POLYHYMNS – EP Review: “Hybrid Sunday”

Polyhymns is an experimental/alternative folk act based in Sheffield, England, having one of the more uniquely eclectic sounds of any artists I’ve heard in a while. Formed a year ago, the trio consist of Andrew Bolam, Gavin Harris and Sam Smith, all of whom previously worked together in folktronica group Little Glitches. With their shared love for such disparate artists as Burt Bacharach and Aphex Twin, they meld experimental electronic elements with psychedelia and folk to create exquisite music that transcends genres and demands our attention.

This past April, they released their debut single “Down with the Kids”, a lovely and poignant folk-pop song about parenthood and isolation in the digital age. They followed in July with the more experimental and trippy “How Ya Doin'”, and now return with their debut four-track EP Hybrid Sunday, which drops today, September 4th. The EP is also being released as a Limited Edition 10” Lathe Cut Vinyl with Sheffield’s Do It Thissen Record Label.

The EP’s title was inspired by the fact that the band writes and records their music on Sunday mornings in Sheffield’s Hybrid 3 Studio. Because the guys found they were often competing with noise from other bands rehearsing and recording in the studio’s other room, they decided Sunday mornings were the best time to ensure the peace and quiet necessary for optimum recording of their own music. During the recording of Hybrid Sunday, they also received guidance from local electronic music wizard Rob Gordon (founder of Warp Records), who lent them his Korg synthesiser and mastered the EP. 

The first track “JK” is a pleasing alt-folk tune, opening with strummed acoustic guitar and gentle handclaps. Soon, an insistent drumbeat enters along with vocals as the music rises with a flourish of synths and wildly crashing cymbals, giving the song a greater sense of urgency. I’m not certain as to the meaning of the lyrics “Again and again I try / Worry how far the others are / Dragging my heels again / Means nothing to me“, but the band states they celebrate diversity in learning.

Polyhymns goes off into a completely different direction with “Unboxers“, a languid atmospheric track lasting nearly six minutes. Over a throbbing dub bass-driven groove, the guys layer spacey industrial synths, crisp percussion and reverb-soaked guitar to create a dreamy, ethereal soundscape. Their soaring vocal harmonies in the first half of the track are sublime.

The enchanting “Toes” is probably my favorite track, with its beautiful skittering synths, razor-sharp percussion, deep bass and those intriguing bleep sounds. And once again, we’re treated to the guys’ soothing vocal croons: “If you try so hard you can get so far off a memory. If you think you’ve failed, then start it again, let’s begin.” The final track “Glyn” is a captivating instrumental composition highlighted by a fantastic psychedelic organ riff. The song starts off with a funky bass loop and crisp hi-hat beats that lend a jazzy vibe, but once the organ enters the proceedings, the song really takes off into the sonic stratosphere.

Hybrid Sunday is an amazing little EP, with four totally unique tracks that couldn’t sound more different from each other. I also find the song titles, which seem to have little to do with the subject matter, quite interesting. I’m really impressed by the creativity and talent of these three musicians, and cannot wait to hear what they come up with next!

Follow Polyhymns:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  SpotifySoundcloudApple Music

Purchase:  BandcampGoogle PlayAmazon

FLOODHOUNDS – Single Review: “Something Primeval”

Floodhounds2

FloodHounds are a massively talented and charismatic rock band based in Sheffield, England. Formed in 2013, they’ve built quite a reputation and following with their exciting guitar-driven alternative rock, infused with ample amounts of blues and punk. The band consists of Jack Flynn on guitar and vocals, Joel Hughes on bass and Lauren Greaves on drums. I first featured them on this blog way back in October 2016 when I reviewed their fantastic EP Look What You’ve Started. In the years since, they’ve released numerous singles and have toured extensively throughout the UK, including performances at the Isle of Wight and Liverpool Sound City festivals in 2019, as well as a show in Paris last November.

In May, they dropped their latest single “Something Primeval“, a hard-hitting song about tapping into our inner resolve to survive in this world. I’d somehow missed its release, but finally learned about it on July 30th, when they released a terrific video for the song. I instantly liked it, and as it had been far too long since I’d last written about them, I decided to remedy that situation with a review of this song. With “Something Primeval”, FloodHounds deliver yet another in an unbroken string of outstanding songs with their signature high energy indie rock. All three members are great musicians, and in fine form here. Flynn lays down chugging riffs of fuzz-coated jangly guitars, while Hughes and Greaves drive the rhythm forward with a strong, thumping bass line and assertive drumbeats. Flynn has a clear and commanding singing voice, and I like the way his British accent shines through. His fervent vocals sound particularly good on this track.

The lyrics include references to an array of wild animals to serve as metaphors for both the external pressures and demons that work toward weakening our resolve and making us crazy, and our inner ‘beast’ or strength that we muster to keep our sanity and persevere through life’s challenges.

Is there something Primeval
Buried deep in our core
Give me the wings of an eagle
You’ve got the lions roar

And now you’re getting hungry
You feel the call of the wild
The jungle takes no prisoners
It’s just a matter of time

Cause soon the vultures are circling
The snake is stretching his bite
The buffalo are stampeding
Into the dark of the night

Have you ever felt hunted
Or easily corrupted
Be like the creatures, from tigers, to leeches
They wouldn’t stand for it no

You could be my saviour
But I won’t change my behaviour
Cause in Nature’s Cathedral,
We’re wild, Primeval
So eyes, on the prize,
if you hope to survive at all

Now if you can take refuge
From the driving rain
swim your way through the deluge
Harness the animal brain

Come together, come together
Come together, it’s all primeval now
Come together, come together
Come together, it’s all or nothing now

The video for the song that was filmed in the “Bear Pit” at the Sheffield Botanical Gardens. Directed by Tom Flynn, with assistance by Jeremy Eggar, it shows the band performing the song in the pit, with some cool “eyes in the darkness” scenes.

Follow Floodhounds:  FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud
Purchase:  BandcampGoogle Play

EP Review: FLOODHOUNDS – “Look What You’ve Started”

It’s back to the UK to shine my spotlight on the incredibly talented indie-rock band FloodHounds. Hailing from Sheffield, the 3-piece band plays some really exciting guitar-heavy alternative rock infused with ample amounts of blues and funk.  Making this awesome music are Jack Flynn (lead guitar and vocals), Rhys Owens (bass) and Lauren Greaves (drums). Flynn and Owens, who’ve known each other for years, started FloodHounds after the band they were previously in broke up. They needed a drummer, and lucked out when they discovered Greaves, who joined them in late 2014 to complete the current line-up.

In 2015 they released their debut EP Bare Bones, featuring three well-crafted bluesy rock tunes. Now, the band has returned with an ambitious new EP Look What You’ve Started. Let’s dig in to see what it’s all about.

floodhounds

The EP bursts open with the hard-driving “A&E.”  Greaves’ pulse-pounding drums immediately set the pace for this powerful track, with lots of crashing cymbals adding excitement.  The stop and start composition of the track creates dramatic tension, with Flynn’s alternating scratchy and swirling guitars matching the ferocity of Owens’ heavy bass line. The guitars are really quite amazing, and Flynn’s vocals are mesmerizing.  The lyrics speak of someone – a friend or lover, perhaps – who’s going through tough times and in need of support:  “All the people look so tall, when you’re down on your luck and you fall. And though I know you’re on  your way, you need a little push to meet me halfway.

FloodHounds go all bluesy with “State of Mind,” a standout track about escaping a boring, mundane existence. Flynn sings: “Time has passed us slowly from one day to the next / All my friends are 9 to 5 and cashing their checks / And I’m running round in circles again, why do we try? They never said at school that we’d amount to much / You’re barely there it seems like you don’t give a fuck / And you’re wasting all your time outside, why don’t you try?  Makes you wonder if you’re ever gonna make it in this world alive.

The band keeps the bluesy vibe going while adding a bit of funk to the mix with “The Fear” and “Soulmates to Cellmates.” We’re treated to more stellar plucky guitar work, and Greaves’ formidable percussion skills are on full display. “The Fear” speaks to overcoming self-doubt and negativity that are holding the subject back: “Now I can’t help but wonder where you got your point of view / I don’t want to watch it bury you.”  By the time we get to “Soulmates to Cellmates,” it’s clear the EP’s theme is about dealing with inner conflict and the relationship troubles it causes.  In that track, the loved one becomes the oppressor, leaving the partner feeling shackled. “Being yours means I just have to wait / I don’t care how long it will take.

The more rock-oriented “End of the Road” offers up funky bass and shredded guitars, and the EP closer “Greatest Mistake” wraps everything up nicely with a slower, bluesy feel. The guitar riffs in this song call to mind those of the legendary Eric Clapton – at least to my ears. This is another standout track.

To sum up, Look What You’ve Started is a solid EP, with a bit of an Arctic Monkeys vibe – a good thing, as I love that band.  Support Floodhounds by checking out their website and following on Twitter and Facebook. Stream their music on Spotify and Soundcloud, and purchase on BandcampiTunes and other music purchase sites.