If you are looking for alternative rock music that can cheer you up, Dirt Royal is just the band for you. This three-piece band from Brighton, UK, merges garage rock and punk to produce energetic music that is catchy and fun, including satirical lyrics commenting on serious socio-political issues. After starting in 2013 and releasing a debut album in 2014, they worked on a number of singles and EPs over the years, but hadn’t released another full album until last month, when they dropped Great Expectations, an upbeat album that is on-brand with the band’s style of infectious melodies and chanty choruses, while discussing themes like unrealized potential and nostalgia.
Lose Our Way is the last song on the record and also its second single. It’s a perfect example of everything I said above. Check it out below and pay attention to Dirt Royal. They are here to stay.
Tough On Fridays is a three-piece rock band from Texas that started in 2017. It is female-fronted, which is always nice to have in rock music. Their sound reminds me of late 90s alternative rock, but, if you listen to their latest album, A Fantastic Way To Kill Some Time, you will see that some of the tracks got elements of punk rock as well. If you want to read a fantastic review of that album, just head over to friend blog, Eclectic Music Lover, as Jeff wrote about it last month. It is spot on, as usual.
Instead, I will focus here on Patches, my favorite track on the record. I really like the mellow guitar that emphasizes the melancholic vocals. The lyrics, singing about an unrequited love, are honest and relatable. Who hasn’t been in that position at some point in time? In fact, I think authenticity could be Tough On Fridays‘ brand, as they are making the music they like with real lyrics about what they actually feel or think. In the age of the influencers and people pretending to be someone they’re not, it’s refreshing to hear a band who just wants to keep it real.
Say what you want about how terrible 2020 has been, but it has also allowed plenty of people to reinvent themselves in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened in a normal year. Take for example the case of Helen Meissner, who like many others, decided during lockdown to start creating music. Unlike them, she did so at 54; hence her moniker MidlifeMix (MidlifeCrisis was taken!). To make her story even more unusual, her genre is electronic music and did I mention that when the whole pandemic started, she didn’t know much about music production? I particularly love Helen’s slogan: “Old enough to know better, young enough not to care”.
MidlifeMix recently released her eponymous debut EP, which consists of six diverse tracks. Continental Drift is the most chilled one but also my favorite. It feels like drifting away while floating in the air or the sea. However, if you’re looking for something more active, make sure to check the whole EP out. You’ll find what you’re looking for.
This five-piece band from Merseyside, Bedside Manners, epitomizes British rock. Creating what they describe as dirty indie rock/punk, their style feels like an amalgamation of many British bands such as Arctic Monkeys, the 1975 and even Oasis, resulting in riffs-heavy energetic rock. After starting out in 2018 with the release of their first EP, they have quickly garnered a following, with one of their singles gaining over 200k streams on Spotify. As with any other artist this year, Bedside Manners has been impacted by the Covid situation, but that hasn’t stop them from releasing a new single, What It Seems, which is also –in my opinion– their best one yet.
This banger consists of nearly three minutes of shimmy-inducing rock & roll. A song of multiple meanings, it manly deals with the subject of reminiscing about the past and wondering what would have happens if we had made different decisions. One decision you won’t have to regret though, is listening to What It Seems now. It will bring some energy to your Tuesday.
Speaking of iconic albums celebrating 25 years this month, Oasis‘ legendary album, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? also fits the bill. It featured hit after hit and if you ask different people what their favorite song from this record is, you will likely get different answers each time. For example, Some Might Say that it is that song; or Wonderwall, which usually tops ‘Best of’ chats and lists; or Don’t Look Back In Anger, recently crowned as the greatest song of the 1990s by listeners of Absolute Radio. However, if you ask me, the best track is one that wasn’t even released as a single in the UK (it was a single in the US though), Champagne Supernova, which is why I chose it as this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry.
At “just” 07:30 minutes, I love the way this song starts. People complain about the lyrics being psychedelic –i.e: making no sense–, but I think they are great. You give them the meaning you want . You can complain about the track being too long (up to you), but everything else is spot on. Oasis might not exist as a band anymore, but thankfully, we’ll always have this record and, in particular, Champagne Supernova.
“This writer, he was going on about the lyrics to “Champagne Supernova”, and he actually said to me, “You know, the one thing that’s stopping it being a classic is the ridiculous lyrics.” And I went, “What do you mean by that?” And he said, “Well, Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball — what’s that mean?” And I went, “I don’t know. But are you telling me, when you’ve got 60,000 people singing it, they don’t know what it means? It means something different to every one of them.“
I admit I’m not a big fan of experimental music, but when the result is something this interesting, I’ll listen. The Chronicles of Manimal and Samara, or TCOMAS, are a London-based duo formed in late 2019 by Andrea Papi (Manimal) and Daphne Ang (Samara); and when you have a musical act listing as influences the innovative works of Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, and Tool, and the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Jim Morrison; you know that the resulting music will be anything but conventional. They want to bring music, literature, art and history together while defying musical genres boundaries, and their fourth and latest single, Mata Hari, is no exception to that. I warn you, this will not suit everyone, but I really dug it.
Mata Hari was an exotic Dutch dancer who was convicted and executed during World War I for being a German spy, but it also means ‘sun‘ in Malay, and that is the meaning it has on this track, which is told through the eyes of an artist who declared his love for somebody through a painting. The song, with its atmospheric soundscapes, mixes poetry and the spoken word with electronic music and rock, aiming to reimagine how 80s music will sound 60 years from now. Trust me, you are extremely unlike to find something else resembling TCOMAS and Mata Hari.
Give a chance to this immensely creative band. Worst-case scenario, you’ll hear something pretty unique; and best-case, you’ll dig it just like me.
Sour Honey is a four-piece alternative rock band from Manchester that had to swim against the current pretty much from the start. Formed out of two other bands: Young Monarch and Cosmo Calling, their debut gig and launch party had to be cancelled due to the lockdown. This didn’t prevent them from releasing their first single then and a series of cover videos just to keep the momentum going. Set on maintaining the ball rolling during these trying times, Sour Honey is back with a second single, Snub, a clear statement telling the world that this young band is going places.
I really love the guitar riff during the pre-chorus and the overall soundscape created by the misty vocals and the multiple layers of music coming together. It is another example of the amount of talented musicians who are out there waiting for a chance to be heard. Something tells me we’ll keep hearing from Sour Honey.
We mentioned Bush last week and they recently released a new album as well (unfortunately, it didn’t move the needle for me), and since I’ve been away until now, it makes sense to feature them as today’s #ThrowbackThursday entry. After all, this British band got several legendary rock songs plenty of people love.
I actually wanted to write about Swallowed, but it is impossible to find the album version of that song on Spotify/Apple Music. Anyway, Glycerine is not a bad substitute at all. Bush released this track as the fourth single from Sixteen Stones, their debut album, in November 1995. It reached number one on the modern rock charts and is, to date, the band’s biggest pop hit, peaking at number 28 on Billboard’s Hot 100. As with most of their songs, Glycerine‘s lyrics are cryptic but it is an accepted fact that Gavin Rossdale wrote this tune about his girlfriend at the time (no, it wasn’t Gwen Stefani yet). The track is basically just Gavin’s raspy voice with a guitar and some strings here and there, yet it gets stuck on your head pretty much for the rest of your life.
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest rock tracks from the 90s. Enjoy it again, here.
Beatrice Laus, aka beabadoobee, took the alternative rock scene by storm after she started uploading her songs to Youtube and they became viral. Taking inspiration from Kimya Dawson and the soundtrack of the movie Juno, this Filipino-born British singer-songwriter has released several singles and EPs already, but her debut album is slated to drop later this year. She was predicted as one of the breakthrough acts for 2020, which is actually coming true despite the pandemic. Don’t lose track of her.
Care is the first single from Fake It Flowers, Bea‘s debut album. It got a strong 90s grunge rock fragrance, complete with guitar riffs and a rebellious attitude. From the moment the muted guitars start playing during the intro, this catchy tune will hook you in and not let you go until it’s over. After you listen to such a great song, you simply won’t be able to believe beabadoobee is just 20 years old. She’s just getting her feet wet.
In the same way not all bands from Liverpool sound like The Beatles, not all bands from Manchester sound like Oasis. That being said, I can’t help but get a Gallagher brothers vibe in Turn It Up, the latest single from Manchester-based band, Freedom Of The City. Mind you, it’s just a vibe, but that’s enough to result in an anthemic, alternative rock track full of energy that is ideal for live shows, whenever live music happens to be a thing again.
Freedom Of The City are a four-piece band founded by lead vocalist, George Brown. They have been playing together for a few years now, hitting the music festivals circuit all around the UK and getting a lot of attention and a fan base in the process. FOTC‘s debut album should drop anytime now, and if it is full of bangers just as Turn It Up, it will be a massive success.
I dare you to listen to this track and remain quiet. Can you do it?