Posts Tagged ‘Lo-Fi’

Robot Needs Home – 13th April 2018

James Wells

According to the press blurb, Kermes are a ‘self described queer-indie-punk band, born in the heart of Leicester’s close-knit DIY music community. Over the course of an EP and now their debut album, their music explores themes of transgender identity, depression, misogyny, anti-capitalism, queer relationships and being an increasingly visible target in an increasingly hostile world’.

Meanwhile, the band describe their sound as ‘trashgaze, or screampop, depending on the light’.

Lifted from the upcoming debut album, We Choose Pretty Names, ‘Yr Beast’ pulls together seemingly incongruous elements of Wild Beasts and Sonic Youth, with a dash of early Pavement to produce a wonky, angular blast of punky indie. The message is strong, clear and proud: ‘i was the beast of yr cisgender pain / and i am not sorry for the state of my body / i’ll never be sorry for that.’ The defiance of the refrain ‘I don;t have to take this from you’ is uplifting and empowering, and while its context is specific, it possesses a real universality.

They carry it off with a joyously unpolished and exuberant delivery: instead of sounding pissed off or preachy, it’s disarming and fun in an unpretentiously ramshackle way.

AA

Kermes

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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

GoldMold Records – 10th February 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Once upon a time, everything was tapes. The romanticism of a frustrating and often inconvenient medium has endured perhaps largely on account of the potential impermanence of their nature: how many music fans of the cassette age mourn the loss of a beloved recording on account of a moment’s forgetfulness which resulted in overrecording, or some freak event which resulted in demagnetisation? How many hours spent spooling and respooling tape which had become mangled in the heads, or otherwise stretched or snapped? The albums of yesteryear, all recorded to quarter inch tape, slowly decaying are an integral backdrop to our appreciation of the existence of the sounds they contain.

But is with books in the printed medium over digital text, it’s easier to form a bond with an artefact which feels somehow personal and personalisable. Just as a book with various creases and marks, perhaps even annotations develops a tangible, unique sense of ownership a Kindle edition never can, a playlist can never have the same resonance as a lovingly-sequenced mix-tape with hand-scribbled notes accompanied by a creased post-it or page from a spiral-bound notepad containing a covering note, folded into quarters and stuffed inside a scuffed case. On an emotional level, at least, sonic fidelity counts for less than fidelity to a pure moment, and it’s the thought that counts: those analogue documents of yesteryear can contain the entirety of a crush that dissipates in weeks or the early stages of a lifelong relationship on any level.

While the debates over the nostalgia ‘industry’ continue to rage, it’s fair to say that the renaissance enjoyed by the cassette is not a purely economic one. After all, the costs involved in burning a bunch of CD-Rs and stuffing them into handmade sleeves is negligible, and even though a bulk batch of 100 C30 cassettes can be obtained for in the region of 55p per unit, the time and effort required to dub even a small run of tapes is proportionally greater than any number of CD-R burns. But the changing nature of the music industry means that where it’s at now is in the small-scale, the personal, and the idea that an artist or label has invested time and personal attention on a product imbues the object with an instant emotional resonance.

The debut release from Glasgow’s Forehead – the vehicle of Sean Garrett (said to be ‘the shyest frontman you’ll ever meet’ and mother goose of the Lovely Ladies) – is appropriately named, as it is being released – if you hadn’t already deduced – on (baby blue) cassette, in a limited edition of just 15. It’s also being released as a download of course. Because no artist makes a release exclusively for 15 people.

The blurb notes that the four tracks contained herein ‘have been about for a while but are only being released now, a testament to Sean’s wholly unwarranted modesty’. And yes, the songs are superb, in a sketchy, nervous, hesitant yet achingly sincere way. You get the impression that Garret’s shyness is integral to the material, to the extent that its awkwardness defines what makes it special. And by no means interpret awkward as clumsy: there’s a skilled songwriter hiding behind the sonic fog here.

Regardless of the protracted journey between conception, recording and release, in keeping with the EP’s title, Bedroom Tapes conveys the spirit of 90s analogue enthusiasm. Low-key, lo-fi indie rock songs, reminiscent less of Pavement and more of Silver Jews, define the Forehead sound. This only serves to amplify the nostalgic quality of the release, evoking the excitement of hearing something stubbornly lo-fi, dubbed from a cassette or a record, the grind of a worn stylus on cheaply-pressed vinyl, for the first time.

Forehead also captures the awkward shyness of J Mascis on ‘Honest’, and the swampy plod of ‘Corner Pieces Falling Apart’ bursts into slanted psych-hued noise before crawling off to hide under the table.

 

Forehead