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Leeds quartet Marsicans' jerky indie rock combines poppy melodies with muffled drums, shrieking, noisy rhythm guitar work, and impassioned vocals, as on their 2020 debut album Ursa Major.
Marsicans was formed in 2014 by vocalist/guitarist James Newbigging, lead guitarist Oliver Jameson, bassist/keyboardist Rob Brander, and drummer Matthew "Cale" McHale, most of whom had known each other since high school. That year they released their debut Chivalry EP, setting out their stall immediately with a kind of jerky indie rock with poppy melodies. They kept up traction by issuing a steady string of singles over the course of the next few years, as well as the 2016 EP Absence. By 2018 they had become much heavier and more abrasive, with a bass-heavy sound incorporating crunchy riffing, muffled drums, and atonal lead guitar work that recalled other post-punk revival bands like Foals, but also had elements of post-hardcore and even grunge, without losing sight of the tunefulness that had made them popular in the first place. Their stock grew steadily; they made several festival appearances, and got a shout-out from Coldplay. In early 2020 they signed to Killing Moon Records, releasing a string of tracks which would ultimately appear on their debut album. Entitled Ursa Major, it was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales by Embrace's Mickey Dale, and released in 2020. ~ John D. Buchanan