Posts Tagged ‘melodic’

23rd July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Let’s get this covered off before I start: I’m a grumpy, curmudgeonly git, awkward and obtuse. I’m one of those people who hates Christmas – because festive cheer is false and everything’s just about oiling the cogs of capitalism – and I loathe summer because anything over eighteen degrees is too fucking hot, I can’t think straight while an uncomfortable mess of sweat, and people turn into absolute dicks. And by people, I mean practically everyone: it becomes the new norm once the mercury rises above twenty-one, and the level of dickness seems to increase incrementally with each degree. And to some, it may sound like a strange and perhaps petty niggle, but summer hits – songs specifically written to be played on the beach and at barbecues, in the park and in cars with the windows open evoke a unique level of ire and inspire a quite specific kind of fury.

Maybe it’s because as a teenage goth, I’d spend my summer holidays holed up in my room with the curtains drawn and trying not to die of hayfever while listening to The Sisters of Mercy and The Cure in semi-darkness while reading Stephen King novels that

I have no truck with this shit. Or maybe it’s just that people are generally insufferable.

But my job is to be objective, at least to a reasonable extent – ant prejudice shouldn’t colour a review, and certainly shouldn’t demolish a band – unless they’re Kasabian or Glass Caves, in which it’s entirely justified and why do these bands even have any fans in the first place?

There’s something TV / movie aspirational about California, the so-called Golden State which is renowned for its beaches and of course, Hollywood. With so much media propagating this image of sunkissed perfection and carefree living and celebrity lifestyles – often soundtracked by breezy ‘summer’ tunes, it’s no wonder it’s acquired a status that’s almost mythological over and above the reality and that it’s a popular travel destination.

But it’s 29֠C in the shade in my back yard and anyone with aspirations of travel should simply step outside and feel the melt. And if you want to enhance that sunny, summery vibe that’s a cut above the bland-as-fuck Radio 1 wallpaper, then Family Jools’ ‘California Sunshine’ is a solid choice. It’s got some strong classic rock vibes with some strong lead guitar work, whipped together with a really nice strolling bass that hits a nagging groove without being too much funk. In fact, there’s not too much of anything, and Family Jools deliver easy without being corny, and without the technicality of their playing being an obstacle to delivering a good tune. Nice.

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The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 29th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The thing that fades with the morning is the night, the hours of darkness in which so many of us find ourselves, if not sleeping, in contemplation or otherwise tormented with thoughts, while others find the memories of the night before receding with the sunrise. And what is so often vivid in those dark hours becomes hazy, intangible, and moved further out of reach with every hour that passes. And it’s that sense of loss, of the passing, of an absence that permeates ‘Fading with the Morning’ with a palpable ache.

Over the course of five finely-crafted minutes, The Beatflux build from a delicate, twinkling guitar intro that’s almost post-rock in its persuasion, into a colossal country-tinged grunger and Enrico Minelli’s gritty vocal has a grainy timbre that’s thick with emotion and a tone that says ‘drunk it, smoked it, lived it’.

Musing on how the ‘Sunlight cuts our eyes, changing hue’ may not be a startlingly poetic or vivid image, but it’s all in the delivery as the band conjure something far more evocative in the moment than on paper. ‘Fading With The Morning’ very much harks back to the sound of Alice in Chains, with a keen sense of melody and a layered subtlety in the arrangement that means it gains momentum as it progresses to truly anthemic scale.

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19th September 2020

James Wells

We love an unsolicited approach from bands who just bung all the press blurb and links on a message via FB. Because we’re not already so swamped we can’t read even a quarter of the emails we get sent, which means in terms of listening and coverage – maybe 10% on a good month.

We’ll forgive Swedish psychedelic act Melody Fields, though, since their brand of swirling, paced-out psychedelic shoegaze has heavy hints of early Ride and Chapterhouse as well as more recent acts like The Early Years, but then there are also vaguely baggy hints that call to mind early Charlatans. So when they describe themselves as ‘No retro, no seeking for effects’, and as a band with ‘a depth and a substance in their song writing, that feels unique in an ontherwise effect seeking scene’, my instinct is to ask if they’ve really done their research.

There are heavy far eastern influences in the serpentine guitar lines which they describe as ‘LA meets mystic Far East meets melancholy North’, as much reminiscent of The Mission’s drawing on Led Zeppelin as anything else and it’s not shit it’s just derivative.

The title track captures a hazy 60s vibe – a blandly generic assimilation of the era and the style, there’s a hippy-trippy wide-eyed wonderment spun into its folk-infused pickings, before the pleasant but predicable and somewhat turgid ‘Painted Sky’ brings Black Angels drone into a slow-mo collision with plodding Kula Shaker indie. There are some nice harmonies, but not nearly enough to make Melody Fields special.

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28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Spar Marta’s Facebook page defines them by what they’re not rather than what they are. Specifically, the quintet – consisting of Ieva Aleksandrovičiūtė, Luke Wilson, Conor ‘Corndawg’ Taylor, Sam Liddle, and Dan ‘Danno’ Purvey – are at pains to point out that they are not an acid jazz trio. The fact there are five of them is a significant clue, but, it has to be said, three of them do have beards… and y’know, nothing says jazz like beards, right?

This six-tracker, which features previous singles ‘The Postman’, ‘Frey’, and ‘Let is Go’ (which has absolutely nothing to do with the Disney smash Frozen – thankfully) showcases a mighty guitar-driven sound tempered by a keen sense of melody and a vocal that’s got guts and sass in equal measure. Recent years have seen a real surge in exciting female-fronted hard rock bands, who punch hard and pack some killer tunes.

With Leeds titans Black Moth having called it a day, the arrival of Sky Valley Mistress, and now Spar Marta is more than welcome.

It’s ‘The Postman’ that opens – or, more accurately, rips things open – with a hefty blast of overdrive, a busy, cyclical riff and gritty rhythm guitar. The shift to a ska-influenced riff for the middle eight is unexpected, but equally unexpected is the fact that it not only doesn’t suck, but actually works, and when they lumber back into the full gut-punching riffage, it hits even harder and calls to mind The Pretty Reckless at their best.

As the nagging mid-tempo ‘Let it Go’ demonstrates, they’ve got a real knack for dynamics, a clean, buoyant verse ‘I’ll never let you go’, Ieva Aleksandrovičiūtė sings, and it sounds like as much of a threat as a promise of support, and it’s all driven home with a full-throttle riff-mongous finale that fills the final minute.

What we get from this EP is the work of a multi-faceted band who’ve got an ear for an accessible alt-rock tune in the Paramore vein: ‘Frey’ is very much representative, being a bit more arena / Kerrang! radio friendly and suggests they’ve got the capacity to reach a much wider audience – but it’s when they put the pedal to the metal and rage hard they’re at they’re best by far, and ‘Take Control’ brings the fretwork fury propelled by some hefty drumming.

Closer ‘Run’ is a real beast of a closer, beginning with a soft, tripped-back intro that hints at something wistful, transitioning through a succession of segments to culminate in a raging, rip-roaring climax, all the while keeping one ear on the melody and filtering some palpable emotions through it all. It’s accomplished work, and while the production is full, it’s not excessively polished, meaning the songs are delivered with bite, and the passion behind them is very much to the fore.

Stream by clicking the image below.

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22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I was – for reasons I forget – watching Alain de Botton’s lecture entitled ‘Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person’ the other week. ‘We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well,’ he says. ‘In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”’

Maybe I give off a certain vibe, but increasingly, I find myself encountering people who are more up-front about their defects, and while I find I’m still surrounded by stressers, anxietisers, low-mooders, neurotics, etc., at least I get to choose the ones I feel comfortable sharing my time with instead of discovering way down the line that they’re completely fucking nuts. That’s not actually intended as a flippantly disparaging or critical comment, for the record: we’re all fucking nuts, and I’m as warped as anyone.

It’s not just in my personal life I’m a magnet. It’s in my (second) professional life, too that people approach me from nowhere. Sometimes, it isn’t easy to assimilate. My online persona is just that: it isn’t me. Then again, I write, and I put it – a part of myself – out there, daily.

This epic digression is in fact contextual narrative. Having been approached via Twitter, a PR was angling for a review. Close friends are right: I am soft and maybe I am too nice. But then, I don’t want anyone to think I’m actually the guy who does The Rage Monologues live. Said PR was touting the latest single offering from Miel – who is, in fact, Swiss contemporary art collector, singer-songwriter, psychologist, and philanthropist, Miel de Botton, who lives in London. De Botton is the daughter of the pioneer of open architecture asset management Gilbert de Botton, and the sister of Alain de Botton. It’s a small world.

The cover art illustrates the sentiment of a desire to escape, to be elsewhere, to be immersed in someone else, and this conveys the sentiment of Londoner Meil’s new single ‘It’s been such a long hard road / I wait for you /I need your love to get me through / take me away / to the deepest sea / finally you and me together at last’, she sings in a dreamy pop tone against a backdrop of rippling piano, synth strings and understated beats.

“When I wrote this, I was imagining an ideal man whisking me away to the tropics. Understanding and thoughtful, he would be bringing me joy, ridding me of loneliness,” says Meil. It’s pure fantasy escapism, of course, and in some form or another, it’s a sentiment that has a universality to it that’s undeniable.

Neatly wrapped in some deft pop packaging, ‘Take Me Away’ radiates pure quality, and augers well for her forthcoming second album.

Send The Wood – 28th January 2018

James Wells

Antagonism Of The Soul represents the culmination of five years of work or French metal act Insolvency (a name that’s more suggestive of a punk band, perhaps, although it’s clearly been no hindrance to their connecting with an audience on their home turf).

If the instrumental intro track, with its cinematic strings, rolling piano and brooding atmospherics, all woven together to form a mellifluous melody is a shade cliché, it sets a degree of expectation for the album as a whole.

Insolvency’s style is centred around contrast and juxtaposition and the uptempo. The clean / guttural vocal interactions which define the sound is matched by driving, distorted rhythm guitar chug and soaring, melodic and highly technical lead work. There’s a lot of technical proficiency on display here, as it happens: the rapidfire drumming is dynamic and intense, and there are tempo changes galore, meaning the songs feel as if they’re in constant transition. So, while the elements are commonplace, the execution and the delivery are far from it. Insolvency pack an awful lot into each of the five-minute segments, and these miniature epics are finely honed, and the production does them justice: it’s polished, but not so overly slick as to sand off the edges. It’s crisp, but still has bite, and balances aggression and emotional resonance.

There are hooks and some epic choruses, but they’re never overplayed, and for all of the heavy metal thunder, there are elements of prog and atmospheric post-rock in the mix. It all equates to an album with depth and range.

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Antagonism of The Soul Artwork

Dead Cross, the SoCal hardcore band featuring Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer/Suicidal Tendencies), Justin Pearson (Retox / The Locust), Mike Patton (Faith No More / Tomahawk) and Michael Crain (Retox / Festival of Dead Deer), premiere a new video for ‘Obedience School’ directed by Dennis Bersales, whose work has been used in collaboration with Dim Mak, Three One G, SM Prime, Kenneth Cobonpue, and Roberto Cavelli. The track features on their new self-titled album, produced by the legendary Ross Robinson, to be released August 4th on coloured vinyl and CD via Ipecac Records and Three One G, as well as digitally through iTunes.

Dead Cross’ debut self-titled LP vacillates from sounding like Godzilla attacking Tokyo to becoming the potential soundtrack of witches catching waves in a hurricane. Its highs are sharp and wicked, its lows ominous and evil, all the while laced with wit and, many times, an element of tongue-in-cheekiness not often found in thrash or hardcore music. Dennis Bersales brings the unyielding intensity of the band to life in the video for Obedience School, made from actual footage of a cockfighting event in the Philippines. Though brutal, the violence is anything but gratuitous;  the imagery meaningfully works in conjunction with Patton’s lyrics, forcing the viewer to consider the ugly tendencies of mankind.

Check out the video here:

DEAD CROSS TOUR DATES:

August 10 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory *

August 11 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl

August 12 Phoenix, AZ The Marquee *

August 14 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar & Grill

August 15 Houston, TX Warehouse Live

August 16 Austin, TX Emo’s

August 18 Tucson, AZ The Rialto Theatre *

August 19 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park

August 21 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre

August 23 Berkeley, CA The UC Theatre

August 25 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre

August 26 Seattle, WA The Showbox

August 27 Portland Wonder Ballroom

August 29 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades

September 8 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage

September 10 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer

September 11 Boston, MA Royale

September 12 New York, NY Gramercy Theatre

September 13 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw

September 15 Detroit, MI St. Andrew’s Hall

September 16 Chicago, IL Riot Fest *

September 17 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom

September 19 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue

September 20 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall

September 23 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre

* – Secret Chiefs 3 do not perform