Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Blue Moon Bossa’ is the follow-up to Muca & La Marquise’s debut, ‘London’, and I have to confess this isn’t my regular bag and certainly not regular Aural Aggro fodder. In a fit of antagonism, I’d ordinarily dismiss the majority of jazzy / bossa stuff a bunch of muso wank and sonic wallpaper, but for every rule there is, and has to be an exception.

Moreover, jazz, like blues, has a certain place, and I began to develop my appreciation of both back in the days of smoke-filled basement bars putting on late-night shows where the emphasis was on slowing things down, relaxing and cutting loose a bit. These aren’t things I’m especially good at, but given the right ambience, the right soundtrack, and the right whisky, it turns out even I can chill a little.

‘Blue Moon Bossa’ is the epitome of chill – or even chiiiiiiill. It’s smooth as smooth gets, muffled, smoky, laid back to horizontal, hypnotic mid-tempo, and mellow as, with sultry vocals accompanied by acoustic instrumentation of guitar and hand-drums that’s understated and subtly melts together to create something a shade soporific, it’s one of those cuts that lowers the heart rate and transports the listener to a calm place, real or imagined. A little escapism goes a long way in a world of pressure and stress, and this is just nice.

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NYC primal punks Uniform share another work of art, an astonishing new video (directed by A. F Cortes) for "Life In Remission" the latest single from their new album Shame, out today via Sacred Bones.

About the track Berdan comments, "The lyrics of Life In Remission deal with loss, guilt, and the facade of a stable life. It’s about the persistent voice in my head constantly telling me that I’m a fraud and urging me toward self destruction. It’s about becoming numb to tragedy. It’s about seeing those around me suffer and die and knowing all too well that it just as easily could have been me a million times over. It’s a song of equal parts anger, regret, and cold despondency.”

The video director A.F Cortes adds, "With this video, I wanted to use the body as a communication tool of chaos. A deconstruction story told through ritual and action. Two friends’ bond is gone wrong from a visceral and perverse perspective. Inspired by abstract expressionism, instead of playing opposites with the music, I wanted to match its intensity like a Jackson Pollock painting, a piece that feels filthy, messy, claustrophobic, yet beautiful and contained."

Watch the video here:

28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

In a format frenzy reminiscent of Mansun back in the late 90s and around the turn of the millennium, which saw the band release around two albums’ worth of material as B-sides over the course of just three or four years, this is the first of a two-part double EP release from Londonites Latenight Honeymoon. It’s a set that wasn’t only written and recorded during lockdown, but that is a product of lockdown in it lyrical explorations, manifesting as a raw, vivid, visceral and personal working through the anxiety, tension, anguish, and insomnia of living life in social separation.

The band’s biographical details may be sparse, and if on one hand it may be frustrating, it’s maybe a strong positive, in that the focus is on the music itself. Does anyone actually need to know who does what? No, of course not: that’s all ego. The singer doesn’t have a conventionally musical voice, but does have a way for delivering a lyric – which always worked more than adequately for Morrissey, Mark E. Smith, and John Lydon, among many others. Rock, pop, and punk aren’t about perfect pitch, but about communicating in a way that registers on an emotional level. And here’s a lot of emotion on the songs on offer here, to the extent that I do feel like I’m being dragged through someone’s lockdown trauma and the correspondent emotional ups and downs as I listen to this EP.

Lead track, ‘Afterglow’ has a certain swing to it, a post-punk indie cross with a dash of funk and blue-eyed soul infused into the spring-stepped guitars that bounce, crisp and clean, over a light-footed rhythm section. The band describe the song as ‘an ode to all the healthy relationships transformed into nightmares thanks to the unprecedented times we find ourselves in. Communicating so inhumanly via the phone screens we are chained too,’ [sic] and it’s likely universally relatable. Hands up who doesn’t miss people, or at least some people?

‘If it’s not your fault / then it must be mine’ the singer sings on ‘B.S.T.’, a heavy hint of resignation in his voice, and it’s a lack of conviction and a sense of hollowness that colours the lines ‘Oh baby please don’t worry / I think were both gonna be alright / in spite of tonight / 2020 / How could you do this to me?’

The vocals are particularly raw and ragged on ‘[What If?]’, landing somewhere between Kurt Cobain and Shane McGowan as he hollers every last ounce of anguish and a piano played heavy-handed hits the mark as the lyrics reprise the chorus of ‘Afterglow’, while referencing Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 18’ and Tennyson. There’s no shame in poeticism or literary referencing, and it rounds off the EP nicely.

Given that they’ve already scored some high-profile support slots, this EP is bound to only enhance their reputation and solidify their fanbase, and deservedly so.

Stream the EP by clicking the image below.

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27th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Leeds proves once again to be the spawning ground for some interesting experimental music, and this four-tacker from Material Loss is a work of dark, dark ambient, a genre I’ve become increasingly drawn to over time by virtue of its lack of prescription: what I draw from it is as much about my own projections, my own internal state and contemplations as the music itself, although it in turn has the capacity to reflect back at me those internalisations. And what Material Loss convey corresponds with the name – a sense of emptiness, a sensation of being aimless and bereft. Admittedly, these moods do hit from time to time and I know his isn’t something by any means unique to me, but when they descend they do so rapidly, like a storm blowing in from the horizon on a strong wind, building from out of the blue and forcing a sudden pressure drop.

And what is material? Something palpable, tangible. And yes, these four tracks, for all of their vague, effusiveness, they succeed in conveying something more concrete, somehow. It’s all about the atmosphere, which has been carefully constructed and arranged for optimal effect, and while it’s short, it reached seep into the psyche, and into the body, prodding the gut, the bowels, the lungs, and, above all, stealthily creeping around the deeper recesses of the brain.

Such dank murkiness shouldn’t be associated by any means directly with a depressive state, though: the lack of overt form or structure can be quite therapeutic, offering a form of escapism as one allows oneself to drift through the sonic clouds, The first piece, ‘Set’ rumbles and growls, and within those sonic clouds, there’s a storm brewing. It’s a distant rumbling, a dissonance, an almost unquantifiable and most unspecific unease more than anything else.

Following on, ‘UA’ manifests as a barely-audible droning hum for the most part but it’s occasionally rent with tearing shards of nose or rising tides of amorphous sound. The fact that each composition is brief means that none becomes overwhelming, r challenging to the point of traumatic, although in the infinite subtlety, the menace is always present.

‘SD-CLA’ may be brief, but it’s dark and doomy, a single beat repetitively hammered out at a funereal pace amidst fizzing electrics and splinters of breaking glass. Closer ‘Alm’ – the calm without the c – brings a sense of tranquillity, a lifting of the mood and something approximating a sense of lightness and of relief, and a sense that maybe things aren’t so bleak after all.

They are, of course: the reality of living in the now is beyond dismal, but at least, for a couple of minutes, we can perhaps forget and pretend otherwise.

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28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The idea of a single a month isn’t new: The Wedding Present did it back in 1992, and in doing so broke records (pun not intended) for the most chart singles in a year by any artist, erasing Elvis Presley from history in the process. Ok, not quite, but you get the idea.

That was back in the days of record labels and physical releases, meaning the logistics of a similar exercise now are far easier, although the chances of charting are considerably smaller. I’ve seen a number of artist release a single song a day / single or album a month / etc in recent years, and 2020 is the year that Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas decided to put out a single a month.

And so here we are with ‘Black’, the August instalment and eighth offering from an act pitched as being for fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Tom Walker, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, and Queens of the Stone Age – which is a pretty eclectic mix to say the least.

‘Black’ is a song about introspection and self-reflection, and it’s pretty punchy: clocking in at well under three minutes, there’s something unashamedly old-school punk about it. Fast, furious, and built around an unpretentious four-chord thrashabout played with passion and urgency, it’s got a sharp hook and all the energy, not to mention a broad appeal.

7th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Having built themselves a solid fanbase since their formation in 2017, with a series of single and EP releases, supported by some live shows primarily in their regional territory of Kent, Salvation Jayne have been going from strength to strength.

As has been the situation for so many bands, lockdown has put paid to pretty much all activity: gigs simply can’t happen, rehearsal rooms and studios have been closed, and it’s not been feasible for many artists to record at home for various reasons, not least of all not being allowed indoors together.

Despite all of the hot air and rhetoric and the unprecedented use of the word unprecedented, the 1918 so-called Spanish flu pandemic bears remarkable similarities to the present, and it’s like we’ve learned nothing in the last century. However, two major differences are that in 2020, we have the Internet to connect us, to spread misinformation, and to perform live streams and so on, and exchange chunks of audio.

For Salvation Jayne, exchanging chunks of audio wasn’t conducive to the creation of new material, but did facilitate a quite unexpected project, whereby other people could put their spin on cuts from the band’s back catalogue by means of some remixes.

For this project, they’ve enlisted a diverse array of collaborators: John Tufnell (Saint Agnes) – Black Heart; Jericho Tozer (SKIES) – Coney Island, Baby!; Eden Gallup (Violet Vendetta) – Cortez; Sara Leigh Shaw (The Pearl Harts) – Juno; Fuji Hideout – Tongue Tied, Tiiva – Jayne Doe. And at launch, they donated the proceeds of sales from Bandcamp to Refuge.

Witnessing bands so sorely deprived of income using their art for the greater good has been one of the most heartwarming things about lockdown: infinitely more meaningful than clapping for NHS workers in a display of virtue-signalling solidarity, artists making genuine sacrifices for charities spanning foodbanks, support for the homeless and mental health support shows where the real heart is. It’s always the grass roots acts passing up on Royalties, too, not fucking Bono imploring punters to donate, and that’s significant too. This is real charity.

It also matters that the product is of a certain quality, and this really is there: these remixes showcase the breadth of Salvation Jayne’s material, which may be rooted in solid alt-rock with more classic twists, but are well-suited to adaption.

The Saint Agnes Lockdown remix of ‘Black Heart’ explodes in a blast of abrasive noise and steers the song into a kind of early 00’s Pitchshifter industrial noise and distortion space, with pounding percussion and slabs of overdriven guitar backing Chess’ fuzzed-out vocal. With more disco-orientated verses, it shouldn’t work, but it does, and what’s more, it packs some real groove.

The Pearl Hearts’ take on ‘Juno’ is another stomper, disco beats cranked up to industrial strength, and this take also has a much harder edge than the original, and it works surprisingly well, as does ‘Coney Island, Baby!’, when SKIES sub the post-punk feel of the original version with something slower, heavier, more industrial, then sling in some epic strings on top. The result is pretty spectacular.

‘Cortez’ is a standout in the SJ catalogue, and to hear it pumped up, grooved up, and sped up is a major rush, and the same is true of ‘Jayne Doe’, released in May of this year and here given a radical and full-on dance reworking. It may divide the fans but it’s important that the band continue to push their parameters instead of limiting their horizons. Ultimately, this is what the remixes EP is all about: Salvation Jayne may be a rock band with a certain post-punk leanings, but above all they’re a band who don’t want to be pinned to a style, and a band with range, and these remixes showcase both the sound and progressive attitude perfectly.

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28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Spar Marta’s Facebook page defines them by what they’re not rather than what they are. Specifically, the quintet – consisting of Ieva Aleksandrovičiūtė, Luke Wilson, Conor ‘Corndawg’ Taylor, Sam Liddle, and Dan ‘Danno’ Purvey – are at pains to point out that they are not an acid jazz trio. The fact there are five of them is a significant clue, but, it has to be said, three of them do have beards… and y’know, nothing says jazz like beards, right?

This six-tracker, which features previous singles ‘The Postman’, ‘Frey’, and ‘Let is Go’ (which has absolutely nothing to do with the Disney smash Frozen – thankfully) showcases a mighty guitar-driven sound tempered by a keen sense of melody and a vocal that’s got guts and sass in equal measure. Recent years have seen a real surge in exciting female-fronted hard rock bands, who punch hard and pack some killer tunes.

With Leeds titans Black Moth having called it a day, the arrival of Sky Valley Mistress, and now Spar Marta is more than welcome.

It’s ‘The Postman’ that opens – or, more accurately, rips things open – with a hefty blast of overdrive, a busy, cyclical riff and gritty rhythm guitar. The shift to a ska-influenced riff for the middle eight is unexpected, but equally unexpected is the fact that it not only doesn’t suck, but actually works, and when they lumber back into the full gut-punching riffage, it hits even harder and calls to mind The Pretty Reckless at their best.

As the nagging mid-tempo ‘Let it Go’ demonstrates, they’ve got a real knack for dynamics, a clean, buoyant verse ‘I’ll never let you go’, Ieva Aleksandrovičiūtė sings, and it sounds like as much of a threat as a promise of support, and it’s all driven home with a full-throttle riff-mongous finale that fills the final minute.

What we get from this EP is the work of a multi-faceted band who’ve got an ear for an accessible alt-rock tune in the Paramore vein: ‘Frey’ is very much representative, being a bit more arena / Kerrang! radio friendly and suggests they’ve got the capacity to reach a much wider audience – but it’s when they put the pedal to the metal and rage hard they’re at they’re best by far, and ‘Take Control’ brings the fretwork fury propelled by some hefty drumming.

Closer ‘Run’ is a real beast of a closer, beginning with a soft, tripped-back intro that hints at something wistful, transitioning through a succession of segments to culminate in a raging, rip-roaring climax, all the while keeping one ear on the melody and filtering some palpable emotions through it all. It’s accomplished work, and while the production is full, it’s not excessively polished, meaning the songs are delivered with bite, and the passion behind them is very much to the fore.

Stream by clicking the image below.

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28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The story of my ambition to form a band called Minotaur feels somewhat misplaced in the face of the new single by noisy Nottingham two-piece Minatore, so I’ll give it a miss at this opportunity.

Pitched as a ‘grunge punk song drenched in hooks and guitar riffs,’ trans front man Tommy Keeling describes ‘Boys Tell Lies’ as an ‘angst fuelled’ song, ‘speaking up about rape culture.’ Sadly, despite all of the traction of the #MeToo movement and what appears to be a widespread outcry over the truly horrific culture that’s society-wide and by no means restricted to the film and music industries, this shit is still prevalent.

It doesn’t help when world leaders casually espouse the culture, with Trump’s widely-reported ‘grab her by the pussy’ comments and Johnson saying money spent on investigating historical child abuse cases was ‘spaffed up the wall.’ A lack of respect and of boundaries may only be part of the problem, but it’s a significant one, and is indicative of just how little consideration there is for the impact on victims.

‘Happens every day…’ Keeling sings in the chorus, which swings more into early Dinosaur Jr territory as the song breaks from the driving Nirvana-esque verse that’s full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal overdrive and rage, a cracked vocal and blistering guitar propelled by a pounding snare. Every bar positively explodes with energy.

Minatore may have minor scope for invoking cultural change, but it’s at the grass roots that change begins – and if you’re going to draw attention to a topic, then doing it with a killer tune is definitely the way to go.

NIM – 28th August 2020

The lockdown music mania doesn’t stop, and Plan Pony’s second single crash-lands with the added clout of being released via new US-based DIY label NIM. It’s self-recorded, mixed and mastered, because needs must and all that, and it’s so very representative of how musicians are adapting to things as they are: you can crush culture, kill the means of production, and kill people’s livelihoods, but you can’t stifle creativity in the long term.

Plan Pony, the experimental noise project of Jase Kester has emerged from the dark swamp of time that is the interminable blur of time that has been the majority of 2020, and ‘Slaaab’ b/w ‘Oder Manno’ follows June’s debut, ‘Martyr’.

‘Slaaab’ is a dirty chunk of whirring industrial, murky beats thump against a rumbling mess of dingy low-end; not a bassline as such, more a creaking growl that registers in the lower colon, while above it all, a quavering modular synth sound hovers and hums like a warped siren. Its focus is heavily rhythmic, and it’s quite hypnotic in an uncomfortable, queasy way.

Primitive drum machine sounds and a squelchy looped bass, paired with short vocal samples, give ‘Oder Manno’ an almost hip-hop feel, but there’s a whole load of extraneous noise going on all over everything and the tempo’s all over, and the vibe is very much reminiscent of the first couple of Foetus albums. It’s a bit of a headfuck, of the best kind.

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Coinciding with the single’s release, Plan Pony will be appearing on Isolated Mess 2 on Friday 28th August, performing a collaborative set with midlands-based noise artist Oldman Disgusting. Details of the stream can be found here.

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28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Last Day In L.A.’ is the lead single from the UK quartet’s forthcoming album Forever on the Road, which promises a mash-up of psychedelic rock, punk, grunge and goth. They’ve toured relentlessly since their formation in 2011, gathering a respectable international following along the way, and kicking out four albums and a bunch of EPs, too.

Listening to this reminds me that I had been due my first day in LA in May, on my first proper family holiday in over a decade, but the 2020 happened – or didn’t – and life activity was suspended. But, filtering through all of the shit of the last six months, the trade-off is that while the absence of live music has left a gaping chasm in the lives of many, including mine, (although I’m fortunate to only have been impacted socially and spiritually, rather than financially unlike so many bands, sound engineers, roadies, and so on), many artists have found ways of using the time off the road to record and release new material, and this is true of Healthy Junkies.

‘Last Day in L.A.’ may not represent a major departure from anything they’ve done previously, but it’s lively, vibrant, and has a proper late 70s / early 80s vintage feel, but equally, it’s got a grunge-pop element, as well as a corking hook and the kind of riff that totally grabs you.

There’s also a certain sassy spin thanks to Nina Courson’s vocals, ad it all adds up to an exciting single and an enticing prelude to the album.