Posts Tagged ‘anger’

21st October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

What a week to drop a new single. Especially if you’re a politically-charged British band. And particularly if you’re Benefits. Their meteoric ascendancy continues unabated: still without label, management, or PR, they’ve had the video for their new single premiered on none other than Rolling Stone Magazine’s website. They are most certainly not your typical Rolling Stone act. Yes, the magazine may historically have been an outlet for Hunter S. Thomson’s writing and been both political and cutting edge, more recently, it’s been very much more establishment. But it’s reach is huge, and if this suggests by any means that Benefits have gone establishment, you’re either nuts, or you’ve not heard of Benefits before.

For a band like this to be given such a platform isn’t simply a big deal – it’s practically the sounding horn of revolution. And as the British government collapses around our ears faster than 24/7 scrolling news can update their marquees, the timing could not be better.

Against a grinding, undulating, distorted mechanical throb, Kingsley Hall delivers another lacerating dissection of Real Life, carving his way through anxiety and dayjob drudgery, corporate and political doublespeak, endless bullshit filtered and amplified through the echo chambers of social media, ‘failure masked as victory’.

Two-thirds in, a hefty industrial beat kicks in and gives a solidity to the squalling blast of thick, thick noise, and the roaring rage yields to a crisp, clinical spoken word monologue that in many ways hits even harder than that savage raw-throated primal scream, and there’s glimmer of home as he intimates ‘we can win this’… and then, abruptly, nothing. It’s the most unexpected ending to a sing since Dinosaur Jr’s cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’.

It’s also Benefits’ most uncompromisingly brutal and heavyweight release yet, as well as their most fully realised.

The world is changing fast. We may be quite literally drowning in shit on the coasts of this brown and deeply unpleasant pleasant land, but Benefits are doing their bit to make it a better place, not by bringing sunshine, but telling it like it is.

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Benefits are on your in November:

May be an image of one or more people and text that says "enefits 18/11 GLASGOW stereo 23/11 LONDON oslo 19/11 SUNDERLAND pop recs 24/11 NOTTINGHAM bodega 20/11 SOUTHAMPTON joiners 25/11 MANCHESTER yes 21/11 EXETER cavern 26/11 LEEDS brudenell 22/11 BRISTOL strange brew tickets all shows available www.benefitstheband.com on sale friday 10am"

Human Worth – 7th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Since the launch of the Human Worth label, initially as an outlet for releases by Modern Technology, we’ve witnessed the label grow – although never beyond its means and never beyond its principles. Each release sees a portion of the proceeds donated to a nominated charitable cause, and it’s so heartening to see a label and its artists use their platform for social good. With this latest release, a 7” EP from Leeds makers of noise BELK, 10% of all proceeds are being donated to Action Bladder Cancer UK, who work to support patients, raise awareness, improve early diagnosis and outcomes, and support research into bladder cancer.

But let’s never underestimate the social good of music with meaning – and by good, I mean sincere and visceral. Anyone who has ever stood in a room being bludgeoned by a full-blooded sonic attack will likely appreciate the incredible release of the experience, and the sense of community it entails. It’s not easy to articulate the way in which something that’s ultimately private, internal, is heightened by the presence of strangers immersed in that same experience, in their own personal way.

In congruence with the rise of Human Worth, we’re also seeing a satisfying upward arc for BELK, who unquestionably deserve the exposure and distribution, and one suspects that being limited to just 100 hand-numbered vinyl copies, the vinyl release of this is likely to be a future rarity.

This 7” EP packs five tracks into mere minutes. ‘Warm Water’, unveiled as a taster for advance orders on September’s Bandcamp Friday, is a minute and eighteen seconds long. It’s fast, and it’s furious – a focused channelling of fury, no less, distilled to 100% proof, and there’s no holding back on this attack.

There are a couple of additional demo tracks, in the form of ‘Net’ and ‘Question of Stress’ from their 2022 promo as downloads.

It’s all pretty raw, and ‘studio’ doesn’t mean much more polish than ‘demo’, and that’s exactly as it should be BELK trade in proper dirty noise, the likes of which Earache specialised in in the eighties and early 90s, before they went soft and became a rock and blues label, releasing stuff by the likes of Rival Sons. Human Worth have snatched the noise baton in a firm grip, though, and the quality of their releases extends to the artefact as well as the art.

‘Net’ is a stuttering slugfest reminiscent of Fudge Tunnel, only with harsher, higher-pitched squawkier vocals that are more conventionally hardcore, and it all stacks up for one killer release that delivers a ferocious slap round the chops.

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Cool Thing Records – 1st April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

BAIT exists as a side-project for Asylums’ Michael Webster and Luke Branch, and they couldn’t be much different, with Webster using this vehicle as an outlet by which to channel all his angst and anger through sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued social observation and critique.

This debut long-player has been a long time in coming. Their eponymous mini-album landed back in March 2017, and apart from the standalone single release of ‘DLP’ in the spring of 2019, they’ve seemingly been dormant, at least in the public domain. But despite the obstacles of geography during lockdown, they’ve been busy, and the last couple of years have provided an abundance of grist to their mill.

The band describe it as ‘a digital post-punk lockdown docu-record which watches the clock, gets the jitters & lashes out just like the rest of us. It’s an internal monologue that accounts the anxiety, the struggles, the pressures experienced living by the sea during an international pandemic’.

Most struggled in one way or another during the pandemic, some unspeakably, and for a great many, the lasting effects of the trauma of lockdown and isolation are every bit as bad as those of the virus itself. Many lost loved ones, but were unable to gain closure or grieve with friends and relatives due to restrictions – while, it turns out, the government of ‘Great’ Britain partied on. It was often hard to know what to make of anything: conspiracy theories abounded, but over time, some of those theories began to look rather less far-fetched, and under such close surveillance, people could be forgiven for getting paranoid, for being angry.

Sea Change is one angry record. But to describe it as such is to overlook the emotional range it articulates: it’s an album that gives voice to anxiety, panic, fear, trauma. Perhaps it’s the ‘internal monologue’ aspect of its evolution is why it really speaks. As is so often the case, in the personal lies the universal, and it conveys the rapid changes in mood and general state of confusion, questioning, and self-doubt that defined the lockdown experience for so many of us. And just because we’ve left lockdown doesn’t mean that we’ve left lockdown behind, psychologically, meaning that Sea Change’s resonance goes far beyond that defined period in time which spawned it (‘inspired probably isn’t the word).

The mood is tense and dark throughout, and the production has that mid- to late-80s Wax Trax! Industrial feel to it: the guitars are gritty, but everything is condensed into a dense lump of sound that batters rather than saws at the senses. ‘No Sleep for Light Sleepers’ is more minimal, haunting, but also ominous, the processed spoken word like the mutter in your ear that just won’t let you settle.

It’s not entirely without humour, either: if the frenzied, pounding ‘DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA’ encapsulates the way in which a heightened state of anxiety is a shortcut to a loss of perspective, whereby the smallest, most trivial things give cause to great panic (things you know are irrational, like, say, getting twitchy when your phone battery drops below 49%), it also highlights just how self-obsessed and microfocussed we are as a society (that that incident at the Oscars totally engulfed the internet against a backdrop of war, a cost of living crisis, and rising Covid cases and hospitalisation is perhaps the definitive moment in our culture of self-absorption, and perhaps, in the wake of lockdown panic, the need to have something to fret and opine over obsessively just to fill the gap). It’s not all completely oppressive, either: ‘Electric Murder’ is a straight-up dark electropop tune that would comfortably sit in Depeche Mode’s catalogue.

‘The Weight of the Water’ finds them punching through a steely grey mesh of guitars, and it’s dense and tense; the jitters amp up tangibly on ‘Somewhere to Be’. ‘I’ve got somewhere to be… I’ve got somewhere to be’ Webster repeats as if a mantra, like the White Rabbit trapped in a postmodern world in which all holes have been concreted over and gentrified in the name of ‘progress’. ‘Sugarlumps’ leaps from a queasy, claustrophobic wheeze to a roaring metal blast reminiscent of Ministry’s Filth Pig, and the album ends with a ferocious finale with ‘We Will Learn to Bark’, the sound of pure catharsis.

It’s pretty much an instant grab, but Sea Change is definitely an album that offers up more over repeat plays.

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Sea Change

New Heavy Sounds – 29th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Back in the early 90s, when riot grrrl emerged as a thing, the UK inkies were all over it, just as they were all over anything that looked like being the next movement (who remembers The New Wave of New Wave, or The Scene that Celebrates Itself?) and sometimes, when there wasn’t anything, then they’d sometime just shoehorn some random bands into a bracket and give it a name and see if it would stick (Romo, anyone?). At that time, the music press proselytised hard, gushing about the way that hearing bands was like an epiphany – and every other band, apart from the shit ones, all of whom were call really fucking shit, were a complete revelation, as expressed by means of a smorgasbord of extravagant similes and extended metaphors.

Of course, what goes around comes around, and riot grrrl has been making a return for a while now. It’s fitting for the times when issues of gender identity and the difficulties women face every day in society are at the forefront of discussion. It’s the real grrrl power, it’s about liberation, and a reminder to those who need reminding – which is seemingly half the planet – that women can rock just as hard and kick just as much arse as guys, if not more so.

So it’s fair to say that in being transported some way back in time, Shooting Daggers’ debut release for New Heavy Sounds – a 7” flexi no less, that comes with a fold out insert, A4 poster, sticker and badge in a poly bag in a limited run of 250 – does yield a rush that’s tinged with nostalgia (although back in the 90s you’d be legging it round your local record shops to see if you could score a copy. According to their PR, ‘Sal, Bea and Raquel are a visceral amalgam of hardcore punk, riot grrrl and metalcore. They describe themselves as a feminist punk/queercore outfit who cite their influences as bands like Gouge Away, G.L.O.S.S, Turnstile and Gel.’

‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is a minute and fifty-one seconds of guitar driven shouty punk fury ‘It’s all about you!!’ Salomé Pellegrin snarls over the fuzzed-out thrash. There’s no subtext here: this is as direct and angry as it gets.

As if the point needs making any more explicitly, they double down on the vitriol on the B-side. ‘You look so sexy tonight, you make me want to dismantle the patriarchy’ – so starts ‘Missandra’ before a thick, lumbering grunge riff grinds in. Is it right to respond to hate with more hate? Perhaps not but misandry at this point in history is understandable, and it’s beyond time that men need to collectively own the centuries of shit perpetrated against women. No buts, no excuses. And it’s a corking song, too. They pack a hell of a lot into a fraction over three minutes here, switching the tempo up to go full hardcore punk, and yes, it’s a no-messing and much-deserved knee in the balls, the likes of which deserves to dismantle the patriarchy, one by one.

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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