her multi-instrumental base. “The band line-up is always a bit different, depending on who is available to tour, but usually we are 4-6 people with some strings and horns,

Implosion Quintet is singular fivesome James Baker, a British musician now residing in Norway. Following a scattering of tracks on the Cookshop label, he released his highly ambitious and accomplished debut album, The Future Sound Of Yesterday this summer. Driven by a short attention span and a love of prog, proto-metal, jazz, electronica, klezmer, tango and everything in between, Implosion Quintet takes us on a bizarre journey through said styles infused with a cinematic quality lending it the feel of a soundtrack to some long forgotten cult eastern European flick. So you’ve got tango, electronica, stoner rock, prog, jazz, beats, blues, glitch, bossa nova, DnB and more besides squished together in a way that won’t drive you insane.

Graffiti Island

East London trio Graffiti Island have a deceptively simple sound. Through a fog of tape hiss they transmit a swampy tangle of minimal Americana; a dirty, heavily stylized racket populated by werewolves, demonic cats, headhunters and satanists. It’s an eerily perfect concoction, from the slightly atonal bass to the schlockhorror subject matter and deadpan delivery. But their magpie-like tendency for plucking up reference points gives their music a rich, almost conceptual edge. Like an über-fashionable patchwork made of 80’s VHS sleeves, Cramps records, 3D glasses, dusty effects units and cracked 50’s garage band vinyl, Graffiti Island don’t have a hair out of place. They released a 7” earlier in the year on San Francisco lo-fi label Art Fag that sounded like it could have been recorded 40 years ago or 40 minutes ago. Live, their sound is about as striped back as you can get. ‘Wolf Guy’ featured simple, pounding bass, loose drumming and the monotone drawl of the vocals. Headhunters is as simple as the Ramones and as catchy as the ebola virus. If you’re the type who goes looking for scuzzy finds in vintage vinyl bins, skip the queue and get Graffiti Island while they’re hot.

keyboards, drums, bass. I play accordion, guitar, and musical saw. Overall I like to keep the feel pretty close to the album.” Having recently signed to new UK label Mono Music and releasing the beautiful debut single ‘Justin Fairborn’ back in September we should expect Dancer vs Politician to make their first ever live excursion to these shores. “I am really looking forward to coming over there and checking out the music scene. Touring is my favourite way of discovering new bands,” explains Sanni. This comes as no surprise as her sound owes much to the twee-ness and innocence of British indie-pop as much as it does to Berlin and the US. Live the band have experi-

enced some bizarre and over-the-top reactions to their performance: ““Well, we have had the best time recently in New Orleans when someone we met at a show invited us to stay at his place which was this fantastic loft and we had the best time. Then I also remember this guy in Richmond, who told me that he was going to go home and masturbate to my CD now.” dancerversuspolitician

Loz Koleszko
Back in 2003 the sugar-coated digital distortions of Koleszko’s debut EP The Monkey’s Danced Like Cuboids blew our minds and he really should have climbed to the top of the electronica tree. But various problems and record label dithering meant that his amazing follow-up album ‘’ has never seen a proper release. After gaining a devoted following supporting the likes of Cylob, Mike Dred, Plaid and Jimmy Edgar, Koleszko disappeared from the live scene. New tunes on his myspace mark the return of aural excretions from Koleszko’s twisted mind and early offering ‘Piblokto’ remains one of our fave electronic tunes this decade.

More great new bands at


Double the fun! Derby’s FUNfun are one of the best new rock outfits we have heard in while. Built from the ashes of two great bands YouNoGoDie and Plans and Apologies in December 2008, the Midlands quartet fuse the best elements of their former acts – which is no bad thing at all. The four tracks on their brilliant debut EP The Hitchcock EP make it our top tip for the best indie-rock debut of 2010! ‘The Trouble With Harry’ (on our free MP3 sampler) is more catchy than Swine Flu, and a lot more enjoyable. They are looking for more gigs and contacts ‘at this moment in time to Spread the Fun’ – and trust us a little bit of FUNfun is well worth spreading.

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Shoes and Socks Off

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Formerly of Meet Me In St Lois (RIP) Toby Hayes confounded many in the underground rock world by stepping away from his angular post-rock background and delivered one of the low-key highlights of 2008 in his debut album From the Muddy Banks of Meltizer – recorded live on top of a chest of drawers in a distinctly lo-fi acoustic setting that set a new focus on his brilliant song-writing ability. Remodelling these exact same tracks has proven to be something of a masterstroke in new album Hand Reared Suburban Piglet which sees Hayes fleshing out his skeletal songs with traces of electronica and more of his noisy past to provide a fascinating counterpoint to the originals. Intriguing stuff! Track a Tiger

Taking in shades of electronica, folk, country, indie Track A Tiger combine the lot to forge amazing swoon-pop. Taking much from the likes of Anathallo, Modest Mouse et al there’s a healthy smattering of genres abound here all wrapped up around some elegantly understated song-writing.

We couldn’t do a special on new music without mentioning our good friends over at Brainlove records, who have been exposing us to some of the most exciting and mind-blowing new acts for ages. Last year we dubbed their compilation Two Thousand and Ace ‘compilation of the year’. 2009’s compilation Fear of the Wack Planet is no less amazing, covering 27 acts teeming with the kind of positivity, sonic invention and skewed pop sensibility that has seen the label gather fans and supporters far and wide over the last six years. Taking in bands from Brainlove’s roster such as pop maverick Napoleon IIIrd (who’s been covered many a time on these pages), and a selection of other amazing independent artists Fear of the Wack Planet is a must-have new music release.
These are our pick of the Wack Planet pops:

Brainlove Wack one out
Ace Bushy Striptease
revolving cast of helpers and bandmates - a system befitting their membership in the all-conquering Wilkommen Collective of likeminded Brightonians bands. If you’re aware of Wilkommen you’ll no doubt have some idea what to expect... and if not, then get on it! Curly Hair are the “cutest” on offer from the Collective by quite some way, but for them to stand alongside emerging bands like The Leisure Society and Sons Of Noel And Adrian is an accolade in itself. They make a virtue of foraging enough quirks and foibles from the increasingly crowded DIY-folk scene to stand out. Aesthetically, you might find Curly Hair borrowing facepaint and glitter from DIY veterans Bearsuit and twee sensibilities from Peggy Sue or Slow Club. Musically, they are as bright eyed and fresh as it’s possible to be,singing nice, clean little songs about life, love and the last bus home. Curly Hair have already made a big splash on the radio with a Mark Riley session under their belt and plays from such luminaries as Huw Stephens and Bethan Elfyn. Watch this space to see how far their tinfoil wings will take them...

Birmingham’s Ace Bushy Striptease weave ramshackle indie magic. The latest in a line of great Brum-based guitar pop bands, there’s something shambolically wonderful about their self-named ‘cuddlecore’. A wonderfully shambolic collision of musical ideas the sound of Ace Bushy Striptease is one that should be added to your record collection immediately. Kippi Kaninus

ments of bands like Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire. The Fly described their music as “largerthan life orchestral, hymnal masterpieces and round-the-campfire folky sing-alongs.”

Full Fear of the Wack Planet tracklist:
1. Mat Riviere - FYH* 2. Napoleon IIIrd - Your God* 3. Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind* 4. Internet Forever - Break Bones 5. A Scholar & A Physician - Stand Tall* 6. Penny Broadhurst & The Maffickers Comenzo (live) 7. Curly Hair - Hully Gully 8. We Aeronauts - The House On Ash Tree Lane* 9. Christopher Alcxxk - Halo 10. The Bear Driver - No Time To Speak 11. Kippi Kaninus - Sygyt With Me* 12. Thee Oracle - A/I/M/Y* 13. Pagan Wanderer Lu - Nintendo Folk* 14. Ratface - Fruit An Veg 15. Trademark - At Loch Shiel 16. Fidel Villeneuve - Two Of The Beatles Have Died 17. Ace Bushy Striptease - Post Hummus 18. Planet Earth - 4 23 19. Sparky Deathcap - Winter City 20. Keyboard Choir - Tachikoma 21. Kid Carpet - Go Get Yourself A Hammer 22. Laura Wolf - Love Was Dead 23. gwEm - Ancient Art Of Chiptune 24. Braindead Collective - Untitled #1 25. Heartbeeps - Glacial Valleys 26. MRBLKRSHRRRR - Jackie Collins 27. Jam On Bread - Wikipedia Says I’m Dying * Brainlove records bands Getting your hands on these 27 amazing tracks is just a few clicks away. Get on that there interweb and make a purchase at: Pagan Wanderer Lu

We like our pop of the quirky, DIY variety and that’s why we love Pagan Wanderer Lu. Honest and poignant lyrics add a meaningful socio-political backbone to the catchy tunes all over Lu’s recently released debut album Fight My Battles For Me, indeed Virtual Debris called it ‘witty and often ascerbic lyrical goodness with increasingly pop sensibilities’. Self described as an ‘electronica fuelled indie-pop songwriter’ playing ‘indietronica’PWL is an eclectic interbreeding of pop sound - taking in noisey alt. rock, danceable rhythms, punk attitude, techno blips, piano pop, moody synths and introspective acoustic folk. If there’s not something in there for every one we’ll eat our collective hat. Mat Riviere

As Kippi Kaninus, digital composer Gudmundor Vignir Karlsson creates multilayered, subtle, downbeat and melodic electronica. Manipulated voices, found-sounds and softclick percussion offset the downplayed use of acoustic instruments to form Kippi Kaninus panoramic, supernatural soundtrack. He is also part of renowned string quartet Amiina’s live show and has done choral work with Sigur Ros and Bjork. We Aeronauts Curly Hair
Curly Hair are Ben & Jessica from Brighton. They’re an art-school folk-pop duo with a

Folky eight-piece We Aeronauts have been turning heads on the live circuit for a while now, blowing our collective minds at Truck Festival a few years back. This year has seen a new spate of stunning recorded offerings which brilliantly illustrate the sheer optimistic beauty of their country folk, tinged with the dark ele- Jam on Bread

Mat Riviere forges sparse but intense songs, heavy on atmosphere and melody colliding analogue instruments with digital techniques creating sounds that are steeped in tradition but have one foot in pops future. A definite pop maverick for the future!

Steve performs as Jam on Bread, and we like Steve. We love his simple, innocent and knowingly twee ditties. Lyrics fraught with self-deprecating humour and that are never self-indulgent or annoying.


Despite losing a drummer to the peace corps during the making of it, Noddz self titled debut album (out on the excellent What’s Your Rupture label) is a scuzzy lo-fi affair that for all its rattles and hums is a blissfully summery slice of alt pop. We’re going to have to name drop Pavement and their alternative-leaning ilk, there’s a quirky edge throughout their breakneck tracks that means that rather than just rehashing their influences the guys have created something fresh, immediate and cool as fuck. nodzzz Smoke Fairies


Smoke Fairies are literally swimming in critical acclaim and quite rightly too. Their juxtaposition of deep-south blues, traditional English Folk all mixed together with a genre defying bravado is pushing all the right buttons. Katherine and Jessica, first got together at school in Sussex, before decamping to Vancouver and New Orleans. Since returning to the UK they have started to get public and critical recognition for their unique, ethereal and hypnotic music. Smoke Fairies simply play some of the most magical and beautiful music possible.

When we heard Exlovers last year we were hooked immediately with their loping lo-fi pop. For fans of a Pavement, Elliot Smith and The Smiths there is so much to fall in unrequited indie love with here… The hooks are subtle but with repeated listens these songs will be under your skin in no time. We have to confess that the indie snob part of us will be a little bit sad when these guys invariably go from being my little secret to chart- bothering indie types but their Belle and Sebastian-esque rise to awkward NME cover stars will be richly deserved. My Little Pony

Every now and again you see a band that kicks you full on in the balls, wrecks your head and leaves you a spent, sweaty mess. Israel’s Monotonix are one of THOSE bands. Their unhinged, uninhibited garage rock madness has been laying waste to audiences all over the world. Monotonix are unfashionable, uncool and totally unhinged. They are not big, they are possibly not clever but they are 100% total rock and roll! Check out Monotonix at your first opportunity and join the carnage.


If you like your indie-pop on the fey side of feel good (think Belle and Sebastian’s later work, The Concretes even a bit of Vampire Weekend) then your going to absolutely love My Little Pony deploying gently lulling folk-pop adorned with washes of piano, guitars, horns and the odd glock for good measure. Like the bands mass produced namesake, there’s something almost childlike and innocent about this little lot only enforced by the way they will hug your ipod the same way a child might cling to your leg come the first day of school. Joyously wonderful! Public Radio Simon Says No!
Question: what would happen if you put Refused and My Bloody Valentine in a blender? Answer – why Danish four-piece Simon Says No! of course! Having seen the band live earlier in the year we can confirm they are devastatingly loud – pummelling waves of guitars and bass taking a jackhammer to the songs and trying to force them through the floor – but underneath the abrasive exterior there’s a delicate sense of melody at play here recalling the more accessible moments of the Jesus and Mary Chain or Kevin Shields band of merry men. A force to be reckoned with then and on the evidence of the bands recently released self titled EP, one that should be delivering one of next year’s best alternative rock albums.

A literate group of indie kids Public Radio have pulled off a neat trick by blending subtle (but mighty effective) beats of Gibbard-esque electronica into slabs of hugely melodic radio friendly emo rock that ends up coming on like a cross between Tokyo Police Club and the Postal Service - which in our book is a bit of treat! They produce some truly monumental choruses– ones that some of the band’s more mainstream peers would kill to write themselves – which should be more than enough to help propel the band to the level of recognition they richly deserve. publicradiomusic

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The Heavy

The Gay Blades

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When a couple of year’s ago we heard that Ninja Tune were starting a rock label we were excited. New Counter records sampler STRIKE! showcasing some of the finest moments from the misfits, freaks and visionaries shaping the label’s sound, shows we were right in our excitement. STrike! is as varied and uncategorisable as the musicians making up the label’s roster. Drawn from Liverpool, the West Country, Wisconsin, Australia, Darlington and so on and living everywhere from Los Angeles to Baltimore to New York as well as London (and, erm, Darlington), the only thing they share in common is their attempts to re-write the rule book of what can be done with their chosen form of expression.
Counter family, Cougar are from Madison, Wisconsin. This is a band who can hit hard with muscular riffing and machine gun drumming or come over with sweeping emotion. What they never do is let their obvious musicianship get in the way of banging out a good tune. Existing in the space between post-rock and ambient electronica Cougar make some of the most exciting and inventive rock around right now.

The Gay Blades are not a violent gay-rights gang, but are a great rock band. Gay Blades play acerbic trash-pop, that predictably borrows from the rock pantheon whilst producing something unpredictable and filled to the brim with irony. Their debut album Ghosts was re-released back in June and deserves to be in your collection. No two tracks are the same and ‘O Shot’ might just be the most rousing rock tune of 2009 – it’s all looking good for the Gay Blades. Is this the sound of the next big thing or a sarcastic pastiche of rock history? We doubt Gay Blades care, and when the tunes sound this good, neither do we!


This Manchester lot are something a bit special effortlessly forging their sound from a massive array of genres (slow-core, post-rock, indie, folk, shoegaze, pop – you name it!). Counter are reissuing their amazing debut album People Like People Like You released on their own imprint, Everyone, in 2008 – which is a good thing as all of us who missed it the first time round can now add it to our collections. And we all should.

Ape School

The Death Set

The Heavy

We’ve been digging the voodoo soul vibes of The Heavy for a while now, and have been spinning incendiary new album The House That Dirt Built almost none stop. With a background in the joys of sampling and a foreground in scuzzy guitar, bass and beaten up drums, with schizo music tastes and a West Country pace The Heavy have built the modern sound of soul.

Counter’s avant-pop maverick produces trippy, sexual and sleazy glam rock with a psyche underbelly.

The Death Set

Michael Johnson is Ape School, and came to Counter’s attention with the vocal for “Make It So” on Daedelus’ ‘Love To Make Music To.’ Formerly a member of Holopaw (Sub Pop) as Ape School Johnson peddles dreamy, hazy psychedelia which has a warm but otherworldly atmosphere that owes much to the early innovators of electronic music (United States of America, Tangerine Dream). The seeming darkness of the lyrical themes is openly contradicted by perfect psyche-pop melodies.

The Smittens

Pop Levi

Part of the Wham City collective (Dan Deacon, Ponytail, Girl Talk etc), who live and put on parties in the warehouses of Baltimore – Death Set make smile-inducing electro-punk that screams P-A-R-T-Y! They are also one of the most fun bands you can ever see live.

John Matthias

Formerly of Super Numeri and Ladytron, Pop Levi has also worked as an ice cream van driver and hair model, before finding ‘home’ by living out a Kenneth Anger movie in LA.


One of the newest members to the

A violin prodigy, one of John’s many claims to fame is that he contributed string parts to Radiohead’s The Bends. He also works as a member of Nonclassical’s Cortical Songs and PRS award-winning The Fragmented Orchestra. For Counter, Matthias recorded a singer-songwriter album of genuine emotional weight, built around his rich, dry voice.

The Smittens ‘fuzzy-wuzzy DIY pop explosion’ brings a massive smile to our faces. Twee-tastic indie-pop built on tight vocal harmonies and insanely infectious pop hooks this is the perfect antidote to all the dark, brooding, miserablist indie floating around. The Smittens are the musical equivalent of a sunny disposition. Pardoning the pun, we are smitten by The Smittens. Dollymops
Lincoln 3-piece Dollymops create a melting-pot of experimental punk mayhem. Their infectious riffs, ferocious bass lines and high vibrato screams make up their merciless punk-rock racket. Dickiemop, Dannymop and Jacobmop have been turning heads at gigs up and down the country. Their recently released 5-track EP has been gaining critical plaudits and radioplay. If you like your music raucous and on the wrong side of unhinged Dollymops tick all the boxes.

You need this compilation! Get online and get tracks from all the acts on Counter on CD or MP3 for the bargain price of just £2.99. Search for STrike and make one of the best new music purchases you’ll make all year


In a word - brutal. Kambodsja play a head on collision between post rock and bone crushing post hardcore. Hailed as the “greatest hardcore band to come from Norway” by a fellow countryman, that remains to be seen but all the same new album Marionette You Are Mine is well worth a listen. Dials Mimas
This Danish five piece pirouette with ease through all manner of musical territory moving from post rock breakdowns to blessed out choruses with wild abandon – underpinned with some mesmerising musicianship and stunning melodies that is never once lost in the complexity of their sound. Their debut The Worries is a mind-blowing affair, slowly burrowing its way to the back of your brain – it is an absolute must hear and you should track down a copy immediately.

Formed by members of several defunct bands from the Shrewsbury area DIALS have been together just over a year and they have been making waves with debut EP Fix This Imbalance which hit the streets back in August. Rock Sound have been ‘particularly nice’ about it, which is understandable as it kicks some serious ass. Considering the short period of time they have been together the accomplished tunes they have turned out point to a lot of potential for the future. Dials music is a multi-layered rock beast taking in the expansive hardcore of At The Drive In, the stadium rock of Brand New and the post-rock noodlings of Minus the Bear. Describing their live performances as ‘30 minutes well spent’ their dynamicism on stage has seen them support the likes of Twin Atlantic, Fei Comodo, Failsafe, Amusement Parks on Fire and Will Francis of Aiden in the last few months. Currently working on new material for release in 2010 and touring relentlessly. Dials look set to deliver on their early promise – check them out!

Crocodiles Sharks Took The Rest

Coming on like a cross between Joanna Newsom fronting an unplugged Cocteau Twins, the band have just two have but two songs on their myspace right now but both are worthy of your immediate attention. We are in love with the track ‘Isobel’ and it has been on constant rotation, the gossamer whisper and sighing piano drag us in every time. At present completely unsigned (although surely not for long) these guys could be your new favourite band within five minutes.

You could use any number of words to describe Crocodiles sound: “Visceral”, “throbbing”, “nihilistic”, “sexy”, “raw”, “unashamed” … but to do so would almost be contradicting the their very essence; to dissect these songs at anything other than face value is almost antithesis to the very being of what is essentially just an achingly cool no bullshit rock n roll band. Crocodiles distil equal parts of the Jesus and Mary Chain feedback laden maginificence and the spacey swagger of Spaceman 3. Shrouding their hooks in swathes of feedback and stuttering guitars but with a melody is always close at hand – elevating them above their krautrock tinged peers and into genuine classic rock n roll territory.

killkillkillcrocodiles. Blakfish Bobby Long

Last year’s brutally heavy EP See You In Another City set out Blakfish’s stall as purveyors of some of the finest ‘Screamo’ to come from these shores (let alone Birmingham!!) in a long time. Flailing like an electric eel with ADHD, these mercurial songs pack a sonic punch rivalled by few as bone shaking riffs, scream and response verses and some absolutely thunderous drumming all collide to provide one of the most thrilling tunes to arrive in the metal genre for some time.

Bobby Long is a shaggy haired troubadour dealing in the kind of folk–come-blues that made Dylan such a big player. After streaking up the iTunes chart with single ‘Being a Mockingbird’, Long is just back from a two month tour in the States and it certainly won’t be long before he starts filling some much bigger venues than the ones currently being graced with his presence. For anyone that considers themselves a fan of ‘singer/songwriters’ these battered and bruised little songs, of love, of life and of loss should throw up a celebratory warning flare that all is not lost – that somewhere in the barren wilderness of the electro wasteland that is British music in 2009 a true talent still lives.

Fancy getting your mitts on 27 choice cuts of some of the best music covered on these pages? Of course you do! Because we like to share we have teamed up a load of awesome bands and labels to offer you (yes, you!) the first instalment of Incoming Transmittions. Don’t take our word for it check out these amazing tunes for yourself! Follow the link below for tracks by the likes of Mat Riviere, Crocodiles, Smoke Fairies, funFUN, Cougar, Spokes, Solvor Vermeer, Blakfish, Dials and loads more - all for our favourite price...FREE!