‘The Magic Gang’ – Album Review

On 16th March 2018, The Magic Gang released their long-awaited self-titled album, gratifying their fans with an incorporation of old and new, heavy and dreamy but an all-round beautifully constructed record.

The Magic Gang are currently number 15 in the UK album charts.

We are super enthusiastic about The Magic Gang because they are openly supportive of fighting against sexual assault at gigs. It is extremely important that this is recognised by musicians from all genres, orientations, styles and so forth. By openly supporting Girls Against, The Magic Gang are supporting the fact that intersectional feminism is relevant, appropriate and (almost) as cool as their stage presence when performing their bangers live!

As I strolled down Mount Street in Liverpool with Your Love playing through my headphones, I could have easily been on the way to the Cavern in the sixties.

To me, the album feels like it was made for live performance. Hearing the re-worked versions of All This Way and Jasmine, for example, creates a desire for the atmosphere at a Magic Gang gig because of the memories that these songs have brought fans over the past few years. By including these in the album, the record still has a feel of the bands’ hard work and determination that has lead them to this point in their career – they have been solely committed to their music and it has most definitely payed off. Although, the track list does seem like a trip through the eras because their music could easily fit into the plethora of influential styles and bands that have crafted indie music of today.

I wanted to focus on some of the newer tracks for a deeper analysis – starting with an energetic opening to the album – Oh, Saki. The Motown drums and melodic bass line give an upbeat vibe to the song, leading to an interesting guitar solo to give the track a flare. However, this compliments the beautiful harmony in the second half of the song.

This is also evident in Caroline, where harmonies and grungy guitars blend seamlessly, producing yet another catchy chorus with brilliant vocal arrangement. The bass locks in with the bass drum in the verse which creates the solid beat which we can’t help aimlessly bopping to…

A personal favourite, Take Care has Gus on lead vocals. The Abbey Road piano sound with a reminiscent start leads to the modernised feel of the drum sound. The bass development through the song builds it perfectly, and the well-written lyrics including “take good care of yourself” compliment the new dynamic to the song, whilst ending where it started on piano and vocals.

Finally, Bruises has an interesting vocal sound that compliments the chord progression in the song. There is some great lead guitar throughout, which is reminiscent of Oasis.

The Magic Gang have an incredible summer lined up, playing at various festivals such as Reading and Leeds and TRNSMT Festival. They have also just finished their UK tour; you can find some snaps from supporters on our Instagram @girls.against – keep sending us pictures!

Ultimately, this debut album has impressed, inspired and enriched the music scene. Not only is it an easy listen, but an intricately crafted piece that deserves the upmost success.

Written by Megan Ryder-Maki.
Twitter: @ixxmcmxl | Instagram: @bbtalkz

Rae Morris Live Review: Alternative Pop Perfection

Image by Conor Giblin

When I booked to see Rae Morris late last year, I didn’t expect to be running to the venue in the middle of a blizzard, but that’s Britain’s unpredictable weather for you! Manchester’s Gorilla was the venue, my refuge from the bitterly cold weather, and Rae provided me with the warmth and energy I needed to face the outside world again.

Opening with the bleak and beautiful ‘Push Me To My Limit’, Rae showcased her powerhouse vocals and won the hearts of everyone in the room in the space of 3 short minutes. With this song, she produced a stunned silence amongst the audience and was greeted with rapturous applause in response to the track.

She immediately lifted the tempo with Europop banger ‘Reborn’, as she and her backing singer marched along to the snare drum beat. Pleasing hardcore fans, she next performed a reworked, slightly more electronic version of ‘Morné Fortune’ from her 2015 debut album ‘Unguarded’.

In this trio of songs, Rae showed the crowd that she is absolutely not the same artist that she was when she performed over the road at The Ritz almost 3 years ago. Now, she’s bolder, more confident and more experimental, whilst retaining a strong pop sensibility.

However, despite this, she proved that the old Rae has not completely vanished, by taking a seat at the piano to perform ‘Physical Form’. But this was not for long, because before the audience could get used to the old Rae, she was back on her feet twisting and turning all over the stage to the infectiously catchy ‘Do It’. This track, along with ‘Atletico’ which she performed later in the set, are just pure fun. They generate so much positivity and she performs them in such a cheeky and carefree way that they give her audiences big beaming smiles.

She invited her drummer to act as Fryars for the duet of ‘Cold’, with the pair walking slowly towards each other from opposite ends of the stage. This was such an interesting and engaging performance, yet it was so simple.

Later on, she sang a personal favourite of mine called ‘Dancing With Character’. Whilst performing this song, Rae had to put herself into the shoes of a man who had lost his wife, reflecting on the life they had together and processing the grief of losing her. She did this so beautifully, looking up at the sky as if she was communicating with the man’s wife and moving around the stage elegantly.

‘Under The Shadows’ – a hit from her first album – was very well received, prompting a huge singalong. This track, to me, sounds like a more modern ‘Running Up That Hill’ and I loved the energy that her band put into the drums and sparkly synths that were layered over Rae’s stunning vocals.

For the encore, Rae experimented with vocal manipulation for ‘Lower The Tone’, a risk that paid off as the crowd seemed to love it. She ended the show with the title track from her latest record Someone Out There, which spread a hopeful message and had everyone swaying their arms in unison. A great ending to a rock solid evening of alternative pop perfection.

Written by Conor Giblin (@conorjgiblin on Twitter.)

‘Someone Out There’- Rae Morris Album Review

‘Someone Out There’ is the sophomore album from the ridiculously talented Rae Morris. On this new album, Morris has expanded her sonic horizons and ventured into new areas of production, creating a record that is ambitious and adventurous, whilst retaining some of the character that attracted fans to her debut album ‘Unguarded’.

Opening with ‘Push Me To My Limit’, Morris’ vocals are pushed right to the forefront, sounding better than ever. This track builds and builds before slowly fading out. After this point, the album could take one of two directions. It could’ve stayed in the lane of her debut and continued with more piano ballads, but instead, we are launched into ‘Reborn’ – the first single lifted from ‘Someone Out There’, which Morris described as “a sort of Europop banger”. She’s not mistaken, the track delivers the emotional depth of a typical Rae Morris song through its lyrics, but introduces us to a more pop direction with its electronic production and catchy chorus. The song has a positive message of self-reinvention and being content with the possibility of changing as a person.

Following this, ‘Do It’ is (arguably) one of the best tracks released in 2017 and in my opinion, should’ve been at least a Top 5 single on the charts. But alas, we live in a world of great injustice… It also has a positive message, encouraging people to try new things and pursue their gut instinct.

Before listening to the full album, I was slightly concerned that it would not be able to live up to the hype created by the singles, but ‘Dip My Toe’ is the first of many tracks on the latter half of the album which proved me wrong. It’s an infectiously catchy song about experimentation, the excitement of being single and finding a new relationship and the production is absolutely stellar.

Morris is particularly proud of the production on the album’s penultimate track ‘Rose Garden’, which is the most experimental song she has ever released. She also stated in a Twitter Q&A that it is “very special and particularly moving” for her to listen to and told fans that she intends to explore this new avenue of electronic production on future releases.

The album closes with my favourite track, ‘Dancing With Character’, which tells the tale of an elderly couple who used to go dancing together. The husband lost his wife, but the song tells us that he continues to go dancing without her, retracing their steps. It showcases the beauty of love, how we remain connected to those we have lost through things as simple as movement. The song closes in a beautiful moment that sounds just like an Elton John track, a gorgeous ending to an emotional rollercoaster of an album.

All in all, this record is totally stunning and is definitely a contender for the ‘Best of 2018’ lists. If you’re a fan of Björk, Kate Bush or Grimes, then you’ll probably adore this record as much as I do. This album isn’t a grower, it’s one you fall head over heels in love with upon first listen.

 

Written by Conor Giblin (@conorjgiblin on Twitter.)

How Anteros are Empowering The Girls at The Front

Photo taken by Harriet Brown (hatphoto.co.uk).

Empowerment through music is such an amazing and important thing, especially for girls. Anteros, an indie rock band from London who formed in 2014, proved the importance of this at their show at Jimmy’s in Manchester on Sunday 4th February.

Ready to spend my, usually chilled and centred around going to bed early, Sunday night singing and dancing away to the music of Anteros, I headed to Jimmy’s in the heart of the Northen Quarter of Manchester. Anteros were playing in this venue as part of Jimmy’s Independent Venue Week gigs and, although I didn’t attend any of the other shows, I feel like this energy-filled show was the perfect way to end this celebration of live music in unique venues.

The band were really friendly, making their way on to the stage by way of the crowd, chatting and hugging members of the audience on their way there. But as soon as the music started they were transformed into something out of  a music video; their performance started as soon as they stepped on to the stage.

Laura, the lead singer, especially was incredibly confident and entertaining. I was genuinely shocked at how amazing her voice sounds live and this accompanied by her energy-filled dancing made for an amazing performance. Her engagement with the audience was also really nice to see, holding her hands out to girls on the front row and putting her arms round them whilst allowing them to sing the songs together.

I turned to my friend at one point and told her ‘It’s amazing how much confidence she has, I’d never be able to get up on stage and do that!’ I’ve always admired women in bands who are so comfortable on the stage and entertain the audience effortlessly by completely allowing themselves to let loose and be who they are. Whether its Izzy from Black Honey, Rakel in Dream Wife or Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell, I always feel so empowered after watching women in bands perform and Laura’s performance was no different!

Towards the end of the gig, Laura spoke directly to the audience about her experience of lacking in self-confidence throughout her life and the troubles constantly comparing herself to the girls and women around her have caused. After assuring the audience that she now accepts and loves herself for who she is, she invited all of the girls in the audience onto the stage to dance with her to ‘Bonnie’, a song she wrote with the hopes of empowering the women listening to it.

Being on the stage and dancing around with all the other girls was SO empowering. After telling my friend minutes earlier that I’d never be able to get on the stage and be myself, there I was without a care in the world ‘dancing in the middle’, as the song lyrics go.

It made me realise how important it is for musicians to empower girls of all ages, but especially young girls, to be themselves and love themselves for who they are. Laura inviting us up on stage on Sunday night might have made even one girl realise that being in a band or creating music is what she what she really wants to do. Or made another girl who was feeling bad about herself regain confidence and feel empowered. It certainly kickstarted my week in a really positive way.

This encouragement is also vital within the indie/rock music scene, a scene that is dominated by male artists. Young girls who are just getting into this type of music and go straight for the ‘big bands’ will find themselves with little other choice than to listen to music by white male artists, providing them with little to look up to in terms of relatable role models. And although most of the music I listen to is by female-led indie/alternative/rock bands, most/all of them do not get the attention they deserve. This is a problem throughout the entirety of the music industry, as illustrated by some of this years festival line ups that are lacking completely in all aspects diversity (read our post on the Wireless line up here) and one that will not be solved overnight. However empowering girls and women to ‘pick up a guitar’ (as the saying goes), start a band or even just get involved with the music industry is such an important step in moving towards a more diverse community within music and actions like Laura’s really do make all the difference.

Girls supporting girls and women supporting women is SO important. Watching Anteros play on Sunday night reminded me to always support the women in my life in whatever they’re doing and I hope the smiling faces of all the girls on the stage had this same effect on everyone else at the gig too.

If you have the chance to see Anteros live, take it! This was my first time seeing them live and I had such a fun night. The band’s interaction with each other is incredible to watch and Laura is seriously cool- her voice and overall stage presence will have you captivated from the minute the show starts.

 

Written by Alice Porter (@aliceporterx on Twitter.)

‘Dream Wife’ – Dream Wife Album Review

 

Dream Wife’s debut album is a perfectly executed meditation on what it means to be a woman in a modern age and an exploration of the complexity of that. The London based trio are favourites at Girls Against for a reason and their long awaited first album proves precisely why- at its heart it is a phenomenal love-letter to powerful, strong women and a direct challenge to patriarchal restrictions, and proves that, as they express on ‘F.U.U’, Dream Wife are indeed for life.

‘Dream Wife’ as an album is difficult to define- it transcends genre boundaries in its seamless combination of the best parts of pop with unapologetic punk attitudes. Citing influences as disparate as The Cribs and The Spice Girls, it’s clear to see how they’ve crafted their eclecticism. The band have commented on how in making the album, they attempted to ‘capture what we do onstage’, and this shines through each of the 11 tracks; they put on a spectacularly engaging live performance, and it is definitely reflected in their recorded tracks, which possess a lot of obvious pent-up emotion which encompasses the album entirely.

Though there’s a distinct Dream Wife feel to the album as a whole, it definitely develops down different avenues and many of the songs are sonically worlds apart, whilst still capturing that effortless cool vibe and the self-exploration which is quintessentially Dream Wife. Some standout tracks include my personal favourite, ‘Love Without Reason’, which is a dreamlike ode to falling head over heels with someone. The song encapsulates a yearning for innocence, particularly in the line ‘let’s be kids and fall in love’, and unearths a softer side to the band.

The opening song of the album, ‘Let’s Make Out’, epitomises Dream Wife: setting frontwoman Rakel Mjöll’s distinguishing vocals against a backdrop of some incredible thrashing guitar riffs from the dream team that is Alice Go on guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass, turning the song into a perfect representation of both their sound and ethos. Perhaps the most important song on their album, ‘Somebody’ presents a really powerful message in its repetition of ‘I am not my body, I am somebody’.  Taking a furious stance against victim blaming and rape culture, Dream Wife provide an ultra-empowering theme that carries on throughout. It’s fiery and old school, and the kind of music that is essential right now.

Dream Wife have proven in their debut album that they are undoubtedly a really important band- their music evokes a sense of sisterly solidarity that is nothing less than vital given the current political climate, and their unashamed embrace of femininity and womanhood is really refreshing and powerful. There’s a lot of pressure around perfecting a debut album, and it is inarguable that Dream Wife have done just that, combining all the far-flung influences possible to create an album that delves into so many different genres and emotions. There’s the infectious glee that ‘Fire’ evokes, and the angsty intensity of ‘Act My Age’- such musical diversity is a feat few bands could successfully pull off, but ‘Dream Wife’ definitely does. Ambitious, it definitely is, but rightfully so. It’s evidence that they have the strength and chemistry to achieve big things.

On a whole, ‘Dream Wife’ is a heart on your sleeve collection of songs with a raging undercurrent that sets the band in a perfect position to start sprinkling their magic everywhere. The phrase ’empowered women empower women’ is more than applicable to Dream Wife- through all the uplifting moments and the most fury-ridden ones, the main thing that the album remains is relentlessly empowering. This empowerment is evident through the band’s encouragement of women in rock and punk rock- their fervent use of the idea of ‘bad bitches’ and the way in which they urge them to come dance around at the front at their gigs shows in their music and it’s invigorating.

I also love that the album is one for many occasions because of its diversity- it’s an album to dance to, laugh to, get emotional to, and it is a complete celebration of what it means to be a girl which is really special. It’s the perfect album to listen to and get you feeling all exhilarated and giddy or alternately quite introspective, and the amalgamation of emotions it presents makes it a versatile and intriguing offering. Despite the band initially forming as a bit of a joke at art university, their debut album irrevocably shows that Dream Wife are a band that deserve to be taken seriously, and will continue making a storm on the music scene for a lot longer yet. It is definitely one to be added to every ‘girl power’ playlist you can, so I would highly recommend giving it a listen and letting yourself feel like the ‘bad bitch’ Dream Wife want you to.

Written by Neive McCarthy (@neiveeee on Twitter.)

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, The Ritz Manchester, 03.12.17

A roar of excitement fills The Ritz on the 3rd December awaiting the entrance of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, a punk band formed in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire in London.

After the band pulling out of the support slot for Papa Roach’s European tour due to Frank needing to take time to focus on his mental health, there had been speculation surrounding their winter tour. However, having sold out their first date of the tour in Bristol, the fans knew that Frank was back on track.

Opening with the powerful tune “Primary Explosive” from the first album, Frank dominates the venue as the crowd sing along.

“Ladies, this song is for you” Frank dedicates the song “Wild Flowers” to all of the females in the audience and reassures the women who have always wanted to crowd surf but have felt too vulnerable to do so due to groping at gigs that this is their time to do it in a safe environment. Carter reinforces the rule to the males in the crowd by threatening to “tear their f*****g heads off with his bare hands if they do not treat the female crowd surfers with the love and kindness and respect they deserve”.

Artists creating this kind of safe environment at gigs is so important. It not only totally discourages perpetrators from committing any type of sexual assault but it also reassures victims that they are in a safe space.

The song is stopped half way through as a female member of the audience collapses and requires urgent medical attention. The band, the venue staff and the fans work together to make sure that she is safely removed from the incident.

Once the band were given the thumbs up that she was safe, they got back to the set and performed the robust song “Acid Veins” which was the first time that it had ever been performed live, a real treat for the audience.

Carter explores the venue by performing the title track of the new album “Modern Ruin” on the balcony to make sure that everyone feels a connection, not just those that bought standing tickets.

Frank and the gang may well have had some obstacles this year, which they have gone above and beyond to tackle to prove everyone they are back and better than ever. No doubt the rattlesnakes will bite back in 2018 too.

If you have not yet heard of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, check out their social media accounts and Spotify!

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Written by Gee Stanley (@geeslostcontrol on Instagram).