Posts Tagged ‘Single Review’

Cleopatra Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is pretty fucking intense. Released to promote the duo’s new album, ‘Hear My Call’ is a beast. The verses are queasy, ominous with a hushed, almost strangulated tension. In contrast, the choruses are utterly pulverizing in their weight and density: there’s nothing hushed about them, and the tension is released in a chthonic snarl. The vocal transition is remarkable, as Lilith gears down an octave at least and flicks from anguished to a raging demon spewing toxic flames from the very bowels of hell. The crossover between electronica and black metal is almost schizophrenic, but Luna 13 render it in such a way that it’s perfect, that switch that happens at an imperceptible trigger lands with eye-popping precision, and the video, directed by Vicente Cordero (Stabbing Westward, Filter, 3TEETH) is a magnificent visual reflection of the music.

For a start, there’s splattered gore galore, as Lilith Bathory sloshes around in a bathtub that’s initially brimming with rose petals but before long it’s a streaming splatterfest where said tub is brimming with blood. She twitchily dials the telephone… and it transpires she’s not calling The Samaritans, but instead she connects on a hotline to Satan, and it cuts, and she’s a roaring, horned demon, and to the side, Dr Luna yanks a huge phallic lever that seemingly drives this whole whorl of chaos that’s blackened beyond black, the sound of scorching incineration.

A lot of so-called ‘occult’ and ‘Satanic’ shit is – well, shit – corny, half-baked, a bit laughable, at least to anyone not already invested, and you wonder how people take so many of these bands seriously. Not so Luna 13: this shit is truly terrifying. There’s no denying that some off the elements are perhaps cliché; masks, blood, and so on and so forth, but it’s all in the execution. Sonically, and visually, they’re full-on, and fearsome.

AA

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28th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

On seeing / hearing this, I’m reminded of the character of Mike TV in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a book I loved as a child, and have enjoyed all over again as a parent – although I always detested the film adaptations, especially the original, not least of all because I doubly detest Gene Wilder: the guy just grates. However, Dahl had a way of making points through his characters, often about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ traits and characteristics and behaviours, and Mike TV was no exception, and it may not have been especially subtle, but then it was a children’s book written in the 60s, at a time when sociologists and psychologists too were becoming interested on the effect of the media, in particular television – the twentieth century opium of the people.

The Assist’s new offering unpacks this line of thinking through a contemporary filter and a more immediate perspective, portraying a character – who’s something of an emblem, a stereotype – whose expectations of life are unrealistic, distorted by media representations. Since the turn of the millennium and the advent of ‘reality’; TV, we’ve been fed an endless conveyor belt of shows that have espoused the idea that anyone can achieve anything, and that anyone can become a celebrity – and, worse still, that being a celebrity for its own sake is something not only achievable, but desirable. It wasn’t so long ago kids would grow up wanting to be film stars, pop stars, models, designers, sportspeople; now primary-age kids are coming through wanting to be reality TV celebs, Instagram influencers and YouTubers.

‘TV Kid’ paints the stark disparity between the dream and the reality, where head-in-the-clouds aspirations – ‘a top flight striker, Well known as a good time provider…A boxing expert, an amateur fighter, walks around to the eye of the tiger’ – are a world away from the stress of bills and so on, the kitchen sink drudgery or life on minimum wage – or, as they put it, ‘Big soup for breakfast, big soup for tea, petrol for Christmas’.

It’s a nifty tune, compressed into a sharp, snappy two-and-a-half minutes. It’s buoyant and upbeat in delivery, with some jangly but crunchy guitars driving it along nicely while brimming with melody and energy. The Midlands act are unashamed in their working class stylings, without being as in yer face as Sleaford Mods (which is no doubt one reason The Assist haven’t weighed in with Fat White Family on the ‘faux working classness of Idles), or as brash and tediously crap as Oasis, and consequently, in rank order it’s the music first and the attitude second. It’s a decent balance, and singer Mikey has just the right amount of swagger in his delivery – cocky, but not cockish, and nicely whetting the whistle for the debut album, Council Pop, out in April.

Artwork - The Assist

AA

Band shot - The Assist

Christian Death – Quicksand

10th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Christian Death have long shown a love of Bowie, which has subtly permeated their work but was rendered concrete with their version of ‘Panic in Detroit’ in the Rage of Angels album. But anyone who would think that the Bowie fandom was specific to the Rozz Williams era of the band would be mistaken: Valor has long embraced androgynous elements in his style, and never shied away from pop / art rock elements within the music itself.

There have, of course been numerous covers of ‘Quicksand’, and the one thing that’s apparent from all of them is that a great song is a great song, whoever’s playing it, even Seal. If Dinosaur Jr’s cover was a brilliant example of reconfiguring the song into a slacker anthem, Christian Death’s take, which stretches the original five-minute song well past the seven-minute mark is remarkably faithful to the original and doesn’t goth it up in the slightest. This isn’t a complete surprise: their previous covers, from Garyn Numan’s ‘Down in the Park’ to Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Angel’, which appeared on All the Love, were straight and sensitive, even reverent in their approach.

Performed by Valor and Maitri, it’s predominantly acoustic guitar and piano, but there’s a full backing with drums, bass, and sweeping string sounds, making for a take that’s bold, theatrical, and yet, at the same time, intimate, and fitting at a time when Bowie covers and links to his songs are proliferating on social media: it may be the fifth anniversary of his death, but the week also marks what would have been his 75th birthday, and it’s fair to say few, if any artists have had quite the impact he did. Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, may have all broken immense ground, but Bowie was an entirely different proposition, on so many levels, and it’s clear the shock and grief are still strong for so many. This, then, is a fitting and well-executed, heartfelt tribute.

AA

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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.

AA

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Time to Kill Records (TTK) – 15th December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

A good slogan or manifesto can say so much more than the words in themselves. And so it is that Vonamor introduce themselves with a bold statement that hints at Dada or perhaps the more arch and ironic Neoism in a way.

Vonamor state that:

VONAMOR is music and movement. VONAMOR is real and virtual.

VONAMOR is the end and the beginning. VONAMOR is from love, of love, for love.

Vonamor are more than simply a band, then, and more an aesthetic, a single-act movement. They exist in the space between simultaneous contradictions, the likes of which have informed poetical works since the Renaissance, with Sir Thomas Wyatt’s ‘I Find No Peace’ sonnet effectively setting a blueprint for modern literature.

Postmodernism, and Neosim in particular positively revelled in those contradictions, taking the avant-garde idea of self-awareness and self-destruction as a means of creating anew, and this, on the strength of Vonamor’s statement, is their primary objective: to be everything, and therefore nothing: to exist, they must cease to exist.

How seriously to we take this? They look pretty serious to me, but that may all be part of the performance. The next, and perhaps most important question is, does the music validate the bravado and high art bombast?

‘Take Your Heart’ is a smart slice of stark, minimal electronica, dark pop with a gothy, post-punk leaning, a collision of Siousxie and Florence and the Machine that’s both spiky and groovy, five minutes of mid-tempo doom-disco with an industrial edge – I’m talking more later Depeche Mode than Nine Inch Nails. It’s daring in the adherence to the adage that less is more: it’s tight and claustrophobic, and this gives the song a particular intensity.

No question this is a low-budget effort on all fronts, but that’s a significant part of the appeal. This isn’t some major-label act masquerading as something cult and underground to score kudos and cool cachet; Vonamor are clearly a fringe act with big, bold ideas and a strong sense of identity, and ‘Take Your Heart’ is understated but strong.

AA

Vonamor

27th November 2021

James Wells

What what what? Could The Kecks, who we’ve been raving about all year, be about to undo all their good work with not only – gasp – a Christmas single, but a cover, and a cover of a shmaltzy Elvis tune at that? When it landed it my inbox, I covered my eyes and pretended it wasn’t there. Poking myself to play it, I was so, so tempted to cover my ears while contemplating the challenge of the extent to which one can permit a transgression from a band you rate, and what constitutes sufficient mitigating circumstances.

It being Christmas is absolutely not adequate defence. In fact, it’s the opposite.

To be clear: I don’t hate Christmas. I just hate the faux-fun, the forced festivities, the fact that everyone feels the need to go crazy social, to overspend and overindulge, the fact that a Christian festival has essentially hijacked solstice celebrations and subsequently been repurposed as a shameful capitalist cash-in.

The foursome have been sitting on this a while: it was recorded back in 2019 and remastered last year, and I’d like to think they’ve been sitting on it until it felt that the time was right and they’d built enough of a name for themselves before putting this out, which I suppose is commendable and makes career sense, but it’s still a Christmas single at the end of the day.

Credit where it’s due, the band dubbed ‘The Strokes of Hamburg’ by Consequence Of Sound have delivered a version that’s less soft-focus and smooshy than either the original or Mud’s famous and faithful cover, injecting it with some vocal passion that gives it a lift and a bit of bite – enough to bring home the grim reality that is Christmas alone , no doubt something that will hit many this year, be it by breakup, bereavement, quarantine or lockdown. Lonely and cold, and unusually dark.

AA

The Kecks artwork

11th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This time of year, we see a proliferation of poppies and pride, Help for Heroes silhouette logos and ‘lest we forget’ slogans in every direction, and perhaps I’m cynical but so much of this remembrance rings hollow. Sidestepping the debate that recent years have seen poppy pride become a platform for nasty nationalism and Brexity-division, one can’t help but wonder just how much is true remembrance and how much is social media-fuelled one-upmanship, the bigger the poppy the bigger the heart in a display of excessive virtue-signalling akin to being the loudest pan-basher in the street when clapping for the NHS during lockdown.

‘Purple Hearts’ sees Reardon Love – who’ve scored BBC Introducing track of the week – draw inspiration from a human story, specifically that of POW Horace Greasley, who found a certain fame for his claim to have escaped his camp over 200 times to meet with his lover with a chorus line of ‘The Iron Cross cannot contain me’.

I suppose then, this is a wartime tale that espouses the idea that love conquers all rather than tears us apart – and there are heavy hints of New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen about this quintessentially 80s indie-influenced tune. Atop a sturdy bass and nagging guitar line, there are some tidy melodies accentuated by appealing harmonies, making for a catchy tune with an uplifting message pulled from the wreckage of war.

Single artwork

5th November 2021

Remember, remember the fifth of November… because it’s not only BandCamp Friday, but the day KIN release their first new material in a year, following up on ‘Wander & Lost’, which found favour with us here at Aural Aggro with their fourth single that happens to also broadly coincide with their return to the live platform.

‘The Runaways’ continues the trajectory of its predecessor, dominated by careful, melodic, chorus-soaked guitars and pursues a dreamy, melodic flow. It’s very much a pop-tune, albeit a mellow, mid-paced one, with a truly immense production that calls to mind 80s Fleetwood Mac and also 80s Kate Bush, not to mention hints of Cindy Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’, while softy blending in shades of more recent acts like The XX. No, it’s not the female vocals, but the overall sound, the vibe, the feel.

It’s this sound, vibe, and feel that have a transportative quality that corresponds with the theme of the song which charts life transitions, new people, new places, and the wonder and trepidation that accompanies such changes. Even running to something feels like running away from something else as you leave your old life behind, an experience that’s at once scary and exhilarating. The song itself is simply exhilarating, the musical equivalent of throwing open the window on a glorious Spring morning, inhaling the fresh air and soaking in a perfect view while flushed with the potentials of a new day in a new life.

AA

Kin artwork

29th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It seems that everyone has a doppelganger. As someone who’s prone to wearing a hat and dark glasses, to be told I’ve been seen in places I’ve not been in a city the size of York is pretty unnerving. But there it is: life unravels by strange and unexpected means.

‘Three Steps South’ is both strange and unexpected, and presents an interesting hybrid. It’s got that nagging repetitive cyclical, sequenced electro element and a noodly synth line that bubbles away and mines a deep seam while drums and guitars crunch away…there’s something about it that reminds of Placebo’s ‘Taste in Men’ to the main riff, but then it’s a slice of swanky, swaggersome indie rock at heart. To add to the eclecticism, the mid-section goes all spacious with a reverby western desert twang.

Most surprising of all is the fact that it not only all first together and works, but that it’s a catchy bugger of a tune.

Dopplegangers_3 Steps South Artwork

(click image to play)