Posts Tagged ‘Single Review’

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.

28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The story of my ambition to form a band called Minotaur feels somewhat misplaced in the face of the new single by noisy Nottingham two-piece Minatore, so I’ll give it a miss at this opportunity.

Pitched as a ‘grunge punk song drenched in hooks and guitar riffs,’ trans front man Tommy Keeling describes ‘Boys Tell Lies’ as an ‘angst fuelled’ song, ‘speaking up about rape culture.’ Sadly, despite all of the traction of the #MeToo movement and what appears to be a widespread outcry over the truly horrific culture that’s society-wide and by no means restricted to the film and music industries, this shit is still prevalent.

It doesn’t help when world leaders casually espouse the culture, with Trump’s widely-reported ‘grab her by the pussy’ comments and Johnson saying money spent on investigating historical child abuse cases was ‘spaffed up the wall.’ A lack of respect and of boundaries may only be part of the problem, but it’s a significant one, and is indicative of just how little consideration there is for the impact on victims.

‘Happens every day…’ Keeling sings in the chorus, which swings more into early Dinosaur Jr territory as the song breaks from the driving Nirvana-esque verse that’s full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal overdrive and rage, a cracked vocal and blistering guitar propelled by a pounding snare. Every bar positively explodes with energy.

Minatore may have minor scope for invoking cultural change, but it’s at the grass roots that change begins – and if you’re going to draw attention to a topic, then doing it with a killer tune is definitely the way to go.

NIM – 28th August 2020

The lockdown music mania doesn’t stop, and Plan Pony’s second single crash-lands with the added clout of being released via new US-based DIY label NIM. It’s self-recorded, mixed and mastered, because needs must and all that, and it’s so very representative of how musicians are adapting to things as they are: you can crush culture, kill the means of production, and kill people’s livelihoods, but you can’t stifle creativity in the long term.

Plan Pony, the experimental noise project of Jase Kester has emerged from the dark swamp of time that is the interminable blur of time that has been the majority of 2020, and ‘Slaaab’ b/w ‘Oder Manno’ follows June’s debut, ‘Martyr’.

‘Slaaab’ is a dirty chunk of whirring industrial, murky beats thump against a rumbling mess of dingy low-end; not a bassline as such, more a creaking growl that registers in the lower colon, while above it all, a quavering modular synth sound hovers and hums like a warped siren. Its focus is heavily rhythmic, and it’s quite hypnotic in an uncomfortable, queasy way.

Primitive drum machine sounds and a squelchy looped bass, paired with short vocal samples, give ‘Oder Manno’ an almost hip-hop feel, but there’s a whole load of extraneous noise going on all over everything and the tempo’s all over, and the vibe is very much reminiscent of the first couple of Foetus albums. It’s a bit of a headfuck, of the best kind.

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Coinciding with the single’s release, Plan Pony will be appearing on Isolated Mess 2 on Friday 28th August, performing a collaborative set with midlands-based noise artist Oldman Disgusting. Details of the stream can be found here.

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28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Last Day In L.A.’ is the lead single from the UK quartet’s forthcoming album Forever on the Road, which promises a mash-up of psychedelic rock, punk, grunge and goth. They’ve toured relentlessly since their formation in 2011, gathering a respectable international following along the way, and kicking out four albums and a bunch of EPs, too.

Listening to this reminds me that I had been due my first day in LA in May, on my first proper family holiday in over a decade, but the 2020 happened – or didn’t – and life activity was suspended. But, filtering through all of the shit of the last six months, the trade-off is that while the absence of live music has left a gaping chasm in the lives of many, including mine, (although I’m fortunate to only have been impacted socially and spiritually, rather than financially unlike so many bands, sound engineers, roadies, and so on), many artists have found ways of using the time off the road to record and release new material, and this is true of Healthy Junkies.

‘Last Day in L.A.’ may not represent a major departure from anything they’ve done previously, but it’s lively, vibrant, and has a proper late 70s / early 80s vintage feel, but equally, it’s got a grunge-pop element, as well as a corking hook and the kind of riff that totally grabs you.

There’s also a certain sassy spin thanks to Nina Courson’s vocals, ad it all adds up to an exciting single and an enticing prelude to the album.

17th July 2020

James Wells

Given that I’ve barely left the house other than to go to the supermarket and haven’t seen family or friends since March, it’s been a seriously fucking lonely summer, and a lonely fucking spring before this. Crying Swells’ new single may or may not be about this, but the press release suggest is may be, outlining how ‘Crying Swells is the project of East London-based Musician / Producer Daniel Armstrong, born out of lockdown. He also performs and records with UK psych-rock collective Frankie-Teardrop Dead’.

I miss bands and all that stuff, although I suspect bands miss bands even more, and in content, it would stand to reason that Armstrong would launch a new project while unable to record or perform as normal.

‘Lonely Summer’ is a really neat tune that’s a bit indie and a bit post-punk and broods hard, with a multi-tracked vocal and a bursting chorus that’s a blast of guitar that’s grunge and shoegaze exploding in a kaleidoscope of sound. Too full-on to be breezy, it’s nevertheless catchy and soars while it broods.

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7th August 2020

James Wells

This, the third single from NKOS, is one of those tunes that just grows and grows, layer by layer, until it’s absolutely immense. Starting out subtly and slightly sinister, the beats build until the drums properly kick in, and it’s such a tight, punchy percussion, t smacks you right between the eyes, while a looping, cyclical groove eddies around to create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. Techno meets hip-hop meets electrogoth as a grating bass and heavily processed vocal snarls all over, calling to mind KMFDM and PIG.

With additional production from Jagz Kooner, who we can forgive his work with Kasabian and Oasis on account of his work with Radio 4, Ladytron, and the cult but so-underrated Officers, ‘Lonely Ghost-Self’ is hard-edged without being overtly aggressive, attacking without being excessively abrasive, and successfully avoids cliché, and ‘Lonely Ghost-Self’ has a lot going in its favour.

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Wise Queen Records / Shapta – 4th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Abrasive Trees may be the solo project of Scottish-born guitarist and singer Matthew Rochford, and this may be a debut release, but already the project has acquired a roll-call of contributors on a par with Pigface or The Damned. Amongst these are Peter Yates (Fields of The Nephilim), Mark Beazley (Rothko/Band of Holy Joy), Steven Hill (Evi Vine), and Jo-Beth Young (Talitha Rise/RISE/Yates & Young).

The sum of this three-tracker bears little obvious relation to its parts, in the best possible way: there’s no sense of baggage or of any of the contributors striving to define the sound with their various stylistic signatures, and what’s more, none of the compositions sound remotely alike, showcasing a creative openness and willingness to experiment and embrace different forms.

Emerging from a thick atmospheric mist, ‘Bound for an Infinite Sea’ has gothic overtones, with picked guitars echoing out over a deep, rumbling bass. With hints of early Cure, Skeletal Family and Salvation, it broods through shadowy shapes in a fashion that’s perfectly evocative of the early 80s post-punk sound, but it’s also spun with an ethereality that owes as much to the 4AD roster and 90s shoegaze. Rochford’s voice sounds dislocated, disembodied, as it floats into the air, lost, alone. The production is hazy, a vagueness hangs over the notes, with the instruments blurring together as the percussion lingers hesitantly in the background.

Beginning with hints of expansive post-rock, there’s almost a folky feel to the delicate instrumental ‘Brother Saint’, which washes into the more abstract, experimental semi-ambience of ‘Replenishing Water (Stripped)’.

Uncertainty, trepidation, and a certain sense of otherness permeate this set, and if Abrasive Trees’ identity and direction seems unclear at its conclusion, then it’s all to the good, leaving open all avenues and possibilities for exploration.

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14th August 2014 – Peaceville

James Wells

The second single from forthcoming album The Affair Of The Poisons, ‘Vampire’s Grave’ follows ‘Spectres of the Blood Moon Sabbath’ and, as the press release points out, ‘continues to explore the themes within the new album – the dark & insidious underworld witchcraft and the occult’ (just in case the cover art didn’t give enough of a clue).

Blending real-life crime with occultism, (the track is based on a real-life event that took place in Glasgow, Scotland in 1954, specifically the tale of the ‘Gorbals Vampire’, where over the course of a few nights in 1954, hundreds of young children descended upon the Glasgow Necropolis armed with stakes and crosses in search of a large, vampiric creature with blood red eyes that they believed was responsible for killing and devouring kids with its iron fangs), it’s pitched as being for fans of Venom, Kreator, Sabbat [JPN] and Metallica.

With its high-octane guitar and speed riffage propelled by thunderous drumming, it sounds more like Mötörhead fronted by Quorthorn, a pounding speed-punk riffery topped by a demonic, rasping snarl. It’s full-throttle, it’s dense, and it’s pretty bloody brutal – just as you’d want.

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The Affair Of The Poisons will be released on CD, LP, cassette and digital through Peaceville on 9th October and is available to pre-order now HERE

Sadly, their autumn European tour with Midnight has been cancelled due to the on-going covid-19 issues but they are still looking forward to three headline shows in the UK.

Headline UK shows

22.10.20 – London, The Black Heart

23.10.20 – Leeds, Boom

24.10.20 – Glasgow, Nice ‘N’ Sleazy

Sargent House – 13th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

2020 keeps on crash-landing unexpected new releases, and the first solo release from Alexis Marshall of Daughters is the latest of these.

As noted in the press release, ‘Marshall describes the experience of making the material as “the painstaking process of creating and honouring, pretending to know and asking for aide, questioning and conquering, and the pale, unending anxiety nipping at the heel. This past life come current is at last the realised direction of many excruciating years beneath the wheel. The evaluation process has grown enjoyable, the evaluation process is, at last, its own reward and the hands involved have made me a better human being; without these hands, I would surely have crashed to burn. Thank you all.

I cull the hammer. I wield the hammer. I eat, breathe, sleep, shit, fuck the hammer.”’

As anyone familiar with Daughters, especially anyone who’s caught them on tour will appreciate, Marshall is a whirlwind of intensity, a man capable of the most stunningly potent viscerality.

Beginning with a hefty, hammered drum and low oscillating drone which provide the initial backdrop to Marshall’s manic, frenzied vocals, ‘Nature in Three Movements’ lunges straight into max intensity, a wild-eyed concentrated dose of sonic anxiety that only gets more crushingly claustrophobic as the dissonant noise builds and the percussion crashes harder. Marshall screams, and it’s the raw articulation of mental anguish : listening to this is like having your head placed in a vice while simultaneously being battered with a hammer.

Less a song than a breakdown committed to tape, if it’s representative of the forthcoming album, we’re in for something truly explosive.

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Photo credit: A.F. Cortes

Cool Thing Records – 7th August 2020

The band – the coalescence of an enigmatic visual artist, a prodigal singer-songwriter and an ambitious beat-maker ‘trapped inside a digital landscape’ describe their debut, ‘Lumbering’ as being ‘about viewing the world with a sense of claustrophobia and dread, as humanity bounces between various financial crashes, wars and climate disasters, whilst continuing to lumber endlessly forwards, seemingly in a wounded state.’

This is, indeed, the world of the now, and as such, I expect it’s broadly relatable to many on its perspective. It’s certainly relatable to me on a personal level, having become attenuated to a sense of perpetual panic and wild upheaval. The only thing you can be sure of is that nothing is certain, and you can’t rely on or trust anything – or anyone. The fact is, no-one is exactly who you think, and we live in an evermore divided and more extremely polarised society, be it Brexit or the wearing of masks.

‘Lumbering’ is pitched as ‘an intriguing soundscape of skeletal guitars, layered angular rhythms and fantastic lyrics’ and a hybrid of Boards Of Canada, 00’s Radiohead and The Cure’s Bloodflowers era.

With clattering drums and a pulsing bassline, I’m reminded more of the early 00s New Wave revival as spearheaded by the likes of Interpol and Editors, as well as The Cinematics. A Cause In Distress capture that tension and sense of urgency and distil it down to a truly gripping three-and-a-half minutes of surging dynamism.

It doesn’t necessarily make me feel better, but articulates my restless tension perfectly.

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