Music and Mutterings of 2015

Well, here we are at the last day of 2015. And it’s been an interesting year, as in “may you live in interesting times.” There’s nothing that can be said quickly about what’s going on around us, except that you have to hope that more people are taking a personal role in speaking out against bigotry, ignorance, and hatred, wherever it shows up. Positivity and compassion, may those ideas fill us all and shape our so-called reality.

Musically, there’s been the constant flow of new material, although to look at the charts, you’d find it hard to believe that besides a small handful of people in the eye of the media, anyone else is actually doing anything. Step away from the mainstream though, and there’s a lot of people out there, fighting the good fight and struggling to get heard in the flood of what’s available.

Someone said to me that artists who have achieved success should stand aside, and let the new come through. I really don’t agree with that, for many reasons, not the least being that to say to someone they no longer have a reason to create is to kill them, early. Let’s be grateful for the people out there who want to keep going, and do, right to the end.  

We just lost a fine example of living life on your own terms, not to a mediatized schedule. Lemmy (RIP) said “If you’re going to be a fucking rock star, go be one. People don’t want to see the guy next door on stage; they want to see a being from another planet.”

May you find your planet in 2016.

2015 Video Playlist

Top Ten Albums of 2015

Drenge – Undertow

Dave Gahan and Soulsavers – Angels and Ghosts

Duran Duran – Paper Gods

Jamie xx – In Colour

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Spector – Moth Boys

Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool

American Wrestlers – American Wrestlers

Dilly Dally – Sore

Mew – + –

Top Ten Songs of 2015

Dave Gahan and Soulsavers – All of This and Nothing

Duran Duran – Paper Gods

Drenge – Standing in the Cold

Kendrick Lamar – How Much a Dollar Cost

Spector – All The Sad Young Men

American Wrestlers – Wild Yonder

Mew – Water Slides

Jamie xx – Hold Tight

Dilly Dally – Desire

Bang Gang feat. Keren Ann – A Lonely Bird

Special Mentions

DTCV – Uptime!

Lull – Bubble Tea EP


Drenge open up about Undertow

cover of Undertow - Drenge

cover of Undertow – Drenge

Drenge hit the headlines when they were named NME’s Best New Band of the Year, an accolade they shared with past winners like The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. Their debut self-titled album had slamming tracks on it like “Backwaters”, “Fuckabout”, and “Bloodsports”, a song that Zane Lowe had as one of his hottest tracks. They played Glastonbury, and turned up wearing dresses at Reading Festival, delivering a blast of straight energy to the throbbing mosh pits of faithful fans. Now Drenge are back with their second album, Undertow, out on Infectious Records on April 6, worldwide release this time round. Northern Transmissions was able to catch up with the band when they came over to New York for an appearance on Letterman, and two blistering live shows. Alice Severin braved the bad weather to have an early coffee with Eoin and Rory Loveless, who opened up about their new album, the new bassist, and recording.

Rory: Yeah. I don’t want to call it like a difficult second album. But it was kind of difficult, in a way, to finish it, but we’re super proud of it.

tap tap interview

My review of Undertow – the brilliant new album by Drenge

If you listened closely to Drenge’s first album, you would have noticed, floating here and there on the tidal wave of energy that burst out of each song, a moment or two of subtle craft. A drop of wordplay, a gap of silence that added more weight to what came next, a neat turn or twist in the direction that felt unexpected and new. With the second album, Undertow, all of the latent exploratory finesse which made them stand out now becomes the bread and butter of the music. This album is the Drenge boys at play and at work sculpting out their own sound, mapping out their own territory, even if this album moves them closer to their indie compatriots like Ty Segall or Hookworms or the perennial Arctic Monkeys, the opposite of the Aerosmith rock morning breath of a band like Royal Blood. Perhaps it’s something in the Sheffield water or attitude that makes it natural to create songs that offer up a little slice of unseen life, a line leading directly back to Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, a sort of natural confusion with life that turns to exploration and revelation.

All the moods that were there in the first album simmering under the surface of uncontainable energy have now been exposed and set free.

more review here…


Drenge in New York City

Drenge in NYC
Live review – January 29 and 30, 2015

Like all things great, it comes out of nowhere and blasts your expectations to dust. Two tall, good looking guys in plaid and t-shirts, now accompanied by their new bassist, head up to the stage. You could call it another round of the epic battle of British bands trying to break America. But then you get to witness something completely different. Where finally you forget about it all, except what pulls you in like a hidden current under the surface. That incredible sensation of everything coming together to create a new element. More than the sum of its parts. Call it alchemy. Drenge are magic.

Watching people sing with the chorus, as Eoin shouts out “we can do what we want”, it’s like being freed from all constraints. It’s a song of desperation, not entitlement.

tap tap full review here…

Drenge new music!

I’m snowed in here, although not as much as I’d hoped. Yesterday, I trekked out across the wild tundra of New York City, snow beginning to swirl around, turning the park and the streets into a temporary stage set of true winter, where beasts of buses clank along with their chains, and everyone is wrapped in those Canada Goose arctic jackets that cost 600 dollars. The beginning of a snow storm is beautiful, as the streets clear out, everyone slows down a little, and the grime is hidden under a frosted layer of nostalgia. And it was all worth it, because at the end of my journey was a warm restaurant, where I was able to sit down with Eoin and Rory Loveless from Drenge.

It was a pleasure to see them again, after our long talk last summer. They spoke at length about the new album and what it was like to go back into the studio. That interview will be out soon, as will the new album. In the meantime, they are on Letterman tonight, January 27, and are playing a couple of NYC shows on Thursday and Friday. Zane Lowe just debuted their new track on BBC Radio One, “We Can Do What We Want.” It’s his hottest track in the world.

Full throttle energy poured into adrenaline soaked music that dives under your skin and defiantly takes control, refusing to let go. There isn’t a single track I’ve heard that hasn’t demanded all my attention up front, only to slide around the back later and curl up for a longer stay.

Looks like the hibernation time is coming to an end.

BBC mini interview with Zane Lowe – Hottest Track in the World