Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

28th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Brighton four-piece Deaf Surf, having emerged from various punk bands and spent their first year in existence gigging hard, formally announce their arrival with ‘Sofa’, a jagged slab of (post) punk that’s pissed off and angsty and picks at the anguish and (self) -loathing that comes from FOMO. If you associate sofas with comfort, relaxation and the pleasure of binge-watching box sets on Netflix, then brace yourself: Deaf Surf’s sofa is hard and lumpy and full of angst.

The lyrics list everyone’s ‘best lives’ splashed all across social media while singer Manon bitterly reflects on her own vicariously-lived life, ‘another, another, another adventure from my sofa’.

Sonically, Deaf Surf come on with clanging, grungy off-key guitar and a raw, DIY post-punk feel reminiscent in some aspects of Solar Race, in others of Come and Live Skull. The song builds to a raucous crescendo, and it’s all over in a succinct 3:22.

It’s a hell of a debut, and as of this moment, Deaf Surf are my favourite new band.

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Deaf Surf

Christopher Nosnibor

Videostore – the lo-fi indie duo consisting of Argonaut members Nathan and Lorna – are on a major roll at the moment, and their latest effort – pitched as a ‘love song for the apocalypse… channelling Stooges, Suede and Spacemen 3 guitars against a relentless drum machine and Atari samples’ – is their strongest to date.

It kicks in hard and that vintage mechanised drum track pumps away like a piston all the way through to the finish: no fills, nothing fancy, nothing but uptempo motoric 4/4 with that classic Roland-type snare sound.

The guitars are big and fizzy and when the extra distortion kicks in, it hits that treble explosion sweet spot that takes the top off your head, and you just don’t get that buzzsaw bliss with slick studio production.

The dual vocals contrast Lorna’s sassy drawl with Nathan’s blank monotone croak and the end result comes on like a riot grrrl rendition of a Pixies song covered by Metal Urbain.

Yet for all the retro, ‘My Back’ is very much a song for now: these are dark, paranoid times and it feels like we’re on the edge of the abyss, and this guitar-driven blitzkrieg is the perfect soundtrack.

Christopher Nosnibor

CHUNK is a rehearsal space in Leeds which also puts on live shows. They’re the very epitome of DIY: it’s a couple of damp, crumbly rooms on an industrial estate some 40 minutes’ walk from the train station. They don’t have a license or a bar, so their gigs are BYOB, and they have a solid manifesto that stipulates ‘no bigots’. Divey as it may be, it’s a safe and accommodating space that’s crated its own scene, embracing the weird, the wild, the noisy, a hub for disparate outsiders. And I’ve seen a fair few decent gigs there, a fair few of which I’ve written about here, and in the company of decent people. Hell, I’ve even performed there: CHUNK facilitated my meeting with Paul, aka Foldhead, an event which would mark the arrival of a new musical entity in the form of …(something) ruined.

Spaces like this are rare these days. Everyone’s in it for the money, and no-one else has any. And so you have to love CHUNK for its commitment and integrity.

Sadly, commitment and integrity don’t pay bills, and this release is specifically pitched as a fundraiser for vital repairs. Less sadly, it’s a showcase of the acts who’ve emerged around CHUNK, and a celebration of the thriving underground scene in Leeds, which has recamped to CHUNK and Wharf Chambers now the Brudenell – ever-awesome as it is – has stepped up several notches from the student hangout it was a decade ago to a three-room venue of international standing. CHUNK have also expanded to a label branch – Voice of Chunk – to disseminate the works of the CHUNK community, and this release, on that label, captures the spirt of the scene perfectly.

This compilation reflects both the sense of community and the diversity of the scene centred around this space, and a fair few of the acts featured have been covered here at Aural Aggro.

The first track is a rough ‘n’ ready demo of a song Beige Place – whose debut live show I witnessed in this very venue – have been playing on their recent dates supporting Shellac. Yes, read and digest. Wonky, cronky, oddball, shouty no-image math-rock misfits from Leeds support Shellac on UK tour. And inexplicably divide Shellac fans. Kudos. This doesn’t actually need any more work, beyond perhaps mastering by Bob Weston. Its raw, ragged discomfort is everything it should be.

Cattle – who I’m elated to be featured on a bill alongside in February – bring a crashing swell of nihilistic nose with ‘Found in a Tract of Land’, and Cattle’s drummer Steve Myles also features on the contribution from Groak, who tossed ‘Lemnian Earth’ into the mix because they’re winding down and elected to support the venue instead of holding out hope of a new EP.

Elsewhere, M-G Dysfunction introduce an electronic element to the mix. Black Antlers impressed me when I caught their debut performance at CHUNK (where else?) in June, and the appearance of ‘Insomnia’ here marks their debut release, and showcases some brooding, shuddering electropop that comes on like a goth Goldfrapp or Zola Jesus without the operatics.

I’ve had the pleasure of bringing Territorial Gobbing to York, and as much of that pleasure was derived from observing the bewildered expression of many of the audience members. ‘Whose Big in the Karaoke Underground?’ is a disorientating mess of sounds, incongruous fragments, bleeps and bloops randomly spliced together, and Thank’s ‘Good Boy’ is noisy another highlight, although it sounds like it was recorded from the room next door. Meanwhile, Open’s ‘The Love Machine’ is an overloading, pounding psych racket, and Groak’s curtain closing ‘Lemnian Earth’ is s snarling, blackened assault that’s as raw as roadkill.

Having picked out some highlights, it’s worth pointing out that there isn’t really a duff or dull moment among the fourteen tracks here, and while not every act may be to everyone’s taste, that’s something to celebrate, being indicative of a scene that promotes diversity and where the most disparate acts perform side by side and support one another. Above all, this compilation shows – once again – how the Leeds alternative scene is thriving and continually producing new and exciting music by artists who dare to be different.

CHUNK is a rehearsal space in Leeds which also puts on live shows. They’re the very epitome of DIY: it’s a couple of damp, crumbly rooms on an industrial estate some 40 minutes’ walk from the train station. They don’t have a license or a bar, so their gigs are BYOB, and they have a solid manifesto that stipulates ‘no bigots’. Divey as it may be, it’s a safe and accommodating space that’s crated its own scene, embracing the weird, the wild, the noisy, a hub for disparate outsiders. And I’ve seen a fair few decent gigs there, a fair few of which I’ve written about here, and in the company of decent people. Hell, I’ve even performed there: CHUNK facilitated my meeting with Paul, aka Foldhead, an event which would mark the arrival of a new musical entity in the form of …(something) ruined.

Spaces like this are rare these days. Everyone’s in it for the money, and no-one else has any. And so you have to love CHUNK for its commitment and integrity.

Sadly, commitment and integrity don’t pay bills, and this release is specifically pitched as a fundraiser for vital repairs. Less sadly, it’s a showcase of the acts who’ve emerged around CHUNK, and a celebration of the thriving underground scene in Leeds, which has recamped to CHUNK and Wharf Chambers now the Brudenell – ever-awesome as it is – has stepped up several notches from the student hangout it was a decade ago to a three-room venue of international standing. CHUNK have also expanded to a label branch – Voice of Chunk – to disseminate the works of the CHUNK community, and this release, on that label, captures the spirt of the scene perfectly.

This compilation reflects both the sense of community and the diversity of the scene centred around this space, and a fair few of the acts featured have been covered here at Aural Aggro.

The first track is a rough ‘n’ ready demo of a song Beige Place – whose debut live show I witnessed in this very venue – have been playing on their recent dates supporting Shellac. Yes, read and digest. Wonky, cronky, oddball, shouty no-image math-rock misfits from Leeds support Shellac on UK tour. And inexplicably divide Shellac fans. Kudos. This doesn’t actually need any more work, beyond perhaps mastering by Bob Weston. Its raw, ragged discomfort is everything it should be.

Cattle – who I’m elated to be featured on a bill alongside in February – bring a crashing swell of nihilistic nose with ‘Found in a Tract of Land’, and Cattle’s drummer Steve Myles also features on the contribution from Groak, who tossed ‘Lemnian Earth’ into the mix because they’re winding down and elected to support the venue instead of holding out hope of a new EP.

Elsewhere, M-G Dysfunction introduce an electronic element to the mix. Black Antlers impressed me when I caught their debut performance at CHUNK (where else?) in June, and the appearance of ‘Insomnia’ here marks their debut release, and showcases some brooding, shuddering electropop that comes on like a goth Goldfrapp or Zola Jesus without the operatics.

I’ve had the pleasure of bringing Territorial Gobbing to York, and as much of that pleasure was derived from observing the bewildered expression of many of the audience members. ‘Whose Big in the Karaoke Underground?’ is a disorientating mess of sounds, incongruous fragments, bleeps and bloops randomly spliced together, and Thank’s ‘Good Boy’ is noisy another highlight, although it sounds like it was recorded from the room next door. Meanwhile, Open’s ‘The Love Machine’ is an overloading, pounding psych racket, and Groak’s curtain closing ‘Lemnian Earth’ is s snarling, blackened assault that’s as raw as roadkill.

Having picked out some highlights, it’s worth pointing out that there isn’t really a duff or dull moment among the fourteen tracks here, and while not every act may be to everyone’s taste, that’s something to celebrate, being indicative of a scene that promotes diversity and where the most disparate acts perform side by side and support one another. Above all, this compilation shows – once again – how the Leeds alternative scene is thriving and continually producing new and exciting music by artists who dare to be different. We need this space! Please support it.

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Sounds of CHUNK

Argonaut offshoot Videostore self-release another li-fi DIY digital single in the form of ‘Sleep Complete’. A slice of dreamy, DIY, no-fi indie, it boasts a breezy, easy tune. And that’s what it’s all about:

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Videostore - Sleep

Christopher Nosnibor

For some inexplicable reason, I woke up feeling nostalgic today. Perhaps it was unloading a pile of NME and Melody Maker from 1992-1995 recently collected from my father’s house from the boot of the car that triggered it, but then I got to thinking about all kinds of random things from my youth, from Noodle Doodle pasta to the smell of classrooms.

Videostore’s third independent DIY release, ‘Every Town’ is two and a half minutes of swirling, spaced-out shoegazey-indie. Think Slowdive covering The Jesus and Mary Chain. Or vice versa. It doesn’t really matter either way: it’s a laid-back, low-tempo effort that harks back to an early 90s vintage, while at the same time casting a nod back a long way further, to the 60s when pop single was just two and a half minutes long, with no filler.

This in itself is nothing new: The Smiths were very much geared toward that perfect pop template, and The Wedding Present’s ‘Hit Parade’ project in 1992 was very much centred around creating succinct slices of pop.

Videostore – a side project of husband and wife duo Nathan and Lorna of London indie-pop act Argonaut – absorb all of this and add their own twist to the template to create something special here, and the result is nostalgia-drenched and retro without being twee.

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Videostrore

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.

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Beige Palace - Leg

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.