Posts Tagged ‘Single Review’

20th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

So often, less is more. Lyrics that are personal and specific yet vague have the capacity to convey as much more than lines that are direct or explicit. And so it is with ‘Wander & Lost’ that Kin speak of loss and yearning, of distance and sadness and that sense of feeling cut off and alone.

As much as ‘Wander & Lost’ is ostensibly a pining, post-breakup song, it equally stands as a summary of the sense of loss that the distance so many are feeling from friends and family under life in lockdown. Maintaining closeness simply isn’t as easy, and everyone, everything has changed, is changing.

Wander & Lost begins with a wistful, minor-key guitar, picked and chorus-laden, and it provides a delicate backing for the dreamy, contemplative vocals. The drums are distant and everything is balanced, the instruments and vocals all infusing to form a cloudy aural drift. There are shades of melancholy lingering on the peripheries, and it’s never easy to determine if this is the music or projection – but then again, this is why music resonates beyond its immediate boundaries, and ‘Wander & Lost’ transcends its immediate aims on account of a certain musical intuition.

This is one of those songs that’s all about the slow build, and it doesn’t suddenly erupt or explode, but instead gradually swells into a soft, rippling wash of introspection. It’s a sad song that hits that perfect sad song sweet spot.

AA

Kin press shot

Human Worth – 6th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Evan Gildersleeve’s debut solo single, ‘Mortal’ is an absolute masterclass in suspenseful, atmospheric instrumental music. While incorporating ambient elements, the mellifluous piano work is clearly structured, albeit subtly as it drifts, the notes reverberating in the rarefied air. It’s deeply evocative, resonating on a level that’s at the innermost point and therefore beyond specific articulation.

That ‘Mortal’ emerged from a very personal space, with Evan’s creative process in its formation being a journey through challenges with mental health and the impact of lockdown renders it all the more poignant. While turbulence and trauma are completely removed from this soundtrack, it’s perhaps telling in itself, serving as it does as a refuge from all of that.

It may be a mere six-and-a-half minutes long, but ‘Mortal’ captures something special and moreover, has the capacity to slow time, drawing the listener into a slow suspension, with the most soothing effect.

This is music that requires you to put down the phone, step away from the keyboard, disconnect social media, the TV, all streaming news, dim the lights and breathe slowly. The video features some remarkable visuals likely to assist in soothing a crowded mind – and with proceeds going to MIND, it’s pretty much one of the essentials of 2020.

AA

Fierce Panda – 13th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Fierce panda will be forever intrinsically linked to the cutting edge of indie in the 90s, emerging as it did in 1994 and immediately making a name for itself with limited edition 7”singles by big-name contemporaries initially including Ash, Supergrass, The Bluetones, and Baby Bird, not to mention Placebo, Keane, Coldplay, Embrace, and that record by Oasis.

More than a quarter of a century on, they retain that certain sense of cool-by-association, but also continue to release damn good indie singles, breaking new talent with astounding frequency. National Service are a perfect example: the label picked up the London quartet National Service from seemingly out of nowhere, releasing their debut single, ‘A Little More Time’ in the year of their formation. Three years on, and here we have their third single, a song that unpicks he seams of the mundane, the everyday, and the introspective pains of self-expectation.

‘I haven’t had a decent sleep in days / I’m overthinking when I should be happy doing something mundane / But I’m too busy thinking about the long run / That I rarely find the time to enjoy today’ laments Fintan Campbell against a welter of shimmering guitars and rolling drums.

Comparisons to The Twilight Sad aren’t unjustified, and the band mine that seam of post-punk revival / indie crossover that dominated 2002-2006 as represented by Editors, Interpol, The Cinematics and myriad others, and the bassline that cuts in at the midpoint is pure Carlos D circa Turn on the Bright Lights. None of this is in any way to suggest that ‘Caving’ is derivative or locked in time: it’s a genuine rush of a tune, and condenses all the emotional resonance into four and a half minutes. It’s taut, hooky, and packs a punch.

AA

Caving Artwork

20th of November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Grunge is dead, so the slogan ran on a T-shirt worn by Kurt Cobain back in 93 or thereabouts. And yet, he we are in 2020 and listening to the third single by Leeds power trio Kath & The Kicks, and the evidence says otherwise.

Like punk, post-punk, goth, shoegaze, and so many genres that are intrinsically tied to a specific period in time, the legacy of grunge reverberates and returns in waves, and one of the joy of being alive now as that cross-genre hybrids of all of these are possible and emerge all the time.

‘Underground’ is all about the thick, overdriven grungy guitar. The sound is dense and dirty, and benefits from an unpolished, no-messing production that accentuates the abrasive edges. It’s the vehicle which carries Kath’s bold, powerful vocal, which, stylistically, sits between vintage hard rock and goth – there’s a dash of Siouxsie in there, while at the same time hinting at being the natural successors to sadly departed Leeds favourites Black Moth.

The dark, ever-so-slightly twisted lyrics dig into a subterranean psyche that’s part goth, part agoraphobe, part obsessive psychopath. It’s a pretty potent cocktail.

Kath _ The Kicks Single Cover

Constellation Records -5th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

If the title sounds pretentious – and let’s face it, it does – if any act can carry it off without looking daft, it’s probably Montréal’s premier avant-rock band Fly Pan Am, who are well-suited to a release in this series via Constellation.

The ‘Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series’ is a set of sixteen single releases, each of extensive duration and with an audiovisual element. ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ is eleven minutes of squirming, scraping, laser-blitzing ambience pinned to a subtle but insistent mid-tempo bass beat. It’s difficult to pigeonhole, but then, pigeonholing is just lazy journalism, and what matter is that ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ leads the listener on a remarkable journey, a succession of transitions, some unexpected others which naturally flow into one another.

The liner notes outline the track’s evolution, recounting how ‘during lockdown the band has been trading files at a distance, including experiments with remixes of their Frontera live soundtrack recordings. ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ is the first fruit of these efforts and a first for Fly Pan AM in terms of process: each chronological section of the track is a solo work by each individual member, remixed in isolation, then stitched together in mostly linear fashion.’

The track’s success lies as much in its seamless assembly as its slow-spinning atmosphere: as much as there are distinct passages, ‘Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority’ in no way feel cobbled together or patchworked. And, on the basis of the band’s comments, it seems that there’s more in the pipeline, and on the evidence here, it’s going to be good.

The accompanying experimental film by Charline Dally is quite a trip, too.

AA

a0417275120_10

31st October 2020

Christopher Nosnbor

While Lorna and Nathan have been keeping themselves occupied with their uber-lo-fi DIY side project Videostore during lockdown, their main vehicle, Argonaut have been on something of a backburner. As has been the case for so many bands, working remotely simply hasn’t been entirely feasible, or conducive to creativity and recording, although the band have been striving to pull together with virtual rehearsals and so on.

Consequently, after some nine months of effort (and eight years ager their formation) the London-based spiky indie-punk have delivered the first single written collectively (just before lockdown) by the whole band.

Less uptempo and energetic than previous releases, ‘13’ is a wistful, reflective song that’s more haunting post-punk than punk, and as much as it’s inspired by Nathan and Lorna’s son’s turning 13 and is a celebration of youth and that voyage of discovery, a song of encouragement and positivity, there’s a sad tinge coloured with a pang of loss and an awareness of the ageing process: the video illustrates the contrasting emotions, as elation and wonder are marked against the ticking clock.

It’s touching, and a great tune: understated, but effective and resonant on many levels, making it more than worth the wait.

AA

AA

a3844203491_10

The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Maybe it’s just me, perhaps I’m tired and emotional or perhaps I’m just feeling particularly sensitive as the long-term effects of an absence of live music and being generally cut off from people bites harder as the nights draw in and the days grow shorter, but I’ve started to feel a real heavy-hearted ache lately for the things I miss. Maybe these are my October Blues, which means the arrival of this single is perfectly timed – not to lift the spirits, but to reflect that inward-facing melancholy that comes with the urge to hibernate or hunker down by a log fire.

Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I spent lazy evenings in basement bars listening to live blues, and it’s perhaps precisely because of that that Muca & La Marquise’s latest single, fills me with pangs of nostalgia.

Stripped-back and simple, primarily an acoustic guitar and voice, it evokes simpler times – while at the same time being absolutely timeless – of late-night smoky basement bars, with its jazz-tinged blues and laid back laconic delivery. La Marquise has a magnificent voice – timeless, classic, smooth. The guitar-playing is similarly understated, but follows a nice, chilled slow blues chord sequence and there’s an exquisite break, too, that draws you in and drifts away on a magnificent wave of melancholy.

30th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas return to follow up on August’s ‘Black’ with ‘You’re The Crash I Needed’, and of this release Ben says, “We wanted the lyrics to reflect an awakening, a coming-to after a period of being insular and unaware of one’s own actions but for that to be entirely forced upon you by someone else. Musically ‘You’re The Crash I Needed’ was composed to mirror that sensation of when you fall asleep in front of the TV and then it seems explosively loud and totally overwhelms the senses when you wake up.”

That jolt… to nab the line penned by Editors, it kicks like a sleep twitch. We’re all guilty of sleepwalking through life at some point or another, oblivious of ourselves and the potential repercussions of our actions, and such somnambulance has become the characteristic behaviour in 2020 as we drift from one day to the next. The kick will happen, and no doubt the jolt will provide a real shock to many.

‘You’re The Crash I Needed’ is an indie-goth gut-punch of a song, with hell-for-leather drumming and interweaving guitars reminiscent of Rosetta Stone and early Mission and it’s got a vibrant energy and a kind of sweeping openness that’s simply not commonplace in contemporary music. Then again, nor is that kind of chorused guitar sound.

Balancing breeziness and shade, this is a tight and tense rack and a clear single choice, and while it’s retro it’s anything but cheesy. I for one am excited.

AA

Single artwork

23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Just two days before the release of their new album, Forever on the Road, Healthy Junkies have dropped a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way.’

To my ear, the Nevermind version was a shade lacking, and while it works well enough in the overall context of the album, the hard-to-find electric version has not only more bite, but also more passion and, perhaps unexpectedly, more atmosphere, the howling feedback that form the lead guitar line bringing a whole new dimension.

I can’t help but wonder if this was, at least in part, the template for Healthy Junkies’ take on the track, which places a unique stamp on it and adds a whole load of layers – and noise – in comparison to the version everyone knows.

It’s something of a departure for the band: instead of the punky grunge sound that’s their signature, they’ve adopted a decidedly shoegaze style here. The guitars cascade in deep, washing blurs, layered and rich in texture, and Nina Courson’s ethereal, breathy vocal is more Toni Halliday than Courtney Love. The result is haunting and possesses a real depth that draws the listener into the heart of the song. Understated, but strong.

28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The idea of a single a month isn’t new: The Wedding Present did it back in 1992, and in doing so broke records (pun not intended) for the most chart singles in a year by any artist, erasing Elvis Presley from history in the process. Ok, not quite, but you get the idea.

That was back in the days of record labels and physical releases, meaning the logistics of a similar exercise now are far easier, although the chances of charting are considerably smaller. I’ve seen a number of artist release a single song a day / single or album a month / etc in recent years, and 2020 is the year that Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas decided to put out a single a month.

And so here we are with ‘Black’, the August instalment and eighth offering from an act pitched as being for fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Tom Walker, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, and Queens of the Stone Age – which is a pretty eclectic mix to say the least.

‘Black’ is a song about introspection and self-reflection, and it’s pretty punchy: clocking in at well under three minutes, there’s something unashamedly old-school punk about it. Fast, furious, and built around an unpretentious four-chord thrashabout played with passion and urgency, it’s got a sharp hook and all the energy, not to mention a broad appeal.