BlackBook Tracks #35: Melodies Calling

While 2013 has seen the UK music scene continuing to produce fresh takes on R&B like AlunaGeorge and London Grammar, they’re also probably not talking about the death of rock music on the other side of the pond. The month of August has a reputation for being boring, but it’s certainly been livened up by these Brits armed with guitars. Check out these highlights of the past few weeks.


Los Campesinos! – “What Death Leaves Behind”

The Cardiff-formed indie rock stalwarts Los Campesinos! are readying the full-length follow-up to 2011’s Hello Sadness. Entitled No Blues, it looks like things might finally be turning around for the prolific purveyors of well-detailed, evocative laments. On the just-previewed track “What Death Leaves Behind,” frontman and former cemetery caretaker Gareth Campesinos! is just as concerned with mortality as ever, but he’s finally looking forward to rebirth. No Blues is out October 29 on Wichita Recordings.    

Cheatahs – “Cut The Grass”

After releasing Stateside debut Extended Plays in February, Cheatahs are back for more. On “Cut The Grass,” the London-based fuzz aficionados drive harder than their more laid-back previous offerings. Most of frontman Nathan Hewitt’s matter-of-fact vocals are muffled by reverb, but the mist gets wiped away to let the song’s clean melody shine through. Extended Plays is out now on Wichita Recordings.    

Temples – “Stay In The Dark”

On the other the world from Tame Impala, Temples are making England’s psychedelic dreams come true. Hailing from Kettering, the quartet sticks close to its retro roots. Latest track “Stay In The Dark” could have been lifted from the 60s, but it’s given a pumped-up modern edge. Listen closely, and wait for the voluminously-coiffed band to share a secret or two with you.    

The Vaccines – “Do You Want A Man?”

Earlier this month, the Vaccines quietly released the Melody Calling EP. It features three new cuts of breezy guitar pop, a fine fit for closing out the summer. “Do You Want A Man?” is the best of the lot, with its easygoing jangle and simple, singalong-friendly chorus that won’t leave your head anytime soon. With these new tracks, the garage rockers have certainly raised the bar after their second album Come Of Age was met with mixed reception last year.    

Swim Deep – “Colour Your Ways”

Swim Deep describe themselves as “Birmingham boys making sun kissed noise,” and it’s hard to sum them up better than that. If you don’t want to be a rocket scientist, why even try? The quartet’s ambitions lie in defying the clouds, and debut LP Where The Heaven Are We is a fitting soundtrack for a lazy afternoon lull.

Suzuki Methods Unveil Debut Single, ‘Country Cousins’

At this point in the history of Manchester’s music scene, it seems you have to be all bands to all people in order to make a splash. So it seems with Suzuki Methods, who blend dance club rhythms with New Wave synths, jangle-pop guitar and a dash of industrial shoegaze to keep you hooked from the very first bars of a song.

“Country Cousins,” which has a neon-inflected video reminiscent of the infamous Hacienda and 24 Hour Party People, is the first single off debut EP Native, produced by David Tolan (Delphic, New Order, Primal Scream) and Jim Spencer (The Doves, The Vaccines, 808 State). The music on this release came together, as did the band, from the ashes of civil unrest and rioting in the U.K. in summer 2011. Which may be why it feels so vitally urgent.

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The Week In British Music

From guitar-based rock to punk to glitchy dubstep, British music has a tendency to take the lead when it comes to music trends.

Still, it’s hard to care about every band that the British music press gets into a tizzy over—really, there are only so many hours in a day. There are, however, a few bands worth paying attention to. And two of them had great new songs come out this week.

The first is “Glitters Like Gold” from The Cribs, which this week celebrated the release of its very own interactive video, with super-90s pop-up technology. If you don’t know the band, you should; no less than The Smiths’ Johnny Marr was a member of the group for a few years, and they’re only kids. Lucky for you the band is also hitting the U.S. next week on tour.

Next up is “No Hope,” from the kinds of U.K. buzz bands, The Vaccines. The group is about to release its sophomore album, The Vaccines Come Of Age, and this lead single shows that not a whole lot has changed for the jangly sounding, shaggy-haired band. Still, it’s banger that deserves to be played loud and on repeat.

From Britpop to Gritpop: Introducing Brother & the Vaccines

Just when you thought one more twee, Paul Simon-worshipping beardie indie band might drive you to do something unseemly, a bit of revved up laddishness has returned to save us from rock & roll oblivion. On one side of the Atlantic, a rousing new Strokes record; on the other, the swaggering debut of Liam Gallagher’s preposterously-named but great new band, Beady Eye.

Following in the footsteps of those six-stringed glories is the emergence of another charmingly absurd (and deeply un-intellectualized) new Brit genre, this one known, tersely, as Gritpop (Soon to be followed by, er, Gritstep?). Slough’s own Brother, in fact, may actually be its only genuine proponents. But with their stroppy-public-school-boy chic (meticulously mussed haircuts, spiffy button-downs, snotty facial expressions) and Smiths/Blur producer Stephen Street at the controls of their eponymous debut EP (expect a full album in July), it’s hard not to be reminded of that band Damon Albarn used to front. First single “Darling Buds Of May” and the impossibly infectious “David” are everything British guitar pop should be: Shimmering and snarling, with sublime harmonies and singer Lee Newell sneering all the way through in his very best Mockney. Aces!

London’s The Vaccines (Pictured above), it must be noted, are more grit than pop, and are significantly lighter on guile–with such studied stylelessness they could almost be, well, American. In fact, one listen to their explosive debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines, and you could almost believe Britpop never actually happened. Rather, they tear through echoed-up rockabilly rippers–“If You Wanna” is the sure bet for raucous, top-down anthem of the summer–all couched in the sort of punk-gothic atmospherics that always made the Jesus & Mary Chain sound as if they were a second away from totally imploding (the clattery “Blow It Up” sounds just like its title). As unsettling as they are exuberant, The Vaccines are a bit like Glasvegas without all the depressing stuff.