Fishboy at Big Takeover

Ambitious Denton, TX indie rockers, Fishboy, return with yet another narrative concept album.

Coinciding with a 160 page 5.5×5.5 comic, An Elephant centers on the apocryphal story of Topsy the elephant, who was supposedly electrocuted in a public execution by Thomas Edison in 1903, though historical sources refute the claim that the inventor had anything to do with it. Regardless, in Fishboy’s version told from the elephant’s perspective, Topsy returns as an angry ghost that haunts Edison after the electrocution, forcing him to face the consequences of his actions. Smart, snappy power pop-inflected songs become angry diatribes against an unforgivable injustice, like The Kinks filtered through the lo-fi immediacy of Crayon. It’s an emotional work of art that is an introspective as it is angry.

Whether or not Thomas Edison actually had anything to do with it, Topsy’s murder remains a scourge on humanity’s collective conscience. Yes, she killed three people, but most likely wouldn’t have if she hadn’t been so horrendously abused by her captors. Thanks to Fishboy for reminding us what shits we can be.

It’s not pleasant, but you view a film of the electrocution, which took place in Coney Island’s Luna Park, here. Again, the accompanying historical information is suspect, though the brutality clearly is not.

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Sleaford Mods at Austin Town Hall

If you didn’t get your hands on last year’s Divide and Exit LP from the Sleaford Mods, then perhaps you missed the boat.  The UK act was all over year end lists, and I’ve got a certain fondness for the duo.  Musically, they’re definitely in the vein of punk rock: brutal all the way.  But, what’s more punk to me are the vocals from Jason.  It’s semi-spoken word, semi-rap, yet there’s no subject matter that’s off limits, including relegation rovers, QPR.  They’ve got a 7″ featuring one of the catchy tracks off that LP, but it’ll have an exclusive B-Side, which we also have below.  Emotional Response is responsible for the single, so get it while it’s hot! Here’s “A Little Ditty” and “I’m Shit at It.”

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Fireworks at Vinyl District

The Fireworks’ primary sonic objective is drenching catchy guitar pop in feedback and fuzz as they add gal-guy vocals and unleash the ingredients through a trim energetic attack. Featuring 13 hard-hitting songs and a handful of twists, Switch Me On is the London and Brighton UK-based four-piece’s first LP. It’s out this week on blood red vinyl exclusive to Rough Trade shops and on white wax via Shelflife Records.

The Fireworks boast a diverse if complementary background. To begin, vocalist, tambourine rattler and guitarist Emma Hall was/is a member of Pocketbooks, a group that amongst other achievements headlined the inaugural indietracks festival back in 2007. Held at the Midland Railway Centre in Derbyshire, indietracks has grown from a one-day event into a huge annual affair spanning a cluster of calendar dates.

Similarly, the club parties/DJ nights Hall’s singing partner and guitarist Matthew Rimell organized under the telling name Big Pink Cake unsurprisingly blossomed into a record label. To my knowledge The Fireworks’ bassist Isabel Albiol doesn’t set up fests or club-nights, but as a visual artist of note her intriguing work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions. And that leaves drummer and additional guitarist Shaun Charman, formerly of The Wedding Present and a member of The Popguns.

In 2012 The Popguns recommenced activity and were one of the acts shaping up indietracks’ ’14 shebang; their participation in a roster 59-deep reinforces the tight-knit and thriving nature of the indie pop scene. Likewise, tilting an ear toward The Fireworks’ debut, a self-titled 4-song EP issued by Shelflife in ’13, underscores how said community is largely less concerned with attempts at wheel reinvention and more interested in subtle variations upon memorable rides down well-traversed routes.

The bands excelling in these endeavors at recalibration are predominantly those holding either legitimate ties to or a sincere interest in the genre’s prior accomplishments, and as detailed above The Fireworks’ possess both. Strengthening those bona fides is “Getting Nowhere Fast,” a spiffy cover of a tune originally by Girls At Our Best!

Amid numerous locales, the source material can be found on the undersung Leeds outfit’s first single from 1980, and The Fireworks’ faithful rendering is easily heard on YouTube, though it was released last year in physical form by the freakScene label on a very attractive and fully-playable flexi-disc postcard. Alongside “The Fireworks” and “Runaround” EPs, “Getting Nowhere Fast” completes the group’s pre-2015 output.

Also from ’13, the second 3-song EP delivers a slim preview of Switch Me On, the new album smartly reshuffling two selections and placing them up front for an immediate kick. “With My Heart” conveys pounding distorted brevity; Buzzcocky as per their stated list of comparisons and therefore aptly assessed as fairly if not deliberately Ramonsian, the instrumental motion contrasts nicely with the unstrained assurance of Hall’s vocals.

Click through for the rest of the review!

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Fireworks at AllMusic

Noise pop combo the Fireworks have an impressive pedigree, sporting vocals from Emma Hall ofPocketbooks, guitar and vocals by Big Pink Cake’s Matthew Rimell, and drums by Shaun Charman ofthe Wedding Present and Popguns. They take inspiration from the long line of great noise pop bands the U.K. has churned out over the years, from Buzzcocks to Shop Assistants to the Charlottes and up to the present day with bands like Strawberry Whiplash. The quartet’s debut album, Switch Me On, is a tightly wound, energetic blast of fuzzy guitars, thumping bass, and smartly stuck drums, topped with Hall‘s candy-sweet-on-the-outside, tough-as-wire-on-the inside vocals. Rimell chimes in the occasional vocal for some balance, and when their sound starts firing on all cylinders, the band come very close to the high level of quality of their hero’s finest work. At the Fireworks‘ best, like on the rampaging tracks “Runaround” and “On and On,” the group wed the energy of punk with the sharp hooks of indie pop with skill gained from years of practice in other bands. Most of the album sticks close to this Shangri-Las-backed-by-the Ramones template, with slight variations from song to song. They show that they have skills that stretch beyond these simple charms on the few songs that bring down the noise level and cut the tempo, like the jangling ballad “Let You Know” and the slowly strummed “In the Morning.” It adds a nice dimension to the album, but really, the core competencies the band exhibit on the cranked-up rockers are so impressive, they don’t need it. Speaking of needing though, if you like your pop loud and tight with hooks that will cut through you like a rock through a window, the Fireworks are a band you need to check out and Switch Me On is a strong introduction to their brand-new retro sound.

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Hobbes Fanclub at Performer Magazine

Click through for the full issue. They’re on page 8!

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Fireworks at When You Motor Away

Switch Me On is the first LP from London/Brighton band The Fireworks, but it has the feel of a mid career album or even a retrospective of past singles.  Perhaps one explanation is that while the band is relatively new the members are veterans of bands such as Big Pink Cake, The Pocketbooks, Popguns and The Wedding Present.  The result is a debut from a band that has their sound completely dialed in. And what sound it is!  Imagine if the Buzzcocks had merged with The Shop Assistants, although if you are searching for a more modern parallel consider the chainsaw pop of San Francisco’s Terry Malts.  Thick, fuzzy, feedback-laden guitars with pop hooks and female (and occasionally male) vocals soaring over the sweet storm.  I have chosen four of the songs to illustrate the album, but just about any one of the 13 would work.  If you only have time for one, spin “Runaround”, but you will be cheating yourself.

Some bands decide to overpower you with punk energy, some with C86 sweetness, some with soaring, gut-thumping power pop.  The Fireworks seem to have considered the options and then said “yes, all of them, only louder”.

Switch Me On is available now from Shelflife Records on vinyl, CD, and digital.

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Mind Brains at Stereo Embers

Apparently being the driving force behind avant post-punkers The New Sound of Numbers isn’t quite enough for Hannah Jones, as she’s recently joined forces with Kris Deason (Dreamboat), Eric Harris (Olivia Tremor Control) and fellow NSON’er Emily Waldron – oh, let’s just call them all Elephant 6 alumni, shall we? – to form the marvelously off-kilter Mind Brains, and SEM is thrilled to offer an exclusive look at their newest video.

Sounding like no less than the Residents at an afternoon tea party where Syd Barrett turns out to be the Mad Hatter (just as we always suspected), which in turn naturally precipitates a visual treatment that’s something akin to a Yoko Ono hostage video, Mind Brains’ delirious “Strange Remember” is just the most recent piece of beguilement from down Athens way. We used to wonder ‘What the hell is it about that place?‘ but frankly we’ve just given up asking. So long as it keeps on coming, whether it be in the form of pop trompe l’œil like this or the regional take on classic melodicism with which the place made it’s name, we’ll be happy. In fact, we’ll be deliriously so. Check it out.

[Mind Brains’ self-titled review is available from Orange Twin here]

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American Culture at Mad Mackerel

Anthemic and noisy.

Pop racket.

American Culture live out in the desert near four corners (where Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico meet.) There are no other bands there. No other references. They really like Guided By Voices, Jesusand Mary Chain and Dinosaur Jr. And also powerpop bands like The Soft Boys, The Shoes and The Records.

They don’t really want the world to know who they are personally. Just as a band. Just the music.

Check out Actual Alien from their debut ten track album Pure American Gum.

Click through for a track stream.

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Sleaford Mods at Broadway World Music

Click through for the announcement.

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Sleaford Mods at Louder Than War

These guys don’t mess around when it comes to releasing new material. 2014 was a stupendously prolific year for the duo and true to form they’ve shot off the starting blocks again this year with a new two track 7″ single, limited to 2000 copies (it was originally 1000 but they all sold out so they bumped it to 1500, but they all sold out, so they… you get the picture!) which can be streamed in full below.

Here’s the full Sleaford Mods output from 2014 according to Wikipedia (which, as we know, is never wrong) …

  • Divide and Exit (2014, Harbinger Sound)
  • Tiswas EP (2014, Invada)
  • Chubbed Up – The Singles Collection, digital (2014, self-release)
  • Retweeted – 2006-2012, 2xLP (2014, Salon Alter Hammer)
  • Chubbed Up +, CD (2014, Ipecac) [with additional tracks]

Not bad eh? And now we’ve got our first 2015 release from the band. Granted only one of these tracks on this single is new, but that’s still cause for celebration right? Especially when you listen to the song, titled I’m Shit At It, featuringadditional vocalist John Paul. Utterly scathing and utterly brilliant. It’s backed with A Little Ditty, taken, of course, from “Divide And Exit” LP.

Hit up your local independent record shop if you want a copy – but be quick!

Anyway, you ain’t here to read my crap. Listen to I’m Shit At It right here and right now:

Click through for the stream!

 

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