Posts Tagged ‘New York’

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.

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Brooklyn, NY’s Typhoid Rosie is rolling out another new single off the band’s upcoming album Queen Of Swords, out August 13.

The latest track, ‘Defend Your Temple’, is an empowering feminist anthem– and an urgent plea to stop seeking validation outside of ourselves.

Rosie Rebel describes it as ‘A punk song for every little girl who was sold a sham fairy tale, and is still waiting to be loved in such a disposable age: She don’t need no prince, she don’t need no mice, she’ll make it on her own just fine!’

Check ‘Defend Your Temple’ here:

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Photo: Mark Doyle

A Place To Bury Strangers share new single/video ‘I Might Have’ from their forthcoming Hologram EP out 16 July on founding member Oliver Ackermann’s label Dedstrange. Following lead single End Of The Night‘, ‘I Might Have’ is a fuzz-soaked sonic disaster in the best possible way. Past reflections collide with the brutality of a disintegrating world, stories of personal trauma, acceptance, and human failings emerge from the rubble of noise and destitute motorik rhythms. This is A Place To Bury Strangers at its most honest and unfiltered. Hologram serves as an abstract mirror to the moment we live in and ‘I Might Have’ smashes that mirror into a thousand pieces.

‘I Might Have’ is about the insecurities of life and growing up and when you just have to turn around and say ‘F*ck it,’” says Ackermann. “Life sucks so we may as well have a good time.” The accompanying video visualizes this mentality as it shows the band raucously hanging out together in New York City.

Watch the video here:

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A Place To Bury Strangers 2022 Tour Dates – Tickets on sale NOW

Wed 09 March – Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany  

Thu 10 March – Beatpol – Dresden, Germany

Fri 11 March – Klub Poglos – Warsaw, Poland

Sat 12 March – Futurum – Prague, Czech Republic
Sun 13 March – Randal Club – Bratislava, Slovakia

Mon 14 March – Durer Kert – Budapest, Hungary

Wed 16 March – Control Club – Bucharest, Romania

Thu 17 March – Mixtape5 – Sofia, Bulgaria
Fri 18 March – Eightball – Thessaloniki, Greece

Sat 19 March – Temple – Athens, Greece
Mon 21 March – 25th of May Hall – Skopje, Macedonia

Tue 22 March – Club Drugstore – Belgrade, Serbia

Thu 24 March – Mochvara – Zagreb, Croatia
Fri 25 March – Freakout Club – Bologna, Italy

Sat 26 March – Largo – Rome, Italy
Sun 27 March – Legend Club – Milan, Italy

Tue 29 March – Bogen F – Zurich, Switzeralnd
Wed 30 March – Backstage – Munich, Germany

Thu 31 March – Caves Du Memoir – Martigny, Switzeralnd

Fri 01 April – La Trabendo – Paris, France
Sat 02 April – Lafayette – London, UK
Mon 04 April – Kayka – Antwerp, Belgium
Tue 05 April – Gleis 22 – Munster, Germany
Wed 06 April – Melkweg – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Thu 07 April – Vera- Groningen, Netherlands
Sat 09 April – Hus 7 – Stockholm, Sweden
Sun 10 April – John Dee – Oslo, Norway
Mon 11 April – Pumpehuset – Copenhagen, Denmark

Tue 12 April Hole 44 – Berlin, Germany
Wed 13 April – MTC – Cologne, Germany

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Uniform’s ‘Dispatches from the Gutter’ comes with a momentous video from filmmaker and director Jacqueline Castel. “The video was approached as a documented mass sigil informed by the historical and philosophical concept of self-immolation, performed under the lunar eclipse of Independence Day,” Castel explains. “Participants were asked to bring personal offerings to burn, and were given a directive to write down their intentions for the future, which were attached with accelerants to an effigy that was later cremated. It was a symbolic act of releasing what we wish to abandon, and an invocation of what we wish to rebuild.”

Uniform’s vocalist Michael Berdan reveals, “Aside from being a dear friend, Jacqueline has been a favourite director of all of ours for a very long time. Her stark aesthetic and eye for detail is without parallel. No one could have been better suited to create a visual representation of this song. Dispatches from the Gutter takes equal inspiration from Malcom Lowry’s Under the Volcano and Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. It is about the fine line that many of us live on between times of relative stability and utter chaos, and what life is like once that fragile threshold is breached.”

The video is the perfect accompaniment to a song that’s classic Uniform. Watch it here:

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(Press Photo By Ebru Yildiz)

Following the release of their debut self-titled album, Human Impact have kept busy and continued writing and recording more songs they will be releasing over the coming months. The first of those new singles, "Contact" (which debuted via Louder Sound), was written and recorded shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19.

An eerie premonition, it predicts the new reality we all currently inhabit. In anticipation of this release, and as an act of connection in this time of isolation, the band put a call out to fans across the globe for video footage to use in the video for "Contact" showing how the Coronavirus has affected all our daily lives and environment. Asking the question: What does this new reality look like for you?

About the music and video, Human Impact remark: "We’d like to write songs about humankind living in harmony and balance with the world, about governments and corporations being of and for the people. But those songs would be narcotic lullabies spitting in the wind of what’s real. We wish this song were wrong. "Contact" was written, recorded and mixed just before the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Originally written as a response to a feeling of international vulnerability to the spread of disease via air travel, the song’s lyrics proved to be an uneasy and uncanny prediction, foreshadowing our current quarantined reality."

As residents of North America’s hardest hit city, the band has earmarked their proceeds from the song to be donated to the NYC COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Human Impact ask fans to consider donating to this or their local charities as well.

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Photo credit: Jammi York

Brooklyn duo GHXST have released ‘Gloom’, the third EP in their Nowhere trilogy, mixed by James Aparicio (Nick Cave, the Horrors).

The EP is the final iteration of a sonic journey that has taken the duo across America: from the sonorities of hyper-real deserts, back to New York’s no-wave.

The Sabbath-inspired riffs of their previous releases have faded in ‘Gloom’ into droning guitar feedback and reverb-drenched drum machines. Shelley X’s melancholy vocals serve as a anchor in the frozen emotional haze.

They recently released, ‘Ride’, the first single from the EP, a southern doom track with the paranoid swagger of Suicide’s electronic beats. The video features footage from New Orleans’ “Krewe of Boo” parade projected in a flickering, Lynch-esque dream.

Watch ‘Ride’ here:

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Southern Lord – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been five years since Wreck appeared on Alternative Tentacles. So what have Unsane been doing in the intervening period? Gazing at their navels, taking up yoga and discovering a serene spirituality as a means of dealing with the anguish of life in the modern world? As if. They’ve been distilling their brutal rage into even more intensely bleak slabs of sonic nihilism. And, naturally, it’s housed in appropriately unsubtle, gore-soaked artwork. Unsane’s album covers are nothing if not distinct: while so many metal album covers which display hematomaniac tendencies are highly stylised and revel in the intended shock value, Unsane’s covers are all the more shocking by view of their clinicality, resembling crime scene photos than works of art. This is in many ways true of the music itself: there’s a functionality, a bluntness about it, and no sense of there being any indulgence or show.

Everything about Sterilize is stark, uncompromising, and connotes post-industrial, post-everything society, the dehumanising effects of merely trying to exist in the capitalist world where everyone gets pushed further and further down for the benefit of the few. It’s the soundtrack to life being sucked from the soul, the sonic encapsulation of desolate fury.

The grey steel assault of ‘Factory’ sets the tone and tempo: screeching feedback whistles through the grey, grain of the guitars and sludgy bass. From thereon in, the ferocious howls of anguish and packed in tight, back-to-back.

The song titles are also functional, direct, descriptive. Again, there’s no fluff, and little joy, to be found around ‘We’re Fucked’, ‘A Slow Reaction’ or ‘Distance’. Everything is paired back to the bare essentials and compacted for maximum impact. This includes the blues-based sound that defines Unsane: it’s crunched up, compressed, stomped into submission, meaning that while there is a certain swing to it, it’s limited to the most concise and precise form.

‘The Grind’ is aptly titled and brings a thunderous deluge of guitar; ‘Aberration’ is built around a simple four-chord trudge; and ‘No Reprieve’ sums up the album as a whole. You don’t listen to Unsane for variety, either across a given album, or their output overall. You listen to Unsane to vent, to experience a relentless viscerality. There’s something almost self-flagellatory about listening to an Unsane album in its entirety. At a certain point, the initial sense of catharsis is replaced by a crushing claustrophobia. This isn’t to say it’s an unpleasant experience, but is indicative of the effect of such sustained intensity. It’s as exhausting, mentally and physically, as the exertions of daily life on the treadmill, a punishment as reward.

When they slow the pace a shade, the weight is turned up, and when they hit a groove, it’s explosive and blistering. The tripwire guitar that stretches its sinews over the sludgy trudge of ‘Lung’ only raises the tension, and closer ‘Avail’ draws a heavy curtain of screaming anguish on proceedings with distorted vocals tearing across a rumbling bassline and savage guitars.

There’s a desperation and urgency about Sterilize which ensures that it crackles from beginning to end. Everything seethes, spits and scrapes and there’s not a moment’s relief. It’s this intensity which makes Sterilize as strong as any Unsane release. It’s mercilessly harrowing, but is ultimately satisfying in a perverse, sadistic sense.

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Sacred Bones – 20th January 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Nasty’ is a word you’re likely to hear or read in relation to dark, gnarly, mangled black metal or crust punk, or perhaps some particularly unpopulist industrial effort, or some particularly savage techno. But on Wake In Fright Uniform offer something that’s a different kind of nasty. And yes, it really is nasty, brutal, savage, uncompromising and unfriendly. And while there are elements of metal, thrash, industrial and power electronics, Wake in Fright – described as ‘a harrowing exploration of self-medication, painted in the colors of war’ – throws down the challenge of a noise all of its own.

Preview cut ‘Tabloid’ doesn’t so much open the album as tear the lid off the thing in a squalling, brutal frenzy. The drums are pitched to a frenetic pace but largely buried under the snarling, churning mess of guitars, feedback and distortion. Michael Berdan sneers and hollers venomously like he’s in the throes of mania, and to describe it as raw would be an understatement. It’s still on the bone and walking around. A gnarly mash of early Head of David, Foetus, Godflesh and the most obscure hardcore punk demo tape you’ve ever heard, it’s anything but easy on the ear. It is, however, a real blast of adrenaline, not so much a smack around the mouth as a succession of steel-toed boot jabs to the ribs.

The earthmoving bass grind of ‘Habit’ is coupled with the dirtiest, dingiest guitar noise you’ll hear all year. ‘The Lost’ combines the harsh edge of late 80s Ministry with an old-school punk feel, New Order trampled under the boots of a thousand-strong army of brutalists. It’s a stroll in the park compared to the thousand-mile-an-hour rage explosion that follows in the shape of ‘The Light At the End (Cause)’, which is nothing short of brutal, a black metal assault. There’s nowhere to take refuge with this album: cover your face, the blows land in the ribs, the back, the legs. Uniform are fucked off, and are going to vent their unremitting ire on anything, everything, and everyone.

The most striking thing about this album – short as it is, with just eight tracks and a total running time of thirty-eight and a bit minutes, (aside from its eye-popping intensity, that is) is its diversity. ‘The Killing of America’ is a full-tilt industrial metal slogger which evokes the spirit of Psalm 69, and packs a truly wild guitar breaks. The tempo is off the scale, to, and th third most striking thing about Wake in Fright is its sustained attack. There’s no let up. Not even for a second. Just when you think there might be a moment’s respite, the buggers up the tempo and the volume and the fierceness by at least another ten per cent. By ‘Bootlicker’ (track six), it’s all reached an almost unbearable level of noise, as the drums pound like machine gun fire through a gut-churning barrage of guitars. Seriously, with Wake in Fright, Uniform make Strapping Young Lad sound like Mike Flowers Pops.

Curtain closer ‘The Light At the End (Effect)’ may slow the pace at last, but the murky Swans-like dirge, with its scratched spoken narrative, remains anything but an easy exit or an uplifting finale. It’s six minutes of postindustrial grind, and a fitting close to an album that comes out, fists flailing, whirling chains and spitting venom.

Don’t come to Uniform looking for a hug. Wake in Fright is utterly terrifying, a horrorshow of a record with not a moment of calmness or humanity. It’s horrifying, squalid, beyond harsh: a sonic kick to the gut. You bet it’s already one of my albums of the year.

 

Uniform - Wake in Fright