Posts Tagged ‘New Wave’

Cardiff post-punk outfit Red Telephone are set to release their highly anticipated debut album Hollowing Out on the 31st March 2023. The only single taken from it ‘Waiting For Your Good Days’ is out on the 20th January.

Listen to ‘Waiting For Your Good Days’ here:

Hailing from Cardiff, Red Telephone’s richly layered alt-rock could have emanated from a club in Blade Runner’s dystopian LA – combining angular guitars, Krautrock-inspired rhythms and New Wave-tinged synths with infectious pop sensibilities. Drawing on post punk and synth pop influences, the band has been catching the attention of DJs across BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 1, Absolute Radio and Radio X; with comparisons to the likes of MGMT, Super Furry Animals, Mitski and Berlin-era Bowie being drawn. The band have recently appeared at BBC 6 Music Fringe Festival, Focus Wales, Swn Festival, Other Voices and Llangollen Fringe, supporting Warmduscher. With previous single releases on Welsh-based labels Libertino Records and the Popty-Ping Recording Company, the band’s highly anticipated debut album is set to be released in March 2023.

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Photo by Faith Clarke

Panurus Productions – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Panurus Productions are renowned for their favouring of pop and jaunty indie on their catalogue, but as the title suggests, they’ve really excelled with the saccharine-sweet, shimmery Christmas bauble stylings on this December release by Distant Animals, the vehicle for Daniel Alexander Hignell.

The accompanying blurb sets the pitch for ‘A scuzzed out synth/noise/punk affair… straddling a range of genres but never settling on any one of them for long, shifting around with an angry, anxious energy directed at our bleak status quo.’

Granted, this does mean it’s nowhere near as abrasive as recent releases from Trauma Bond or as dark as Carnivorous Plants, this is a hybrid form that coalesces to convey the sound of post-industrial nihilism.

The synths drive and dominate the sound, and they’re layered into thick, foggy swirls pitched against grinding, fuzzy-as-fuck sequenced bass and a drum machine that’s largely submerged beneath the swelling squall. The opener, the eight-and-a-half-minute ‘Greetings from the MET Office’ builds and builds into an immense wall of sound, the guitar adding layers off noise and feedback rather than melody. There is a tune in there, somewhere, and vocals, too, buried in a blitzkrieg that sounds like Depeche Mode covered by My Bloody Valentine and then remixed by Jesu or Dr Mix and the Remix.

‘Phase Down and Sweat to Death’ gets dubby, with samples and snippets cut in and out of the mix, and actually finds a murky, echo-drenched groove in places, before veering off on myriad detours.

As titles such as the title track and ‘Panning For Shit In The Shallow End’ intone, this is far from a celebratory collection, with the delicate and brittle-feeling ‘Hegel’s Violin’ sounding like it could have been penned by The Cure circa Seventeen Seconds, and yes, it’s fair to say that there are what some may refer to as ‘gothic’ elements to the brooding sound.

If songs titles like ‘Fondly Remembering When Primark was a Woolworths’ and ‘They Didn’t Have Snowflakes In 76’ might suggest that Hignell’s been gorging on the Memberberries, but on the evidence there is, buried away in trudging industrial sub-zero trudges and stark, oppressive abstraction, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and we can appreciate these compositions as critiques of the multi-billion-pound nostalgia industry and Brexit Britain, where narrow-minded twats get dewy-eyed all over social media reminiscing over false memories of a golden age that never was. ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to…’ It’s patent bullshit of course, but so many subscribe to this that, well, it must be true that The BBC haven’t screened Monty Python in decades because they’re woke lefties (and nothing to do that after airing it in 2019 for the fiftieth anniversary, the rights were purchased by NetFlix), and Stranger Things is only good because, well, it’s like The Goonies, isn’t it?

‘Panning for Shit’ is sparse, minimal electro that borders on Krautrock, and is the sound of drowning, not waving from our turd-encircled island, and there are many elements of this album which seem to align with the bleak perspectives and sounds of early industrial acts like Throbbing Gristle. But, to be clear, these are simply touchstones, rather than direct comparisons. Everything Is Fucked And We Are All Going To Die may evoke a sense of familiarity and a strange sense of déjà-vu, but ultimately presents a unique view and amalgamation of influences and stylistic references, and herein lies its true strength.

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12th December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The eponymous debut EP by South Carolina indie pop-rock duo The Yets is steeped in the tropes of quintessential vintage alternative pop, absorbing a range of influences, while keeping a clear eye on classic and ultimately accessible forms – embracing Fleetwood Mac and Cocteau Twins in equal measure, as the press release suggests with remarkable accuracy.

Robin Wilson has a superb voice, delicate, emotive, easy on the ear, and at the same time rich and gutsy. It’s key to the sound of The Yets, and the six songs on this debut EP really showcase both her versatility and that of their songwriting.

There’s a weird booming sound – not quite a beat, not quite a bass note – that cuts through the mellow drift of ‘Waterline’, and it’s one of those things that once you’re attuned to it, you can’t detune, like the duck in Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ or the cowbell on ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’, but if you can ignore it, it’s a superbly-executed song with a clean guitar chug that keep it moving along nicely while the lead guitar chimes and washes melodically.

‘Remember’ is perfection, a layered, easy alt-rock tune that’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ and it floats along in a dreamy drift that closes out with a delicate guitar solo.

They strip things right back for ‘Lesser Evil’, which swings between brooding indie and moody post-punk with hints of Siouxsie, before spinning into ethereal shoegaze territory on the dreamy ‘Letter to a Boy’, which really does find the band revelling in the misty ethereal shadows of Cocteau Twins.

‘Fades to Grey’ makes an obvious reference to Visage, and the band’s 80s leanings are on clear display, but that’s where the connection severs: this is a smooth, atmospheric rippling piece with chiming, echo-heavy guitar that owes much to Disintegration-era Cure, and ‘Happy Now’ builds on that thickly atmospheric sound with a loping rhythm and layers of vocals that really fill out the sound as the guitars and it’s the most overtly goth song of the set.

With a broad pallet of tuneful wistfulness and textured, layered instrumentation, coupled with some smart and sensitive production, The Yets have landed with a seriously accomplished debut: there’s a lot happening here, and there’s a significant range but at the same time a cohesive feel to it.

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The Yets 4 - photo by Gordon Backman

Photo: Gordon Backman

6th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Most Dinosaur Jr fans are aware of the prehistory – the band’s primordial swamps, or whatever, which saw the band emerge from she ashes of hardcore punk act Deep Wound, although significantly less seems to have been made of the band’s reunions in 2004 and 2013. But no matter – perhaps more should be being made of the work of Deep Wound’s less celebrated co-founder Scott Helland, who is one half of Frenchy and the Punk, along with Samantha Stephenson.

There’s no getting around it: it’s an awful name. Kinda corny, with connotations off Grease, it’s one of those monikers that’s so cliché It’s probably fictitious. But no, they’re real, very real, and according to their bio, ‘the duo thrive in their trademark blend of post-punk and dark folk music’. And they’ve been going for a while: their upcoming album, Zen Ghost will be their seventh long-player.

And that they do. ‘Come In and Play’ is pitched as an upbeat Siouxsie-esque delight, is the second enchanting single from their forthcoming Zen Ghost album, following the lead track ‘Mon Souvenir’. Their seventh long-player record, this will be released via the EA Recordings label on October 28th.

‘Come in and Play’ is layered, elegant, haunting fashion that combines elements of trad goth with folk, landing somewhere between Siouxsie, Skeletal family, and All About Eve. With picked acoustic guitar providing texture and detail, it’s driven by a solid bass groove. The overall feel is quite the contradiction – it’s an alternative rock song with a paired-back arrangement and quite spartan, brittle production that solidly recreates the essence of 1984.

On the surface, it’s a simple, song, but scratch to the next layer, and there’s plenty going on and then some, sonically, musically, and emotively. Stephenson’s vocal is outstanding, and the real attention-stealer here as she swoops and soars and switches from angelic drifting to a full-lunged expellation, while swiping various shades and stylistic elements in between.

‘Come in and Play’ is both haunting and confident. It’s one of those songs where you absorb the atmosphere more than you absorb any instant hook, and that’s ok – more than ok.

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Christopher Nosnibor

The Fall’s ‘Fiery Jack’ is blasting from the PA as I line up behind a cluster of gothy / alternative types: promising signs, always, and Wire and Sleaford Mods feature on the playlist while we’re waiting for Balcony Plants.

York has suddenly begun sprouting a new crop of indie / alternative bands, and tonight’s event showcases three of them.

First impressions? They’re kids. Of course they are. And they’ve brought a lot of mates along. They all congregate and hug in the front rows as the band take the stage. Second impressions? Jesus. Balcony Plants are into introducing the band members and making and calls to make some fucking noise while they’re still tuning up, before launching into some lame-assed rap-rock with elements of early Beastie Boys, with songs about house parties and nightclubs. Then something happens mid-set. After tinkering with some pedestrian Kerrang! flavoured alt-rock that shows they’re as stylistically coherent in their music as their image, they lunge towards ever grittier punk as the set progresses, and improve exponentially as they do, and there’s lots of moshing, especially to their cover of Nirvana’s ‘Breed’, which, is undeniably storming. They do know how to build a set to a climactic finale, I’ll give them that, and by the time they’ve orchestrated some tidal waves of crowd action during their signature song, they’ve convinced me. They’ve work to do, but it’s early days and they’ve got clear potential.

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Balcony Plants

So the guitarist in Balcony Plants is also the bassist in The Rosettas, a more visually and sonically coherent proposition. The singer makes an entrance….and it kinda takes a brief nosedive there. The riffs are meaty and the drumming is particularly tight, but the vocals merely so-so. I’d always question throwing in a cover as the second song of any set, but especially one of The Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’, however well played.

That tonight’s bands – all clearly made up of millennials (and I mean that factually rather than in any way disparagingly)– scatter their sets with choice 90s cuts is interesting; I suppose in context it’s the same as young bands of the 90’s dredging up songs of the 70s from their parents’ collections, or every band of the 80s covering ‘Sister ray’ and ‘Louie Louie’; there seems to be a two-decade loop which essentially corresponds with the emergent generation gap.

‘Save Your Time’ may be their idea of heavy, but… Still. They play with energy and are decent enough in a middling gruge-tinged alt-rock way. They probably need to work on the between-song chat, though, since “We’re about to play a song some of you might know. It’s on a thing called Spotify” is about as good as it gets. Blur’s ‘Song 2’ is the second cover of their set, and they seem to play the covers better than their own songs, but also manage to deliver a strong finale.

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The Roosettas

The Rosemaries exude an air that they’re a cut above from the second they walk on. Tonight, they’re all wearing dresses, but still look the most rock ‘n’ roll of tonight’s acts. The 90s covers continue as they open with a passionate cover of ‘Killing in the Nam’, and it again seems an unusual choice. The squawking vocal uplifts are unexpected. But there’s a lot that’s unexpected about this bunch, and it’s all good. They’re political, they’re tight, and they’re solid. Sprechgesang verses bounce over buoyant baselines before breaking into mega choruses. ‘Pogo pogo pogo’, say my notes. Those squeaks are an interesting post-punky vocal quirk that seem to reference early Fall more than anything, but then also make a nod to Siouxsie.

Overall, The Rosemaries land between The Sex Pistols and Yard Act with a dash of Pulp, although ‘Easy Peas’ bludgeons away at two chords Fall style. The singer heckles the audience in classic northern style: “Are ya gonna do some proper moshin’ or what?”

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The Rosemaries

They slip into a three-chord punky thrash with sneery, shouty vocals that call to mind Jilted John and hammer out as their second cover – the most contemporary of the night – Fontaines DC’s ‘Boys in the Better land’, which had been aired over the PA earlier. It’s a faithful rendition that’s delivered with zeal, and one can’t help but feel its relevance to bands knocking around in York. There are some decent pub venues to be grateful for, but there’s a world outside, starting just a few miles up the A64.

If this seems critical of the bands or local scene, it really isn’t: bands have to start somewhere, and with grassroots venues closing by the dozen, it’s a joy to witness nights like this – bands cutting their teeth in venues what are happy to give them a platform, and what’s also encouraging is the embracing of the ramshackle, rough and ready. I’m tired of a scene where bands strive to sound like arena acts in pub venues. It’s just not punk, and what we need is to hear live music that sounds and feels live. This is what tonight brings. It’s unpolished, unfinished, work in progress. But it’s great fun, and this is the next generation coming through. Just wait.

22nd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This seems to have been a long while coming – and that’s because it has. The New-wave / No-Wave gothy post-punk duo have been kicking out killer EPs for a decade already. Six EPs and a single to be precise, with each EP containing five, six, or even seven tracks. It’s a substantial body of work, however you look at it. And yet it’s only now that they’ve got around to an album proper.

They’ve made the most of the time and the previous releases to realty hone and refine their sound, and having done so, Admire feels like a proper album. It’s ten tracks, solid, packed, back-to-back, arranged with sequence in mind. It’s a sequence that finds things getting slower in the second half, and it would be interesting to hear how this pans over two sides of vinyl. Admire would likely be dissected as having a ‘fast’ and a ‘slow’ side.

As Admire demonstrates, GHXST have remained true to their original sound and ethos – scuzzy, reverb-soaked murkinesss, with a deep psychedelic twist. There’s a lot of twist and a lot of noise on Admire. Comparisons only go so far with these guys, and while The Jesus and Mary Chain is an obvious one, they’re probably closest to A Place to Bury Strangers in their shimmering wall of sound face-melting blast of FX and overdrive. I may have also mentioned Curve before as a comparison: it still stands, and I’m wondering why when people are whittering about various 90s bands

The build on the upward arc is fairly rapid to say the least: it’s just over two minutes into single cut ‘Pls, You Must Be a Dream’ that the extra level of distortion kicks in and blows the roof off everything. And for a time thereafter, you find yourself adrift in a wash of reverb and overloading distortion. Things simply drift: it’s dense, it swashes and coasts along, splashing against the shores as the waves splash the deck, and each song has a certain supple power.

‘Sonores’, the album’s seventh track, marks the first real spot of respite as they pare things back to a swampy synth and bulbous bass notes hang in the dense air, and ‘Nights of Paradise’ slows things to a crawling trudge that threatens to take the album down into a low-tempo slump, as if they’ve run out of steam and simply got stoned to a half-pace stoned sonic swamp. In context, recent single ‘Marry the Night’ is a bit of a crawler, and closer ‘Only Lovers’ is a murky slice of wistful melancholy. Of course, all the best albums conclude with a slow-burning epic, and this is definitive. Don’t ask me why, but this is one of those slow-burning min-epics with piano and a towering wall of rippling overdrive what tugs hard on the emotions and makes me want to cry without even understanding why. But it is, without question, an outstanding finale to what is, also without question, an outstanding album.

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Plotting a rapid follow-up to their acclaimed 2021 debut album, the track arrives as the first insight of what the band confirm will be their upcoming second full studio release.

Whereas much of their debut album, ‘Deathretro’, was thrashed out during the band’s first incarnation almost 15 years ago, “Exit Point” stands as Deathretro’s first completely original composition in over a decade.

A frenzied post/punk thrill, it veers and swerves through surf-carved curvatures and barbed guitar prangs, as the band spout nihilistic lyrics for the end-of-days.

“In the bowels, the people scream. Humanity, it appeals to me. Dirty machine, a wretched beast, We give life to the old devil.” howl Deathretro here.

Touching on the darkest of themes with a white-hot intensity, “Exit Point” rages against religion and propaganda in a dystopian realm of vivid, Dantean imagination.

Having already aired the track live at a smattering of live fixtures, Adrian of Deathretro sums-up the response so far:

“This is the only second album track that we have played live and to great reception…It’s punky, urgent, does it’s job and f**ks off”

Listen to ‘Exit Point’ here:

Around the release Deathretro are lining up a run of Spring headline shows and Summer festival dates (including Bluedot and Kendal Calling) that will offer fans another opportunity to catch the band performing “Exit Point” live. Full dates are as follows:

DEATHRETRO – LIVE DATES

28th April – Oporto, Leeds
(w/ Deathretro / Neeta)

18th June – Gorilla, Manchester
(w/ Sea Fever / Riding the Low / Deathretro

+ DJ sets from Gillian Gilbert & Stephen Mortis (New Order) & Chris Hawkins (BBC6 Music))

24th July – Bluedot
30th July – Kendal Calling

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11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

When it comes to goth, you might say that the apple never falls far from the tree: there’s a long history of references and recycling, with bands often taking their names from songs or otherwise referencing other bands, and there is, or at least should be, a goth band name generator somewhere on the Internet, with ‘Children’, ‘Sisters’, ‘Grooving’, ‘Dead / Death’ and ‘Ghost’ featuring prominently in the not-so random permutatable word selections. Funerals and marionettes are pretty popular, too, from as far back as 1986, when The Marionettes began life as The Screaming Marionettes.

Taking their name from the Charles Gounod composition of the same name, best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The Funeral March of the Marionettes go back to that mid/late eighties heyday (broadly 84 or 85 to 87 or 88) that saw ‘goth’ solidify from being a nebulous array of post-punk bands (The Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Alien Sex Fiend) being lumped under an umbrella by a lethargic press into an actual genre with more defined stylistic boundaries, typically drawing on the aforementioned acts, but with more indie-leanings typical of The Mission and the style of guitar Wayne Hussey introduced to The Sisters on his arrival in 1984

The Funeral March of the Marionettes, from Rockford, Illinois, cite The Cure, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and others among their influences, and while they describe their latest offering as something of a departure, it’s still dense with latter-day gothic tropes, albeit leaning more towards the atmospheric post-punk/industrial crossover space, whereby you’ve got Depeche Mode covering Joy Division, a brooding atmosphere as cool synths drift in an ocean of reverb while angst oozes from every corner of the dense, gloomy production.

Yet for all its adherence of those tropes, for all its stylistic familiarity (just look at that cover art, that’s The Sisters of Mercy / Merciful Release meets Joy Division via Rosetta Stone), ‘Slow’ hits a spot, because it’s dark, dark, dark, and the execution is spot on, sending a shiver of torment down the spine that entices you to bask in the gloom.

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Space & I Records – 21st January 2022

January is always a shitter. Whether you love Christmas or loathe it, or even if you’re largely indifferent, January is invariably a slump month of epic proportions. Those of us who aren’t mad keen on Christmas tend to cling to the light at the end of the tunnel that is new year, not because of the New Year celebrations, but because of the prospect of things getting back to normal, where everyone isn’t flapping about doing Christmas shopping and your mates aren’t in an endless conveyor-belt of work and other social commitments and might actually have time for just a pint and a chat, and because gigs and regular social activities resume and you can turn on the TV, radio or walk into a shop without hearing wall-to-wall fucking Christmas tunes.

But no, everyone’s skint, the ones who aren’t are doing dry January and not going out, and the days are short and cold and miserable and Christ, it’s bleak. And for the self-employed, the unsalaried, those in the arts, it’s even bleaker, especially during a pandemic. But then, as ‘Happy Birthday payday’ reminds us, staying afloat in the arts is hard at anytime.

It’s ironic that while mainstream chart musicians are lauded and the pop icon is considered aspirational, those who actually commit themselves to the graft of being in a proper band – or pursuing creative activities like writing or visual arts as a means of earning a living are relentlessly knocked back for being dreamers or unrealistic. Granted, it’s only very few who achieve the heights of Coldplay or Radiohead, or JK Rowling or Damien Hirst, but that isn’t to say that an equitable living shouldn’t be out of reach for the many in the lower echelons, and it simply shouldn’t be the case that tends of thousands of streams on Spotify or iTunes translates to less than the price of a pint.

Moses aren’t a band who are willing to compromise to turn that pint into a round: ‘Happy Birthday Payday’ is culled from their second album, Almost Everything Is Bullshit, which is not only a cracking title but a verifiable fact in this time of endless fakery, but one that’s unlikely to see it garner much mainstream radio play. Similarly, while ‘Happy Birthday Payday’ is a strong tune, bursting with energy and hooks, and with a nagging quasi-rockabilly guitar-line and some storming bass runs, it’s hardly zeitgeist. It’s cut from the punkier end of post-punk, and could have been part of the early 90s New Wave of New Wave ‘movement’ hyped by the press. It’s fast, furious, and spirited, and exactly the kind of tunage we need on offer beyond the mainstream – which is why outsider acts need to be viable, because without them, we’re fucked.

10th December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sense of Scenery first came to my attention way back in 2009 with the release of The Disaster of Imagination which landed with me for review. I fucking loved it, and still love it now: it’s an album that’s stuck with me, and still gets regular play now, although it carries a certain weight of nostalgia now as it comes bearing memories of past, perhaps simpler times, and it also reminds me of people and places, and how things have changed.

But then, it always hit me with a certain level of emotional resonance, there was just something about it.

Sense of Scenery have been slow in their subsequent output: an EP in 2012, a remix EP the following year, and an instrumental single in 2017 has ben the sum of the output prior to the emergence of ‘Through the Walls’ as a single in August as a taster for an upcoming album. And now there’s this, a second single and accompanying B-side.

SOS come out swaggering with bravado about this one, claiming it to be ‘Like a direct injection of Viagra into the flaccid, shriveled wiener of Rock’. Which is pretty fucking bold, however you look at it.

It arrives on a wibbly wave of organ with some warping tape stretches, and a crisp metronomic drum sound, and while it’s immediately apparent that their style is unchanged in its post-punk leanings, it is very much evolved. Sean Douglas’ compositions still revolve around cyclical chord repetitions and choruses that step up the vocals and pack a mean hook, but things are altogether slicker, especially the production.

The drums are bordering on the mechanical, and there’s a tightness and smoothness about the overall sound that brings polish, but more than that, it brings a sense of paranoia and heightened tension. B-side ‘Smokescreen’ really brings this all to the fore, bordering on dance, especially with its blooping synth line, but it sounds like the soundtrack to an 80s car chase sequence, and it’s dynamic and exciting.

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