Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Christopher Nosnibor

Snakerattlers are BACK! Almost two years to the day since their last show, the ass—kicking psychobilly duo are back on the circuit, and landing in style to launch a new album, The Left Hand Path at the same time.

Snakerattlers have always embraced their DIY position as something that enables them to do things their own way, and this event is exemplary: whereas album launches are often massive blow-outs with loads of bands and balloons and gimmicks, which mean you’re knackered by the time the headliners take the stage, they’ve gone for something that’s truly special and personal, in the form of an afternoon show with no supports, playing the album live in its entirety for the first ad only time, with some talk about the inspiration for each song before its played. It’s also noteworthy that said album is only being released on CD and vinyl: no downloads or streaming. A proper album, old-school.

The times on the door list Doors as 2:30 and Snakerattlers 3-4pm, and it’s getting busy when I arrive at 2:40, and while I am not tall, I’m amazed by the fact that practically everyone in the place is a fucking giant, so I grab a pint and get down the front, quick. Dank ambient atmospherics rumble over the PA.I figure there’s probably not much point trying to photograph the scribbled set list since the pitch of the launch event is to play the new album through as a one-off. So I suppose this is something of an in-the-moment first-hearing album review as well as a live review.

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They’re punctual, and Dan’s grin is something to behold. He may be shitting his pants nervous, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone look happier to be onstage before. As a band who usually play around a hundred shows a year, a two-year enforced break probably felt like having their limbs amputated.

They’re straight in with a swampy reverby tune with no lyrics beyond ‘wooh’ and ‘huh!’ by way of an intro, and it feels like they’ve picked up precisely where they’ve left off, although it very soon becomes apparent that there’s been a significant shift in the world of Snakerattlers as they start working through the album. That’s what happens when there’s a global pandemic and successive lockdowns, and Dan is a lyricist who very much writes about the moment, meaning there’s a lot of contemplation and a darker atmosphere across the album as a whole. And while Dan is the voice and the mouth of the band, Naomi’s contribution should never be underestimated. Quiet, serious-looking, she’s the perfect counterpoint in terms of character, while her drumming has a natural feel to it, and a nice, easy swing, even at pace.

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‘One Hand’ is a song not about wanking, but about friendships (or lack of) and in some ways, independence, echoing the sentiments of The Fall’s ‘Frenz’. It starts gentle and sensitive, then goes blamm! ‘No Friend of Mine’ continues the theme of friendship, “All relationships are empty and temporary,” Dan comments in the song’s preamble, nabbing a Mansun lyric in the process, before launching into a rambunctious country-punk knees up. It’s about a minute long.

The songs feel evolved, and show a keen attention to changes in tempo and pacing, and the album sequencing also feels considered – which corresponds with the formats of choice, with the jangly ‘Rattle in my Bones’ ahead of the darker, gothy ‘I Remain’, with hints of The Gun Club. It’s slower, and fully anthemic, and I find myself prickling with goosepimples. ‘In the Ground’ is a contemplation on death penned during the pandemic, and it’s mid-tempo, minor key punk, and utterly magnificent to boot.

Taking the “darkness dial to 10” as he puts it, ‘All Hope is Lost’ emerged from a dark place during lockdown. It’s tense, and while it’s not quite Joy Division, it’s pretty damn bleak – but still manages a hook. ‘Small’ is more old school rock ‘n’ roll, while ‘It Comes’ (if that’s what it’s actually called) is a churner about insomnia, while ‘Spooks’, which emerged last year is more standard Snakerattlers uptempo Fall-esqu rockabilly – or rattle rock, as they prefer to call it.

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There’s another switch with the twangin’ instrumental boogie ‘Wolf Dance’ that paves the way for the final double salvo of kick-ass tunes, culminating with the fast, angular ‘We are Your Hell,’ inspired by a dickish punter facing off to the band at their last gig in Leeds on 5th March 2020. It’s a storming finale to the album, and to the set. It’s been exactly forty-five minutes, and it’s been a blast from beginning to end.

And with that, they’re off to man the merch stall. Rock ‘n’ roll! Yes, Snakerattlers are most definitely BACK!

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Short review for a short single, where the reading time and running time are probably about the same, and that’s the way we like it. Yes, London fuzzy indie punk noisemakers Argonaut return after an enforced hiatus corresponding almost precisely with the covid pandemic and its successive lockdowns and restrictions, which curtailed any in-person collaboration or rehearsals for so many bands.

Nathan and Lorna kept themselves occupied and active with their lo-fi bedroom indie side-project, Videostore, which they put to bed with a one-off live show, paving the way for the return of Argonaut. And what a return it is!

Inevitably, there’s much stylistic overlap between Videostore and Argonaut, and both acts espouse the same DIY aesthetic, while kicking out punchy pop tunes, but the input of the rest of the band and their influence on the sound is apparent when listening to this, not least of all in the way the vocal harmonies come together – and bounce off one another – and the impact of live drums as a sturdy spine holding together the retro synth sounds that wibble around with a Stereolab vibe, which is countered by the fizzy, treble-maxed guitar fuzz that crackles away at a restrained distance in the mix.

With ‘Futoko’, Argonaut pack enough energy into two-and-a-quarter minutes to run a house for a week, and deliver it with such infectious vibrancy it’s hard to resist: it’s exactly what the world needs right now.

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1st December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Just shy of a year since Cave Suns threw their improvised ‘Surk Skum’ EP into the plague-ridden void, they return with a proper lo-fi DIY release, consisting of four pieces, ‘improvised live one take each song apologies included’ they write. The set was captured on an iPhone and is released on a limited edition cassette (and digitally, of course).

Beyond the world of the major label (and the domain of the indie label with some cash behind it), this increasingly appears to be the future of the little band. With the chances of getting signed and getting bankrolled these days practically nil even for solids acts with some commercial potential and significantly less than zero for artists doing anything without that commercial potential (which isn’t to say there’s no audience or demand), they’re taking thee means of production into their own hands and just getting on with getting their music out there. If one positive thing has emerged from the last couple of years under the pandemic – and let’s face it, it’s been hard to find anything positive, particularly for bands and small venues (I’m hesitant to say ‘the music industry’ because Ed Sheeran and Eric Clapton won’t have suffered too heavily from the lack of touring options in terms of bank balance or their ability to reach audiences or shift units / merch and I’m sure the likes of Warners aren’t questioning their viability right now) – it’s the fact that perhaps finally any stigma around self-releasing has been eradicated. That said, for Newcastle’s Cave Suns, it’s business as usual: they’ve been self-governed and self-releasing since 2014 and haven’t been troubling studios in order to lay down their intrusive improvised sessions, preferring instead to capture live shows and rehearsal room jams

‘Dunder Salt’ is a kind of mellow psychedelic swagger with a buoyant bassline and bopping beat that seems to all cast a nod to the verse of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’. With minimal progression, there’s a Krautrock element to the vaguely jazzy, vaguely funky groove. It’s a solid jam, but it’s not until the eleven-and-a-half-minute ‘To Who It May Concern’ that they really show us what they’re capable of. Mystical, eastern-inspired scales twist in a slow-building swell of sound, a hum and a drone of bass and tentative drumming before emerging on a vast sonic plateau. It’s one of those compositions that stops and starts so often that it’s hard to decide if it ever really gets going, or if it’s several pieces string together; perhaps more reasonably it’s best described as several movements with a succession of ebbs and flows and sustained crescendos, often with the drums pounding hard with insistent thrashing of cymbals and hitting some solid grooves even with the stretches of meandering guitar.

‘Essesse’ kicks off wide two with something altogether lighter, more technical, with a mathy aspect, and also more overtly proggy, you might even go so far as to describe it as jaunty – but then, you may not. It’s kind of a collision between That Fucking Tank, Muse, and Royal Blood. Maybe it’s more as well, It’s certainly their most ‘muso’ cut to date, and is also highly accessible.

The 11-minute ‘13th Celebration’ that rounds off the EP and the remainder of side two is built around a repetitive bas throb that evokes the monotonous groove of Suicide, but overlaid with a sprawling guitar jam that’s part prog, part space rock, all improv. They lock into a neat groove for a time and really rock out, but then slow it down and trip out, crawling to the close.

Hypnotic, groovy, completely free of the shackles of genre and commerce, No Guards knows no limits and captures Cave Suns on fine form.

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Chapter 22 Records – 27th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

After paying their dues pedalling their hefty wares in all the little venues the length and breadth of the country after relocating to London from Brazil, Your Mum are really starting to reap the rewards of some incredible sweat and toil for the release of their second album.

Having shared the stage with DIY stalwarts such as Maid Of Ace, Svetlanas, Healthy Junkies, Hands Off Gretel, I-Destroy & Dream Nails as well as well-established acts and legends such as New Model Army, The Adolescents, Vice Squad, Kirk Brandon, UK Subs, The Vibrators and TV Smith, they’ve scored prestigious deals with to Chapter 22 Records in the UK and M&O Music in France. For all that, their latest release is accompanied by a video which was shot entirely on a GoPro & edited by the duo, who are evidently staying true to their DIT ethos and their roots – no sellout here!

The title track of their new album, now released as a single, finds the duo weighing in hard and heavy with blistering overdriven bass that sounds like bass and guitar at the same time, propelled by thunderous drums: ‘Club Tropicana’ is ain’t and nor is it some mellow, languorous beach chillout with a cocktail: no, the only thong tropical about this is the raging heat, meaning it’s mostly about the fuzz, Anelise Kunz’ full-lunged vocals distorted by volume and it blasts away for a high-impact, high-octane three minutes of raw power.

If you’ve not yet met Yur Mum, let me introduce you – because you’ve been missing out, and this is a beast of a track.

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1st July 2021

Christopherr Nosnibor

No doubt it’s an age thing, but the title of this compilation from Leeds noisemakers Thank – a collection of everything they’ve released to date, which number three in total existing across a brace of EPs and a one-off single – makes me think of Maureen Lipman in the 1987 ad for BT when he grandson tells her he‘s failed all of his exams except pottery and sociology, and she famously cries, ‘He gets an ology and he says he’s failed… you get an ology you’re a scientist!’ I’m amused by this, and I have an A-level in Sociology, and I’m certainly no fucking scientist (I also have a PhD in English literature, and lot of good that’s done me, too). As a further pointless digression, the title also reminds me of the third album by another legendary Leeds band, That Fucking Tank.

This is relevant, because back in 2004 or so, Tank were ubiquitous, and proved to be an absolute revelation. It wasn’t that the DIY ethos was anything new – it emerged when punk broke, and has long been a major feature of the Leeds scene. Track back about 40 years and The Sisters of Mercy were representing Leeds internationally on their own label. Whatever bollocks recent governments have spouted, the North has always been a powerhouse of its own making. Free of the sway of whatever’s cool in London at any given time, the Noeth – and particularly Leeds – has forged its own identity and done its own thing. And Leeds has, over the last tent o fifteen years, been a city with a scene throwing up a lot of angular, noisy stuff.

Emerging from the DIY microscene centred around the rehearsal space / occasional gig venue that was CHUNK, Thank draw on a host of influences from home and away, but sound like no-one else.

That debut EP, Sexghost Hellscape, from 2017, was – and still is – a wonderfully deranged mash-up of all kinds of strains of noise, with throbbing synths and punchy fink-tinged post-punk basslines reminiscent of Gang of Four providing the backbone of some off-kilter blasts of noise and some ragged, shouty vocals. The insistent pounding of ‘Punching Bag’ – a dismal, depressed swipe at celebrity taking ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ as its starting target – has that twitchy relentlessness of Shellac about it, and it really only cuts loose right at the end. Thank get delayed gratification – and sometimes they really torture us: there’s no real gratification on the squirming, crawling eight-and-a-half-minute dirge of ‘Petrol Head’ that grinds mercilessly like early Swans. It has the roaring rage of hardcore, slowed to a glacial crawl, and it twists at the gut with its low, slow percussion-driven relentlessness.

Standalone single ‘The Curse’ is an anguished roar of rage – it’s sparse, mangled, messy, and comes on like Uniform minus the riffs. It’s pretty fucking dark and brutal.

Skip on to the last EP, and it’s an even more rabidly raging effort, harder, harsher, more furious. ‘Commemorative Coin’ ups the rage another forty percent. It’s like PIL on steroids: pink and fuck, but more articulate than some three-chord thrash, many time more oppressive and infinitely more powerful. In contrast ‘Think Less’ goes full 80s electro, but it’s jitter, jarring, a three-way collision between Talking Heads, Revolting Cocks, and DAF. It’s crazed, manic, and intense. ‘No Respect for the Arts’ is all-out, foaming-at-the-mouth frenzied. It’s raw. It’s passion, and it’s real. And they speak from the heart here. Please was released in the Autumn of 2019, and this reminds us that the arts were being battered to fuck long before the Covid pandemic shut everything down. Over the last decade, successive Tory governments have been shafting the arts from every whichway. Artists have a right to be angry, but so few articulate that anger so directly though their music. We have reason to thank Thank.

Thankology give us no fewer than ten reasons to thank Thank, They stand as the very epitome of the Leeds underground / alternative /DIY scene: uncompromising, unbeholden to trends, and doing it because they believe in it, and just because. Bands like this are rare these days, and Thank stand apart in these times.

For those who’ve had a taste, this will give the full flavour, and for the uninitiated, here it all is. Get stuck in.

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26th June 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Aural Aggro’s favourite DIY indie duo Videostore keep crankin’ ‘em out, and a week after the belter that is ‘Your Mind’, they take a step to the left to deliver a cover of Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Roses In the Hospital’, which in context of their their previous releases, comes as something of a surprise.

Their take brings a twist – they definitely ‘make it their own’ as judges are so keen on saying on ‘The Voice’ and shit. That is to say, it sounds way more like Videostore than The Manics, and that’s a positive: so many acts are overly cautious and reverential in their approach to covers, especially when it comes to bands who are ‘canon’ and have acquired a status of being largely untouchable.

Lorna takes the vocal lead here, and Nathan gives a gargled backing vocal: the drum machine is whacked up in the mix and the guitar is stripped to a choppy, Metal Urbain fizz, and it’s a buzz.

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19th June 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m always pleased to hear from Nathan Argonaut, because it invariably means he’s made some new music. He and Lorna have certainly been keeping busy writing and recording under their Videostore moniker while under lockdown, and sire enough, his most recent missive came with a link to the ‘brand spanking new single from the Videostore, written and recorded in the doldrums this week!’

It does very much seem to have been one of those low weeks for many, myself included, so a new sliver of their choppy lo-fi indie makes for a welcome arrival. Better still, it’s a corker: the drum machine is half-buried in the verses beneath a thumping fat bass and sustained synth note. ‘Over thinking, over drinking solution friendly messy ending’ the intonate in monotone, encapsulating the ennui with wonderful simplicity and precision.

Prefacing the lyrics, the BandCamp release, features the line ‘We must be out of our brilliant minds…’ On noticing, I then spent the next half hour – and more – watching first the video for Furniture’s 1986 single ‘Brilliant Mind’ followed by a slew of contemporaneous content. Such is my mind-blank distractibility. I forgot to finish the review and instead went on an epic mental diversion.

And then the guitar detonates all over everything, an overloading blast of distortion, and I’m reminded of the obliterative wall-of-noise bursts on The Jesus and Mary Chain song ‘Taste The Floor’.

‘Your Mind’ is an explosive release of tension that fizzes and flames all over, landing somewhere between The JAMC and more recent peers Scumbag Philosopher. It’s also quite possibly their best work to date.

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11th June 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Stoke on Trent’s pottery industry may not be what it once was, and apart from Robbie Williams, who’s not a good advertisement for any city, it’s not exactly renowned for its music. But then, underground artists tend not to be renowned generally, existing as more of a loose-knit and divergent community. It was through this community that I first heard the sounds of Plan Pony, although I’ve known the man behind the project – again, through the community – for some time.

Single release ‘Martyr’, backed with ‘Martyr II’ (and accompanied by a third track, ‘Hipster Soufflé’ on the ultra-limited CD-R edition) is a dank, muffled, chunk of raw experimental noise layering that combines elements of gnarly punk, early industrial, and no-wave.

Created using sampler, delay pedals, voice, loops, guitar and found sounds all recorded to tape, it’s primitive, raw, and the epitome of DIY in the best possible sense: this is the sound of an artist making art out of a need to make art, without having even the peripheral vision of one eye on any kind of audience.

‘Martyr’ thuds in with a muddy sequenced drum that sounds like a wet pair of balled socks being slapped around inside a cardboard box. The guitar sparks like the jack lead’s been plugged directly into the mains, and the shouty vocals are all the echo and utterly impenetrable. The result is an angular, abrasive noise that sounds how I expect some of Uniform’s demos to sound.

‘Martyr II’ is very much a contrast: the same production values and tonal range this time provide the context for a slice of brooding dark ambience, an instrumental (de)composition that creeps and spreads like mildew.

These are dark times, which are evidently inspiring some dark shit: and this is some dark shit right here.

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22nd April 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Argonaut offshoot and Aural Aggro favourites Videostore have certainly been keeping busy during lockdown: just days after unleashing the lightning strike blast of the 54-second ode to redevelopment, ‘Building Breaking’, with the inclusion of three more previous singles, they’ve delivered a full ten-song album. Better still, the speed of its creation imbues every second with an urgency and immediacy that grabs the listener and keeps a solid grip right to the end.

It’s pitched as the soundtrack to an imaginary 1980s Brat Pack movie set in a Videostore. The songs provide a background for the small-town, the journey and the relationship. Please insert your own characters, plot twists and angst!’

‘Building Breaking’ kicks it off in a flurry of fizzy guitars, and keeping it front-loaded, the dreamy showgazer that is ‘Every Town’, and for all the buzzsaw bangers, there are some beautifully melancholic moments to be found here. They evoke not only a (recent and modern) bygone era, but also conjure a sense of the downbeat and the run-down.

If nostalgia has painted the 80s as an era of shininess, newness, and the dawn of the new consumerism, Vincent’s Picks reminds us that there has always been deprivation, worn-down backstreets and downtrodden folks living mundane lives. The people who rarely feature in big-budget movies. Vincent’s Picks is not about car chases and explosions, espionage and cold-war action. There’s grit and grain, and accessible lo-fi alt-pop in the form of ‘Math Club’. Elsewhere, ‘Aloner’ goes all-out on the big anthem, and they absolutely nail it: what it needs is a montage to accompany it, and lots of shots of rain-soaked brooding.

The opening lines of ‘Not Alone’ have a timeless universality about them, although resonate deep at this moment in time, as Nathan sings in a low, cracked voice that contrasts with Lorna’s clean candyfloss tone, ‘Would you like a cigarette / would you like a cup of tea? / I’m sorry you’re alone… Would you like another drink? / Would you like to watch TV?’. Around the world, there are so many who would pretty much kill to have a drink or cup of tea with another human being. It breaks into a monster guitar break and mess of overloading distortion that’s like Dinosaur Jr gone industrial.

The Pixies-esque ‘My Back’ is an absolute scorcher, and the cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ is unexpected, and really rather good: Lorna takes the lead vocals and it’s a kinds Cure meets Strawberry Switchblade that does justice to a classic. You can almost imagine a reworking of the video inbuilt into the imaginary movie, before ‘Sleep Complete’ brings things to an uplifting resolution.

Vincent’s Picks isn’t an overtly or explicitly concept or soundtrack album, but it does set itself up to present a kind of narrative flow, and it works well. More importantly, there isn’t a duff song on it, which makes it one of my picks, too.

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15th April 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Argonaut offshoot Videostore have swiftly established themselves as a DIY act who can kick out solid tunes in no time at all, and as having embraced the immediacy of the technology at their disposal to write, record, and release tunes in the space of a week.

Under life on lockdown, many bands are taking to the net to pump new output direct to fans, but Videostore, having already adopted the model, are ahead of the curve, and their latest single, ‘Building Breaking’ is exemplary: a buoyant blast of overdriven guitars that fizz in choppy bursts over a vintage drum machine, it’s the pinnacle of punk.

The cover at reminds me of various scenes I’d observe on my walk to work up until a month ago: regeneration gentrification; so often change for change’s sake, collapsing new buildings. I made it something of a project to photograph all the cranes and diggers, scaffolding, tarpaulin and holes. I intend to actually use them for something one day. Meanwhile, Videostore have tied this image into a commentary on the constant state of flux that’s come to define out cityscapes with a constant programme of demolition and (re)construction… but for what end?

The accompanying home-shot-video is simple but effective, and the fact they pack some sweet harmonies and a neat hook into just 54 seconds is beyond impressive.

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