Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

21st February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s more or less a fact – and not a happy one – that much of the strongest and most meaningful art comes from dark personal places. And so it is that Mollayanna’s new single, ‘Human Error’ is taken from an album of material, which will shortly be released under the title Archaeology, written last year by front-woman Bernadette, and which charts her experience of surviving abuse and undergoing therapy.

Speaking candidly, she says, ‘One thing I realised in therapy was that I’d spent so long trying to micromanage things, clinging to relationships and behaviours and hadn’t really stopped to assess if any of it was still making me happy. Once I let go and those people and situations fell away, I felt nothing, too. Emptiness. But also relief? And that’s what ‘Human Error’ is about. The frustration at putting all your effort into something only to realise it’s not what you wanted.’

And so ‘Human Error’ is a tidy slice of indie-ish alt-rock with sweetly melodic vocals that’s easy on the ear but harder on the heart. The lilting minor chords of the clean rhythm guitar has hints of Dinosaur Jr, while the remaining musical layers sit somewhere between Paramore and Fleetwood Mac (Bernadette manages moments that really do hint at Stevie Nicks, and also has a decidedly folksy twist to her vocal style) but then again, and the emotional range is closer to The Twilight Sad as Bernadette pours every ounce of soul into a narrative of giving all for limited returns while being trapped in a cycle.

Oh, and there’s a whopping great guitar solo that plays out through to the fade. It’s as indulgent a solo as you’ll get, but doesn’t feel indulgent, somehow, and fades are chronically underused these days. It all adds up to a great single, and a strong pitch for the upcoming album, too.

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Human Error Artwork

Live dates:

28/2 – Rotherham – Magna

4/4 – Whitchurch – Percy’s

11/4 – Leeds – Verve

Monotreme Records

Christopher Nosnibor

I met my wife as she now is online back in 2000, before it was the done thing. Online dating didn’t exist, and we got chatting in Holechat, the band’s official online chatroom. We were both there because we had an appreciation of Hole, oddly enough. But Celebrity Skin has always been a point of division, in that it was my point of departure, with single ‘Malibu’ being a significant factor. To my ears, it was, and remains, the sound of selling out, and while pop is by no means is dirty word for me, it represented a slide into lazy, poppy commercial rock. From the band that brought us the snarling, spitting mess of noise that was ‘Teenage Whore’, this was the work of a band who’d completely lost their bite.

This is the personal context for my engagement with Stumbleine’s cover of ‘Malibu’, released as the second taster of the forthcoming album ‘Sink Into The Ether’, which promises ‘a deep submergence within a celestial upper region somewhere beyond the clouds’, and on this outing, ‘a lush ambient electro cover of Hole’s ‘Malibu’ featuring Elizabeth Heaton of Midas Fall on vocals’.

According to Stumbleine, ‘Hole’s ‘Malibu’ is the perfect balance of bittersweetness, a golden soundscape of serene melancholy. Tracks which illustrate that symmetry between light and dark are timeless to me, they mirror life with piercing clarity.’

That’s clearly a different perspective on the song from the one I have, and clearly informs this breathy, slow-unfurling drifter of a tune that bears negligible commonality with the original bar the lyrics. It’s slowed to a dripping mellowness that’s pleasant on the ear, but so prised apart and washed-out it’s bereft of chorus, hooks, or any other memorable moments. And in context, it’s nicely done, but it’s perhaps less of a cover than a reworking that’s 99% Stumbleine and 1% Hole. In this instance, that’s not such a bad thing.

31st January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Salvation Jayne have been regular features here for a while, and it’s been an enjoyable journey seeing them evolve. ‘Coney Island, Baby!’ is overtly rock, and continues the trajectory of its predecessors, but the verse nods at a post-punk vintage with its chorused guitar line.

Similarly, while it may lack both the hook-heavy immediacy of ‘Burn in Down’, ‘Coney Island, Baby!’ presents a different aspect of the band, and also showcases what some may call a more ‘mature’ approach to songwriting.

More of than not, ‘mature’ translates as middle-aged and dull, and it may lack the grunge-drive fire of ‘Cortez’, but in the context of ‘Coney Island, Baby!’ I’m talking restraint that precedes explosions, and nicely, because nuance and the measured slow-build intro give an even bigger impact. And let’s be clear here, the chorus still crashes in with some chunky riffage. It’s just more refined. It’s also a fist-pumping song of self-affirmation.

Is now a good time to sit down and discuss punctuation? Probably not, but it matters, and Salvation Jayne’s latest instalment inspires that conversation, however brief. ‘Coney Island, Baby!’ is a comma (and an exclamation mark) away from Lou Reid, and I’m going to assume it’s intentional given that its placement works in context. And for that, I like them even more, because nuance and detail matter, and besides, it’s a cracking single.

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Copy of SJ Edit High Res-61

Adult Swim Singles – 30th January 2020

Christopher Nosnbor

This one’s crashed in seemingly from nowhere, and because it’s Uniform, it crashes in hard. Promising ‘the first taste of a new song cycle that doubles down on the most immediate aspects of the band’s sound’, with shouter Michael Berdan drawing attention to the more dance-orientated sound.

And indeed, the groove is built around a steady, monotonous dance beat, but it’s a pounding industrial beat that’s reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails. The opening segment is sparse, with just drum and vocal and some rumbling extranea forging a claustrophobic tension before everything goes classic Uniform with a pulverizing blast of noise that packs all the abrasion, and again, it’s Broken era NIN that comes to mind as they meld devastating guitars to live drums hammering out mechanoid rhythms.

The guitar overdrives to the point of overload, and Berdan’s anguished holler channels the anger and anxiety of the song’s focus: “‘Awakening’ is about the daily frustrations of a complacent existence in late capitalism. Some might take it as a protest song. However, it’s to be implied that waking up with a deep seeded anger is something that happens every day. We know they are mad, but we don’t know if anything will ever change.”

If any band articulates the suffering that living in the present can create: the relentless sense of pounding your head against a wall, screaming into a void, unheard, in the face of endless idiocy and sheer brutality at the hands of a capitalism so hard that it’s beyond dehumanising. Compassion and care are out of the window as everyone is too busy climbing over everyone else just to survive, while the upper echelons crow and don’t even bother to pretend to cast down their crumbs as the pretence of any trickle-down is erased in the face of sheer greed. The power elites hold all of the power, and the rest of us are powerless to effect change.

And so many of the oppressed are oblivious to all of this, enabling the oppressors in supporting the Trumps and the Johnsons, feeding the instruments of their own oppression while failing to see the cycle they’re perpetuating, blind to the fact that ‘foreigners’ aren’t ‘stealing’ their jobs and sapping the welfare coffers, but propping up a fragile boom and bust economy by doing the minimum wage, zero-hours, per-delivery drudge jobs no-one else will take.

You wake up, burning with incendiary rage that these people, who’ve swallowed the propaganda wholesale wont; fucking wake up, and you veer wildly between wanting to kill ‘em all and killing yourself, but in the end you do neither because you’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed so you do nothing but work and hate yourself for it until you crash out to suffer nightmares and then rinse and repeat the next day and the next.

That sense of confinement, of futility, and endless fury, that is what Uniform distil into four minutes of pounding anger.

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Uniform - Awakening

Uniform US Live Dates (all w/ The Body):

March 01: Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge

March 02: Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret

March 03: Seattle, WA – Laser Dome at the Pacific Science Center

March 05: San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop

March 06: Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon

March 07: Las Vegas, NV – Bunkhouse Saloon

March 08: Phoenix, AZ – The Rebel Lounge

March 10: San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger

March 11: Dallas, TX – Three Links Deep Ellum

March 12: New Orleans – Gasa Gasa

March 13: Atlanta, GA – Food Court

March 14: Durham, NC – The Pinhook

March 15: Washington, DC – Black Cat

March 16: Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle

March 18: Brooklyn, NY – Market Hotel

March 19: Somerville, MA – Once Ballroom

March 20: Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre

March 21: Montreal, QC – La Vitrola

March 22: Toronto, ON – The Garrison

March 24: Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle

March 25: Minneapolis, MN – Turf Club

June 05 – 07: Austin, TX – Oblivion Access

Only Lovers Records – 4th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to change the mood of the day, and for me, it’s often the case that the ping of an email containing a release by an act I like that can be that mood-lifter on a barren or otherwise unremarkable day. The arrival of Mayflower Madame’s latest offering was today’s: having been snared by their debut album, 2016’s Observed in Dream, I’ve been on the edge of my seat for more, and while 2018’s Premonition EP was more than welcome, it felt like something of a placeholder ahead of the next event proper.

With album number two, Prepared for a Nightmare around the corner, they’re offering a taste of what’s to come with single ‘Vultures’, a song about ‘desire, gluttony and vanity – both on a personal level and as a general symptom of the excesses of modern society’ which is ‘partly inspired by the art of George Grosz and Hieronymus Bosch’.

‘Vultures’ very much cements the style and sound they’ve showcased previously, with reverby guitars dominating a psych/goth hybrid form that’s got tension and drama by the spade, but also a brooding, doom-laden atmosphere. The pessimism isn’t explicit, but hangs heavy in the air. But while retaining that psychy / dark surf twang, ‘Vultures’ is harder-edged than anything they’ve released to date, pinned down by an insistent beat with the vocals low in the mix and soaked in reverb and angst. The production more muscular, too, and it all stacks up for a belting blast of tense, dark contemporary post-punk that says the album is going to be a corker.

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Mayflower Madame - Vultures (cover)

Christopher Nosnibor

Videostore – the lo-fi indie duo consisting of Argonaut members Nathan and Lorna – are on a major roll at the moment, and their latest effort – pitched as a ‘love song for the apocalypse… channelling Stooges, Suede and Spacemen 3 guitars against a relentless drum machine and Atari samples’ – is their strongest to date.

It kicks in hard and that vintage mechanised drum track pumps away like a piston all the way through to the finish: no fills, nothing fancy, nothing but uptempo motoric 4/4 with that classic Roland-type snare sound.

The guitars are big and fizzy and when the extra distortion kicks in, it hits that treble explosion sweet spot that takes the top off your head, and you just don’t get that buzzsaw bliss with slick studio production.

The dual vocals contrast Lorna’s sassy drawl with Nathan’s blank monotone croak and the end result comes on like a riot grrrl rendition of a Pixies song covered by Metal Urbain.

Yet for all the retro, ‘My Back’ is very much a song for now: these are dark, paranoid times and it feels like we’re on the edge of the abyss, and this guitar-driven blitzkrieg is the perfect soundtrack.

James Wells

Largely eclipsed by the vast melting pot that is Leeds, York tends to exist some way off the musical radar. Years of acoustic blues and middling indie acts probably didn’t do much to promote the city, either, but lately, some interesting and angry bands have emerged, with Old Selves being the latest to throw down some fiery post-hardcore with debut single ‘Strength In Four’.

It’s 3’33” of roaring fury, which throws lashings of loathing inwards and out. It’s tightly structured, and pins down a nice alternating loud / quiet verse / chorus before erupting into a driving mid-section propelled by a springy bass. It’s solid, and says these guys are an exciting prospect for 2020.

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