Posts Tagged ‘angular’

30th June 2022

James Wells

‘i write weird songs for weird folks’ writes alien machine, all in lower case. ‘A solo artist pretending to be a 3 to 5 piece garage punk outfit,’ ‘the sea complains’ is their fourth release. Details of this US-based artist are sparse to non-existent, but it appears that having emerged in 2014, they lay creatively dormant before deciding to reconvene with racketmaking during the pandemic, which seems to be a common thing as people sought ways of dealing with the strangeness and the isolation.

This is raw, primitive, and psychotic. The skewed, angular, murky mess of the first track, ‘math’ sounds like it was recorded on a Dictaphone in the living room while the band play their first rehearsal in the basement. The overall effect is very much early Pavement (pre-Slanted, those EPs collected on Westing were betonf lo-fi) / Silver Jews lo-fi so slack as to not give a shit about being in time / holding a tune / anything at all really, and it’s played with the wild, frenzied mania of Truman’s Water. Then again, ‘coward’ is a pulverising screamo-fest that brings in elements of Shellac, the guitars sliding and jerking in all directions over a loping drum beat, and closer ‘aquaburst’ goes fill Truman’s, with clanging Big Black guitars and everything going off all at once, but not necessarily in the same key or time signature.

It’s a headache-inducing discordant buzz, and it’s wonderful.

There’s nothing particularly weird about this – although fans off mainstream chart music would likely disagree – but it is a hard-on-the-ears trebly racket, that’s so slack it can’t even be arsed raising a finger to production or concessions to clean sound. It doesn’t get much more DIY than this.

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3rd June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The best music is timeless. This four tracker from ‘lady fronted, post-hardcore influenced’ quartet, Fantømex, hailing from Asheville, North Carolina could have been released any time during the last thirty years or more, and that’s definitely a positive.

It slams in with the raging, angular grunge of ‘Fantomcatz’ that’s got strong echoes of early Hole or Solar Race, but amidst the screaming fury, there are some neat dynamics and a solid structure. ‘White Hole’ is lighter, popper – I mean, it’s all relative, it’s hardly fucking Beyonce – but it’s got something of a 90s Sonic Youth vibe to it, but then it goes full-tilt histrionic punk, before leaping back to being more Sonic Youth / Pavementy, and the guitars even jangle a bit, albeit briefly.

‘Gaslight’ is appropriately disconcerting, disorientating, and perhaps the most disjointed of the four tracks, but in context it works. It’s no sleight to draw a line to The Pretty Reckless with its more overtly ‘rock’ sound, before they round it off with a jarring slew off guitars that’s like a mathy mess squished into a melodic tune delivered with punk attitude, but at the same time, when she’s not spilling her guts, Abigail Taylor proves she’s capable of delivering a melody that can really tug at the heartstrings.

And so it is that in the space of around eighteen minutes, Fantømex whip together a whirlwind of musical styles and emotions, and do so with both style and force.

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Xtra Mile Recordings – 8th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

She sang it! She sang it! Yes, the hook to the album’s opening song, ‘We are Machines’ is ‘We are machines / it’s how we function’. Simple pleasures and all that. But there are many pleasures packed into this album’s forty minutes.

Having been showcasing BERRIES tunes since the time of their second EP back in 2017, the arrival of their full-length debut is a cause of excitement. And the anticipation is justified, with a tight set of songs that don’t disappoint.

What’s promised is an album ‘rammed with taut, angular guitar lines and packing a gritty, garage-grunge punch’, and that’s what’s delivered. None of the songs are over four minutes in duration, but they each contain so much action, so much traction, so much movement, each takes time to unravel the tightly-woven, knotted, intermingled noodly jumbles of guitar lines. There’s a lot of taut, tense jangling and angling going on here, as they cut across the mathy aspects of the guitar lines and the spiky post-punk chop of Gang of Four, and they marry it all together with strong melodic vocals.

The tension is appropriate for an album that tackles themes of mental health, feeling overlooked and sexism ‘with a searing honesty and intensity’ to present, as the put it, a collection of songs about “growth, strength and rising above all of the negativity and noise”.

There isn’t a duff track to be found here. Yes, the singles are obvious choices and standouts, not least of all the gutsy ‘Haze’, which is more or less representative of the album as a whole with its bold , grungy guitars and dynamic construction, exploding into the chorus after an understated verse, but then ‘Discreetly’ really pushes things hard, and rocks more overtly than much of the album with a monster chorus and driving riff – and frenzied guitar solo – and packs it all into two and a half minutes. ‘Fabricate’ calls to mind Kenny Loggins’ ‘Dangerzone’, and is propelled by a thick, gritty bass, while the guitars stop and start and stutter, and ‘Basic Tables’ starts with some tightly interweaving, stop/spart guitar work before breaking into a breezy chorus.

What BERRIES achieve is a perfect balance of passion and personal honesty, with sass and a pop sensibility. That means that How We Function feels sincere, as it is, but isn’t lecturesome or lugubrious. It doesn’t sugar-coat difficult emotional matters, but isn’t whiney or woeful. How We Function is an album of empowerment, of determination. The songs are both instant grabs and growers, and with this much energy, it’s exciting, not just the first time, but again and again.

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Teasing their forthcoming self-titled debut album, Manchester’s most uplifting cacophonous craftsmen Chew Magna, are serving up their own alt-rock antidote to lifelessness in the modern age with the ironically titled new single ‘Listless’ – complete with an unsettling self-made David Lynch inspired video.

“Listless is mostly about wasting an abundance of potential,” guitarist and vocalist Laurie says, alluding to the track’s thundering chorus as it sharpshoots, “I’d kill for what you’ve got” to a motoring Krautrock groove. Recorded at Salford’s The White Hotel with SWAYS producer Martin Hurley, it is a restless and incendiary re-introduction to a band who have been busy cranking up the dial on their unyielding attack of guitar squall. “For this track we melded two songs together; you can hear the jam the main part came from,” Laurie reveals.

‘Listless’, the first track to be unleashed (and the last to be written) from the four-piece’s upcoming debut album, is unrelenting in its anthemic riff, symphonic vocal, guitar and bass flirtations, crashing drums and overall wall of enduring sound.

The accompanying ‘Listless’ video was created and filmed by the band in a single day, in a cleared-out spare bedroom on zero budget. Each Magna members’ eyes covered as their senses are heightened, slide projections and shadows dance across their turtlenecks and barefoot stance which culminates in the strangest but most addictive of calisthenics style dance routines since ‘Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)’.

“The end result is delightfully odd,” says guitarist Simon who, alongside partner Annie, took the directorial lead. “The angles are quite Lynchian, driven by us using lighting in unusual ways to enhance the confines of the small space. It was a case of setting each scene with the things we had in the house and the dance adds a surreal, claustrophobic feel to the song’s already uncanny theme.”

A further foray into Chew Magna’s poetic and philosophical world, ‘Listless’ is the first earful of the band’s eagerly-anticipated debut album arriving Spring 2022 – a record they say, sees them “emerging from Covid’s sleep.” An onslaught of decibel-destroying fuzz and rising tension, Chew Magna explores the angst felt of wasting one’s potential, freedom’s plight, apocalyptic cautionary tales, inverse worlds, the passing of youth, conspiracy theories and life’s countless frustrations.

Watch the video here:

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Chew

Christopher Nosnibor

The last time the once-ubiquitous Blacklisters graced us with their presence in Leeds was back in 2017. A lot has happened since then, including some substantial geographical ones for the bandmembers. In fact, there was a time when it seemed as if the band was no more: following the release of Adult in 2015, things went quiet, bar the unexpected release of the Dart EP in 2017 via Too Pure. The arrival of Fantastic Man in 2020 came as a surprise. A welcome one, but a surprise nevertheless. Consequently, tonight’s double-header with associated / offshoot ace USA Nails is a cause for excitement: their fifth album, Character Stop, released just last month is a truly outstanding example of the angular / mathy / noise genre. And what a lineup!

In a late change to the advertised schedule, Care Home’s debut is shelved, with the band replaced by Hull noisemakers Cannibal Animal. Sound-wise, they’ve changed a bit from when I last saw them back in 2018 – less swamp-gothy, more post punk in their leanings, less claustrophobic and with more breathing space in the songs. Yet for all that, it’s very clearly the same band.

Cannibal Animal

Cannibal Animal

The set lands with a throbbing drone before they power into some hefty chords. They’re not pretty, sonically or visually, but Christ, they kick ass. Strolling basslines and wandering spacious guitars shifting into ball-busting riffs. Busting bad moves throughout Luke Ellerington makes for a compelling and charismatic performer as he leads the band through a set that sounds like a collision between Pissed Jeans and The Fall.

The guy from BELK seems to have got his dates wrong and has come dressed for Hallowe’en – or at least made-up for Hallowe’en. The Leeds act are a screamy thrashy guitar and drum duo. They’re as heavy and fuck and there’s a mental moshpit from the off. Shifting pace and dynamics nonstop, it’s primitive and brutal with full on frenzied riffery and screaming vocals. Everything about their sound is abrasive, jarring, angular, although at times it’s a shade thin, and they possibly would benefit from some bass.

BELK

BELK

USA Nails don’t only benefit from some bass, but place the bass at front and centre to powerful effect. And that bass has that ribcage-rattling tearing cardboard sound reminiscent of Bob Weston. The emphasis may be on attack and hard volume, but they fully exploit the dynamics of these. The two guitars are often still for the verses bar feedback, bursting into life for the choruses. Along the way there are some expansive bass-led spoken word stretches that call to mind The Fall, with frequent forays into hardcore punk. It’s a strong set that flips between sub-two minutes and longer workouts, and it’s all killer.

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USA Nails

With the last train to York departing at 23:13 and Blacklisters not due on until 11pm, I was presented with the option of disappointment or sleeping on a bench. I gather that they were good, though, and just hope we don’t have to wait another four years.

‘People’ is the first video from Flood Twin, the eponymous full length debut album from this determined, disturbing Atlanta trio. It was directed by Dean Carr, known for his work with Tool, Marilyn Manson and scores of others. The album was recorded at Madison Studios, in their hometown, produced by lead singer and bassist Grant W. Curry, an alumnus of New Orleans cult rockers Pleasure Club.

The opening track and lead single, ‘People,’ introduces the album and the band with a powerful swagger: howling guitar feedback and a “let’s get this mother started” kick drum pulse gives the bass an opening to set the tone for the album, hammering home a jarring bottom whereupon Hedberg conjures the demented surf guitar nerve-twitch of the early Cramps and their Australian disciples, the Birthday Party.

It’s one hell of an introduction and a hot taster for the album. Watch the video here:

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Flood Twin 2 pc Brian Manley for email

Human Worth – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, a record hits you before it’s even got going. Perhaps it’s the way sound connects beyond the rational, striking a chord in the soul on a subconscious level that’s almost impossible to pinpoint, let alone articulate. We All Do Wrong is one such record.

From the first bar, the chord struck is a brittle clang that intimates something sharp-edged and to be mindful of. Meandering brass isn’t the most obvious thing to enter the mix next, but then for all of their hardcore / noise credentials, there’s nothing obvious about the material on this release from X’ed Out, featuring members of Silent Front and Working Men’s Club (the hardcore one, not the shit indie one). And then the guitars blast in and everything explodes. It’s only the first track, and already I’m dazed and dizzy, feeling as though I’d been beaten around the head with a crowbar outside a jazz club – because how else do you explain such a brutal battering while brass bursts all around?

Turns out this is just the gentle introduction to the full-throttle mania that ensues. ‘The 5 Headed Boy’ is a jolting, jarring mess, a blurring whirl of hardcore, math-rock and weird craziness, like Black Flag, Shellac, and Truman’s Water in a blender. I can’t remember if it was NME or MM (probably the latter) who described Truman’s Water’s deconstructed math-rock with their jolting, jerky, off-centre riffs as being ‘the real Pavement’, but it made sense at the time, as Pavement were hailed as inventing slackerist lo-fi with skewed riffs, while TW were way more slanted (if not necessarily enchanted) in their manic approach to similar materials. I digress, but I suppose this is informative to the context of what X’ed out sound like, with stop/start rhythms, changes in tempo and direction at the most unexpected of moment

Sometimes, this job is really tough. You’re exposed to new music quite literally all the time, your inbox bursting with more than you can ever even listen to or even aspire to listen to – in my case, twenty or more albums a day is a minimum average. Have you ever listened to twenty albums in a day? Let along listened to and written about them? I’d love to, of course, and knowing it’s simply not humanly possible, I’ve contemplated the possibility of having music injected directly into your brain, so you have it stored, heard and assessed, without the labour.

Of course it’s a ridiculous concept: you listen to music to feel the energy and emotion, to bask in the experience, not to simply ‘know’ it, and albums like this remind me why. You feel this with a blistering, blinding intensity.

Everything is louder and faster and more angular than everything else. When they play slower, it gets sludgier and gnarlier, as on the synapse-blasting ‘Fouling the Nest’ and ‘Self Healer’. On the former, it’s a bowel-quivering bass that dominates, while on the latter, from seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a long, slow, expansive instrumental section over which melodic vocals drift, and you momentarily forget where you are – namely in the middle of a sonic riot, with bottles, brick and Molotov cocktails being slung in all direction. What happened? Were you temporarily hypnotised? Possibly. I believe it’s called being ‘in the moment’, and this of course is one of the most wonderful things about music, in that it can transport you, can make you forget. A rolling piano chimes out and it’s grand, and almost soothing, and then the drums hammer harder.. and then it’s gone.

The epic ten-minute final track, ‘The Noble Rot’ is different again – expansive, emotive, it sounds very much Oceansize in styling, at least until the trumpet marks its arrival. With so much in the blender, it’s so, so hard to categorise or pigeonhole We All Do Wrong, although alongside the aforementioned comparisons, Terminal Cheesecake and Bilge Pump are probably worth mentioning: if these bands means anything to you, then you need X’ed Out in your life. If they don’t, then you still need X’ed Out in your life, as well as to expand your education.

What’s more, being released on Human Worth, a label where the clue is in the name, 10% of the proceeds from the release is being donated to charities, on this occasion Breast Cancer UK. It’s all good.

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Prank Monkey Records – 11th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The story goes that London four-piece Muscle Vest reportedly ‘formed in 2018 over a mutual appreciation for ugly rock music’, and that’s what they serve up on their debut EP – a sweaty, guitar-driven dirty rock workout that’s brimming with churning riffs, grease and grime. They come out all guns blazing and firing wildly in all directions with the manic racket of ‘Creepy Crawlie’, a juddering, angular rager that melts the best of 90s noise into a mangled metal nugget in the vein of later acts like Blacklisters and Hawk Eyes, and it very much sets the fast and furious tone for the rest of the EP: ‘Stray’ bears fair comparison to Blacklisters’ ‘Shirts’, with a throbbing riff blasting out against a low-slung bassline. If Shellac and Big Black are in the mix, so are The Jesus Lizard and early Pulled Apart by Horses.

Muscle Vest pack in a boatload of adrenaline and bring ALL the noise: it’s fucking ugly and monstrously brutal, and those are its positive points. It ain’t polished or pretty, and if you’re on the market for something gnarly, look no further.

‘We’ll all be dead / we’ll all be dead one day’ vocalist Dave Rogers howls nihilistically into a tempest of abrasive guitar noise that churns and grinds on ‘A Slow Death’. He’s right, of course: the question is whether we will die a quiet, peaceful death, or a horrible, painful one, shrieking in agony for the duration of those final hours. This is very much the soundtrack to the latter, and it’s almost enough to make death sound appealing. Because, well, better to go out screaming than to flicker out. The last track, ‘Blissbucket’ is a minute and three-quarters of blazing napalm, taking its cues from hardcore punk and tossing in all the jarring, jolting guitars that scratch and scrape at all angles across the relentlessly churning rhythm section. It’s fast and furious and brings the EP to a blistering close and then some. It positively burns with an intense fury, and it’s beautifully brutal. Gets my vote, and then some.

Cover art

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