Our last EP round-up! Council Tax Band, Warmhammer, Keel Her, Kings, O’Captain, Le Coq, King Capisce, New Beard, Brave New Storm

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Hullo, you wildling watchers of Westfield, this is our always late EP round-up, where we scrounge, scrawl and sweep sweet singular sonic sensations. This is so late you could say it’s the very late EP round-up.

Remember: don’t adjust your opinion. We are just a Shithole of a website (TM)

DID YOU  KNOW? U2′s Songs of Innocence will always be in your iTunes, no matter how many workarounds and fixes you try. Like an Eldritch horror, The Ancient Spectacled One  will not stop haunting you. Dream well, sleep tight.

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Oh, well, sigh, sorry for the delays, we were closing this website but we remembered we left some Jaffa Cakes inside the server (mmm, warm cake-o-biscuits). We promise not to do another one of these ever again. Unless y’all ask nicely. And tells us to lay off the Jaffas.

Council Tax Band – Hannah & Barbara

The Bedford quartet find their footing in this five track EP, possibly named after the animation legends, with a clear mix of quiet and noisy sections finely mixed. ‘March of the minute takers’ is a slight drizzle that heralds what’s coming next: lightning (‘Ironic Moronic’), thunder (‘Survival Guide’) and the inevitable deluge of British witticism and sardonic humour (the painfully accurate ‘Jobcentre’). ‘Lizard Brain’ fiercely closes Hannah & Barbara with a toffnana-sweet riff and a build-up worthy of that Mary Timony (Helium) vocal approach. Love this.

WarmHammer/Keel her – Beam me up split

A myriad things can be said about the tape revival, both good and bad, but if there are two bands that benefit greatly from the format they are Keel Her and Warmhammer. The easygoing fuzzy rock from Keel Her finds a warm and cuddly home with ‘Loser’, whilst ‘Enid’ and ‘Titan’ fight for your attention. You might be tempted to shout to those two to behave, but they’ll each say the other started it. It matters not, the racket is well worth it.

Warmhammer keeps it nuanced, with a less fuzzy sound than I remember but still with that punkier edge that pushes it from sadcore into morosecore (!). ‘Wet Blanket’ is a lively trip through the hills, where uphill is fun and downhill sees all the kinetic energy spent after the climb. ‘Brickwall’ uses a dual vocal approach to intertwine neatly with the guitar drawing pirouettes. ‘Heavy Breathing’ goes for a grey palette; a stormy day by the British seaside: tea won’t keep you warm but it’ll push you through the day with bursts of distortion and shouts.

Kings – I trust the Hounds are hungry…

Viking Rock, Innit? Shields upgrade their armour, sharpen their music and deliver a brutal EP with I Trust The Hounds Are Hungry…, a sextet of tracks that deliver their hard rock riffs with the utmost panache while still preserving that edge that makes them a great live band. A bit of Helmet-style punches are delivered (‘Helen Earth’, ‘Matron, hand me my revolver, I’m going for a walk in the woods, I may be some time…’) but when Kings shine the brightest are with the more spaced-out tracks like atmospheric ‘Shit Leopard’ or the muscular vortex that is ‘Fuck Quest’. Name change? It matters not, they still pack a mean wallop.

o’Captain – ghetto hikes

From the long lost in the wind ashes of Pirouettes comes O’Captain, containing some trace elements from the previous compound but becoming a more straightforward, indie rock outfit. ‘Summer Party Jam’ kickstarts with a slightly emo flavour in the music. ‘The Union’ harks back to the math rock composition of yore, but still going for that radio friendly sensibility in its catchy “get up! get up! get up!” refrain. ‘A new year’ opts for longer musical passages; a smattering of post rock and a dash of pop rock make a tasty cocktail to finish this EP.

New Beard – My people are around

I for one welcome our new Bearded Overlords. The insanely good vibes of freakrockers New Beard‘s live shows are captured and bottled in this lovely EP, My People are Around. Don’t be fooled by the happy-go-lucky Americana freestylin’ of ‘The weight of a tiny being’, for the trip is just about to begin. ‘Blood from a stone’, my fave from New Beard City, keeps its “70s car chase music” status, with the instrumental breakdown still delivering goosebumps. ‘Doom’ and ‘My People are around’ answer the question of “what do we do if we don’t have a bassplayer?” The power of tuba is strong in here, fellas.

‘Unholy Mountain’ rewards your patience with an atmosphere rarefied by swirls of dread and a bizarre version of Britpop. ‘Big Iron/Cosmo Canyon’ goes for a heavy jam and effortlessly produces it. M’luhd,  I must confess: TUBA JOE IS MY POWER ANIMAL. Don’t be strangers, you freaks, and release more like this.

Brave New Storm – So we leave

 Back when SOYO closed down its live nights, I saw Brave New Storm. It was an eclectic night, with Brave New Storm tackling the oft derided Folk genre. Their palette is more Constable than Pollock, so vast open spaces and muted greens are the moods offered in this four track EP. ‘Peaks’ rolls in slowly, like a hazy morning in the moors near Castleton. There’s a chill percolating through even the finest of warm clothes.

Still, the chill won’t slow you down, for ‘Walden’ will motivate you to jog or, if you find running too boring, engage into a lil’ square dancing, even if your partner is the faint shadow on the wall. ‘Ghosts’ pulls that eerie atmosphere perfectly, reading like a passage of Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast, fading from the corner of your eye just when you could swore it was there, haunting the room. ‘Halfway home’ bids adieu briskly, holding to the wise saying that it’s better to say “see you later” than “goodbye.” A lonely piano chord still echoes when I realise I’m ashamed to be late to this EP, the one moment it made all sense I was a thousand  hills away.

 

Le Coq – Too late to die young

In a scene chockful of egos and trend followers, Le Coq clings for dear life against the riptide that drowns a thousand new bands that leave the warning “no poppy taller” unheeded. Uneasy, dissonant and happily engaged with the “Grunge” tag, Le Coq offers three free tracks, easy going in pace but lyrically desperate, clawing for a way out. ‘Ready’ approximates a zero sum version of rock, where tropes are used for, not against form, allowing a fresh approach super cede the staler parts of rock. ‘Cinco cuarenta y cinco’ performs a catharsis surgery needed for those with routines and long commutes in the grayish monster we call Mexico City. ‘No Sleep for Us’ closes with a nightmarish scenario that shakes the ennui via a cool sax in the distance. Short, not too strange and a reassuring statement that a different style of rock does exist in this country.

King Capisce – The future cannot be born yet, it is waiting for the past to die.

One of Sheffield’s best kept secrets, King Capisce returns to the fold, armed with a sharp quintet of ditties. ‘Shake the dust’ breaks the silence with a sample distorted warbling its way to shake the foundations with a wall of noise. ‘Never Spoken’ goes for a grandiose atmosphere, laying out idea after idea until realising it has paved paradise and the council will tear it down. ‘Lighthouse’ is almost like a mantra; a meditation that precedes the spiritual awakening neatly weaved in ‘Awake’, the EP’s fiercest moment. ‘St. Jude’ captures King Capisce as I remember them: jammy but not self-indulgent, weird but not alienating.

I like The Future cannot be born yet, it is waiting for the past to die.  It’s Jazzy, but never loses itself in the realm of improvisation. It’s Cinematic, needing no vocals to paint stark landscapes that’d fit nicely with John Constable‘s lovely paintings. It’s a shame that Sheffield’s scene keeps fucking itself supporting too many floppy haired indie bands that bring nothing to the mix while stuff like this or Legend of the 7 Black Tentacles and the entire catalog of Tye Die Tapes and Audacious Art Experiment flies under the radar. Buy this EP. Over and out.

 

Sorry for soapboxing during that last paragraph. “I’m finished.” Cue it.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López (a bit exhausted…)

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