Posts Tagged ‘Soundgarden’

4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Bandcamp Fridays have been providing a rare and unique lifeline for struggling artists, and while times are still ridiculously tight in what continue to be utterly bewildering times which have hit the music industry where it really hurts – namely grass-roots venues and the artist who depend on them – the opportunity for artists to actually make a proper revenue from sales or downloads and physical releases is a big deal.

And if one thing’s become apparent, its that artists are going all-out to create releases that offer something different for their fans, and the unexpected arrival of an EP of 90s grunge covers from U.S doom quartet Embr.

Recorded in August of this year – in an actual studio, no less – with Matt Washburn (Mastodon, Royal Thunder, Artimus Pyledriver) the EP finds the band bringing a full-blooded sludge tone and a doomy, old-school, Sabbath-esque twist to four songs by leading exponents of the grunge era – with each member of the band selecting a song for inclusion.

Confession time: I absolutely fucking loved Nirvana, and still do. Alive in Chains, I dug, but never really found any enthusiasm for Stone Temple Pilots or Soundgarden, preferring Mudhoney, and the greasy heft of Tad. Nevetheless, what’s clearly apparent from listening to these four cuts is the degree of sincere affection for the songs and the sound that’s on display here. Moreover, they’ve done a great job of selecting songs that suit their own sound, showcasing the strengths of the original songs while sounding like Embr. It’s also something of a revelation hearing songs originally sung by men delivered by a female vocalist, and again, that they’ve pitched them in Crystal Bigalow’s range is a major factor in their success.

If the half-tempo trudge of their take on ‘Heart Shaped Box’ (Crystal’s choice) takes some getting used to, its impact – as the immense power chords drive down hard and heavy – is strong. The ultra-low bass that rumbles at a crawl through the stripped-back second verse is worth the money alone, but ‘Junkhead’ is probably the heaviest track here – which is no real surprise, given that AIC were always at the most overtly metal end of the spectrum in the grunge canon.

Then again, despite the rather poppy middling rock chorus, the repetitive chord sequence of ‘Mailman’ is well suited to a sludgy trudge-along, and ultimately, Embr have done a good job, making Idolatry well worth a punt.

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Embr-Idolatry

3rd March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

No Scary Bears Facebook page sees the band lay out their aim as ‘simple, alternative guitar music inspired by the bands they love and you used to find on MTV before the arse fell out of commercial music’. With a handful of demos streaming on-line and receiving airplay on BBC Introducing, they’ve been building momentum ahead of this, their debut single release.

Born out of a new permutation of hard rock act We Could be Astronauts, No Scary Bears present a more grunge orientated sound: the guitars are chunky and nicely up in the mix. But while every other band drawing on the class of ’92 for inspiration seems to want to be Nirvana but poppier, with strong melodies and more nuanced approach to dynamics, No Scary Bears more call to mind Soundgarden and Bivouac with ‘Mail’ and accompanying track ‘Dial In / Dial Out’.

For people of a certain age (mine of thereabouts), it’s hard not to feel a pang of nostalgia for music of a certain vintage, and No Scary Bears capture that feel extremely well. The fact the release contains three tracks harks back to the old 12” and CD single formats – and the fact there is a limited CD release (rather than a voguish cassette editions) is another detail of note, and in all, it’s a very promising start.

 

No Scary Bears