Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

21st April 2017

James Wells

Being a cynical motherfucker, and living in an era when everything’s not only been done, but done to death, diluted, fucked about with, hybridized and rendered beyond obsolete, I was a bit dubious when I read Salvation Jayne’s Facebook page, on which they describe themselves as being ‘four musicians who play their own unique style of dirty rock n’ roll’. Unique? Show me something unique and I’ll eat my own head.

But then I also note that the line-up features pop chanteuse Chess Smith, who’s previously featured on Aural Aggro in a solo capacity. And while image only goes so far, Salvation Jayne not only look like a proper band, but they look bloody cool, too.

‘Burn Down’ is a kickass blues-based rock tune with a dark edge countered by a carefully-crafted accessibility. If it harks back to the 80s, and therefore isn’t exactly unique, it’s forgivable: they don’t make tunes like this any more, and the lamewads at Kerrang should get their lugs round this and remember what a proper rock band sounds like instead of plugging all that pop-punk cack and dance music not even disguised as rock b acts like PVRIS. Smith’s vocals are gutsy, the guitars throb and the production is meaty. This means that while I’m not feeling any obligation to eat my own head, I do have to take my hat off to Salvation Jayne for delivering a quality single with a strong sense of identity.

Salvation Jayne

Salvation Jayne are on Facebook.

March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m not actually a fan of physical violence. The sight of blood – particularly my own – is enough to make me nauseous or even pass out, and I struggle with pain. And yet I’m also strangely, perversely drawn to violence. I consider the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom to be a comic masterwork. Why? Because violence at that level becomes absurd, as real as Tom and Jerry. It’s also perhaps important to distinguish art and life. So much brutal music and art is an outlet of the darker psychic states channelled by some of the mildest, sanest people you’re likely to meet. I haven’t met Tristan Shone so can’t vouch for his character, but his work under the Author and Punisher moniker is pretty brutal, and appeals precisely because of it.

The Pressure Mine EP, which finds Shone bring everything in-house to deliver five new tracks, all written, recorded, mixed and self-released by Shone himself balances brutality and beauty. What’s more, there’s a definite trajectory which runs over the course of the EP: something of a downward spiral, if you will, which sees each successive track prove darker, bleaker, heavier and more fucked-up than the one before. It may not be quite as gnarly and doomy s some of its predecessors, but that hardly makes this a stroll in the park and if anything, the absence of eardrum-shredding lasts of noise only accentuates the uncomfortable tension Author and Punisher is capable of creating.

First track ‘Enter This’ is a magnificent, mechanised droning industrial trudge, synths interlacing to forge a dark atmosphere over a battering mid-tempo rhythm. It’s all a backdrop to Shone’s vocals, which balance disconsolation and anguish. While reminiscent of Prettty Hate Machine Nine Inch Nails, it’s also rather more emotionally nuanced. ‘Pressure Lover’ lunges deeper into a woozy, nightmarish fugue, a dense, rumbling bassline and clanking percussion dominating.

‘New World’ warps and grinds, a dislocated discord emerging from the echoes and twisted vocals, and the last track, ‘Black Wand’ comes on like Depeche Mode on a cocktail of Ketamine and LSD. It’s not entirely pleasant, but it is unsettlingly awesome.

 

Author and Punisher - Pressure Mine

Moon Sounds Records – 17th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been almost two whole years since dreampop duo Lunar Twin released a remixed version of their debut EP ‘Champagne’. ‘Night Tides’ offers more mellow, drifting soundscapes over the course of six tracks, which finds supple, rolling synths wash around the grizzled vocals of Bryce Boudreau, which have heavy echoes of Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood.

If the wooden tones of the percussion which holds the first track, ‘Waves’ in places suggest Jools Holland world music smugness, the heavy patina of Boudreau’s blues tones bring a resonant, resinous counterpoint. ‘Coral Sea’ brings the glacial synths of New Order’s Movement and the coldwave aesthetic and pairs it with a shuffling, understated beat, and again it’s the contrast of the warm, well-worn Cohenesque croon which makes it stand apart from the myriad laid-back electro acts in circulation right now.

‘Birds of Paradise’ pivots on an undulating synthetic 80s disco groove, while ‘Prayers of Smoke’ introduces a more Krautrock element to its spacious, synthy, dub-tinged verses, before breaking into a straight, slow and low, late-night blues chorus.

The title track provides the finale, and despite the absence of beats, it’s a magnificently-realised summary of the EP as a whole: hunting, sparse, yet rich and resonant. Drifting swirls intertwine subtly to create a delicate atmosphere, while Boudreau’s voice drips like treacle. And darkly pleasurable it is, too.

 

Lunar Twin - Night Tides

Clue Club

The other day, I chipped in on a debate over split releases, which essentially revolved around the question ‘yay or nay?’ Personally, I like split singles. I commented that I would usually purchase a split release for one of the bands, but, often, subsequently get into the other.

It so happens that the first release by Clue Club, a subscription-based aspect of Clue Records  features two bands I’ve seen, heard, and enjoyed immensely in the last year. Split-singles-based projects seem to be popping up with increasing frequency (see, for example, the excellent Come Play With Me), and this represents a belting start to this one.

Fighting Caravans were up there with my favourite discoveries of 2016, and probably one of the best live acts I caught all year, on all three occasions I saw them. ‘It’s a Nice Ride (To be Fair)’ is entirely representative of their brand of fucked-up gospel-tinged desert country. Over a spacious, bittersweet guitar, Daniel Clark visits the classic themes of death and hell with a delivery that treads the thin line between psychopathy and self-destruction.

Similarly, the drifting, dynamic shoegaze of ‘Frail’ is exemplary of Colour of Spring’s sound, and provides a perfect stylistic contrast, too its counterpart, too. It’s a dense yet delicate song which conjures a heady atmosphere of blissful melancholy by means of understated vocals and bold, swirling guitars.

Clue Club subscription is available here.

3rd February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

As a band who really grabbed me by the throat with the release of their ‘Nowhere’ EP in 2015, the arrival of the latest offering from GHXST in my inbox was cause for excitement. And rightly so. To cut to the chase, Perish is a masterpiece.

The EP’s first track, ‘Southern Eye’, carries the refrain of ‘nowhere’ and as such, continues the theme of displacement, of outsiderdom, of not belonging which was core to the aforementioned EP. It’s a fair summary of what GHXST are about, musically, conceptually, and lyrically. Their songs deal with darker themes, and the cover art, which seems to evoke the spirit of Joy Division conveys an appropriate sense of bleakness, but also a certain, ineffable serenity and grace.

On the title track, a rushing guitar grind and reverberating samples are counterpointed by a haunting – and achingly beautiful – vocal that has hints of Alison Shaw of Cranes, only less squeaky, and Toni Halliday. The contrast is what defines the sound, and is ultimately what makes GHXST so special: it’s so rare for a band this heavy to convey so much emotional sensitivity. Theirs is not a sonic expression of nihilistic rage, but of something altogether more nuanced, possessing a heart-trembling beauty, rendered all the more distinct in their execution by the use of a drum machine. As such, they’re in an entirely different league from the few doomgaze contemporaries with female vocals one might name, like Esben and the Witch and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. And on this outing they expand their sound to incorporate elements of blues and country. How does that sit as a genre? But it’s not merely the fact they exist within their own niche: the tracks on Perish: the quality of the songs, and their spectacularly atmospheric execution is something special.

‘Stories We Tell’ achieves a heart-rending beauty while crushing your skull with punishing guitars and pounding, slow-tempo percussion: the guitars grate and grind, each power chord throbbing with a malevolent afterburn. ‘Summer Moon’ presents a surging pop dynamic, a dash of Jesus and May Chain against a Chapterhouse-y whirl of shoegaziness and ‘Waiting for the Night’ is a slow-surging dirge, riven with the crackling pops of Akai snare bursts which shouldn’t work but actually bring a bleak aggression to the droning. Closer ‘No Wild West’ introduces a droning desert blues element, the chugging guitars drifting over an expansive, barren wasteland as Shelley X drawls into a sea of reverb.

This is by no means inaccessible music: it’s music to lose yourself in. The songs themselves are comparatively short – none extend beyond the five-minute mark – but all bear all the hallmarks of true epics, with a sound which is beyond vast.

 

 

 

 

GHXST - Perish

3rd March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

No Scary Bears Facebook page sees the band lay out their aim as ‘simple, alternative guitar music inspired by the bands they love and you used to find on MTV before the arse fell out of commercial music’. With a handful of demos streaming on-line and receiving airplay on BBC Introducing, they’ve been building momentum ahead of this, their debut single release.

Born out of a new permutation of hard rock act We Could be Astronauts, No Scary Bears present a more grunge orientated sound: the guitars are chunky and nicely up in the mix. But while every other band drawing on the class of ’92 for inspiration seems to want to be Nirvana but poppier, with strong melodies and more nuanced approach to dynamics, No Scary Bears more call to mind Soundgarden and Bivouac with ‘Mail’ and accompanying track ‘Dial In / Dial Out’.

For people of a certain age (mine of thereabouts), it’s hard not to feel a pang of nostalgia for music of a certain vintage, and No Scary Bears capture that feel extremely well. The fact the release contains three tracks harks back to the old 12” and CD single formats – and the fact there is a limited CD release (rather than a voguish cassette editions) is another detail of note, and in all, it’s a very promising start.

 

No Scary Bears

Liberty Ship – Cast Away

Posted: 24 February 2017 in Singles and EPs

3rd March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Cast Away’ is the third single from Sheffield quartet Liberty Ship. They’ve not been around long, but have already sold out the Leadmill, opened the main stage at Tramlines Festival and bagged themselves a slot opening for Milburn at their sold-out run at O2 Academy Sheffield. These are all major achievements.

‘Cast Away’ might sit way up at the top end of the Aural Aggro spectrum, but it’s a sprightly, uptempo, roustabout indie rock track with a bouncy blues-based style. Imagine The Black Keys but with the cocky Yorkshire attitude of Arctic Monkeys and you’re well on the way to having a handle on where Liberty Ship are coming from on ‘Cast Away’. They know how to carve a decent hook, too. A band on the up? No doubt about it.

 

 

liberty-ship-cast-away