Posts Tagged ‘alternative’

25th April 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Today I did something that was pretty alien to me: I took a break. Having dropped the car at the garage for a service, I walked some four miles back into town, and with another mile and half to get me back home, I stopped in at a pub and sat on the first floor with a pint, just looking out of the window watching people drift by on the street below. There were some interesting tunes being aired through the hidden speakers, from early New Order to The Jesus and Mary Chain. At some point, Dum Dum Girls’ cover of ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ came on and not for the first time in recent months, began to reflect on The Smiths, since I recently offloaded my entire vinyl collection of their works. It wasn’t just that I need the money – and the £800 I raised was certainly useful – but this was an act of purging. That Morrissey is a monumental cunt had certainly been bugging me for some time, but then I have many records by people who have long been known to be monumental cunts and I haven’t felt the compulsion to jettison their junk. No, his cuntdom was just the tipper after I came to the conclusion that these records no longer spoke to me and hadn’t been played much since I left my teens, and the death of our monarch, which led to the obvious song gaining ubiquity on my social media feeds simply left me weary.

But on hearing this cover, I found myself thinking ‘but this is a great song’. And so, arriving home to find Spiritual Front’s cover of ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ in my inbox felt somewhat serendipitous.

Taken from their upcoming album of Smiths covers, The Queen is Not Dead, it’s a very straight cover that not only pays homage but great attention to detail in terms of the arrangement, mostly only adding swathes of strings near the end. And it, too, is – still – a great song. Although not all of The Smiths’ songs were great – the albums included a a lot of pap, like ‘Frankly, Mr Shankly’ – but it’s hard to fault their singles and the craft. Perhaps, then, it does come back to the issue being Morrissey, his cuntiness and his adenoidal tones which my wife always hated so – meaning that, ultimately, at least for me, it becomes a question of context, and hearing covers of the songs is preferable and less problematic than hearing the originals.

As the bio which accompanies the release details, ‘With The Smiths carved so deeply into the Romans’ collective heart that they had played full shows featuring the English rockers’ classic hymns in recent years, it was only a short step to record a full tribute album when taking a break from touring. Spiritual Front went about their task with the explicit aim to pay a respectful homage yet at the same time to stay away from cloning. Across the album’s fifteen tracks, which many consider sacred, the Italians stayed true to the original recordings, while pulling those songs closer to the sonic world of Spiritual Front for example by adding strings and horn parts.’

This, of course, is the ultimate pull of The Smiths: anyone who has endured those awkward teenage years as an outsider, who’s been sixteen, clumsy, and shy, will feel that connection to these songs. And for a band whose recent output, dubbed ‘nihilistic suicide pop’ has drawn comparisons with Nick Cave, Swans, and Scott Walker, it still makes sense that The Smiths would be there in the background.

But to hear the weathered, tattooed Simone Salvatori enunciating ‘ah-ho, la-la, ladadada’ – well, it does seem somehow incongruous. For all that, he pulls it off well, and while I’m on the fence with the video, it’s a solid cover that suggests the album will be worth hearing.



Spiritual Front by Marco Soellner


Cruel Nature Records – 20th April 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Regular readers – or even more casual ones – will likely have noticed that Cruel Nature releases have received a fair bit of coverage here. The Newcastle-based cassette label, and brainchild of Steve Strode, are now celebrating a decade of their existence, releasing non-conformist, way-outside-the-mainstream music, and they’re celebrating with a compilation of 23 (of course, it has to be 23) exclusive tracks recorded specifically for this release, on a label who can now boast the tagline of ‘Channelling sonic diversity since 2013’.

Spectrum very much succeeds in showcasing that sonic diversity, presenting a collection that spans ambience to brutal metal. In times past, no-one who would listen to one would listen to the other, but my own musical journey over the last decade and a half means that whereas once I’d have sneered at one and hesitated over the other, I’m now on board with both. And why not? Cruel Nature Records has spent a decade now giving a home to music that doesn’t really fit, and doesn’t conform to a specific genre.

Of the 23 contributors, a fair few of them have previously featured on these pages, so new material from them is most welcome. VHS¥DEATH are among them, and ‘Sacrifice’ is a relentless industrial hardfloor disco banger, which couldn’t be more different from the mellow jazz ambience of Aidan Baker’s contribution, ‘Grounded Hogs’. And in a nutshell, the contrast between the two tracks instantly encapsulates the ethos of Cruel Nature. Anything goes as long as it’s different and interesting.

It’s great to hear snarking antagonists like Pound Land in the same space as Nathalie Stern’s haunting atmospheres and the spare folk of Clara Engel. Pound Land deliver a gloomy grinder in the form of ‘Flies’; despite its minimal arrangement, it’s dense and oppressively weighty, not to mention really quite disturbing in its paranoid OCD lyrical repetitions.

‘K Of Arc’ by TV Phase’ is a punishing, percussion-led trudge through darkness, while Charlie Butler’s ‘Eagle’s Splendour’ which immediately follows couldn’t be more different, it’s rolling piano and soft, rippling chimes providing six and a half minutes of mellow enchantment.

Petrine Cross bring a rabid howl of utterly crushing, dungeon-dark black metal that’s as heavy and harrowing as anything they’ve done, making for a most welcome inclusion here. Offering some much-needed levity, Empty House’s ‘Blue Sky Dreamers’ is a wistful slice of breezy indie with a hint of New Order, not least of all on account of the run-filled bassline, while Katie Gerardine O’Neill swings something of a stylistic curveball with some quirky deconstructed jazz.

Also worthy of mention (although in fairness, there isn’t a contribution on here that isn’t, had I the time for a track-by-track rundown) are Aural Aggravation faves Whirling Hall of Knives and Omnibadger, with the former whipping up a mangles mess of glitching distortion and the latter – these buggers get everywhere, having featured on the Rental Yields compilation I covered only last week – mixing up a collage of hums, thunderous drones, and a cut-up melange of feedback and miscellaneous noises to discombobulating effect. Then again, the final two tracks, courtesy of Lush Worker and Lovely Wife respectively bring some mangled reverb-heavy drone-orientated avant-noise and eight and three-quarter minutes of demented, downtuned, downtempo sludgy space rock. Both are truly wonderful, and this is a superlative compilation that perfectly encapsulates the eclecticism of Cruel Nature. It’s also the perfect illustration of why we need these small labels who aren’t driven by commercialism or profits or shareholder value. For disseminating all of this weird and wonderful music – music which often challenges the very idea of music – the world is a much better place.

Fans of the label with absolutely love this, and for those unfamiliar with the label, there couldn’t be a better introduction. Here’s to the next ten years of Cruel Nature.



Human Worth / God Unknown – 28th June 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The release date may be a long way off, but I wanted to get in early with a review and put word out before it’s sold out – not least of all because I’ve been following Beige Palace from the very start, catching their live debut at now defunct DIY rehearsal-space-cum-venue CHUNK in Leeds in 2016. And Christ, I miss that place. It wasn’t the most accessible of spaces, but still within walking distance of the train station, and they hosted some bloody great bands. And it was the place where …(something) ruined made its debut, meaning that on a personal level, it will always be remembered as a special place. Beige Palace impressed then (so much so they used a quote from my review on their website and in press releases), but there was no way of foreseeing that they’d go on to support both Mclusky and Shellac on their visits to Leeds in recent years, bringing their brand of minimal lo-fi indie to the main room at the legendary Brudenell. I’d like to claim I have an ear / eye for bands with unique qualities, and that my many long nights spent seeing unknown bands in tiny venues is not only indicative of a commitment to grass roots music and seeking out the next hot act, but something of a talent, but the truth is I simply enjoy these smaller shows.

The fact that Mclusky and Shellac chose to play the 450-capacity Brudenell suggests they are of the same mindset.

And so it is that the ever-brilliant and ever-dependable Human Worth have teamed up with Good Unknown for a split 7” featuring Beige Palace and Cassels – thus demonstrating the beauty of the split single, which more often tan not you tend to buy because you like one of the bands, and then discover another band in the process.

This split single is a corker.

The punningly-titled ‘Waterloo Sublet’ is a dingy, dungeon-crawling post-punk drone where a long intro of feedback and gut-quivering bass paves the way for a deranged up-and-down angular noise-rock workout that leaves you feeling punch-drink and dizzy. The dual vocals are more the voices of psychosis than a complimentary bounce back-and-forth, and the result is psychologically challenging. It’s not easy or accessible, but it is unhinged and big on impact. And once again, Beige Palace show that you don’t need extreme volume or big riffs or loads of distortion to make music that disturbs the comfortable flow in the best possible way.

Cassels also bring some spiky, jerky, jarring post-punk, and their crisp, cutty guitar work paired with half-sung narrative lyrics are reminiscent of Wire. And then, halfway through, the tempo quickens and it erupts into a guitar-driven frenzy and from out of nowhere, it goes flame-blastingly noisy. It pretty much articulates my own relationship with writing – and not writing, and channels a whole range of complex issues spanning the relationship between mental health and the creation of art. It’s a cracking tune, and one that says that for the unfamiliar, Cassels are a band worth exploring.

Split single – purpose fulfilled.



‘Move Fast’ is from the open-ended Argonaut album Songs from the Black Hat.

It is Gen X Silicon Valley slogans, 80’s pop synths and 90’s noise.

The video follows the adventures of some hapless microserfs in an office pod near you.

We’re reminded of Douglas Coupland, and also a time pre-pandemic when offices 9-5, 5 days a week were the usual. It’s a fizzy li-fi indie tune: check it here:

17th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

In the feast or famine equation, there’s rarely a true drought when it comes to quality new releases, but this month really does seem to be one for an eye-popping proliferation, and the arrival of Sleep Kicks’ debut album after a succession of singles and EPs is a most welcome arrival along them.

Having previously showcased – and raved about – previous releases, it’s a joy to see The Afterdrop finally land. Most of those previous singles – ‘My On Demon’, ‘No Chains’, ‘Hall of Shame’, ‘Neptune’’, and, most recently, ‘Words in Vain’ are featured here, along with a different recording of ‘Exodus’ from the one that appeared on the Summer EP back in July 2020. It’s marked as an edit, which makes me curious to hear the full-length version performed as a full band.

Having frothed and foamed exuberantly about the band’s melding of dark post-punk with soaring pop aspects with each single release, I’m running low on my reserve of superlatives. But there are four new songs here, and then there’s also the question of how it hangs as an album – whether or not if feels like a padded-out singles compilation or an album proper.

I suppose the first thing to point out is that while all of their previous releases have been digital-only, The Afterdrop is receiving a vinyl pressing, meaning the songs finally feel solid and tangible in a way they perhaps didn’t before, and with the atmospheric instrumental opener, ‘Reflections’ lifting the curtain on the ten-track set, it does very much feel like an album rather than simply a collection of songs. It’s dark and spacious, with robotic drumming driving it along.

It’s then straight into the vaguely gothy post-punk of ‘Words in Vain’, with its stonking bass and fractal guitars, a tune that on its own should have earned the band global domination on a par with Editors and Interpol. ‘Neptune’ is synthier, but its poppiness is countered by dark undercurrents, and it’s a rush, as is ‘Exodous’ – a thunderous bass and brittle guitar that’s pure Interpol circa Turn on the Bright Lights defining the side.

In previous reviews, I’ve also likened Sleep Kicks to fellow Norwegians A-Ha: some of this is down to Terje Kleven’s vocal qualities – rich, varied, and with a knack for inflection, but equally, they’re a band I’ve always returned to because there’s there’s a darkness to their pop that I feel has been largely overlooked, and it’s this amalgamation of darkness with a pop sensibility that is what I’m driving at with Sleep Kicks.

‘Silencer’ – another one of the new songs – is slower, sparser, but brims with brooding and emotional resonance, and, once again, it’s magnificently crafted. This is true of every one of this album’s ten tracks. ‘Orbiting’, another song which hasn’t been released before, is bittersweet bliss and again revises the 80s spirit with a brooding yet accessible slice of guitar-driven desolation.

Again, in a just world, ‘No Chains’ would have been their ‘Pompeii’ and would have seen Sleep Kicks on the same pegging as Bastille – again, there are similarities, but the fact is that Sleep Kicks are by far the better band. It’s an unjust world where it comes down to label backing and pluggers. But then, we know it’s an unjust world, and the music industry sucks. But there’s a world outside the industry, and ‘Hall of Shame’ with its choppy guitars and snaking bass runs is as good a song as you’ll hear all year. But then, so is ‘My Own Demon’. In fact, The Afterdrop is an album without fault, and as good an album as you’ll hear all year, or ever.


Cardiff post-punk outfit Red Telephone are set to release their highly anticipated debut album Hollowing Out on the 31st March 2023. The only single taken from it ‘Waiting For Your Good Days’ is out now.

Hailing from Cardiff, Red Telephone’s richly layered alt-rock could have emanated from a club in Blade Runner’s dystopian LA – combining angular guitars, Krautrock-inspired rhythms and New Wave-tinged synths with infectious pop sensibilities. Drawing on post punk and synth pop influences, the band has been catching the attention of DJs across BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 1, Absolute Radio and Radio X; with comparisons to the likes of MGMT, Super Furry Animals, Mitski and Berlin-era Bowie being drawn. The band have recently appeared at BBC 6 Music Fringe Festival, Focus Wales, Swn Festival, Other Voices and Llangollen Fringe, supporting Warmduscher. With previous single releases on Welsh-based labels Libertino Records and the Popty-Ping Recording Company, the band’s highly anticipated debut album is set to be released in March 2023.

Watch the video here:



5th December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s perhaps fitting that after penning around seven hundred words of a review of this book, that I suffered a crash and the file corrupted irretrievably. Unlike most autobiographies, this isn’t really a ‘rise-to-fame’ or ‘rags-to-riches’ narrative, and nor is it a tale of rise-and-fall. Overdriven is more an endless succession of trips, stumbles, misses, and near hits, failures and not-quite-off-the-drawing board ideas. And so, as is the theme of the book’s narrative, in the face of adversity, you need to get up, and just plough the fuck on. Because if you don’t… no, not doing isn’t an option. You just do it, however hard it may be.

Everett True makes an unusual but valid point in his foreword, in that the ‘wrong’ people write rock history. Usually, it’s the successful ones for a start. If, indeed, they even write it themselves and don’t use a ghostwriter. Rock biographies and autobiographies invariably have an arc, but the starting point is that the subject is well-known, having achieved chart success at some point, and more often than not they have – at least at some point – been a household name. This, of course, is simply not representative of the lives of, well, pretty much every gigging musician, really, and this makes Charlie Beddoes’ book unique: Overdriven is the story of what it’s really like to be a musician slogging – and slogging, and slogging – in their quest to make it.

What even is ‘making it?’ Again, success tends to be measured conventionally in terms of units shifted and celebrity status, but that simply is not the reality for the vast majority of musicians. Success is simply being able to exist as a musician, and Overdriven really does show just how hard it is simply to achieve this, often relying on second jobs – interior design work, lecturing – during much of her career, having hauled herself up from living in squats to cruddy flats and shared accommodation.

Overdriven conveys all the crazy pace of things, and how life and relationships continue all around the ‘exciting’ ‘career’ stuff, and just how much of a maelstrom it can be. And relationships and being in bands, it seems, is often a conflict of interests, especially when the two cross over. Fucking hell, shit is messy at times in this book. But if – as I did – you often find yourself howling ‘nooooo!’ at the page, which what feels like constant acts of (albeit unintentional) self-sabotage, as the same time, what’s so striking is just how real, and how human is all is.

It’s clear, and not just from the ordered chronology of the book that Beddoes is someone who not only likes, but needs, order and organisation, yet has spent a lifetime struggling to find it amongst musicians. It’s a story packed with flaky, inconsistent and unreliable characters, not to mention the full spectrum of addicts, oddballs, and out and out psychos. But it’s also a milieu of people lost, lonely, confused, messed up, and some plain massive twats.

It’s also written in a remarkably even, matter-of-fact tone, and some of the dialogue reads rather like Kathy Acker. It’s unframed, direct, and it suits the style, because the narrative is straightforward and uncluttered. One may likely read it in one of two ways – the voice of someone level-headed and well-adjusted, or the voice of someone numbed by trauma, not least of all by her childhood years, where her mother’s mental health issues which normalised all that is not normal. Perhaps it’s a bit of both, but her recounting her childhood feels as important to the overall picture as anything in the book. Again, context counts, and joining the dots it’s clear that Charlie’s determination to make something of herself, despite spending years in squats and enduring endless shit is rooted in her childhood.

While much has been made of cult alternative band Rub Ultra, which Beddoes co-founded, Overdriven places it in context – a relatively brief period of her life, one that was defined more by struggle than any sense of accomplishment, with her having been ousted from the band prior to the release of their debut – and sole – album. What really comes to the fore is the precarity and volatility of life in a band. Charlie’s book is unstinting in its honesty in approaching the constant flashpoints which make simply getting to, and through, the next gig an heroic achievement. This isn’t just Beddoes’ take, or the story of how things were in Rub Ultra. This is representative of the expectations of so many musicians and bands. You realise that achieving any degree of success is beyond miraculous, when most bands don’t even make it as far as a gig or two, let alone recording anything. It always seems like a good idea in the moment to get together for a jam…

So many of the rock ‘n’ roll anecdotes are often brilliantly bathetic, and instead of trashing hotel rooms, we get a tale of accidentally setting off smoke alarms at a Travelodge while smoking a spliff, and Charlie turning down groupie action. The numerous potted reviews are amusing, too with her brief assessment of Idles on seeing them as an emerging band in 2012 is exemplary: ‘I don’t really get it, they are kind of post hardcore and very grumpy and they don’t look like they are having a good time’. There are some pithy observations, too: she sums up social media reactions perfectly in one sentence, observing how she could release an album to thirty likes, but post a pic of her cat hours later and receive a hundred. Yep. Books and reviews are the same. And if only likes had any correspondence to sales.

Overdriven also conveys the eternally tangled web of people on ‘the scene’ from musicians to roadies to A&R and label types, promoters and engineers. The same people crop up again and again, and occasionally they’re in bands who broke through – at least for a time.

And so the ‘peak years’ of relative comfort and security and ‘making it’ as a touring musician arrive later, not even playing her own music, and Charlie Says proves to be another near-miss failure, before her most recent vehicle, the mighty Nasty Little Lonely – which was essentially a continuation of Rock in Your Pocket, rebranded to increase the band’s appeal on the Bristol scene, and – and which ultimately sees her making the music she always wanted to, if only with a cult following and no major labels offering hods of cash – occupy only the last few chapters and the band is secondary to the turmoil of life.

It’s the last few chapters which hit the hardest. Unexpectedly, it’s Charlie’s account of her experiencing the onset of menopause that’s perhaps the most affecting part of the book, packed in near the end. For all the disappointments and deaths – a lot of people die, especially in the post-millennium years – all the years of soaring highs and crushing lows and endless rejections and dead-end auditions and all the rest, not to mention the endless conflict over not being considered ‘fit’ and wanting to be recognised for her musical abilities – and during all this time she rolled with the punches, this brings home just how life-changing it is. And it’s still not talked about nearly enough, not seen as a serious issue, even, as she writes, by younger women in the medical profession.

As much as this is an autobiography – and one well—told and well-written at that – this is a story of being a musician, with Charlie being a WOMAN in rock secondary to what really doing this is like. There are no two ways about it: Overdriven is essential for anyone with an interest in the music industry – but also for anyone who cares about life struggles and what it is to simply get through.



Loyal Blood Records – 9th December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

When the shit builds to a tsunami, your laptop’s fucked and all you want to do is curl into a ball and forget absolutely everything, noise is the answer. It’s not a cry for help or even a public moan as such, but sometimes it all gets a bit much. The little thing accumulate to the point where they’re a big thing. You feel weak for letting it escalate like that, but it’s sudden. One minute, everything is ok, and ticking along nicely, the next, you’re suddenly overwhelmed.

Having recently experienced a mammoth rush of excitement on discovering Mammock, I’m buzzing all over again having been introduced to another bunch of noisy fucks, namely Hammock. These guys really aren’t into slouching about, and their debut is tense, wired, and packs some furious energy.

The press release tells me that ‘They sound pissed, frustrated and rebellious, and play their instruments with a nasty intensity and nihilistic ferocity. Imagine a mix of Unsane, Chat Pile and Pissed Jeans and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how these youngsters sound like.’ Obviously, I’m sold before I hear a note, and have to say it’s a fair summary of their seven-song set (although the first and last, ‘Intro’ and ‘outro’ respectively are what their titles imply, bookending five back-to-back blasts of riotous racket, all of which clock in between two and a quarter and a fraction over three minutes. They really do keep it tight and punchy, and pack a lot of abrasive noise into those short sharp adrenaline shots.

The vocals are distorted, shouted, gritty, and are pithed against guitars that crash in from all angles – hefty slabs and thick chunks of distortion collide against scribbly, scratchy runs of broken math-rock noodles, while the bass snarls around and booms darkly and the drums roll like thunder, as exemplified on lead single ‘J.D.F.’

It’s jarring, fast-paced, and buzzes and roars, and it’s not just noise – there are some smart bits and pieces all bouncing about in the mix, often happening all at once. It is, at times, bewildering, but above all, it’s awe-inspiring.

There’s a moment around forty-five seconds into ‘Contrapoint’ where the bass and guitars both kick into a monster riff and it punches you right between the eyes as a ‘fucking yesssss!!’ moment that absolutely seals the EP as a bona fide belter.



Venerate Industries – 4th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Now this is a fine justification of why I don’t do end of year lists. This may or may not have made mi ne, because I simply haven’t had time to process or digest it, but it’s been out a month and a half and I’ve only just got my lugs around it, with only a week or so left of 2022 – and it’s one of those albums that slaps you around the skull and has that instant impact by virtue of its sheer force.

Their bio tells us that Athens-based ‘Mammock’s compositions stray from the typical rock forms, incorporating various elements from punk to jazz, post-hardcore and the nineties’ US noise rock scene. The quartet possesses the self-awareness and technical capabilities to carve their own sound and explore their character into finely tuned songs, which grab the listener from beginning to end.’

What it means is that they make a serious fucking racket and sound a lot like The Jesus Lizard, from the rib-rattling bass to the off-kilter, jarring guitars, and the crazed vocals. Some of the songs sound like they have some synths swirling around in the mix, but one suspects it’s just more guitar, run through a monster bank of effects. Overall, though, they seem to be more reliant on technique than trickery.

They formed in early 2018 by Giannis (guitar) and Klearhos (bass) with the addition of Vangelis (drums), they started out as an instrumental trio, before the addition of Andreas (vocals), and if it seems like a contradiction to remark that they feel like a coherent unit when cranking out so much jolting, angular discord, but that’s one of the key tricks or deceptions of music like this: it isn’t mere racket, and in fact requires real technical precision: those stuttering stops and starts, judders, jolts, changes of key and tempo require a great deal of skill, intuition, and of course, rehearsal.

They take many cues from Shelllac, too: the drums are way up in the mix – to the extent that they’re front and centre, something Shellac make a point of literally on stage, and replicate the sound on record, with the guitar providing more texture than tune, and the vocals half-buried beneath the cacophonic blur.

The last minute or so of ‘Dancing Song’ blasts away at a single chord that calls to mind Shellac’s ‘My Black Ass’ and ‘The Admiral’. The lumbering monster that is ‘Bats’ is a bit more metal, in the sludgy, stoner doom Melvins sense.

Stretching out to almost seven minutes, ‘Jasmine Skies’ blasts its way to the album’s mid-point, a wild, grunged-up metal beast with an extended atmospheric spoken-word mid-section which gives the lumbering black metal assault that emerges in the finale even greater impact.

If the semi-ambient ‘Interludio’ offers some brief respite, the ‘Boiling Frog’ brings choppy, driving grunge riffage and a real sense of agitation and anguish, and the album’s trajectory overall paves the way for an immense finish in the form of the seven-minute ‘Away from Them’ that roars away as it twists and turns at a hundred miles an hour.

Yes, Rust packs in a lot, and it packs it in tight and it packs it in hard.




25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

What we all need is a jolt, a shock. Right NOW. You may not even realise it, but consider this: while life and the world seems to be swirling in a vortex of addling bewilderment, a lot of music seems to have become incredibly safe, a retreat. I’m not even talking about that slick, mass-produced mainstream fodder: even so-called ‘alternative’ rock has become increasingly safe in recent years, in the post-emo, post Foos world. And while a few acts on the peripheries are smashing all genre conventions with sledgehammers, they’re pretty niche, and what the world needs is something that can really get into the mix and shake things up. Has anything turned the world even halfway on its head singe grunge?

I’m aware that even reminiscing about grunge places my voice in a time capsule and in the ‘old bugger’ demographic for many, but has anything really been even remotely as evolutionary since? Has there ever been a seismic event since? We talk – or talked – about the zeitgeist, but what is the zeitgeist at the flaccid tail-end of 2022? Disaffection, discontent, strikes? Maybe, but what’s the soundtrack? Ed Sheeran and the new Adele album sure as hell aren’t the voice of disaffected youth.

Brighton’s ‘rising alt-rock rebels’ Fighting Colours might not be the face of the revolution, but they are the band to deliver that much-needed shakeup.

The vibe around the opening of the first of the EP’s four tracks, ‘Your Choice Now’ is a bit post-rock, with a nice, clean, chiming guitar sound – but it yields to some beefy riffage that’s pure grunge, it’s clear from the outset that they’re keen to mix things up and create their own blend, and it’s one that works well. And then Jasmine Ardley’s vocals enter the mix, and with this kind of chunky alt-rock being so male-orientated, to hear a female voice is unusual – and while Ardley has a clean vocal sound, it’s not unduly poppy.

‘The Boat Starts to Shake’ shuffled closer towards the jazzier, noodling end of the post-rock sound that was ubiquitous circa 2004, but the mathy verses contrast with massive slugging grunged-out choruses and a climax that’s nearly nu-metal and beings some hefty noise.

‘The Cure’ is different again, venturing into almost urban territory, while still anchored in jazzy math rock elements, before rupturing into a bold chorus that’s in between Evanescence and Halestorm, both gutsy and melodic and with an ‘epic’ feel, and it’s delivered with style.

The final cut of the EP plays the slower, emotion-filled arena anthem card, but still has more than enough guts and a keen melody, not least of all thanks to Jasmine’s voice, to separate it from the countless Paramore-wannabe alt rock acts out there.

It all stacks up for a strong set with a lot of bold and exhilarating rock action. It’s the kick up the arse alt-rock needs.


Fighting Colours - Wishing Well - EP artwork (Gypsy Rose Design)