Tough Love Records
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Display Homes are an Australian three-piece pop band that formed one night in late 2016 at a pool table in Marrickville - Greg and Darrell met Steph, who’d just come back to Sydney from Germany and reckoned she could play drums.
Their first practice involved an abysmal attempt at a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Dancin in the Moonlight'", and they soon realised Steph clearly hadn’t been in a band before and Greg shouldn't sing. Regardless, the connection between them all was obvious, and the songs began to crop up naturally.
Just a few months after their first trip to the studio, Display Homes’ self-titled debut 7" is being released through London-based record label Tough Love Records on [XXX]. The three songs were recorded in April of this year in David Akerman’s studio in Marrickville, and just like all great current Australian music, they were later mastered by Mikey Young.
As far as debuts go, it’s effortlessly perfect. In this brief time together, the band have played a host of short and fast shows across Australia, alongside other great locals such as UV Race, Low Life and Orion. Buoyed by the inherent intensity that informs the Sydney DIY music community and a shared love for a wide range of 80s music, Display Homes play discordant pop-orientated post punk with a refreshing lack of self-awareness and lyrical honesty.
In fact, Steph’s autodidactic approach to music means the lyrics were formed into songs somewhat unknowingly. As each song originates from a foolish nature and a tendency to improvise songs in any day-to-day situation, the end result is a set of direct, slightly jarring but infectious pop songs.
RIYL: The Au Pairs, Pylon, Priests, XTC, Essential Logic, Bush Tetras, Delta 5.
1. Climate Change
3. Bist Du Da
Tough Love Records
£13.49Starting out as a recording project between Angus Lord, Claudia Serfaty and Stephanie Hughes, the germ of what would eventually become the Stroppies was formed around a kitchen table in Melbourne's inner west early 2016.Visit product page →
The initial idea was to create open ended music, collaged quickly and haphazardly together on a Tascam 4 track Portastudio that drew on stream of consciousness creativity and a DIY attitude a la Guided By Voices and The Great Unwashed.
The desire to move beyond the pre programmed drum patterns available on their Casio Keyboard led to the addition of Rory Heane on drums and a more conventional band dynamic. In Late 2016, Alex Macfarlane recorded the band in their lounge room direct to 4 track, capturing 7 songs that would become their 2017 self titled cassette tape debut.
The songs were bounced back and forth from tape machine to computer to tape machine to computer again. In keeping with the bands initial aesthetic, dubs were laid over a 4 month period incrementally on different devices as members had babies, explored intercontinental love affairs and set up homes together. Since the release of the tape, Adam Hewwit has joined the group on third guitar as they settle down into exploring the new band dynamic and focus on their next recording project.
The Stroppies is composed of members of many Melbourne and UK bands (Claudia is originally from London) including Dick Diver, Primetime, Possible Humans, White Walls, Boomgates, The Stevens, See/Saw to name a few.
They make modest, idiosyncratic pop songs that reward with repeated listening.
1. Gravity Is Stern
2. Go Ahead
3. No Joke
4. Under Your Sweater
5. Courtesy Calls
6. Celebration Day
7. All The Lines
Release Date: 27/10/2017
Tough Love Records
£18.99David West is a musical artist from Western Australia based in New York City. He's been active in the shifting sands of underground pop for over a decade. Not dissimilar to the main character in Star Wars, his musical career began in a backwater desert village, in this case, Perth, before he migrated to more glittering metropolises like San Francisco and Melbourne, and finally landing in his current home of New York.Visit product page →
He presently plays in the contemporary outfits Rat Columns, Rank/Xerox and Liberation. In the past he has participated in such groups as Lace Curtain, Burning Sensation and Total Control. DW began releasing eponymous platters in 2015 with the Night People/Happy Endin' full-length cassette Drop Out Of Collage.
This was followed in 2016 by the Peace Or Love LP which featured the radio semi-hit ‘Dream On Dreamer’. DW's move into the "own-name" category of artists came as his other bands began to develop defined identities. He felt that recording under his own name would be an excellent umbrella for both roving experimentation and a more frivolous, post-modern style of pop music that would not fit in the frameworks of his other projects. Also, after crafting band names for over a decade, it was just time.
Cherry On Willow is DW's audio pop vision for 2017. It differs from the last two DW releases by introducing a more collaborative framework, creating the backing group Teardrops - an open ensemble of friends and collaborators, including Bob Jones of Eaters, Louis Hooper of Rat Columns, Mikey Young of Total Control and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Raven Mahon of Grass Widow, dynamite drummer Griffin Harrison and other supremely talented individuals from the past and future.
The recordings were quite live and spontaneous, hoping to catch some of the magic involved in speed and improvisation, harvesting creative sparks from his musical colleagues and himself.
The album was recorded in various places in the latter half of 2016 - by DW in his practice space in New York City; in a rental rehearsal room in Glasgow; and a garage studio in Guildford, Western Australia, where Rat Columns' recent LP Candle Power was also recorded. Cherry On Willow was recorded quickly and with a 'first thought best thought' philosophy, to capture an old-school pop feeling, with rough edges intact, human movements tracked and uncut. Swiping liberally from various strains of underground pop, glam, rock'n'roll, synth-pop and disco.
RIYL: Felt, The Wake, Orange Juice, The Pastels, Feelies, Belle and Sebastian, Rat Columns.
1. Morning Rain
2. Cherry On Willow
4. Love Comes On
5. Time To Forget
6. Reds For The Blues
8. Swan’s Beat
9. Call Me Sometime
Release Date: 20/10/2017
Tough Love Records
£18.99“Melancholy and darkness, and dissonant, uncomfortable music, resonates with us, for whatever reason,” says singer and spokesman Craig Johnson. “The new record is more melancholy than dissonant. I feel we're just opening up a bit more on this record.”Visit product page →
A sliver of strings, a squeal of feedback, pulsing drums, sheets of steely guitar and sonorous bass, and a rough, declamatory voice - from these primary components, Leeds quintet AUTOBAHN unfurl their second album, The Moral Crossing, which adds more finesse, dynamic and colour to the commitment and energy shown on their 2014 debut Dissemble – an album that Louder Than War described as, “driving, powerful and passionate… tapping into addictive darkness of our past and reminding us that that we cannot escape its attractive desolation.”
While Dissemble was made by imagining what the late, great producer Martin Hannett would do, The Moral Crossing is the sound of what AUTOBAHN would do. To capture the new sonic details of the band, lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton decided to give up their practice room that doubled as a hardcore/punk venue (which influenced their original sound, as did a love of The Birthday Party) and build their own studio space.
They found a former double-glazing firm, under a disused bridge, in Holbeck (Leeds’ red light district), and despite having no experience of such a job, they undertook this feat. It took a year from ripping out the existing contents to finishing the album – which was then mixed in New York by Ben Greenberg, known for his work with the Sacred Bones label.
On top, Johnson taught himself how to make a record after the studio was built. “I was down there nearly every night,” Johnson recalls. “It was pretty horrible at times, but worth the pain to have control over everything. We’ve had the chance to create the sound we want, at times it’s more melancholic, and romantic.”
Part of the shift comes from Johnson’s newly honed melodies such as ‘Vessel’ and ‘Torment’, part from a greater use of electronics, such as the synthesiser underpinning a haunting ‘Future’, evoking neon-lit rainy-nocturnal rides through a cityscape, likewise the album’s title track, which is one song to benefit from the judicious addition of violin and cello. “!’d been listening to classical music, and I’d seen the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra doing Beethoven’s Ninth, which was mint, but I felt out of place, that people were looking down at me,” Johnson recalls. “So, it’s good to bring some of that to the record. A couple of tracks, ‘Torment’ was one, we ended up replacing the guitars with strings – whatever was best for the song. Like the French female voice in ‘Torment’ too, it just felt right.”
This time around, AUTOBAHN decided to create their fearsome depth charges by building the tracks as they went along rather than working on completed songs. As a name, AUTOBAHN has been a bit misleading, as they sound quintessentially Leeds, not Munich or Dusseldorf, but Johnson chose the name because he loved the repetition of rhythm. With Hilton – surely one of the best young drummers alive – driving, Johnson requested they all, “imagine they were all different part of a machine: a steam engine, say. Again, it just felt right. And then we put it all together. The lyrics came right at the end.”
Johnson’s lyrics on The Moral Crossing combine to form a whole: the theme of a birth, “but that person had no choice in the decision. And then it’s about the different outcomes that could happen. Which could be glorious or torturous.”
The words and songtitles suggest more torture than glory – for example, “A selfless crucifixion / You’ve nailed in the hard sell” in the manic ‘Obituary’: “Pain out of control” in ‘Torment’: “With your withered hand / Drag me deeper into the fallen ground” in the escalating drama of ‘Fallen’ - a word, alongside “fall”, that crops up in several songs. Though Johnson points out that another line from “Fallen”, “Give a break to that child in the noose” is an example of AUTOBAHN’s, “dark northern humour” (another example was the billboard ad for Dissemble: a hearse, parked outside a funeral parlour, with the band’s name in flowers, next to a group of kids holding balloons…)
And though Johnson admits to sudden negative episodes (documented by ‘Low/High’, another slowburner that eventually bursts into flames), “they don’t last long. Actually, as a band, we’re more optimists. I don’t find talking about this stuff as ‘dark’, but it’s stuff people don’t usually want to talk about - execution, rising from the dead, depression, feeling utterly lost and unsure where to go. To understand the moral crossing, to go one way or the other, and how it can change your life. For me, saying this stuff out loud give the feeling that there’s a future.”
On ‘Low/High’, Johnson sings, “You’re floating higher now / No more discontent” and in the part-spoken word litany that is ‘Creation’, “I want to be there for you / I want to rise on through.” To reinforce the optimistic feeling, gospel singers from the local church sing on both tracks. “I wouldn’t call it ‘holy’ but some of the lyrics they were singing were about going to a higher place, even if the whole lyric might contradict that,” says Johnson.
AUTOBAHN have checked their own moral compass, and chosen the hard way – not just building their own studio, but to keep confronting the dark stuff. But their music is infused with the joy of exorcising the darkness: to be there, and rise on through. There is a future, and AUTOBAHN and The Moral Crossing are very much part of it.
Martin Aston, August 2017
4. The Moral Crossing
Release Date: 03/11/2017
Tough Love Records
£18.99"Guitar-flecked electro at its most hypnotic and sublime" Sunday TimesVisit product page →
”Unfettered adrenalin rush” MOJO (4/5)
“Fun with a capital ‘F’, but there are moments of gravitas too. Not easy to do that” NME (8/10)
Light in Your Mind is the first new material from CYMBALS in 2 years, and their first album since 2014. If the wait seems long for the listener, for those involved in its creation the time in between pulls in a lifetime of unexpected experiences. That Light In Your Mind even exists is a testament to not giving in.
Since their inception, CYMBALS line up has been subject to a great deal of change. Amidst that change there has always existed the songwriting duo of Jack Cleverly and Dan Simons, who formed the band in 2011 with the sole intention of “having fun”.
A noble aspiration, but one that became increasingly hard to realize when the realities of a 9-5 existence started to corrosively rub against the expectations of being in a band that wanted to tour the world. At various points over the last 6 years and across 3 albums, a rotating cast of at least 10 other people have formed some version of CYMBALS.
More still have contributed to Light In Your Mind - Justin Goings and Josh Hefferman both provide drums, while Alabaster DePlume plays saxophone on ‘Fully Automated Luxury’. Producer Kristian Robinson (Capitol K) is a major presence across the album and played a key role in guiding the transition from the band’s sound on their previous record to this one.
The music itself possesses a sedimentary quality, a residue of each contributing member compressed into what it is that band have become. Consistent throughout has been the relationship between Cleverly and Simons. Failing relationships, betrayal, addiction, illness: the emotional challenges were huge.
Thankfully, they were not insurmountable. Second track ‘Car Crash’ addresses that period head-on, a typically effervescent synth line from Simons disguising lyrical content that traverses that fine line between blind arrogance and tortured self-loathing. Like all the best CYMBALS songs, it deals in unexpected contrasts.
Much the same can be said of the structure of the album as a whole, eclectically comprised of melodically memorable pop songs ('Car Crash', 'Talk To Me'), bucolic instrumentals ('My Body', 'Numbers') and longer, pensive songs that explore the space in between ('ASMR', 'I Thought I Knew You'). As final track ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ concludes, a synth loop first heard on the opening track is subtly re-introduced, completing a circle of sorts.
2. Car Crash
3. Talk To Me
4. I Thought I Knew You
5. My Body (Winter Mix)
6. Where Nothing Can Be Defined
8. Euphoric Recall
10. Fully Automated Luxury
11. Lifetime Achievement Award
Tough Love Records
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The four original members of Lød formed after graduating school in Copenhagen, inspired by the post-punk that was prominent in the fervent, close-knit music community of the city. The first version of Lød was very much birthed in this same shadow: loud and heavy. With time their sound began to rely less on distortion, foregoing aggression for a greater focus on melody and rhythm.
Bands like LCD Soundsystem, Suicide and Kraftwerk provided further inspiration and it became an ambition for Lød to create music that - while never taking the easy route - could make people dance.
With their debut EP, released via London-based label Tough Love, they have very much achieved this. They're a dance band, in the same way one might consider NEU a dance band. The recording of Folder began in October 2016 with engineer Julius Pedersen, who helped the band shape tracks that had taken more than six months to write.
The result is a 24-minute, four song debut EP sung in Danish. You might consider it uncompromising were the songs not so accessible. And despite their length, these are 'songs', with defined melodies and structure. Looping and monolithic, early commentators in their home country have noted a “trance-punk” aspect to their sound. Such nomenclature can be tedious, but it's not a million miles from the truth.
Bringing to mind the likes of Preoccupations in their similarly propulsive take on post-punk, Lød add a further glacial edge indebted to both early industrial and no wave.
1. Sa° Bla°
2. Træder ind, bukker, bukker
Tough Love Records
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Following the release of Foxhole in January of this year, Tough Love will issue on vinyl for the first time The Proper Ornaments debut long-player, Waiting for the Summer: a compilation of their first 10 songs, originally released on CD in 2013.
What they said in 2013… Is perfect pop still possible? It’s hard to imagine, but the answer is Yes, and The Proper Ornaments are here to prove it. A timeless beauty that reminds us of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus & Mary Chain and yet sounds classic and effortlessly original. Produced by Charlie March of NZCA Lines and featuring ten golden nuggets of pure pleasure. James Hoare and Max Claps formed The Proper Ornaments in 2010.
The first line up included bassist Michael Lovett and Lets Wrestle front man Wesley Patrick Gonzalez. Micheal went on to form NZCA LINES, but Wes remained part of the tag team thanks to a nifty half nelson and the offer of a night in the corner of London's darkest stages and the theft of his organ….
1. Waiting for the Summer
2. Are You Going Blind?
3. Who Thought?
4. Drop Off
5. Recalling B
6. You Still
7. Shining Bright
9. Nervous Breakdown
10. Take a Break
Tough Love Records
£19.99LP vinyl (opaque white) 1000 copies.Visit product page →
Priests’ Early Recordings combines the band’s first two cassette-only tape releases, originally recorded in 2011 and 2013. The small run cassette releases were originally intended to be for purchase only at the band’s live shows. “We didn’t want everybody to hear it,” said drummer Daniele Daniele. “We were still learning our instruments, so these tapes were not intended to impress the world, just document where we were for our own sake.” Daniele met vocalist Katie Alice Greer the same week she arrived in Washington, DC to complete a fellowship at Georgetown University, and the two decided to start a band. Guitarist GL Jaguar joined soon after, and bassist Taylor Mulitz completed the lineup the following year.
Tape 1 was recorded by Jaguar in his parent’s basement in Maryland. The band had existed for one week, and the trio had written four songs. “I was very eager to have evidence of the band exist for myself, because I didn’t know how long it would last, and I wanted to make music more than anything, said Greer. “Diet Coke”, the band’s first song, is a hundred second blast of pummeling energy and what would become Jaguar’s signature riffage. A winking nod to advertising that sneaks into culture, the tune is followed by the more contemplative “Talking”, a song on which both Greer and Jaguar play guitar. Greer’s lyrics speak to US public school systems “rewarding complicity” and children being “being socialized by reality TV”. “The World”, perhaps foreshadowing the band’s krautrock-inspired penchant for repetition, is a jubilant intermission before “Cobra”, a playfully minimal stop-start closer inspired by cult favorite rock group She (also known as “The Hairem”).
On Tape Two the band was eager to showcase their fuller sound as a newly expanded quartet. The tape’s seven songs were recorded by Kevin Erickson and Hugh McElroy, who had already recorded the band’s first single “Radiation/Personal Planes” a year earlier and would go on to produced half of Priests’ Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP and all of Nothing Feels Natural. “Leave Me Alone” nods to the Priests’s affinity for inverting the cool funk of a song like Bush Tetras’ “Too Many Creeps” (“I see you when I’m out on the street/ I think you look like a creep”) while exploring more melodic territory on tracks like “Twelve”, hinting to material that would later surface on Nothing Feels Natural. Lyrically, Priests continued to explore themes that center women’s lives (“Lillian Hellman”), critique social perception of female celebrity (“Lana”), interrogate assumptions of US history (“Incantations”), and invert the male gaze on the Daniele Daniele-penned closer “Watch You”.
Priests was already interested in expanding their musical palette, as evidenced by metallic clangs and a purring drum machine on “Watch You” and creeping mellotron weaving in and out of a few different tracks throughout.
Early Recordings lays the groundwork for Priests longer releases in the following three years and provides context for the band’s evolving sound.
1. Diet Coke
3. The World
5. Leave Me Alone
6. Say No
8. USA (Incantations)
9. Lillian Hellman
11. Watch You (Alternate Mix)
Tough Love Records
£16.99Ulrika Spacek return on June 2nd with the release of their second album, Modern English Decoration. Much like their debut album released in early 2016, the band chose to record, produce and mix the entirety of the record in their shared house – a former art gallery called ‘KEN’, so named because of a cryptic inscription found above the front door.Visit product page →
The relatively short amount of time between their first and second albums is testament to the band’s self-contained creative environment and the productivity it encourages. There’s a tendency to label this degree of self-reliant creativity ‘DIY’ - and the band do certainly feel emboldened by that ethos - yet to consider Modern English Decoration solely in these terms is a disservice.
Their craft is considered and purposeful, the means of its production reflecting the band’s overall vision rather than the value system of an often haphazard and accidental DIY culture. “We enjoy listening to music through the album format and want our records to reflect that”, says Rhys Edwards (guitars, vocals, synthesiser).
Ulrika Spacek formed in Berlin in one night, when 14-year-long friends Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams conceptualised ‘Ulrika Spacek’ and came up with The Album Paranoia as their debut album title. Moving back to London with the intention to record it, they were joined by Joseph Stone (guitars, organ, synths, violin), Ben White (bass) and Callum Brown (drums, percussion), ossifying into the five-piece they are now. The album was released soon after with little forewarning and was accompanied by a year long, near-monthly club night called Oysterland.
Given the lyrics often favour abstraction and the vocals can be more impressionistic than declarative, the album title itself offers perhaps the most telling entry point to the record. In part, it’s a self-effacing play on an interior design cliché that references the meticulous creative processes the band adheres to. There’s also a nod towards the environment in which it was created – a Victorian house turned art gallery turned home studio
Unsurprisingly given the context of its creation, Modern English Decoration might be considered a companion piece of sorts to The Album Paranoia.But there are crucial differences. Most notably, this isn’t the work of the Ulrika Spacek conceptualised by Edwards and Williams in Berlin – Modern English Decoration is the band as five rather than two people, and it shows.
Those who have witnessed the intensity of their live show will instantly recognise the merits in this. The bass and drums provide a versatile anchor, at once soft, then aggressive, while the vocals drift woozily in and out, like druggy hindsight or skewed premonition. With three guitarists in the band guitars were always going to be central to the music, but what is less expected is the dynamic interplay between the trio that suggests a three-headed version of the Verlaine-Lloyd axis at the heart of Television.
What’s more, the absence of reverb is integral, in part attributable to the ambience of the studio, but also a conscious decision in order to add focus. And focus is the abiding term: this is an album designed to be just so - a 45 minute commitment, a surrender.
1. Mimi Pretend
3. Dead Museum
5. Everything, all the time
6. Modern English Decoration
7. Full of Men
8. Saw A Habit Forming
9. Victorian Acid
10. Protestant Work Slump
Tough Love Records
£18.99Proper Ornaments is the project of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy, Pink Flames). Debut LP ‘Wooden Head’ (FortunaPop 2014) perfected the unique slant of their previous work. James and Max started out writing the follow-up in January 2015.Visit product page →
On ‘Foxhole’ they’ve sliced away a whole stratum of their sound, removing some distortion and lowering the frequency of plectrum strokes to allow more nuanced, piano-led ideas to emerge. The title isn’t a reference to Television’s jaunty proto-punk record but seems to be more of a dark, protective interior, a head space sketched out on ‘Jeremy’s Song’. While their particularly recognisable production style (a bright, frozen counterpoint to the airless mixes one encounters more often) remains, three things stand out as likely reasons for the shift in mood.
By the time they got around to recording again in James’ bedroom in Finsbury Park that Summer, the instability around the recording of ‘Wooden Head’ (and the five years before) had slid into a deep and seething acrimony. Second, they both bought pianos. Third, when the band, with Daniel Nellis and Bobby Syme joining on bass and drums went to record at Tin Room in Hackney in June, the pinch wheel on the 8 track machine was broken and somehow no one noticed.
All but one recording, ‘The Frozen Stare,’ was hopelessly warped, so they went and did it all again from scratch back at James’. “We ended up doing the whole thing there as the atmosphere suited the direction of the foxhole and we were more comfortable working on it in our own time,” says James. That’s why the record has a laid back, conversational, not imposing or anxious feel in my opinion. If ‘Always There’ was the most melodically fluid but dimly lit point of the first record, there are another half album of songs here at least that are as strikingly gorgeous and unsettling.
‘Memories,’ ‘Just a Dream,’ ‘The Frozen Stare’ and ‘When We Were Young’ are in this mould, as is the icy, slightly devastated goodbye that closes the record ‘The Devils,’ filled out with piano reminiscent of Big Star’s ‘Third’ or Lou Reed’s ‘Berlin’ and cracked double bass. What was in evidence in two of their earliest songs - ‘You Still’ and ‘Are You Going Blind?’ – an understated, poetic play of moral sensitivity against a callous distance, of warmth and hostility, has reached its most sustained expression yet and gives their pop moments of a haunted love song quality along the lines of Del Shannon, Lesley Gore or Roy Orbison.
‘Bridge by a Tunnel’ and ’I Know You Know’, on the other hand, share in the breezily abstracted character of 2014 single ‘Magazine,’ the later laying a sardonic (non)apology - ‘I know you know, things could’ve been different/but they’re not’ over careful daubs of slide guitar. ‘Cremated’ is also guitar-lead, and reaches an early apogee of morbid oblivion baiting, while ‘1969’ is a really perfectly recorded grand sweep of sound that recalls Serge Gainsbourg and ‘Harvest’-era Neil Young.
Proper Ornaments hold the attraction of seeming to not try very hard at all and achieve something outstanding nonetheless.
RIYL: The Velvet Underground, Elliott Smith, Veronica Falls, The Bats, Ultimate Painting, Toy.
1. Back Pages 2
2. Cremated (Blown Away)
4. Just a Dream
6. The Frozen Stare
7. Jeremy’s Song
8. When We Were Young
9. Bridge By a Tunnel
10. I Know You Know
11. The Devils
Tough Love Records
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First new material since the release of the London five pieces debut album, The Album Paranoia.
Like that debut album, it was self-produced and displays a band keen on creating and controlling their own sonic universe. Features a cover of The Velvet Underground on the B side.
The band's music has drawn various interpretations, a cross pollination of hypnotic fuzz, Verlain-Malkmus guitar idiosyncrasies and intertwining feelings of both angst and melancholia
Everything, All The Time
Lady Godiva's Operation
RIYL: Mercury Rev, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead, Deerhunter, Atlas Sound.
Tough Love Records
£16.99LP is ltd , colour is called “blue suede shoes”.Visit product page →
RIYL: Felt, Television Personalities, The Wake, Orange Juice, The Pastels, Young Marble Giants, Veronica Falls.
“angels of light have your souls in a vice / we want to be free / we want to be loved / we want to be kissed from heaven above” David West, Dream on Dreamer
When Tough Love first began putting out records, one of the guiding motivations was to release music that sounds like the music David West makes. We didn’t know it at the time, because we hadn’t yet heard of him. It’s funny how the very thing you’re looking for falls into your lap.
If you don’t already know of David, and the various guises he performs under, then I’m a little envious, for you have a lot to discover for the first time. Peace or Love, is the second album to be issued under his own name. That can be either your starting point, or your continuation down a road.
The facts: Peace or Love is the follow-up to USA/Australia-based musical artist David West's 2015 cassette release, Drop Out Of Collage. Peace or Love is a collection of songs stemming from wild and free bedroom four-track cassette recordings and personal hard drive sample raiding, with contributions from various musical friends in Perth, Western Australia and SF/LA, California.
West draws inspiration from free-thinking artists of the past and present on this polyphonic platter, from soft indie strumming and free soundscapes, to disco and soul-pop. West currently plays in the guitar pop band Rat Columns, synth-pop project Liberation and post-punk trio Rank/Xerox, and has been in varied acts such as Lace Curtain, Burning Sensation, Total Control and Whalehammer.
If you were feeling particularly grand, you could say that David West has created his own ecology, or you could just say he’s a very busy man. I told David over email that Peace or Love feels like an album that was made specifically for me. His reply? “It is for YOU. And YOU. And YOU. And YOU…Peace or love is the same thing - you want to be free and you want to be loved....but you gotta choose one” This is music from the margins that deserves a place in the middle of anyone's heart. // “it's peace or love baby / you said it before / that you want it all / it's peace or love, baby” - David West, Peace or Love.
2. Peace or Love
3. Do You Miss Me Around
4. Dream on Dreamer
5. Darkness in My Heart
6. At Pease
7. Darkness in My Heart 2
8. Happiest Man In The Room
9. Au Contraire
10. In Love
11. Darkness in My Heart 3
Tough Love Records
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Weird Dreams is the nom-de-plume of Doran Edwards, a London-based artist returning nearly four years after the release of his band's debut album, Choreography.
This new record, Luxury Alone, is a collection of ten songs made over a 3 year period of uncertain times in different rooms in various homes, and was written, produced, performed and mixed by Edwards.
Luxury Alone documents a very difficult period of emotional turmoil and various health issues for Edwards, and the result is an extremely moving and beautiful personal journey.
“All this music is how I felt in the world. I eventually choose to learn to mix the record myself, design my own fantasy image and then have that world disappear. “ Luxury Alone is hundreds of songs down to just ten.
RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Dirty Beaches, Deerhunter, Women, Viet Cong, Beach House, Wild Nothing, Youth Lagoon.
2. Heaven’s Hounds
3. The Ladder
4. Neon Erotic
6. Fantasy Building
7. Digital Water
8. Chalk Scrawls
Tough Love Records
£5.99Communions, made up of brothers Martin and Mads Rehof, Jacob van Deurs Formann and Frederik Lind Köppen, are fast-gaining attention for their transcendent melodies, delicate guitar lines and emotive pop songs about naivety and youth.Visit product page →
"oozes effervescent warbles—from vocalist Martin Rehof, and the interplay of shimmering guitars, and lovely crescendos of reverb, reminiscent of early Stone Roses.” (Pitchfork)
Following two sold out pressings of Communions' So Long Sun 7" and the self-titled 5 track EP, Tough Love have collected the two releases together on one CD for the first time.
The 7 tracks document the Danish four-pieces impressive evolution from teenage proteges of the Copenhagen Mayhem scene (IceAge, Lust for Youth, Lower) to perhaps the most accomplished young songwriters in the country.
1. Forget it's a Dream
3. Restless Hours
4. Summer's Oath
5. Out of My World
6. So Long Sun
7. Love Stands Still
Tough Love Records
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Big Ups' second LP, Before A Million Universes, is at once a fist in the face of complacency and a sonic affirmation to, in Walt Whitman's words, "let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes."
Pretty heady subject matter... Joe Galarraga (vocals), Amar Lal (guitar), Carlos Salguero Jr. (bass), and Brendan Finn (drums), met studying music technology at NYU. Five years later, the city's notorious crucible of garbage, money, and humanity has had a profound and delightful impact on their art.
"Tell me what you're worth / Salary, two weeks off work?" Galarraga screams on "Capitalized," as the bassline frantically roams our conscience like a wet-nosed dog. Galarraga's vocals burn with the heat of a thousand day jobs.
Yet all this righteousness is worth as much as a Che t-shirt if it lacks humility, and more than any of the band's previous work, Before A Million Universes plumbs the depths of self-deception in wickedly clever ways. Who doesn't own a coat made of "The Feathers Of Yes"?
"Count the ideas in my head so I can love every one," our protagonist coos before Lal's guitar tosses lightning bolts through his cloud. "And it feels so warm / wrapped in self-righteous truths."
"Yawp" unspools the exercise in futility that is the overexamined life to the tune of a lumbering giant stomping across a field of insecurities. "How many times can you be poured through the still to the point of perfection? / I've dropped myself through the coils so many times but always come out with something missing / And the proof’s so high it makes me dizzy."
The album's emotional and musical core lies in "National Parks," a song Galarraga wrote as a tribute to the sacrifices his mother made to raise him.
We're led through the anger and bewilderment—at his mom's solitary walks through their neighborhood and the selfishness inherent to childhood—and into a coda where you can almost see the sun streaming through the trees of Galarraga's park, drums steady and swelling, a transition in tone and mood that this band has nearly perfected. "I think I saw her say to herself / This is everything I've missed."
Before A Million Universes is Big Ups at their most sincere, urgent, and vital— a salty kiss from the wet lips of Brooklyn's bard.
1. Contain Myself
4. Feathers of Yes
5. Meet Where We Are
6. Negative (intro)
8. Hope For Someone
10. National Parks
11. So Much You
12. Proximity Effect
Tough Love Records
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Ulrika Spacek is a British experimental rock band formed in Berlin by Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams, relocated to Homerton, London.
Work on debut album ‘The Album Paranoia’ began in the summer of 2014 in the band’s shared house KEN, and was finished there last month.
In conjunction to the making of ‘The Album Paranoia’, the band has curated a number of nights under the name ‘Oysterland’ combining their first live performances with a series of exhibitions.
The band's music has drawn various interpretations, a cross pollination of hypnotic fuzz, Verlain-Malkmus guitar idiosyncrasies and intertwining feelings of both angst and melancholia.
1. I Don’t Know
3. Circa 1954
4. Strawberry Glue
5. Beta Male
7. Ultra Vivid
8. She’s A Cult
9. There’s A Little Passing Cloud in You
Tough Love Records
£7.99There’s a concept in Scandinavian society called the Law of Jante, which says individuals should downplay their achievements, blend in and support the group. The music of Danish band Yung serves as an urgent, screaming retort to that idea, the sound of young iconoclasts fighting against apathy.Visit product page →
Led by 21-year-old frontman and songwriter Mikkel Holm Silkjær, the group hails from Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, a huge port, university town and ideal place to find like minds amid the industrial grit. On the forthcoming EP “These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores,” out 18th September on Tough Love, they show themselves to be ambassadors of their country’s increasingly vital underground music scene.
Anthemic guitars, coarse feedback and driving rhythm, insistent to the point of impatience, show angst acting as a powerful fuel for self-expression, gasoline poured on a fire already fed by youthful energy. More than buzz, Silkjær, along with bandmates Frederik Nybo Veilie (drums), Tobias Guldborg Tarp (bass) and Emil Zethsen (guitar), has built a cottage industry.
He writes songs, handles the artwork for every release and even does much of the production himself.
The resulting self-made music on “These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores,” raw, snarling corkscrews of feedback, find the Danish rockers branching off from the same family tree that birthed The Replacements and Cloud Nothings.
It’s the band’s DIY call to arms, singular and authentic songs that won’t remain unknown very long. They begin with "Blue Uniforms," premiered on The FADER.
2. It Happened Again
3. Blue Uniforms
4. Not A Shelter
6. Too Good For You
Tough Love Records
£7.99Black Vinyl - 200 copies.Visit product page →
CRUISING are a four piece from Dublin and Belfast made up of Benni Johnston (Vocals), Claire Miskimmin (Guitar/Bass) Neil Brogan (Guitar/Bass) and Sarah Grimes (drums).
With previous/ongoing experience in bands such Girls Names, September Girls, Sea Pinks and Logikparty, CRUISING began in 2013 as a side project for all four.
Named for William Friedkin’s gay exploitation shocker from 1980, the debut single You Made Me Do That (taken from the killer’s line in the film) dropped in early 2014 on Soft Power records and was recorded live as it was written. Practicing sporadically and playing a string of incendiary/chaotic live shows when schedules allow, CRUISING have now miraculously recorded their debut EP proper for Tough Love.
Recorded in two days in a freezing railway arch studio (Dublin’s Guerilla Studios) in January 2015, and mixed at Belfast’s Start Together, the self titled EP shows the band in various guises, morphing between popper’d up Agit-Punk (the re-recorded You Made Me Do That, Woman), psyched out post-punk (Lifting), and riff driven bangers (Safe Corridor, Cutlass, The Spectacle).
1. The Spectacle
2. You Made Me Do That
3. Safe Corridor
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