What would happen if you took some of the moodier aspects of Doves, the slightly alternative leanings of Arcade Fire, the grandiosity of U2 and a dual vocal that occasionally disarms the listener by featuring one voice sounding like Robbie Williams? Chances are, you’d end up with something that sounded something like ‘Ninth’, the opening track from ‘Nine’ by The Arthur Brothers. As far as first impressions go, it’s really striking – a reminder that adult pop/rock need not be bland. Better yet, although the track features elements of all of the above, The Arthur Brothers don’t really sound like a blatant copy of any of them. Here is a band who’ve somehow, against the odds, taken a lot of familiar sounding things but used them in such an inventive way, they rarely sound like anything other than themselves. ‘Ninth’ spends its five minutes wisely and fairly concisely; despite wedging at least three different ideas within the one track it never sounds forced. From a listening perspective, whether you choose to be absorbed the deep drum track, the echoing guitar lines or find yourself caught up in a great vocal melody that eventually descends into a simple wordless hook, there’s always something interesting going on. By the time the climax is reached where the band manage to weave complex harmonies in and out of a moody groove that sounds somehow like ‘AM’ era Arctic Monkeys, you really get the feeling that the gloves are off with regards to style. This is an album that promises so much, right from the start.
Ghost Dance Collective’s self titled release from 2018 was a joyously retro affair. Its mix of 60s riffs, reverb and haziness combined with a late 80s indie cool created a great sound. Their all-round retro cool and occasional Byrds-ish jangle would almost certainly appeal to lovers of the classic output from Creation Records, and although traces of bands like The Brilliant Corners could be heard, it was more than clear that this was a band with more than enough of their own talents.
Gentlemen Rogues have been slowly carving themselves a place within the US indie rock scene since 2013. Via a series of EPs, their very retro, 90s-centric sound has won them a fan base, as well as attracting complimentary comparisons to The Replacements and other college rock greats. They’re a band who’ve improved with every release. A must hear, 2018’s ‘Fatal Music’ combined massive riffs, a great production and lots of musical nods to the noisier end of Third Eye Blind and The Bottle Rockets, giving listeners a half dozen massive tunes loaded with nostalgic vibes, yet still sounding wholly relevant.
Fred Abong was especially busy throughout 2018 and 2019. He re-ignited his on/off solo career with the excellent ‘Homeless’ EP, which subsequently saw him touring as support with his old Throwing Muses bandmate Kristin Hersh. That was swiftly followed by the equally cool lo-fi release ‘Pulsing’ which saw critical acclaim from a few indie websites which led to Abong going on the road with Hersh once more. Not just as support act, but doubling up as the evening’s opening entertainment and as bassist with the KH Trio.
With a maudlin heart that could be compared to The National and Elbow, but driven by a noisy and distorted wall of sound that ensures they never sound too much like either band, October Drift’s debut album ‘Forever Whatever’ was an enjoyably downbeat affair. Between a solid sound and some brilliantly constructed rock pop hooks, it was the kind of record that was broad in appeal for the indie/rock fan. The events of 2020 meant that the band weren’t able to promote the release via a mass of live dates, but their online presence and a few very vocal fans more than helped to spread the word.