Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

Blang Records – 28th February 2020

It’s a strong title, and that’s a fact. There’s a vividness, a visuality, and a physicality to it that gives it a rare impact. Turns out that this single – the title track from their upcoming album – which is pitched as ‘a furious reverb-drenched and darkly caustic song lamenting a culture of hate and envy that has led to the dehumanisation of refugees, and the disturbing rise of the far-right’, is very much everything that captures the zeitgeist.

It’s got all the edge, and it’s nailed to a stomping single-string riff and goth/glam drum beat and a textural rhythm guitar that’s pure Bauhaus. It dismantles all the anguish of life lived under late-period capitalism and in the all-consuming machine that is social media, the fact money dominates every corner of our lives and the way the need to pay the mortgage saps your soul and steals your life.

Combining nihilism and fury and welding it to a post-punk angularity, ‘Crush My Chest With Your Hate’ has bags of edge, and exists in the same space as Arrows of Love – and with the pricking tension of this release, The Reverse give me the same kind of buzz. Ones to watch.

Christopher Nosnibor

Word-fads come and go, and I’m as guilty as the next music journo hack-merchant of repetition and overuse, but I’ll make no apologies here, since this 7” revisits the early 90s zeitgeist with a breathtaking accuracy. Yes, I used both ‘zeitgeist’ and ‘breathtaking’ and I hate myself for both. But what I don’t hate is this release by Orchids.

This is a blizzard blur of vintage shoegaze noise, with ‘Dead Keys’ abrim with angling guitar and epic reverb and all the FX, with the result being a melt-together of early Ride and The Charlatans with latter-day exponents of psych-tinged shoegaze like The Early Years.

They whip up some blistering walls of noise across the two tracks here, while also delving into some spaces of motoric indie as guitars burst all around.

‘Another Day’ follows a similar template, a motoric beat and thudding bass groove underpinning a repetitive guitar line that rattles away in a wash of reverb, and it plugs away at that thing that it does for a hypnotic four and three-quarter minutes, to hypnotic effect.

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Orchids

28th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Brighton four-piece Deaf Surf, having emerged from various punk bands and spent their first year in existence gigging hard, formally announce their arrival with ‘Sofa’, a jagged slab of (post) punk that’s pissed off and angsty and picks at the anguish and (self) -loathing that comes from FOMO. If you associate sofas with comfort, relaxation and the pleasure of binge-watching box sets on Netflix, then brace yourself: Deaf Surf’s sofa is hard and lumpy and full of angst.

The lyrics list everyone’s ‘best lives’ splashed all across social media while singer Manon bitterly reflects on her own vicariously-lived life, ‘another, another, another adventure from my sofa’.

Sonically, Deaf Surf come on with clanging, grungy off-key guitar and a raw, DIY post-punk feel reminiscent in some aspects of Solar Race, in others of Come and Live Skull. The song builds to a raucous crescendo, and it’s all over in a succinct 3:22.

It’s a hell of a debut, and as of this moment, Deaf Surf are my favourite new band.

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Deaf Surf

Christopher Nosnibor

Ahead of the release of the album Durma, experimental urban found-sound experimentalist Akkor offers up single cuts ‘An’, and ‘Zabt’. The work of Istanbul-based Üstün Lütfi Yildirim, the two tracks showcase the artist’s approach to rendering a broad range of sources into accessible sound-sculptures.

‘An’, released at the end of January, is a brooding slice of ponderous electronica. Woozy bass tones swoop low and ambulate abstractedly to provide a backdrop to airy piano and incidental synth notes. The structured ambience of ‘Ab’ takes a non-linear form, but clocking in at three-and-a-half minutes, it’s tight and avoids indulgence.

In contrast, the six-minute ambient trance workout that is ‘Zabt’ begins with quiet, softly chiming notes which echo into a soft breeze, before an insistent pulsing dance groove enters the mix. It’s low in the mix and murky, creating tension and a dark energy. Gradually, things melt together to coalesce into an expansive headtrip of a tune.

It all augers well for the album if these singles are representative.

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28th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a question many of us ask at some time or another – usually in the face of some existential crisis, or moment of isolated reflection. Because really, what’s the point? We’re only born to die, with a short period punctuated by pain and occasional glimmers of joy in a desert of drudge that consists largely of working (if you’re ‘lucky’) and sleeping (again, if you’re ‘lucky’). We’re but specks in an infinite universe and about as useful as cockroaches, only more damaging to the environment.

With this single, Airport Impressions get ponderous against a spacious sonic backdrop, where an understated bass leads the verses, which break into an immense swell of a chorus that’s unquestionably anthemic, even arena-scale, but without pomp or pretence. ‘Why Are We Here?’ has clear commercial appeal but without in any way being dumbed-down or numbingly bland. And that’s surely a winning formula, and at least answers the question of why Airport Impressions are here.

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21st February 2020

James Wells

So the name sounds like either a virus or some kind of lozenge or medicine marketed to soothe the symptoms or a kind of virus, and the Birmingham quartet may trade in the kind of blues rock that’s been kicking around the last forty years since Led Zeppelin invented the heavy blues rock genre, but fuck it: ‘Frosty’ kicks ass. It does so by virtue of volume, and by bringing a dirty grunge twist, but first and foremost, it kicks ass because it’s solid.

It gets straight down to business. It’s got a lumbering, spiralling, circular riff that twists around on itself, and the guitar’s cranked up to eleven while the rhythm section thunders along and it’s everything Reef wanted to be, but failed to reach.

Ones to watch? Hell yeah.

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Cruel Nature Records / Sapien Music – 6th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one of those releases that doesn’t piss about: ‘Mambo’ blasts in with a squall of discordant guitar and shuddering bass that immediately calls to mind Shellac and The Jesus Lizard, and it’s one of those ‘holy shit!’ Moments where you remember why coming into this kind of stuff in the early 90s was such a revelation. It’s the combination of power and unpredictability that was exciting them and still is now, and Tankengine have both in spades, zooming off every which way on the crash of a cymbal.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise: two members of Tankengine were previously in Yourcodenameis: milo, and the disparate elements that defined their work are abundantly in evidence here. And so as not to confuse this, their second EP, with their eponymous debut, they’ve named it twice. Consequently, I no longer quite so strongly feel the urge to form a band and name it Minotaur, with a view to the first tour being labelled the Minotaur Tour, the tour in support of the eponymous album the Minotaur Minotaur Tour, and the tour supporting the stop-gap EP before the second album the Minotaur Minor Tour. I also digress spectacularly.

The point I’m coming to is that Tankegine live up to the connotations of their name from the opening bars of opener ‘Mambo’, which twists and winds its way through a succession of sections that sound like completely different songs smooshed together yet somehow find a flow in some perverse mathtastic way. It’s all topped off with vocals that sound a bit like Jello Biafra, and it’s punk to the max. Hard on its heels, ‘Giant’ is everything all at once, a driving grunge beast with moments that sound like Talking Heads emerge between proggier segments, while there’s more of a John Lydon intonation in the vocals

‘Swagger’ sounds like it’s going to be a ballad, and it maintains a lower tempo, but shifts from being introspective and reflective, into a roaring inferno of anguish and overdriven guitar, and ‘Banshee’ combines post-hardcore aggression and shouting with a heavy goth hue, with a throbbing bass groove and chorus-coated guitars and a baritone croon.

On paper, it portrays as something between an identity crisis and a breakdown, but in the ears, it’s an identity crisis and a breakdown that resolves itself with a strange cohesion, and it’s all manifest in the six-minute closer ‘Flicker’, which begins low-key and strolls along and takes it time with some mellow melodies before finally delivering a squalling crescendo worthy of such a tumultuous, tempestuous EP, climaxing in a deafening roar that can only lead to stunned silence.

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