Indie

Stabbed Panda Presents: The British IBM

Stabbed Panda Presents: The British IBM Interview Liam & Si chat with Aidy, frontman for Cambridge indie band and retro game enthusiasts The British IBM.

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Stabbed Panda Presents: Tape Runs Out

Stabbed Panda Presents: Tape Runs Out Interview Se2, Ep4

Liam and Si talk with Liam and Ellie of Tape Runs Out, Cambridge indie-shoegaze-electro-folk outfit.

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Tape Runs Out on Facebook


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Stabbed Panda Presents: The Centimes

Stabbed Panda Presents: The Centimes Review and Interview Kicking off Season 2, Liam chats with The Centimes.

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Review by Jack Gunner.

Like the European currency unit they share a moniker with, Cambridge indie-pop trio The Centimes are both a relic from the past and timelessly current in their sound.  The trifecta, formed of drummer and lead vocalist Amy Devine, guitarist Adam Woodsford and bassist and backing vocalist Jasmine Robinson, draw from a variety of influences from shoegaze to indie to Blondie-esque punk, describing themselves as a “far out three-piece-multi-harmonic-sepia-toned-rainbow-boned group”. October 2013 saw the trio release their first single, and the subsequent year has seen them glide into the circle of Cambridge’s most talked about up and coming indie bands.

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Little Table opens with a gloomy guitar into strongly reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s Stories from the City tracks, before launching into a simple, catchy alt-rock track with heavy Fleetwood Mac vibes.
I’m Fine kicks off gently with a slower beat reminiscent of the Corrigan-era, early Beautiful South numbers. A flurry of gentle notes floats dreamlike from the twelve string coupled with some great harmonisation and slow, hypnotic lead vocals.
Local Pool, (hopefully not Parkside), is a heady jangle-pop number, with some more outstanding vocal harmonisation, and a soft, steady drumbeat. "The party’s over, so find another party", the refrain repeats, and though the listener admires their resolve, one might think they could be out of look in Cambridge on a Wednesday night.
Stormy Tuesday jolts us with it’s punchy bass, over a playful shoegazy guitar -  the influence from My Bloody Valentine is most apparent here, as if the Irish alt-rock titans had got lost in Cambridge, got stoned and gone punting.  In perfect keeping with the hazy blues of the title, Devine’s vocals here are jaded but still determined.
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The Centimes achieve something not too many bands do with this release – they sound like they’ve been playing together forever, with superbly neat harmonies and, through the use of the twelve string and acoustic bass, subtle yet powerful instrumental ability – eminently listenable and showing of great potential.

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Panda Hut group selfie FTW.

Stabbed Panda Presents: Band Of Brothers

Stabbed Panda Presents: Band Of Brothers E.P Review Liam chats with Anglo-French indie-rockers Band Of Brothers.

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E.P. Review by Jack Gunner

While the first association for some of the term, "Band of Brothers", will be the grimy khaki of the Emmy winning, Spielberg helmed World War II mini-series of 2001, Shakespeare nerds will know it from its original context – the ending of the renowned St Crispin’s Day Speech from the Bards Henry V, as the warrior king with the dismal bowl-cut rallies his soldiers for one final push at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

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Opener Blades of Glory is a 90’s-Britpoppy – there’s notes of Albarn to the vocals - anthemic number with a bouncy intro that’s part Holloways, part Levellers which leads into a more subdued verse and a power-house, feel-good, chorus that kicks the EP off in great style.

Bluesy Steeve takes the journey in indie time-travel back a little further, hinged on a subtle, constant bass line interspersed with some Hendrix style guitar riffs and moments of a Clash-esque sound in the chorus, it’s a real indie-disco song, that will undoubtedly form a cornerstone of the boy’s live shows.

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September Sun is a very short-and-sweet acoustic number which provides a head-turning change in tone from the other tracks, but that is rarely a bad thing. The lyrics, somewhat sentimental and poetic, might come across as borderline schmaltzy to some, but the simplicity and the repetition of lines such as, ‘long are the winter nights’ manage to hit the right notes, reminiscent even of some of the Frost poems about nature. That’s the last literary reference in this review of a rock album. I swear.

What’s the Game? brings the listener back to speed with an ever-so-slightly Libertines-esque, punk-lite track that, unlike the others on the disc runs on for a bit, allowing the musicianship to breathe a bit – the drums are at their best here, starting with a simple rhythmic build-up before exploding in pop-punk flurries, while Lawrence, (vocals), unveils his inner Billie Joe Armstrong on the rousing, emotive chorus.

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Young Wings closes off the disc with a folk-y, summer-y guitar backdrop that shows off another side to the bands tempo – it’s the kind of song that would feel right at home at a summer festival played to an evening daisy chain crowd, and it’s a decent listen and adequate disc-closer even here in rainy Yorkshire, though let down ever so slightly by a bland chorus.

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Band of Brothers, like the comrades of their namesake, are old-school in their sound and their vibe, sounding less like a band of the current nerd-rock-fused-with-dance scene that dominates modern indie, and more like a fun, drink-and-dance-along pop-rock act, which carves them out a great space in the market. With a decent range for a five-track that shows talented craftsmanship, good energy and the potential for expansion, both sides of the Channel could do with standing up and taking note of them.

(8.5/10) Jack Gunner

Stabbed Panda Presents: The Varsity

Stabbed Panda Presents: The Varsity Album Review In our first ever video interview, Liam chats with local good-times indie-rock legends, The Varsity.

Review of “Get Down, Get Loud!” by Jack Gunner

Its hard to know what to expect from Cambridge alt-rock up and comers The Varsity. Claiming a vast array of influences, their early work has a melting-pot feel that could easily have sounded like a musical power-tussle, but instead carves them out as one of the city’s most intriguing unsigned acts.

The four-piece, consisting of vocalist Nigel Mpakti , guitarist Oscar Corney, bassist Matt Barkway and drummer Sean Clayton have spent the last few years spreading their fun-driven sound around the loosely-worn Cambridge circuit, with sets at venues including the Portland Arms (A great venue, by the by, that doesn’t seem to get enough support), and the Cambridge 105 tent at the Strawberry Fair, before February saw the release of their debut EP, ‘Get Down, Get Loud’.

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The album kicks off with, Tomorrow Never Comes, an infectiously catchy anthem of vitality that thankfully sounds nothing like the Garth Brooks dirge it shares its title with. With a great bass lick intro from Barkway, elements of Arctic Monkeys to the vocals, and some memorably off-the-wall lines, such as - “I’ll do some crazy shit/I’ll set my hair on fire just to prove a point” – something which you hope for health and safety reasons isn’t a regular feature of their gigs. Fire safety is, after all, what rock is all about.

Jake’s Song keeps up the tempo nicely, blending a nicely shoegazy indie-rock backdrop with a hint of melodic hardcore vocals and a short, slightly prog-esque guitar solo. It would be comparable to some of the mid-era Lostprophets numbers if recent events hadn’t made that just about the worst comparison a music journalist could make. Nonetheless, it’s an instant repeat-track, and unquestionably the highlight of the EP.

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Red Light sees the discs emotive core, the lyrics turn a little angsty,but they’re matched with an upbeat rapid-fire verse which melts slickly into a more melodic chorus, before an effectively layered ending act.

Titular number, Get Down, is a left-fielder, pairing the hazy indie backdrop with unexpected rap vocals and a slight ska-feel to the chorus. If there’s a criticism to be made, its that the sound quality seems to waver a little on this track, the punchy style maybe requires a little more volume and clarity – but this is something that can easily be ironed out in recording or concert.

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Righteous Eyes brings the disc to a satisfying close with a more Britpop style, adopting an ever-so-slightly Albarn-esque spoken word pentameter in the early portion before sliding into a more organic chorus, bringing back the light-hearted vibe as the listener is given a catchy first-person narrative of an unconvincingly repentant love-rat.

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As the festive season draws to a close, anyone feeling like they may claw their eardrums out if they hear, Driving Home for Christmas one more time could find some nice appeasement with The Varisty – their début shows an outstanding diversity in sound for a five-track – and with their sideline in acoustic numbers, a full length will likely have even more reach - and a real commitment to fun and energy in the performance style.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and keep supporting Cambridge music!

(9/10)

Jack Gunner

Here’s some links, free of charge: The Varstiy on Facebook The Varstiy on YouTube "Get Down, Get Loud!" on iTunes

Stabbed Panda Presents: 28 Boulevard

28 Boulevard header Liam talks with Tim and Michael from Cambridge indie-alt-rockers 28 Boulevard.

Stabbed Panda Presents: 28 Boulevard by Stabbed Panda Presents... on Mixcloud

Review by Jack Gunner 
Formed in 2010, 28 Boulevard have earned themselves a reputation as one of Cambridgeshire’s best unsigned bands. Having played the standard smorgasbord of talent nights around their homelands, the boys profess a desire to stretch beyond their county limits Fresh from a mini-tour around the UK with pop-rockers Room Service, they’re back home for a while, with a number of upcoming gigs in their local area. 

We don’t know too much about them at this stage – they purport to be inspired by Biffy Clyro, Muse, Feeder and Bloc Party, love playing music ‘in the studio, on the stage and for their neighbors’ – which is good, as bands who hate playing music tend to suck - and in the true indie style of taking the banal and giving it meaning, plucked their name from a poster hanging in their practice room.

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The five-piece is led by Tim Lloyd-Kinnings on vocals and guitar, with his brother Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings (LK) on guitar and keyboards, Cameron Gipp on guitar, Lewis Moon on bass and Michael Smith on drums and backing vocals. 

Opening number Logistics is the EP’s lead track, and the bands newest single, with a chair-tastic video for it on YouTube to check out, (LINK!). A solid percussion cold-open with a sudden jolt of fast-paced, urgent sounding guitar leads into an enjoyable track- its here that the Bloc Party influence is clearest - which effectively pairs stripped-back verses, with a powerhouse, sing-a-long chorus. The swirling guitars and keys, combined with the semi-angsty lyrics provide the song an anthemic feel that would make it a great gig-opener. 

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Treat Me Like A Fool, is the pick of the bunch, a bouncy, straightforward number with some  enjoyable lyrics that blend neo-trendy self-deprecation, ‘Everybody here has cigarettes/ I’m the only non-smoker and it makes me feel undressed’ , with a more sinister tone at points, the lines - ‘So I went to town and bought a gun/And pretended to shoot the birds all flying into the sun’ indicate a darker undertone to the typical frustrated-young-protagonist, which would be interesting to see the band develop further. Lloyd-Kinning’s vocals are at their strongest here, reaching the high notes on the chorus without sounding forced in the process. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a hazier British Weezer, with notes of a poppier Libertines. 

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MCE’  brings the disc to a closewith some spacey guitars, and a more pop-punkish vibe, with a simple repetitive structure to the lines. Attempting  to analyse the lyrics can be jarring – the protagonist has a letter for a lost love he isn’t sure what to do with (my initial reaction was, ‘Um… post it?’), but, critical pretentiousness aside, the track is a real ear worm - its not hard to imagine skinny-jeaned, small-hatted crowds chanting along to the refrain, ‘I would love you if I had the choice’.  Taking an unexpectedly mellow third act, the song fades into a melodic guitar dénouement which brings the EP to a satisfying ending. 

As a sample of what’s to come, the EP offers a lot of promisealthough with only a meagre three tracks, its hard to really imagine what a full album might sound like. The ending of the third track alludes to a more chilled style, and they’ve expressed comfort with playing smaller, acoustic gigs, so the slight lack of variation isn’t too concerning at this point. The musicianship is slick and straightforward, with the poppy, quasi-American vocals a strong fit for the background. All in all, while it treads very familiar ground, their sound brims with youthful energy, and indicates it would be fun to check out live, a great starting point for any young band. 

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In an August where Mallory Knox – professed Facebook friends to the Boulevard boys – are slotted to play the Reading and Leeds main stages, it seems high time for music fans to realise that there’s more to Cambridge than the university, the punts, and the pretty skies. If you’re looking for a catchy new indie band to check out this autumn, you could do a hell of a lot worse than 28 Boulevard. 

Links!