BAND OF THE WEEK: HONKIES

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If you venture south of the river, you’ll hear talk of a band called Honkies, who are spoken about with a mass sense of pride and reverement. Even in the South London scene’s fruitful environment, their unbalanced blend of country and western speaks for itself.
Last week, they released their debut EP, Hold Your Horses/It’s All Kicking Off For Honkies Vol.1, via Permanent Creeps, which masters the art of synth-infused honky tonk like no other. Despite an impetuous sensibility, Honkies know not to fuck with their formula and manage to create something that is both moderately unhinged but easy on the ears, too. Glorious fun.



Catch the band playing as part of Independent Venue Week on the 31st January at The Windmill, Brixton.

BAND OF THE WEEK: HAZE

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The sheer wealth of bands that are roaming out of Bristol now is no joke, my friends. We’re blessed with an abundance of wonky characters, rich in dissonance and plentiful in humour. Haze are part of the fold. Playful and buttoned-down, their aim to achieve a perfect level of controlled chaos has morphed into a Country Teasers-esque discharge of energy and their frenetic offerings have soundtracked many a morning trudge.

Latest release, Piochitas, released via the brilliant Hate Hate Hate records, is an agitated chug of a track. Sonically, it’s a bit darker than previous offerings. The title loosely translates to ‘little goat’, which was a nickname apparently given to Trotsky by Frida Kahlo during their affair. Rather brilliantly, this is in reference to Trotsky’s beard. The band have said the song ‘is ultimately a bit daft.’ We don’t like sensible, anyway.

Catch them at The Five Bells on the 6th February for their 7″ release party with So Young magazine.

Nice Swan, 2018

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December is the official month of annual round ups. You can’t get away from the fuckers, they’re there on every news feed, begging to be looked at. No one can turn down a good list. So if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them. Of course, they also give us a chance, as a label, to humble brag about what a solid year 2018 has been for Nice Swan and the glorious bands that make us what we are. Here are 11 highlights that defined our year.

1. Sports Team sold out Scala

Scala, with it’s opulent exterior and multi-layered observation points has become something of a pinnacle performance space for any band worth listening to before they make the mighty leap to rapid rising national attention. All great bands must pass through its glossy, wood-panelled innards at some point. Sports Team did this. They did it with a tinfoil shark in tow and balloons descending from a cage in the ceiling. The Guardian called it ‘a reminder of why indie made it back from the brink’ – and no one argues with The Guardian.

2. Sweaty Palms released their debut album, Quit Now

An intoxicating listen from start to finish, Quit Now is filled with snarling Glaswegian bite, black humour and a discordant nature that sits, legs splayed, amongst the more placid versions of guitar music that circulate. The band’s tales of narcissism, rampant misogyny and prejudice also pricked the ears of Vic Galloway who invited them in to a do a BBC Introducing radio session. The results were blistering.


3. Pip won a Music Moves Europe talent award

To some, music awards mean nothing more than a sympathy vote and a congratulatory pat on the back for industry insiders. However, in certain pockets of this world, it’s nice to be acknowledged for something artistically focused at least, especially ones that hold a certain gravitas so early on in a career. Nominated alongside Pale Waves, Pip Blom managed to bag an award in the ‘Rock’ category which was selected by judges including Huw Stephens. That’s pretty fucking major. Rosettes will be handed out at Eurosonic next year.

4. Nice Swan went on tour

Pip Blom and Sports Team joined forces in March to grace five major cities around the UK with a duality that audiences didn’t realise they wanted but ultimately found out they needed. As two of Nice Swan’s treasured acts, it worked as a nice emblem for the label and gave off some serious family vibes – aw.

5. Sports Team released debut EP, Winter Nets

“Dissatisfied millenials”. “A humorous crawl”. “A lead guitar part that could have come straight from the ‘Noel Gallagher School of Writing a Banging Riff.’” What do all these statements have in common? Well, they’re all whimsical terms used to describe Sports Team’s debut EP, Winter Nets, of course! We don’t want to milk this one too much but with Kutcher winning Annie Mac’s Hottest Record In The World and classified as BBC Radio 1’s ‘Track of the Week’… well, you get the gist. It banged.


6. Pip releases debut EP, Paycheck

It’s been a big year for Pip – career-defining, some would say. With the release of Pussycat and Come Home not just making waves in the UK, where they graced BBC 6 Music’s A-List, but also reaching the ears of the US and Australia, too, 2019 is only going to kick it up a notch. Paycheck, her debut EP, is a shining example of her sharp songwriting skills.


7. Fur joined the roster

There was a gap on the label for a band who could combine the youthful with the old. A band who could offer us nice, clean guitar lines that warmed the soul. A band who have haircuts so impressive that our follicles recoiled in shame. Well, Fur fill that void better than any other could. After signing with us in September, it’s been nothing but a solid pleasure working with the lads. They released their latest single, Angel Eyes, with us – a glistening 60s pop morsel that is sold by its beautifully baroque take on love. Plus, find us a band who have created such a strong music video aesthetic thus far in their career.


8. Sports Team took a shitload of people in a coach to Margate

A lot happened for Sports Team this year: Abbie Clancy became a fan, Twitter beefs boiled and stewed and Alex Rice made it in to Vogue for Christ’s sake – but the act that truly defined the spirit of the band was when they took a load of fans on an unbearably sweaty coach to Margate to celebrate the release of their split single of Margate/Kutcher.

9. Pip Blom gigged with some serious heavyweights

If anyone deserved to put their feet up at Christmas, it was the Pips. Not only finding the time to go on a successful headline UK tour, they also played shows with The Breeders, Franz Ferdinand and Garbage. Just for the hell of it.

10. Sports Team headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at R&L

Not even going to bother going on about this one – just watch.

BAND OF THE WEEK: FONTAINES D.C

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‘Too Real’ is blasting from the office radio, having been spun yet again on Steve Lamacq’s BBC6 music show. Vocalist Grian Chatten intones, ‘as it stands, I’m about ta make a lotta money’ in a thick, Irish brogue that drips in charisma. 

Spartan in their dedication to authenticity, Fontaines D.C come from the ‘back-arse of nowhere in Ireland’, which is the fundamental beauty to their punk gospel. The city of Dublin is an unshakeable theme to their music, clearly cardinal in paving their lives as musicians and poets, it’s a stark influence on their storytelling, harking to McGowan levels of Brutalist poetry, which postulates on keen social awareness and bleakness over romance – hell, they even reference James Joyce in the brilliant, ‘Boys In The Better Land’.


Music this direct, this sincere, this lyrical, is a much-needed antidote – Fontaines’ music is simple in arrangement, but distinct in its delivery. We’re a generation of people with increasingly dwindling attention spans so it’s a feat in itself when a band can engage until the final stanza with a selection of solid singles peppering the entirety of 2018, deepening any hunger for an album release.

 

BAND OF THE WEEK: YAK

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Yak released their debut album, Alas, Salavation, in 2016; a highly anticipated record, it offered an insight into the nervy, enthralling mind of frontman Oli Burlsem and gave us some fucking delightfully, dirty riffs to boot. Two years have passed, line-ups have changed and sounds have shifted, because just like Yak’s live presence, their authentic unpredictability is key.


We write this band of the week based on the pure love we have for Yak’s latest single, Bellyache. Press play and you’re greeted by Jurassic 5 style panpipes which then morph into a woozy, psych-tinged stomp with bassist Vincent Davies’ (formerly Hidden Charms) sound stamped all over it. A quarter of the way through, the swagger and sleaze come through in plentiful helpings before it contorts into all out manic, stream-of-consciousness carnage. The last lyric, “if you’re going for broke just make sure you don’t choke”, comes from the notion that this could be the last record they would ever make – a signifier that Yak are a band truly committed to the intensity of whatever moment they find themselves in. You can catch the guys live at the following dates:

Tour Dates

23rd October – The Crescent, York
24th October – Newcastle, Think Tank?
25th October – Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete’s
26th October – Sheffield, Picture House Social
27th October – Manchester, Deaf Institute
30th October – St Albans, The Horn
31st October – Bristol, The Exchange
1st November – Southampton, Heartbreakers
2nd November – Brighton, The Haunt
7th November – London, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club

BAND OF THE WEEK: THE SNUTS

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The Snuts, comprised of Jack Cochrane, Joe McGillveray, Callum Wilson and Jordan McKay, are a band that are bubbling under Scotland’s surface, ready to burst at any moment. Driven by the kind of stadium-sized dreams that glint in the eye of their predecessors, their vast choruses and powerhouse vocals have struck a chord with Scotland’s much-revered civic pride, amassing something of a cult following which spreads far beyond the parameters of their West Lothian upbringings.

Their debut single, ‘Seasons’  masters blistering indie energy and serves as an enticing glimpse into their ambitious tendencies and the same can be said for follow up single, ‘Manhattan Project’, a riotous, rock and roll number that is as emotive as it is charismatic.


Off the back of a truly rousing set at TRNSMT festival’s King Tut’s stage, which attracted over 6,000 punters shouting every word of their music back to them, the band have announced a UK tour for this October which will climax on three Scottish dates in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – all of which have sold out. Check out the dates below:

Tour Dates

15th October – The Prince Albert, Brighton
17th October – The Louisiana, Bristol
18th October – La Belle Angele, Edinburgh
19th October – St Luke’s, Glasgow
20th October – The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

Follow the band on Twitter, Instagram or via their Facebook page for more updates. 

Sports Team @ Neighbourhood Festival

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Manchester is frequently dubbed the ‘music capital’ of the UK and whether you agree or not, its heritage, live scene and general spirit are hard to match. Back for another year, Neighbourhood Festival, an inner-city event thats spans across all of the cities music venues, played host to an eclectic, crowd-pleasing line-up including Temples, The Orielles and Swim Deep. But as standard procedure goes, Sports Team stole the show. Delve into their mini gallery below courtesy of photographer, Henry Calvert.

 

 

Ladies & gentleman, Alex Rice has made it into Vogue…

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Nestled somewhere between Zayn Malik and Lennon Gallagher, Alex Rice can now have ‘heart throb’ added to his bow of accolades as he’s managed to land himself in the coveted pages of Vogue (or their online site, at least.) Listed as one of the 50 boys they’re spotlighting for 2018, this could be one of the bands finest accolades to date, no?

Find Alex sitting prettily amongst the other ‘hottest boys in the world’, here.

Sports Team reign supreme at Scala

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Almost a week after what can only be described as a career pinnacle, Sports Team are still riding high from a triumphant headline slot at Scala. As sweaty, joyous and tongue-in-cheek as all the reviews have painted it out to be, it’s a definable milestone in the band’s career and a perfect end to a stellar summer.

The set finale is the snapshot every audience member will have imprinted in their brain’s; perched atop a speaker stack, dressed in a suit for the occasion, Alex Rice watches, enthralled, as a ferocious tide of crowd surfers bob to the surface before falling back under as set-closer Kutcher, an indie anthem for the ages, rings out around the venue. Balloons descend from a cage on the ceiling. A hand-made, tin foil sculpture of a shark (10 points for effort, guys) sits in the corner. Sweat gleams from every single person’s orifices. Fuck Robbie at Knebworth, this is the kind of intimate, grin-inducing set that bands surely live for.

The Guardian called it a reminder of why indie made it back from the brink and well, no one’s going to argue with The Guardian, right?

Here’s a gallery of images delineating the night, courtesy of Connor Willis.