Tag Archives: tough love records

Check Out New Tracks from P.E., Vanity, White Flowers, and Activity

P.E., ‘Soft Dance’; ‘Hot Ticket’ (Wharf Cat)

P.E. is a new quintet comprised of former members of Pill and current members of Eaters. Two teasers from their forthcoming debut long-player, Person – namely, ‘Soft Dance’ and ‘Hot Ticket’ – have stoked much anticipation for the record here at tgh hq.

‘Soft Dance’ is a taut, deconstructed body mover. The bassline and sparse rhythm will have you grooving, but it feels almost detached from the rest of the arrangement – the lyric “the roots make shapes/interwoven – interwoven” sums it all up rather nicely. Veronica Torres’ vocals are reminiscent of Bjork in ‘oh so quiet’ before the storm’ mode, but here the storm doesn’t quite make it, just a plea to not “forget to have a good time”. ‘Hot Ticket’ rides in on a melody that begins like an interpolation ‘Born to Be Wild’ before heading off the highway to a basement club over a stuttering Kid A rhythm. Here, again, Torres’ slinky, commanding performance steals the show – her message requiring “strict compliance” to follow the groove exhilarating. Head over to the P.E. bandcamp page (link below) to also check a remix of ‘Hot Ticket’ from fellow travelers, Liars.

Person arrives March 6, courtesy of Wharf Cat.

Web: label bcamp 

Vanity, ‘Anticlimax’ (Feel It)

‘Anticlimax’ is lead track of the latest double a-side single from New York’s Vanity, an outfit which has previously layered elements of punk, glam and straight up rock across their releases like so many ‘suicide’ Slurpees. The new track sees the band flexing its muscles over a glorious slice of riffing power-pop.

The arpeggiated intro is a glorious rush sure to melt even the most frozen of hearts, but there’s more than enough salt to balance the sweetness. Rushing by in a tic under four minutes, ‘Anticlimax’ feels like a lost b-side from first album Cheap Trick, and finds Vanity (who now include former VEXX-er, Mike Liebman, on guitar) at the peak of their powers. Highly recommended. Released, together with ‘A Seat at the Table’ February 28, courtesy of Feel It.

Web: bcamp label

White Flowers, ‘Night Drive’ (Tough Love)

Back in 2017, White Flowers (née, Britain) seemed to blip, fully-formed, across our radar with the tracks ‘Day by Day’ and ‘Tried to Call’. We loved those tracks’ heady mixture of ethereal, Cocteau Twins’ style dream pop and rafters-raising psych reminiscent of early Doves. Fast forward, then to last month, which saw the release of ‘Night Drive’, the Preston, UK duo’s latest – produced by none other than Doves’ guitarist Jez Williams.

Part of a 12″ double-a side (with ‘Portra’) that was released on Valentine’s Day (hooray for the new music, since it appears their older material has been taken down) ‘Night Drive’ feels a step forward. Built on a similar musical foundation, the track’s multiple layers reveal themselves at a considered pace. There’s a directness in the composition that does nothing to blunt the pleasant buzz created by the combination of Katie Drew’s swooning vocals and a kaleidoscopic melody crafted by her and Joey Cobb. Great stuff – the double a-side is out now, courtesy of Tough Love.

Web: bcamp fbook twitt label  

Activity, ‘Calls Your Name’; ‘Earth Angel’ (Western Vinyl)

Activity are a new quartet featuring members of Russian Baths, Grooms, and Field Mouse. The band’s debut long-player, Unmask Whoever, is due soon and, based upon the evidence of teaser tracks, ‘Calls Your Name’ and ‘Earth Angel’, it’s going to be very good, indeed.

“Calls Your Name” (check the video, above) carries a hypnotic feel, woozy boy/girl vocals bringing to mind Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird’s work on Maxinquaye, et al. Vocalist Travis Johnson’s repeated invocation of a “lit’ral hell” where “houses spread and swell” is mirrored by the circular feel of the arrangement, underpinned by a sinuously insidious rhythm. “Earth Angel” (inspired by Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk, less so The Penguins’ doo-wop hit) has a bit more sprawl, but with a surface-level tension that adds menace to Johnson’s stated desire to “wanna fuck around” over a roiling, 90s industrial boil and even a bit of Hurting-era Tears for Fears. Both tracks manage to feel both insular and heady, and unsettlingly lovely.

I recently had the opportunity to re-watch Donnie Darko with my oldest (who – proud dad moment – loved it) and, if they ever decided to do a re-make, Activity should contribute to the soundtrack. Unmask Whoever is due March 27, courtesy of Western Vinyl – pre-order a copy here.

Web: label fbook twitt bcamp


Brooch (Members of Ought and Yung) Find Delicate Beauty on “Blood Spitting/Broken Glass”

Brooch, “Blood Spitting”/“Broken Glass” 7” (Tough Love Recordings)

Brooch is a musical collaboration featuring Ben Stidworthy (Ought) and Mikkel Holm Silkjær (Yung), born of a relationship between the two musicians forged while on tour with their main bands.  They’ve released a double a-side single, “Blood Spitting/Broken Glass,” each taking turns handling vocal duties.

Each track has a weary, intimate quality juxtaposed against stately 3/4 time.  Personal fave, “Blood Spitting”, feels reminiscent of Elliott Smith, a beautifully delicate melody like fissures in bone china or imperfections in a piece of amber, fading out in a melancholic drift of what sounds like a melodeon or concertina.  “Broken Glass” is a bit rougher, but no less lovely, its droning organ, bending guitar and tremulous falsetto bringing the feel of an endless twirl.

The single is out now, courtesy of Tough Love – order here.  You can find more about Brooch on fbook and the twitt.

New Track: Communions, Out Of My World

Communions, “Out Of My World” (Tough Love)

We here at thegrindinghalt previously sang the praises of Copenhagen’s Communions and their progression from insular post-punk to a larger, cinemascope take on ‘80s indie.  This new single is their most wide-eyed yet.

The title gives one a pretty good idea of what to expect.  I’ve no idea how old the members are, but this is the sound of crushing (noun and verb) love, in a way felt during a certain period of one’s life. Martin Rehof’s despaired vocalizing of lines like “you’re the queen of your scene/and I’m just watching through a screen” and “no boy or girl/has made me feel the same” runs thick with the salt water taffy (melo)drama of unrequited love/lust.  The largeness of the arrangement almost consumes the vocals, reflecting the wistful beauty of the strongest of emotions being left unspoken, or restrained within the four corners of one’s mind (or room); a love note labored over, but never sent.

The production is filled with ‘80s touchstones – from the shotgun reverb on the drums to the synthesized sheen over the guitars – and calls to mind everything from mid to late period The Smiths and The Cure, New Order at their more romantic, even OMD in their pomp.

An alternate Ducky’s theme from Pretty In Pink? Perhaps – maybe this one would’ve worked.

Taken from new, self titled EP, due June 1 in Europe and June 2 in the U.S. on Tough Love and in Japan on Big Love.

Band to Watch: Communions

Communions “Cobblestones” ep (4/23/2014, Posh Isolation); “So Long Sun/Love Stands Still” (Tough Love, 11/10/14)

First wide releases by this young Danish band, based out of Copenhagen and comprised of two brothers (Martin and Mads Rehof) and two others (Jacob van Deurs Formann and Frederik Lind Köppen), both released in 2014.  A part of the much-discussed “Copenhagen scene” (patent pending), Communions do share similarities with bands like Iceage:  drunken vocal phrasing, reverb-heavy post-punk married (on newer material) with travellin’, road-song aspects of older country – but come across as more wistfully romantic (with all of the heart warming and rending that this entails).

Much of Cobblestones takes 60s and 80s jangle indie/college rock (early Smiths, late Joy Division/early New Order), post-punk and even a bit of punk urgency (the insistent drum and bass on the title track are reminiscent of “God Save the Queen”), and buries them ‘neath a heavy coverlet of reverb.  A strong effort – particular faves being the final two tracks, “Children” and “You Go On”.

So Long Sun/Love Stands Still shows a good deal of growth in a short period of time.  “Sun”, begins with a bright, John Squirely guitar hook, before the bass and drums crash along as Martin Rehof’s vocals seem exhaled through a hookah (the higher register he employs on this single made it almost impossible for me to believe it was, in fact, the same vocalist).  “Love” might be my fave of all, though – it is, in fact, quite lovely – Rehof adding a falsetto over a straight ahead rhythm and melody recalling the jauntier moments of The Smiths.

Very much looking forward to more from these guys in 2015 (and beyond).  Check them out on Facebook and on their website.