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singles/eps - november 2013


Haus – Flowers For EP (Robot Needs a Home)

From the ashes of the much missed Minnaars, Haus rises to give your earholes a bloody good seeing to. Adam Pickering and Gavin Thorpe from Minnaars are joined by drummer Anthony Pike to complete the Haus line up which continues and expands on the previous Minnaars sound. Gone are most of the guitars, replaced with luscious electronics, beats yet the trademark emotive, manic yet contagious vocals remain. To say this is good stuff would be an understatement – for a debut release it positively bristles with ideas which are implemented with consummate skill by the band.

Lead track ‘Esha Ness’ not only sounds as brilliant as anything that Underworld could have done but it includes a cricket reference on the lyrics, talking about being a ‘flat track bully’. Maybe not universally interesting but appeals to me. The crashing drums and general delivery of ‘Ex Ex Ex’ are probably the nearest Haus stray back to Minnaars territory with a lovely little clipped guitar line running through. But by contrast ’Violet Berlin’ has a much more ethereal, almost 80’s electro sound to it.

This is the best new EP I’ve heard in ages – seek it out. 9/10


Negative Trend – Negative Trend EP (Superior Viaduct and Subterranean Records)

Negative Trend was a short-lived San Francisco punk band back in 1978. The Band’s sole EP has now become available again on vinyl thanks to Superior Viaduct and Subterranean Records. This little gem is a forgotten punk classic that you’ll wonder how you’ve never heard.

This four song LP is twelve minutes of such punk mastery that it’s no wonder the band members went on to found the hugely influential Flipper. Also holding a certain Mr. Henry Rollins among their long list of esteemed fans. Mercenaries is your archetypal punk rock track. The bass works as a bludgeon behind the frenzied guitar riff, while singer Mikal Waters sings of war and politics. Meat House is the party anthem, with a hummable guitar riff and a catchy lyrical hook at its chorus. You can hear Flipper’s noise rock influence in sludgefest Black and Red. As the whole band slow the pace. Framing a dirty, driving guitar riff in front of some extremely heavy bass. The EPs last track: How Ya Feelin’ brings the pace blistering back up. While Mikal’s screams echo Iggy at the height of his powers. The contrast on the album between punk styles is a sheer triumph. Production is absolutely spot on and the whole record feels brilliantly balanced. It’s a fleeting piece of punk history, but one you absolutely should not miss.

Robbie Bryson

Alice in Chains – Voices

Unusually for Alice in Chains, their latest album ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’ seems to differ from its predecessors by being more of a slow burner – there’s certainly no ‘Angry Chair’ or ‘Check My Brain’ moment. But what has begun to crystallise in my mind about the album is distilled in this single. Jerry Cantrell is the spiritual and vocal glue which holds the band together. In William DuVall, Cantrell has found as near a vocal replacement for Layne Staley as possible in order to bounce the distinctive harmonies around with. And underpinning all of this are the precision drums and meandering bass which, without being ostentatious, provides the backbone. So while initial thoughts were so-so, it suddenly clicked in one spine tingling moment after a few plays. Here’s to album number 6. 8/10


Hagana – Fuzzy Punch

There’s something wonderfully refreshing about Hagana’s stripped back sound – just crank up the guitars and drums and let’s have a good singalong. In ‘Fuzzy Punch’ the crunching chords are accompanied by some off kilter semi-tone key changes which give the track a bit of a Flamenco-ish vibe. Well, Flamenco with distorted guitars that is. There’s also some complex vocal harmonies going on – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t but they all serve to reinforce the slightly off kilter sound at play here. 7/10


Wolf Alice – Blush (Chess Club)

Concepts records eh? ‘Blush’ forms the second part of a pair which started with its snarlier predecessor ‘She’. Not particularly clued up listeners will detect more than a hint of Band of Horses ‘The Funeral’ about this track, but let’s not carp for ‘Blush’ is a thing of beauty that few others can pull off with the assuredness of Wolf Alice. 8/10