Posts Tagged ‘Exclusive stream’

Cruel Nature Recordings – 27th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Grunge isn’t dead. Not by a long way. Although, the trouble with grunge is that even at its height, most of the bands weren’t that impressive, and the ones who were achieved the widest success were the weakest, most accessible of the crop. Without the polished and ultimately marketable Nevermind, Nirvana would have never achieved global domination, although both Bleach and In Utero were, and remain, far superior albums, while the like of Tad and Mudhoney are the true sound of grunge, and capture the gritty, sweaty toil of blue collar labour channelled into aural catharsis. These bands never set out to change the world, but to vent their frustrations and ultimately their sense of powerlessness through music.

Perhaps it’s an age thing, but being in sixth form when grunge exploded it felt like not only an exciting time for music, but that this was a wave of music that actually spoke both to and for my generation at the time. In a way I feel rather sorry for the Millennials and Gen Z; the blandness of contemporary music speaks of nothing but surface. Even when addressing genuine issues, there feels like not only an absence of depth, but an absence of real emotion, of soul. Perhaps it’s just that the mainstream industry, represented by the mainstream charts, dominated by mainstream artists on major labels is simply giving the entirety of its focus on monetising slick sonic wallpaper. It seems odd that generations so riven with pain and angst (and who can blame them?) should find solace in this kind of anodyne slop. It can’t just be the numbing effects of antidepressants: something is clearly awry. Small wonder, then, that some delve into their parents’ collections in order to find music that contains what’s missing for them.

New York’s Cronies formed in June 2020 by brothers Jack and Sam Carillo, the press pitch describes the project as ‘the creative offspring of Covid and isolation’. Creative is the word: having pulled in a couple of mates to render this a full band, they’ve already banged out a brace of Eps in the last year ahead of this, their eponymous debut, which Cruel Nature are releasing on another Bandcamp Friday, with Proceeds going to charity.

It’s a bowel-shaking bass note that strikes first, and the sustain is something. And then in lurches a grimy guitar that’s welded to a stumbling rhythm section – and it’s heavy. Then the drawling vocal rips into a fill-throated roar that’s pure Cobain. These guys have taken the relentless battery of Bleach and the nihilistic squall of In Utero as their template, with a dash of thrash and some of the grimy heft of Tad in the mix (‘Slush Fund’ even leans on the riff from Tad’s ‘Behemoth’ but chicks in some stun synths and some manic hollering that’s more reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard), and ‘A Slippery Slope’ throws all of these in at once, along with a sudden change of pace and direction two-thirds of the way in. On ‘Ritchie from Lebanon’ they build a massively dense bulk of noise, the guitars and bass churning, overloading at great volume.

What Cronies have that their peers lack – well, there are many things, if we’re analysing (and of course we are: that’s the purpose of music criticism). But first and foremost, it’s raw passion and energy. There’s nothing slick or ultra-processed about this: Cronies are unashamedly ragged, and really embrace the grunge ethic of the time when most of the bands from Nirvana to Mudhoney were still on labels like Sub Pop. It’s perhaps because of the band’s origins – confined, trapped – that the songs on Cronies teem and seethe with abject frustration. Sometimes, words simply cannot articulate those feelings, and all there is to do is scream and unleash howls of feedback instead of neat chords. And this is what Cronies do, and this is why they speak to us: it’s accepting the limitations of articulation and unleashing a primal howl. It’s powerful because it’s real.



Cruel Nature Records – 4th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Cruel Nature’s programme of releasing difficult, niche music on cassette tom a discerning audience continues with this Finnish-Iranian collaboration of droney, dark ambience with lots of echoes and ominous, subterranean beats that resonate with dark overtones of damp caves and tunnels. The coming together of different cultural backgrounds lies very much as the heart of this release, and those contrasting elements are celebrated in their coming together. I say celebrated because while this is by no means an uplifting album. Indeed, the five compositions are often darkly sombre or otherwise menacing and unsettling. There is a sense that this release – details of which are sketchy, particularly about those behind it – is hinged upon these differences, which almost suggest it shouldn’t work, and that it only does so by virtue of grim determination and a certain musical ear.

It’s difficult to make a fully-informed critique of works that bring together music from diverse cultural backgrounds without appearing as some Jools Hollandy ‘world music’ wanker, but I’d like to think that delving into more nuanced and less populist works means I have some handle on differentiating a release such as this from one like, say, Paul Simon’s Gracelands. The simple and key differentiating feature is that Gnäw pull on myriad influences from across the sonic and geographical range without patronising their sources.

The percussion becomes more prominent as the album progresses, and on ‘گمگشته چوپان’ frenetic hand-drumming dominates the murky drones that hover and hang with a heavy air. Esoteric string instruments are plucked, quaveringly, the notes echoing outwards.

The tension builds and the tone of the drones shift, darker and denser, taking a further turn for the more monotonous and more oppressive on حل’اج’m which makes a sudden shift in the final couple of minutes, tapering down to a mellow, noodling, doodling mellowness that feels like a release, a moment of much-needed relaxation.

Closer ‘Marras’, the album’s longest track, meanders and trembles tremulously, leading the listener on a difficult and at times addling route along a journey with a questionable destination. But who cares where we’re going with an album like this? It’s all about the ride, and I is a weird and wonderful mystery tour.

Video by Jase Kester


Ahead of the release of the first compilation on the NIM label – the snappily-titled Deprived of Occupation and Pleasure We Feast Aural Aggravation are immensely honoured to premiere ‘1010’ by Obviate Parade, the exploratory guitar vehicle for Paul McArthur of Damn Teeth.

With lyrics centred around Emily Dickinson’s 1010th poem, it’s a largely spontaneous cut, with all instruments and vocals recorded in a single take (albeit subsequently edited), it’s a magnificent balance of immediacy and controlled manipulation.

Don’t just take our word for it: get your lugs round it here: