Over the summer, especially since Latitude in mid-July, the two albums I’ve been listening to most are “A Dream Outside” by Gengahr and “Bashed Out” by This Is the Kit. I’d heard both albums before Latitude and already liked them – I guess Latitude heightened my appreciation of both.
Gengahr’s is the best guitar-based indie album I’ve heard since… what? Royal Blood, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes? Yes, it is that good. It has grown and grown on me. At first I wondered whether Felix Bushe’s slightly spooky falsetto vocals could sustain themselves over a whole album, but they do. They are an integral part of the sound. There are rousing riffs, catchy beats and lovely melodies. The melodies work their way into your brain with repeated listens. And this is an album I found myself listening to repeatedly. Most unusual in this day and age.
“Powder” was the first track of Gengahr’s that I heard – must have been on BBC 6 Music – and I was immediately taken with it. It glides, the vocals are woozy, quite weird, and then the guitars kick in and it lurches into an offbeat chorus which seems to be in another key. It’s not a conventional progression, but it is an air guitar moment! Brilliant stuff – especially the solo towards the end.
Up there with “Powder” is “She’s a Witch”, second track on the album. This has become Gengahr’s most popular song so far, I think. It is what they played last at Latitude, and it got a fantastic reaction. It’s got a lovely, wistful, dreamy melody, with some sharp guitar rhythms as the song builds. As good as indie gets. I love it.
The whole album is great, but other highlights include “Heroine”, which has a guitar rhythm which reminds me of REM, though I’m struggling pinpoint the exact song (“Man on the Moon” feels closest, though it’s far from identical); the opener, “Dizzy Ghosts”, which gives you notice of the dreamy vocals and razor sharp riffs; and “Lonely Like a Shark”, which creeps up on you with its irresistible melody. Not sure where the shark comes into it!
I’ll be really interested to see how well the band do. It seems to me that they could appeal to today’s generation of music lovers who were attracted to The Smiths in the eighties. Or Radiohead in the nineties. But I guess it will depend on where they go to next with their sound.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing them again at the Scala, near Kings Cross, in October.
This is the Kit would be classified as Folk, but their sound ranges beyond that, especially live, where the electric guitar adds a wave of sound that heightens the atmosphere of the songs. I start to think of John Martyn live at that point. The first song I heard was the wonderful “In Cahoots” on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show. It’s a minor key, melancholy, with some intriguing, quirky lyrics. Singer and lead person is Kate Stables and her words mix the everyday with the more mystical. Also in the band is Rozi Plain, who has made some lovely music in her own right. Check her recent album “Friend”.
“Bashed Out” is one of those albums that I’d describe as having a celtic soul. The songs have a melancholy, wistful air. The music is beautiful and atmospheric. And the lyrics have a quirkiness which makes you listen to them. What they mean in the end I haven’t really tried to figure out, but they feel like the words of a person who is grappling with the modern world, trying to make sense of it. Trying to keep it simple.
The whole album is wonderful, but highlights, as well as “All In Cahoots”, are the opener “Misunderstanding”, which has been in my head all the time recently, especially when I’m feeling thoughtful (if that makes sense) and “Silver John”, which is verging on rousing! And “Spores All Settling” has Kate rattling her banjo against a lovely melody.
I’m seeing This is the Kit again in November, also at the Scala. Going to be my favourite venue by the looks of things!
These two albums I can’t recommend highly enough. I can’t guarantee you’ll like them, but give them a try and you might just feel the same as I have.