On their debut EP, HeyRocco weren’t exactly shy about flaunting their influences. Huge slabs of Nirvana-esque riffery collided with early Weezer songcraft and waves of distortion, creating something truly retro.
Once claimed to be “the loudest band in New York”, noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers have carved out a true cult following since forming in 2002. By creating a sound that fused heavy distortion with gothic and shoegaze tendencies, their first two albums laid down some wantonly dense retro sounds, while their later releases somehow managed to feel a little more accessible without losing too many of the band’s most confrontational elements.
Their 2019 release ‘The Fuzz Club Session’ was recorded in a single day when APTBS visited Love Buzz Studios in South London at the end of a tour. According to frontman Oliver Ackermann, there are times where it’s possible for a band to feel tired of their own material after being on the road, so a little re-invention is needed to keep things interesting. That’s very much where this release comes in.
In 2018, Norway’s Spielbergs made a grand entrance into the music world with their debut EP, ‘Distant Star’. With an epic fusion of 90s indie, shoegaze and a touch of dark synth pop, it’s five tracks took the listener on a retro journey that managed to feel very nostalgic but still sound great in the present. The signs were all there for a band whom were going to release a fantastic full-length the following year.
Two of the EP’s key numbers have been recycled for their full-length debut giving a strong feeling of continuity. The EP’s masterpiece, the sprawling eight minute epic ‘Ghost Boy’ has been left behind (giving listeners the ultimate reason to backtrack and check out the previous release if they’ve not already done so), but ‘Distant Star’ and debut single ‘We Are All Going To Die’ sound superb nestled amongst the newer material – and it’s a genuine thrill to discover these aren’t even the album’s best tracks!
Not to be confused with the independent progressive rock band from Finland, the UK Evil Owl are hard, retro and grubby. On their self-titled EP from 2018, this Bristolian trio take the garage rock base of Brockley Forest and load it with the kind of distortion and arty noise that fuelled the Sonic Youth classics ‘Sister’ and ‘Evol’ and throw in a few influences from Mudhoney and Tad for good measure. The result is a genuine blast of guitar driven anger – four songs with a retro heart but also loaded with a timeless, fuzzy appeal.
In 2016, Liverpool’s Novacrow released their debut EP ‘Black Syrup’, a melting pot of goth, grunge and funk with horror overtones that really captured a great sound. The riffs were often weighty, but most impressive of all were the vocals. It was immediately obvious that Kitty S. possessed a voice that really stood out above the heaviness; her clean vocal style made everything incredibly accessible and melodic, no matter how deep or intensive the riffs. Throughout the release, she sounded like a star in the making.
The following year came and went and things seemed to go rather quiet in the Novacrow camp. Finally, after what felt like forever, they returned with five new songs in the autumn of 2018. The resultant EP, ‘Criminal Mastermind’ isn’t as consistent as its predecessor and takes longer to get into, but when it really hits the mark, it presents a Novacrow that sounds as good as ever.