News updates for Witching Waves

Witching Waves at Pop Occulture

Witching Waves “The Threat”

New video from Happy Happy Birthday to Me’s Wtiching Waves. The video itself is a macabre nightmare, full of references to classic silent horror movies. The band comes off as a bouncy crunchy post-punk outfit with hooky 70’s death rock tinged choruses. Definitely worth a listen.

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Witching Waves at Artrocker

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Witching Waves at Raised by Gypsies

I first heard Witching Waves because of a split cassette they did with As Ondas.   I remember this split cassette because not only did I really enjoy it but because someone randomly sent me a message on SoundCloud asking to buy it from me.  If I recall, the potential buyer didn’t live in the same country as me and only wanted to pay $20 shipped, so you know, I had to decline the offer by not responding.   For the record though, messaging me through SoundCloud is probably not the best way to try and buy a cassette I review.   The same can be said for leaving comments on reviews of cassettes.   But, of course, all of that implies that there *is* a good way to try and buy cassettes which I’ve reviewed and, well, for the most part I am not selling.   If a really good offer came along I’d be open to listening but $20 for a cassette when probably $15 of it is going to go to shipping… Yeah, get real.

If you were not lucky enough to fall in love with Witching Waves back when they did that split covers cassette then here is your chance to fall in love with them all over again.    With powerful guitars, Witching Waves can remind me of some wonderful combination of Metric and Dancehall Crashers, two of my all-time favorites.    Thoughts of my also recently reviewed cassette for Hearts & Tigers come to mind (They should totally tour together) and this is just intense.     There is a slower, classic instrumental interlude of notes and then it also can remind me of The Thermals with killer guitar riffs which bring out parts of secret spy theme songs and words such as “I don’t miss it”.

One thing that does happen during this cassette which I feel needs more attention is the countdown of “3-2-1 and back to Square One!”    Growing up, I was always watching PBS because of “Sesame Street” and what not, but there was also this show called “Square One” which made learning about math fun.  They even had another show within the show called “Mathnet”, which was like “Dragnet” but they used math to solve all of their cases.   The thing is, when I heard this line I thought about the show and looked it up but couldn’t find it on DVD.   Why would an educational show not have a DVD release?  Why would they want to deprive future generations of math knowledge?

It also brings me back to thinking of the connection between math and music.   Many musicians are excellent at math because a lot of music is math.  (Keeping the rhythm, reading sheet music, I mean, so much of it has to do with math)   I remember a specific segment from “Square One” about a song where we would “estimate with Kid N Play”.   Kid N Play were actually popular at the time because of the “House Party” movies and I even had a cassingle for “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody”.   So that really hit home with me and always made me remember what it is to estimate.    Should there be a similar show out there right now?   Should I be creating YouTube videos with musicians about math?  Is that my purpose here?  Or should “Square One” just get a proper DVD release?

Listening to “Crystal Cafe” might not help you with your math skills but it will help you with your rocking out skills.    I certainly feel that a split cassette is a good introduction to a new artist and having that split full of covers is even better because you can hear someone apply their talent to the song of someone else (I mean, it takes a certain amount of pizzazz to pull off “Satisfaction” without feeling like another drunken night at karaoke)  That feels like the taste in a lot of ways though, such as the fact of whether or not you could enjoy more songs in the same realm but as originals.    Witching Waves, as this is their first full length I have heard, have proven that they don’t just have talent when it comes to covering songs but when writing their own as well.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard an artist on a split covers cassette first and then their full length cassette next.   Obviously, As Ondas would be someone who could fall into this category now as well, but I also know that if any other band has gone down this path with me they certainly haven’t had their cassette propositioned on SoundCloud.    While this might be a unique story for me, perhaps it is not so much for you.   Perhaps you just put this one on to rock.   But that’s okay.   “Crystal Cafe” does certainly rock and you don’t really need a huge backstory or reason as to why you just need to pop it in, press play and turn it up loud.

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Witching Waves at AllMusic

Witching Waves‘ first album, 2014’s Fear of Falling Down, was built around sprightly, noisy indie pop like that which the Vaselines used to play in the late ’80s. It was a good sound for the London trio, showing off their bouncy male/female vocals and youthful enthusiasm. A couple years later and they sound all grown up and tougher. Their second record, Crystal Cafe, is a heavy, pounding beast of a record. Emma Wigham sounds like she’s hitting her drums and cymbals with every last ounce of power in her body, Mark Jasper‘s guitars slice and tear at the air like angry animals, and the duo’s vocals have a nasty bite that wasn’t on the surface before. This kind of raging indie rock is also a good look for them. Listening to the album from beginning to end is like being pummeled by a very persistent street fighter; each song is like a blow to the head or a sock in the gut. The pain is tempered by very hooky choruses and the occasional track that lays off just enough so some oxygen can return to the lungs; a few even sound like twisted pop songs instead of songs that are trying to twist the listener’s head off. “Make It Up” has an almost polite beat and a singsong vocal part that’s hard to resist, and the album-ending “Flowers” dials the aggression way back in favor of an ominous hum that threatens violence but never delivers anything except a nice moody pop song. Despite these diversions — and a couple of short, arty instrumentals — the album thrives on the loud-to-the-point-of-feedback guitars, their burning energy, and the brute strength of the songs and sound. It’s been done before by loads of bands, butWitching Waves make a noise that feels fresh and not like a boring retread. Whatever made them mad and inspired them to crank up the guitars and passion, hopefully they bottled it for use on the next couple albums as well.

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Witching Waves at Innocent Words

The winners want us to believe the world is beautiful, but Witching Waves has seen the world and knows this is a lie—that everything is lost and nothing is to be trusted. We (HHBTM Records) saw them open for Eureka California in the UK in late 2014 and couldn’t get the songs out of our head so we’ve jumped on the second album.

Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper, and Ed Shellard are Witching Waves, and they sound like exiles in their own country. And like all exiles, they know the only safety is in numbers, and the only comfort is in friends. Witching Waves come from a world of DIY and co-operation. Mark Jasper works at Sound Savers recording studio, a love of labor turned into a labor of love in one of the rapidly vanishing not-so-nice parts of London.

Every window is filled with witnesses. We watch the world go by, each of us observing and observed. You can hear them switching instruments, trying out roles.

Watching the world fall apart all around them, Witching Waves knows that being right is pointless—the television tells a hundred lies in the time it takes you to speak a single truth, and for every book you read, your neighbor reads none—but the only alternative is to participate in the slow silent psychic death that is mainstream 21st century life.

When ‘Seeing Double’ breaks down towards the end and Jasper starts screaming: See them on the street you ask them why / See them in the car you ask them why / See them on the stairs you say to them / What are you doing here why won’t you leave me alone? You know he’s not going to get any answers, but he isn’t there for answers he’s there for the screaming.

Because this music is rooted in UK DIY and the only alternative to the clean smiles of 21st century surface life is dirty frowns, you might hear the fuzz, the flattened shouts, and think you’ve heard it before, but then you notice the guitars at the end of ‘Red Light,’ how they swell & buzz like an attack of locusts, and the oceanic rise & fall of album closer ‘Flowers’ and you realize that in their endless explorations of black & white, WW has created a universe of infinite textures and shade.

Drowned In Sound calls WW’s sound ‘the satisfying juxtaposition of pop sensibility and tumult,’ but we like their sound because it leaves us pissed off, and unsatisfied—not with their music but with the world.

Witching Waves are locked in a london basement and hyperventilating, with nothing to keep them warm except their anger and their love. Listen close enough and you can hear the mildew grow. Listen even closer and you can hear it start to speak. It sounds a lot like you.

 

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Witching Waves at Bloodbuzzed

Hailing from London, UK, the band is the creation of vocalist/drummer Emma Wigham (Weird Menace) and vocalist/guitarist Mark Jasper (Sound Savers Recording Studio), who joined forces in April 2013 with a first tape arriving at the end of that same year by Supplex Cassettes. Two more tapes followed, a split covers tape with band As Ondas in 2014, and the ‘Concrete‘ single tape that September, which anticipated the release of their first LP, ‘Fear of Falling Down‘, out in December, as well as the signature with the always recommendable Soft Power Records, and the addition of Ed Shellard at the bass expanding the band to a trio. A couple of limited cassettes, including another split, now with Rattle, whom with they toured, has now preceded the arrival of sophomore album ‘Crystal Cafe‘, out just now on Soft Power and our dear friends HHBTM Records. You should check it immediately, because their music is a sonic blast. Early Cure, Wire, Sonic Youth, Buzzcocks,Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pylon… you name it. Waves of noise, echoes of punk, a relentless urgency, a threatening edge, a fearless attitude, a mystery hiding in fuzz. An early MUST of 2016.

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Witching Waves at Narc

Barely a year after their excellent debut Fear Of Falling Down, it’s a pleasant surprise to see Witching Waves back already.

Like so many of the best second albums, Crystal Café takes what made its predecessor great, making it even more vivid and more vital. It’s noticeably louder than the debut, but that’s not all there is to it.

From the jittery buzzsaw riffs to the desperate urgency of the vocals, it’s packed with nervous energy and the songs feel somehow fuller and more three dimensional. Seeing Double, for example, is near perfect; a glorious collision of a classic pop song and heady noise.

Crystal Café is a wonderful record and all the more enviable for how effortless it seems.

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Witching Waves at Eardrums Music

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Witching Waves at Still Weird

Imagine a cross between The Cure circa Seventeen Seconds and the more melodic side of The Pixies, and you’ll have something close to the sound of London trio Witching Waves who are releasing their second album Crystal Cafe later this month.

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Witching Waves at Overblown

Armed with their sophomore album released via Soft Power Records over the weekend, Witching Waves delve into the creation and execution of Crystal Cafe. Their tone is serious, technical and deeply reflexive of the much more calculated and polished sound that is their second record. Additionally, we are respectfully allowed a peek into the process of a group which maintains total control over everything from the creative aspects of song-craft to the actual recording and mixing process.

Overblown: Hello and thank you for chatting with us here at Overblown about the release of your sophomore album! What can you tell us about the possible difference of process when writing and recording a second album? How did your group maintain fresh interest in recording while exploring new territory for your sound?

Emma: Hello! With the first album, we put almost all of the songs we had finished up to that point on the record and that made sense at the time. We were really happy just to be making an album and it acted as a sort of document of where we were at that point in time. With this second album, we took a different approach. This time we were writing and choosing songs with the album in mind. We wanted it to be a cohesive collection of songs with similar themes running throughout. In terms of recording, we just felt a bit more confident and that meant we were up for experimenting a little bit more, particularly with the dynamics. It was still very much a learning process but it felt like we were a step further. I am definitely not an old-hand at this, so I feel like I’m always exploring new territory and that can be really difficult and frustrating, but I think it’s also really important in order to keep moving forward.

Mark: Fresh interest shouldn’t really have to be maintained. I think if you have no interest you should really evaluate why you are doing it. It felt great when we started this album because we were really excited by what we could do. The first album was just sort of testing the water, and we made a lot of mistakes, as people do. Really with the first, we were just trying to make an album, then with the second one, we were really excited about trying out all the things that we realised were possible. I really like Fear Of Falling Down, but I do think that it is kind of a one-dimensional record. On this one we really wanted to try all the things that we kind of ignored the first time around.

OB: In your bio, it is stated that this album was primarily self-recorded and mixed by member Mark Jasper. What sort of edge do you think this provides your music? What influenced your decision to self-record and what sort of elements, advantages, or disadvantages do you think this choice created in your work?

Mark: I’m not sure it does provide us with an edge but it does make Witching Waves what it is. All of our music has pretty much been recorded by me at Sound Savers, and without that freedom, and that flexibility I really doubt we would have done so much stuff. Just from a financial perspective, it would be really expensive for a band to record as much as we do, or to spend as much time on it. Some of the songs on this album were recorded three times, some of them have like ten guitar tracks. We work for ages on vocals, we like to make sure they’re right. I am a full time recording engineer, so all of my time is spent recording or mixing, and as I do it more, I learn a lot, and I really think that feeds back in to the band.

Emma: Yeah, I’d agree with that. It’s been pretty key to our identity up to this point, although it might not be an edge as such. Aside from the practical and financial reasons, we like the fact that we are in control of the recording process. The main disadvantage is that there is no-one there who can have a bit of distance and perspective on things. We end up going through so many mixes of the songs and it can be hard to make the decision to draw a line and stop. It would be interesting to see how things would differ if we recorded with someone else, maybe in the future that could be an option.

OB: What is your approach to songwriting and practice as a group? How does this approach influence your song choice inclusion for “Crystal Cafe”?

Mark: We practice every Monday evening, and then Emma and I will do an extra one in between. I know this seems like a lot to most bands but we have to do it! With songs, we normally just start playing, we work everything up from the very beginning in the practice room, and even the vocals are finished there. Emma often works on lyrics with a tiny note pad on the bass drum. It’s nice to have a sort of spontaneity to the writing. Also, I think at home you think things will work, and then they sound weird in the room. The song inclusion was actually really easy, we sort of knew what was going to go on the record. There was one cut from the final running order towards the end, but I think we all knew it wasn’t going to make it! We throw a lot of songs away! It’s for the best really, I’m glad people haven’t heard all of them.

Emma: I really like writing collaboratively and in the practice room. And I like being able to base decisions on how the sound comes together (or doesn’t) when we’re together in the room, rather than at home which sounds totally different. We’ll record things on our phones at practice and then check to see if it still works once we’re back at home and have had some distance from it. With the lyrics, I might have an idea, usually something I’ve been thinking about or something I’ve read or seen, and I’ll start with just a phrase and work outwards from there, adding to it as we work on the song.

I feel like the songs for ‘Crystal Café’ all came together under a similar set of conditions, like in a science experiment.

OB: For my own ears, “Crystal Cafe” seems to certainly display a great deal of growth and cohesion of style for your group, was this a conscious effort, or more so an organic result of time and practice?

Mark: Thanks! I like to think it was both. We definitely wanted to try out new things but I was also aware that I didn’t want to just unnaturally change direction, as that would seem really contrived. There were definitely a couple of points where I really thought the record wasn’t very good, but that’s normal. There are definitely new things on the record that point towards things we are exploring now with the new stuff we’re writing, which is the most exciting thing to me, that we can look back and check how we’re doing going in to the future.

Emma: I think it was an organic result from time and practice but I think we wanted that too. We wanted it to evolve in some way and not just to stay the same. When we started the band I had only just started playing drums, so I think as I gradually get better that changes the way we sound.

OB: Often, groups find it very difficult to choose a suitable single release to promote their album release, why and how did you chose “Twister” as your single?

Emma: No particular reason other than it just seemed to make sense! It’s the first song on the album and it’s often the first song in the set. I feel like it’s an introduction, like “hello, this is us”!

Mark: I don’t know if we’ve picked it as a single! It’s just the first song! That made sense because it was just the first song that we wrote, the first song on the record, and whenever we play live, it’s the first song in the set. It is one of the few songs we’ve written with a sort of consistent energy, but some nice dynamic interchanges, it’s also unusual to have a song where only one of us sings. Emma is singing a lot more now, so yeah I think the song sort of sums up the record, in a way.

OB: One of my favorite aspects of your songcraft is the tension created by your ominous (and at times brooding) guitar and pedal work when paired with Wigham’s distinctly gentle (and infallibly strong) vocal work. Are her capabilities specifically taken into account when constructing the melodies?

Mark: I guess it’s best to ask Emma that… All I know is I have always kind of made drones, and played brooding minor progressions. I think Emma makes all of that stuff a bit easier to listen to! I definitely respond to the vocals first, I try and get Emma to sing early on in practice when we’re writing, otherwise I feel the song has no direction. I listen to her vocals for cues to change chord progressions or to do something different.

Emma: Usually, the guitar and the vocals come together at more-or-less the same time so they sort of feed off of each other. I almost feel like one wouldn’t exist without the other.

OB: Ok, I have to ask you this- what influenced your titling of this album? Is it a cafe made of crystals or a cafe for crystals to eat in?

Mark: Crystal Café is a café near the studio where we will often meet for lunch, it’s a nice place. We wanted the album to have sort of local references as the album is definitely about living and working in London. Crystal Café reflects that, a sort of ordinary place, but the crystal has a little bit of dreaming to it.

Emma: I remember going to Crystal Café quite a few times during the recording of the album. Both this album and our first album feel so heavily influenced by our surroundings. It feels like a sort of landmark.

OB: What can we expect to see from Witching Waves this year, any tours or other projects planned?

Mark: I think we’re definitely going to do some touring in the summer. There was a lot going on towards the end of last year, we did a tour with our friend’s Rattle and so many gigs, so this year we wanted to just write and play a few things. It’s been nice, but I’m ready now to record another LP, and go on tour again. We’re doing a single for a label in Melbourne, I think we should be recording that next week.

Emma: We’ve been having an unusually quiet time for WW lately and it’s been nice to have a bit of a rest but I’m looking forward to lots more gigs, tour and recording later this year!

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