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Sleep Talk – Everything In Colour

Adelaide’s own melodic hardcore/alternative act Sleep Talk are here with their debut album, Everything In Colour, and the album comes flying out of the gates.

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Adelaide’s own melodic hardcore/alternative act Sleep Talk are here with their debut album, Everything In Colour. One of the latest signings to UNFD, Sleep Talk have toured this album around Australia, and are no doubt hoping to capitalize on this momentum to make sure Everything In Colour comes flying out of the gates.

The album itself is a vast and well-structured collection of songs. They flow fluently through each other and maintain a consistent sound throughout. Opening with “Lauritzen”, the tone is set immediately. Moody melodic instrumentals contrast perfectly with the brutal scraping scream vocals, and as they are joined by the backing clean vocals they form an enormously emotionally gripping sound.

“The Sun” continues this sound but turns it down a bit. Softening the guitars to a mirage-like state, the flash of screaming vocals is made only more effective. The song builds and builds through melody, and releases itself all at once with a ginormous release of emotion and frustration made up of passionate screams and heavy instrumentals.

“What if the sun swallowed me whole, and I don’t get to grow old?”

“Slowfade” and “Everything In Colour” were the two lead singles from the album, and work nicely as they play through one after the other. “Slowfade” features all the melodies we are already growing to love, as well as showcasing that Sleep Talk can also bring the heavy. Headbanging and moshing through a hard-hitting breakdown, the song leads into “Everything In Colour” with a flowing ending of ringing guitars, clean vocals, and incredibly well-structured instrumentals. Taking a rockier and punkier approach now, “Everything In Colour” puts the clean vocals in the forefront predominately. The catchy chorus and instrumentals make you want to dance despite the harshness of the screams, and actually makes it come across as somewhat of a feel-good summer anthem despite the clear emotion behind it. It makes you want to jump and sing along, and I’m sure this will make “Everything In Colour” an incredibly fun time live for many years to come.

Moving onto “If I Die”, this song was my absolute favorite. It starts heavily and emotionally, yet anthemically so. The melancholic guitars and vocals mix so well and create an overwhelming and gripping sense of tension. You listen and just can’t turn it off as you’re just dying to hear what happens next. Lyrically speaking of death and darkness, the upsetting subject matter makes it only more effective. Soft clean verses offer a chance to step back and appreciate it more, but the chorus will relentlessly draw you back in. The atmosphere of it is phenomenal, and all of this builds to a titanic emotional release. Tearing screams, smashing cymbals, one belting guitar, and one screeching guitar line rolling through the background, makes for the biggest sense of pain and release I have felt in a song in a long time. The effectiveness of it makes for something incredibly special, and as it closes out with some perfectly constructed instrumental sections I am made to think, “this is how you write a song”.

“New Tradition” is a fun punky track filled with funky verses and a strong chorus. It came out roughly a year ago, so it’s nice to see it popping up on the debut album. This leads into one of the more unique songs, “Shadow”. Dark instrumental tones make you feel like you’re in a horror movie. An image of a dark hallway springs to mind and I’m immediately on edge. Deep monotonal vocals seep into the song and work with the instrumentals to form an intense feeling of suspense. “Shadow” rides this emotion for a while before working into a big rocky instrumental closing and makes for a special atmosphere.

“Allergic to the World” provides a hard and fast heavy track that clocks in at 1 minute and 49 seconds. With no messing around, they instill a powerful sense of aggression as the hard and fast track makes you want to move. This leads into the following song, “Sleep Talk”. Incredibly well written, it keeps you on your toes as it throws you all over the place tempo-wise. Melodic and slow sections will lull you into a false sense of security, while repeated outbursts of fury, screams, and heavy instrumentals make you want to move. I feel this as a feeling of fighting against one’s own demons, and as they get louder and louder it becomes tougher to fight back, eventually, they take over and overrun you. As the instrumentals get harder and faster to end the song, the demons have won, and the aggression and emotion take charge. “Sleep Talk” is another highlight track, so absolutely watch out for this one.

Coming towards the end of the album, “The New Year” is made up of strength and pain. Echoing guitars slide along with harsh vocals and create a melancholic feeling of grief. A penultimate display of talent, Sleep Talk have maintained consistent energy throughout the album, and have shown while they can maintain a sense of energy and emotion, they are able to do this while still mixing up their sound.

The cherry on top, “The Kill”, puts a spotlight on the scream vocals in the verses. Allowing an extra brutal look at them, you can feel the scraping gravelly tones as they fill your ears and make you audibly go “oh hello”. The mesmerizing clean vocals offer a sense of relief from this and work to create a very traditionally rocky instrumental atmosphere. Rolling fun guitar licks dwell in the background of powerful instrumental sections, and make for a satisfying and anthemic end to the album.

(UNFD)

Interviews

Like a Hurricane: An Interview with Year of the Fist

Year of the Fist are a much needed short in the arm of rock music. We chat to vocalist/guitarist Squeaky.

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Oakland based rock n’ roll band Year of the Fist are the kind of the rock n’ roll band you can’t bring home to meet mom. Evoking the sounds made famous by labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry, Year of the Fist are “a hurricane of swirling rock n’ roll poundage”. Unrelenting and visceral, their music is the unforgiving wave in a sea of safe rock music; a sentiment best exemplified by their brand new full-length album, Revive Me. And like the title itself, Year of the Fist are a much-needed shot of energy; raw, no-frills, and urgent.

We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Squeaky, who, along with the band, have just returned from a short trek through California and Nevada to showcase their new album. We talk about the history of the band, their fantastic new record, Oakland, small-town shows, and rock n’ roll.

Congrats on the new record- reception has been positive to it (we loved it)- how do you all feel?

We are all very happy with the way the album turned out. The last year and a half working on felt like an eternity but it’s done and I am stoked.

How did the writing and recording for the record go? It sounds fantastic- did you self-produce or work with someone in the studio?

The album is self-produced and the recording was a multi-step and studio process.  We were lucky to work in some amazing studios with some terrific engineers.

Do you have a favorite song from the new record? Or maybe one you all love playing live in particular?

I believe I can speak for everyone when I say “Ghosts” is one of our favorites off this album to play live. And speaking for myself, “Red Lights Flash” is another one I really like playing. 

Revive Me is your third full length; what were some of the things you wanted to get done with this record- things maybe you learned from the two LPs prior?

It is actually of 2nd full length. In between the two, we released a 4 song EP.  To be honest, I always have an idea in my head on how I am going to approach something and it never works that way. There is always a curveball, an emotion, a gut feeling that pulls you a different direction. So I am trying to get better at going into something with no direction to be honest ….. we’ll see how that works out.

You are based in Oakland- are you guys all from the area and how did Year of the Fist come together?

Our lead guitarist, Katie, is the only member from the Bay Area. I am from the East Coast. Our drummer, Hal, is from the Mid-West and our bassist, Serge, is from Russia. Hal & I met on tour in different bands, I believe sometime in 2006. He lived in Washington and I was in California. Hal eventually moved down to Oakland and we started YOTF in 2011. We anticipated it being a 2 piece band but after writing the first few songs we knew that wasn’t going to be the case. I knew Katie from playing shows throughout the Bay Area,  so she jumped on board, then skip ahead 8 years, we found our bassist, Serge. We played with several bass players over the years but now I feel we have found our fit. Serge was one of us within minutes of meeting him.

Do you remember what your first experience with rock n’ roll was? Was it a show, something on the radio, a record, or a band?

I was raised in a rock n roll household so I don’t recall a 1st experience, my upbringing was the experience. As far as going to punk shows, I was living in Richmond, VA and I went to my first punk show at 12 or 13. I was immediately drawn to the energy. I was already playing guitar but after seeing a hundred punks packed into a tiny, sweaty club and feeding off the energy coming off the stage I knew I wanted to be the one on the stage.

What makes Oakland a good place for a rock n’ roll band? Is it the venues, the community?

Oakland has its ups and down with good punk venues to be honest. It seems we will have a ton of good rock venues for a few years and then it takes a nosedive for a few years. It’s tricky like that. Oakland is such a diverse city it keeps every band from being full of a bunch of white straight men. It’s a breath of fresh air.

And some of you pull double duty in multiple bands?

We sure do. Hal & I are in a 2 piece rock band called Cut-Rate Druggist while Katie has a solo project that goes by her name, Katie Cash, and a rock/funk band called Skip The Needle. Serge is the only smart one by not burning the candle at both ends.

You played a bunch of shows in July- across California and then to Nevada- what are some of the things you enjoy most about being able to play these songs live?

We just wrapped up that quick 4-day run and it was terrific. There is nothing like seeing people singing the words you wrote, seeing their body move to a particular part in a song that makes your body move the same way, to have someone tell you how much a song means to them. It is so therapeutic. It is the best shrink that I have ever had.

I used to live in Stockton; it was a tough place when I lived there. But it was always exciting to know bands stopped by (when they did)- how important it is to you guys to find new cities and towns to play in each tour?

Really? You lived in Stockton? What a small world!! 

I really enjoy playing smaller cities/towns. The crowd isn’t as jaded as big cities. I don’t mean that as an insult, hell, I am probably one of those jaded people. Living in a big city you can see awesome local and touring bands any day of the week, it gets taken for granted. When you go to a smaller city that has 2, maybe 1 rock show a month, people appreciate that you drove 4-6 hours to get there.

What are the plans for Year of the Fist for the rest of the year and beyond?

We have some light US touring in the fall along with playing FEST in Gainesville, FL. And maybe getting some rest!

Year of the Fist’s new album Revive Me is available now via Heart On Records.

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Reviews

Pretty Vicious – Beauty of Youth

Beauty of Youth is what happens when raw talent and a knack for writing great songs finds itself surviving the hype

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Pretty Vicious

The perils of industry hype and stardom have been unforgiving for many young bands. The brutal nature of the rock n’ roll whirlwind is both an inescapable thrill, and the overdose that has claimed the scalp of many. Welsh rock band Pretty Vicious are no stranger to the often destructive nature of record label glory and lofty expectations. The band members were mere teens (15-17) when they signed their mega-deal with Virgin EMI in 2015. What followed was a roller coaster ride of failed recording sessions and the burden of unmet expectations that come with signing big-money deals at such a young age. But the remarkable truth is, Pretty Vicious seem to have come out of the industry slog having survived their initial foray into the fire with an album that is quite a remarkable achievement.

Initially touted as the “next Oasis”, Pretty Vicious have thankfully shunned that tag and done away with writing the next Definitely Maybe for something more visceral. Beauty of Youth is what happens when raw talent and a knack for writing great songs finds itself surviving the hype. If Beauty Of Youth is a record signaling Pretty Vicious’ convalescence after their initial break down, then please, feed this medicine to all the bands.

There is no Oasis, but rather the furious, feverish unpredictability of rock music that we had seen with early Biffy Clyro, early Idlewild, packed with the dangerous uncertainty that came with The Libertines. It’s immediate too; from the raucous riff-heavy opener “These Four Walls” to the vagabond “What Could’ve Been”, much of the album channels frenzied palettes of distortion and beautiful noise. “Force of Nature” is a little Josh Homme, while “Someone Just Like You” is what Dave Grohl sounds like when he’s trying, but the album’s best moment is perhaps the gorgeous, slow-burning “Playing With Guns”. A song that’s composed of great wistful melodies that slowly incinerate the ears with infectious songwriting that makes Beauty Of Youth sound massive while being personal at the same time.

You can’t go past songs like “Move”, with its buzzsaw guitars and wall of energy, without thinking of all the best rock bands we’ve heard over the past decade. It’s got it all- to a T- but its urgency and hectic nature make it feel all the better. “Something Worthwhile” has got the bright lights and big stages of Glastonbury written all over it. And while their 2015 stint at the festival saw them on the “Introducing…” stage, this song is headlining main stage material.

It is quite an achievement to be as accomplished as Pretty Vicious at such a young age. Even more remarkable that they’ve survived the industry machine to release such a damn good debut album. Beauty of Youth is a composed, compelling, high energy debut that answers the question, “what became of the likely lads?”. They went on to write one of, if not the best, rock records of 2019.

(Big Machine / John Varvatos Records)

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