Archive for January, 2023

Notorious punk singer Blag Dahlia (The Dwarves) teams up with Ukrainian artists The Mad Twins on new animated video ‘Contraband’

The track features Dexter Holland (backing vocals) and Josh Freese (drums).

Introducing Ralph Champagne – Blag’s first full-length solo record of retro Americana music with a healthy dash of outlaw country, old-school crooner and modern miscreant in the mix! The LP is out now on Greedy Media and distributed by MVD.

Watch the video here:

 

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Photo: Julia Lofstrand

28th January 2023

James Wells

Honeybadger’s bio describes the Brighton trio as ‘spiky’ purveyors of ‘gutter psychedelia/grunge’, and ‘Cold Wind’ certainly delivers on that. Fast and gritty, lo-fi and fuzzed out, the guitars are all the grunge – but then the break brings a full-on tremelo-happy wig-out that’s out of this world!

But if the song is carried by an energy that invites comparisons with early Arctic Monkeys, the bassline runs away in a completely different direction, with one of those wild grooves that runs here, there, and everywhere: Luca – age just twenty-one – is possessed of magic fingers. Or perhaps he’s just possessed. Either way, these guys pack in so much dynamic and raw talent into three-and-a-half minutes that it’s dizzying, and it’s a proper rush.

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Honeybadger Artwork

When industrial bass artist, Bug Gigabyte heard TikTok star, Kamarah Rae’s ‘a cappella’ rendition of Sam Smith’s ‘Unholy’ with her lyrical re-write, he immediately felt inspired. He wanted to write a full track sampling her vocals while adding his own. So….. he did. 

“When I first heard her version, it inspired me to continue the story and emotion of what she is talking about in the track. I wanted to express the emotions of her lyrics through the music, to bring her idea deeper down the "rabbit hole. This is my tribute to all the female witches in the world, much love goddesses”. – Bug Gigabyte

You can only find the track on SoundCloud, YouTube and as a free download on Bandcamp.

Check it here:

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26th January 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The Hull scene has been simmering nicely for some time, and it’s a great advertisement for deprivation and off-the-track locations being melting posts for dark underground creativity.

We may have bid farewell to Chambers and Cannibal Animal, but Hull continues to throw up a wealth of dark and noisy bands, and while Low Hummer have been making some serious headway, along with BDRMM, there’s no shortage of acts emerging behind them, with Besdit making rapid progress recently.

The name is a fair summary. Anyone who as ever endured bedsit living will relate to the claustrophobic sensation of confined living. Bedsits -appropriately – carry connotations of meagreness, of low-budget gloom, and Bedsit really do convey that sense of claustrophobia.

The four-piece’s latest offering, ‘Dead Bands’, is the lead and title track from their upcoming EP, which follows up on 2020’s Pocket Toy EP. It’s a step up from the lo-fi grunge metal production of its predecessor, and sees the band consolidated on that blueprint, leaping from rough diamonds ready for development to something lean and mean, and dense and taut and truly outstanding.

It’s not just the production: the composition, the playing, the vocals, the lot – they’ve not sold out and gone super-slick by any means, but ‘Dead Bands’ is a dark, dense amalgamation of post-punk and grunge, and while it may be a celebration of bands gone before, it sounds pretty bleak in its mid-tempo, bass-driven way, paired with baritone vocals that border on the gothic. It’s a combination of the sound of 1985 and the sound of 1993 and it’s dark and its heavy, but it’s magnificently realised with some killer riffage and some blistering, blustery guitars squall and scream their way to the end.

There’s no joy to be found here, but it’s a glorious exercise in dark nihilism that has to be my single of the year so far.

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Christopher Nosnibor

The third – or fourth, depending on your source – album by electronic duo Akustikkoppler, is a work of starkness, of austerity, and a collision of vintage and contemporary, and quite the contrasting experience.

The cover looks like a photo I may have taken from my daily wanderings. I’m not saying it’s a good cover or a bad cover, this is merely an observation. The duo would likely say the same about the cover itself. It’s a snapshot that speaks for itself of the nature off people in our all-waste capitalist society.

I feel an almost inevitable shiver of nostalgia listening to this, despite the fact that the album’s style and sound predate my musical awareness. Instead, it makes me feel a nostalgic tug for my teens, when I was introduced to all of the weird and wonderful, experimental and starkly harsh music that had emerged in the late 70s and early 80s, to which Alles Muß Raus demonstrates a clear lineage.

As the blurb explains, ‘Inspired by the rough commercial industrial surroundings of Schusters Studio back then in Hamburg, Alles Muß Raus was produced on vintage and modern equipment. The two artists combine past and future to a sparkling, shimmering darkness.’ And industrial it is – not in the Ministry sense, but in the spirit of the early innovators utilising primitive synths, drum machines, and tape loops. And it ignites a spark of excitement, in that even now, this kind of music doesn’t sit comfortably with anything in the sphere of ‘normal’ music. The nostalgia, then, is in remembering how hearing TG, Test Department, DAF, et al for the first time completely changed my world, and my concept of what ‘music’ could be.

The analogue drum machines, mixed to recreate the sound of the late 70s and early 80s with a dominant synthetic snare is a defining feature. The first track, ‘Entrümpelung’ is a head-cracking, gut-smashing sub-bass groove that’s anything but vintage and pulls you in before the bass-driven churn of ‘Mitnahmequalität’ steps boldly into grinding, bass-led Throbbing Gristle-influenced industrial. In contrast, ‘Mittenmang’ is almost playful, with tempo changes and some d‘n’b rapidfire drumming bouncing alongside some busy, bloopy electronica. One of the shorter tracks, ‘Horses And Carriages Burn’ hints in the direction of The Cure’s ‘Carnage Visors’ while recreating the spirit of ‘Pornography’.

Entirely instrumental and assimilating so many disparate elements, despite some insistent grooves and accessible, melodic ,moments, Alles Muß Raus certainly isn’t a pop album, but contains many elements of electropop, even if the shade is turned down to twelve. While Kraftwerk may be an obvious touchstone, the vibe that radiates from Alles Muß Raus is much more DAF, with insistent, snare-driven beats driving relentlessly to define the sound and structure of a varied and meticulously arranged set.

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Huddersfield garage rockers Knuckle have shared new single ‘Doom of Love’ taken from their upcoming second album Life’s a Bench, Then They Put Your Name On It. Due next month via beloved Wakefield DIY label Philophobia, the West Yorkshire DIY stalwarts follow-up to 2019’s ‘Life Is Hard When You’re Soft Inside’ will be released in February. Alongside the new single, Knuckle have shared news of a long run of dates between February and June this year, including headline shows in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

A return to the scuzzy riffs and chaotic garage rock of their much-loved debut, ‘Doom of Love’ is a succinctly explained by singer Jonny Firth as being “a song about being scared to love somebody that’s in love with you, because you know one day you will fuck it up” and finds Knuckle at their raucous best. A slab of perfectly crafted confident and noisy rock music, Firth’s soaring vocals and a wonderfully unserious look at serious subjects.

Check the video here:

Made up of Jonny Firth, Ben Wallbanks and Rob Crisp, Knuckle have been working on their own clash of blistering intensity, massive riffs and tongue in cheek wordplay tackling issues near and dear to them for years, with hundreds of headline, supports and festival shows under their belts, the band released their debut album in 2019 to rave reviews, closing out the year with a massive headline show at Wakefield’s Warehouse 23 venue, documented by Long Division Festival.

Admitting to a slightly longer gap than anticipated between albums one and two, the trio have found life getting in the way since bursting onto the Huddersfield DIY scene. From getting married and starting families to launching t-shirt brands (Jonny Firth’s Wild West Yorkshire label) and standing on CWU picket lines (Drummer Ben Wallbanks is a postie supporting the strikes), the various members of Knuckle have poured all of this living and hard won experience into their second album – a raucous, gentle, crushing, hilarious and complex documentation of their own lives and those around them in Huddersfield.

Knuckle will be launching their new album at Wakefield’s Balne Lane Working Mens Club on Saturday 18th February.

Tour dates:

FEBRUARY

18 – Balne Lane Social Club, Wakefield

25 – The New Adelphi Club, Hull

MARCH

1 – Jacaranda Liverpool

2 – Oporto Leeds

3 – The Peer Hat, Manchester

8 – The Washington Sheffield

9 – Tom Pudding, Google

17 – The Grayston Unity, Halifax

APRIL

15 – West Riding, Dewsbury

JUNE

3rd – The Golden Lion, Todmorden

Knuckle

Knuckle – Credit: Emily Ryalls

3rd February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Aural Aggro regulars Sleep Kicks make a welcome return with their latest offering, ‘Words in Vain’. With a rumbling bassline and busy, effects-heavy guitars that soar tremulously, the opening bars of ‘Words in Vain’ smashes together The Fall’s take on ‘Jerusalem’ and Editors’ ‘Bullets’ – cathedrals of sound underpinned by an earthy thud, and this is one of those expansive, gut-pulling new-wave revival tunes in the vein of the early 2000s – think Interpol, Editors, White Lies – and it’s taut and evocative. There’s an emotional depth to the vocals, but there’s more than that: everything feels tightly packed and tense. And I can’t deny that I’m a sucker for that.

What is it about the post-punk template that endures? Why do these goth-tinged tunes have so much bite? It’s not simply nostalgia: hell, I was hardly born when this sound emerged in the late 70s and early 80s, and suspect that the turn of the millennium crop – the revivalists – were inspired by listening to their parents’ collections. And what goes around comes around, meaning the new bands emerging, in their twenties, have likely discovered the noughties revivalists via their own parents. But why do these cycles emerge?

I can’t help but suspect thee socio-political landscape has a fair bit to do with it. Rocketing inflation – not to mention strikes, droughts, and floods – mean parallels to the 70s are being drawn in the media, and for obvious and justified reasons. Social and economic troughs bring frustration, despondency, despair – and music which reflects that mood.

As troughs go, this is a deep one; we’re looking as escalating war and nuclear threat – same as in the early 80s – insane inflation and mass deprivation – with extreme climate, flooding, etc., etc, on top. People can’t afford to exist, let alone to live. And when things hit the bottom, art invariably rises to reflect the mood and present the voice of the zeitgeist.

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These Beasts are now releasing the track ‘Code Name’ as the first single taken from their forthcoming new album Cares, Wills, Wants. The crushing full-length debut of the sludgy noise rock trio from Chicago is chalked up to hit the streets on April 21, 2023.

These Beasts comment: “The opening track and first single, ‘Code Name’, of our forthcoming album was also the first song that we wrote when we started working on new material”, guitarist and vocalist Chris Roo explains on behalf of the trio. “The lyrics deal with the hypocrisy which seems to become increasingly more common all around us.”

Listen to ‘Code Name’ here:

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Mille Plateaux – 20th January 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Less than a year on from Faces & Fragments, Neuro… No Neuro are back again with another substantial instalment of scratchy, glitchy electronica that’s rich in retro vibes.

Each piece is short – around two minutes – and drifts into the next. As the air floats past carrying soft analogue notes on a gentle waft, you suddenly realise you’re already five tracks in. It’s not that Compartments is undemanding, so much as that it’s subtle, meaning that it circulates in the atmosphere without dominating your headspace in an intrusive fashion.

The beats are backed off, even as they stutter and troll, flicker and jar. There’s a softness about the sounds and the way these woozy, warped snippets trickle together that’s almost soporific, especially when tinkling chimes cascade in ripples.

The Mille Plateaux website describes Compartments as Kawaii-Glitch (Kawaii being the Japanese culture of cuteness), noting that ‘The very artificial glitch aesthetics are not, as usual, depicted by a cold and sterile feeling; but quite contrary have the qualities of an artificial sweetener… Be careful when associating kawaii with just sweet, innocent or cute notions… just as Anime often masks grown-up topics with ‘childish’ surface structures, the album underlies a soft darkness & melancholy. Sometimes the unspeakable comes in disguise. Like the fashion style Yami-Kawaii, a bizarre mixture of kawaii-aesthetics with questions of depression and suicide, this album offers a mixillogical splice of life in which every second might take a turn into the irreal and eerie. To make distinctions between what is real and what are delusions, dreams or nightmares, emotional highs and lows, becomes impossible. In some sense it is ‘too much’ while still minimalistic in style.’

On the penultimate track, ‘Just Crumbling,’ things seem to come apart at the seams as stammering beats fly away from sounds firing in all directions like breaking springs. The temperature drops further at the finale, as those split sprockets echo into the cold night air and as the final sounds of the bonus-length last track, We’ll be Seeing You Soon’, which clanks and echoes for a fill four minutes, fade away, I sit, full, aurally content and calm… and worried. What subliminal toxicity has this album dispersed internally? How will I feel about Compartments once I begin to process and digest its multi-faceted contents? I don’t know but then, I don’t know if II trust what I heard, or my instincts on how to react. There is definitely more to Compartments than first meets the ear.

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Cardiff post-punk outfit Red Telephone are set to release their highly anticipated debut album Hollowing Out on the 31st March 2023. The only single taken from it ‘Waiting For Your Good Days’ is out on the 20th January.

Listen to ‘Waiting For Your Good Days’ here:

Hailing from Cardiff, Red Telephone’s richly layered alt-rock could have emanated from a club in Blade Runner’s dystopian LA – combining angular guitars, Krautrock-inspired rhythms and New Wave-tinged synths with infectious pop sensibilities. Drawing on post punk and synth pop influences, the band has been catching the attention of DJs across BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 1, Absolute Radio and Radio X; with comparisons to the likes of MGMT, Super Furry Animals, Mitski and Berlin-era Bowie being drawn. The band have recently appeared at BBC 6 Music Fringe Festival, Focus Wales, Swn Festival, Other Voices and Llangollen Fringe, supporting Warmduscher. With previous single releases on Welsh-based labels Libertino Records and the Popty-Ping Recording Company, the band’s highly anticipated debut album is set to be released in March 2023.

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Photo by Faith Clarke