Author Archives: HalfEdgeMedia
Voice of Reason
Looking Back To The Way Things Were: Voice Of Reason 1995 – 2001
Ear One Productions
Released: 3rd June 2014
Ear One Productions have confirmed the upcoming release of “Looking Back To The Way Things Were: Voice Of Reason 1995 – 2001″, the entire discography from influential turn-of-the-century hardcore act, VOICE OF REASON, clocking in with seventy-two minutes of demos, compilation, unreleased tracks, and their full-length album.
Having disbanded in 2001, throughout their short existence, VOICE OF REASON managed to release a slew of EPs, compilation tracks, and ultimately a full-length album via Triple Crown Records. This new release is a remastered collection of thirty-three tracks of the band’s twenty-two-song discography, including multiple demo and comp versions of some songs. Connecticut-based Ear One Productions — who formed just over a year ago with the intent of specifically releasing music only from their home state — will release Looking Back To The Way Things Were… as a limited edition numbered digipak CD with a poster in a one-time run of 500 copies on June 3rd.
Ear One has created a new lyric video for the classic VOICE OF REASON anthem, “Still The Same”
VOICE OF REASON were a popular melodic hardcore band formed in the mid-1990s.
Founding members, guitarist Mike Sabia and vocalist Jay Reason, launched the band from the local Connecticut hardcore scene. An array of flyers from the mid-‘90s to early 2000s boasts the band’s name on an eclectic array of bills, ranging from Hatebreed and Warzone to New Found Glory and Saves The Day. In the band’s early stages, they were often compared to 7 Seconds and Gorilla Biscuits. It was only appropriate that they would team up with NYC’s legendary producer, Don Fury (Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick Of It All), for their initial demo. In 1999, Fury mentioned “VOICE OF REASON have a quality that I look for in young bands – they believe in what they are doing, and they’re not afraid to just be themselves.” Don Fury would go on to receive producing credits for the majority of the band’s output, and was often cited as helping them evolve their sound into a more melodic structure. It didn’t take long for VOR to set themselves apart from their contemporaries with a driving edge that made them contenders within the post-hardcore scene as much as the scene that helped birth them.
VOICE OF REASON:
Jay Reason – lead vocals
Mike Sabia- lead guitar, backing vocals
Van Hartley – drums
Grant Ries – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Patrick Brenna – bass
The Aural Delights View : an excellent compilation from a band that sound as fresh now as they did back then. Good quality hardcore material.
2nd June 2014
Those who know me know that I do not dabble in “pop” music much these days, and when promo comes in comparing bands with this, that, and, any other outfit that I regard as a bit naff, it tends to put me off. I have to admit I was a bit put off by the promo for this lot, but I sat and listened to the track and I forgot about all the verbiage and sank into the music. Good job I did really. What you have is excellent vocals, great melodic development and great structure. To describe it as pop misses the point to some extent – this is superior stuff and goes beyond the confines of a “typical” pop single.
So we are talking about Iceni – who are Lindsay Hannon, Liz Corney & Lady Caroline Mary – piano, bass and drums – they are from Newcastle and they sound rather good indeed.
Here is their single which is out June 2nd – where from and how you get it is, as yet, unknown to me so I suggest you make friends with them on Facebook and no doubt they will keep you posted.
Website : www.icenimusic.net
Released -25th April 2014
There is a very good reason to get hold of this latest release from German Shepherd – mainly because it is remarkably good – that’s not to say that the other releases on the label aren’t excellent – just that this one is pretty impressive as well.
One should also note the other work that Mr Roberts produces, and has produced in the past. Most of his current output can be accessed from http://www.modalroberts.net, and from there you can also get a good feel for the breadth of the artists talent, his inventiveness, his playfulness, and other aspects of his oeuvre. Those with long enough memories, or a predilection for rock family trees will recognise, at least, his surname from the latter days of Marc Riley’s Creepers – I make this point in respect of at least one track on the EP.
Notwithstanding the above fertile and rich work we have here a “shop window” as it were into the wonderful world of Modal Roberts. Four fascinating insights into his extensive musical catalogue. My good friend Stephen Doyle (Salford City Radio) has been featuring Modal’s alt-karaoke of late, which has been very entertaining, for this release however the back room gurus at German Shepherd felt it would be good to focus on his own material.
You might well be shocked by the opening lines of first track “Full Sore” – typical seaside post card humour from the 70s however soon melts away to reveal Modal’s theorising on the potential that the characters in a certain comedy series might have alternate sexual preferences. A bass line worthy of Bootsy Collins from Toby Deans, and scattergun sharp sharded guitar licks and chords from Dooj Wilkinson create an exciting mix between rock elements and funk with insistent house rhythms holding the anchor. It’s what the youngsters might call “groovy”.
I mentioned Marc Riley’s Creepers and indeed Mr Roberts was a member of said band during it’s latter years and those of you know the output of that band will be aware of the last album they made - Rock ‘N’ Roll Liquorice Flavour – which included a track called Derbyshire. An updated version of the track on the EP re-realises it as a techno dance work-out with a hypnotic toe-tapping rhythmic base underpinning a laconic vocal and some surreal lyrical adventures. Roberts attention to detail with the elements of the track is excellent – chittering percussive noises, squawling synth sounds, tricksy little vocal asides, and additional layers of analogue sounds make this a very fine piece of work indeed.
Singing a song about John Peel’s possible real feelings for “Teenage Kicks” in an off kilter mutant blues style provides for some variety in the overall mix of the EP. Modal plays with memory and history to suggest various options for how the legendary DJ might have considered his audience. A fascinating perspective and delivered with some panache.
And to conclude 7 minutes of foot pumping floor filling house music – again great bass from Deans – and a laminal series of breakdowns as Modal raps/sings about the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy on the lifestyle of farm dwellers. A joyous little ditty with some great lyrical twists, a few musical jokes thrown in, and altogether a clear indication it is possible to take dance music and have a great deal of fun with it.
Coherent, unusual, naturalistic, topical and downright good fun throughout – I strongly recommend this to you.
The EP is released at £4 (or pay more if you want) on German Shepherd on 25th April 2014.
Risqué But Not Blue
Released : 21st April
Only a couple of weeks since the excellent remix EP from Staggs and they are back again with a similarly remarkable and marvellous piece of work.
It starts, in usual Staggs style, with a venomous piece of prose about a train journey and some of the old ultra-violence, things mellow out for a sultry tumble through “Stagg Party” which comes across like something Abba might have come up with had they been brought up on a diet of Newcastle Brown and Stoddy Cakes. “Good Clean Fun” is chittering mass of alt-dance noises and rhythms interspersed pastorally leaning quiet bits that allow for tension to build and re-build.
The “Perfect Angle” , which I think I have shared with you before, is another of Scott’s baleful commentaries on the mundane inevitability of middle class existence.
“I-Spy” captures some latent John Barry-esque sounds and wanders around in circular journey of mesmerising repetition and soul-full rhythms and appears to describe a James Bond movie in a parallel universe. Incredibly inventive. Matters close with the lengthy title track, which I have featured on a recent podcast, and it puts the cherry on a very rich confection. An amazing mix of sounds and genres melded into a seamless piece mirrors, but does not ape, John Zorn’s early 8os experiments in composition and form.
The duo’s ability to re-invent electronic music and interject regular aural surprises is well known – however in this case they have surpassed their previous work.
STAGGS as you may well be aware are Michael T Scott and Paul Ridley.
This one also features Kitsy Chaos, Mave Mills, Flies On You, Bedroom Legends, DJ Capt. Mainwaring, Fab Broadway, Rosa Bramley, Mai-Mai Bramley and Jo Frontier……I am sure Mr Scott will enlighten me at some point on those who are in that list I am not aware of.
The Aural Delights View – utterly marvellous, entertaining, thought provoking and in places very funny. Highly recommended.
Sheffield’s (UK) punk fuelled alternative/metal outfit Such Sights have announced the release of their debut video single for ‘ In Her Name’.
Taken from the bands -‘Where Hell Begins’ EP, the young upcoming British rock act are gearing up for a string of releases this year and live shows across the UK.
Already starting to make waves across the north of England, the South Yorkshire bred quintet – hit listeners hard with an exciting fusion of alternative rock, pop punk and metal. Influenced by bands such as Taking Back Sunday. The Bled and Comeback Kid – the fast paced, hard riffing and distinctly anthemic ‘Such Sights’ are quickly building their reputation as a live band exploding with raw energy and potential. 2014 could well see yet another Sheffield act with the skills to achieve great heights.
The Aural Delights View – a great punky hardcore mix with an anthemic tinge and some impressive vocal acrobatics – riff’s abound, drums are manic and it all teeters on the edge of collapse in a rather marvellous fashion…..
You can stream the “Where Hell Begins” EP at http://www.soundcloud.com/suchsights
USA Out Of Vietnam
Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes
Released : 5th May 2014
Now then dear reader – any promo that says a band is a cross between E.L.O and Sunn O)))) is bound to grab the attention is it not? And after the initial thoughts you reflect on the assertion and decide, no, it cannot be, however in this instance it is.
But more of that later, onto the promo gubbins first
Their musical influences are both transparent and widespread, and include black metal, doom, drone, minimalist composition, sludge, noise, post rock, shoe-gaze, dream pop, nineties psychedelia and classic seventies radio dial pop. Particularly transparent is this love of pop music, dense seventies-style production, and harmonized vocals that swerves around hairpin turns. If you really wanted to try to harness this slippery eel you could say that the band’s sound is as equally informed by the stacked production and pop savvy of Jeff Lynne’s E.L.O. as it is by the crushing heavy drones of Sunn O)))).
On their debut, USA Out of Vietnam proudly boast of their love of lush harmony and infectious melody but also like to push past the 3 minute traditional pop format with 10 minute epics – psychedelic, in the truest sense of the word.
With over 15 guest musicians appearing on Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (including Montreal singer/songwriter Patrick Watson who contributes treated vocal loops on two songs here), their debut is vast in it’s scope, and abundant with rich sounds. Brass sections elbow up to detuned and distorted Marshall stacked guitars, spoken word sections appear in unlikely spaces, vocoder vocals appear within breaths of angelic choir vocals, vintage synth and sampled noises hover over lush string sections while a piano beds down with crushing Swans-style pummelling. The lyrics across the album mirror the sound that surrounds them, with themes grasping towards redemption that search for a sliver of light hiding in the darkness.
Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes slowly reels the listener in as opposed to attacking them with ballast and decibels. USA Out of Vietnam have created an enveloping and vivid piece of work – but flush that incense and peppermint flotsam out of your head because USA Out of Vietnam insist that this trip is for real.
The four members of USA Out of Vietnam are apparently Son of Fogman, El Tigre, Jordan Thomas Brown III & Fogman. They formed “in the frigid months of 2010″. The album was recorded at Montreal’s Hotel 2 Tango studio with producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor). The album has been available since 2012 but has only just achieved physical release.
The Aural Delights View – Given the Hotel 2 Tango link comparisons with GY!BE are fairly obvious, but in this case, a truism, in that there is a sizeable portion of post-rock delivery herein. However it does tend to go way beyond the work of the other band, to a place which, in some cases, defies an easily derived description. It is epic – 5 songs in just under 60 minutes – and calling them songs is doing them a bit of a dis-service – with only one under 10 minutes. It is multi-faceted, the key element is an extremely heavy guitar attack with Bonham like drumming, but this is couched in a production of what might be best described as vast in it complexity. So that’s the Sunn O))) bit taken care of. So where does Jeff Lynne bit fit in? Well, I guess, in the vocal elements which don’t stray into the throat torturing excesses of most doom/death metal and get almost ethereal in places, there are also instances of mind-flip production that imply that famous Black Country attention to detail, it gets quite operatic in places. Always a good test of quality for me, these days, is does it grab the attention, and do I sit through the whole thing? The answer is yes, a most enjoyable listen and a fascinating album and well worth tracking down.
To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Hillsborough, Salford based punk-rap collective Class Actions have released a mixtape entitled ‘MCR Says JFT96’.
The mixtape features a number of Class Actions tracks relevant to Hillsborough such as ‘Rip Up The Sun’ and the anti-Thatcher track ‘M is 4 Maggie’ as well as a selection of tracks by sympathetic Greater Manchester based artists, including rapper Intoxikie, Stephen Sarson, The Bacillus and Drink and Drive. The aim is simple, raise awareness of the disaster amongst Manchester based artists, and, send a clear message of solidarity to Liverpool and the Hillsborough victims. City rivalries mean nothing when human lives are concerned. MCR says JTF96!
Class Actions Frontman Aslan AK says:
‘At the time of Hillsborough I lived very near Liverpool so I remember the tragedy very well. 96 people lost their lives and the establishment helped by the evil Sun newspaper added insult to injury. I am proud to have promoted the truth about Hillsborough through Class Actions as well as getting other artists on board to fight for justice. Everyone regardless of what city they live in must support the Hillsborough victims. Justice For The 96!’
Download MCR Says JFT96 now from www.classactionsuk.com
The Prick Jaggers
The Golden Ass
Released : 18th April 2014
I don’t normally hand over or share my reviews with other chaps but in this instance, when I asked the erstwhile Eon Morse for a brief set of words about this album he came up with a description which I felt needed to be included……
There was something almost clandestine about The Prick Jagger’s , the way they existed outside the conventional systems , rarely playing conventional gigs preferring to play instead in the more intimate setting of someone’s home where as an added bonus they would cook you a meal and partake in the vine with you , very appropriate behaviour for students of Dionysus, the fact that the cd edition of this album corroded and became unplayable after a while , it felt as if it had devoured itself , I was lucky enough to play obsessively my copy of the Golden Ass before it ceased to share it’s pleasures , when you listen you’ll hear why I was so captivated , the music here is brim full of ideas , of wit and wisdom in equal measure , it has an energy that makes me happier with life.
People like lists , so here’s a small list of my favourite ‘ Manchester’ albums in no particular order:
- 10 cc – Sheet Music
- The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
- World of Twist – Quality Street
- Buzzcocks – Times Up
- The Prick Jaggers - The Golden Ass
It is that good!
Listen , buy , tell a friend , let the world now , this album deserves to be ( in terms of sales) the ‘ Tubular Bells’ of the modern age …..
A fascinating perspective, and as someone who has listened to Mr Morse’s views on music in general, and the Manchester scene in particular, I have to say this does mark this album out as something special.
And, you know what, he is completely right. This is another one of those hidden gems of the rich history of Manchester music. On one hand bitingly witty, caustically humorous, and playful, on the other hand heading straight for the jugular to point out the idiosyncratic behaviour of modern Britain. Balancing a pungent approach to electronica, with a slightly alien approach to what was described elsewhere as “country and northern”.
Patriq Gannon and Robert Jones take the anticipated norms of music flip them over and both surprise and delight with the variety of material, the subject matter, and the overall delivery which veers between a concert in your living room and a chat in the pub with your mates with a musical backing. Any album that name checks Stephen Hawking, Lou Reed and Sisyphus is OK by me and demands to be heard. Gannon’s delivery is uniquely northern and special. The whole thing is something special.
And as they say……..
The Prick Jaggers were once the new Olympian bards of rock and roll. They were the voice and promise of the counter culture, they who shat in Hank Marvins shoe. The guys who put three chords into bed with electronic discharge. Who sailed into 2002 and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse. Who emerged to find Shergar! They were written off as has-beens by the summer of 2005, and suddenly shifted gear, releasing their debut album The Golden Ass in March 2006.
Two fallen men stood upright before you. How is it that they came to stand? Such burdens did these men carry on their shoulders! Yet these beacons of the Overman walked on the stage before your purty lickle eyes.
G E Pennyfather’s Recording Artists, The Prick Jaggers.
Available from German Shepherd……www.germanshepherdrecords.bandcamp.com/
Released : 31st March 2014
Out of the ashes of the recently expired Whipcord comes Beat Vermilion. Retaining the same line-up of Duncan Purcell (bass), Gary Porter (drums) and Nick Barry (guitar and vocals) for this recording the band have moved to another phase in their musical career. Porter recently left the band.
It’s clear from the outset that this is going to be a seriously loud and uncompromising affair. The driving pulse of “Stolidly Built” kicks things off in a riot of joyous riffage and some serious guitar abuse from Mr Barry. The preceding combo always had the unique capacity to meld seriously heavy rock music in with great melodies and they haven’t lost that ability. Matters continue in the same vein with “Ephermerun” with vocals ranging between tortured scream and mellow (ish) melody on the chorus. It then gets seriously heavy with “Waiver Another” with it’s relentless riff and ear-worm chorus. Closer “Frozen Heart of Gold” comes across like “Lark Tongues In Aspic” period Crimson in bed with Motorhead, namechecks the band, and batters the listener into submission. Lyrically the four pieces offer an interesting impressionistic/symbolic approach – there is no direct narrative but more a series of abstract statements which adds to the overall intensity of the music.
I asked Duncan why Whipcord had finished “Well, we decided to called it day with Whipcord because as much as we loved them and it, we got tired of playing the same songs and tired of the name, it was becoming a bit of a cabaret thing. Although it was direct and suited the sound, it wasn’t as faceless or as mystical as Nick wanted it to be. Given the Zeppelin, King Crimson, Fugazi and Rudimentary Peni love in the band, he wanted the us to be that little more enigmatic, with only artwork and music being the face of the band. We are lifers so giving up wasn’t an option. Considering everything and our chequered history of being predictably unpredictable (and that will continue), I think it was something we needed to do and we took it as far as we could. Also during the hiatus our drummer decided to retire from music and started a new life in Liverpool (although on board with the idea at the time), pretty much cemented the brand new challenge even more. Luckily he managed to stick around long enough to record the EP.”
The EP is self recorded, Purcell explained “…….using primitive micing techniques. We only used 4 mics in total because drums don’t seem to sound as natural nowadays as they did on the records in the 60′s and 70′s so we did TRY to recreate that sound. We’re no experts so It was totally trial and error…..”
The band are currently writing new material and hope to be playing their first gigs in the summer.
I shall be featuring the EP in the Sonic Attack podcast over the next couple of weeks. Those of you who loved Whipcord will find something here to enjoy I think. The band, despite retaining the same line-up for this recording, seem darker and more intense which to my mind is a good thing. Highly recommended!