Posts Tagged ‘angular’

Berries totally grabbed us with their debut album, How We Function.

Taken from said debut album,  ‘Spiral’ showcases everything we dig about them, and the new release comes ahead of a UK headline run in March 2023, plus a run of Winter shows with Skinny Lister this December.

Steeped in BERRIES’ trademark craggy, contagious rhythms and earworm choral hooks, it’s another fine example of the band’s melodic noise-driven rock in full flight. A track about concealing our innermost struggles and the escalating repercussions it can cause, vocalist Holly explains:

“’Spiral’ is about how easily we share insignificant details about ourselves but struggle to open up about serious matters through fear of seeming weak or vulnerable. And how what we do share with people is often for the satisfaction and approval of others and not for ourselves.”

Blending distinctive melodies with inner-battles we’ve all faced, ‘Spiral’ is a quintessential BERRIES cut plucked from the band’s new album How We Function (out now, via Xtra Mile Recordings); an album ostensibly about mental health struggles and how we can overcome them.

Watch the video here:

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BERRIES – UK DATES

December

08 – Manchester, Gorilla +

09 – Newcastle, University +

10 – Bristol, Thekla +

14 – Leicester, The Y Theatre +

15 – Wolverhampton, KK’s Steel Mill +

16 – Leeds, Stylus +

17 – London, Islington Assembly Hall +

March

27 – Nottingham, Bodega

28 – Leeds, Santiago Bar

29 – Manchester, Gullivers

30 – Bristol, Mr Wolfs

31 – London, Oslo

+ w/ Skinny Lister

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Cruel Nature Records – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Having raved about Pound Land’s second album, Can’t Be Arsed back in March, I was pretty thrilled to find the follow-up landing so swiftly. What with the exponential rise of Benefits, and acts like Polevaulter emerging, it seems that now is a good time for angsty, angry music with noisy tendencies and gritty sociopolitical leanings. Of course it is: it’s a sign of the times, and besides, it’s not a good time for anything else, unless you happen to be a non-dom billionaire or a CEO at an oil company.

If Sleaford Mods set a new template for the paired-back duo setup as being in vogue before the pandemic, the combination of lockdowns and crippling economic circumstance has rendered this an operational necessity for many musicians.

Pound Land may be up to their elbows in grimy dishwater and wading through excrement in streets where the drains and sewers are backed up due to torrential downpours and a lack of council funding, but they share little common ground with Sleaford Mods, and that’s despite favouring repetitive monotonous Krautrock-inspired grooves over dynamic structures: Pound Land are far doomier, dingier, lugging their way closer to sludge metal than anything you could possibly dance to.

The Stockport duo’s third album is a monster slab of punishing, gut-dragging, bass-heavy grimness, and one has to wonder how much to read into the title. The people are weary, ground down: will they rise up, or curl up and give up?

The blurb points out that the album finds the Stockport band pushing their ‘post-industrial kitchen-sink drama preoccupations even further on Defeated, exploring the dark comedy of everyday life in the dismal land of eternal recession. Sometimes the vision expands out of shitty Britain too, ‘Drone’ recounting the wearied observations of an electronic device as it traverses the globe… You’ve got to laugh, because if you don’t you’ll kill yourself. Or somebody else.’

The laughter is pretty dark and pretty hollow, though, and derives as much from the keen observations as any particular knack for a punchline (a line about mobility scooters with Northern soul stickers on stands out as particularly pithy) and the stark musical backing isn’t especially musical, more of a pounding trudge that provides a backdrop to an endless stream of vitriol and bleak depictions of the everyday, from pavements caked with dogshit and news items about rising fuel prices and their effect in the average household. If it sounds mundane, it is, but then we need art that speaks to us about life as we experience it, and the majority know far more about scrabbling for change to buy a loaf of bread than luxury cars, watches, and clothes.

‘Violence’ is their equivalent of Public Image Ltd’s ‘Theme’, a brutal, sprawling, brawling, squalling monster that opens the album with a relentlessly heavy battering ram of a racket, like Sunn O))) with a howling harmonica and sneering Lydonesque vocal. It crushes your skull, before it fades out swiftly and unexpectedly, which somehow works. But maintaining the PiL comparison, it’s Metal Box that is perhaps the closest similarity, in that the album as a whole is diverse, fractured, unpredictable.

‘Carry On Screaming’ sounds like The Fall in a three-way collision with Yard Act and Melvins. It’s a mangled mess of drum machine beats and psychedelia and noise with a monotone vocal drawl.

Against a thumping dirge of a noise, a grating mesh of distortion and dolorous drum, the title track is a gnarly hybrid of early Swans, and elsewhere, as on ‘Sick Day’, it becomes less about songs and more about spoken word narrative delivered against a backdrop of mangled noise, and at times, it’s pretty harrowing. Lyrically, Pound Land don’t pretty things up. Sonically, they don’t either. It’s magnificently raw and un-produced, and this is no more true than on penultimate song ‘Pathogen’, a dirty slow stomp that’s pure rage and invites comparisons to Uniform. And it sounds like it was recorded on a phone from the next room.

‘Drone’ sneers and snarls like Lydon at his best, closing with a venomous refrain of ‘fucking twat’ delivered in a thick, spitting Manchester accent.

Defeated may only contain eight songs, and only a couple of them extend beyond the five-minute mark, but it’s feels immense, and experience that’s exhausting both physically and mentally. Listening, you feel the weight of the world condense and compress as the angst and anguish press down ever darker, ever denser. It’s a bleak, suffocating document of everything that’s wrong right now. This is the sound of broken Britain, and it’s a harrowing insight into just how fucked everything is. But in this channelling of nihilistic anguish, you realise you’re not alone. It doesn’t change anything, but it’s something to cling to.

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Italian post-punk band Leatherette have just released ‘Fiesta’, the title track from their debut album out on 14th October via Bronson Recordings.

One of the darkest, smokiest tunes of the record, ‘Fiesta’ is a minimalist, abstract love tune about absence and distance. The band explain: "We wrote the theme thinking of jazz standards, while the title and the atmosphere were inspired by Hemingway’s homonymous book. And there’s brushes and 7th chords and a sax solo in the end".

Listen to ‘Fiesta’ here:

The latest single from the album, Fiesta follows previously released tracks ‘So Long’, an extravagant and catchy slice of modern post-punk, full of rugged noise and crushing melodies and ‘Sunbathing’, an irresistible punk-shoegaze anthem.

Leatherette are, by their own description, “five shy guys who sometimes get off the stage and punch people,” a quintet whose car-crash of jagged noise, twisted love and dark, anguished melody has delivered a remarkable – and eminently combustible – debut album. 

The group are based in Bologna, but all hail from different towns in Italy. These five young men – singer/guitarist Michele, bassist Marco, drummer Francesco, guitarist Andrea and saxophonist Jacopo – are united by a profound need to make music, to express themselves naturally and honestly.

The group bonded over wildly differing influences – everything from midwestern emo gods American Football, to Berlin-era Bowie, to James Chance & The Contortions, to rap and electronic music – to create a dense, passionate, articulate sound of their own.

You can file them near fiery post-punk kindreds like Shame and Squid, or unhinged 90s noisers like Unwound or Hoover, or squalling No Wavers like James Chance, but the truth is there are few bands like Leatherette that walk this Earth.

Their first full-length, Fiesta follows an EP, Mixed Waste, recorded during lockdown. The songs on Fiesta precede the Covid era, though the group spent the pandemic rewriting and overhauling their maiden batch of songs at leisure. 

The result is an astonishing and remarkable debut: poetic, caterwauling, broken and beautiful. The album title is “a reference to the bullfights in Pamplona,” the group say. It’s no empty metaphor. “Bullfight is a strange ritual,” they elaborate. “And we’re against bullfights, but they’re fascinating in an iconographic way. And also metaphorically, violence flows on both sides, but in a feastful way. It’s similar to a concert, really – you’re expressing violent things, in a physical way. And people react to that, which is wonderful, which is fantastic.”

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15th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The evolution of I Like Trains continues with their first new output since 2020’s Kompromat, which marked a seismic shift both sonically and lyrically. Not their first, either, since they made a giant leap after Elegies for Lessons Learnt, after which they made the change from being iLiKETRAiNS to I Like Trains and towards a more conventional dark alternative rock style. But Kompromat saw them ditch the last vestiges of jangling echoed guitar and baritone crooning in favour of politically-charged angularity, that saw them become more aligned with Leeds forebears Gang of Four than anything remotely tied to their post-rock roots. It was unexpected, but it really suited them.

One thing I have immense respect for I Like Trains for is their self-awareness, and knowing when something has run its course. Elegies took the historical events recounted against brain-melting crescendos format established on Progress Reform to its absolute limit with the nine-minute ‘Spencer Percival’. They recognised that, and moved on. Kompromat was a one-off, and ‘The Spectacle’ bookends that particular spell.

As they write, “‘The Spectacle’ is a standalone single. Part of the KOMPROMAT world, but not quite closure. There’s more where Boris came from.”

We know this to be true: Johnson’s replacement continues his trajectory down towards the lowest common denominator soundbites without substance. Only whereas Johnson’s ideology was largely built around what favoured Johnson, Truss seems blindly fixated on hardline Conservatism, even if it bankrupts the country. And ironically, having dismissed Scotland’s first minister as an ‘attention seeker’, the new Prime Minister’s penchant for a cheesy photo op seems to only accentuate her obliviousness to pretty much everything. As such, The Spectacle continues, and the refrain of ‘Keep it light and repeat it often’ continues to resonate beyond Boris.

But ‘The Spectacle’ is a transition that unfurls before your eyes / ears and is one of those songs that ends in a completely different place from where it started without it being clear where the transition took place. It’s a disorientating, time-bending experience, smoke and mirrors and spin in action, and a brilliant piece of songwriting.

It starts out with the choppy guitars and largely spoken vocal style of Kompromat, which finds David Martin stomping in the steps of not only Mark E Smith, but closer to home, James Smith of Post War Glamour Girls / Yard Act – a style which suits him remarkably well – before the song takes off in a different and unexpected direction around halfway through, when he tosses the mantra and launches into a slab of lyrical critique over guitars that slow at first, before building in crashing sheets of noise and a mangled solo breaks out, and drags the song to a taut finish. They pack a lot of action into just shy of four and a half minutes, and they’re unashamed in pointing out that the single – like so many singles – is a promotional device, here with the purpose of enticing punters to the upcoming merch-flogging opportunity which is their forthcoming tour.

We’re all trapped in the wheels of capitalism, but ILT show that they can simultaneously play and subvert it – while at the same time making great music. ‘The Spectacle’ is as sharp as a pin, and ILT continue to thrive as strong as any virus in a post-pandemic world.

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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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