Posts Tagged ‘Grunge’

Southern Lord – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The arrival of this album in my inbox gave me pause for thought. Their debut album, the brilliantly-titled Iron Balls of Steel was a full five years ago. I reviewed it, and raved about it. And I realise I’ve been doing this for quite a while now. Over that time, bands – great bands, shit bands, mediocre and forgettable bands – have come and gone. And now, Loincloth, whom I praised for their ‘megalithic chunks of undecorated, heads-down behemoth guitar riffage and earth-shuddering rhythms hewn from colossal slabs of basalt’, are entering the catalogue of bands gone.

The press release includes the following statement: “Loincloth is no longer a live band, so this record is our final offering not only to the great horned one below, but to the committed ladies and gentlemen of the Cloth.” Still, what a sign-off. Never mind the ladies and gentlemen of the Cloth: the nine shuddering riffcentric sonic barrages that form Psalm Of The Morbid Whore are terrifyingly heavy, dingy and gut-churning enough to leave the listener close to touching cloth. As such, while their departure is sad news, the delivery of this awe-inspiring musical gift is a cause to rejoice for those who like their shit heavy.

The press release pitches Psalm Of The Morbid Whore as ‘packing nine new instrumental passages of white-knuckled twists, and by-the-throat percussion, into a half-hour’.  But this fails to convey, even slightly, the grungey riffs which jolt and jar, shuddering through a stop/start chug of thick distortion. Between the blastbeats and thunderous culminations of bass and rhythm guitar twist sinewy lead guitar lines that spread and unfurl like foliage spreading in a mystical forest. Also emerging from the swamps are fleeting moments of prog-hued illumination.

It also overlooks the progression between Psalm Of The Morbid Whore and its predecessor. While the tracks are, on the whole, short, there are a number of longer workouts, with the final cut, ‘Ibex (To Burn in Hell Is To Refine)’ running to almost eight minutes (twice the length of the lengthiest piece on Iron Balls). And, significantly, the tone has shifted, from the slightly jokey or flippant-sounding ‘Underwear Bomb’, ‘Shark Dancer’ and ‘The Moistener’ of the debut the to the subterranean savagery of religious / pagan coloured titles like ‘Necro Fucking Satanae’, ‘Pentecost Dissident’, ‘Bestial Infernal’. Psalm Of The Morbid Whore is dense, dark, and heavy, and while in some respects less claustrophobic than its predecessor, it feels more focused, less metal, more grunge, and also more groove orientated.

But most importantly, Psalm Of The Morbid Whore retains the dirty, unpolished primitivism worthy of a band named Loincloth.

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With the release of their second album, PRODUCT – the follow up to 2014 debut Everything’s Fucked – scheduled for release on  21st July, one of our favourite bands on the planet, Arrows of Love serve up a second taster in the form of ‘Signal (Redux)’, which has been mastered, once again, by Shellac legend Bob Weston.

‘Signal (Redux)’ hints at a band expanding their sonic repertoire: it’s still an abrasive, jolting, grungy racket, but their nihilistic fury is sculpted with hints of Gang of Four with an elastic bassline and scarring, fractured guitar. It’s probably their best work to date, and augers well for the album. Get your lugs round ‘Signal (Redux)’ here:

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The album will be available on Vinyl and CD across US/European territories on 21st July , which you can pre-order globally via www.pledgemusic.com/projects/arrowsoflove.

 

Arrows 1

Christopher Nosnibor

“I’ve fucked my wrist – chipped a bone in rehearsal.” I’m talking to Dom Smith, drummer with Seep Away. His band are due on in ten minutes. Should he even be playing? He’s not exactly a gentle percussionist. But as he and the rest of the band take to the stage to Hole’s ‘Doll Parts’, it’s clear he’s adrenalized and up for going all out. Screamer Jay is kitted out in full mini-skirted drag and looking killer. Seep Away get harder, heavier, denser and louder with each outing, and tonight, Jay is even more manic and confrontational than ever, writhing on his knees among the front rows.

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Seep Away

Brooders might have a tough act to follow, but if it bothers them, they’re not showing it. They may be young – they certainly look it – but this power trio are solid as they come. They knock out some driving grunge tunes, which are dark, dense, and weighty, but also so much more. They pack in some neat and hooky melodies alongside the chunky, bass-driven noise: in many respects, they’re the quintessence of 90s alt-rock, and they know how to nail down a hefty Nirvana-inspired riff.

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Brooders

Hands Off Gretel have drawn a decent crowd, particularly for a Thursday night that’s blessed with beer garden weather. In fact, it’s a battle to get a decent spot down the front on account of the clamour of folks with their phones out, filming. It’s not hard to see – or hear – why: they’re a killer live band, who combine a raw, ragged energy with a musical tightness. And there’s simply no sidestepping the appeal of Lauren Tate.

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Hands Off Gretel

I’ve been criticised on occasion for commenting on the physical attributes of women in bands, because despite the fact I’m equally likely to comment on the physical aspects of a man in a band, it’s not really the done thing. But Lauren Tate doesn’t so much invite the eyes to focus on her, but demands it. If the powder-blue hot pants and matching top, accompanied by knee-high socks, is sort of cutesy-sexy, the heavy eye makeup, smeared lipstick and truly ferocious full-throated vocal is terrifying. It’s the perfect paradox of appeal and repel, the cheerleader slut who’ll murder you and play with the blood. This, of course, makes her the embodiment of the grunge style; the oppositional elements of quiet / loud, melody and discord, introspection and screaming rage. And the songs encapsulate all of this perfectly. Yes: let’s not forget the songs, or the rest of the band. Both are equally essential to the band’s appeal.

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Hands Off Gretel

Tonight, airing a set built around debut album Burn the Beauty Queen, the band positively tear into the guts of those songs, channelling every ounce of fury into those angst-filled aural assault. Dropping ‘Be Mine’ as the second track of the set, it’s a shuddering, full-on bass-led attack. ‘Bad Egg’ is served with a huge dose of venomous self-loathing, and ‘One-Eyed Girl’ is pure Live Through This era Hole – although unlike their forebears, Hands Off Gretel don’t sound ropey, and you can be pretty confident they’ll make it all the way through the set. And by the end of the set, everyone’s a sweaty mess, uplifted by the joy of catharsis.

Aural Aggro faves Hands Off Gretel return to York on Thursday and promise to bring with them a tidal wave of angry, angsty grunge rock.

They’re pitched as being ‘for fans of Nirvana, Hole and Alt Grunge’, and it’s an accurate enough summary, as their debut album Burn the Beauty Queen evidences in spades. But what it doesn’t really convey is just what a killer live act they are, and in Lauren Tate they have a real star in the making as their focal point.

Support comes from Brooders and the mighty (and seriously noisy) Seep Away. Needless to say, we’re fans.

There’s more info, including ticket links, at the Facebook event page. See you down the front!

 

 

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GoldMold Records – 24th June 2017

James Wells

‘The Sinking Feeling is testament to the fact that you can take crushing self-doubts and turn them into something else. With three totally unique personalities and backgrounds, the band converge on subjects of depression and loss. Each with their own trials, each member contributing to the unique dynamic that is proof that there is beauty and worth in every tribulation.’ So says the press release. Who would have known they’d have been from Glasgow? Not that all bands from Glasgow are depressed, miserable fucks,

Even without the blurb, the vocals are a dead giveaway, however murky the production. And the production is seriously murky. It sounds like a sock was stuck over the condenser mic they recorded the songs into while packed into one of their parents’ bedrooms. But beneath the mud is gold: the three songs which comprise the ‘One’ EP are magnificent slices of punky grunge alt-rock with some neat hooks buried like depth charges

There’s the bluster of Bug era Dinosur Jr about the three songs on this EP, particularly opening track ‘Standard’. Closer ‘Mary’ goes a bit more post-hardcore with some angry, throaty vocals contrasting with the slacker drawl that runs alongside.

Would it benefit from better production? No. This is music that’s real, raw, emotionally charged and played from the heart. And no multitracking and crisp EQing can supercede that.

 

 

The Sinking Feeling

It’s no secret that we’re fans of Hands Off Gretel here at Aural Aggro. Burn the Beauty Queen is – in our educated, objective opinion – a bona fide contemporary grunge classic.

Following the video release of ‘Bad Egg’ at the start of April, they’ve gone and done a cracking promo for ‘Plasters’ too. Watch it here:

 

Young Thugs Records – 12th May 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Straight out of the trap, DOG sounds like …And the Hangnails. They have a knack for blasting out of the speakers, full-throttle, from the first bar at the start of every album. There’s no preamble, no atmospheric or suspenseful intros, no slow-build and no pissing about: they’re in there, immediately, all riffing and explosive drumming.

That’s actually all there is: this grungey garage-pop duo have spent their carer to date maximising the impact of a comparatively limited format, namely the fact they’re a guitar and drums combo. But the trick is that they don’t sound like a duo, especially on this, their third album: the production is phat and full and with the treble backed off just a shade in comparison to their previous efforts, Martyn Fillingham’s split-signal guitar sounds thicker, denser meatier and more like both a guitar and bass simultaneously.

Steven Ried’s exceptional powerhouse drumming (this is a man who drums hard, and at a hundred miles an hour, and who makes Dave Grohl sound like some jazz tapper), sounds even more exceptional than ever on DOG. I mean, really. The guy’s a one-man percussion explosion. And again, while it’s commonplace for music critics – myself included, on occasion – to criticise little, grungy, lo-fi bands for ‘selling out’ by cleaning up their sound, aligning higher fidelity with a betrayal of their roots, in this instance at least, it would be a mistake. DOG is the work of a band which has evolved. This means that while there isn’t anything as explosively raw as ‘Fear Only Fear’ or ‘Everybody’s Luck’ from the previous albums, their edge has by no means been dulled. Yes, the songs do feel more crafted, more developed and less primal, bit it’s an incremental thing. It’s still loud, brashy, thrashy and rough around the edged. There’s still fuzz and feedback by the shedload.

But more than anything, on DOG, it’s possible to actually hear the detail and the sonic range. The result is that the full force of their live sound can at last be heard in a recorded format. Besides, it’s not as though they’ve gone super slick and delivered an album of radio-friendly r’n’b. DOG may be an album busting with hooks, but it’s also a serious alt-rock racket, and alongside the breezy surf-pop backing vocals are driving riffs galore.

DOG is without question their most accessible album to date, but that doesn’t mean that it’s overtly commercial or in any way a sell-out. There isn’t a weak track on the album, and there sure as hell isn’t a big ballad at the end of side one. DOG is ferocious, relentless, sharp, to the point and represents the realisation of everything …And the Hangnails have been building up to.

It contains just ten songs, the majority of which sit around the three minute mark. And so, as is their trademark, DOG is a short, sharp blast of post-grunge garagey punk bursting with killer hooks and belting tunes from start to finish. If this doesn’t see them make some kind of breakthrough, the world is even more fucked up and wrong than I’d imagined.

 

DOG artwork