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Witching Waves at Ghettoblaster

Witching Waves is a trio from London, and they consists of two things I love in a band: the main vocalist is their drummer and their drummer is a female.  This is a heavy and dissonant album, with only the occasional short instrumental passage to break the pounding momentum built throughout.  Crystal Cafe is equal parts catchy and difficult, which is just the way I like it.


Witching Waves at For the Rabbits

Witching Waves are the noise-pop trio of drummer Emma Wigham, guitarist Mark Jasper and bass player Ed Shellard. Emma and Mark share vocal duties, whilst Mark also handled production on their upcoming record.

On the most basic level Witching Waves are a classically DIY noisy trio, persistent hypnotic drum beats, rumbling bass lines and angular, sludgy guitar riffs that just beg to be turned up a bit too loud for your own good. There’s a touch of Ikara Colt or Sauna Youth art-pop, plenty of the more tuneful end of hardcore mined by Fugazi or At The Drive In, and enough Sonic Youth feedback-drenched, noisy thrills for anyone’s taste.

Witching Waves are based out of London. The first major settlement in London can be traced back to the Roman’s in 43AD, although it’s only estimated to have lasted for eighteen years until it was stormed by Queen Boudica and her Iceni tribe, who burnt it to the ground. A second incarnation was more successful and around forty years later London became the capital of Roman Britain. London has an estimated 72 billionaires, more than any other city in the world, although with 27% of people in the city living in poverty, perhaps somebody should look at that! Famous London musicians include some bloke called David Bowie, a small unknown band called The Kinks, and international superstar hitmaker Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong.

Witching Waves first release came with the aptly named First Tape which appeared at the end of 2013. Following further cassette only releases, their debut album, Fear Of Falling Down, was then released via Soft Power Records at the back end of 2014. The bands second album, Crystal Cafe, is out this week with Soft Power again taking the UK release, and the excellent Happy Happy Birthday To Me releasing it in the US.

The sheer energy of this record brings back memories of sweaty clubs in the early noughties; of sticky dance floors, of singers who scream in your face, of drummers who hit the snare drum as it’s their worst enemies face, of guitarists who just want to make as much racket as they possibly can, and never stop making it. These are songs that slap you round the face with a scuzz-laden guitar-riff, a yelped vocal harmony and a bone-shaking bass line and they don’t let up until you’re broken and crying into your £5 pint of Carlsberg because your ears hurt and you’re not sure if you can remember where you live anymore.

What’s even better that is after that initial thrill has worn off there’s actually some depth here, it’s not just sweet, beautiful endless noise, it’s actual music, and music with some thought and message behind it. Twister might just sound like a menacing wall of distortion and snare-drums but it’s actually about gentrification, town planning and urban sprawl. The Threat is the bands view on the changing nature of their residence in Hackney; watching new tower blocks go up as the struggling long term residents are, “fighting against this endless threat every day.” If it’s sounding like they’re only interested in urban development, they also do a neat line in self-deprecation, see Receiver, a track about the danger and vanity of wanting to ingest culture for culture’s sake and treating art as a tick box exercise.

As well as the lyrical depth Crystal Cafe is also a record that does dabble into musical progress. It’s a record that was clearly created with a slight fear of repeating old tricks, and the band have worked hard to ensure that this record is a step-up from their debut. It’s a more cohesive record, sounding less like an assortment of songs and more like a singular entity. The production too, whilst not wanting to dampen their natural ramshackle tendency is subtly playful, some tracks a stripped back, with minimal guitar over-dubbing and fairly dry vocal production, whilst elsewhere there’s layer upon layer of distorted noise, double tracked vocals, tape effects; it’s clear effort has gone in to make the most of each song and to find each track’s own ideal sonic pallet. Probably the biggest, and best departure is in closing track Flowers, the intensity elsewhere is slightly ramped down, and courtesy of a rumbling bass line and constant solid snare hit the whole thing is subtly danceable with slight nods to the early works of Liars, that the band themselves describe it as not really sounding like a Witching Waves song is a sign of their ability to adapt, and perhaps points at even better things to come in the future.

Why Not?
There’s perhaps a couple too many instrumental breaks, and sometimes it feels like it’s a record striving a little too hard to achieve something beyond just being a really enjoyable power-pop record. That said, the ambition will serve them well on future recordings, and the occasional self-indulgent aside doesn’t dampen the joy of the noisy thrills elsewhere.



Witching Waves at Four Culture

When I learn of a band influenced by Sonic Youth and The Cure, then as a fan of those bands I am going to be intrigued.  When I think more about this I begin to wonder which era of each of these bands will have had most influence on London trio Witching Waves.  Both have vast back catalogues so will they be inspired by my favourite incarnation of these groups, or the most commercial, or the most experimental?

As we all know, a music writer who ‘thinks’ is quite dangerous.  It’s the music that should influence thinking and therefore the writing, and I was delighted that within the first few songs on their new album, Crystal Cafe I could hear the wild, unorthodox guitars of Teenage Daydream-era Sonic Youth on top of that darker, post-punk, Cure-like bass.

There’s a freshness in the songs with the alternating of male/female vocal duties. While they wear their main influences on their sleeve throughout, there is more to the songs than just this type of sound…

“Seeing double” is unpredictable, and though it recalls (Sonic Youth’s) “Tony’s Trip”, it also spirals into a grungey, almost Phil Spector-like chorus.

“Pitiless” has that 80s phased guitar sound, but it grows into a song with elements of shoegaze and that Breeders style pop-vocal-with-attitude.

Each song has many fragments, which are often flawed but always interesting, from the discord at the tail end of “Make it Up” to the drowning sea of drama in instrumental “Storm”.

Witching Waves create a nice mess… A noise that is unsettling yet simple, mixing mania with mainstream.


Witching Waves at When You Motor Away

For Crystal Cafe, the second outing from London’s Witching Waves, the trio changes skins from noise pop fuzzy to rocker leather.  There still is plenty of melody, but with a more straightforward and aggressive sound.  If your ears get the impression that the Shop Assistants are channeling Sonic Youth, you have good ears.  You probably also have happy ears.

Every note sounds like it is played with intent and confidence, an 11 track exploration of timeless rock expressions.  Thus you have the in-your-face assault of “Twister”, “Pitiless” and the magnificent “Red Light”, the saucy garage rock “Make It Up”, punk rock such as “The Threat”, the fuzzy “Receiver”, and the menacing mid-tempo closer “Flowers”.  And for a change of pace there are the ambient instrumental interludes “Red Light Loop”, “Anemone” and “Inoa”.  Showcasing the group’s power and breadth, Crystal Cafe should earn Witching Waves new fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

Witching Waves are Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper and Ed Shellard.  Crystal Cafe is released in the United States by HHBTM Records.  In the UK, Soft Power Records (Scotland) is offering limited edition vinyl with a digital download included.


Witching Waves at Here Comes the Flood

Ready for some angry, catchy DIY rock? London based trio Witching Waves go for howling feedback, tons of fuzz and leakage, topped off with wavering vocals on their second full-length Crystal Cafe. Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper and Ed Shellar have found a way to get even with the world by not so much as playing but attacking their instruments. This a band that won’t back down – when they stumble upon a riff they keep it going for the whole song. Think post-punk with hints of the Pixies, Deerhoof and the Replacements.

Crystal Cafe is the perfect soundtrack for a trip through the back alleys and decaying of the Greater London area where people are trying to cope with a corporate world that doesn’t give a fuck about their plight.

Recorded at Mark Jaspers Sound Savers studio Witching Waves have unleashed an album that should be played honoring Ritchie Blackmore’s quip about wanting to have “ëverything louder than everything else”. A rough diamond that never should be cut an polished.


Witching Waves at KEXP

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Witching Waves at Expressway To Yr Skull

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Witching Waves at Atlas & The Anchor

(The London post-punk trio – Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper, and Ed Shellard – released their sophomore album, Crystal Café today via Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.  On it they whip up a furious blend of noisy, fuzzed out guitar tones and frenzied rhythms with catchy dream-pop appeal.  Check out the tone-setting opening track and standout single here with its twisty early Sleater-Kinney-like riffs and riotous melodies.)


Witching Waves at Ringmaster Review

Of the albums most anticipated by our particular ears was one from UK duo Witching Waves. They had us on line with their ltd edition cassette Concrete/Chain Of Command in 2014 and inescapably hooked with debut album Fear Of Falling Down later that same year but things have just got contagiously fiercer and even more sonically fascinating courtesy of their second full-length Crystal Café. It is a stunning roar of sonic and emotional dissonance fuelled by cutting hooks and feverish melodies, and that is not to forget the ever darkly mesmeric and often challenging lure of the vocals.

A mix of corrupted psych and surf rock fever with punk and post punk attitude, the Witching Waves’ sound mighty be better suggested by casting it as a union of the punk antagonism of The Raincoats and the garage punk ‘n’ roll devilry of The Creeping Ivies in collusion with the raw and virulent off-kilter pop of The Adult Net , Morningwood, and Delta 5. To be truthful, the London band has a sound which has always been its own individual but now forcibly so on Crystal Café. Intrigue for what the band will reveal next is always company to eager anticipation and indeed expectations, and it was no exception this time around, especially with the duo of founding members, vocalist/guitarist Mark Jaspar and vocalist Emma Wigham, having grown by one with the addition of bassist Ed Shellard since that previous impressive album.

Crystal Café opens up with Twister, a song shedding drama with its first surge of guitar. As it hits a heady stride with scything beats lining the brooding bassline of Shellard, the track has ears and imagination onside with ease, even more so as the siren like tones of Wigham collude with Jaspar’s sonic tendrils, all hot spice and raw flirtation. Not for the last time, a scent of The Cure certainly hits the rhythmic side of a song, adding appealing hues which engagingly merge with the fiery enterprise of guitar and voice.
The outstanding start continues in the concussively seductive Seeing Double, a roar of scuzzy guitar and alluring vocals with a sniff of almost Xmal Deutschland like post punk coldness. It is a grouchy encounter, epitomised by Jaspar’s aggressive vocal outbursts, but simultaneously also a raw melodic enticement which simply grips the imagination.

The following Pitiless uncages an anthemic rumble of rhythms as Wigham’s captivating vocals get entangled in the citric lines of just as compelling guitar spawned imagination. Juicy hooks are as frequent as searing sonic endeavour, being caught up in a bracing infectiousness which has the body jerking and senses wilting, though they do get respite from the alluring repetition sculpted instrumental Red Light Loop that follows. It is the first of a few imagination sparking interludes, a break before the raw trespass of contagion continues, in this case with Make It Up. There is a Wire like quality to the song which only adds to the pop catchy theatre that evolves to seriously excite and involve the listener. The track is as irresistible as a fondle in the shadows; offering a warm moment of pop slavery in the senses whilst they get intruded upon by the dissonance soaked soundscape of the album.

Anemone spreads a portentously melancholic instrumental breeze next, its starkly lit prowl a rising smog of discord as invasive as it is intimidatingly bewitching. The track sets up ears and imagination for The Threat, it a melodically cultured temper to the previous trespass with its boisterous surges of muscular beats and flowing vocal warmth over less kind but as riveting grooves. It too brews into a swarming sonic assault but without losing any of the pungent temptation it began coaxing ears with before the brazen temptress that is the excellent Red Light wraps its raw hunger and salacious beauty all over the listener.

The scathing sonic air and vocal angst of Receiver then takes over, its Jaspar voiced tempest bold exploration of the senses with underlying seduction added by the harmonies of Wigham, whilst after its pleasing encroachment and the evocative caress of instrumental Inoa, the album comes to a mighty close with new single Flowers. Wrapping around a glorious bassline echoing early Cure as crisp beats descend with resonating effect, strings of melodies and atmospheric suggestiveness come together, in turn swiftly joined by a dual smooch of vocals to captivate and entrance to which Wigham further adds her spellbinding lures. As seductive and inviting as it is, the track equally offers a host of descriptive shadows and sonic discordance that fester in thoughts and emotions to fine effect.

The track is an enthralling end to a simply superb release; another from Witching Waves and easily their finest moment yet. Hopefully this time around, the band gets the attention and surge of fresh appetites for their unique sound which previous releases warranted but Crystal Café demands and deserves.

Crystal Café is available on vinyl, cassette, and digital download from released February 26th via Soft Power in the UK and HHBTM Records in the USA.


Witching Waves / High Violets / Great Lakes / Eureka California / deardarkhead at Babysue

We’ve always felt there’s been a void in the world of music since The Fastbacks released their unbelievable string of knockout albums in the 1980s and 1990s. There was something particularly appealing about the band’s genuinely delivered loud fuzz pop injected with sinfully addictive hooks. This is the first time in a long time that a band has given us the same general feeling we get when listening to The Fastbacks…and that band is London, England’s Witching Waves. Like most artists on the always entertaining Happy Happy Birthday To Me label, these folks have a nice raw rockin’ sound that has very little in common with present day processed Cheese Whiz. The songs on Crystal Cafe are presented using only the most basic essential ingredients: drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. And that’s all you really need, of course, because it’s the songs that matter most. These eleven tracks have a slight bubblegummy sound that we particularly love, but most folks probably won’t notice this because of the volume and intensity. Witching Waves is the trio comprised of Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper, and Ed Shellard. We sure hope these folks get the reaction they deserve from this album. In a world of calm and dullness, bands like Witching Waves are keeping the spark alive. Groovy buzzsaw cuts include “Twister,” “Red Light Loop,” “The Threat,” and “Receiver.” Totally cool stuff. Top pick.


Soaring, lush, beautiful, modern dreamy pop played with style. Heroes and Halos is yet another resounding success for the folks in The High Violets. This is the fifth full-length release from this Portland, Oregon quartet. In some ways the tracks on this album remind us of Ivy but with more of an atmospheric overall slant. The High Violets areClint Sargent (lead guitar, vocals), Kaitlyn Donovan (vocals, guitar), Luke Strahota (drums, percussion), and Colin Sheridan (bass guitar). These folks make music that can best be described as pop, but it’s not the kind of predictable dribble that you might normally associate with the word. While these tracks are hummable and accessible, they are also creative and strikingly intelligent. We love the understated elements. Instead of pushing or forcing, these folks just let the music flow from their veins. And it is this natural flow that makes these tracks sound so wonderfully smooth and slightly surreal. Ten perceptive compositions here including “How I Love,” “Break A Heart,” “Bells,” and “Hearts In Our Throats.” Recommended. Top pick.


Hard to believe the group Great Lakes has been around since 1996. But yup, the band has now been around for two decades…and they’re showing no signs of letting up. Originally based in Athens, Georgia, the players are now based in Brooklyn, New York. But even though the geographic location has changed, the sound remains remarkably similar and familiar. The band is driven by the songwriting skills of Ben Crum, a fellow who writes tunes that can pretty much be appreciated by anyone. Crum comes across sounding mighty relaxed and comfortable on Wild Vision, presenting smooth organic tracks that blend elements from folk, pop, and Americana. In addition to Crum the band also includes Kevin Shea on drums, David Lerner on bass, Joe McGinty on keyboards, Phillip Sterk on pedal steel, Heather McIntosh on cello, and Suzanne Nienaber on vocals (the same basic lineup that played on the 2010 release Ways of Escape). Cool, melodic, reflective…if you like the sound of real people playing real music, there’s an excellent possibility you’ll totally dig this stuff. Nine solid tracks including “Swim the River,” “Wild Again,” “I Stay, You Go,” and “Blood On My Tooth.”


Real true gritty loud rock isn’t dead…it’s just hibernating beneath the surface while most folks prefer to drink diluted gunk from a baby bottle. Eureka California is one of the brave bands out there playing music that’s just too raw and real for the masses. These folks have hit another home run with Versus. If you love the sound of guitar bands from the late 1980s right on through the 1990s when everyone seemed to be turning up and turning on, there’s a very good chance you’ll totally dig the sound of these tracks. This is the band’s third full-length release but the first to be recorded in a real recording studio. Thankfully none of the band’s edge has been salvaged in the process. Eureka California is the duo of Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler. Like most of their new releases, the folks at Happy Happy Birthday To Me have released this on a beautifully designed 12″ vinyl LP, complete with a handy dandy download card. Cool rhythms…groovy guitars in overdrive…and lyrics sung with appropriate abandon…what’s not to love here? Ten gripping cuts including “Another Song About TV,” “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City,” “Caffeine,” and “I Will Write Mine Over Potomac.” Wildly neat. Love it. Top pick.


The guys in DearDarkHead have been making music since 1988, so we’re kinda embarrassed to admit that we’ve never heard ’em until now. Don’t expect anything retro-1980s here, because retro-1980s these guys are not. This album features instrumentals that combine elements from hard rock and underground shoegazer drone. The band’s music once featured vocals but now that both of the previous vocalists are no longer with the band they are (at least temporarily) an all-instrumental band. Considering this fact, you may be very surprised at how powerful these songs are. The band is now comprised of Kevin Harrington on guitar, Robert Weiss on drums, and Kevin McCauleyon bass. For a three piece band these guys have a great big sound. This is a short album that clocks in at just over twenty-five minutes. But in that amount of time, these guys make it perfectly clear they’re in it for the long run. Groovy, compelling, and hypnotic.