The Skinner Brothers
When looking down the list of acts that The Skinner Brothers have previously shared stages with—a veritable who’s who of 2000s indie bands with very little relevance to anything fresh or exciting nowadays—it can be difficult to parse whether it’s an impressive amount of clout, or the work of a band hitting the right buttons to fast-track fame for themselves. It’s not like their output has done a great deal for them either, mostly in the vein of indie-rock with a smattering of genre-blending, but never so much to dilute the pool of indie interchangeability.
Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to Lonedon, then, is that it at least stands on its own in the modern scene. Granted, that’s built heavily on how The Skinner Brothers pull from older indie-rock and Britpop in such a mercenary fashion, to the point where the title track or Mellow could basically be Oasis songs covered by Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones. Zac Skinner is the one at the helm, pushing the four tracks on this EP down various indie avenues, presumably as a means of fostering a ‘melting-pot’ vibe when there’s also touches of baggy Madchester on Loaded Gun and padded bedroom-pop on Make It Count.
The problem is that The Skinner Brothers’ approach struggles to land where any colour or vibrancy can come forward. Loaded Gun could be the closest gimme they’ve got, where evoking Fatboy Slim and more percussive alt-dance is actually a pretty cool idea, only to be marred by the screeching guitar tone and percussion that literally sounds like flecks of static pseudo-arranged into a beat. In practice, it’s all very out-of-date for where indie music currently is, with the blockiness and shredded nature of the production that never suitably cultivates the grit it wants to. Perhaps with elements of quivering strings on the title track, it’s somewhat salvaged, though it’s not like The Skinner Brothers display any sort of consistency to have that pay off in a worthwhile manner.
There’s also the lyrics which, admittedly, skew a bit more personal that broad, brash indie of this stripe often can, but that’s one of the few products of the current environment that The Skinner Brothers can call their own. Otherwise, they’re a band that could’ve fallen in place about 15 or 20 years ago, probably would’ve seen a bit of steam on the touring circuit with the right bills, and faded into obscurity from then on. It’s more misguided than outright awful, but it’s not like the outcome for that is much brighter. • LN
For fans of: Oasis, The K’s, The Reytons
‘Lonedon’ by The Skinner Brothers is released on 23rd September on Soul Boy Records.
Being transported to a place of darkening skies and haunting forests is a key part of the black-metal listening experience. GAEREA do not fail to deliver on an immense and atmospheric offering in Mirage, and they go beyond the stand expectations for the genre playing with the dynamic intensity of their sound across the album. Incredibly well composed and produced, traditional black metal is given a new twist.
Opening with a serene clean guitar lead, shimmering synth pads and haunting whispers, Memoir beautifully builds taking the time to savour each instrumental element and explore the textural layers of the music. The explosion of distortion and percussive hits with ludicrous speed carries a deeply emotional quality. Beginning an album with such a powerful track not only establishes the tone for the album to follow but it can also lead to questioning whether the album has peaked too soon. In the case of Mirage, it mostly certainly hasn’t. Embodying a strong sense of identity within a genre is no easy task and going back through GAEREA’s discography their growth can be seen through each new release. The subtle aspects of the band’s production contribute to huge overall sound; the dark, low tones of the choir parts in Salve give an eerie, gothic edge. In a less subtle manner, the shredding clean lead guitars bring a brightness among the darker tones enhancing the overall sound across numerous tracks of the album. Using Arson as an example, it shows how by creating a contrast, the component parts build upon each other in respect to pitch that results in GAEREA’s monumental wall of sound.
The stop-start nature of the title track in its introductory section adds a progressive and chaotic feel. It’s unsettling and disturbing and brings something new to the album from the previous tracks. Vocally, the album is filled with monstrous harsh performances that are distinctive enough to hold their own space in the music without over shadowing or becoming overshadowed. They are demonic and yet also convey a notably human experience of emotion. GAEREA, while delving into the disturbing dark don’t fully leave our world for realms of monsters. They explore the light and dark on Earth. Mirage ventures through multiple moods once again showing off the band’s range of instrumentation.
While GAEREA may choose to remain shrouded behind masks and hoods, they reveal their personalities through their art. Mirage is a stunning album the draws on progressive, cinematic and gothic aspects all woven into an epic tapestry of black-metal. • HR
For fans of: Downfall Of Gaia, Dark Fortress, UADA
‘Mirage’ by GAEREA is released on 23rd September on Season Of Mist.
Patience In Presence
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Celebration Summer are some forgotten relic tucked away in American punk’s past, but the truth is they’ve only actually been around since 2019, and have only released one EP prior to this debut album. It speaks to their proficiency overall, as they’ve fully ingratiated themselves among the ever-lovely confluence of rugged, bearded 2000s punk and the shaggier underground pop-punk of the ‘90s, in a way that so many other similar risers have been making significant jumpstarts with.
Well, you can scribble down Celebration Summer’s name on that list too, as Patience In Presence is a very competent longform first impression for them. Perhaps it’s a bit too long, in the sense that there’s clearly some flab holding it back from hitting more swiftly, but the fact that it’s not that easily locatable does kind of work to its advantage. It’s emblematic of no obvious weak link, corroborated by how the melding of melodic-yet-avalanching guitars and pounding bass tones are yet to have their luster even grazed.
It’s topped off by a suitably gravel-gargling performance from frontman Nate Falger, the linchpin factor in channelling some Hot Water Music worship that’s paramount for this working as well as it does. Even when songs like Silly Me or Resin break into dashes with some faster, frenetic tempos, the ideals remain airtight in salt-of-the-earth punk warmth, right down to the writing. Seldom exemplary (because it’s rare for anything in this to be when the bar is so constantly high) but never weaker for it, it’s a testament to how accustomed to nailing their style and influences that Celebration Summer are.
It definitely helps that punk of this ilk always seems to hit by default—not so much inviting, and more that’ll it’ll drag you through the door—and Patience In Presence is no exception. It’s a strong addition to an even-burgeoning collection that’s yet to feel weighed down and overstuffed, such is the wealth of quality, easy-to-love material it offers. Apply that same summation to plenty of others for the same results, but it doesn’t dilute what Celebration Summer have to offer at all; if anything, it highlights the field that they’re standing in, and still strong enough to rise among. • LN
For fans of: Hot Water Music, Samiam, Leatherface
‘Patience In Presence’ by Celebration Summer is released on 23rd September on A-F Records / Shield Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)