I’ve been spending a lot of time with Infinity by Cloakroom lately. It’s a mini-LP, but the amount of sounds you’ll find over its five tracks is anything but miniature. Perfect for late summer evenings as well as storm-ridden skies, Cloakroom beautifully combine the reverb-heavy lethargy of Whirr and Pity Sex with elements of Daylight’s crunchy grunge demeanour. But ‘Bending’ - the video for which you’ll find above - goes beyond those now well established tropes; applying a wide-eyed, Explosions in the Sky approach to the genre that gives everything a much grander scale to it - this is shoegaze as viewed from the peak of a mountain.
What is it that’s so damn thrilling about poppy melodies juxtaposed with lyrics about first world doom and gloom? Think about it. Fans of emo are constantly seeking something that little bit more depressive in order find something even more relatable than the last band they sobbed to, and yet most of these bands tend to throw shows that are full of fist-pumping , crowd surfing and positive vibes. People have a great time. Yet the music they play live was written for a record that we’re supposed to sit in our rooms and get sad over.
Take Tigers Jaw for example. There’s a band that has me constantly tapping my foot and nodding my head thanks to their immediate hooks and driven guitars, yet I keep on coming back to records like their self-titled not only because the tunes are constantly circling around in my head but because they sing about girl problems and friend problems and other things that we think about when we lay awake at night. I guess what I’m trying to say is that… it’s just a strange concept, isn’t it? Sure, I get that it’s all about bringing people together and eventually rising above our melancholy, but it’s still a strange concept in my eyes. Whatever. I buy into it. This is getting too philosophical.
Richmond’s Close Talker might get what I’m on about here, but, in reality, I’m probably just a blathering idiot. On the other hand though, their debut album So Am I is thirty minutes of straight-up, angsty punk rock fuelled by riotous riffs and yep, you guessed it: lyrics that are going to make you seriously re-evaluate your life. Well, not really, but they sure will make you want to lay on the sofa and moan to your internet friends about it.
I’m as easily forgotten as her,
She’s bored with poetry,
And I’m not very good with my words.
Can’t say the right thing,
So I’m not gonna say anything at all
Apparently some of these guys also jam in Sundials, which actually comes as no surprise - the choruses here are absolutely huge, and the whole record sounds like an extension of Sundial’s pop punk if it were dipped upside-down in this grunge revival everyone’s going on about lately. But then you have tracks like ‘Can’t Stand Your Laugh’ which echoes elements of early 2000s punk rock like Daggermouth and The Movielife, clocking in at under two minutes whilst evoking images of shows you used to go to as a 16-year-old. Some bands might be trying to engage the 90s emo revival, or the grunge revival; or embrace the My Bloody Valentine shoegaze upheaval a-la Whirr. But if there’s one thing that Close Talker are embracing, it’s good ol’ fashioned melancholic punk rock that hits you right in the gut. I probably got half these lyrics wrong.
It isn’t like it was before
We’re not happy anymore
Fear of change, binds us tight
I’m nothing today
I’ll be nothing tonight
You can buy So Am I for your pocket full of spare change on Bandcamp.
Life’s been pretty much getting in the way of writing anything other than dissertation based bullshit of late and the need for something to reawaken my deadened soul after a winter that dragged has never been more important. The debut EP from newly formed Pet Symmetry is tonights remedy, and fuck it’s woking a treat.
I’ve been excited about this release ever since the announcement late last year that Into It, Over It's Evan Weiss and Dowsing's Erik Czaja and Marcus Nuccio were planning on teaming up. This coming together works on every level, and the two track, “Two Songs About Cars. Two Songs With Long Titles” showcases the best from all those involved. Maybe leaning more towards the IIOI side of things, the simplistic vocal melody on opener, “A Detailed and Poetic Physical Threat to the Person Who Intentionally Vandalized my 1994 Dodge Intrepid Behind Kate’s Apartment” sticks on first listen, inviting even the most unmusical of bastards to hum along before it’s through.
The second track, “Please Don’t Tell My Father that I Used His 1996 Honda Accord to Destroy the Town of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania in 2002” (I guess they weren’t lying about the long titles) slows things down somewhat, giving way to a trumpet instrumentals that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bon Iver track. Once again, simplistic recurring melodies emerge that are all too willing to be your minds inner soundtrack hours after the record is done.
As the titles would suggest, these songs are about cars, which is what I love. First love’s and heartbreak aren’t confined to relationships with people alone, they develop with cars as well, however shitty. Maybe it’s due to my early exposure to The Beach Boys, but songs about cars and driving with friends evoke depths of nostalgia that songs about chicks doesn’t touch. My beat up Corsa bit the dust last year and it sucked. I lost one of the gang and I’d write songs about her all day.
Download it for a few bucks here.
"Being busy doesn’t keep me happy
It keeps me sane.
Less time to worry over shit
More time to avoid it”
That there is taken from ‘Whatever’, the brilliant opening track derived from the debut record of the same name from Sheffield-based emo revivalists Nai Harvest. “Most of this record was written in a week when there was nothing really going on in Sheffield and all of my friends where busy or away,” Ben tells AbsolutePunk in this track-by-track of the album. “I spent the week lying in bed watching Twin Peaks, writing the songs and not showering. Most of the record is about being bored and watching TV; hence ‘Whatever’. I just felt in my own little world that week, where nothing really bothered me and nothing really made me happy, just a week of neutralism.”
That’s pretty much how my week has been, too. Home from uni (which, sadly, is only a handful of miles away anyway) I’ve been a bit of recluse in my old bedroom, catching up with Game of Thrones and Mad Men when I should really be finishing off my dissertation. Oh well.
Whatever is a record that nitpicks at all of life’s little things. There’s a song about going out for a coffee without a jacket on only for it to piss it down on you on your way back (‘Sitcom Fade-In’). There’s a song about missing someone because there’s so bloody far away (‘Distance etc.’), and then there’s the signature jam about love (‘Quit Mackin’), which is a firm reminder that we don’t need to be in a relationship all the goddamn time (although I’m with Ben on this one - it’s definitely comforting).
Nai Harvest are a two-piece, and that’s perfect. I’m not sure these tunes would still have the same loveable fuzzy quality about them if they were a bigger band, and if the live reports I’ve heard are anything to go by it certainly does them justice up on stage too.
Whatever is an angsty reflection on all of the stupid things we worry about for no particular reason on a daily basis, and it’s a life-affirming record in the sense that it makes me feel like I’m not so fucking alone in this mopey, dismal state of mind. Or maybe it’s just affirming that I need to get a grip… it’s one of the two, at least, and whichever category you fall into, you’re bound to find something to love here.
After knocking me for six with their debut EP Moving Home, I was sure Moose Blood had instantly exhausted all of their abilities as musicians across six tracks. If they had done, then it’d have gone down as the EP equivalent of Your Favorite Weapon; the Moose Blood name firmly established as one of the most promising pop punk bands to emerge from the UK, let alone Canterbury. With a song as infectiously catchy as ‘Bukowski’ (which I reckon will still remain the best pop punk song of the year when December rolls around, mark my words) the bar has never been set higher for a follow-up. And now we have it.
On the 21st April, the band will release a special 8” single Boston b/w Orlando via Fist In The Air Records and Venn Records (the latter being home to none other than Gallows). The verdict? These two new tracks are both corkers. They’re less loved-up than most of Moving Home and are certainly less immediate (you’ll need to spin them a couple of times before they really sink in) but melodically they hit you hard like a great Latterman song, especially in the final moments of ‘Boston’ when they burst into a beautiful breakdown backed by wailing gang vocals of soppy seduction:
"Move on over baby
You’re not close enough for me though
and we both know it’s true
I want your hands all over my stomach,
your lips all over my chest and neck.”
'Orlando' opens with an acoustic intro that's uncanny to the one in 'Carbis Bay' before bursting into life with what's quickly becoming a signature Moose Blood sound in the combination of extremely hooky riffs and lyrics that leave you longing for more:
"Bored with nothing to do
But lay around listening to Deja Entendu
Thinking about you”
Sure, it’s another cult pop culture reference - but who cares? Those who will appreciate these new tracks the most will have found themselves in that boat at least once in their lives, myself included. Moose Blood are the long lost band your friends formed at school that never materialised no matter how many after class jam sessions were spent in the music room listening to Brand New and Jimmy Eat World, and I love them for it.