Saturday, 16 July 2016

Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

DIY indie-punks Martha's second full-length album, Blisters in the Pit of my Heart, is finally here, and it doesn't disappoint. After such a strong debut with Courting Strong, it must be a relief for the band to have successfully overcome the second-album-hurdle.

The album opens with the energetic Christine, setting the tone with it's urgent cry of "I've been messed up in the head since I finished watching Threads",  followed by Chekhov's Hangnail, a song that manages to make the line "when it rains, well it really fucking pours" sound beautifully sincere.

It's chaotic without ever missing a beat, the spiky riffs reminding me of bands like Helen Love, Bis and Kenickie. Their trademark harmonies, with all four members singing lead on different tracks, are still one of the bands most defining features, and one of the things that made me first fall in love with them.

Storytelling is also something Martha have proven themselves to be good at, and that side of them gets a chance to shine too, especially on Goldman's Detective Agency, which sees the band re imagining 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private investigator, dedicated to stopping corruption.

Ice Cream and Sunscreen is definitely a standout track; clocking in at just over two minutes, it darts across the spectrum of human emotion without ever stopping for breath, as well as providing the catchy refrain that gives the album its title.

Like everything Martha does, it leaves you desperately wanting more. I love bands who aren't ashamed to sing in their own accents, and Martha's Durham-voices combine perfectly with the sincerity of their personal-meets-political lyrics to produce a sound that is distinctly their own.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Happy Accidents - You Might Be Right

I always love it when bands manage to successfully combine melancholy lyrics with happy, poppy melodies, and, with their debut album, Happy Accidents prove themselves to be one of those bands. Opening track But You're Probably Wrong sets the tone, with its hook-laden introspective lyrics; "In a world where it's look down upon to vent, so much of worth will not be said."

Lyrically, a recurring theme of this album seems to be how to live alongside unpleasant situations. With most songs, there's an underlying sense of unease that you can apply them to either the world as a whole, or to a more personal experience like dealing with social anxiety. As a socially anxious person myself, Leaving Parties Early strikes a particular chord in me as Rich sings "I'm left wondering if there's something wrong with me."

Facts and Figures sees Phoebe's vocals being pushed to the forefront, and seems to be becoming more relevant each day in this country: "Impossible scene pervading every room I'm in / But if it wasn't routine, not sure that I'd be functioning."

The band strip things back on I Can't Wait To Get The Hell Away From You, which shows off Rich's ability to expose his innermost feeling while still remaining beautifully articulate.

If you're an indie-pop fan who hasn't checked out Happy Accidents yet, then get on it, especially if you're into bands like Martha, Johnny Foreigner, Colour Me Wednesday and Great Cynics.

Happy Accidents are a band that prove you can still have fun while talking about more serious subjects. They wear their insecurities on their sleeves, and by doing so, their album makes you feel less alone in your own struggles.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Martha + Grotbags + Doe + T-Shirt Weather - Soup Kitchen, Manchester

After narrowly missing out on seeing Martha last year (car problems), I think it's safe to say I was sufficiently excited about finally seeing them tonight.
T-Shirt Weather were the first band on, and had me hooked straight away. I hadn't had a chance to listen to them before tonight, but I'd read good things about them, and wasn't disappointed. For anyone else who hasn't yet heard them, they're a pop-punk band from Durham. And I mean, like good pop-punk.

Does anyone remember when Sky had a channel called P-Rock? I used to love that channel, and listening to T-Shirt Weather was like watching all my pop-punk faves again, but without the underlying misogynistic lyrics that I chose to blissfully ignore. I'll definitely be listening to more of these guys.
Next up was Doe, who I'm already a big fan of. Having just announced the release of their debut album in September, tonight's set list gave us a taster of what to expect (perfection, basically). If you like the sound of their track Sincere which was put online this week, then you'll love it. Their songs manage to be upbeat and danceable, with the 2-guitars-no-bass setup often lending itself to an underlying tension reminiscent of early Sleater-Kinney.

The venue didn't really start to fill-up til towards the end of Doe's set, which is a shame because they (and T-Shirt Weather) definitely deserved a bigger crowd.
Grotbags came out to a now-packed room. Describing themselves as "two big lads and two streaks of piss", they delivered a set of solid pop-punk, ending with a cover of Little Mix's Black Magic. As their name, self-description and choice of cover may suggest, Grotbags seem very much about just having some fun, and that feeling transferred well from the stage and into the crowd.
Finally, it was time for Martha. Their soon-to-be-released new album Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart has been streaming online all week, and I'd be surprised if anyone in the room hadn't been listening to it in preparation, as each new track was greeted like an old favourite, as they kicked things off with Christine and Chekhov's Hangnail.

Meanwhile, staples like 1997, Passing In The Hallway and Bubble In My Bloodstream had everyone shouting along.
The drum kit, with it's play on one of Martha's lyrics, had served as a reminder all night of how downhill things have gone in this country in the space of a week. I can't imagine many Right-leaning people feeling at home at a Martha gig, so I think it's safe to say that there was a universal sense of anxiety, anger and a need to just be around people who share your point of view.

This was reflected by the band, as JC admitted to wishing he had something positive to say about it, but not knowing what he could possibly say. For 45 minutes though, Martha managed to make the world feel like it was an okay place and reminded me why I love their music so much.