Thursday, April 26, 2018

Album Review :: DMA’S - For Now



For Now

April 27 2018 (Infectious)


Words: Kieran O'Brien

With only so many notes on the fretboard and only so many chords from which to choose from, it is almost inescapable that elements of emerging guitar bands’ sounds will be influenced by previously popular acts. In turn, the music press, sniffing out the slightest sonic resemblance, will gleefully label an upcoming act as ‘THE NEW *insert culturally significant band here*. This has certainly been true of Sydney’s DMA’s, who are the latest in a long line of indie bands to be compared to arguably the most culturally significant band of the last 30 years, Oasis.

A quick glance and listen to the trio’s 2016 debut offering ‘Hills End’ and it’s easy to see why such comparisons have been made. Donned in Gallagher-esque sports gear and sunglasses on the front cover, the album is full of Britpop influenced choruses sung with a Liam-like snarl by frontman Tommy O’Dell. This week the Australian outfit release their second album ‘For Now’, and with it comes an opportunity to demonstrate that they can carve their own path rather than being laboured with the limited label of being a Britpop throwback. Unfortunately, ‘For Now’, produced by The Presets’ Kim Moyes, runs over already trodden ground without really offering anything new.

The album opens with the title track and is actually a very promising start to the record. A pulsing and infectious bassline punches through swirling guitars and O’Dell’s siren-like vocal; there is more than a hint of The Charlatans here but there’s certainly enough intensity and dynamism to be optimistic about what is to come on the rest of the album (overuse of record). By the time the next three tracks have finished, however, there is an increasing sense that this album could have been fashioned by any one of the countless bands that emerged after Britpop’s initial explosion into British consciousness.

‘Dawning’ is melodic enough but features the sort of laborious rhyming ("in the dawning, you will wait for, for her warning, she was warning, yeah") that is more likely to initiate a cringe than a nod of approval. ‘Time Money’ and ‘In the Air’ again demonstrate the band’s capability to write catchy Britpop influenced melodies but are somewhat middle paced without really going anywhere. ‘The End’ is particularly culpable of meandering and is a pretty dreary effort for an act tipped as one of the most exciting young bands around at the moment.

To DMA’s credit, the second half of the record does have moments where the promise that led to comparisons with Britpop’s biggest bands shines through. ‘Break Me’ thumps with an infectious groove and a soaring chorus, and ‘Health’ is an intimate and emotive three-minute ballad that demonstrates the very best of O’Dell as a vocalist.

Nevertheless, by the time ‘Emily Whyte’ closes out the record it is quite apparent that there is very little here that hasn’t been covered by hundreds of bands throughout the 90s and 00s already. Of course, it would be foolish to suggest that even the biggest acts of their generation weren’t heavily influenced by what came before. Indeed, Britpop’s biggest darlings Oasis took more than their fair share from the 60s and 70s, even running up hefty plagiarism lawsuit bills. The great thing about early Oasis, though, was that despite their obvious inspirations they managed to define a moment in time so well. Songs like ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ‘Supersonic’ capture perfectly that post-Thatcher mood of ‘we have no jobs or money so let’s go out and make the most of it’, which resonated with so many on a massively broad scale. Outside of Britpop, David Bowie’s ‘Low’ or Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’ achieve similar success in capturing, whether it be sonically or lyrically, the world that they were living in at that moment in time. What all these albums have in common is that they spawned hundreds of acts subsequently trying to capture a sound in a similar way but ultimately sounding like imitators. On ‘For Now’ the DMA’s unfortunately fall into this category.

Perhaps it is slightly unfair to compare the DMA’s to a band who has achieved the commercial and critical success that Oasis have. Despite this, a comparison is useful in articulating exactly why ‘For Now’ misses the mark. Whereas Britpop at its best provided an optimistic and often humorous account of the state of Britain in the 1990s, ‘For Now’ often sounds like the band have plucked an assortment of used lyrics out of a hat and placed them arbitrarily within songs. What makes this more disappointing still is that the band obviously have talent; their cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ when guests on Australian radio show ‘Triple J’ is fantastic (seriously, go and watch it on YouTube immediately if you haven’t seen it), but they haven’t quite managed to harness that talent to create something unique here. If DMA’s could put a new twist on their British influences on future offerings then they are certainly capable of delivering an exciting, forward thinking record.

Sing & Tell :: Lhymes

Credit: Chris Bernard

Formed early 2017, Little Indue first heard Darlington four-piece Lhymes in late summer with their debut single 'Is This Life', which they followed with 'Christo Rey' in November. The band have just released latest single, 'Looks Like Rain' - which was premiered on BBC Introducing Tees - today, April 26.

Who are you? 

I'm Ben Connor, vocalist and rhythm guitar for Lhymes, playing alongside Kieran Elliot (bass), Joseph Allen (lead guitar) and Jack Haywood (drums).

Tell us something about yourself and how you came to be where you are today? 

Growing up in the little sunny town of Darlington, I always had an interest in the arts. It's always been in the forefront of my life. My dad taught me how to play the guitar when I was about 12, but it never went further than just playing it in my spare time and even then it was only on and off. It wasn't until my brother, Joe Connor, bassist for Teesside band Llovers (who I play synth for) got me involved in his current band at the time. Since then I've found something that gives me a continuous supply of interest and I love every second of playing with both bands. All the guys are great to work with and just a joy to be around.

Give us an idea of your musical style and influences.

Well, the band takes a lot of influences from a fairly wide range of artists with a few different styles, going from The Beatles to Pond, and from The Growlers to Ty Segall, combining them together in our own way to make something, hopefully, our own.

Explain the production and writing process behind your songs.

The writing side is a simple "whenever there's a free minute, I'll be attempting to write something." But we've got a few songs lined up which we currently want to record. We've started to take that writing into the practice room now to see what can come from that; so far so good, but there's still a lot of work to be done. As for the production and recordings, we're getting to grips with it, but it's a big learning curve! We've only recorded three songs together and each time we're learning something new, but we all love it in the studio and can't wait to be back in there!

Tell us a little about your new single.

After living the energetic and seemingly never-ending life of an adolescent, the inevitable and sudden realisation that you're 'not as young as you once were' will eventually creep up, but, although the concept is not usually met with great appreciation, it's not necessarily a bad thing, just more of a different way to view your life and the world you currently live in.

In terms of style, we wanted to go for a more fuller, rounded sound on 'Looks Like Rain' to accentuate the levels between the vocals and the instruments, making them different enough to identify separately, but still running along side each other to create some form of balanced sound as the two meet.

Can we catch up with you at any forthcoming live shows?

Absolutely. At the minute our upcoming gigs that we're playing are Music Box Festival in Darlington on the 3rd of June followed by Evolution Emerging on the 9th of June, which we're all looking forward to, the line-up of all the different venues for both of the events are unreal and we can't wait to play both of them! We're looking to get a few more gigs in between now and then, but we'll also want to use any spare time we've got to write and record some new stuff.

How's the rest of the year looking, plans-wise?

Well, we've got a few plans, but obviously plans can change depending on the current situation; something might come along that could change our direction, but so far we're keeping it simple, getting loads of gigs in, really working on our writing and recordings and upping our promotion game! Promotion is essential now and that's still something that falls by the wayside for us. But as I said, we've only just started, we're still testing out different sounds to find out what we're most comfortable with and fundamentally, what style is best fitted to us. It's going to be an exciting year!

Where can we hear more of your music?

Both of our current releases are on all major platforms, Spotify, Deezer, iTunes etcetera, as our next release will be also!

What social media platforms can we find you on? 

[Video] Snail Mail - Heat Wave

Words: Sam Geary

Featured last month on Little Indie's Roundtable with 'Pristine', 18-year-old Baltimore singer-songwriter Snail Mail delivers another track from forthcoming debut album 'Lush', dropping on June 8 on Matador Records.

Lindsey Jordan - aka Snail Mail - today shares the record's second single, 'Heat Wave'.

The video, directed by Brandon Herman, showcases Jordan’s formidable ice hockey rink chops, picked up during her days on the high-school team, while delving hauntingly into the psyche of growing up – with its paralyzing insecurities, crushing lows and defiant highs. “I hadn't actually been on skates since I quit the high school team junior year, so immediately jumping into shooting this was equal parts difficult and super fun”,  she says.

UK live dates

15 London Oslo (sold out)
17 Brighton The Great Escape
19 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
20 Manchester Gullivers
21 Bristol The Louisiana

Scots teens Parliamo follow up recent debut with 'Lucy'

Credit: Douglas Hill

Words: Ellie Ward

A recent Track Of The Day with 'Weekend', Parliamo are back with 'Lucy'.

After the Perth teens impressed Radio X's John Kennedy with their debut (describing it as “an irresistible slice of mod beat-pop"), there's more youthful zest and spirit, with a singalong infectiousness, on this follow-up, out now on Alt Waves Records.

Frontman Jack Dailly says 'Lucy' represents "that one boy/girl everybody has who they’re a wee bit mad for throughout their teenage years, and it never really goes away. It’s not as simple as a playground crush, it’s a bit rougher round the edges, and it’s definitely not always a laugh, but it’s that one person who lifted your life out of mediocrity and made you laugh.

"I don’t know if I’d call it a love song, maybe more like an ode to that person. Everyone has someone that comes to mind, everybody has a Lucy.”

Now you too can have a bit of 'Lucy' with the video below.

Live dates

10 PERTH The Green Room

02 GLASGOW Broadcast

Girls Names share new track 'Karoline'

Words: Sam Geary

After they recently impressed the Little Indie Roundtable panel with '25', Girls Names have shared a second taster of their forthcoming new album with the stirring closing track, 'Karoline'.

Ahead of the release of ‘Stains on Silence’ on June 15 via Tough Love Records, the Belfast outfit follow the haunting '25' with the "fictional character who represents whatever you put on a pedestal and chase after" of 'Karoline'.

The band’s Cathal Cully adds: "In a way the whole record is Karoline. I think there's an element of getting older and life getting heavier; something is always holding you back, holding you down. The last line of the track and subsequently the record, "Eating out the scum in Western Man", was the working title of the LP for about a year and a half. A sobering end.”

Live dates

21 Across the Line, Belfast

15 Blackbox, Belfast
19 Moth Club, London
20 Oporto, Leeds
21 Old Hairdressers, Glasgow
22 Night People, Manchester
23 Whelans, Dublin

Drenge debut new song ‘This Dance’ as they embark on tour

Words: Sam Geary

Premiered on Steve Lamacq's BBC6 Music show earlier (April 25), Drenge aired new track, ‘This Dance’.

Take a listen to the song here.

The band, who embarked on the first date of their current Grand Reopening Tour last night (April 25) at Liverpool's Invisible Wind Factory, have a video for ‘This Dance’ coming soon.

A post shared by Dan Carolan (@candarolan93) on

Live dates

25 Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool (sold out)
26 Islington Assembly Hall, London (sold out)
27 The Lantern, Bristol (sold out)
28 The Old Market, Brighton

02 Gorilla, Manchester (sold out)
03 The Art School, Glasgow
04 Riverside, Newcastle
05 Handmade Festival, Leicester