Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

Christopher Nosnib0r

The press release froth on about how Milton Keynes pop-punkers Get Your Head Straight have just launched their new single, ‘Swansea’, which is taken from their excellently received debut EP, Contrast.

The fact it’s pop-punk – and I’ll admit a certain genre prejudice here – notwithstanding, ‘Swansea’ is a neatly performed slab of generic bilge. The guitars are up in the mix, but you get the impression that’s more by accident that design, as the production is okay to middling at best. Meaning, what may sit as ‘dynamic’ elsewhere simply conveys ‘slapdash’ in context. Call me choosy.

And it really is a terrible name for a band.

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Buzzhowl Records / EXAG

I caught Thank way back in December 2016, supporting Oozing Wound at The Brudenell in December 2016. Having a gig to review never fails as an excuse to leave a works night out early: it’s up there with a family emergency, only way cooler. Obviously, working with a bunch of straights who listen to whatever’s on the radio and have next to no concept of ‘alternative’, the sphere in which I exist and the music which is the focus of my ‘other’ job is completely beyond them,

The review of that night described Thank as something of a ‘“supergroup” collaboration between members of various bands, including Irk and Super Luxury’, clocking Irk’s front man Jack Gordon on drums, and Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe, bassist with Beige Palace, providing off-kilter vocals. And a lot of Day-Glo. On reflection, it’s probable that not a single member of Thank had been born when Day-Go was all the rage first time around. I remember my eye-watering acid yellow tennis socks with fondness. As I also now remember that show, meaning that a new release is most welcome.

‘Think Less’ prefaces the arrival of their second EP, ‘Please’, set for release in October, and finds another Leeds noise luminary, Theo Gowans adopt a permanent place in the latest lineup. It’s a wild frenzy of lo-budget industrial funk that throws together Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and early Nine Inch Nails into a blender, tossing in a messy vocal with an unashamedly northern accent and spraying the resultant snarling mess all over a chunky and deeply infectious cyclical groove that’s an instant earworm. Raw, ragged, jagged and all the better because of it, it’s cause to get excited.

AA

Thank - Please

Crocodile Records – 28th June 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m always elated to see one of my own lines quoted in a press release, but I’m actually more pleased to see that Amy’s comeback remains in the rails with the release of the third of her projected singles ahead of the release of her long-awaited album in October.

Said album is being described as ‘a narrative diary of depression, hope and redemption’, and ‘a bold and intimate set of heartfelt songs’. I’d assumed that ‘bold’ was referring to her personal, reflective lyrics, but this offering is bold in the musical sense, going large and cinematic and revealing another facet of her artistry.

‘Sleepwalker’ still contains personal, emotionally-driven lyrics – fragments that see two separate threads intercut with one another – and is a deceptively layered composition, with xylophone and acoustic guitar riding loping drums into a chorus that’s simultaneously delicate but surging, and finds Studt stepping away from contemplative fragility, really belting it out with a force and confidence not in evidence on either of the two previous releases.

It’s a great alt-pop tune, which in context hints at an album release that’s diverse and packed with some serious growers.

Christopher Nosnibor

I love getting weird shit in the post. Not literal shit, of course, not the kind of shit one might have received for panning The Levellers in a review in the early 90s, but the kind of sonic faeces people I associate with might send me when they have a new release or project in the offing.

I clocked the sender’s name on the envelope: one P.A. Morbid of Middlesbrough. Having been moving in the same circles for a while, the arrival of a package in itself was no major shock, but I hadn’t been aware of anything musical in the offing from this North-Eastern master of bleak lines who, having recently published a collection of poetry split with local luminary Harry Gallagher, has also been working on some flash fiction pieces. It’s not entirely clear where this fits in: on-line sources suggest it was released back in 2017, but the infrequently gigging band also look set to make a rare hometown appearance in July.

Morbs is credited as providing ‘vocals, rhythms, noises’ on this three-tracker, produced in collaboration with Peter Heselton, who’s responsible for guitars, electronics, keyboards, and also rhythms.

Most of those rhythms are sequenced pulsations, with the vintage feel of analogue or at least early, primitive digital drum machines, and overall, the production on this experimental electro effort is primitive to the point of condenser mic in the middle of the room standard. But this kind of straight-to-tape DIY approach is integral to both the ethos and the appeal.

Dingy pulsations drive ‘Das Jenseits’, the first cut on here, and it’s pure Throbbing Gristle. Murky drones and extraneous noise that all sits in the mid-range form a drifting sonic fog. There are vocals lurking in the smog, but they’re distorted and low in the mix: the result is that they’re an abstract disorientating addition to a difficult mess of abstract disorientation.

‘Standing by the Grave’ is more direct: a whipcrack snare cuts though the infinite murk of the guitars while Morbid moans and grunts impenetrably. There are hints of neofolk, but equally goth-tinged post-punk in evidence. The atmosphere is oppressive, dense. You don’t really know what it’s about or what’s going on, but it’s like wading through treacle and a suffocating airless smog that lies thick and heavy.

The closer, ‘what light remains’ is a mercifully short four minutes in duration. Rippling shards and quivering synths shimmer through the atmospheric fog. It’s dislocated, difficult, dark ambient; percussionless desert rock, reverby chords echoing out across space and time rippling in a heat haze.

I’m left dazed, feeling strangely alone and wondering what it was all about.

KDB

James Wells

And after weeks of torrential rain, temperatures so far below the seasonal average if feel more like a different season, we suddenly find ourselves not experiencing just warmer weather, but day one of a burning heatwave set to last for… two days.

Imbeciles may scoff about so-called ‘global warming’ because they fail to grasp the fact that in some places, like Britain, the melting of the ice caps doesn’t mean we can grow bananas, grapes and coffee beans in our window boxes, and that instead, tropical storms are going to batter us while the coastline shrinks beneath rising sea levels.

So, what do we know? Thanks to the press blurbage, we know that ‘HIN is the new ambient/electronic project of Jerome Alexander, best known as Message To Bears, along with his school friend Justin Lee Radford, also known as The Kids And The Cosmos’. We also know that the ‘Warmer Weather EP’ is HIN’s debut release.

The five songs on offer here are mellow to the max. The beats are so laid back they’re practically soporific, all the tones so soft-focus as to be tantamount to dissipating vapours in a clear blue sky on a hot summer’s day. Yes, this is definitely a hot summer’s day soundtrack. But it’s also completely smoothed out, depersonalised, chilled to the point of total blandness, the Mr Whippy of ice cream. What is there to say? Can I have sprinkles and a flake with that soft vanilla?

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HIN

1st July 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Dog on a Stick is the second musical project featuring Rick Senley to have come my way this year – and we’re only halfway through June.

Dog on a Stick came about ‘thrashing out Cramps and Pixies noise while squeezing melodies from the din under a west London railway arch’, but there’s a post-punk edge to debut single ‘Dead Driver’. Selney’s guitar intro is a chorus-heavy Curesque effort before the overdrive kicks in and the song takes off on a tense trajectory. The propulsive rhythm hits a taut groove, over which Liam’s vocals become increasingly wild and desperate.

Singer/bassist Liam starts out coming on with something of a Bowie-like croon, but by the end, he’s emitting a rabid howl of anguish, rendered even more potent by the motoric nature of the backing and the dirty, squalling distortion that screams through a mess of treble beneath that bulbous bass.

Clocking in at almost five minutes, it’s a sustained scream of raw emotion that hits hard and cuts deep. It’s blistering and it’s intense. Bring us more!

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Dog on a Stick

1st April 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I can’t recall if my rants about infantilism as the latest tool of oppression in the arsenal of late-to-the-point-of-crumbling capitalism have made it to any reviews or commentary pieces, or if they’ve been contained to nights down the pub with old friends, after which ideas for delivering incisive critiques have evaporated with the fumes of alcohol the following morning. The greatest likelihood is the latter. Anyway. In summary, the term ‘adulting’ is indicative of the millennial inability to deal with life in general (which I get, because we all struggle, but part of being an adult is stepping up and enabling the next generation instead of cowering in the face of responsibility and running to one’s parents for help in filling out forms for car finance or doing a spot of DIY), and the fact that I find myself surrounded by people in their late 20s accessorising with the same all-things-unicorn my seven-year-old daughter is already growing tired of is a clear symptom of a deeper societal issue. Is the unicorn the symbol of the snowflake (a term I abhor, for the record)?

I write from a position which is both central to, and exempt from, the gender wars which are raging all around right now, and will be open in saying that I don’t write from a position of relating. I’ve suffered prejudice simply for that, too, but we’ll not revisit that here. The key point is that inclusivity isn’t about where you’re from, but how you treat others. Irrespective of gender, I’ve always been an outsider, and know that outsiderism from wherever you’re standing is hard.

Maybe I should just shut up with the commentary and stick to the fact that Neverlanded are giving away their debut EP, F.u.U. (that’s Fluffy Unicorns United) in exchange for a donation to Mermaids UK, a charity which ‘offers support to transgender and gender variant children and young people, their families and supporting professionals’. And regardless of the music, I can only give total backing for a band who are willing to launch their recording career with a view to promoting something other than themselves. Alongside Modern Technology (link) who are donating the proceeds of their debut to Mind and Shelter, Neverlanded seem to be leading a new generation of socially-conscious philanthropic artists who are more concerned with making a difference in whatever small way they can than fame and wealth.

It’s a double bonus that the EP’s four tracks, ‘Brainsane’, ‘MesS.O.S.’, ‘This Friend Of Mine’, and ‘Scream 4 Ice Cream’ are more than just solid, but remarkably strong.

They pitch themselves as being for fans of Placebo, L7, Silverchair, Garbage, Nirvana, Cranberries, Pixies, and Refused, which lands them right in the heart of the melee of 90s alternative, and it’s precisely what they deliver.

‘Brainsane’ pounds in with a riff that’s as beefy as hell, the drawling vocals and loud / quiet dynamic straight out of 1993 in the best possible way, because it balances rawness and emotional sincerity with a full gutsy sound. If ‘MesS.O.S.’ is poppier, it’s poppier in the way that Nirvana’s ‘Been a Son’ is poppier. The slower, almost dream ‘This Friend of Mine’ is well-placed, and the lack of angst is no detractor, not least of all with it being followed by the lo-fi grunge-out of ‘Scream 4 Ice Cream’ that drives the EP to a lurching, overdriven close.

Not only is F.u.U total quality from beginning to end, but it succeeds in contributing to a well-explored genre without sounding remotely generic: in fact, it’s exhilarating in its passion and purity.

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Neverlanded - FUU