Posts Tagged ‘The Cure’

Since 2006 Maybeshewill have released four full-length albums of towering, cinematic instrumental music. After a decade long career that saw them tour across four continents they bowed out in 2016 with a sold out show at London’s Koko. Having reformed briefly in 2018 at the request of The Cure’s Robert Smith for a show at Meltdown Festival, 2021 sees the band return with their first new material since 2014’s Fair Youth. Having worked on ideas separately in the intervening years, it was the sketches of music that would become ‘No Feeling is Final’ that pulled the band back together. Building on the songs that they felt needed to be heard, together.

‘No Feeling is Final’ was born from a place of weary exasperation. From the knowledge that we’re living in a world hurtling towards self-destruction. We watch as forests burn and seas rise. As the worst tendencies of humanity are championed by those in power; rage, fear, greed and apathy. We see every injustice, every conflict, every catastrophe flash up on our screens. We stay complacent and consume to forget our complicity in the structures and systems that sustain that behaviour. As the world teeters on the edge of disaster, we sigh and keep scrolling, the uneasy feeling in our stomachs eating away at us a little more each day.

However easy it would be to switch off and pretend all is lost, there’s no choice but to remain engaged. To set that feeling of hopelessness aside and use the fear and frustration as fuel to make something positive.

‘No Feeling is Final’ is a message of hope and solidarity. It’s a story of growing grassroots movements across the world that are rejecting the doomed futures being sold to us, and imagining new realities based on equality and sustainability. It’s a reckoning with the demons in our histories and a promise to right the wrongs of the past. It’s a plea to take action in shaping the world we leave for future generations. It’s a simple gesture of reassurance to anyone else struggling in these troubled times: “Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

Guitarist Robin Southby comments on the new video for first single ‘Refuturing’, directed by Fraser West,

“Conceptually, Refuturing (and the album as a whole) is concerned with the existential dread surrounding the climate crisis, how we understand our complicity in the crisis within the confines of our current morality system and ‘refuturing’ – rejecting existing power structures used to subjugate, and reimagining a future built on entirely new systems that are sustainable and beneficial to all.”

Watch the video now:

Maybeshewill will also perform their first London headline show since 2016 at Islington Assembly Hall on 15th December 2021. Tickets are on sale now.

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Dance To The Radio Records – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Between 2005 and 2011, Dance to the Radio was the label that wasn’t lonely synonymous with the Leeds scene, it practically was the Leeds scene, and contributed to putting the city and its bands back on the map, releasing The Pigeon Detectives, Forward Russia, This Et Al, iLiKETRAiNS, and Grammatrics, as well as a number of wide-ranging compilations featuring the like of Pulled Apart by Horses. Returning in 2017 after a six-year hiatus, they’ve focused on a small but carefully-curated roster, giving a home to Tallsaint, Aural Aggro faves Dead Naked Hippies, Jake Whiskin, and Hull’s Low Hummer, who may be relatively new but have established themselves quickly, showcasing an energetic alt-rock sound that incorporates elements of grunge, punk, postpunk, and electro-pop with potent results. Debuting in October 2019 with the single ‘I Choose Live News’, the band have marked a steadily upward trajectory in the profile stakes ever since.

Granted, over half the tracks on Modern Tricks For Living have been released as singles in the last couple of years or so, making this as much a compilation as an album proper, but nevertheless, it hangs together nicely, on account of its stylistic unity and lyrical themes, and it’s well sequenced too, with the ups and downs just where they need to be.

Classic themes of angst, anxiety, and alienation dominate, and they never grow tired or fade. They possess a universality and an eternal relevance. The power and passion of the emotions may fade with age, but they never go away: most disaffected teens still feel it, unless they sell out and become self-satisfied, complacent parts of the machine. And some do – I’ve lost friends that way – but many of us still burn with the anguish of adolescence. As such, despite the band’s youth, there’s a universality in their appeal.

‘These days I feel like I’m dead’: the drawling vocal on ‘Tell You What’ is pure grunge nihilism, but there’s a sparkly electropop aspect to it, too. And the more you delve into Modern Tricks For Living, the more detail and the more canny crafting it reveals: amidst the brashy, trashy surface, there’s a lot more going on. These songs aren’t superficial, rushed, three-chord thrashes – well, they are, but they’re a lot more besides, and that’s the appeal of Low Hummer.

‘Take Arms’ packs some attack and makes for a strong opener. It doesn’t waste any time in planting a powerful earworm, with a motorik beat and bubbling synth bass providing the spine of a spiky punky indie banger that’s pure 90s in its vibe – the guitars fizz and the shouty female backing vocals reactive the riot grrrl sound and it kicks hard.

One of the few tracks not to have been released previously, ‘Don’t You Ever Sleep’, is an exuberant, bouncy paean to boredom that powers through in a whirl of synths in two and three quarter minutes, and it’s exhilarating, and ‘I Choose Live News’ crashes in as the third track, and it’s another relentless rush.

The Curesque ‘Never Enough’ (one suspects the title isn’t entirely accidental either) brings a change of tempo and switches the full-throttle fizz for an altogether dreamier form. It’s well-placed, and proves they’re not one-dimensional or one-pace, hinting at a range that they’re yet to fully explore. Slinging lines like ‘I hate this place / I hate the world’ , they pack in the angst and nihilism

‘Sometimes I Wish’ has some neat bass runs and a cyclical guitar riff that builds, while a wild lead part tops it all off. The tempo change towards the end is both unexpected and well-executed. ‘Slow One’ isn’t all that slow, but these things are all relative, and ‘The People, This Place’, another previous single release provides a blistering finale. And what can I say? This is a cracking album from beginning to end, that presents a solid selection of songs. Modern Tricks For Living is exciting and exhilarating, and it’s as simple as that.

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Cold Transmission Music – 6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, an album grabs you in just a matter of bars: The Cold Field’s Hollows is one of those rare records. Instinctively, the swathes of glacial synth draped over insistent, crisp and dominant drumming and paired with brittle, fractal guitars are pure Disintegration. So then it all cam down to the question of the vocals: would they spoil it? It’s a common thing, especially with goth bands. Musically, it’s on-point, but then there’s some bozo who can’t carry a tune in a bucket comes on like a cross between a baritone Morrissey and Kermit and ruins it. Not so here: Cold Field’s vocals are low in the mix and heavily processed, adding to the atmosphere and the mood, and it’s more Seventeen Seconds in terms of mix and it works so well.

As the press release details, ‘Conceived when hospitalized, songwriter and producer Ian Messenger wrote and produced a prolific forty-odd dark-minded songs the following year, of which ten were chosen for Hollows… Depressive themes of gloom and emptiness pervade the album but there is also a triumph against the darkness, a fist-waving into the void, and intimacy along with detachment.’

Drum machines and reverb are, I’ve found, the most precise routes to articulating darkness and detachment. It’s all in the way the drum machine strips away the human heart from the sound and the process, and reverb creates distance and separation. While most rock / metal-leaning genres shun drum machines (with notable exceptions including Big Black, Metal Urbain, Pitch Shifter and Godflesh, who harnessed the potential for immense power and relentless drive through sequenced beats), goth has embraced and run with it thanks largely to the way The Sisters of Mercy and The March Violets really took a grasp on how a tight bass welded to a mechanical rhythm has an effect that’s more or less hardwired. You don’t choose to dig this – it hooks you and becomes your life.

Hollows is faultless not only in its absorption and assimilation, but in its quality of songcrafting and performance.

‘Endless Ending’ ratchets up the mechanized bleakness, a full-on gonzoid goth groove, the guitars and synths blur together in an FX-laden wash while the bass drives hard against that non-stop, full-free rhythm that just thumps away hard. ‘Beauty—Expired’ is a bleak barnstormer, melding The Jesus and Mary Chain’s overloading guitars with the rockist tendencies of James Ray’s Gangwar with the psychedelia of A Place to Bury Strangers.

‘You Walk Away’ is more overtly electro, more New Order, but then again, with the heavy twang of a reverby guitar and blank monotone vocal, it’s Movement that it references above anything else, meaning it’s stark, bleak, and strangely affecting. It’s perhaps hard to explain without some sort of context or background, or a priori knowledge. You’re either in the headspace, or you’re not, but if you are, the you’ll know. And this speaks to that space, whether it’s comfortable or not.

The final track, ‘Into the Light’ stands out for its buoyancy, and the nagging guitar break again leans heavily on New Order – specifically ‘Ceremony’. But when executed with such panache, there’s no way to criticise this or any aspect of Hollows. It may be 2021, but this is an album that belongs to the early 80s. and in its mood, its atmosphere, its production, Hollows absolutely nails it.

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Dedstrange Records – 16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while since we last heard from New York’s purveyors of treble-blasting psychedelic post-punk noise – they slipped album number five, Pinned out back in the spring of 2018, since when they’ve been relatively quiet. Not that one of the contenders for the ‘loudest band in the world’ tag ever do quiet, in terms of volume of output, with an EP and self-released single in 2019.

The Hologram EP is the first release with a new lineup, whereby core member Oliver Ackermann is joined by John Fedowitz (bass) and Sandra Fedowitz (drums) of Ceremony East Coast, and comes from a difficult place at a difficult time, ‘with songs addressing the decay of connections, friendships lost, and the trials and tribulations of these troubled times, Hologram serves as an abstract mirror to the moment we live in’, details the press release. The tone is pretty apocalyptic: ‘Written and recorded during the on-going global pandemic and in the midst of the decline of civilization, Hologram is a sonic vaccine to the horrors of modern life.’

And if Pinned was perhaps their most overtly 80s-sounding release, Hologram pushes the experimentalism that began to become pronounced from Transfixiation while amalgamating all of the elements that have featured across their career to date.

Previous singles ‘End of the Night’ and ‘I Might Have’ provide the opening salvoes: the former’s murky percussion-driven blast of noise is a bassy, booming, raw slice of fucked up psychedelia. Everything is warped, melting, overloading, like MBV covering The Monkees, and the latter being pretty much classic APTBS, a blur of three-chord rock ‘n’ roll riffing – the Jesus and Mary Chain as filtered through Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – minus any desire for even the slightest hint of polish.

‘Playing the Part’ is short, a melodic indie jangle with a light, easy melody and a melancholy that belies the breeziness as it emanates from the frayed edges. ‘In My Hive’ revisits the form of ‘Now It’s Over’ from Transfixiation, only it goes somewhere else – and if Transfixiation pushed the boundaries of songs that felt incomplete, fragmentary, as if the structures are only partial and prone to cracking and splintering apart as they go, then the Hive is being used as a piñata by some crazed maniacs, and all the while the insistent beat hammers away like a palpating heart in the midst of a panic attack.  

Things gets slower and dreamier with the slow-unfurling shoegaze wisps of closer ‘I Need You’. With a Cure-like wistfulness, it’s again familiar territory, particularly in context of Pinned, but also songs like ‘Dissolved’ from Worship. Where this differs, again, is in the production: the brutal shards of feedback still swirl and soak the bass and vocals and at times almost bury the sparse drums, but whereas before the EQ was geared toward the top-end and walls of ear-splitting treble, there’s a lot of mid- and lower-range present here, which creates a more subdued and less attacking sound.

As with everything APTBS do, it sounds distinctively like ABPTBS, but once again, sounds and feels different, and the mood on Hologram is as much the departure as any aspect of the songwriting or sound itself. Whereas there has historically been a sense of obliterative catharsis about the shattering noise that defines their catalogue, Hologram feels darker and more introspective, and it feels fitting.

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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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Christopher Nosnibor

Hailing from Hastings, Kids Love Surf came together during the eternal year of lockdown, coming together due to a shared love of dreampop to collaborate remotely from March 2020. Following on from debut single ‘OYO’ which found favour with BBC introducing.

‘Moment’ is everything its rainbow-hued cover art suggests: a dreamy drift of 90s shoegaze, with soft synths and guitars bathed in washes of reverb and effects. The drums are muffled beneath the layers while the bass strolls around amiably, not driving anything, not even holding it down, but simply wandering, and it’s a latticework of jangly guitars that layer away behind a vocal that’s low in the mix and kinda dreamy in a 90s indie sort of a way. There are hints of Stereolab and Disintegration-era Cure in the mix here, and it’s all very mellow and melodic.

As is so often the case with this style of music, I find there’s relatively little to say. That’s not a criticism or complaint, but more of an indication of how, on a personal level, I find myself detached and floating free, how I struggle to engage in the details beyond the effect, beyond the superficial. Because it seems to be less about ]engagement and more about atmosphere, how it speaks beyond words via the medium of music.

The mid-tempo ‘Moment’ is a soft wash of tripping indie that’s easy on the ear, and do you really need a message or much substance beyond that? I’m content to just let it glide….

28th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

VVolves seriously impressed with their debut single, ‘Momentum’, unveiled last June – a heady rush of shoegaze and pop with ethereal vocals and a repetitive groove, it was, well, impressive.

‘Well-Loved Tales’ is an admirable follow-up: rich in atmosphere, but at the same time, a bold electronic pop tune, it’s a magnificently balanced composition. The rolling drums and teetering piano add drama to a guitar soaked in chorus and reverb, and with a rich, luscious production, the sound and the feel and the vibe is every inch the Cure’s Disintegration. And let’s be straight: if you’re going to take your cues from any classic album that has a truly timeless feel, that’s probably a top pick. There’s also a hint of ‘Naked and Savage’ by The Mission in the brooding, hypnotic hues, too.

There isn’t an attention-grabbing hook or an overt immediacy about ‘Well-Loved Tales’ – rather it casts a dreamy sonic spell that draws the listener in with a captivating sense of melody.

The ‘sparse’ version which serves as the B-side lives up to its name: stripped of the drums and the drama, slow-drifting synths provide the main accompaniment to a dreamy vocal that’s almost folksy, and equally, almost part of the instrumentation, and it’s nice. Very nice. As is the mesmerising video which accompanies it.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Lifted from their forthcoming double album Duel, scheduled for release in April, Deine Lakaien have unveiled their cover of The Cure’s 1983 classic pop tune ‘The Walk’.

The duo, comprising pianist Ernst Horn and vocalist Alexander Veljanov, have over the course of ten albums attained a significant status in their native Germany, but haven’t quite the same reach further afield, but there’s a strong change that this could change with Duel, which pairs an album of original compositions with an album of paired covers, ‘The Walk’ being one of them.

And it’s good. By which I mean, it’s an affectionate, even reverent cover that pays an overly sincere homage to the original – as it should, of course. Much of the appeal of the original is its rough edges, and the sound of those early 80s synths and drum machines, recorded to tape. Listening to it now, along with so many contemporaneous songs, reminds us for that for all we’ve gained with advancing technology in terms of fidelity and ease of recording, mixing, and so on, so much has been lost in terms of essence.

As Ernst Horn comments, “For an old-school synthesizer freak like me, ‘The Walk’ was of course a welcome opportunity to celebrate beautiful old sounds in simple tone sequences, although I really blunt my teeth on the hook… I guess I couldn’t get it to sound as dirty as in the original. ‘The Walk’ is really an acoustic advertisement for the original sound of a vintage synthesizer. The instrumental part was also a lot of fun, the increase to the last, ‘Take Me to the Walk‘, where I could let my equipment totally off the leash.”

It’s telling that the artist himself feels a certain sense of shortcoming, and in a way, it’s refreshing: instead of artistic ego, we get an insight into the anxiety of influence experienced by the influencee.

Horn’s comments demonstrate an unusual degree of self-awareness, and it’s true that Deine Lakaien’s efforts to recreate the spirit and sound of the original falls short: the playful exuberance is lost to a certain self-applied pressure to deliver, while the sound is close, but somehow artificial. But for all that, I’m not going to do this down one iota: it very much does capture the 80s vibe, especially wit the dominant crack of a processed snare sound that cuts through everything… everything… everything. The brooding, swampy break is nicely done and if for the most part it sounds like A-Ha covering The Cure, the play-out goes darker and sounds more like a post-First and Last and Always Sisters of Mercy demo. And from me, that’s a compliment, and this is a solid cover, for sure.

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Deine Lakaien by Jörg Grosse-Geldermann

11th of December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Lifted from their Codependency D.S.T. EP, ‘The Causeway’ for no obvious or specific reason evokes the experience of reading Lee Rourke’s debut novel, Vulgar Things, which is set on Canvey Island in Essex. It may be in the Thames estuary, but it’s not connected to the mainland by a causeway – at least not since 1931. Although inspired by the street on which a pub in London frontman Ted Joyce stumbled upon and had been about to frequent before discovering it was boarded up due to COVID restrictions, ‘The Causeway’ in some way reminds us of the ways in which we’re all cut off and isolated, and how we’re all subject to – and dictated to – by the ebbs and flows not just of tides, or time, but of life, and of moods, ours and those of others.

The lyrics are a stream of consciousness unfolding, the tune is a colossal hybrid of indie, alt-rock, post-punk and funk. The fat, strolling bass is the focal point and bounces a groove that owes a debt to The Cure in their poppier moments (and coupled with the buoyant lead line in the bridge, if they weren’t listening to ‘Hot, Hot, Hot!!!’ around the time of writing, then it only goes to prove that influence is transmitted through the ether and spreads like a rhizome in the subconscious) before cutting hard left into a driving chorus that’s got indie anthem stamped all over it.

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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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