Von Pip's Seven Top Indie Songs Of March

Whether it's the coolest band to come from Brighton or a garage-duo from Wigan talking about shitting in your eye, here are our resident indie-blogger's favourite tunes of the last month...
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DARK HORSES – ‘Live on Hunger’

Can you ever really trust a Dark Horse?  Well you can if they’re a collective of shadowy, fearless leather clad art rockers fronted by enigmatic singer songwriter Lisa Elle.  Dark Horses are without question the coolest band to emerge from Brighton and they roar back into view with ‘ Live on Hunger’, the first single to emerge from their forthcoming album Hail Lucid State.  It’s a magnificent return and an impassioned call to arms to dark horses everywhere.

Throbbing bass lines and a mesmerising psychedelic motorik chug underpin a tune that conjures a miasma of shadowy doomed grandeur.  The band steadily open up the throttle as the song shifts, changes gear and explodes into life, led as ever by Lisa Elle’s strident yet seductive vocals.  It’s a beguiling swirling maelstrom of sensual, decadent carnal art pop embellished with swirling serrated guitars, pulsating electronic flourishes and affords an intriguing glimpse into what treasures may lay in store when their much-anticipated second album is finally released.

Hail Lucid State will surely be the album that gains them wider recognition as they continue to cast their dark stylish shadows across the UK and beyond.  This is all we hoped for and more from a band whose creativity is burning brighter than ever. They ARE the band you’ve been waiting for. Embrace the darkness.

BOFC - 'Ray Of Sun'

SPC ECO’s Rose Berlin takes her honeyed vocals in a new direction with her latest musical project entitled BOFC.  ’Ray Of Sun’ is already the second BOFC track to air in a series of singles which will be released over the spring and summer of 2014.

‘Ray of Sun’ is a beautiful wistful evocative slice of regret-drenched synth driven pop. There’s a hint of a heavier Saint Etienne in their early mournful kitchen sink drama phase allied to the very best that 80′s electro pop noir could hope to offer.  Only love can break your heart?  Yeah but perhaps only music can heal it.  Beautiful shimmering elegance that once again slaps the face of those who say electronic music lacks depth and emotion.

DARK BELLS - In Your Head

London based Australian duo Dark Bells’ third single ‘In Head’ is a perfect example of the bands strident monochrome indie psyche tinged pop. Singer and guitarist Teneil Throssell’s euphonic vocals and sparkling intricate guitar work illuminate a song that chimes with a dark glittering allure.

On the back of their last single ‘Want’ and their live shows, which are generating genuine excitement via word of mouth, buzz ‘In Head’ should further consolidate their burgeoning reputation.Backed by Ash Moss’s driving bass lines it’s a tune that steadily builds into a towering vortex of melody and elegantly crafted shoegazey atmospherics.  The band have just finished  touring with the luxuriantly bouffanted flavour of the month Temples as well as putting the finishing touches to their début album.

Von Pip's Top Indie Tracks Released In February
Von Pip's Top Indie Tracks Released In January

Brown Brogues - Shit In Your Eye

Manchester garage punk duo Brown Brogues have a brand new Ep set for release on Record Store Day 2014 via Stolen Body Records.The Ep  entitled  Zoloto (Russian for gold, or perhaps a Porsche in Mafia Wars? ) features four brand new tracks on side A with side B featuring two live tracks and two brand new demos on frosted clear vinyl with a brown splatter. The first 100 copies with also come with a 7 inch reissue of their first ever EP Nobody Dies in Paris.

The duo have been working on  the Zoloto EP with Sheffield super producer Ross Orton  (Arctic  Monkeys, M.I.A., The Fall, Roots Manuva,) and  Shit In Your Eye is the first  tune to emerge from these sessions.  It sees Brown Brogues expand their sound but without losing any of their unhinged feral rawness to produce a visceral NYC CBGBS punk glam stomper of a tune.  It’s a gritty melodic bolt of lightning which recalls the early propulsive rock’n'roll of The White Stripes mixed with the insouciant wit and cavalier attitudeof the New York Dolls, and it ranks amongst their finest work to date.

Empathy Test - Losing Touch

Time for a brand  new electropop duo who go under the name of Empathy Test.  Not only is this an excellent name, inspired by the Voight-Kampff test in the future-noir dystopian sci-fi classic Blade Runner, but the music is pretty darn fine too.  (Can you imagine George Osborne taking an empathy test? 100% replicant surely!)  This is dark, brooding cinematic electro pop, think Fiction Factory meets Purity Ring with a dash of Depeche Mode thrown in for good measure: it may take inspiration from the past, but is very much looking to the future.

Empathy Test are singer / songwriter Isaac Howlett and digital composer Adam Relf, and this particular musical collaboration came about after taking inspiration from the 80s-tinged electro soundtrack composed by Cliff Martinez for the movie Drive.

Sea Witches - Stars

SeaWitches (Jo Herring, Laura Caldwell and Sophie Nicole Ellison) seem to have been on the fringes of the Liverpool music scene for quite some time now, lurking in the shadows whilst perusing their own musical path.  The big surprise is that their latest release the Tear Back the Sky mini album/ EP is in fact only their second official release.

Somebody once described SeaWitches to us as ‘experimental folk’ a term which, to be quite honest didn’t exactly have us soiling our trousers with excitement.  On reflection and after becoming au fait with the bands work we can only conclude that this person was undoubtedly a near clinical cretin.  Namely, because SeaWitches output to date sounds nothing remotely like ‘folk’ to our ears, more a mixture of dark menacing literate art-pop with vaguely Gothic undertones…  imagine a less petrified sounding early incarnation of The Cure, jamming with the Bunnymen with female vocals.  It’s a mesmerising sound deep enough to dive into and get lost amidst a maze of twisting melodies, weaving angular guitars and reverberating Hooky meets Simon Gallup bass slavos.

Whilst ‘Tear Back The Sky’  seems to be on nodding terms with some of our favourite female fronted bands of yore- The Slits, The Au-pairs, Siouxsie, The Delta 5 and The Passions- SeaWitches certainly stamp their own singular musical identity on proceedings and are refreshingly dissimilar to the plethora of bromidic, spirit crushingly dull ‘on trend’ artists, both locally and nationally.

‘Stars’ is a bleak slice of haunting guitar jangling goodness, a vision of C86 viewed through a dark lens but illuminated with a beautiful pop sensibility.  Singer Joe Herring tells us that ‘Stars’ was actually the first song the band wrote, many moons ago – “I’ve kinda had a bit of a love hate relationship with the song as sometimes I’ve not appreciated its naïve charm and brightness, but when Sophiejoined us and wrote her great guitar part it breathed new life in the song for me, and you know I love great pop songs.”

Cruising-'You Made Me Do That'

Now to finish with something of a minor-indie- supergroup who hail from Belfast and Dublin and who go by the name of Cruising. You may not recognise the band members' names – Benzedrine Black, Sex Grimes, Dan Handle, Dick Vortex as being of members of Girls Names, September Girls, Logikpary and the Sea Pinks, but rest assured they are. They are just working undercover. Their collective name is taken from William Friedkin’s notorious gay exploitation serial killer film Cruising, and indeed the band's first song‘You Made Me Do That‘ is a line that precedes the violent murders depicted in a film that so outraged the gay community in the 80′s.  It also demonstrated why Al Pacino would never have cut the mustard in ‘Dirty Dancing’ or ‘Saturday Night Fever’ as he busts some dance moves that actually make Ian Curtis look as fleet of foot as Michael Jackson (see video).

The band themselves say they picked the name because the movie iskind of awful and amazing at the same time…. like us’ . Musically ‘You Made Me Do That’ is a grimy, brooding depraved slice of fucked up distorted subterranean punk which crowbars your skull open before relentlessly mashing your brain to pulp with its strident driving rhythms and chainsaw guitars… and it could also prompt you to cut loose and start dancing like Pacino …..  which we suspect may have been the bands intention all along. The short version – It’s ACE! And it’s out as a cassette single on Soft Power Records on April 28th.