Various Hands

Various Hands is a the dance-rock quartet of Jeff Nations (Lead Vocals / Guitar / Omnichord / Percussion), Zach Meier (Guitar / Keys / Backing Vocals / Percussion), Ben Pitts (Drums / Percussion / Sequencing) and Adam Wirth (Bass / Vocals) from St. Louis, Missouri in the USA.

Various Hands - Dance-rock from the USA

Various Hands – Dance-rock from the USA

Of conundrums that shouldn’t work Various Hands is a pivotal point, but they do. The thrubbing drum kit pounds incessantly as bass demands attention whilst pointed shoes whirl around the floor to the electronic metronome as a blistering guitar scatters impromptu interventions to tear up progress – think a square dance gone into multi-time and you are approximating where we toe-tap with the quartet.

No element overstays its welcome, though each adds to the perspective of difference of Various Hands and you have to raise a hat to the spaces that the band is able to stretch between itself and others. I am minded of the lone yacht threading downwind anticipating an undertow and change of wind direction, judging it right and happily passing by the regatta in joyful circumspect.

The musical theorists will tell you this is a car crash waiting to happen, the reality is a sublime journey unconcerned by forecasts. Well worth more than a moment of your time. Thanks to the troupe that is Various Hands for striking your own path and more importantly making it a path that shines brightly.

Of other vagaries of life. My younger sister (eight years older than I, but still referred to as ‘my younger sister’ – I am only 13 – honest guv – never announce a ladies age – they are always 21) runs a jewellery business called Creative Hands and just this past week Various Hands connected with the music twitter account indiebandsblog and I noticed ‘hands’ so took scant notice, thinking it was a random connection of another site, then I find myself again trawling old emails and Various Hands sent me an email back in October and now that square dance is circled.

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Hypoluxo – EP – Various Hands is available on iTunes.*

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Fat Heaven

Fat Heaven is the new-wave trio of TravisdogGaylacat and Jack from New York in the USA.

Fat Heaven - eponymous EP - vinyl

Fat Heaven – eponymous EP – vinyl

Time to lace-up the 14-hole DMs, the only sadness being an apology that it has taken me since October to get to Fat Heaven. Big-cat claws of percussion fire out of the speakers in raging fury, accompanied by mewling guitar and ill-tempered bass whilst the vocal adds the sneering contempt.

It would not be remiss to draw references to The Ramones as Fat Heaven eschew the pop theatrics that beset many US bands working in this sphere. The trio attempt no concession to radio-play, preferring to gouge out their own direction of travel without interruption and as you would anticipate I can’t help but recommend you spend time in their company.

Fat Heaven scrawl wide blood stained chalk marks across the room as knuckles are bared to fretboard in frenzies of chords. If you were wondering what you could pogo to from the material of the ’10s this a band you need to add to your playlist.

The only positive side to my lengthy delay in getting round to Fat Heaven is that in the intervening period an eponymous EP has surfaced.  Play it loud, then louder still – thank you Travisdog, Gaylacat and Jack – you have made the year seem so much better than it was.

Those of – oft fused with a hot knife DM soles to keep in that air – will know precisely why I chose to use Roxy to share with its subliminal reference to the iconic Covent Garden venue.

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S / T – Ep – Fat Heaven is available on iTunes*.

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Manett

Manett is the vehicle for the psychedelic-dream creator Rosa Bordallo, based in Brooklyn in the USA to bring her musical ideas to life.

Manett - psychedelic-dream from the USA

Manett

The sounds swirl into the room gently enveloping the listener in an embrace of tantalising melancholia. The waves of sound seem to compress and expand, giving the material a silky texture. Synthetic loops spiral out of the instrumentation, whilst an ever present pulse threads through the melodies which is joined by a delightful vocal that drips sadness giving a sense of an underlying darkness.

Manett delivers music that inveigles its way into the soul and the audience finds themselves captivated by the contrasting textures of light and brooding moods. There is something ethereal to the compositions, which are always drifting past just out of reach as the various elements weave their imagery.

An experienced musician, Rosa, is able to write material that contains complex layering, but when it arrives in the ears the brain is not left in a conundrum as the dichotomies flow easily.

The latest release, a three track single, Stigma-Style is being released on the 28th and available on bandcamp. The closing number is Treehouse.

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Andrew Oliver

Andrew Oliver, the alt-rock solo performer from Oakville, Ontario – Canada was introduced briefly with one track at the end of last year.

Andrew Oliver - alt-rock from Canada

Andrew Oliver

I have now had the opportunity to delve a little longer into material. As you well know by now if you are a regular reader my patience is pretty well non-existent and it always fascinates me the time and care solo performers take to produce material, Andrew Oliver is of no exception.

Andrews‘ music straddles a wide path of out-put from electro-rock to acoustic-americana, yet each piece carefully measured and poured into the room like your favourite cocktail waitress formulating that obscure drink only she knows how to mix. The ears are pulled from warming wurlitzer to electronic loops via scruffy guitar, yet like that strange cocktail nothing seems out of place, with a vocal that retains recognizability.

I am fully aware what it is that really draws in my ears and it is the ever present pulsating bass lines, which is always a direct line to perk up my ears.

Andrew Oliver has taken his experience as a band member and translated that into the solo performance with a deft hand, enabling him to explore ideas that emerge from his own perspective without needing to be translated by others and it is this emotional fragility that gives the music its connectivity.

A new LP surfaced on the 15th – Lazy Bones, (available on bandcamp) which is well worth adding to the playlist – I need something warming.

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Under Surveillance

Under Surveillance from Charleston – West Virginia – in the USA is the rock quartet of Eve Marcum Atkinson (Vocals), Phil Hatfield (Guitar), Phil Crace (Bass) and Randy Brown (Drums).

Under Surveillance - rock from the USA

Under Surveillance

With a few years under their belt Under Surveillance undertook a vocal change this year which has given an added range to the out-put. Lightly touched guitars play in the upper registers as the quartet deliver a fresh zing to a crowded arena. The tautly tied drum skins give the percussion a bouncing timbre that captures the attention as the bass is given sole responsibility for anchoring the tent, but don’t be fooled, this doesn’t sound lopsided as the band utilises this point of difference to give the music an engaging spring to step.

Under Surveillance produce material that minds of a Sidewinder elegantly skimming across the desert sand in fascinating curves of footprint. Their fleet-footed compositions engage the audience for the very fact of the ease of delivery.

It will be of interest to follow their vocal transition which finds Under Surveillance with a new formula.

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