Posts Tagged ‘Single Review’

Fierce Panda Records – 2nd July 2021 

Blackpool’s Jekyll – like so many up-and-coming bands – have seen their momentum, largely driven by hard-gigging to build a grassroots fanbase, hit a brick wall since last March, but their first release of 2021 looks set to launch them on a huge leap forward, not least of all because it comes with the backing of cult indie label Fierce Panda.

On first listen, it seems like a palatable mid-pace indie-rock anthem, but even before the fade, it becomes apparent that there’s more to it than that.

The story goes that ‘Tear Ourselves in Two’ was initially conceived to counter-balance one of Jekyll’s earlier tracks ‘Mania’ (which comes on like the criminally underrated and much-missed The Cooper Temple Clause) and it’s hard to resist the urge to make some reference to them as a band with two sides to their musical personality, but that would be obvious and rather lame. Oops, I did it again.

As ‘The Wounds We’ve Ignored’ demonstrated, Jekyll don’t only dig Muse, but dig deep emotionally and touch some pretty uncomfortable spots, and this is no exception. The lyrically dark ‘Tear Ourselves In Two’ has hints of many other songs, all stitched seamlessly together to conjure a simultaneous sense of familiarity and familiarity and freshness – as you struggle and strive to dredge the depths of your memory to decipher what it is it reminds you of, you come to realise that ultimately it doesn’t matter. Then again, on maybe the third or fourth listen – and it’s that much of an earworm, it hits that it’s a bit Pulp meets Mansun meets The Cinematics – and that their knack for bold, string-swept audiography is immensely powerful.

‘Tear Ourselves In Two’ is, quite simply, a corking tune and one that just gets better with every play.

4th June 2021

James Wells

Pounding drums propel a driving, overdriven lead guitar and chunky riff on this rather interesting rock hybrid. On the one hand, it’s got the balls and bluster of QUOTSA and the contemporary stylings of Foo Fighters, but ‘Run’ is also strongly melodic and kinda jerks and jangles in a way that speaks to a more lineage of influence that goes back more toward 70s rock acts in the vein of Cheap Trick and even a dash of Tom Petty.

In drawing on so many comparisons, I’ve possibly failed to convey the band’s own style and sound, which is altogether more coherent than may first appear, and ‘Run’ packs a solid chorus and a strong sense of melody and punches it out with real energy. In short, it’s good stuff.

Christopher Nosnibor

The news just in is that ‘Electro-Industrial band MICROWAVED has just unleashed their new EP, Save Me’, and that ‘The EP contains 16 tracks, 14 of which will be available on streaming platforms June 12th. The Bandcamp release will contain two bonus tracks: a collaboration with LIEBCHEN on a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and an additional remix from the talented and outstanding remix artist Steven Olaf.’

The last I was aware, EP stood for Extended Play, and LP for Long Play, and sixteen tracks is pretty bloody long (unless it’s grindcore, when 16 tracks would likely have a running time of about ten minutes). No matter: I’m being picky (for a change), and they’ve released the title track as a lead single, and it features Kimberley Kornmeier of electrogoth act Bow Ever Down.

‘Save Me’ is a brooding blur – the agitated, fast-paced percussion that pounds and stutters like a palpating heart contrasts with the deep, broad, sweeping synths and a gloomily wistful melody which leans heavily on The Cure’s ‘Pictures of You’. The contrasts work, despite being quite difficult to reconcile on the first listen or two. There’s also a subtle but definite harder industrial edge to it, and it makes for a bold yet sensitive song which reminds us that beneath exteriors, so many of us hold on to pain and suffering and loneliness, and that to feel lonely and to be alone are not the same thing.

It’s when it takes a step away from itself around the three-minute mark and there’s a brief segment that sounds more like Eminem that’s hardest to assimilate in the overall shape of the song. It may be incongruous, but at least you could never describe the song as being predictable, and ‘Save Me’ is pretty damn powerful on multiple levels.

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4th June 2021 (Knight)

Kids… every year they get younger, right? It’s a poor quip poorly executed, one that cropped up when I was teaching at a university as lecturers joked about how every year the students got younger. Bands who aren’t yet old enough to drink at the venues they perform tend to be met with an equal blend of awe and scoffing. Both are equally unfair: why should anyone assume that age is a measure by which any musician should be judged? Being wowed because of ability that’s advanced ‘for their age’ is as discriminatory as commenting on how a band from the 70s are still ‘good for their age’. It’s also a criticism of sort, as if they’re not actually good on their own merits.

So instead of either being wowed by their youthful talent or knocking them for being a bunch of millennials with an agenda, let’s see what this quartet consisting of Noah Lonergan (vocals and guitar), Amber Welsh (bass), Michael Barlingieri (guitar), and Harry Heard (drums) are actually about.

They speak for Gen Z, with songs about global warming and toxic masculinity to racism and corruption. And yes, we need bands with conscience, and we need bands who are politically engaged. THIS is how the future happens. Anyone who decries a ‘woke’ agenda and bitches about ‘snowflakes’ can fuck off, because we know they’re all middle-aged, middle-class white men with a comfortable platform from which to decry ‘cancel culture’.

Polarized Eyes met in primary school and came together as a band in 2018. Tom Robinson loves them, John Kennedy (Radio X). Jack Saunders at Radio 1 also rated their single ‘Real Boys’, and they will probably dig this too.

It’s just shy of two minutes of guitar-driven, there-chord punk energy that’s pure punk, coupled with the raw power of grunge. Ther’s some wicked reverb going on with the vocal, and Lonergan belts it out with real force – but there’s something more to his voice than that, masking it one you want to hear more of. It’s a rush. It’s also a straight-up killer single by any measure.

AA

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26th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Yes! Yes! Yes! This single cut from London four-piece Ravenfangs is appropriately titled. Clocking in at two and a half minutes, it’s an explosion of fizzy, grungy, overdriven guitars powered by angst and frustration, Recapturing the spirit of Nirvana and blending it with a certain punk sensibility, it’s lack of polish is a significant part of the appeal.

This is the best of DIY, and this is what happens when people have had enough. They don’t hang about, they don’t wait for opportunities or offers – they get on and make their own and do it all themselves. It was the emergence of punk that saw bands first shun the conventional industry-centred models, and the age of home recording and the Internet has finally rendered the production and release of music an egalitarian, open proposition.

The beauty is that truly anyone can pick up a guitar – hell, you don’t even need that, just a laptop or a phone these days – and offload all that emotion, everything that you need to vent, and put it out there.

Starting off with a thick, buzzing bassline played with a gut-punching urgency, ‘Rage’ crashes in full throttle with everything else all going hell-for-leather all at once. It’s unpretentious, unpolished, and exciting because it’s real, a sneering blast of righteous alt-rock, and packs a proper punch with no pretence, no pissing about. Raw, rough, ready, this is where it’s at.

AA

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2nd June 2021

James Wells

So often, less is more. Ben Denny Mo’s latest single is simply acoustic guitar and vocal. As such, it’s certainly less in terms of arrangement, and with so few elements in the mix, it’s hard to go particularly OTT on the production too. This is what really makes this: there’s no multitracking, no gimmicks or studio trickery, no deception or other kind of alchemical wizardly to enhance the performance. What we have here is just a staggering wealth of musical talent and ability on display.

The Fakenham-based singer-songwriter has already become a firm favourite with BBC Introducing at home in Norfolk, having drawn comparisons to a wide range of singers from Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, Michael Jackson, Sam Smith and John Martyn. It’s testament to his range and versatility, and there’s a lot going on, all packed into this concise little number. The guy’s got real soul, and she swoops, soars, leaps and bounds all over the song with unbridled energy, calling to mind Everything Everything’s Johnathan Higgs.

But with so much focus on ben’s voice, what about the musicianship, and what about the song? There’s a complexity of technique that belies the apparent simplicity of tapping a few chords, with some fast fretwork that blends classical and jazz with a dash of funk.

In cramming so much in and dazzling so brightly with it, it’s sometimes a little difficult to follow the song itself. The hooks are overshadowed by the performance itself, and I suppose ‘6am’ evokes the same kind of sensation as listening to Jamiroquai – which of course is subjective and divisive. The popular perspective is that it’s a groove, and there’s no question Ben’s got mass appeal, and ‘6am’ could yet prove to be the breakthrough.

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Big Stir Records – 4th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Well here’s a wakeup: The Speed Of Sound are into their fourth decade, yet are so underground they’ve bypassed me all this time. I feel a certain sense of both guilt and shame for this. Obviously, no reviewer can know everything about every band going, but sometimes, a band will slip under the radar and leave you kicking yourself. The Speed Of Sound is one such band.

The fact they’re releasing a double A-side says something about their vintage. 7” singles may still be a thing, but they’re a niche, collector thing rather than the thing you’d experience as a youth. I was in my early teens – perhaps younger – when I’d go into town and visit WHS or Boots or perhaps Woolworths and pick up a 7” single for 99p, and the B-side would often be as integral a part of the experience as the A-side, while a AA said sometimes meant the second A-side – the one less likely to be played on the radio – was the better one. Hearing it would be a revelation after you slipped it over the spindle and onto the turntable. It was a magical experience that words struggle to convey.

The two tracks on this release are thematically-linked in that they’re all about the band’s love for sci-fi soaked in reverb and with some hints of dappled sunlight mellowness.

The inspiration behind ‘Replicant’ probably requires little explanation as it draws the comparisons to the world of Bladerunner and the contemporary corporate world. The Hearing Ann-Marie Crowley enunciate ‘Replicant’ calls to mind Johnny Rotten emphasis on ‘Pretty vacant’, but more than anything, the uptempo acoustic guitar that leads the track has a distinctly 90s indie flavour to it, and it jangles along nicely.

‘Melancholy Rose’ is a spacey indie-psychedelic folk effort with the jangle of the early 90s and some mellow shoegaze meanderings, sort of like The Fall covering The Charlatans. There are hints of sleepy, summery funk to the track, too.

Together, it makes for a nice single that does very much evoke the experience of yesteryear’s 7” purchase.

AA

The Speed Of Sound Artwork

26th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a whole month since we heard from lo-fi bedroom duo Videostore, and their latest effort continues the narrative trajectory that’s been running through so many of their releases.

The pair describe ‘Bounce Back’ as some ‘Cathartic song writing after they closed down the Videostore and everyone lost their jobs… Channelling some New York new wave/ no wave with special thanks to Blondie and Sonic Youth!’

This one starts of slow, stripped back and sedate, but as it builds, it balances lugubrious wallowing with some clean, poppy backing vocals. It’s one of their longer songs, and it’s a slow-burner that simmers before finally going off toward the four-minute mark – and when it does go off, it blazes hard.

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Nomark

James Wells

Stone Giants is Amon Tobin’s new musical vehicle, and marks yet another chapter in the versatile and eclectic electronic innovator’s quarter-century spanning career that’s seen his music feature in films and video games.

‘Metropole’, the second release from forthcoming album West Coast Love Stories, is a bewildering work, with so much happening simultaneously, to the extent that it feels like several different tunes overlaid. A steady, pulsing synth remains a constant throughout, as layers of droning organs, reverbed vocals, yawning synth washes and a meandering baritone melody that’s seemingly wandered in from another track and ambulates around.

The effect is disorientating, but not unpleasant: the confluence of the numerous contrasting and superficially discrepant elements is not so disparate and difficult so as too induce tension or cerebral disharmony, nothing of the gut-lurching bewilderment of something like, say, Trout Mask Replica. More, it draws the listener in to explore the ways in which the different pieces fit together, the ways each layer of this sonic palimpsest ebb and flow and reverberate off one another at varying frequencies.

AA

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16th May 2021

James Wells

The government has a vested interest in controlling information. The media is driven by its own agenda, be it pro- or anti-government. Everyone has an agenda. Social media is war, and inchoate babble of conflicting views, most of which are based on opinion rather than information. But then information is suppressed, manipulated, statistics cut to suit specific ends… who can you trust? Well, probably no-one.

When governments and people in power blatantly lie, it’s no wonder people get suspicious and there’s a spreading air of mistrust – and of course, that’s when conspiracy theories spread like wildfire. In this kind of information war, what can you believe?

As Ilker Yucel of ReGen Magazine writes, ‘Talk City’ was written ‘with lyrics addressing the spread of misinformation and the resulting distrust that pervades modern society’ during the Summer and Fall of the pandemic in 2020. ‘Talk City,’ then, has a very clear message, that is one should not believe everything they read or hear in the media, but rather, research and find the truth.

Things have become deeply clouded and also deeply divided of late, with an ever-growing ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. It seems that questioning the media – who we’ve long known to be skewed by agendas, be they left, right, pro-government, or whatever – now automatically makes one a conspiracy theorist. We live in a polarised world, in which anyone who isn’t pro-Tory or pro-Trump is a communist, anyone who didn’t vote to leave the EU is a remoaning lefty, and so on. There are no grey areas anymore. Anyone with reservations about vaccine side-effects is lambasted is an anti-vaxxer. Debate is dead. Might is right. But there’s a vast difference between questioning what you’re fed and buying into conspiracy theories, and that’s the message here: think, question, do your research.

‘Talk City’ is a pretty catchy tune, the perfect coming together of pop hooks and grainy industrial guitars and thunderous beats. It’s a combination of gritty industrial percussion, an insistent bass groove and growling vocals, that’s reminiscent of RevCo, KMFDM, and PIG. It’s solid stuff and has real bite. Right tune, right time.

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