Welcome to our fourth MySpace Trail. This one belongs to April. Fun times. The idea: DiS introduces you to a host of exciting new artists via the starting point of a fairly established one. Easy. For example, last month’s piece started with Youthmovies and ended up with the random splatter-rap of the HEALTH-tipped Captain Ahab.
This month we’re kicking off with perennial DiS faves iLiKETRAiNS, a band who’ve steadily grown in stature over the past few years and are set to embark on a major European tour in April. Timely, yes? Yes.
As per usual, the rules are simple: we skip from top friends to top friends on each artist’s MySpace page, eight times; where we wind up, we don’t know ‘til we get there. Click the artist names for the necessary MySpace links.
Although they’ve been around for the best part of four years now, iLiKETRAiNS are still one of those bands who the phrase ‘cult following’ was invented for. Combining post-rock-infused time signatures with lyrics depicting historical characters and events you probably won’t have dwelled too much on in high school, the quintet are one of the most original and compelling bands to emerge from these shores of late. This month they’re back on the road, headlining numerous medium- to large-sized venues in various parts of Europe. Miss them at your peril…
Play: Both early single ‘A Rook House For Bobby’ and recent album track ‘Death Of An Idealist’ consecutively, if only to demonstrate where they started and how far they’ve progressed in that time.
Video: 'A Rook House For Bobby'
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Formed in Leicester around the back end of 2004 but now (more or less) based full-time in Leeds, Her Name Is Calla are one of those bands whose sound is impossible to pigeonhole and overall direction seemingly holds no boundaries. Their earliest, acoustic-based recordings were a smokescreen for what was about to come next, as anyone fortunate enough to own a copy of last year’s epic ‘Condor And River’ single or witness them at either of their two DiS shows in August 2007 or February of this year will testify to. With a new six-track EP (The Heritage) set for release in June, we’re expecting great things from these guys.
Play: Previous single ‘A Moment Of Clarity’ may be about “the sound of a human spirit breaking” but we dare you not to fall in love with this band in an instant.
Strictly speaking, Glissando aren’t exactly what you’d call a new band in the most pedantic sense of the word. Nevertheless, the core duo of Richard Knox and Elly May Irving have survived the breakdown of their own personal relationship to continue making some of the most poignant, haunting music we could ever wish to hear, and with a new album finally set to come out this summer on Gizeh Records, expect their name to figure in several end of year ‘Best Of’s.
Play: As a taster for the forthcoming long player With Our Arms Wide Open We March, listen to the desolate piano-led ballad that is ‘Floods’.
Staying in Leeds (we’re probably going to get accused of cheating here), the rise of local independent label Brew Records is one of those home-grown success stories you rarely hear about nowadays. Initially started up as a bedroom label by Tom Bellhouse and Simon Glacken to put out music “that speaks to us and little else”, they’ve gradually risen into a prominent outlet for new music by way of their excellent compilation Volume 1 which featured the likes of Glissando, Vessels and Bilge Pump among its 16 tracks. Since then, they’ve put on some of the city’s most prominent and downright ambitious live shows and been featured on Huw Stephens’ radio show. The stuff that dreams are made of, then…
Play: Their debut seven-inch ‘Lucky Jack’ by Leeds shoegaze types I Concur is a must own for any record, or indeed iTunes, collection.
Forget the moment post-rock jumped the shark if you will; instead let’s concentrate on the day some of its earliest incumbents defied pre-ordained boundaries and gained a new sense of ambition in the process. None more so than Irish three-piece God Is An Astronaut, a band who first came to prominence among the DiS collective via 2006’s staggering A Moment Of Stillness EP. What sets them apart from the masses of Mogwai copyists is that they combine elements of shoegaze, electronica and even classical pieces – often in the same song – and really do sound like no other instrumental band on planet earth today.
Play: The deceptively buoyant ‘Grace Descending’ from last year’s Far From Refuge is as good a place to start as any, but their output is so varied, and insistently dynamic, that you could pretty much enter the fray anywhere with GIAA and never want to leave.
Continuing our focus not only on the artists, but also on those who are prepared to take risks in order to get those artists and their music heard in the first place, we take up the mantle with London-based label and club night Club AC30. Essentially the brainchild of Robin Allport and his brother Nick, Club AC30 has carried on where the likes of Sarah, Subway and, more recently, Fierce Panda left off: one of the few remaining collectives fuelled by the pure spirit of independence rather than the lucre of easy pound signs. Since their first release in May 2004, they’ve stayed true to their shoegaze-inspired roots, putting out incendiary releases by the likes of Air Formation, Exit Calm and Model Morning in the process. Indeed, flicking through their roster, it’s actually hard to pull out a dud, something which is testament to their ear for a good delay-invoked tune.
Play: Pretty much everything from the forthcoming single by The Domino State ‘What’s The Question’ through to the quite pulsating cover of Slowdive’s ‘Souvlaki Space Station’ by Destroyalldreamers, taken from 2006’s compilation Never Lose That Feeling#2.
Video: Model Morning - 'Without You I’m Lost'
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Regular readers of DiS will already be aware of the Midlands contingent’s high regard for Exit Calm, not least borne out by two sensational performances at our Nottingham DiS shows. What makes this band extra special in our eyes is that where most bands reach a certain point and just stagnate, Exit Calm actually go one step further with every live show they play, as anyone at Dingwalls on Wednesday March 26 will have seen. Although clearly influenced by records like The Verve’s A Storm In Heaven and Lift To Experience’s The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads, Exit Calm have already defined a sound that is entirely of their own making and in guitarist Rob Marshall possess a musician who, in time, will be held in the same high levels of esteem as many of his contemporaries.
Play: Once again, you can take your pick here as they seem to have no weak tracks in their armoury, but debut 45 ‘Higher Learning’ and future single ‘Reference’ should give you an idea of what they’re all about.
To finish, we’re actually going home… well, to my hometown at any rate. Two years ago, any mention of the name Mint Ive would have been met with howls of derision at their lad-rock posturing. Fast-forward to 2008, add a new guitarist and drummer and a host of new ideas and it really is like watching a completely different – and ultimately brand new – band for the first time. Although they’ve been playing sold-out shows across the city for a good 12 months now – as any Midlands DiSser will remember from their astonishing October 2007 headline performance – they are now starting to gain recognition in other parts of the country too, as recent and forthcoming shows with the likes of Frightened Rabbit, A Place To Bury Strangers and The Domino State suggests. We envisage great things for this quartet any day soon.
Play: They recently recorded three tracks with Matt Terry at Vada Studios in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Our favourites at this moment in time are the melancholic chime of ‘False Idols’ or spaghetti western shoegaze of ‘Fearing’ but we may have a new one tomorrow…
Next MySpace Trail: May. ‘Til then, enjoy and lates…