Album Review of Eagulls by Eagulls.
Release Date: Mar 4, 2014
Record label: Partisan
Genre(s): Rock, Punk
Based out of Leeds, Eagulls have made an incendiary entrance—one to be somewhat always expected of that side of the Pond’s music scene. Of course, then you spin their debut full-length and—while it may be missing the glimmer-pop elements of certain corners of the genre—it is, rather, indisputably a contemporary product of Britain’s post-punk golden age. With fast, loud instruments, simple structures and marble-mouthed vocals, the influences are apparent and well incorporated, the most attractive being the sleek, almost out-of-place Cure-like guitar stylings on album highlights “Tough Luck” and “Opaque.
Leeds's Eagulls play doom-and-gloom music informed in part by anxiety, decomposing brains and graduating college with shit options ahead of them. They're disenchanted with the future and aren't afraid to complain about the present: see the incendiary open letter they wrote about their experience at last year's SXSW. The young five-piece set their anger to gothic-tinged widescreen post-punk that incorporates swirling 90s shoegaze.
I don’t know when making brash, ridiculous statements just for the fun of ruffling some feathers stopped being a thing punk bands did sometimes, but I’m sort of glad Eagulls have brought it back. Granted, when the Leeds five-piece posted their now infamous blog post – which called out various aspects of the modern indie scene with the angst and articulation of a middle-schooler – they claim they were just doing it for shits and giggles, and had no idea a hand-scrawled letter wherein they refer to “beach bands sucking each other’s dicks” would garner such immediate attention from various corners of the music press. No doubt the whole matter cast Eagulls as immature brats, which, depending on how you like your punk, could be an insult or a compliment, and the hairy ass the band posted after taking the letter down didn’t seem to help matters.
On their self-titled debut, Eagulls reveal themselves to be a more intriguing, and more complicated, proposition than mere punk revivalists. Listening to furious outbursts such as "Amber Veins," it's easy to hear why they've played with bands like Iceage, and on "Nerve Endings" and "Yellow Eyes," they confront the void with as much noise as possible. Yet Eagulls' angst sounds and feels more modern than another rehash of 1977's discontents.
Former Factory Records head Tony Wilson knew better than most how to explain Joy Division’s genius in one nifty sound-bite. “Punk enabled you to say ‘fuck you’, but it couldn’t go any further,” he once said. “It was a single, venomous, two-syllable phrase of anger. Sooner or later, someone was going to want to say more; someone was going to want to say, ‘I’m fucked.’”And fucked is exactly what Eagulls are: a group of pissed-off 20-somethings living in Leeds, stuck in the soulless drudgery of a dead-end nine-to-five existence and loathing every second of it.
If the mainstream has become a no-go area for guitar bands, there are plenty of green shoots in the margins. Eagulls – do you see what they did there? – from Leeds make music that seems made for said margins, yet they've appeared on Letterman and are generating plenty of buzz in the US. Theirs is a fierce and angry sound, with elements of grunge, hardcore, post-punk and shades of goth, too.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The opening cacophony of 'Nerve Endings' gives an early insight into what you can expect from the debut album by Eagulls - the five-piece Leeds outfit whose reputation rather precedes them. It's pleasing that we've finally got to album stage with this band after the chaos of their career to date, with police raids and open letters to 'beach bands sucking each others dicks' and the like.
What’s the big deal about Leeds’ Eagulls? It’s a question that’s hard to answer. Their defining moment so far has arguably been writing an open letter ‘to all beach bands sucking each others’ dicks and rubbing the press’ clits,’ something they later dismissed in an interview as merely “a silly thing”. They write songs about council estates and car accidents and sleeping on people’s floors.
Eagulls are a four-piece band from Leeds who write revved-up post-punk songs combining the sound of a mannered Killing Joke, who they've covered, with a deep atmosphere reminiscent of early Misfits and guitars that bring to mind the Cure's "Boys Don't' Cry". Clean-cut vocalist George Mitchell, who keeps his eyes closed when he sings, clearly likes Ian Curtis, but his pained yelp is more reminiscent of onetime Baltimore standouts Wilderness or a cleaner Iceage with a hint of Joe Strummer's rock'n'roll swagger. All that, and he and the band can really write hooks.
When Eagulls gatecrashed their way onto David Letterman's Late Show last month it felt like a pivotal moment in music television, alongside Huggy Bear on The Word in 1993 or The Stone Roses appearance on BBC2's The Late Show four years earlier. Call it deserved recognition after four years' hard graft or the first step towards the inevitable international acclaim that awaits, it served as a gallant reminder to any struggling UK band that perseverance does reap rewards every once in a while. Not that Eagulls' elevation to the UK's next big musical exports in waiting can be put down to good fortune.
Eagulls are one of the hottest names in British music, and rightly so. This fast-rising Leeds quintet have played on David Letterman’s TV programme, they’ve posed for photos with Bill Murray, they’ve cribbed the name of one of the highest-selling rock bands in history, and they’ve caused a bit of a stir as far as ‘punk’ music goes. Although this self-titled work is their debut album, it’s their seventh release – their first was a tape, and a bunch of 7- and 12-inch releases later (including the riotous Council Flat Blues) they’ve become one of the most talked about ‘buzz’ bands of this year.
When these super-bleak postpunks from Leeds, England, yell, "Fester! Blister!," they don't just sound ragingly bummed. It's like they're encouraging a wound to grow – the way some people talk to their plants. On songs like "Soulless Youth" and "Hollow Visions," singer George Mitchell bellows like a nihilist drill sergeant over wondrously ugly guitar, scraping against a maniacal drum pummel that recalls art-thug Eighties acts like Killing Joke (whom they covered on a recent single).
The old comparison test between English and American rock tropes can feel a bit trite, the geographical difference theoretically overpowered by the immediacy of the internet. But then the bronco-bustin’ album cover and sun-blistered drawl of Parquet Courts contrast so nicely with George Mitchell’s fogged over, jaw-clenched bark and the red telephone box on the cover of the self-titled from Eagulls. Both bands come to their insistent guitar music through punk, grunge, and indie rock, but the Leeds quartet daub some extra echo and clang on top of their messy, enthusiastic hooks, at times burying the differences between the set of 10 raucous tunes.
If you’ve heard of Eagulls before now, it probably has to do with a controversial note the band posted on their website in 2012 lambasting the music industry. This instance of biting the hand that feeds was a controversial one, but a lot of the talk about the band’s outburst focused on a single segment of the letter that many found to be misogynistic. What got lost in the chatter, though, was that nothing about what Eagulls did was especially new: their complaints about the music business were the same complaints many before them have had, and the very nature of their outburst wouldn’t have been out of place coming from the likes of Steve Albini (though Eagulls don’t possess invective as acerbic as Albini).
On the cover of Eagulls’ self-titled debut full-length is a photo of the burned-out husk of a car sitting in a housing project in the band’s hometown of Leeds. It’s an appropriate image for a band whose debut single was called “Council Flat Blues,” and that’s not an act: Singer George Mitchell grew up with shady characters who haunted those projects, and one member of the band lived in one. The photo’s also fitting for the contents of Eagulls: fiery post-hardcore with a reckless spirit that promises everything could all unravel at any moment.
The rollicking Leeds animosity crusade of Eagulls, engorged with snarls, bloody sputum and loose teeth, are championing neo-classical punk – it’s not crammed with harpsichords or viols, but it’s harking back to the classic period of the genre. In days of yore, the punk movement was spurred on by desire for Bacchanalian hedonism, anti-establishment rhetoric and a political change – it was as much a wave of counter-culture protests as it was a style of music. Somewhere, in the DIY ethos and chaotic ephemera, it was hijacked, monetised and shat out by majors.
opinion byMATTHEW M. F. MILLER At the recent NME Awards in Austin, five-piece Leeds rock outfit Eagulls took home the award for Best Music Video for “Nerve Endings”, the lead track from their self-titled debut full-length. Besting the visual muscle of Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, HAIM, Lily Allen and Pharell is no small feat, but this small video from this “small” band is dedicated to simplicity.
In an open letter on their blog, Leeds based post-punks Eagulls chastised various, “beach bands” and music blogs for (let’s keep it PG), “pleasuring each other. ” It was a cynically poetic middle finger, and offered a perfect preview of the attitude we should be expecting from this crew. The band followed this up with a very well received music video for their single, Nerve Endings, where a decomposing pig brain was given the spotlight.
Eagulls — Eagulls (Partisan)Eagulls play an adrenaline-addled, distortion-blurred, testosterone fueled brand of post punk. Their debut will remind you of their sometime touring partners in Iceage, albeit with a wisp of new wave threading through a couple of songs, a bit of MBV-ish roar in others. The songs are both sharp and fuzzy, with razory guitar bits slicing through thunderhead clouds of indeterminacy, the nervy tenor of singer George Mitchells alternately foregrounded and submerged in feedback howl.Eagulls are four young men from Leeds, England, whose sawing eighth note riffs, clanking metal-picked bass lines recall Gang of Four, the Fall, Dub Sex and other 1980s miscreants.