Posts Tagged ‘alternative’

It seems like an age since we heard from Officers, even by their standards, and they’re not a band renowned for their prodigious work rate.

Following the release of the band’s debut album, On The Twelve Thrones, OFFICERSembarked on two celebrated tours with electronic music pioneer Gary Numan, forming a strong friendship that led to the penning and releasing the C.A.L.M. charity-supporting single ‘Petals’ together on the bands own label (hitting No.2 on the German airplay singles charts), and collaborating on various remixes together.

OFFICERS have written and recorded tracks for TV and Film including for ‘The Blacklist’, ‘The Finder/Bones’, ‘Scrubbing In’ and ‘BBC Earth’. The band have remixed, toured and collaborated with artists such as Placebo, and Linkin Park.

The band are Official Ambassadors for the mental health charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably (C.A.L.M) and work with the charity on a number of awareness raising events and campaigns each year.

But On The Twelve Thrones was almost six years ago, and even ‘Attack’, the first single from the forthcoming album emerged over a year ago now. Still, quality beats quantity, and as is always the case with Offers releases, ‘Born in May’ was worth the wait. Watch the vid here:

 

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Mi Mye have announced details of the final single to be released from their 2016 album The Sympathy Sigh. The Wakefield quintet will release the soothing and melancholy ‘Methadone Church’ alongside a re-imagined ‘He Believes In Me’ featuring the vocals of James Smith of Post War Glamour Girls.

Inspired by Hemmingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, the album earned the band praise from the likes of The 405 and The Line Of Best Fit. (Aural Aggravation can’t take any credit here: we’re miserly bastards at times when it comes to praise and even selecting what we cover.)

‘Methadone Church’ is a thoughtful and beautiful song that deals with Jamie observing life around him at his place of work in Armley in Leeds. He explains “Chad and I were leaving the studio where I work and when we got to the bus stop we saw a mother with twin girls walk past us. The girls were identically dressed and the mother had blood on her top lip. That’s all the song is, just that, I wrote it as soon as I got on the bus. It’s a track that doesn’t judge or comment, it’s just what was there.”

The other side of this new single features a new version of album track ‘He Believes In Me’ sung by James Smith of label mates and long standing friends & collaborators Post War Glamour Girls. Jamie recently co-produced the band’s  Swan Songs album.

When asked on what made him so keen to collaborate with Mi Mye, James said “I adore the man and it was an honour to be asked to sing on He Believes in Me. To voice Jamie’s inner monologue of confusion and fear toward a religious maniac ranting and grabbing people on the streets of Wakefield was a more spiritually uplifting experience than that preacher man will ever have.”

So get your lugs round ‘He Believes In Me’  and enjoy….

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s a perverse irony in my presence at this show in my capacity as correspondent for Aural Aggravation, a site devoted explicitly to music that’s underground and obscure. This is not least of all because I’m old enough to remember when the NME was a key publication for giving coverage to bands who were not only unknown and obscure, but often likely to remain so. In moving with the times, the NME has metamorphasised into a free, glossy, picture-rich publication that’s far more likely to feature Beyoncé than Bell Monks or break_fold. In fact, Bell Monks and break_fold won’t get a look in, and it’s not because they’re not artistically interesting or of merit. And as for feature-length reviews, forget it. All of which is partly the reason for my doing what I do.

Any show which sells out a series of 1,800 or so capacity venues is not underground by definition, and likewise any event sponsored by VO5. Still, it’s as much an indication of the nature of the music industry now that for tours to be feasible for even moderate-sized acts, they need corporate backing and to shift a shedload of merch. And of course, the corporate backers need to break into large markets. In other words, it’s economic, and it goes both ways.

So why am I here? In a word: Cabbage. It’s fair to say they’re a fairly unlikely breakthrough act. Manchester’s answer to Fat White Family, the band, who’ve been unequivocal in their opinions on The Sun, nationalism and Brexit, pithily describe themselves as ‘neo post-punk’ (most certainly not to be confused with the New Wave of New Wave) and are as far from the kind of aural chewing gum that’s sadly become synonymous with indie in the second decade of the second millennium.

I’m not about to pretend to be down with the kids: the venue is rammed with teens and student types, with older folk – and by the looks of things, some parents of the student types – hanging back. Because I’m not down with the kids, I can safely say I’m sure there was never as much cleavage on display when I used to go to gigs in my university days. But then, that’s perhaps because I never went to trendy gigs like this, who knows? Anyway, my knowledge of Rory Wynne prior to my arrival extends to a cursory Google search which tells me he’s an up-and-coming teenage indie rocker. Rory plays with a full backing band. Who knew? They’re conspicuously absent from his press shots. As a band, hey have a good energy, and Wynne looks to be enjoying himself up there. Musically, his up-tempo guitar-led alt-rock is perfectly passable, but does essentially sound like every early 90s US alt-rock act boiled down to its most generic form, and his cliché guitar-lofting poses get tired quickly. The set also has a rather strange ending: he thanks the crowd – who have been pretty tepid in their response – before launching into an instrumental number. A minute or so in, he carefully putts his guitar down and tosses his pick into the rows. Moments later, the rest of the band follow suite, toss their pics and wander off looking a bit confused.

Cabbage, as one would expect are by far the most challenging, and exhilarating, act on the bill, and on account of that, all the more surprising for their inclusion. Is this what the kids are into? I’d like to think so: it gives me hope that songs like ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ could be anthems for a generation. But I rather suspect that more of the oldies present have turned up for them, their enthusiasm for new music reignited by a band who combine the angular, jarring guitar lines of early Fall albums with a snotty punk thrash, while also evoking the spirit of The Stooges. The bass is nostril-vibratingly booming, and there’s an attacking edge to the sound even in this aircraft hangar of a venue. Many of their songs are brash, juvenile, perverse in a puerile way, but there’s a strong sense that they’re fully aware of this and are revelling in the awkward shock value of singing about necrophilia and masturbation. They’re shambolic / not shambolic – which is to say, they play like they don’t give a fuck, but are still tight, and can nail a motorik rockabilly groove with the best of then: Babyshambles they’re not. A week or so back, Lee Broadbent was in a wheelchair having fractured his pubic rami in a bizarre wall-leaping accident. Tonight, he manages to limped onto the stage and limp about a reasonable amount, but performs most of the set seated, sneering and snarling atonally from a slouchy, reclining position. But even this is an inverse type of showmanship, and contrasts with Joe Martin’s spasmodic flailings. Shirtless and scrawny, he comes on like Iggy Pop. They deserve a way more visible show of appreciation from the crowd: one girl is up on someone’s shoulders and a few people are bouncing around, but most are static and either filming or texting on their phones.

Cabbage

Cabbage

There’s a rush toward the front of the stage immediately after their set, but what I witness next is truly horrific: the audience finally start getting animated. There are people dancing and singing along – to the Courteeners, whose ’19 Forever’ is playing over the PA. People are snapping and filming the stage and grabbing selfies – while the crew set the stage for the headliners. There are whoops as each vocal mic is checked. And then the band walk on, half-hidden behind smoke and… well, the crowd mostly get back to standing around, snapping photos and WhatsApping with their mates.

Live, Blossoms are quite a different proposition from their recorded output. If their studio presents them as dark-hued indie, then live it’s the darkness that comes to the fore. The enter to a pulsating synth throb by way of an intro to ‘At Most a Kiss’.

The thunderous, steely electro groove is swiftly dampened by a so-so vocal and a bouncier pop tone. I don’t want to be too harsh in my critique of Blossoms, and will admit to having a soft spot for them, with a greater appreciation in light of their live show. They do have dynamic range and some solid, insistent basslines. They do convey a certain broodiness. The jiggish guitar line on ‘Blow’ has hints of The Sisters of Mercy’s ‘First and Last and Always’ about it, and there are three girls, about a third of the way back, up on people’s shoulders, arms waving arabesques: it’s starting to resemble a Mission gig. And the reference isn’t entirely out of place: with their accessible, anthemic sensibilities, Blossoms live call to mind the lighter end of the mid-80s goth spectrum, the point at which it had transitioned from post-punk to indie-goth.

Blossoms

Blossoms

I glance around the venue from the front row to witness an ocean of lofted phones. In fairness, they are visually striking and snap well. With dense smoke and dazzling spots and strobes casting the band in silhouette, they’ve got the Sisters’ visual stylings nailed: musically, however, they’re more Rose of Avalanche than Doktor Avalanche. On balance, it would be churlish to begrudge them: Blossoms’ music may be steeped in the music of thirty years ago, but it’s distinctive in the scheme of the commercial musical landscape of 2017.

Warren Records – 16th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Throw together MBV, A Place to Bury Strangers and Nirvana and you’d probably get Lumer. ‘Futile’ is a blistering scuzzed-out grunge racket built around a ribcage-rattling bassline. A howl of angst with FX-heavy guitars amped up to eleven, it’s all over just three minutes. Short and to the point, it’s a real adrenaline shock. What more do you need? Keep it stormy. Keep it chopped out. Well futile.

Makkum Records – MR18 – 11th June 2016

James Wells

Having existed in a number of variant forms since formation their formation over a decade ago, Kanipchen-Fit is currently Gloria (vocals), Empee Holwerda (guitar and vocals) and Frank Sloos (drums). Unfit For these Times Forever marks an evolution from their 2010 debut, not least of all because it features live drumming, which brings a very different dynamic to the sound.

But before we get to the sound, Unfit for These Times Forever is released on CD, DL and double 7”, and the physical formats come in a gatefold sleeve with a pop-up centre. It’s novel, and it’s also rather cool. The music’s pretty cool, too. Showcasing a dark post-punk infused indie rock sound. ‘How to Display a Flag’ is choppy, urgent, and is representative of the trio’s hefty sound with echoes of Husker Du and Gang of Four, combining ragged urgency and a funk edge. Holwerda’s guitar sounds like bass and guitar simultaneously.

Lyrical abstractions and oddness abounds, but these aspects are tempered by a personal and social sensibility. But then, Gloria’s background is in poetry and spoken word, and her background lies with New York performance collective Pussy Poets. ‘Residue’ finds Gloria unravelling her relationship with possessions that connect to people and the past in the context of peoples’ perceptions of others. ‘I wore my father’s jacket, it itched / I scratched, I got a rash / So I stopped wearing it,’ she recounts. There’s genius in the simplicity and the humanity of the words. Indeed, more than anything, what radiates from Unfit for These Times Forever is a sense of sincere humanity, and it’s paired with a quirky humour which isn’t only charming, but ensures the songs never move into the realm of po-faced politicking. Slanting guitars skew and jangle through the angular pop stylings of ‘Opening Ceremony’, and there’s even a hint of XTC and Pavement about closer ‘Unfit’, rounding off a record that balances unique and quirky with accessibility and depth. It has immediacy, but more than enough substance to give it durability. In other words, it’s got the lot, and is one of these rare beasts which functions – and succeeds – on every level.

Kanipchen-Fit  - Unfit

 

 

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