Archive for November, 2019

Come Play With Me – 6th December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Leeds-based singles label Come Play With Me end 2019 on a high as they continue to promote the most exciting fresh talent from the region – and remind us that regional and local doesn’t have to mean substandard or amateurish. Then, Leeds has long been a hotbed for emerging talent to cater for all tastes, to the extent that listing the acts that the city has produced in recent years – and further back -seems vaguely pointless and moreover, there are simply too many to name.

Dense live up to their name on ‘Fever Dream’, a song inspired by a dream the band’s singer Charlie had while ill, and conveys the horror of vivid scenes and heightened sense as he hollers gruff and manic into a shuddering wall of juddering bass, crashing drums and thick guitars. It’s dirty, it’s grungy, it’s gritty, and it’s loud. Somewhere in the murky mess is a surprisingly tight groove that pins everything together. Around the midpoint, everything explodes into a frenzied, head-shredding mass of noise and demented yelping. This seems the only way to truly convey an unspeakably disorientating and otherworldly trauma.

Sea Legs offer up something altogether lighter and brighter: ‘Favourite Doll’ is a sliver of buoyant but shadow-shaded indie that has Hints of the Cure about it. It’s a nice contrast to Dense’s brutal noise, and with a light melody and ready accessibility, provides a welcome contrast. That’s a contrast that’s complimentary, of course: CPWM have long demonstrated a knack for perfect pairings, and this latest is no exception.

DENSE - FEVER DREAM (ARTWORK)

CPWM016

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that noisy-post-punk London duo Modern Technology should have recorded a live session at the Shacklewell Arms under the banner of Exploding Head: everything about the band to date has been explosive, from the sonic blitzkrieg of the eponymous debut EP to their growing fanbase, due to a committed live schedule which has seen them deliver some killer performances. The fact they’re thoroughly decent guys whose sociopolitical message extends beyond the lyrics and into the active donations of proceeds and profits to charitable causes hopefully counts for something, too: they’re not Bono about it: they just fucking get on and do it. and so the proceeds from this release are going to Crisis at Christmas ‘to help support the homeless during this critical time of year and to help fund and support Crisis’ vital year-round work with homelessness’.

Hearing the nihilistic fury of the music, it’s clear that this philanthropy is born almost entirely of frustration and despair at social injustice and inequality, and this six-tracker captures the live experience very well indeed, with four tracks culled from the aforementioned EP along with a brace of new cuts in the shape of ‘All is Forgiven’ and ‘Bitter End’.

It packs full-throttle viscerality from beginning to end, and two things stand out on this release: 1) the colossal noise they churn out with just bass and drums 2) how faithful to the studio renditions the EP songs are.

2) is a testament to how tight and well-rehearsed they are, with metronomic grooves holding everything together 1) is about ore than just pedals. Modern Technology do volume and appreciate that effects and all that stuff only fill so much space. Ultimately, there is no substitute for hard volume. There is a 3), as well. What’s unique about Modern Technology’s sound is that for all the thunderous density, they create a vast amount of space, and the way the air hangs between the notes, between the punishing snare hits, creates a stark, yet simultaneously oppressive atmosphere.

‘I ain’t quick, I ain’t cheap’ Chris Clarke barks on ‘Queue Jumper’, against a backdrop of tumultuous drums and a grating bass chord that sustains into infinity. It’s a simple but effective refrain that’s instantly memorable. It’s all in the delivery, of course.

The new material is monumentally dense and abrasive, with the downtuned, sinewy riffage of ‘All is Forgiven’ reminiscent of Melvins, while ‘Bitter End’ is sparse, slow and bleak and throws in a vaguely psychedelic twist in the verses, crashing into a grinding low-tempo riff for the chorus, such as it is.

One of my bands of 2019, and with dates booked for 2019 already (I may have something (ruined) of a vested interest in the February dates), Modern Technology are a band on the up because they’re a band for our times.

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cover

2nd December 2019

On its release in 2008, the second album by New Zealanders Die! Die! Die! received critical acclaim from the NME and The Guardian here in the UK. But the artwork wasn’t quite as intended, and, well, there’s always room for improvement with a remastering in hindsight. This version comes fully remastered courtesy of original engineer and co-producer Kevin McMahon (Swans, Fat White Family) and with the artwork restored to its full glory, and emerging just a few months after their new EP, it’s seems like Die! Die! Die! are at not so much at a crossroads, but a point of reappraisal while entering a renaissance period.

I reckon I have fair ears and am capable of a fairly obsessive attention to detail when it comes to it – although it’s easier to be obsessive when your listening is limited to a narrow range of bands and albums. Nowadays, I rarely get to listen to albums more than a couple of times, and having – shamefully – not heard the original release, I’m not in a position to explore the details that differentiate this from the original. But I do have ears, and am in a position to consider how a 12-year-old album stands up now.

As a set, in terms of production and mix, Promises Promises pitches the rhythm section very much to the fore, which apparently was ‘partly due to the influence of new bassist Lachlan Anderson, but also because a broken hand limited Wilson’s guitar-playing’ if Wikipedia is accurate. What this achieves is a real solidity of sound, and imbues the songs with a particular sturdiness.

The album is very much geared to uptempo, high octane punky, shouty thrashabouts that are dispensed in two or three frenetic minutes, but elsewhere, there are a number of more considered songs that show – beneath the fuzz and crashing cymbals – a degree of craft in the compositions, despite the fundamentally primitive arrangements.

‘Britomart Sunset’ nicks the bassline to Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’ and whacks up the tempo and steers it back into the driving dark punk territory of JD’s Warsaw years, and it’s killer. There is absolutely nothing more exhalating that a thumping bass groove placed front and centre. ‘Whitehorses’ is a standout with its mechanised, motoric drumming which thumps away as the rest of the band push away at a couple of chords with remarkable patience. The again, the title track lays sinewy guitars interweaving over a driving bass and powerhouse percussion, a collision of frenzied punk and icy new wave paranoia to create a perfect tension.

Promises Promises – reissued, remastered, whatever – is simply a corking album, and if its being remastered and reissued gives it a new lease of life, then it’s all to the good.

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DDD

It has been a busy year of touring for Daughters, who have recently completed their third and final European dates in support of their highly-praised album, You Won’t Get What You Want (Ipecac Recordings), and today the Providence-born outfit debut their third video from the album, “Guest House."

“It is always exciting to see our work interpreted by talented artists.” says vocalist Alexis Marshall of the A.F. Cortes directed video. “We first became familiar with Andres through his wonderful photographic work. His ability to capture unique moments, often missed by other photographers, is uncanny and we trusted him to be able to bring the same abilities as a director.”

The “Guest House” visual continues Daughters’ exploration into the world of black and white photography and film. Both of the band’s previously released videos from You Won’t Get What You Want, “City Song” and “Less Sex”, used the colour-free palette to create stunning, thought-provoking pieces that played on darkness and light, shadows and shading, to impart a variety of emotions, from the magic of a flickering candle to the beauty of the human form, and with “Guest House,” the exploration of psychological tension.

The “Guest House” video arrives as the band launches a three-week North American tour, kicking off the trek this Saturday with a sold out show at Neumos in Seattle. The tour follows two prior sold out North American outings, a nod to the band’s riveting, and intimate, live performances.

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Daughters North American tour dates:

November 30 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos # [SOLD OUT]
December 1 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre *⁣⁣⁣
December 2 – Portland, OR @ Bossanova Ballroom *%⁣⁣⁣
December 4 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore ^%
December 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco Theater +⁣⁣⁣
December 6 – San Diego, CA @ SOMA Sidestage ^ ⁣⁣⁣
December 7 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Pressroom ^⁣⁣⁣
December 8 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater ^⁣⁣⁣
December 10 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s ^⁣⁣⁣
December 11 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s ^⁣⁣⁣
December 13 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn ^⁣⁣⁣
December 14 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade ^⁣⁣⁣
December 15 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum ^⁣⁣⁣
December 17 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle ^⁣⁣⁣
December 18 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^⁣⁣⁣%
December 19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^⁣⁣⁣
December 20 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer ^⁣⁣⁣
December 21 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club ^⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
^ w/ HEALTH, Show Me The Body
+ w/ Protomartyr, Show Me The Body
# w/ Lingua Ignota
* w/ Lingua Ignota, Haunted Horses
% Merch bundles not available

Icarus Records i008 – 1st December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one of those albums, recorded live, that contains continuous sound. This makes sense in context: when improvising a set that’s determined by duration rather than compositions. There is necessarily an element of artifice and restriction around time-constrained ‘slots’. This isn’t necessarily the issue here: Icarus is a radio show, a concert organisation and a record label that focuses on experimental music, contemporary classical and electronica. For more than 10 years, this weekly radio show on Urgent.fm, a university radio station in Ghent, Belgium, invites artists to record live sessions on a monthly basis. Over the years, more than 60 Icarus Live Sessions have been recorded, and the library is still growing.

Five-piece instrumental collective BOW – who play a selection of cellos violins, and, as the name suggests, bowed instruments – played Icarus’ 59th live session in March 2019, and is the first to be released, as a cassette and download.

At times truly beautiful, at others dark and difficult, with manifold shades in between, many of which explore dissonant, challenging sonic spaces that test the listener’s capacity in a host of ways as things veer out of sumptuous classical territory and into dramatic discord, Bow lead the listener through succession of passages. The final minutes are laden with drama, transitioning from a soft jazz swing into a raging tempest of scraping string-bleeding trauma, a surging crescendo that assails the senses with a sustained intensity. This is improvisation at its best, where a collective can read one another and the immediate space around them to not only coalesce each segment and segue between them naturally and intuitively, but to form an overall structure from beginning to end that feels planned, arranged, co-ordinated.

There’s a bonus track on the cassette release: another half-hour of difficult, dissonant drones which begin as a brooding chamber orchestra work and evolves – or perhaps more accurately mutates -into something less graceful but altogether more powerful.

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i008_art

Argonaut offshoot Videostore self-release another li-fi DIY digital single in the form of ‘Sleep Complete’. A slice of dreamy, DIY, no-fi indie, it boasts a breezy, easy tune. And that’s what it’s all about:

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Videostore - Sleep

Godsticks open 2020 with their new and most accomplished studio album, Inescapable. Their mix of heavy rock, progressive and alternative metal with a dynamic range of angular riffs and emotional depth will leave listeners reeling. The band’s sound has refined over their releases on Kscope, beginning with the technically astounding metal on Emergence to the more industrial and progressive-influenced Faced With Rage. Now, with Inescapable, the band have channelled their energy and technical ability into the melody, phrasing and vocal performance, allowing emotion to take centre stage.

The band found themselves wanting a definitive theme running through Inescapable, without turning it into a concept album, of being more open, more personal and ultimately one that shines an inquisitive light on Charles’s struggle with inner demons which gave the songs a new level of intimacy. “Lyrically, I’ve always shared personal thoughts, feelings and experiences but in a very ambiguous way. For Inescapable – in a conscious effort not to repeat ourselves – I thought I’d be a little more self-reflective and perhaps examine some of my inner demons. I have a strange relationship with music, and especially playing guitar. I would struggle to survive without either, but equally they have made my life mentally torturous because my own self-worth is completely wrapped up in them. I used to be very much a perfectionist in my early years, and whilst some people may wear that as a badge of honour, I eventually viewed it as huge heavy weight dragging down. It was a long time before I arrived at the realisation that perfection was impossible to achieve.” elaborates Darran Charles.

As a taster, they’ve released a video single for ‘Denigrate’. Watch it here:

Godsticks are supporting the new material beginning in April with a UK tour followed by summer festivals

2/4/2020 – Cardiff – Fuel Rock Club

3/4/2020 – London – Black Heart

4/4/2020 – Manchester – Gullivers

5/4/2020 – Edinburgh – Opium

Godsticks