Posts Tagged ‘Blues’

Christopher Nosnibor

Six whole years in the making In Her Eyes Lies the Golden Dawn is the third release from Austin TX’s Black Earth. Before we get to the album, take a moment to reflect on that. Six years. Can you even remember how the world was six years ago? It as another world. We were all different people. I’m going to assume the members of Black Earth have been busy wit life. Life has a habit of devouring time. Yu get sidetracked by dayjob and family, and suddenly, six years have passed. No sarcasm: this is how it happens. I expect some people will have been on tenterhooks for this.

‘She is the Void’ brings an ‘Unplugged in New York’ kind of vibe by ay of an opener, only without vocals, it’s lot less angsty, and it practically bleeds into the title track, which starts out Mark Lanegan before bursting into a chorus that’s more a grunged-up Zeppelin and wraps with a big rock climax around the mid-point. Being over eight-and-a-half minutes, it’s a bit of a beast. I may not be entirely sold on the ‘eyes / thighs’ rhyme but hey, when it comes to good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, there’s currency still to be found in booze and birds type relationship stuff.

‘I never meant to hurt you / but you gave me no choice’ goes the opening of ‘Pushing Back My Hand’, and I find myself wondering just how comfortable I am with it, before I remind myself that it’s a mistake to align artist with art, and there’s nothing here that in any way condones any kind of misogyny. In fact, what we have is a pretty straight-ahead blues-grunge album, and a solid one at that.

They pack the riffs, and that’s a fact. ‘Left Behind’ is particularly ball-busting, coming on with enough weight as to sound like Melvins covering some vintage cock rock. ‘She’s a Do or Die’ brings more dirty heft, the guitars thick and overdriven, and there comes a point where skirting sabbath touchstones becomes impossible, although the swaggering space-rock midsection is more Hawkwind and finds the band going all out on going all out, and it kicks ass. And as for the colossal closer, ‘She is the Universe’… woah. It brings the riffs, the repetition, and locks into a dense psychedelic groove, which breaks around the seven-minute mark to return to Mark Lanegan territory, before piling into a massive guitar finish.

It’s so easy to dismiss blues / rock albums – even those that incorporate grunge and psych – as being a bit standard, and being much of a muchness. But that’s a genre thing: let’s face it, within any genre there will always be tropes that form a level of format. This is where it comes down to quality of material and execution, and on In Her Eyes Lies the Golden Dawn, Black Earth have both.

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Blacl Earth

Tensheds Music – 6th December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Having caught Tensheds live back in 2018 and been impressed by their gritty yet flamboyant sound, the arrival of an album in the form of Deathrow Disco promised to be good news. And it really is.

No guitars. No synths. No bass. Just a Rhodes organ. And some drums. Written in three days and recorded in three more, Deathrow Disco packs an immediacy without being lo-fi in a way that’s detrimental. However, everything is upfront and direct and cranked up, delivering maximum impact with a sense of urgency.

Everything fits together perfectly, and it all serves to showcase Matt Millership’s distinctive voice. The guy’s got more gravel than Jewson’s. And while that sand-blasted larynx is used to growl out mangled blued-based songs, he’s no predictable Tom Waits rip-off like so any others. Lead single and opening track ‘Youngbloods’ packs some flamboyant keys of a grandeur worthy of Muse or Yes, but pins the trilling tones go a stomping rhythm.

Second single cut ‘Gold Tooth’ is a grainy glammy blues boogie, but sonically, it’s a collision of The Doors at their swaggering badass baddest with Suicide, mining a relentless groove with a swirling Hammond that’s been mangled and

Then again, ‘Slag’ is more like a synth Mötörhead, only with some piano thrown into the mix. ‘Deathrow Disco’ combines immense theatricality with full-blooded rock ‘n’ roll, and elsewhere, ‘Black Blood’ goes prog and at the same times reveals a softer, more sensitive side, and ‘Troubleshooter’ inches toward lighter-waving anthem territory, or maybe would without the bitter heartbreak lyrics.

Deathrow Disco is varied, and largely uptempo and big on boppable grooves, but make no mistake, Tensheds have a highly distinctive style that works well, and makes optimal use of minimal kit.

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Tensheds - Deathrow Disco

Exile On Mainstream – 11th May 2018

English intergenerational duo Noisepicker are one of the new generation of two-piece acts who sound like full bands. Not by virtue of any trickery, but because they whack everything up full tilt and rock hard. Peace Off sounds like a band, albeit one with the guitars and drums dominating the mix.

There are so many shades, but for Noisepicker, it’s a spectrum of subtle blues that colours their lumbering, riffy racket. The songs are heavy, raw, the lyrics dark. It may mark something of a stylistic shift for Earl of Mars and former Lord of Putrefaction Harry Armstrong, but he still pours all the anger into it, his thick-throated vocal roar the perfect vehicle for this kind of heavy, heavy scuzzed-out stoner blues metal.

Pulverizing, slow, heavy discord worthy of Swans circa 1984 swiftly yields to swaggering heavy rock on opener ‘No Man Lies Blameless, which thunders away with the grainy grungy heft of Black Sabbath as filtered through Melvins. It sets the tone, and the tempo: Peace Off very much favours weight and groove over pace, the riffs big and gutsy (although when they do pick up the face, as on ‘O What Mercy Sorrow Brings’, they really do drive hard and fast.

‘A Taste of My Dying’ is the grittiest, grainiest blues, dark and dirty and slowed to a crawl. Under any other circumstances, you’d be thinking about grime and sweat, but at this low, low tempo, it’s more of a case of Led Zep on Temazepam. Armstrong gargles and spits the words to ‘He Knew it Would All End in Tears’ against a roar of guitars and crashing drums: there’s nothing fancy about Kieran Murphy’s style, and that’s a virtue, as the songs are focused in a fashion that delivers optimal force.

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Christopher Nosnibor

We’ve been digging both Salvation Jayne and Chess Smith’s solo work here at Aural Aggro for a while now. With live dates in the offing to support the release of their new EP, Moves That Make The Record Skip, Christopher Nosnibor welcomed the opportunity to have a virtual chat.

AA: Ok, let’s get the lame, predictable, off-the-peg questions out of the way first: why Salvation Jayne?

SJ: No depth to it really. We were once in a cafe in Camden, and there was a sign on the wall that said ‘Previously called Salvation Jane’. We thought it sounded cool, so we just added the Y.

Would you care to introduce yourselves? Who does what?

Chess (pronounced like the board game) is the vocalist, Holly plays guitar and does backing vocals, Tor plays drums, and Dan plays bass/does backing vocals and also records and mixes our stuff.

Chess, you’ve been in music forever and things started happening when you were 17, back in 2008. Having been in electro act Mooli, and then working as a solo artist, what made you want to be in a band again?

I’d always loved being in bands, and had recently tried starting an all-female band of my own which didn’t really work out. Initially I’d agreed to just stand in for SJ, but it really worked and so I decided to stay.

Salvation Jayne

Your bio describes you as ‘a young, female driven alt-rock band with a distinctive dirty sound which combines elements of rock, nu wave and blues’. How do these elements combine to create something that uniquely defines Salvation Jayne?

We have the big fuzzy single note riffs of bands such as Royal Blood, and QOTSA, but often mixed which dark lyrical themes/chord changes and a chorus effect on the guitar/bass! There’s some big brooding sections not unlike Sisters of Mercy!

Anything that’s got big brooding sections that tip a nod to the Sisters gets my vote. Hit me: influences?

It’s really varied for all of us. In our sound you’ll find elements of Wolf Alice, Kill It Kid, Girls Against Boys, QOTSA and even some hip hop influences in terms of the cadances!

These guys get cooler by the second. In the three-and-a-bit years you’ve been in existence, you’ve accumulated some name-droppable fans, including AC/DC drummer Chris Slade, and The Clash drummer Topper Headon. How did that come about?

Slade is actually a customer of Dan’s. Dan records his other band and played him our stuff. Both he (Slade) and his partner have come to see the band live and really enjoy our stuff. Topper is an old friend of Tor’s Dad, and he has known Tor for years too. Tor often hangs out with him and he was keen to hear the EP, which he loved. He then came to see us live and was totally into it!

You recently released a new EP, Moves That Make The Record Skip. Would you like to talk us through the songs on there?

‘Burn It Down’ is the most recent, and the only one that was actually written with the lineup as it is now. That track nicely combines the elements of our sound described earlier. ‘The Jailer’ is probably the most blues influenced. Featuring slide guitar, although very heavy. That one is actually written about a serial killer, really gloomy in terms of the lyrics! ‘Thrillride’ was inspired by the film Natural Born Killers. It’s about a hedonistic couple indulging in a night of sin. Has a cool kind of ‘desert’ feel to it. ‘Whorehouse Down On The SE’ is another one with dirty slide guitar and even dirtier lyrical theme – it’s about the activities inside a Whorehouse!

There are a lot of people under the age of, I dunno, 30, who have never experienced the skipping of a record. Are you fans of vinyl? And what moves have you got?

Everyone loves vinyl right? Holly can moonwalk, that’s about all we’ve got.

salvation-jayne-moves_thumb

You have a handful of live shows coming up: given the live rep you’ve managed to build, I’m guessing you quite enjoy playing live?

Yeah we love it, get to relieve ourselves of the stress of everyday life! Haha. We always put lots of energy into our performances.

How do you fit playing further afield with non-music commitments, and are you planning more live shows to promote the EP?

We’re pretty fortunate as we all work for ourselves. So taking time off is easy, something we’re thankful for. And yeah, you will catch us all over the UK in the forseeable future!

Final, superfluous and utterly frivolous question, which I’m asking for a friend: what are your favourite crisps?

We had a massive discussion about crisps on the way to a show once. Tell your friend it’s a closely guarded secret.

Moves That Make The Record Skip is out now. Tour dates are listed below.

Forthcoming Live Dates (so far)

Aug 15 The Prince Albert Brighton

Aug 17 Hawley Arms London

Aug 25 The Good Ship Kilburn

Aug 27 Dover Music Festival Dover

Sep 23 Camden Rocks Presents London

Oct 13 Ramsgate Music Hall Ramsgate

Dec 13 NME Presents London

Exile on Mainstream – EOM082 – 23rd June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

So, are Tricky Lobsters anything like Scottish indie band of the 1980s, Close Lobsters? No. They may share a crustacean genus, but sonically, Rostock-based rockers Tricky Lobsters swim in very different waters indeed. They’re little known outside their native Germany, where they have a substantial following, but it’s well known that the Germans really do like their rock and that British acts who enjoy only cult status domestically are huge over there (take, for example, The Sisters of Mercy and Placebo, who regularly headline festivals there while receiving comparatively little attention back home).

Worlds Collide delivers everything you’d likely want from a proper rock album that has no pretence of being anything else. Opener ‘Bitter Man’s Fame’ sets the tone, with big, ballsy blued-based rock riffage amped up to eleven. Think Mötörhead covering 70s ZZ Top. Or perhaps the other way around: like ‘Just Got Paid’ played with gnarly aggression. And then with a big, greasy dollop of psychedelic biker attitude spat in on top.

‘Big Book’ is a quintessential heard rock tune: it’s not subtle, and it’s not especially clever, but it is big, especially in the chugging rhythm guitar and twiddly breaks department. But what separates Worlds Collide from so many albums of its ilk is just how dense it is, just how thick and up-front the guitars are, how much attack these guys bring to the performance.

They’re a proper power-trio, and it’s the thunderous rhythm section that holds it all together as they piledrive though riff-led behemoth after riff-based behemoth. The slower, quieter moments, like the reflective first section of ‘Dreamdiver’ with its picked guitar and sad-sounding strings only serve to accentuate the meaty heft of the bulk of the album’s nine cuts.

It may, on the surface, seem like rather weak summary to state that Worlds Collide is a rock album you can really rock out to, but given just how diluted and limp so much so-called rock music is these days (I’m not being an old fart: we exist in a time where PVRIS and Linkin Park are classified as rock bands. I mean… seriously), it’s refreshing to hear something as unapologetically old-school and played with energy and guts as Worlds Collide.

 

Tricky Lobsters - Worlds Collide

21st April 2017

James Wells

Being a cynical motherfucker, and living in an era when everything’s not only been done, but done to death, diluted, fucked about with, hybridized and rendered beyond obsolete, I was a bit dubious when I read Salvation Jayne’s Facebook page, on which they describe themselves as being ‘four musicians who play their own unique style of dirty rock n’ roll’. Unique? Show me something unique and I’ll eat my own head.

But then I also note that the line-up features pop chanteuse Chess Smith, who’s previously featured on Aural Aggro in a solo capacity. And while image only goes so far, Salvation Jayne not only look like a proper band, but they look bloody cool, too.

‘Burn Down’ is a kickass blues-based rock tune with a dark edge countered by a carefully-crafted accessibility. If it harks back to the 80s, and therefore isn’t exactly unique, it’s forgivable: they don’t make tunes like this any more, and the lamewads at Kerrang should get their lugs round this and remember what a proper rock band sounds like instead of plugging all that pop-punk cack and dance music not even disguised as rock b acts like PVRIS. Smith’s vocals are gutsy, the guitars throb and the production is meaty. This means that while I’m not feeling any obligation to eat my own head, I do have to take my hat off to Salvation Jayne for delivering a quality single with a strong sense of identity.

Salvation Jayne

Salvation Jayne are on Facebook.

Moon Sounds Records – 17th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been almost two whole years since dreampop duo Lunar Twin released a remixed version of their debut EP ‘Champagne’. ‘Night Tides’ offers more mellow, drifting soundscapes over the course of six tracks, which finds supple, rolling synths wash around the grizzled vocals of Bryce Boudreau, which have heavy echoes of Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood.

If the wooden tones of the percussion which holds the first track, ‘Waves’ in places suggest Jools Holland world music smugness, the heavy patina of Boudreau’s blues tones bring a resonant, resinous counterpoint. ‘Coral Sea’ brings the glacial synths of New Order’s Movement and the coldwave aesthetic and pairs it with a shuffling, understated beat, and again it’s the contrast of the warm, well-worn Cohenesque croon which makes it stand apart from the myriad laid-back electro acts in circulation right now.

‘Birds of Paradise’ pivots on an undulating synthetic 80s disco groove, while ‘Prayers of Smoke’ introduces a more Krautrock element to its spacious, synthy, dub-tinged verses, before breaking into a straight, slow and low, late-night blues chorus.

The title track provides the finale, and despite the absence of beats, it’s a magnificently-realised summary of the EP as a whole: hunting, sparse, yet rich and resonant. Drifting swirls intertwine subtly to create a delicate atmosphere, while Boudreau’s voice drips like treacle. And darkly pleasurable it is, too.

 

Lunar Twin - Night Tides

Hubro – HUBROCD2576 – 28th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

So sad, so haunting. The sliding notes, gently picked, cascade and ripple through the still air, reverb coating them in a vaporous mist. Somewhere between classical and country, the title track opens the album in a quietly moving style: pedal steel, banjo and musical saw all combine to create an air of melancholy, evocative of dappled light, and touched at the edges with a vague nostalgia. A slow, sedate swell gradually builds, a looping motif channelling a lilting, mesmeric melody. Lonesome country vibes drift across the desertscape of ‘Gråtarslaget, but it’s tinged with a hint of eastern mysticism. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition. Rolling piano and slow marching drums drift through the slowcore country meandering of ‘Florianer’, which in turn trickles down into the woozy warp of ‘Røk’.

The sparse arrangements and slowly unfurling motifs make for music – or, in places, something so background as to be an approximation of muzak – which is paired down, stripped back, presenting pieces which are less compositions and more emblematic of the essence of slowcore country. It’s not often that I would suggest songs would benefit from vocals, but these instrumental works do carry a weighted note of absence.

 

 

Geir Sundstol