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singles/eps - july 2015


SNAFU – ‘Unchained’

Detroit, Michigan-located hardcore thrash punk band SNAFU is set to release its 2nd album, Present Day Plague, on August 7th. Its debut album, Fear The Future, was issued in 2013 and later released by Profane Existence. Scott (guitar, vocals), Rian (guitar, vocals), Mickey (bass, vocals, and Ryan (drums) fuse thrash metal and punk rock into one extreme hybrid that’s topped off with hardcore, grind, and death metal touches. ‘Unchained’, the lead single off the new album, gives a nod towards the unrelenting aggression, speed, and musicianship to be found on Present Day Plague. While not as heavy as some of the other tracks off the album, it is more tuneful and direct.

Dynamic drum rhythms propel ‘Unchained’ while deep bass and ripping guitar riffs rampage through the number. The shouted out vocals contain a hint of the emo style in that they’re mid-range, emotive, and yelled at the top of the lungs. The lyrics are bit unclear due to the heavily exclaimed vocal delivery (possibly that something “…wants you to suffer / …wants you to be awake.”), which is unfortunate because the words are a main part of the album’s concept. Not being able to hear the point of a song diminishes its overall impact. Sonically, however, the hard-charging and changeable “Unchained” takes no prisoners with its pounded out drum beat and raging guitar riffs.

Jen Dan

Ghostpoet (feat. Lucy Rose) - 'It's Not You. It's Me'

Relationship advice is always helpful, and Ghostpoet strolls around west London providing a commentary to the ups and downs of those twenty and thirtysomethings whose various falling in and outs provide the material for his haphazardly paced rap lyric while the backing track is a smoothly produced Urban number, just what you want to hear when you're hailing a cab around Fulham. The video makes a lot of distorting the features of the characters that populate the video's barroom setting, and while I can recognise Ghostpoet I'm unsure which of the performers is Lucy Rose, leading me to wonder if some of Ghostpoet's friends are developing Facial Non-Recognition software. Life, innit.


Thunder - 'Black Water'

From the depths of the 80s spandex metal scene re-emerge Thunder, sounding a bit like you remember Whitesnake or Richie Blackmore's Rainbow in their chart friendly heydays of, well it was in the late 20th century that soft rock bands could still get into the charts regularly and Thunder are in one of their nostalgic moods, cranking out a mid tempo head nodder complete with proper guitar solos. Lyric's a bit grim though, 'I'll rip your heart out baby / I might steal your money too' is all very well coming from the newer members of the rock fraternity but Thunder, none of you are under 60 and, in fairness, you don't look like you're going hungry either. The sort of thing that can give macho posturing a bad name, really.


Editors - 'Marching Orders'

I need to put aside my impression of Editors as the band I once saw perform a startlingly accurate Joy Division impersonation, this was about ten years ago and I suppose it does say something about Editors that I can recall that gig with such clarity, the matching black and white guitars were a neat touch. Fast forward a decade and things have moved on a bit musically, and while they aren't the rewriters of 'Unknown Pleasures' they were, the gloom factor still looms large over Editors today with 'Marching Orders' a despondent synth fuelled epic that I'd probably like a bit more if the video wasn't so grimly monochromatic, with the band and one or two others lurking around an abandoned and crumbling building, throwing paint on the floorboards and knocking chunks out of the plasterwork. Editors, it's all right now, you can sort of smile a bit if you need to.


Shannon and The Clams - 'Corvette'

Every now and again, and not very often, I get a track that I really don't like for more than one reason and Shannon and The Clams have come up with something that's more than mildly disturbing and in a slightly too creepy way for me this afternoon. Singing bassist Shannon seems to have been stood up by her dream date and his fatally glamorous sports car and as she awaits him, goes off into a dreamlike reverie of what could be for her, while dream lover and reality fade into the distance, to a point where he's in a lot of trouble if he does turn up. It'd work if the tune wasn't such a clunker.


Fassine - 'Sunshine'

I dunno what's everyone's problem nowadays, Fassine describe their single 'Sunshine' as 'eerie' and it does sound as if someone's been listening to that Portishead album a lot. Again. I don't quite follow on this one Fassine, why call your track 'Sunshine' when it sounds as if it was recorded in a darkened room, at night, and using only phones as torches to remind you where the cabling was. Not feeling it.


The Slytones - 'Shake The Cage'

Just what's needed, some ska-inflected burlesque tinged jittery music hall guitar tomfoolery, performed by a band wearing black and white make up as if in a riposte to the pervading vibes of doom that are turning the summer of 2015 into something that more resembles the winter of 1981.


Michael Cullen – ‘Black Dog’

Australian singer-songwriter Michael Cullen released his debut album, Love Transmitter, several years ago, and now he’s back with his moody and lyrics-centered 2nd record True Believer. Michael is ably supported by timEbandit (AKA Tim Powles of The Church) on this effort which was made and recorded using analog equipment like old semi-acoustic guitars, tape players, and tube microphones. Michael is a veteran musician who played in various post-punk bands in Sydney in the 1980s and 1990s, including The Hardheads that later was renamed Watershed.

Michael channels one facet of Nick Cave (and name-drops Leonard Cohen) for the devilishly devil-may-care album- opener ‘Black Dog’, where he darkly and starkly muses about staring “…in the face of my destruction.” It turns out that the track is not exactly about life and death, but about matters of the heart and relationship travails. Against short strikes of guitar, a lively drumkit rhythm, occasional hits of piano notes, the bright clack of castanets, and backing male vocals, Michael infuses the chorus refrain of “You just couldn’t pay your debts / Still, you tore out my heart with no regrets.” with bemused rue and enunciated pronunciation of his words.

Jen Dan

Delta Deep – ‘Mistreated’

Phil Collen, the lead guitarist and back-up singer of rock band Def Leppard, is a long-time admirer and promoter of the traditional blues genre and he’s formed the band Delta Deep as a way to display this musical genre to younger generations who haven’t experienced ‘the blues’ first-hand. He’s brought the talented artists Rob DeLeo (bassist of Stone Temple Pilots), Forrest Robinson (drummer for TLC, India.Arie, and many others), and Debbi Cook-Blackwell (background vocalist for Michael Bublé, Gregory Hines, and more) on board. Several guest artists also contribute to the album, including Phil Collen’s Def Leppard cohort Joe Elliot, Whitesnake’s David Coverdale, and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols.

Together they have created a striking and stirring self-titled debut album. The rich stew of songs on Delta Deep blend blues and rock with a healthy dose of soul and a bit of funk mixed in. One of the most electrifying tracks is the blues-rock cover of the classic ‘Mistreated’. It features both guest artist Joe Elliott and Debi on vocals, trading off verses and coming together on some chorus sections amid furiously fingered, intricate guitar riffs and kinetic drums and cymbals bash. Debi takes off in powerhouse style for a fireworks ending, sweeping through an emotional storm of extremely expressive (and impressive) exclamations - swooping whoops and lamenting wails, as she travels down the lonely, bereft road of the soul.

Jen Dan

Carl Barat & The Jackals - Glory Days

I was always critical of The Libertines when they first came out, but come to think of it now, they were more than integral to the British garage revival of the early noughties. I love this from the word go! It’s like pirate music for yesterday’s indie generation. I’d go as far as saying that “Glory Days” is possibly the Libs guitarist’s best work since 2004. Imagine the Super Furry Animals pissed up on rum and about to go on a boat hijacking mission in the Caribbean, only to find that they’ve completely lost their legs due to mass consumption of the pirates liquor. That is the best way I can describe this ram-shackled beast of a tune.

Gavin Tate

Broken Guru – ‘Monster Inside’

Life-long friends and Queens, NYC natives, Rich Guerzon (vocals, guitar), Chrisy Fiero (vocals, bass), and Ray Fiero (vocals, percussion) have found their passion in the music field with their garage-rock/psych-rock band Broken Guru. The trio recently released its debut album, Bent Up Halo, and its chock full of direct to shambling rock-oriented numbers that are sometimes aggressive and other times laid-back. The deeply distorted fuzz of the guitars adds a retro-60s sound to the music and the occasionally hazy vocal delivery also recalls past musical eras. Abrasive sonics rub elbows with more mellow tones on many a track, while a driving rhythm section propels it all forward.

The straightforward rock ‘n’ roll number ‘Monster Inside’ is an ideal introduction to the band’s sound and vision. A steady, but pressingly up-tempo drumbeat and sharp guitar motif kick off the song as Rich’s urgent vocals emerge to the fore. He sing-talks “Everybody’s got a monster inside, you know.” while a strong bass line stalks by amid washes of cymbal shimmer. The brief (It clocks in at just over 2 minutes.) ‘verse, chorus, verse’ song may be no-frills, but it fits the garage-rock bill.

Jen Dan

Meatraffle - Yuppies Out

Begins a brass see-saw backed with dub and electronica. I’m straight away reminded of the early solo works of PIL’s Jah Wobble. Lyrically “Yuppies Out” is a stab at realism and pessimism, also an engagement of people and genre’s. Meatraffle is the brainchild of Warren Mansfield who has been known for his onstage collaborations with the likes of Fat White Family. His brass contribution on their live video for “Wet Hot Beef” in Brixton last year more than caught my attention, bordering on ‘Junkyard’ era Birthday Party. If you’re into quirky avant-garde, be sure to check him out.

Gavin Tate

The Como Brothers Band – ‘Good Enough For Me’

The Long Island, NY-located singer-songwriter duo of brothers Matt and Andrew Como is set to release its 3rd EP, titled Imagination, on August 10th. The ‘adult alternative’ categorized EP also features Steve Jordan of the John Mayer Trio on drums and Andy Burton, also of the John Mayer Trio, on keyboards. Imagination was recorded with Graham Nash (Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars) at Germano Studios in NYC and Graham Nash also produced the EP. The brothers are aiming for the mainstream market with their tunes and they know their target well, delivering music that fits well with Top 40 acts like Michael Bublé, John Mayer, Dave Matthews, and Bruno Mars.

Lead single ‘Good Enough For Me’ is a smooth and catchy ‘verse, chorus, verse’ number that is rife with lyrics that shine with positivity and possibilities. A steady, but upbeat drum tempo and shaken percussion ply a soulful groove while two different electric guitars keep it lively. Matt (or is it Andrew?) enunciates his words cleanly and clearly, exuding an easy-going charm on the verses of “Keep your head high / Everything will be fine / You’ve got to look up / when everything is falling down.” The laid-back guitar licks pick up on the chorus as Matt (or Andrew) sings in a more plaintive tone amid organ trills that “Love is all…/ “I’m gonna take a shot /with what I got / and that’s good enough for me.” A controlled electric guitar solo line breaks out near the end of the song, with Matt and Andrew harmonizing sweetly right after the guitar’s run.

Jen Dan

Katherine Missouri - Waves

For those of you who enjoy lo-fi and minimal dark dream-wave, this will surely float your boat. The experimentation here is reminiscent of something you might hear in an industrial aquarium. Imagine Nine Inch Nails pairing up with Glasgow’s Errors for a film score, only to find that Mogwai have snuck in and beaten them to the punch, then you would be somewhere close! Since her collaboration with the revered French artist that is Drunken C, KM seems to have matured and stumbled upon a sound that is more than unique, also a sound that is interstellar.

Gavin Tate

Ransom Scenery – ‘Unconditional’

The Springfield, Illinois-based experimental duo Ransom Scenery, consisting of Chaepter Negro (vocals, piano, mandolin, cello) and Drew Lowey (drums, percussion), produced and released its 9-song album, ear to ear, at the end of this winter. The standout track ‘Unconditional’ may only be a brief and exact 2 minutes long, but it reverberates with a hazy shoegaze wash of guitars and cymbals. Hushed amorphous vocal sighs float through a reeling cycle of a sharper guitar refrain, which is backed by a more reflective guitar line. Near the end of the song an unexpected tick-tacking rhythmic noise materializes, breaking up the dreamy spell cast by the subdued vocals and guitars. The initial contemplative and transportive drone leaves one wanting ‘Unconditional’ to continue indefinitely…

Jen Dan

Head Head - Peng (Audio) EP

There’s a sub-pop feel to opener “Barred” from Jersey’s very own Head Head. I’m loving the high pitched tremor guitar attack and Wezzer meets Pixies arrangements. The vocals are reminiscent of early days Kurt Cobain along side Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich as they fire into “Coming of Age”, which could almost be mistaken for an Alice In Chains number. I love knowing that there’s still a grunge revival in my home island, with groups that are feedback rich and drenched in reverb. “Happily Garried” borders on Soundgarden with some much loved guitar wailing and dirge riffage. “Armour Plating” starts off a jangly venture, before breaking into a sludge fest hosted by The Melvins god parents. The guitars become ferocious ending the song with a bang! “Pirates” is the best yet and rapid from the word go. I’m loving the bridges filled with filth and carnage. This would give Mudhoney a run for their money, so make sure you scope out their Bandcamp for this one. The EP goes out on “Running Out of Bones”, which is a spiral guitar wreckage; filled with marching drum patterns, soaked in bass fuzz mayhem!! I’m all over this lot.

Gavin Tate

The Cryptics - Black Lucy

The latest single by Jersey’s beat band The Cryptics is somewhere between The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and Radio Birdman’s “Aloha Steve And Danno”. They’ve always reminded me of Rocky and the Riddlers, with whom I discovered through the Mojo Magazine garage compilation CD years ago. If “Black Lucy” is anything to go by, then I predict an album full of garage punk stomper’s on the horizon. Their debut ‘Kill a Punk for Rock’n’Roll’ still gets played constantly since I bought it from MVE 13 years ago. Where does time go? This band are responsible for some of the best nights held in St Helier last decade, that being the influential ‘Bomp’ nights. I would sell my corpse to Jimmy Savile in the underworld to go back to those great days.

Gavin Tate