Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Buzzhowl Records – 5th April 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

The first time I stumbled upon Beige Palace – a band with a name that simultaneously and contradictorily evokes blandness and grandeur – was at one of their early shows, back in May 2016. They were still ramshackle and difficult, in the best possible way, a couple of years later. On record, Beige Palace capture that awkwardness,

‘Mum, Tell Him’ congeals a discordant cacophony as shrieking feedback grates against a throbbing organ, off-key and out of time, hollered atonal vocals, hoarse, raw and not giving a fuck about musicality bark in the background – and then the rhythm section slams in, angular, stuttering, at which point it lurches into the territories of early Shellac and all things Touch ‘n’ Go, that early 90s noise attack recreated in full effect, and it bleeds into the dissonant racket of ‘Dr Thingy’, half-serious, half irreverent, it tears into a dense bass-driven shouting din reminiscent of the criminally underrated Rosa Mota around two-thirds of the way though. It’s the balance of dual male / female vocals tat does it. that. and the underlying aggression, and the raw, underproduced DIY sound.

Slowing it down, there’s a bit of a Pavement- feel to ‘Candy Pink Sparkle’. It’s stripped back, minimal and unpretentious in its lo-fi nature. In many respects, Beige Palace are prime representatives of the emerging underground scene in Leeds, much of which centres around the rehearsal space CHUNK, in the middle of a bleak industrial estate in Meanwood – it’s dingy, off the beaten track, and consequently affordable. Which also means it’s a community built on a collective desire to make music for art’s sake rather than commercial ends.

The lurching, stop-start ‘Illegal Backflip’ and jolting, sinewy ‘Ketchup Dirt’ both evoke the spirit of the 90s underground, and I’m going way underground in referencing the first album by Pram (but justified in that they would subsequently sign to classic cult label Too Pure). ‘Dinner Practice’ closes in a stop/start jolting mess of guitar that’s overloading the treble, the shouty atonal vocals… it’s so wrongly ace. And I’ve no idea why the album’s called Leg.

AA

Beige Palace - Leg

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Christopher Nosnibor

My appreciation of the debut album by Leeds noisemongers Irk is already out in the public domain, as is my admiration of their capacity as a live act. It was only fitting that they should launch their debut album at Chunk, the rehearsal space which has become the hub of the new Leeds underground / alternative scene which has begun to emerge since the Brudenell – still the best venue in the country – has become increasingly popular and catering ever more to bigger-name acts. And there’s no escaping the fact that without the tiny venues, the microscenes, the free and cheap spaces where anything goes, there’d be nowhere for the bands of the future to explore and develop ideas free from the limitations of marketability and the pressure to achieve success. Commercialism strangles creativity, and we need the obscure band who want to fuck shit up more than ever in these desperate times in the stranglehold of corrupt, constricting neoliberalist capitalism which is not-so-slowly eroding every real freedom for the ordinary person.

Chunk is so no-budget, so DIY that there’s no licence for tonight’s (free) event: its BYOB, and people file in with carrier bags containing four-packs and the atmosphere is just so laid back that my anxieties about finding the place (Chunk is hidden through a door up some steps (which I worry I may fall down on my way out) next to a car repair place in an industrial area two miles out into the arse-end of nowhere) and all of the other stuff I panic about but tend not to talk about evaporate almost immediately. There are friendly faces, faces I recognise, faces I can chat to, and it feels more like a house party than a gig.

Only, there’s a gig PA and there are bands, and Beige Palace are on first. I note that they’ve been using a quite from a review I wrote of their live debut on my only previous visit to Chunk in the summer of 2016, which says ‘Beige Palace make sparse-sounding music that’s jarring, dissonant and hints at a clash between early Pram and No Wave angularity.’ Two yeas on, it still seems a fair summary. ‘It’s not math-rock’, their diminutive and moustachioed front man, Freddy Vinehill-Clifee forewarns the audience before they begin their set. He’s right. It’s atonal, droney, repetitive noise-rock with an almost spoken word delivery. Kelly Bishop’s flat, elongated vowels are reminiscent of Mark E. Smith in the early years of The Fall. They’re bursting with nagging, awkward guitar lines and clattering percussion playing unusual time signatures, too. So, like math-rock, only not. Or something. But it’s not about labels, but the music, and while they’re still rough ‘n’ ready, their confidence and intuition has evolved a lot over the last two years, and they turn in a more than decent performance.

Beige

Beige Palace

It was the release of BRITN3Y that brought deranged Edinburgh 3-piece Britney to my attention, and I’d been itching to see them live ever since. They don’t disappoint. Comprising bass – through a fuckload of pedals; vocals – through an even bigger fuckload of pedals; – and drums, they deliver sonic riots in the form of blistering sub-two-minute noisefests. Occasionally, chuggy riffs and even grooves emerge from the screaming, spasmodic mess, albeit fleetingly. It hurts after two songs. It hurts a whole lot better after ten. The speaker a foot from my right ear is sounding like it’s fucked and they just fuck it harder with a relentless barrage of explosive, brutal hybridized noise that draws on elements of metal, hardcore, and grindcore and Final Fantasy (the victory fanfare is a recurrent feature throughout their set and closes it, too, while the infamous Tidus Laugh from FF X also features). They’re joined at the end by NALA for some screaming vocals to wrap up set appropriately culminates in an ear-splitting wall of noise, and I’m not the only one blown away.

Britney

Britney

It turns out that Jack Gordon still has the copy of The Rage Monologues from the time we exchanged books. He’s read my review of the album, and during our brief exchange, I’m reminded that so many of the people who make art that pushes extremities, in whatever way, are the most pleasant, polite, and mild-mannered people you could wish to meet. It’s their outlet, and it’s what keeps them sane. Better to make brutal art than commit mass murder. Probably. Jack – bespectacled, sporting jacket and chinos and looking like any other smart-casual office worker – is a nice guy. But with the aid of a PA, a backline, and a bottle of Buckfast, he brings the brutality.

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Irk

If the disappearance of Blacklisters from the Leeds scene following Billy Mason-Wood’s departure for Germany left a jagged, gaping hole, then Irk more than manage it fill it with their own rendition of that Jesus Lizard, Touch ‘n’ Go skewed 90s US noise-rock racket. The trio are quite a different proposition and are very much their own people, but the comparisons and local lineage are impossible to ignore. And in this enclosed space, with the volume at pulverising levels and the warmth of community and camaraderie only adding to that of the proximity of bodies, everything comes together perfectly.

If the Internet has changed anything for the better in the music industry, it’s surely the immediacy of the medium. Bands can not only connect directly with their fans, but can get material out without having to wait for the label and all of the associated parts of the machine to plan and pull together.

With their new video, which accompanies the song ‘Girl Talk’ from their recently-released ‘The New Argonaut EP’, Argonaut demonstrate just how fast it’s possible to move when you’ve got total creative control, having shot the footage on Hampstead Heath only yesterday and getting the video live on YouTube in under 24 hours. It’s a win for the DIY ethic and creativity. It’s also a fin vid and an ace tune…. And you can check it here:

20th November 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

As the press release reminds me, from around 2005 – 2010, ‘Leeds had one of the most vibrant DIY hardcore/metal scenes in the UK with Humanfly, Chickenhawk, Whores Whores Whores, Narcosis, Year of the Man, The Plight, Red Stars Parade, Bilge Pump, Gentleman’s Pistols and Send More Paramedics playing week in, week out alongside regular visitors to the city such as Bossk, Taint and Manatees.’

I saw a fair few of these bands: in fact, one of the first gigs I attended in Leeds, and my first trip to the Brudenell, was Whitehouse, supported by Broken Bone (who were shit) and Whores Whores Whores (who were incredible). While bands like Kaiser Chiefs and I Like Trains have garnered broader popularity due to their greater accessibility in commercial terms, the likes of Blacklisters are in many ways more representative of the seething fury that bubbles like molten lava at the heart of the contemporary Leeds scene.

The majority of the 2005-2010 acts are now long extinct, many have gone on to form newer bands creating a whole host of exciting new heavy music – the success of Chickenhawk since they rebranded as Hawk Eyes has been remarkable, and thoroughly deserved. One of the bands to have emerged from this period of effervescence is False Flags, formed out of the ashes of Red Stars Parade, Whores x 3 and Year of the Man. Hexmachine is their self-released debut mii-album.

That it is self-released is significant: the post-millennium Leeds scene has very much been about the DIY ethos, and also about the noise. Hexmachine is unaplogetically brutal, blending dizzying math-rock elements with bludgeoning power-chords and monster riffage to cook up an angular, violent metal-edged stew.

It’s not completely po-faced or built on endless rage and angst: ‘Pet Wolf’ is about frontman Jenko’s Chihuahuas, and elsewhere, ‘Phone My Wallet’ stokes a ferocious inferno about 21s Century problems. But rather than undermine the band’s premise, these details only add to their appeal: the topics are relatable, and the delivery is relentlessly visceral. The anger is explosive and sends flares in all directions. The delivery, and production, is immediate, raw, and in your face – and that’s exactly as it should be.

False Flags

https://falseflags.bandcamp.com/