Posts Tagged ‘single reivew’

Cool Thing Records – 18th March 22

Christopher Nosnibor

Ahead of the release of their second album, Sea Change, BAIT social critics and all-round ragers blast us with another taster in the shape of ‘TV Personality’.

Sonically, it’s something of a departure from previous outings, in that they’ve dialled back the abrasion a few notches. That doesn’t mean it’s by any means tame, since they’ve been pedal-to-the-metal pretty much all the way so far.

The synths are more prominent on this compared to previous releases, and with a bouncy, processed-sounding bass, it’s very much in the in the vein of mid-80s industrial, like pre-Rape and Honey Ministry (think ‘Every Day Is Halloween’), with a dash of Pretty Hate Machine Nine Inch Nails and a big greasy slap of Big Sexy Land Revolting Cocks. It’s all in that pumping bass groove that nags away like an old-school console game. It’s also their most overtly melodic song to date, meaning that the obligatory Killing Joke reference places it alongside ‘Love Like Blood’ rather than ‘Money is Not Our God’.

Lyrically, it’s not so much of a departure, and we find the guys running rampant in their domain of railing against mass-media, manufactured culture and their numbing effects. Television is still the opium of the people – only now, with the advent of 24-hour rolling news media beaming plague, disaster, and war into our homes via infinite devices, we’ve got a direct injection of fear being pumped into our eyeballs the second we open our eyes. And so, while twitching with terror, people seek the comfort of mental chewing gum like game shows, and so-called ‘celebrity’ shit, whether it’s dancing, skating, baking, or eating camels’ anuses and gnats’ chuffs in the name of entertainment.

Reality TV isn’t real, TV ‘personality’ is something of a misnomer, since practically every word is scripted, every move staged, hair, makeup, camera angles all as controlled and contrived as the filtered selfie snaps on Instagram. And here, amidst the relentless wash of fake shit, BAIT are keeping it real.

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BAIT - _TV personality_ _ Artwork

Cool Thing Records – 14th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Asylums offshoot band Bait mark their return in blistering style with the ball-busting, ballistic blast of tension that is ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’. Having dropped – or perhaps more accurately detonated – their explosive eponymous debut in 2018, showcasing a post-punk industrial crossover that crash-landed somewhere between PiL and Killing Joke, they reminded us of their existence in the spring of 2019 with the gritty grind of the single ‘DLP’ before falling silent.

In fairness, a global pandemic and a succession of lockdowns and limitations was never going to be conducive to the creation of new output, especially when core members Michael Webster and Luke Branch have been busy beavering away on a new Asylums album.

But, inter alia, they’ve also been working on the new Bait album, Sea Change, which is set for release in April, and ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’ is one hell of a way of announcing it, distilling all of the pent-up frustration, fury, and anxiety of two years kept on edge into just under two minutes of eye-popping, adrenaline-fuelled sonic catharsis.

If the sneering edge of the vocal delivery sounds like it’s a put-down to those who’ve been panic stricken by the pandemic, it’s likely more a swipe at those who’ve chronically mismanaged the public’s expectations, left them separated, isolated, financially insecure, and unable to seek solace with friends or family while keeping them apart while quaffing drinks and generally having a jolly old time as well as getting minted off slipping multi-million pound contracts for unusable PPE and all the rest at the taxpayers’ expense. The reason the parties have particularly tipped people is because they missed the final moments of loved ones and suffered the immeasurable torture of enforced isolation.

The ‘drama drama drama drama’ in question here isn’t some lame Eastenders shit, this is life. The swirling turmoil and endless uncertainty of everything… On a personal level, when lockdown hit, I was inundated with messages at first, from friends, from family and especially work as WhatsApp groups were set up while we got sent home to work, and the channels of communication were beyond buzzing as everyone flipped out and I witnessed – and participated – in their panics in real-time. It was hectic, a blizzard, a blur… but it was when it went quiet I lost it. You get thrown into something so hard you have to swim. But when the armbands deflate…You text with no reply – that anguish is real and it’s intense. The minutes feel like hours. The tension rises, the panic rises, the palpitations flutter and the perspiration flows and in no time you’re a dishevelled, disoriented mess. You know it’s irrational, but panic is irrational. You struggle to steady your breathing. You can’t face the supermarket because it’s full of people. You can’t face meeting anyone. You can’t breathe. This is the drama, and it piles up and piles up and increases in intensity until it’s unbearable.

‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’ steps up the gritty edge of previous outings, and this time arrives somewhere between Killing Joke and Black Flag, which means it’s absolutely furious and relentlessly raging. It’s a killer tune with all the intensity, and the soundtrack to the now.

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Fast & Bulbous – 14th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Perhaps the best known Hazy Jane right now is Brewdog’s unfiltered IPA, which has by far eclipsed the profile of the Idlewild-associated Dundee indie pop act The Hazey Janes. But that could be about to change with the ascending star of this two-piece blues-rock act, hailing from Halifax with their third single showcasing their talent for authentic, gritty blues tunes.

‘I Find it Hard’ is a mid-tempo song that takes a very traditional template chord sequence, and a lot more stripped back than ‘Yellow Belly Blues’, released in February. That’s a good thing: less a lift of early Royal Blood, it sees the band go back to the basics of the genre. Sure, there are still the rockist leanings of Led Zep on display, but then the glory of blues is that those same chords are universal, and cranking those chords through an overdrive pedal is similarly something that’s for anyone and everyone. In short, when it comes to playing the blues, there’s no ripping off one act or another: it simply comes down to how it’s done: it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

One benefit of being a duo is that is doesn’t require the co-ordination of a whole bunch of people all juggling jobs and different personal schedules, and if lockdown has had one benefit (and it’s one of maybe two, the other being working from home), it’s rendering distance less of an object and pushing people to overcome geographical barriers to collaboration. ‘I Find it Hard’ bears testament to this. From lyrics and vocal lines, to drum parts and song structure, the entire track was composed through a back-and-forth of 60 second voice notes from throughout lockdown.

You’d never know: this sounds and feels live, like they’re playing in a small venue right in front of your face. The guitar is chunky, the drums are beefy, and it’s a solid tune. Nailed it.

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The Hazy Janes Artwork

Independent – 1st October 2021

James Wells

If emerging from lockdown seems to suggest that the pandemic and all the darkness associated with it is over, you’d be mistaken. People have suffered deep psychological trauma as a result of isolation, of anxiety, of division, of loss.

The new single from dark electronic duo MAN1K1N is a testament to all of this, as we learn that it was ‘conceived as a reaction to a personal loss and a year and a half of solitude. It’s a time capsule of several isolating moments’. Such time capsules are important as a reminder that there is always something else, something more.

Speaking about the track, they say, “The heavy solitude of this past year during quarantine was a poignant influence in the moment this song exists in. Too often, suicidal ideation is regarded as a trope. But the anguish felt in those private moments is threatening and devastatingly lonely… We wanted this song to speak to that without glorifying an end, or without being overly direct. It is a trope mired in heavy familiarity that we wanted to capture. We invite the listener to draw their own conclusions and inspire conversation.”

It’s well-realised, a dark mid-paced industrial stomper with an insistent beat, but with deep layers of atmosphere through which pour all the pain, all the anguish, the torment, and the turmoil. Channelling and finding a release for those dark moments is always the better outcome, and this also stands as a message of hope to others, that there is something on the other side: in time it will pass. In the meantime, trying is its own reward.

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23rd July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The new release from Dutch duo Vaselyne, consisting of singer Yvette Winkler and musician and producer Frank Weyzig is sold as a maxi-single, and sure enough, with the track accompanied by instrumental and demo versions, it does replicate the feel of the old 12”, which in time became the CD single.

If I’m habitually ambivalent about versions and remixes, it’s because they often feel like it’s an attempt to eke out a limited amount of material over the most space, and back in the day – the day being the late 80s and through most of the 90s – as a completist collector of a number of bands, I’d feel a bit swizzed over B-sides consisting of acoustic versions etc spanning multiple formats, and much preferred the first half of the 80s when the 12” single often meant no more than an additional B-side not on the 7”, or at most, an extended version, and there as only a 7” and 12” on offer, rather than a 7”, 12”, limited 12” and likely a standard and limited CD, all with different tracks, plus a cassette single that was likely the same as the 7” but well, you couldn’t just leave it, could you? Especially if it was in a nice card slipcase or a cover like a cigarette packet.

I digress, just a little. Firmly rooted in the brooding corners of theatrical gothic rock, the piano-led ‘Waiting to Exhale’ is six minutes of poised, dramatic splendour, a work of melancholic beauty. Yvette’s vocal are rich, bordering on the operatic in places, although never overdone: there’s no bombastic emoting here, just controlled reflection. The production is full, but again, uncluttered, not over the top. In this respect, there isn’t much difference in the song’s evolution from the demo to the final version, other than the fact that the final version is fuller, more polished, but with no loss of resonance.

And if it invites comparisons to Evanescence, this is perhaps the key difference: Vaselyne keep things real and resist the overblown, and in doing so, render the more understated emotional qualities more sincere-sounding. A mournful string scrapes across the layered vocal and carries the listener into a space of aching reflection.

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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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16th July 2021

James Wells

Here at Aural Aggravation, we may have a predilection for noise and abrasion, but sometimes, we get headaches, sometimes we just get too het up and stressed and life gets so horrible that we need a break. Besides, even pop songs don’t necessarily mean mainstream these days: and without the kind of exposure that propels them to stardom, purveyors of pop can be as underground as the darkest of sludge metal acts.

Bethany Ferrie – 23 and hailing from Glasgow – beings us a piano-led song that’s poppy, but also serious, but without being Coldplay or Keane about it. She does, however, represent a generation of new artists who are emerging with a maturity that belies their years.

On ‘This is Where I Leave You’, Bethanie twists and turns through a gamut of emotional turmoil, and there’s a whole lot of emotional anguish here, but it’s presented delicately and digestibly thanks to a sweetly melodic delivery.

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26th February 2021

It seems only fitting that lo-fi indie duo Videostore should return to the roots that inspired their vaguely nostalgic moniker and the theme for their debut album Vincent’s Picks for their latest lockdown single release with a song which Nathan says was inspired by ‘sitting around watching superhero movies.’

Certainly, inspiration for a lot of art has been coming from closer to home this last year, and most life has been lived vicariously for many of us. Movies provide a much-needed escape when the limits of your life are just four walls, and this punchy, guitar-driven single is exemplary of Videostore’s resourcefulness. Written and recorded just a week ago, accompanied by self-filed footage (mostly shot at home or in local parks in a single day) and assembled by Dave Meyer, it’s once again a strong sell for the DIY methodology that facilitates not only full artistic control but a greatly reduced time-lag between conception and release, ‘Superhero Movies’ celebrates its uncomplicated evolution – Nathan sitting on the sofa with one of his many guitars, parked in front of a laptop, the pair supping wine.

‘This is not my movie’ Lorna sings, increasingly frenzied, as she spirals and spins around, beshaded, in a park somewhere as the guitars fizz and the bass thumps against an insistent drum machine.

And while this is ostensibly an indie tune, the tumultuous distortion of the buzzsaw guitar and the overall production is actually reminiscent of Big Black – in particular their cover of Wire’s ‘Heartbeat’. It’s not entirely pretty, and it’s better for it: ‘Superhero Movies’ packs all the energy, and delivers it with a raw immediacy that really hits the spot.

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23rd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, it’s an odd choice of name for a band. Maybe it’s an age thing or a Lincoln thing, but growing up, kecks were underpants. This is why it’s important to consider all aspects and angles when choosing a band name: what does your band name say about you? Still, it’s not as bad as The Front Bottoms.

The Kecks are based in Hamburg, although their members hail from Australia, the UK, Austria, and southern Germany, making them a truly international collective, and ‘All for Me’ is one of those songs where the lyrics don’t seem to entirely connect, a kind of patchwork of images and ideas and expressions that endlessly bounce off one another to convey… well, what, precisely?

It’s not a criticism as such: the same is true of so many lyrics: even boiling down pop greats from Bowie to Duran Duran reveals a lot of songs lack a general cohesion.

‘All For Me’ is a mid-to-low tempo indie tune that’s got hints of The Smiths and early Pulp about it, and somehow, in context, when Lennart Uschmann pours anguish and angst into the lines ‘And I wrote some songs for you / but you would always listen to / all of that white noise in between the radio stations’ it all makes sense somehow, on an instinctive, intuitive level, all of which is anything but pants.

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