So after all the hype, all the press and all the
records sold, the album finally comes out. So is it any good? Well, yeah
actually, it really is. Although the stars have definitely aligned to make
everything work out beautifully for these Sheffield whipper snappers,
there's just something about them which makes it difficult to dislike their
songs. Everyday stories of going out and getting drunk, miserable bouncers,
rude taxi drivers - it's something everyone can relate to. All sung with an
unashamed provincial accent that would have the BBC fretting, the social
commentaries are hardly going make it onto Newsnight but the tunes will get
the kids singing along.
Well, this is my
first review of the New Year, and I may as well start off on a high note.
I’ve been away for too long.
I really have no idea where to start
with this album (or to put it accurately a double CD album), it really is an
overwhelmingly dizzying display of musicianship and of a band who can pack
more ideas into one song that a lot of bands have in their entire life span.
Admittedly I’m a little late
reviewing this as it was release last year, but frankly I don’t get out of
the house much, and when I do, I certainly don’t have the money to purchase
luxury items such as CDs. But oh how I wish I had bought it sooner, this
little gem would have made the festive season so much more bearable.
I’m dancing around the actually
topic at hand here…..
The whole package of the CD, the art
work, the two disks, the album intro with a live Diana Ross clip (I think it
is anyway)…. All of this adds up to make you think that Eiger don’t want to
make life easy for themselves, the indicators above let you know that they
are not a band to walk a well worn path. Their path, if anything, is one
that possibly once ran adjacent to that of brutish tech metal hardcore bands
such as Botch, and at times meanders towards somewhere close to ISIS or
Pelican, but then will once again dart off somewhere utterly mystifying and
unexpected…… while being punctuated by what at times sounds like the
demented screams of a northern bingo caller, this will then give way to vast
soaring vocals and four part harmonies. Unpredictable, and like nothing you
are likely to hear anywhere else.
The music is fast, heavy, slow,
delicate, loud and quiet in pretty equal measures.
After seeing Eiger live on a number
of occasions I was unsure as to what to expect from the recording, but while
it is a very different affair, it is in no way disappointing, it allows the
songs to gain more structure and lets the listener hear the bewildering
musicianship on display; to say Eiger are tight as a band is an
understatement to the degree of saying Lisa Riley is a bit on the plump
side. The playing on display is astounding rhythmic changes, starts, stops,
complex timings…… it’s a little like being beaten up.
I can only hope that Eiger don’t
prove too complicated for too many people.
If the phrase ‘grown up dance music’ strikes fear into
your M People-hating heart, then steer clear of Moonshot. For every New
Order-influenced pop gem here, you’ll have to trawl through a couple of MOR-electro
dirges. Opener, ‘Making Decisions’ reeks of New Order and is genuinely
funky, but then to go straight into ‘Counting Sheep’ really is a proper
mistake. Any momentum gained by a cracking opener is quickly lost, and the
album never realty recovers.
Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed Moonshot’s
last record. Maybe they’ve moved on, maybe I have – I suspect the former,
but I don’t think we were meant to be together after all.
Apparently this is The Open’s second album. I’m so out
of touch with The Kidz that I’ve never heard of them before. Beware; this is
what happens when you pass 30.
The Open’s sound is MASSIVE. Imagine Coldplay playing
with Slowdive. Yikes. ‘We Can Never Say Goodbye’ rocks a fair bit, in a very
Doves seem to be a very big influence in The Open’s
work. This is the sort of music I expect an Engineering student to be
excited about. It’s all very pretty, and everything, but it sometimes veers
into mid-70s prog. And, at my time of life, that’s no good at all…
It's not often that this type of release graces the Tasty turntables and
frankly it left us a bit perplexed and staring at each other in trepidation
before slipping open the cellophane wrapper. But it's not so scary once
inside, in fact, probably less scary than going inside Ministry of Sound
Steve Angello specialises in actually remixing records rather than
just mixing them and although this double album runs as 2 continuous 90
minute long 'sessions' it features a number tracks given a distinctive
Angello workover including Moby, Royksopp and Steve Lawler. The description
of being 'F*** OFF DIRTY HOUSE MUSIC' on the wrapper seems to be a bit off
the mark to me and is probably designed to get kids who describe themselves
as 'Crazy' and 'Up for it' to part with their hard earned. Angello actually
has quite a light touch and much of these two discs are pretty ambient,
especially his own tracks. So if you fancy recreating the sounds of Ministry
at a far more ear drum friendly volume in your own front room then you could
do a lot worse than give this a spin.
Do you remember The Nubiles? I do. They were a short
burst of sunlight from Oxford around ten years ago. The BNBC remind me
greatly of the Nubiles, in the way that they aren’t afraid to thrash it up a
bit. Be it rockabilly, punk or all-out thrash, this is a most exhilarating
Six of the nine songs here don’t make it to the two
minute mark, whilst ‘Up and Down and Round and Round’ comes in at nearly
seven minutes but manages to include five minutes of white noise. Hoopla!
Think the Stooges, think The Long Blondes. Or don’t think at all. It’s
sometimes better that way.
The Beautiful New Born Children – Hey People!
Not many bands these days sound like this anymore, the
sort of Eastern Lane style rapid guitar music that has disappeared or gone
out of music fashion as fast as you can read or bitch about it.
The singers loud and heavily distorted screamo vocals
are supported by an animal like drumming, which to me sounds like his arms
are about to fall off. But, it just gets a bit boring and repetitive around
half way through. It goes way off scale too soon in, and with nine songs
only lasting about 1 ½ to 2 minutes long, each track sounds very much the
For those of you out there who love
The Ramones but wish they were just a bit…you know…more mental, then Guitar
Wolf are the band for you. This amped-up, leather-wearing trio of Japanese
lunatics have been peddling their unique brand of “jet rock” for almost
twenty years and count Lightning Bolt, J Mascis and Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion among their fans.
Yeah, I do love The Ramones, I hear
you cry, so what do I want with an Oriental version? Well, no disrespect to
Brooklyn’s finest but they didn’t begin each song with bursts of
ear-splitting feedback, record an album so loud it blew up the studio, or
have compositions entitled “Kawasaki Z11 750 Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Murder by
Make no mistake, this is rawk at its
most primitive (Guitar Wolf are so beyond any notions of irony that they’ve
come full-circle), and if the likes of “Invader Ace” and “Jet Generation”
don’t make you want to leap up and destroy the nearest inanimate object then
you may want to check that you actually have a pulse.
My only criticism is that this
compilation doesn’t include their superior cover of “(I Can’t Get No)
Satisfaction”, but then you do get a host of rarities and non-album tracks
for your buck. Don’t delay…buy this album and join the cult of Guitar Wolf
Guitar Wolf are Japans premier 1950’s obsessed Rock ‘n’
Noise band. Cult heroes now for many years Golden Black provides a
retrospective of there career so far via 26 tracks and over an hour of
music. Sounding like the Ramones and Melt Banana crammed into the same band
they are noisy, jarring and thoroughly entertaining. Ok so after 26 tracks
many of the songs may meld into one distorted screech but who cares, Guitar
Wolf just fucking rock, simple as that.
To start a debut album with a song about being licked
by Morrissey is no mean feat, and yet The Visions have attempted just this
with Into The Nightlife,
their home-Cured first offering. It's a spirited, lively and rather
charming beginning, and everything that's best about this band come
through in it. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is as good as it gets,
and the rest of the album flags a bit.
The eponymous second track uses the descent from a
twinkly melody to a thrashy bit to portray the Darker Side of the shiny
lights. Now, when I lived there the Cambridge goth scene had been taken
off life-support and was showing good EEG activity, and people would tell
me as often as twice a week about the Darker Side of the shiny lights,
possibly slip in the word “pansexual”, and then get all excited and go off
for lie-downs. Perhaps this has jaded me, but I feel that the Darker Side
doesn't need pointing out any more.
Most of the rest of the album then sounds like it was
written by fans of The Cure and The Smiths, which it probably was. Some
difficult subject matter is covered with reasonable skill (most notably in
Look Ma, I’m a Soldier,
which does exactly what it says on the tin), and there are some definite
good points, but I was left feeling a bit disappointed.
On a more positive note, the singer sounds like a
dangerous experimental cross between the aforementioned Morrissey and a
less-bladdered Shane MacGowan -- he manages to get a certain growly
passion in there. At their best, and their best is good, they remind me
of my old Cambridge mucker Patrick Shiel's outfit Moth Conspiracy. They
could interweave melodies a treat, and had a very cunning turn of phrase
when needed, and The Visions have all that in abundance. Unfortunately,
Shiely had a tendency to write songs about cornflakes, and at their worst
The Visions remind me of cornflakes. It could be worse, but.
All in all, worth a listen if you enjoyed looking
gloomy in the early eighties really rather a lot.
Wow- this has got to be one of the most polished and varied albums I've
heard for a long time. All I knew about Infadels was that they are a four
piece band from Hackney playing electronic rock 'n' roll - a pretty broad
brush stroke. But almost without exception, every track on this album offers
up a slightly different style, a different mood and a great mix of tempo.
Early tracks such as single 'Can't Get Enough' and 'Jagger '67'are fast and
funky dance floor fillers. There is room for a more traditional guitar indie
in 'Girl That Speaks No Words' and the latter part of the CD mellows out
with some really chilled electro which draws on the likes of Chicane and
Goldfrapp before jolting us out our comfort zone with the angular 'Reality
TV'. This is a superb piece of work and by rights should usurp The Scissor
Sisters within this kind of glamorous swaggering electronic rock n roll
genre. Probably won't as I guess New York is slightly more glam than
Hackney. But it should.
watch video (.wmv) to 'Just
can't Get Enough'
According to the PR bumph with
their demo, South Street are “five mates making music and having fun”, and
that is exactly what they sound like. First impression of this demo: no
click track. There is an up-side to this, oddly enough – although the
performance wasn’t as tight as it could be, sometimes a sticking to a
click track can make a band sound lifeless, and South Street are as lively
as they come.
They’ve been compared to The
Strokes and The Libertines, but they are overshadowed by their influences,
and their material mostly sounds pretty standard. There are odd moments
where you hear something more shining through – in particular, I get a
definite feeling the bassist is a fan of Peter Hook – and the whole lot
was delivered with as much punch as a crowd of skinheads whose pints have
been spilled. Still, I feel they’d be great fun to watch on a Friday
night when you’re a few pints South of the border, but probably not much
more than that.
As far as I can surmise from the sleeve notes, as
there’s no press release and heaven forbid I actually find anything out for
myself, this is a collection of material that has previously been put out by
Fflint Central in CDR format, and Birdman have released a selection of the
back catalogue as an introduction to the Fflint label. My apologies to those
concerned if I’ve badly misread the situation. All of the material on this
compilation would be classed under the broad umbrella term of ‘electronica’,
most of the tracks being dark ambient music bordering on droning noise. But
not noise in a harsh sense, more restrained than the likes of Merzbow and
Masonna, noise in the sense of ambient subdued menace.
By and large the tracks on here are of a very high
quality. The Gideon Leeches track ‘Burra Folly’ is reminiscent of the fuzzy,
dreamlike ambience of Bowery Electric or Fennesz, but with darker
undertones. Cavendish Sanguine’s ‘Azeotrope’ is an unsettling mixture of
bells, chimes and electronic drone that begins relatively tamely and
develops into a cacophony. Oleum’s excellent track ‘Spilth’ begins with
harsh digital noise and morphs into a lovely blissed out textured drone.
A few of the tracks on this sampler are rather less
impressive. The Pendro tracks are on the whole poor; the digital whistling
on ‘Small Automatic Thorax’ comes across as dated. Their track ‘Flip’ is
akin to the console electronics that Hella used in parts of ‘Hold Your Horse
Is’, but is simply grating. However other than these exceptions the material
on this sampler is very good, unsettling but strangely soothing at the same
time. The band Berkowitz, Lake and Dahmer deserve an especial mention,
because of the quality of their music, but more importantly because they
have a track called ‘Cirrhosis of the Cormorant’.
This CD has been lurking around the tasty coffee table for some time now
and has more than the occasional spin. Very loosely categorised as US Indie,
Glissandro specialise in weaving a mellow web of loops and samples
until it is no longer obvious where the song started or where it will end.
This album is like one long flowing masterpiece which knits many aspects of
80's synth with a more urgent, modern appeal.
From the manila card packaging to the lovingly constructed songs, this is
an album to warm to, not to expect to knock your socks off. Despite all of
the electronic trickery and genius, there is a deep seated sense of humanity
behind the compositions - it is always the focal point and the homing
beacon. Even on rambling 13 minute tracks like 'End West' there is an
underlying rhythm which instantly locates the listener, no matter how far
off track the samples and loops get. Delicious.
There seems to be a
proliferation of very serious metal bands at the moment, bands that combine
the aggression and riffs of traditional heavy music, but also embrace the
dynamics of instrumental post-rock (i.e. Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor,
Mono etc.) and elements of progressive rock. Isis, Neurosis and Pelican are
good examples of this. Because they eschew metal’s traditional excesses
(guitar solos, songs about blood / Warhammer/ angle grinders, and so on)
many such bands seem to be being reaching a wider audience than die hard
metal fans. Which is great. What is marginally less exciting is the fact
that there seems to be massive numbers of bands that sound a bit like Isis
around at the moment. Also some of the music of this ilk tends to be just as
absurd as traditional metal, just in a different way. For example Neurosis’
‘The Eye of Every Storm’ is one of the most pompous and overblown albums of
recent years, made all the more tedious by how damn seriously they seem to
be taking it all. Don’t get me wrong, I like a great deal of bands that play
this style of music, there just seems to be an awful lot of it around at
Nine Days To No One are
very much in this vein, aggressive and heavy, combining elements of
progressive rock and instrumental post-rock to their sound. The first track
‘Twilight of The Idols’ is heavy and rhythmic with an intensity to rival
that of Converge’s most recent albums. ‘Venus On Fire’ starts of quiet and
menacing, before building to a Godspeed You Black Emperor–style crescendo
that then leads into a lurching heavy, groove. ‘So My Inferior, This Ends’
is a more straightforward thrashy number, reminiscent of Botch or early
Converge. Although they wear their influences on their sleeves, Nine Days To
No One’s versions of all their favourite bands (evidently Isis, Converge,
Neurosis, Botch) is different enough to warrant a listen. Although I can’t
see myself listening to this instead of Isis’s ‘Oceanic’ or Pelican’s
‘Australasia’, if this kind of heavy, progressive rock is your ‘thang’ then
you could do a lot worse.
It goes without saying that nearly everything that
Words in Music put out reminds me of why I became so hooked on music in
the first place. Whether it be For Against’s Joy Division pastiches, or
The Meeting Places sugary dreampop, this is a label that can be counted on
for moments of nostalgia.
And so it is with The Lucy Show, who remind me so
much of Echo and the Bunnymen and The House of Love.
The Lucy Show’s sound is that sort of late 80s indie
rock/pop – all very polished production, and absolutely killer songs. ‘The
Sojourn’s Song’ reminds me so much of the Bunnymen that I want to put a
trench coat on and back comb my hair again, like it was 1989. This is the
sound of my youth, and I thank The Lucy Show for that. So, if you fancy a
wallow in your past, ‘Mania’ is perfect.
This is a record that does not populate any conventional niche or genre
but drifts effortlessly between drones and styles until you stop trying to
place loops and samples and simply sit back and relax.
Whereas opening track 'Prologue - Helicite Labyrinth' occupies a
minimalist wilderness of icy whooshes and chimes, other tracks possess a
more upbeat dynamic more akin to the likes of The Orb and even The Ozric
Tentacles. But there are no hairy bearded hippies trying to emulate Hawkwind
here, 'Continuum' is precise and calculating - organic yet nothing is left
to chance. The random ethnic and jungle sounds dropped into the mix are
perfectly underpinned by the steady electro beats and relentless drones (in
a good way). Perfect music to relax to.
There are very few human beings I respect more than
Pete Dale. You know what he’s done by now…Red Monkey, Slampt!, Milky
Wimpshake. And now, the gorgeous bastard, he’s gone a recorded a folk album
that could quite easily be the best set of political songs since…well, since
the last Milky Wimpshake album.
On the way through he destroys ID cards, Bob Geldof,
George W Bush, the nuclear arms industry, and political hyprocrites. All
through the power of a dozen or so folk songs. There’s also the obligatory
Phil Ochs cover version, which is always a treat.
I can’t say any more about Pete Dale than the fact
that’s he’s a most wonderful song writer. If only there more people prepared
to stick their neck out and write about what’s going on around them rather
than people looking good on the dancefloor, then the world might just be a
more palatable place.
'Music's pretty good… ideal stuff to
listen to whilst driving Bobbie Sue to the movies.
The first track is exciting enough
and it sounds like the kind of music favoured by the makers of 80's American
teen movies. It's a shame that the rest of the album peters out into an
irreversible lull of mediocrity. Harsh I know, but I doubt many folk older
than 21 would argue with me.
The guitar/ bass/ drum altercations
remain consistent throughout the album, but the vocal and lyrical selections
quickly grow sickly and tiresome. Well, if you heard I know she'll wait for
me/ she will, she will repeated countless times by some whiny virgin with an
acne- pocked face, would you react differently?
It really is a shame that the lyrics
are poor because the music is often fresh and interesting. Although it's
fast, loud, hectic and in yer' face, it maintains an air of cool ambience
and vibrancy. There's no better example of this than on the underwhelmingly
named 'Do Lunch or Be Lunch.'
Now I don't know the singer; I've
never seen him on the TV or in magazines, but his work suggests I wager you
an appreciative nod that he drinks lukewarm bottled lager. He'll eat so much
pizza with extra cheese topping that he'll do so only mechanically and out
of obligation to adolescent ideals. He'll play computer games and he
certainly wouldn't say no to a bit of American wrestling.
Let's skip forwards to track 12,
it's called 'We're looking at an All-time Low in Popularity Here'. I don't
need to tell you what it's like; I think I've already established the mood
of the album overall. So I'll just say this, if the track had been called,
say, 'We're Looking at an All-time Low in Fucking Creativity/ Originality'
it would be then and only then that we would have something even remotely
accurate and relevant to work with.
Some journalists might scoff at this
and they'll say it's a poor review, which lacks discipline. Hell, they might
be right, but there is a saying that goes: you can only give as good as you
A good crack at a classic rock album from Chicago based OK GO. Would have
been better if it didn't have one of those annoying media players embedded
on the disc which caused my PC to have the electronic version of an
epileptic fit but I digress.
OK GO definitely inhabit a classic rock n roll genre of the type made
famous by acts like the Rolling Stones and The Kinks and this is clearly in
evidence during forthcoming single 'A Million Ways', even though it is a
slightly more pared down style from the brash guitar-a-thon of the rest of
Like I said before, a decent crack of the whip if not completely
Lovely printed CD though...
The music on this album ranges from
jovial to ebullient to melancholy and morose without ever over- stepping the
mark and entering the twisted paradise of dereliction, 'post- rock'.
The album enjoys an overall
consistency and does little to turn the listener away. It would be
irrelevant to pick out individual tracks and sing about their individual
merits, rather this an album to be enjoyed as a whole body of work.
Pellumair's sound is often bright
with clarity, but occasionally they will employ brooding and melancholy
guitar passages just to emphasize the reoccurring theme of, yes you guessed
it, a summer- storm.
It seems to me that 'Summer- Storm'
was always much more than just a title for the album. Rather the words were
a muse for creativity and inspiration; they became the heart; supplying
life, soul and body to the work.
Pellumair will warm the listener up
with a blast of eyeball- popping guitar riffs, but it is so intermittent
that the album couldn't possibly appeal to rock fans of the Metallica ilk.
Music to smash your head against a
wall to it certainly is not.
This is an album which won't merely
offer the listener a sonic treat; with its flagrant vocals and delicious
musical accompaniments there should be something to set off even olfactory
senses. Take a listen to track seven and tell me that after the thunderous
bass and acoustic guitar work, suggestive of warm summer rain that you won't
be able to smell the earth and not be reminded of a summer storm.
Oh no. I am quite sure that if this had landed on a fellow Tasty hack's
doormat you would be reading a glowing adulation to the merits of 'homespun
pop' and the world of tweedom. That polka dot covered world where boys and
girls record the amblings of their sugar coated minds into their four
tracks. Well I am not ashamed to admit this - I just don't get it. The
Besties look like lovely folk (best friends from school don't you know) but
if I wanted to listen to something that sounded like is was produced in Mrs
Walmouth's music room I would have paid more attention to music lessons in
school. Not that I'm against the idea of people doing this kind of thing -
just better to make sure it ends up in the hands of sensitive types rather
than cynical old gits like me.
Now this is interesting… coupla
beers down and my foots' a tappin' to the sounds blasting from my ancient
Celestion speakers. The vocals aren't those of a young Robert Plant
strutting his stuff on a Birmingham boardwalk, but they could be.
No way, this is an American band
named 'The Time Flys' and they're hot. Forget the New York Dolls, forget The
Damned and the Buzzcocks, forget all that shit.
'Fly' is an album full of break-
neck punk merged with a healthy dose of the blues. Whatever stiff said
guitar solos have no place in punk was no doubt a lousy guitarist in an even
lousier punk band and ought to get off his moral high- horse and join the
The Time Flys lay down their music
in a way suggestive that time (no irony intended) is going out of fashion,
for this album doesn't waste a second; it's very fast, very loud and in
short, it's very good.
The Time Flys have done their
research; they know how to make a good Rock 'n' Roll album and what's more
importantly, they appreciate that it's all just a game- nothing to be taken
seriously. They go out and do their thaang without any of the half- arsed
bollocks that go with the music industry.
Now, punk albums, like album
reviews, can be far- too long winded. 'Fly' isn't long winded, so I'm taking
heed. I'm outta here.
It seems at one point in time this album came close to
not being released at all. When originally submitted to Fat Cat Records a
dodgy email address very nearly meant that Duncan Sumpner, the 30 year old
artist and teacher and man behind Songs of Green Pheasant, nearly missed out
on the record being unleashed upon the public. Thankfully the ever
hardworking and vigilant chaps at Fat Cat don’t let technology get in there
way and after two years and I imagine some pretty clever gadgets ala old
Jimmy Bond they found Sumpner…in Sheffield.
It’s a bloody good job some people are that diligent
too because quite frankly Songs of Green Pheasant is a joy to behold, an
album that tips its hat in many directions yet somehow feels uncluttered and
fresh for doing so. The moment the record begins and the fuzzing tones of ‘I
Am Daylights’ begin its impossible not to feel the warmth and sheer passion
that’s been poured into this music. Recorded in rural isolation on the edge
of the Peak District, it feels at times like you can hear the wind gusting
past the window whilst we are safe inside basking in Sumpner’s achievements.
Songs of Green Pheasant is an album which will
undoubtedly be affixed with the label of folk music, and I suppose that
wouldn’t be entirely untrue either, especially on say a track like ‘Burning
Man’. However to leave it there would be cheating Sumpner out of a great
deal of the credit he deserves. This is a record of complex songs with a
ghostly and sometimes discordant pop heart. Imagine taking the songs of Iron
and Wine and forcing Simon & Garfunkel to play them at gun point through
amplifiers covered in honey laden tea and you’re part way there. These are
songs that are essentially simple and beautiful at there heart but overlaid
with complexity and passion that simply cause them to shine.
Hailing from the southern shores of merry old England
Charlottefield are four young gents with fire in there collective belly. A
tight mesh of blinding guitar riffs, complex song structures and a rhythm
section that is relentless and driving it’s easy to hear the influences in
Charlottefield’s sound. Elements of Fugazi and The Fall are scattered within
but that isn’t to say they sound like those bands. What Charlottefield have
created is a punk inflected sound, angular and fresh in tone’ and the
overall effect of ‘How Long Are You Staying’ is invigorating and unique.
This is simply a great album from yet another great UK rock band.
Described by Andrew Hobson, the gentleman behind
Matinee Orchestra, as a laptop album you could be forgiven for merely
dismissing this as another Four Tet coat tail riding cash in. However to do
so would be fool hardy and you sir would be labelled a fool, that’s right a
fool. Yes Matinee Orchestra is an album of digitally layered samples and
orchestration but rather than being another half baked wannabe Hobson has
created a record every bit as good as those being released by the likes of
Leaf. In fact in my humble opinion it may even be that little bit better.
Matinee Orchestra possess a simple and childlike
quality to it throughout but don’t let this fool you as it is an album of
hidden depths, one that will slowly unpeel and reveal itself over time. It
reminds me of some of Sufjan Stevens more baroque moments (especially that
of his programmatic album ‘Enjoy Your Rabbit’) or Olivia Tremor Control for
that matter. Hobson has made a dense and dreamy record that I’ll be keeping
close by in the hope that it may help to fend off some of those winter blues
and hopefully beckon spring my way.
By the time this review goes up on the world wide
interspazz there’s a good chance that many of you will have heard of, if not
actually heard, AIDS Wolf such is the word of mouth buzz these guys are
generating. Attention from the likes of Pitchfork, The New York Times and
general geek chatter has meant that this bands debut LP has been highly
anticipated, at least by me anyway. Add to all that the fact that two of the
members are the artists behind the highly acclaimed design team Seripop and
how can you not be excited?
Recorded with the help of Arlen ‘Wolf Parade’ Thompson,
‘The Lovvers LP’ is a jarring, clattering audio mess that you expect to fall
apart at any given second. It is soaked in drones, wails and barely metered
freak-outs. It is the sound of a prog band being mugged in an alley by
chanting metal pirates. It is both inharmonious and yet accessible (for
point of reference please see the startlingly good ‘Panty Mind’), it is in
short bloody marvellous. Seek and destroy y’all!
On an additional note, CBC
Radio 3 want to hear from you as to whether or not they should keep playing
AIDS Wolf. Of course they should! Use the link below to cast your vote and
help direct the good people of Canada in the right direction
Two parts Blood Brothers, two parts The Locust and one
part Yeah Yeah Yeahs, that my friends is a hell of a recipe and exactly the
one used to cook up the band Head Wound City. A grating, chugging bastard
juggernaut of a super group this is high octane ride of genre melding music.
Head Wound City are technical hardcore (‘In a Taxidermist, I’ll Stuff
Anything’) with added stomping, handclapped outro one minute, then
screeching math infused rock the next (‘New Soak For an Empty Pocket’). Its
machinegun fire drums, full pelt wails and as much unadulterated enjoyment
as five people can cram into 7 tracks and just under 10 minutes. Exhausting
and worth ever second of your time.
Sometimes a band comes along and gives you a few
smiles. Sometimes a band comes along and makes you excited. And sometimes a
band comes along and sweeps you off your feet. Monkey Swallows the Universe
fit into the latter category with ease.
Ever since I first saw this band last year at The
Grapes in Sheffield last year they’ve charmed the socks off me. ‘The
Brighter Carvings’ is the sound of a band completely at ease with what they
do, and what they do is wonderful. Since expanding from a two-piece to a
five-piece, MSTU have gone from strength to strength, and ‘The Brighter
Carvings’ is the result.
MSTU’s art is not a complicated one, and this album is
all the better for it. They play either beautiful bouncy pop music, or
gorgeous, delicate acoustic torch anthems – and the way they do both is
Stand-out track on this wonderful debut album is,
almost inevitably, recent download-only single, ‘Jimmy Down the Well’, but
that’s not to say it’s a one man team. There are some ace references in
here, from tales of Sheffield to Paul Simon pastiches, all played over a
brittle, fragile, and luscious indie pop background.
Frankly, if you hear a better album this year, I want
to hear about it. Then I’ll take you outside and give you a good telling off
for being so wrong. I heart Monkey Swallows the Universe.
For those who have been waiting, fear not for Vashti
Bunyan’s new record is here. That’s right its here and its only taken 35
years, talk about putting things off. Well I guess its probably a good idea
to fill those of you not familiar with the cult legend that is Bunyan in on
a bit of history.
In the mid-60’s Bunyan was a rising star. She was
signed to Decca, released a single by Jagger /Richards and was showered with
praise from the music press. However singles went unreleased and Bunyan
began to lose faith in the fickle music business so hopped on a horse and
cart in 1968 and went to go and join Donovan in the creative colony he was
setting up on the Isle of Skye. However she took nearly two years to get
there (bloody traffic!) and Donovan had gone but the whole experience had
given her the material for her debut album ‘Just Another Diamond day’ which
she recorded back in London (a slightly quicker trip back I think) and
featured members of both Fairport Convention and the incredible String Band.
Rather than promote it Bunyan left for Scotland and then Ireland and tend to
wagons, children and beards.
Fast track to the late nineties and thanks to the
internet Bunyan found out the little gem that was ‘JADD’ has become a cult
classic with the today’s folk heroes who are citing her as a major
influence. She then began to record with such luminaries as The Animal
Collective and then finally began to put together the songs that would
become ‘Lookaftering’. You really couldn’t make that kind of thing up could
So with the help of Fat Cat Records and Max Richter ‘Lookaftering’,
Bunyans second album, has been lovingly crafted and so the second chapter of
her music career has begun. Co-arranged by Richter and Bunyan ‘Lookaftering’
is a record built around Bunyan’s soft floating voice and gently picked
guitar. Some songs are sparse and stripped to their bare bones such as
closing track ‘Wayward Hum’, whilst others are slowly built up with
considered and varied orchestration using everything from string quartets
and harps to glasses and dulcimers. Some of this is even provided by a few
well chosen friends such as Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart and Adem.
‘Lookaftering’ is an intimate record of small stories
packed to the rafters with genuine feelings and honesty and because of this
it can’t fail to be anything but an incredibly intimate listening
experience. It is a deft and mature record from a mature song writer. Let’s
hope she sticks around to see this wave of her music career through.
That Fucking Tank are a two piece powerhouse of a band
from Leeds. Taking everything that’s right about rock music and scrapping
all the unnecessary excess they create a primal rock where thunderous
baritone guitar and tight pounding rhythms provide the backbone to songs you
can shake your lazy, office working bones to.
The repetitive groove of ‘Making a Meal for Beethoven’
is an awesome jutting master class in riffing, ‘Lands and Body Cool Off’ has
a stench of slow grinding sex written all over its filthy little mind while
‘Pumping Iron’ struts around like Mick Jagger injecting testosterone into
his eye balls. Add to that some classic rock (The Freedom of Music), a
sea-faring lament of sorts (Land Speak Record) and a hypnotic recipe for
cranberry relish and you have one of the most refreshing, bizarre and
downright entertaining records you’ll have heard in a long time.
This is an accolade I don’t bandy about willy-nilly but
That Fucking Tank are simply one of the greatest bands in the UK, probably
even the whole fucking world.
One the original kings of the folk drone world Town and
Country have been producing there psych infected hypnotic music for 8 years
now. ‘Up Above’ is certainly a continuation into the bands fascination into
the world of the drone music. It is a record littered with references to
Eastern music, a by product of recent tours to Japan where the group
discovered new and interesting instruments and ideas. The result is a record
of gradually shifting pitch and tone, a trance like prolonged murmur like
having some wonderful musically adept bees living in your skull. This makes
for a record which is at times both interesting and sleepy but also
occasionally rather annoying.
Gris Gris are a hard band to pin down musically.
There’s no doubt that there is a definite nod towards psychedelia and
elements of drone and freak-outs are abound throughout the record but to
simply label them as another psych drone band would be way off the mark.
‘For the Season’ is complex and uncanny whilst at the same time not ever
letting itself forget that ultimately it is a record of really good songs.
The stomping doom and screech laden opener Ecks em Eye happily sits on the
same record as the upbeat folk sing along that is ‘Down with Jesus’ (which
itself collapses into a rocking keyboard led ending). Basically Gris Gris no
when to be odd and when to pull it all back to its roots. They know we all
love a bizarre and confusing moment in a record but not so long as it gets
annoying. With ‘For the Season’ Gris Gris have a clever record full of
rhythm, fuzz and nonsense all in just the right amounts.
Being hailed as 'the best band out of Blackpool since Section 25' isn't
exactly a glowing recommendation. And after a couple of tracks of 'Speaking
Through the Gaps' the comparisons with the Pixies, The Clash and Pavement
seem a bit misleading.
As well as being incredibly quiet, I don't think the band has been done
any favours by the production on this at all. The sound is muddy and
muffled, apart from the echoing female vocals which rattle around in the
background like the ghost of Kate Bush. Approach with caution.
'Open Space' shows some signs of a bit of promise and finally the Pixies
connotations start to make a little bit of sense. Whereas 'A Simple
Contradiction' has a blatant Pixies rip-off start. Overall 'Speaking Through
the Gaps' features a few really interesting ideas but just has an
unprofessional sound about it, like a garage band. Perhaps it would have
been better off being recorded a year or two later.
How these reprobates keep this nonsense up for
prolonged periods of time is quite beyond me, I suspect that the only
substance that would be capable of prompting anyone to make such a racket
would be pints of espresso laced with PCP and probably lots of e-numbers….
It’s like being beaten up by a gang of oversized toddlers with violent
temperaments…. Or something.
For a debut album, it certainly sounds like Hunting
Lodge have found their sound. There is a distinct change in their sound
since last years split 7” with Mugstar (which was fucking ace), the band
seem to have developed a pounding rhythmic style, and somewhat of a penchant
for haphazard instrumentation that is bewildering yet structured. The
timings and tight rhythms lend the record a slight blues/jazz sound, this is
only further emphasised by the inclusion of some awesome saxophone playing
by Terry Edwards. This collision of sounds does create something pretty
interesting, and certainly something I’d be looking forward to hearing more
of in the future. As far as reference points go it’s probably worth
mentioning Beefheart, Lightning Bolt, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins….. I hate
listing stuff like that. Just go and have a listen.
It's not without reason that a new Mogwai release is greeted with more
than a little fanfare. Over the last ten years, Mogwai have bludgeoned,
hammered and latterly carved and crafted their very own niche in the music
world by being completely uncompromising and disinterested in modern whims
and fancies. 'Mr Beast' is their 5th studio album so in a constantly
evolving and mutating approach to their music, how would it compare to their
'Auto Rock' follows familiar territory as an exquisitely crafted fade-in
intro combining keys and booming percussion with an increasing variety of
loops and electronic work. This is very much along the lines of 'Sine Wave'.
However, 'Glasgow Mega Snake' is an epic rock piece with a multitude of
layered guitars and over sampling . This return to raw volume and depth of
sound harks back to some of the very early Mogwai demos and recorded
material on Young Team. Another welcome return is the re-emergence of a
number of tracks featuring the vocals of Stuart Braithwaite. Although not
renowned as a singer, Braithwaite's voice provides a wonderfully warm and
full backdrop to the squall of guitar in 'Travel is Dangerous'.
I am still in no doubt that 'Friend of the Night' is one of the most
beautiful tracks I have ever heard and highlights everything that Mogwai are
about. A peerless mastery of dynamics and the effortless fusion of a light
and dark which rises and falls. This format is shared by 'Folk Death 95',
another stunning, brooding monster. The album closes with 'We're No Here',
perhaps the most brutal track of all. The ethereal start which is mildly
reminiscent of 'My Father My King' does not last long before the slabs of
guitar overdubs slam into action.
So children, we go to sleep at night safe in the knowledge that 'Mr
Beast' delivers the goods, and then some. I for one will be beg, stealing or
borrowing to get to one of Mogwai's shows this year.
Fucking copy control bollocks!!!!! God forbid anyone
should copy a record! How on earth will these labels cope with it? If they
could just let me listen to this CD normally it wouldn’t be skipping all
over the bloody place as I type this…. This type of stuff really drives me
round the bloody bend. I’ll try not to let it ruin my mood…. And frankly,
even if it were to upset me, I can just listen to the joyous sound of The
Research to cheer me up.
Anyway, this album is pretty bloody great. It’s not
much of a surprise really, but it is damn good.
It’s been a number of years since I first saw The
Research, and even from that time a recall some of the songs that are
present here, I suppose that is somewhat of an endorsement when it comes to
memorable song writing, and to be honest they have aged well. It’s also
evident that The Research had time to develop and write their songs, as
there really isn’t and ‘weak’ material on the album at all…… which is just
the way it should be. Personally I think they are at their best in the
slightly more down-beat moments, tracks like ‘Love Me Tender’ and ‘I Bet If
We Kissed’ which at their best are truly heartbreaking; belying the fact
that these tunes are built on such limited instrumental foundations (it
truly is amazing what you can do with a Casio), but again I would say that
this stands as testament to the quality of song writing on offer.
My only problem I have with the record is that perhaps
the production value is slightly over polished, like Springsteen’s 80’s
output, it’s still great, but that is in spite of the production, and not
because of it….. But what the hell do I know? Eh? I just prefer a slightly
rawer sound. Bloody great!
watch video to 'Lonely
Hearts Still Beat the Same' (.wmv file)
This man, and his band of merry people, play banjo fuelled country music,
but despite sound, and appearance, it comes straight out of New York City,
home to such country giants as……………………………….But what does that matter? The
accompanying press painted a slightly whacky picture of Curtis, a rare bird
was perhaps amongst us, is that a real moustache Curtis? How super, I bet
you’re a little wild, yes? Oh no, maybe not, because it’s fairly straight
forward stuff isn’t it, you, banjo, songs, half you anyway, and half some ye
olde fella who yearns for the good ole days when things were better, and
this moaning/longing becomes rather boring. It’s a great shame, becomes last
track ‘stagecoach’, when you feel perhaps the mask has slipped, and it’s the
man behind that’s singing, is wonderful.
Catchy and slight aggressive punk rock on Deep Elm
Records. I cannot abide music of this ilk, but I suppose that if you like
Hot Water Music or Small Arms Dealer’s label mates Latterman, you may like
this. The songs are infectious enough, even though they all sound pretty
much identical. That’s as much of an objective review as I can muster; this
sort of thing leaves me completely cold. If you consider skateboarding a
respectable form of transport then this could be the album for you.
Originally released on LP in 2001 and re-released now
by Birdman on CD, ‘A Green Dream’ is an extremely hard album to pin down.
The only way I could describe the Mirrors is as ‘psychedelic rock’, which is
vague almost to the point of being content-less. This difficulty in defining
their sound is because of the sheer variety of styles this album contains.
For example the track ‘Hate Reaction’ is distorted sleazy garage number, and
very good it is too. The next track ‘Ecstacy’ is a strange idyllic folk
number, with various bird sounds in the background, and is most reminiscent
of the Animal Collective. The remaining tracks go from off-kilter pop to the
track ‘Storm Trooper’ that sounds exactly like the music from the title
sequence in Pulp Fiction.
I suppose this is my problem with this release, while
most of the individual songs are fine, ‘A Green Dream’ makes very little
sense as an album, due to the number of musical bases that are covered.
Indeed the only consistent musical theme throughout the album seems to be a
love of sixties psychedelia. Other than that most of these songs sound as if
they’re not by the same band at all. In dabbling with too many styles the
Mirrors have ended up with an album that is both confused and confusing.
Ben Cooper, aka Electric President, could well be the
heir to Ben Gibbard’s throne, like Gibbard, he produces self reflective,
dreamy melodic music, delivered in a heart wrenching falsetto, that owes
much to his American west coast base. The sound is sun drenched pop with
electronic backing, the content is personal, but never seems to grate, and
the result is a joy.
It’s late, your flats cold, but you're not tired. What
to do? I know, let’s sit in bed and listen to this. Combining slow
instrumental passages with soothing vocals akin to Low this is a lovely
record, and when sleep does eventually take you, your dreams will be forest
based, but happy.
Mark Kozelek again displays his poise and prowess by
making these eleven Modest Mouse songs his own. All delivered at a now trade
mark tempo the results are a delight, each composition being given a
makeover of unrecognisable proportions, the results of which will more than
likely appeal to existing Kozelek fans, as opposed to modest mouse
approvers. But despite it’s beauty you can’t help but surmise that this is
something of a stopgap project, a good one, but filler. Now we await the
real Mr Kozelek.
The phalanx of people injecting warmth into digital electronic music
continues marching, however the warmth here comes not from the faux-naif
sounds of the 'folktronica' scene but the saw-tooth heat of vintage
synthesizers and bristling computer mulch. 'Lisbon' is a 41 minute
live-to-disk recording of a concert in October 2005 relying mainly on guitar
and computer syntheses, that is he plays the guitar through the computer
expanding the range of interaction beyond single gesture mouse clicks and
Starting out with a fluid series of tones from the guitar, in the manner
of Rafael Toral, which are subtly augmented by the grist of clicks whistles,
like a trippy form of sunbathing with tinnitus. Around the quarter of an
hour mark Whitman's interest in old synthesizers becomes apparent as the
tones subside into taped sounds of vintage oscillators breaking through in
grand sweeps with the majesty of a Ming Emperor.
A second wave of noise comes in the form of heavily distorted guitar,
almost bagpipe like in its sound, which again bleeds into synthesized
oscillations. In a familiar trope of electronic music these days this
crescendo fades quickly into location recordings fed through the computer
synthesis program, which soon forms a feedback loop with the fingerprint of
the room somewhere in the sound. Once again this cuts into bangs, squeaks,
rattles and synthesized whines, all this throb and grist being brought
together for a final delirious crescendo which closes the disc.
Judging by the cover MGR stands for 'Mustard Gas and Roses'. A number of
photographs of whoozy light breaking through heavy clouds play up the
music's similar atmospheric. I have to admit this is a pleasant CD but with
Mark Nelson's LaBradford and Pan•American groups almost defining a certain
bucolic melancholy since the mid nineties it comes across as not so much an
extension but a reaffirmation of that particular sound.
Although the overall feel seems a bit derivative there is more focus on
the drone aspect of the sound than Nelson's bands, whilst sometimes sombre
the dolorous feel is downplayed in favour of an expansive ambiance.As befits
a droney album the tracks blend into one sequence with movements, I starts
of with a drone that sounds a like heavily delayed 'Om' - with a certain
impure organic feel. This drone is soon augmented by pedal steel and
electric guitars although the organic nature of the drone is everpresent and
provides an earthing sound, II loses the drone and gives us a slightly
bleaker, treacly, vaguely Morricone like sound.
III introduces a more tonal oscillating drone and that familiar sedentary
resonant guitar sound. As we progress through IV and V we get buffeting
beats like faint thunder rolls and the guitar work becomes more strident yet
retaining that cumulo-nimbus feel eventually reaching a billowy conclusion
of light drone, plucked guitar and metronomic wood-blocky beats.
From the gutsy name to the bold cod-Foetus artwork to the constant
emphasis on 'edginess' you have to wonder if Icebreaker are overstating
their case. The 13-piece group interpret modern composers using a variety of
'loud' instruments and Terminal Velocity is a remastered version of their
debut album recorded in 1993. Unsurprisingly the tracks that come off worst
are those that seem to be showing that classical isn't a synonym for square.
'Yo Shakespeare' seems like an off-the-shelf Reich inspired composition
and whilst the hard edges are apparent it doesn't make the constant
stop-start nature of the piece any more interesting. Likewise Louis
Andriessen's 'de Snelheid' has the same sharp timbres but the compositional
trick (fast seeming slow to slow seeming fast) doesn't quite suit the
balance of sound the instruments produce. A slower piece called 'Evol' is
more successful until near the end where the composition is centred on an
unwelcome 'jazz-rock' guitar line, as with most reissues this piece is also
let down by the quickly dated sound of the keyboards.
However half the CD is occupied by the two good tracks. Gavin Bryars'
'The Archandgel Trip' is a sedate piece led by wind and string instruments,
this piece allows the group to show a good handling of volume and tone and
sitting between two of the pieces above provides a welcome break, although
there are still remnants of 'that guitar sound' which make the piece a
slightly marred success.
The final third of the CD is a single piece, David Lang's 'Slow
Movement', a turbulent murmuring buzz and burr of bowed strings brings to
mind Paul Panhuysen's Partitas for Long Strings or Phill Niblock's drone
work. The flat sound of panpipes is also apparent in the background adding
to the discomfiting sound. This is the one track on the that seems to demand
(or justify) 'loud' instrumentation.
This kind of ambient electronica can
either be good (boards of Canada, Autechre) or sound like a vulgar pastiche
on ENO’s ambient series.
Glim aka Andreas Berger begins his
second excursion into soundscape design with “Sloth” which can only be
described as boredom lead into a confused crescendo, although short and
beautifully minimal. From here “Ariel view of Model” continues with swirling
sounds or noises being brought in and out of almost every track and all to
simple basic melodies, if there is one. The end of “Anarene” is a bad guitar
melody that brings to mind a child playing uninterested and bored, which he
would be if he were listening to this.
Its not utterly bad, there’s just
nothing really engaging apart from Glims (maybe accidental) use of
restraint, teasing you with noises building up to uncomfortable feedback but
cutting them of just in time.
There seems to be no plan here and
I’m inclined to say this could be the product of a rich kid with to much
By the time the album gets to the
fourth track I’m so unsure of what’s happening its hard to realise that this
might be the highlight of the album. With a clutch of soaring synths and
guitar noises replicating a plane taking off gradually louder and more
confused much like “Sloth” but longer. Maybe it’s supposed to be based on
sloth’s piloting planes.
The first time you get anything like
an enjoyable melody is “Glaze” which thankfully is a sublime lonely song
that of course swirls around Glims perpetual fish bowl of talent. Followed
by “Christophs Box” another highlight with childlike xylophone playing
through out. After these two delights however I’m hit on the head abruptly
and I’m back in my cold dreamless swirling coma.
For Halmas third offering they seem
to know what they’re doing. It is slick, adult, cinematic music that you
could loosely compare to tortoise. Heavily bass driven with jazzy brushed
drums like Portishead with out the song structure,
hip hop and vocals. Not really like Portishead
“Back to Pascal” at all times
contains an eerie undertone like the cover suggests, a sea side ghost town
that’s plotting against us. With songs like hektopascal building up to
wonderfully optimistic yet ghostly guitar and bass affair. Its really is
Where the problems lie in “Back to
Pascal” is in the long drawn out songs that go nowhere, long tremolo guitar
notes throughout become tiring and from haunting cinematic songs they go to
“fumarole” which is less scary and more disturbing because its seven minutes
of the same thing and not an inch of progression. I’m not saying you can
have musical journeys of epic proportion in this time, but to do nothing is
worrying. I guess if you really want to evoke landscape images with music
that’s what you do.
By the end of the album Halma seem
to have burnt them selves out and everything sounds so standard, I mean
there’s only so much you can achieve trying to write the same song seven
times. Two and a half minutes into the closing song “slumber land” and there
is something new, the vulgar use of an organ that fills your ears
uncomfortably. Apart from that however the whole affair seems effortlessly
classy, maybe to easy though because Halma don’t seem to want to achieve
This album (the second from the
Trust) begins as it means to go on. A man trying to have sex with my ears,
possibly sniffing some form of narcotic and then persistently asking if we
are going up. Naturally the song is called elevator and I am being taken to
a floor decked out in fake tiger fur and kitsch gay clichés.
Kings and Queens is a sexual assault
in the vain of filthy funk disco, with songs like “its just cruel” slamming
out a dirty moog bass lines and sex laden beats and lyrics “We cant do wrong
and Candays away”.
Something is not right however and
half way through I think I’ve got it. The lyrics although sexually ambiguous
are also nonsense. From stating the obvious “I know why I feel so
good….cause I like it.” To “you must be freaky cause I really want it to
shine star child.” to “I’ve gotta say that your legs. Is like some ocean
There is good stuff on here though
especially “Jacuzzis” a filthy little hip hop collaboration with hypnotic.
But then there is also the non-descript house tunes and a horn section on
“show and Tell” that’s way to close to the easy listening of Chris Rea.
The falling point of Kings and
Queens is that the Trust just don’t seem to want to develop past generic
funk disco (bar “Jacuzzis”).
By the end I feel like two sexually
ambiguous men have been trying to write filthy lyrics without a firm grasp
of the English language, and maybe they’ve never had it. You know
intercourse. Let me put this clearly. I don’t think they are real perverts,
prince however I think is.
Never mind though the last track
sounds like Noddy driving his car into a gay disco.
If you have ever had the chance to
see Jana Hunter live you will be fully aware of the surprise you are greeted
with when the small softly spoken young women takes to the stage and treats
you to a voice that fills the room with soul. I have been lucky enough to
catch her live twice and so was intrigued as to how her off kilter songs
that inhabit the space between folk and lo-fi rock would translate to
record. It turns out to be with absolute ease.
‘Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom’ is a
diverse record of changing moods and emotions. It can at one minute feel
muted and melancholy and then next be full of joy. It can present a lo-fi
folk song full of warmth and hiss one moment, like on ‘Heatseeker’s Safety
Den’, or an electronically tinged pop masterpiece, as on closing track ‘K’,
the next. However what it does manage to do is make this diversity seem
perfectly natural, never once seeming to jar or sound out of place.
Essentially the binding factor for this collection of simply wonderful songs
though is Hunter’s voice, a deep and soulful treat indeed.
The debut release on Devendra
Banhart’s own label was always going to get noticed but Jana Hunter will
shine far above the mere association. ‘Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom’ is
sure to draw Jana Hunter to the attention of the music-loving world at large
and garner her the reputation she so rightly deserves.
As hip hop becomes more and more
about brands and corporate status the kids are looking for a new slice of
action to satisfy there hearing gear and apparently they have turned to
grime. I will confess to knowing sweet bugger all about either. In fact I
wasn’t even going to listen to this record let alone review it. But beer
made it seem like a good idea and well I was surprised. I was expecting to
be ‘tough on grime, tough on the causes of grime’ but I just couldn’t help
but enjoy it. Yes it’s the musical equivalent to being mugged on a Saturday
night in town and yes its sometimes down right ridiculous but there is just
something in there that makes me smile. Seriously try to keep a straight
face when someone pipes up on the beginning of Lethal B’s ‘Kylie Freestyle
“Bizzle, put some Kylie on”. Macho, ridiculous but a bloody good time…bizzle.
We all know them by now right? Well
the Broken Family Band are back with another
record and we know just what to expect, right? Well no wrong actually.
Following on from frontman Steven Adams solo venture ‘Problems’ this time
round the Broken Family Band seem harder faster and just a lot rockier.
That’s not to say that there aren’t still some country tinged gems here to
feast on like the wonderful bitter duet with Piney Gir but it’s the gutsy
rocking rolling numbers like opener ‘You’re Like a Woman’ or ‘I’m Thirsty’
or the stomping brilliance of ‘Michelle’ that you’ll be humming over and
over again till you mind collapses.
‘Balls’ is the record that will
finally wake up anyone stupid enough to not yet be a fan of the BFB and
should cement them as one of England’s finest rock bands.
Shit name methinks on arrival of this package. But darn me if it isn't
actually pretty good. I liked Headswim dammit! And January Jaunt seem to be
taking off where they fizzled out, but a little more subdued and brooding.
And before we get into the actual music, let's just comment on how well this
is produced. Very well.
Anyhew! Four tracks of pretty bleak alternative guitar based electronica,
taking it's time in each track to unfold nicely upon the ears. January Jaunt
seem to draw on influences such as a pre pension New Order and a less
baritone Interpol. While not by any means breaking on original ground, it is
pleasing and enjoyable ground. The ground in which we have all at some time
or another rocked our heads in the forward, and then, for reasons unknown,
the backward motion: obviously in a continuous momentum. On a small negative
note, they never really seem to push it enough, preferring to cruise along in
autopilot, which is a bit annoying when you can see the potential there.
Having recently signed to Beatpick online licensing, you can buy the e.p as
a download for a small price. It's on my I-pod. That means it's recommended.
Except I got it for free.
Darren Hayman is the former front man of Hefner; a
group I have always remained fairly indifferent to, and this is gladly where
I shall remain. I wanted to like this album, I liked the record sleeve, his
recommendations of plastic English Cafés and warmed to the idea of odes to
caravans, the National Canine Defence League and Doug Yule. However, the way
in which this album is carried leaves me feeling both bored and tired in
equal measures. This isn’t a terrible album, just an exceedingly average and
mildly irritating folk-stroke-indie record. For one; Hayman’s voice sounds
like a frustrated 8 year old, being dragged around the supermarket whinging,
whining and complaining all the way to the checkout . His songs plod a long
like a group of elderly ramblers, achingly slow, arthritic and sore, set to
a backdrop of irritating plinky keyboard stabs, predictable chord changes
and unimaginative drum ideas.
The in sleeve sees Mr. Hayman recommending his
favorite (no doubt ‘quintessentially English’) cafés and much like those
cafes, this really is a painfully normal, meat and potatoes type affair. In
all, Table for One is a 12 track banquet of undercooked bland
foodstuff, served without any condiments, all washed down with over-stewed,
luke-warm tea without any sugar. Hungry?
Ones and Zeros with its sanguine
rhythm guitar played over the top of the devastatingly precise E-bow soaked
lead is a deliciously succulent way of introducing a band's music. Sounding
evocatively fresh, this is instant coastal drive music.
Once the first three minutes of the
song have established the band's intentions, the song peaks with a
triumphant cacophony of swirling purple sound. The pounding aggression of
the drums is masked only by rising sonic veils of incandescent music- any
fans of Hawkwind's live Space Ritual will surely reap some enjoyment from
A Little More sounds more than a
little quaint and whimsical when it opens, but once again the music takes
its time to find it's feet and like before, it's well worth the wait.
The squeaky clean single-note guitar
is mellow and unchallenging, but it paves the way to some truly joyous
electric orchestra, which is immediately reminiscent of some of the early
solo work of Bill Nelson.
Track 3, I Heard Voices, is an
indulgent romp through verdant soundscapes, let down only by the vocals.
They are needlessly abrasive and sit uncomfortably out of place in this
delicate and thoughtful composition.
I Heard Voices, the 11-minute
crescendo of a song is interesting, but I feel it doesn't quite suffice as a
stand-alone piece. It has no determinable start point, nor indeed an exact
finish. It certainly needs to be performed live with a light show or other
visuals in order to reach its full potential.
The Early Years were designed to be
a live performance band and in this sample of music, the band have tried to
harness the excitement of one of their live shows and render it in the
studio. The three-track single is good, in fact it's very good, but it
really does offer only an illusion of what the band are like.
Like most, here is band that will
surely thrive in the live environment and it's my opinion that to miss out
on an opportunity to see this band in action would be nothing shy of folly.
Luscious, relaxing and gloriously
inoffensive, Wechsel Garland’s Easy is a pleasure to listen to; an album to
which you could easily be immersed or in turn could be passed unnoticed.
Largely acoustic and often instrumental, this album is like a soft, warm
aural massage. Throughout it’s entirety there are succulent swells of
orchestra, polite guitar noodlings and although Jorg Follert’s voice is not
particularly strong, his dulcet tones are nothing short of reassuring. None
of the tracks are longer than they need to be and everything slots together
nicely. For possibly the first time I’m inclined agree with Baked Good’s
often barmy press statements, they describe Easy as a “tenebrous crease of
incremental acoustic splendor”. However, towards the end of the album, there
is an irksome cod-jazz track which is somewhat irritating but easily
ignorable; a mere pimple on an otherwise pristine, pretty face, if you will.
This is an album that’s easy on the ears, would be best experienced sitting
in an easy chair and I’d go so far to say that it’s easy like Sunday
morning; one not spent with either a rampant hangover or regrets from the
Bright, fresh, crisp. They're all
words that spring to mind on the first listen of this record.
It Dawned On Me is an intriguingly
credible rock song. The guitar is evocative, the lyrics more so. The rhythm
section is subtle and never indulgent, opting to simply provide the bedrock
for the song with devastating precision.
Calla and Collisions are commendable
additions to Beggars Banquet, a label with such excellent bands as The Early
Years and Film School already signed to them and I doubt this group will
disappoint many listeners.
A good proportion of the music on
the album is relaxed and to an extent, undisciplined. However, luckily for
everyone, the music enjoys just enough rigidity to avoid the slippery slope
of sonic dereliction, post-rock.
Track 7, Stumble, offers a
delightful nod towards to the Tom Waits school of blues from the Mule
Variations album. The track contains the lyric: hold me close and don't let
go does this suggest there is an element of insecurity and emotional unease
surrounding the lyricist? The track bleeds emotive sentiment.
Swagger, the albums' penultimate
track is loaded with testosterone and the vocals accompanied by the bass
guitar supply an unmistakably dirty grind that's seedy, yet compelling.
Collisions is a good, tight album
which lacks little and gains something with every listen.
How good dub sounds is often
directly correlated to how big the bass speakers are, so listening to
Bullwackies… on my trusty, but nevertheless tiny Hitatchi does not do this
album much justice. Originally released in 1976 when the genre was in its
element, Bullwackies is only a fairly good example of its era. For albums
of this ilk, the magic is in the hands of the producer, drenching tracks
with reverb, echo, delay and whatever other effects they see fit. In that
respect, this album does not disappoint, the texture is as hazy and spacey
as dub records come, but it does not have the eccentric charm of a Lee Perry
or Scientist production. If you are familiar with dub music then expect the
ubiquitous militant bass lines, trooping chunky rhythms and reverb drenched
offbeat guitar shimmers. If you are new to this genre, there are far better
places to start, namely King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. If you don’t like
dub, then do neither.
It has been a long, troubled 3 years
since Canada’s slo-core troubadours released an album, 3 years that have
been shaped by label difficulties, inter-band bickering and lineup changes.
In accordance with these fairly standard tribulations, Kepler managed to
deliver a fairly standard album, one that treads a similar path to say Wilco
or early Low records have. The stand out track being ‘Days of Begging’, a
gorgeous lament that is delicate and tearful but delivered in such a way
that is not anguished or overtly pained. Generally speaking this is a very
full sounding LP and the producer does a fine job in generating a rich
varied texture. However, the massive dollops of reverb, exaggerated
harmonies and wispy, brush stroked cymbals could make one feel a little
drowsy, that the world outside is moving at half-speed. Much like Canada,
there are moments where this album is big, proud and beautiful but others
where it is just a little too polite and conservative. I have to admit that
Kepler had not crossed my path thus far and as this is there 3rd album
proper, it makes me wonder if I’ve been missing out. But if was to hazard a
guess, I’d say that Attic Salt is probably just more of the same.
I wasn't really expecting to enjoy this album half as much as I ended up
doing. Although single Life2Live got a reasonable review it was still
verging a bit too much on the house scene for my liking. But the rest of
this album is remarkably chilled out and a far more intelligent ambient
electro rather than handbag house. There's even an outing for Ella
Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong in 'Isn't This a Lovely Day'.