TTNG – Disappointment Island

If it ain’t broke.


Galen Merigliano

After three years of silence, the math rock trio emerges with a new album well worth the wait. TTNG have made some drastic changes over the past few years, trimming their lineup from four to three and deciding that This Town Needs Guns was a bit distasteful and what this town really needed was another music group going under an acronym requiring a PC explanation.

Many fans of Stuart Smith-era TTNG heavily criticised the release of and the transition to the more polished, falsetto-favoured lyrics of Henry Tremain, but for many, this album served as a great introduction as it is far and away the most accessible album in the group’s discography. The three-year wait between and Disappointment Island has not been a very transformative time period for the group’s sound, however. The record is a very safe, solid follow-up, expanding more upon the intricacies of Tim Collis’s clean, tappy guitar work while continuing to showcase the restless creativity of drummer Chris Collis.

The opening track, ‘Coconut Crab’, perfectly captures the lyrical temperament of TTNG. “Just simply paraphrase all that you’re feeling/into tiny bite sized bits/squeeze them tight so they might fit/over melodies.” Tremain’s opening lines beautifully summarise the rest of the album; Tremain assembles a pool of (mostly melancholic) emotions and squeezes them over the record so that, even without knowledge of the lyrics, one can’t help but feel slightly melancholic themselves. “Words likely have less merit/than the timbre of their sound/so sing anything you feel like/and don’t let it get you down.” This emotive expressiveness makes Disappointment Island highly accessible.

Despite the strong demonstration of emotion, the album lacks a certain level of depth and diversity expected from a band who has released three LPs and two EPs to date. The majority of tracks do not demonstrate the levels of dynamism seen on, Animals, or even their self-titled EP, and TTNG seem to have stopped considering the idea of using hooks. The tracks ‘Consoling Ghosts’ and ‘Bliss Quest’ serve to break up the album’s consistent tone and start out slower and more sombre while, over time, becoming more restive – before break out into the Collis brothers’ signature syncopation. The most diverse and longest track occurs about halfway through the album. ‘Whatever, Whenever’ lightheartedly explores existential inquiries before simmering down at about the 2 minute mark, suddenly taking on a solemn tone as Tremain reflects on “changing the sheets on my grave” and “reliving mistakes I’ve made.” The song builds and begins to crescendo, expanding slightly on each measure, leading to a final cathartic release in which Tim Collis slams on an effects pedal, driving the guitar tone towards a cheap, yet tasteful ‘crunch’ preset on a $100 Line6, which eventually resolves in a more mellow, signature-TTNG fingerpicked outro.

Disappointment Island is a solid follow up to and strong third LP for the Oxford-based trio. TTNG have released a very safe record, choosing not to drastically deviate from their previous sound and ideas. The album is a huge improvement, lyrically, from their second LP and the Collis brothers’ synergy is at an all-time high. The high replay value of this album will keep many fans satisfied for a long time to come, while remaining accessible to potential newcomers. Disappointment Island is no disappointment.

Frank Ocean Releases Visual Album ‘Endless’

After four years of waiting for the follow-up to 2012’s Channel Orange, Frank Ocean has unveiled a new film on Apple Music, titled Endless.

The visual album, which features contributions from Sampha, James Blake, and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, was released late last night. The release was accompanied by the climax of Ocean’s visual stream, which concluded with him assembling a staircase out of previously-constructed boxes. The film is now on Apple Music, but an audio-only soundtrack has yet to be released.

Additionally, a report from Rolling Stone indicates that Endless is unrelated project to the previously-announced Boys Don’t Cry, which will drop “this weekend”, possibly with a new title. Stay tuned.

Watch Endless on Apple Music here.

Track Of The Week: Giant Claw – ‘Deep Thoughts 001’

Eva Granek

Back when you were a kid, did you ever play a video game that suddenly glitched the fuck out? Sometimes the audio would go batshit too and, if you were lucky, it would actually sound kind of dope. Enter Giant Claw. Hypnotising, but also kind of ridiculous, ‘Deep Thoughts 001’ is a delightful anomaly. Described by producer Keith Rankin as a “sound collage project”, this is ‘music’ that really stretches the concept of the term. There’s something inherently vast and airy about this track, and it’s not just the production, as if Rankin intended it to sprawl on until time itself stops, but realised halfway through that he was constrained by the laws of our universe and settled for four and a half minutes. I’ve never played Myst, but I imagine this is what the soundtrack would be like, if you melted the disc behind a radiator for a couple hours.

Listen to ‘Deep Thoughts 001’ at Orange Milk Records here.

Roundtable: The Life Of Pablo by Kanye West

Roundtable is our new feature where a collection of the Hooks For Hands writers discuss a record, each giving their own perspective. For the first edition, some of our writers have taken a look back at one of the most divisive records of the year, The Life Of Pablo by Kanye West.

Kanye West is a mess, let’s be real. And so is The Life Of Pablo. It’s erratic, inconsistent, and never quite sure what it wants be. But it’s also more pensive than it lets on, and – in moments – unabashedly raw. At the very least, I always see what Kanye is trying to do on the album, I think, even if it never quite comes together. The production is predictably flawless, and saves the day when his lyricism fails him, which is often on this record. But really, it’s an album of two halves. Most of the first nine or so tracks are pretty much what you would expect from a Kanye West record in 2016. They’re vapid, indulgent, and dripping with cynicism. It’s only in the back-end of the record that his mask begins to slip, and we see Kanye at his most disillusioned since 808s & Heartbreak. It’s just a shame the album spends so long posturing. Kanye West unfiltered is messy. Who’da thunk it. 7

Alexander Smail

Can we even review this album yet, or is it still a “living, evolving art project”? C’mon Kanye. This record is a fucking disaster. After Yeezus, I don’t think anyone thought he could disappear up his own ass anymore, but here we are. I can’t help but think that there’s some Shia LaBeouf shit going on here, and this is all just performance art. Kanye has no filter. It’s why he can’t keep off Twitter, it’s why he just had to namedrop Taylor again, and it’s why this album is 19 tracks long. Yeezus achieved in 10 songs what this album can’t in 19. Too much of even a good thing can be sickly, so an album this middling really can’t afford to drag. The Life Of Pablo isn’t deep, it isn’t captivating, and it isn’t nearly as interesting as it thinks it is. The Kardashianisation of Mr. West is complete, I guess. 3

Eva Granek

The Life of Pablo, Kanye West’s most complex and messiest album, is also one of his best. The album feels truthful about what is going on in his head. West has always been thought of as eccentric, but still intelligent. Pablo never keeps a theme or mood, is filled with at some points almost irritating sound effects, and has a long list of featured artists. West doesn’t try to create a new Kanye or a new vision, he just tries to get his thoughts out. Of course he still manages to compliment himself and take jabs at other people, but that’s what we expect, and part of the reason we like him. Whether West is referring to himself as part of a family, or as a part of the mainstream music industry, he is truthful about his screwups (and successes). However hectic it may sound, it’s something we’d like to hear more from him, a good – and honest – record. 7

Maya Grassi

Incendiary. There’s really no other way to describe The Life Of Pablo, Kanye West’s opus. Is it garish, indulgent, and self-satisfying? Of course it is. How else would you describe the man himself? And what better way to celebrate Kanye than to experience him unfiltered. No, this isn’t his most consistent album. I think even he knows that. But what it is, is authentic. And, listening to so many anonymous-sounding albums this year, it’s refreshing to hear a record that, from start to finish, is unmistakably and unapologetically Mr. West. This whole thing is Kanye firing on all cylinders. His lyrics are sharp, the production is immaculate, and it’s just fun as hell. 9

Rian Mansee

HookList Vol. 5

Alexander Smail

For this month’s HookList, we’ve stuck closer to home and taken a look at some of our favourite British artists, new and old, from the atmospheric chill of Jamie Isaac’s ‘Last Drip’ to iconic psychedelia of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.

Listen on Apple Music here or Spotify below.

Track Of The Week: Miguel – ‘Waves (Tame Impala Remix)’

Alexander Smail

It’s a testament to Kevin Parker’s golden touch that his remix of ‘Waves’ is as good as it is – certainly better than it had any right to be. The original is decent, if a little lifeless in the evocative context of Miguel’s Wildheart. But psychedelia is second nature to Parker, and ‘Waves’ was apparently a song in desperate need of some. With a more layered production and imbued with a stronger groove, his remix makes for a much more magnetic listen. Really, it’s just a hell of a lot more fun.

Listen to ‘Waves (Tame Impala Remix)’ below.


Bestival Sunday Headliners Announced

Two headliners join the already-impressive lineup.

Rian Mansee

Bestival have certainly upped their game this year, with the announcement of a joint headliner spot on Sunday. In keeping with the festival’s ‘Future Is Here’ theme, Wiz Khalifa and Sean Paul have joined eclectic fellow headliners The Cure, Major Lazer, and Hot Chip. A UK festival-exclusive performance, the pair are the perfect way to cap off the weekend, turning in what will no doubt be a glorious set.

WIZ - -02

Adding his thoughts to the news, Wiz shared his excitement: “Can’t wait to be back in the UK and perform at Bestival. The fans here have such good energy, it’s going to be lit.” Likewise, Paul had only positive words to say of the festival and his upcoming performance: “I can’t wait to play at Bestival… I’ve heard the grand finale on the Sunday night is the best festival spot in the UK and I’m gonna bring the fyyyaahhh.” No doubt.

Sean Paul

Also newly-announced is an audiovisual fireworks tribute to Prince, and his impact on those involved with the festival, fittingly titled Purple Rave, capping off the night, and the addition of Glass Animals and Crystal Fighters to the already-packed lineup – with big names such as Skepta, Animal Collective, and Ghostpoet set to perform.

The Isle of Wight-based festival returns this year on September 8th, and frankly we can’t wait.

Photos courtesy of Bestival 2016

Track Of The Week: Karen Elson – ‘The Ghost Who Walks’

Alexander Smail

There’s something almost empowering about the disconnect between the central tragedy of Karen Elson’s revenant murder ballad, and her unfeeling narration. She’s not bawling about betrayal, or heartache, but instead gives the titular figure a sense of reverent serenity in death. Her matter-of-fact delivery of pretty morose lines like “and then he muffled her desperate cries under the moon light” over the Southern Gothic-esque instrumental lends the tale a forlorn – but not wholly emotionless – resonance.

Listen to ‘The Ghost Who Walks’ below.

Parquet Courts – Human Performance

Parquet Courts dial it back a little, and are all the better for it.


Gilbert Reynaga

The silence is broken. The last time we heard from Parquet Courts, they had released Monastic Living, an EP that challenged fans with its experimental noisy instrumentals and almost complete lack of vocals. Fast forward a few months, they’re back with Human Performance, an album that tackles inescapable heartache amid the search for authenticity, and it’s unequivocally a return to form for the Brooklyn four-piece.

Instrumentally, Human Performance has a fair amount in common with the group’s past records, and they’ve never been less afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve. In the album opener ‘Dust’, listeners are greeted by a warm and fuzzy guitar riff and steady drums that hark back to the simplicity and repetition found in abundance on Monastic Living. On ‘One Man, No City’, the simple guitar rhythm and humming bass line easily place it as a worthy addendum to Light Up Gold. ‘Berlin Got Blurry’, instrumentally, is a call back to some of the band members’ Texas roots. With the help of arpeggio-infused western guitar riffs and chiming organs in the chorus, the group is able to vividly depict themselves as cowboys exploring the frontier that is Berlin, ‘lost’ but still certain of where they are.

The group continue to improve in songwriting, charming the listener with witty lines and wordplay, and just simply through the stories they tell. Lyrically, ‘Dust’ is – fittingly enough – about sweeping up dust from an abandoned home. Yet, the band beg the listener to think about the context of the song, and connect the dots between their departure into the noisy void that was Monastic Living, and the return home this record makes. ‘Human Performance’ lets the listener sympathise with both sides of a failed relationship. Andrew Savage – or the character he portrays – has betrayed his partner, but we also see an intense pain within him when he laments “It never leaves me, just visits less often. It isn’t gone and I won’t feel its grip soften without a coffin.” In ‘Captive of the Sun’, we hear Austin Brown rap about the symphony of cacophony that a night in New York City brings. While the idea of a Parquet Courts rap might sound like a bad joke, Brown is able to pull it off beautifully, and it’s a true testament to the band’s lyricism. With lines like “Dump truck man drops a beat with trash cans, call 911! We got therapy demands,” we hear a restless Brown kept up by the city that never sleeps. His sluggish delivery and rhythm paints an unexpectedly believable picture of a rapping insomniac.

Parquet Courts did what they were set out to do. Human Performance combines all the best elements from their back catalogue into one cohesive record, yet doesn’t feel dependant on them. It’s a fun listen, because that was all they intended to create. Unburdened by the obligation to explore new territory, the group have crafted thirteen of the best songs of their career. Parquet Courts didn’t reinvent the wheel, they made a great album instead.

Track of the Week: Lxury & LA Priest – ‘Show’

Alexander Smail

There’s some serious yin-and-yang shit going on in Lxury and LA Priest’s airy joint single. The former leans towards club-friendly house while the latter specialises in avant-garde pop, and yet the two reconcile the contrast without sacrificing either of their own quirks. Actually, they bring out the best in each other. Sam Dust is free to drift towards his groovier inhibitions, while Lxury is in his element embracing more experimental sound design. His otherworldly production dovetails Dust’s dainty vocals nicely, and the lyrics are fittingly nondescript given that ‘Show’ glides along with the gentle pace of drifting off to sleep.

Listen to ‘Show’ below.