Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

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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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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