Posts Tagged ‘alternative’

IHeartNoise – 16th July 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

What am I being sent now? Admittedly, I have some time for IHeartNoise with their championing and general backing – not to mention occasional releasing – of music that most would like file under ‘weird shit.’ As the label remind us, ‘rock music with oddly-tuned guitars, varied rhythms, clouds of dissonance, and bursts of energy wasn’t too hard to come by in the 1990s’.

Howcha Magowcha, the second album by Turkish Delight, originally released in 1988 (and which follows IHeartNoise’s cassette rerelease of their 1996 debut last year), isn’t quite as weird as all that, but it’s hardy accessible or mainstream. In the main, it’s a high-octane, helium-filled punky thrashabout, and really rather fun. And while punk-pop has very clear connotations in contemporary terms, aspects of Howcha Magowcha belong to the time when indie bands like Voodoo Queens and Rosa Mota and Huggy Bear were cranking up the amps and revelling in the juxtaposition of ramshackle punky noise delivered with a pop sensibility. And Howcha Magowcha is bursting with tunes – all delivered with a spiky, angular energy.

The feel is very much of the era. We’re not talking grunge or nu-metal, but are deep in the domains of the weird underground that emerged and occupied the pages of Melody Maker and the NME for a while, and would often be found spun by John Peel. Reference points are likely pointless given this level of obscurity.

Anyway: let’s skip comparisons and get to the music, which is about jolting tempo changes, jarring key switches, contrast between pretty-pretty female vocals with throaty male vocals, as evidenced no more keenly than on ‘Smooth Karate’. ‘Li Cold Vas’ has the jangle of The Wedding Present and blends it with the angularity of The Fall and the obtuse oddness of early Pram, while ‘Sea Quest’ goes Slanted era Pavement with additional full-throttle US 90s noise. ‘Metronome’ creates new levels of angularity, and explores lyrical avenues of abstraction that twist the mundane and really mess with ideas of the ordinary. ‘No Sky’ slows the pace and goes all moody, before it erupts in all directions… extra points for the epic closer, appropriately entitled ‘Close’ that goes from nagging verses to explosive tornadoes of noise by way of choruses and veers all over the place over the course of seven minutes – in contrast to the three-minute blasts of the rest of the album.

There isn’t one song on here that stands out as a single: Howcha Magowcha is very much an album, and a discordant, noisy one at that. There’s no time to settle into any of the songs: mellow moments are torn in half with propulsive drumming and low-slung bass, while the guitars fire off in all directions. It’s music that keeps you on edge, engaged, exhilarated. And however big the 90s revival gets, they’ll never make ‘em quite like this again.

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Turkish Delight

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London-based “Anti-Music Collective” Moderate Rebels release ‘Beyond Hidden Words’, streaming from 25th June, from their just-completed second album, due out in November on Everyday Life Recordings.

Describing it as an ‘un-song’, Moderate Rebels say, “We’re not sure what this music is exactly. It arrived with us as a feeling, then a defiant chant, a repeating half hallucination set to building noise, an invocation of strong communal power and hope, through the confronting of the uncomfortable, and the taking of some personal responsibility for being part of that conversation… The sound of a dream, set to the dream of a sound.”

Moderate Rebels follow their debut album ‘The Sound Of Security’ and ‘Proxy’ EP, both released in 2017. The collective’s previously stated approach to their songwriting is “to use as few words and chords as possible”.

Get your lugs round ‘Beyond Hidden Words’ here:

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Moderate Rebels Beyond Hidden Words front cover HR

Leeds quintet The Golden Age of TV have shared their contribution to the Leeds based Come Play With Me 7” Singles Club with new track ‘Television’, which will be released on June 22nd.

The Golden Age Of TV have quickly gathered a lot of momentum with razor sharp, whip smart and perfectly crafted indie pop. Their three singles so far have all earned support from Radio 1 with Huw Stephens playing every song they’ve released. They’ve also performed at Reading & Leeds and with bands like Fickle Friends, Toothless & Alex Cameron, and nailed it at Long Division in Wakefield at the weekend.

Get your lugs round ‘Television’ here:

Joining The Golden Age of TV will be electropop quartet ENGINE. Surfing in from the outer rim of Burley and noisily settling on the Meanwood Nebula, ENGINE continue to blaze an individual DIY trail in Leeds. The group combines sampled psychedelics with introverted song-writing of a bygone era. With their recent debut album Cucumber Water now and an ever growing live reputation including support slots with Connan Mockasin, Infinite Bisous and C Duncan under their belts, ENGINE have moved forward with the driving, infectious, electronic groove ridden new flawless pop song ‘And I Say’.

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The Golden Age of TV

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.