Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

5th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Yes, I’m a massive fan of that post-punk sound, and am, perhaps predictably, a massive fan of Joy Division and The Cure, and perhaps less predictably, The March Violets and B Movie. And much as I love Interpol and that whole post-millennial post-punk revival with all its brooding atmospherics and often poetical lyricism, a lot of it felt, if not contrived, then measured, the production cleaner, crisper yet somehow something is lost in the process.

I suppose there’s an element of all this that leads into questions of authenticity: what we’ve come to bracket as ‘new wave’ is a strain of post-punk, and you can debate all you like whether or not goth exists, if it’s really a genre or just an aspect of post-punk. But what this really means is that post-punk / new wave was a period in time rather than a unified style. So when we describe a band as ‘post punk’ in 2021, what do we really mean? And can any contemporary post punk act be truly ‘authentic’?

The Vaulted Skies sound, and feel authentic. Perhaps it’s the band’s chemistry, perhaps it’s tracking the song live together in a room, perhaps it’s myriad factors converging and coalescing serendipitously, but the energy of ‘What If I Were The Boy?’ is stunning. Leaning toward the darker, gothier end odd the spectrum, they not only capture the sound, but also the spirit of that late 70s / early 80s period, from the reverby guitar in the opening bars, which kicks into overdrive in the chorus. The rhythm section is so beefy with a solid four-square bass groove that’s the defining feature of so many great bands of the time (The Sisters of Mercy did it first and set the blueprint forever). The rhythm guitar squirms and drives in a grating swirl of flange and the sound is simultaneously spacious and dense and they play with a passion that’s exhilarating. So many bands over the last 30 years have striven to do the same or similar, but The Vaulted Skies have absolutely nailed it, and ‘What If I Were The Boy?’ is an absolute killer.

The Vaulted Skies - Artwork

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Cae Gwyn Records – 29th October 2021

James Wells

Meh, whatever, right? I wish I could be that laid back, shrug that easily, care less – and not in the American sense. I’ve always been a fan of Dinosaur Jr since my early teens, and ‘Whatever’s Cool With Me; and ‘Let it Slide’ for me encapsulated that slacker style, and the appeal was that it was something I simply couldn’t subscribe to in my own life, however I might try.

This five-tracker from The Mighty Observer is far more laid back than that: it promises ‘warm jangly guitars and a low lazy mumble influenced by the likes of Kurt Vile, Sam Evian and Mac DeMarco’. It delivers all of this, and more, with some reflective compositions and soft-hued guitars and hazy vocals propelled gently and at a sedate pace by vintage drum machine sounds.

‘Sunkiss’ turns the lights down for a laid-back simmering groove of a tune. ‘Aros Am Yr Haul’ strikes a low, slow, stealthy groove that’s got hints of psychedelia about nit as it snakes around in a soft haze – and then there’s a way cool blues-orientated guitar solo bang in the middle, and it’s wonderful, immersive and effortlessly delivered.

What’s perhaps most striking is its range: for all its weary-sounding indie stylings, Okay, Cool is remarkably diverse when You explore the details. The longest track, ‘Y Goffod Inbetween’ is a shimmering, rippling instrumental that plods a long at mid-tempo and casts waves of light as if quavering across the surface of a pond.

Hazy, mellow, and easy on the ear, there’s depth and atmosphere going here, too.

12th October 2021

James Wells

The follow-up to her debut, ‘Another Girl’s Man’, ‘Hidden Paradise’ finds Alice SK plundering a host of genres to forge something that’s breezy, undoubtedly poppy, with elements of indie, jazz, and even a hint of ska – in short, the kind of thing I’d normally not go for. But for every rule, there are necessarily exceptions: The Ruts drew heavily on dub reggae without losing sight of their punk roots; Blondie were a new wave and guitar pop in equal measure, and the fact is, pop is not a source of shame, or a cause for criticism or dismissal in itself.

‘Hidden Paradise; is nicely done: it’s got a downbeat undercurrent, but has a nice, catchy swing and some backed-off brass bolstering the breezy chorus. It has an immediacy, but, where it stands up against so much mainstream pop, it also has depth, both in terms of arrangement and lyrically, balancing the deeply personal with an uplifting delivery.

Alice is using her network to positive effect here, too: the track, which appears on her forthcoming EP Electric – scheduled for release early in 2022 – which was produced and co-written by Muca (Los Bitchos, L.A. Salami), and she’s definitely one to include in your ‘ones to watch’ list. She’s on ours.

Alice SK artwork

17th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, a track just slaps you round the face in just a matter of bars and it’s an instant grab. It’s not always possible to pinpoint what it is that’s got you by the throat in those mere seconds, but sometimes, it’s simply everything – and that’s the case for ‘Mr Obsanity’, the debut single, from London / Norway trio Borderline Toxic, who’ve come stumbling out of lockdown with all the rage and a new band on their hands, proving tat when it comes to creativity and collaboration, geography is no obstacle. If / when it comes to operating as a live unit, it may, but for now, let’s focus on the matter at hand – that of this release.

It tears from the speakers with a ball-bustingly weighty riff with grating distortion all over it. If the intro is pure sludge, then things fizz all the harder when the vocals arrive, all punky sass as they swipe hard at powerful figures who swing around casual misogyny racism like it’s ok – and it’s not.

‘Obsanity’ is one of those compound words – of which I am a fan, I have to admit – that had somehow bypassed me, and so I had to look it up to find that the definition, as noted way back in 2004, is ‘foul language uttered by an insane person’. And without naming names – just as the band don’t name names – the song’s targets are at best thinly veiled, but in rendering the lyrics non-explicit, they become applicable on a wider scale. It’s not just high profilers who this applies to: we all know at least one or two of these types in person, at work, on social media, and you find yourself thinking, shut up. I really don’t need to listen to this shit.

Settling into a lumbering groove, ‘Mr Obsanity’ really kicks ass, and we need more of this.

Borderline Toxic Artwork

Youth Sounds / Cadiz Entertainment

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is a surprise, and I say that without sarcasm. The lead single from Youth’s debut solo album is a breezy slice of indie with a heavy 60s folk influence.

But then, Youth has always been a man of surprises. His transition from Killing Joke bassist to producer and remixer of some incredibly high-profile mainstream acts including U2 and Erasure, via recording as a member of 90s dance act Blue Pearl and back to playing bass with Killing Joke and juggling infinite other projects is an incredible feat, and while I might consider his lack of commitment to any one thing uncritical, it’s clearly apparent that he’s an artist who can turn his hand – and successfully – to anything. I suppose the only real question is ‘what does he truly believe in?’ or ‘who is the real Martin Glover?’

The press blurbage for the album, out in November, and its eclectic range does attempt to shed some light one this:

‘Growing up with the sound of 70’s pop radio and bands such as Smokie, Pilot and Bay City Rollers – some of the tracks here are a flashback to those times and the initial inspiration of a thirteen year old Youth to write his first songs. ‘Sha La Laa I Love You’ and ‘The King Of The Losers’ are intimate, honest and have a naïve and innocent pop sensibility that are underpinned with regret and loss. He’s also took [sic] inspiration from psychedelic pop and English folk rock and his own words, he was thinking – “Everything from Nick Drake to Led Zeppelin, through a lens of Fairport tripping out with the Velvet Underground with a couple of Beach Boys, all the way to Cohen and Rodriguez, via Jim O Rourke, jamming with Fred Neil and Bert Janch and Michael Rother.’

Yes, Youth has been around, and so absorbed and assimilated a lot of stuff, and ‘Spinning Wheel’ brings many of those different pieces together, starting with a keen ear for melody, with the added bonus of some nice, subtle harmonies. Objectively, it’s a neat and accessible pop tune, and you can’t say fairer than that.

Independent – 1st October 2021

James Wells

If emerging from lockdown seems to suggest that the pandemic and all the darkness associated with it is over, you’d be mistaken. People have suffered deep psychological trauma as a result of isolation, of anxiety, of division, of loss.

The new single from dark electronic duo MAN1K1N is a testament to all of this, as we learn that it was ‘conceived as a reaction to a personal loss and a year and a half of solitude. It’s a time capsule of several isolating moments’. Such time capsules are important as a reminder that there is always something else, something more.

Speaking about the track, they say, “The heavy solitude of this past year during quarantine was a poignant influence in the moment this song exists in. Too often, suicidal ideation is regarded as a trope. But the anguish felt in those private moments is threatening and devastatingly lonely… We wanted this song to speak to that without glorifying an end, or without being overly direct. It is a trope mired in heavy familiarity that we wanted to capture. We invite the listener to draw their own conclusions and inspire conversation.”

It’s well-realised, a dark mid-paced industrial stomper with an insistent beat, but with deep layers of atmosphere through which pour all the pain, all the anguish, the torment, and the turmoil. Channelling and finding a release for those dark moments is always the better outcome, and this also stands as a message of hope to others, that there is something on the other side: in time it will pass. In the meantime, trying is its own reward.

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Clue Records – 27th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The best thing about Team Picture is that, well, they’re Team Picture. A band that doesn’t look like a band, and certainly not in a cohesive, stylised way. The band’s name is a subtle but nifty encapsulation of what they’re about – the way teams at work are essentially a bunch of people thrown together with no commonality beyond their employment. They’re not your friends, they’re your colleagues, and while you may gel and not even loathe works nights out, those team photos only highlight the awkwardness, the disparities.

Every now and again, though, these disparate elements coalesce to positive ends, and this seems to be where the Leeds act are coming from, a band who are built on hybridity and variance. Their latest single – a scabrous satire of the pathetically sad and deeply toxic but occasionally dangerous incel community populated by predominantly low-IQ white misogynists – is a corker.

Speaking about the Single, Josh explained;“The Big Trees, The Little Trees’ is a sub-Talking Heads piece of black-pill satire. The title comes from what might be the first piece of incel literature ever unfortunately created, called ‘Might is Right’ by a total asshole called ‘Ragnar Redbeard’ (the pen name of one ‘Arthur Desmond’). The track was originally considered for the recording sessions for our 2nd record, but after completion of this version we decided it stood neatly enough on its own horrifying two feet to be presented separately…”

It’s got a nagging krautrocky groove that grabs you from the start, and even your dad might like it, and its success lies in its juxtaposition of the medium and the message.

The accompanying video really captures the band’s oddball nerdy misfit style, while pushing forward the homocentric / hypermasculine themes in an irreverent fashion – and it works well.

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Dates:

SEPTEMBER 
28th Bootleg Social, Blackpool 
29th The Parish, Huddersfield 
30th Broadcast, Glasgow 
OCTOBER 
1st Westgarth, Middlesbrough 
2nd Sidney + Matilda, Sheffield 
12th Yes, Manchester 
13th Camden Assembly, London 
14th Komedia, Brighton 
15th Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 
17th Wild Paths Festival, Norwich 
24th Karma Festival, Nottingham

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10th September 2021

James Wells

Whoever said goths and industrialists have no sense of humour? Or that they hate pop? It’s long been a myth perpetuated by outsiders pedalling stereotypes that goths and fans of industrial music are moody, po-faced twats who mope around looking glum while listening to depressing music and reading depressing literature. Cheer up goth – have an Irn Bru! The early noughties advertising slogan pretty much sums up the popular perception of anyone with dyed black hair and black clothes, but in a position of polarity to so many straights who are crying on the inside, you’ll likely find adherents of shadier subcultures are laughing on the inside, while rolling their eyes at the normies.

There’s a long history of whacky covers going right back to the post-punk roots of the genre, with Bauhaus and The Sisters of Mercy making some inspired cover choices spanning ABBA to Dolly Parton, not to mention Fields of the Nephilim’s stunning take on Roxy Music’s ‘In Every Dreamhome a Heartache’, and Revolting Cocks’ crazed, audacious ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’.

And if the outré cover has over time become rather standard form, there’s always room for a good one, and this, people, is a good one, courtesy of LA-based quartet FleischKrieg, who you’d never guess were influenced by Rammstein and 3TEETH.

Lifted from the forthcoming FleischKrieg album, Herzblut, due out in October of this year, they’ve cranked up the sleaze for this one. It may be a fairly straight cover, but it amplifies the original eightieness and adds a while lot of grind. Instead of blasting up the guitars, the synths are more grating, the drums bigger, more explosive, and of course, it’s the gritty metal vocals that really define it. If it’s a shade predictable in its straight-up approach, then it makes up for it just by being so damn solid. Hurgh!

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288899

James Wells

Kids Love Surf’s fourth single finds them continue the dreamy shoegaze trajectory of ‘OYO and ‘Moment’, but takes a more overtly electro / pop approach, with a crisp 80s disco drum beat. The chiming guitars may hark back to late 80s / early 90s Cure via vintage shoegaze, but the vocals – bathed in reverb and sculpted with a hint of autotune are clear and soulful, and very much to the fore against the blurred swirl of ambient synths that create a wash of sound.

It’s all pinned together with a nagging bassline that’s integral to the song keeping its shape. As a production work, it’s smooth, and it’s deft: with a solid and definite structure, the catchy chorus is distinct but slows effortlessly. At just three minutes and a half minutes long, it’s succinct – to the point that it makes you want to hit repeat straight away.

Blaggers Records – 27th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The Kecks go goth with their new single! Well, perhaps not quite, but ‘Tonight Might Be Different’ is certainly a slide down into darker territory compared to its predecessor, ‘All for Me’. It’s got a slinky bassline and a smooth but stutter lead guitar line that hints of late-night smokiness and even a dash of desperate sleaze. It’s not a radical shift in real terms: ‘All for Me’ made nods toward early Pulp, and this, too, expands on their Fire years death disco indie stylings, the combining the gloom and catchiness of tracks like ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’.

Lyrically, it’s an interesting one, veering between paranoia and frustration that are both relevant and relatable to many as Lennart Uschmann reflects ‘I’m so busy giving everybody else attention / My friendship starts to feel more like a disease’. But then again, these thoughts emerge from a jumble of confusion, a state which finds him ‘coming home too late and messing up the place by being way too stoned.’

Meanwhile, outside, ‘They’re kicking down the doors and making lots of noise’, and it’s all very visual, even if it is cut-up and fragmentary. It could, and probably should, all be a horrible and incoherent mess, but the end result is far from it, and it’s all in the execution.

Switching from a sinewy lead guitar to a chorus-coated echo-heavy picked rhythm that’s got that circa 1984 post-punk sound, the punchy drumming and solid bass bring a real rock swagger, and it all comes together to make for their strongest single cut yet.

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The Kecks _Tonight_single_cover