Beset, as we are, by various storms with odd names the best thing to do is stay in a listen to music. And what delights there are at the moment….
I was listening, as I do, to Dave Graney’s show on RRR Melbourne where he had Jess Ribeiro in as a guest, and I was somewhat taken by her music, so I invested in her album “Kill It Yourself” which was out last August. It pretty damn fine and I suggest you check it out.
Lead singer with Delta Spirit, Matthew Logan Vasquez, has a new single out, a tasty little rocker. The video frazzled my brain a tad, but the tune is good. He’s got an album on the way, i’ve been promised a copy, and he will be touring soon, watch this space.
The fine young chaps at Superstar Destroyer Records are back with a couple of things to wrap your ears around…..
The first single from the new Britney album, ‘Neon Python’ is now up for free download, my immediate reaction was “Hardcore Math”, a bit like the more intense moments of Trojan Horse, with the brakes off, plus a small portion of Fucked-Up, at least in vocal intensity. You can pre-order ‘BRITN3Y’ ahead of its release on March the 11th from this link.
In addition the first public track from ‘Melencolia’ by Poly-Math is now up for download – just pop over to the SSD store to download the single edit of ‘Ekerot’ for free! ‘Melencolia’ will be released on LP with heavy stock card to emphasise the artwork, and as a 6-panel digifile design You can pre-order any the formats here, ahead of its release on the 8th of April. Some great riffing and tidy drumming here, a bit in Crim “Red” area structure and direction wise, which is no bad thing.
Back to Melbourne, where else is there these days, other than Salford/Manchester/Chorley/Deganwy for good music? – and a new one from Hayden Calnin who I played something by a couple of years back. This hangs precipitously between shoegaze and post rock and is very compelling. Sort of Sigur Ros meets the Cocteau Twins I reckon. There’s a double album due soon, which again I have been promised, so expect some more. The single is available to buy and download from the Friday 12th February 2016.
Charles Lloyd begins his latest album with a fascinating eight minute version of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War”. The veteran saxophonist has brought together a new line-up for the release on Blue Note records. The notable addition to the ranks is guitarist Bill Frisell, who also has a new album out, more of which later. Lloyd has used the rhythm section of his New Quartet outfit, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harlan for this album but also regular Frisell collaborator, pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz. The album opener comes across more like a Frisell album track than a typical Lloyd performance, being reminiscent of something from the guitarists late 90s albums.
By the second track we are back in familiar Lloyd post bop territory, with parallels to Charles’ work with Gábor Szabó in the Chico Hamilton band in the 1960s, and indeed the tune “Of Course, Of Course,” originally appeared on Lloyd’s 1965 Columbia album of the same name with Szabó, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Another previously recorded track the traditional lullaby “La Llorona” is back into Frisell territory and then again album flips back to the Lloyd sound with another folk song, the dreamy “Shenandoah”. It’s only by the time we get to a masterful reading of the Lloyd classic “Sombrero Sam” that we get to the best example of the new sound emerging from this collaboration. Frisell opens with one his typical song deconstructions, and moves into the riff organically as the rhythm section takes him into new terrorties as Leisz offers an almost theremin like second lead to this mix until Charles enters on flute.
It’s back to traditional folk song form with a leisurely reading of 60s protest staple “All My Trials” which edges into into country territory, giving a hint of what is to come. Again the band manages to balance the two main players styles. A straight reading of “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream” features Willie Nelson on vocals and is a bit too safe for my liking. Although the bands very short reading of “Abide With Me” is beautifully played I am not sure how it fits in the overall mix, it is followed immediately with a straight reading of “You Are Too Beautiful” with Norah Jones guesting on vocals. I don’t know if it’s the extremely slow pacing but, other than a delicately fractured lead line from Lloyd, it all feels too chocolate box/coffee table jazz/country to me.
The album closes with a 16 minute meditation called “Barche Lamsel” which is the strongest item in the set and to my mind should have been more the direction the collaboration should have moved in. The delicate interplay between Lloyd, Frisell and Leisz is worth the price of admission with the guitar tones mixing beautifully with Charles breathy flute explorations. Around five minutes in Frisell starts an understated riff and the whole thing drifts off into modal reverence with a feel that wouldn’t be out of place in the Radio Gnome Invisible Territory.
A strong, if somewhat schizophrenic start, a strangely disappointing and radio friendly middle, and a masterful closer make “I Long To See You” a curates egg of a release, on balance the stronger tracks outweigh the more mainstream offerings.
At more or less the same time Frisell releases his latest solo album “When You Wish Upon A Star”. Two years on from the disappointing “Guitar In The Space Age” this is a themed set with all of the music being derived from Film and Television Music. Viola player Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan, drummer Rudy Royston, and singer Petra Haden are the band for a release which is back to Frisell at his best. It’s not his first “covers” album of course, there have been a number over the years from “Have A Little Faith” onwards. Petra Haden is in fine voice and the song choices ensure that the music does not drift into easy listening territory, you can’t really go wrong with John Barry, as evidenced by her first appearance, with a great reading of “You Only Live Twice”.
Kang has always worked well with Frisell and their partnership here delivers some of their best collaborations, a jaunty reading of the theme from “Psycho” is a manic tumble of klezmer inflicted fun.
Following Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald, amongst many others, with a version of “The Shadow of Your Smile” is a pretty daunting endeavour but Petra copes admirably with a great performance backed by some understated playing and a beautiful arrangement from Bill which feels very Gallic in places, and calls to mind cold war thrillers.
A quick gallop through the theme from “Bonanza” is a bit of fun before we get into the serious business of Ennio Morricone and a trilogy of tunes starting with a magnificent version of “Once Upon A Time In The West” which has been featured by everyone from Zorn to Springsteen over the years. This is Bill at his best, golden notes cascading over of a rich backing with Petra floating over the tune. “As A Judgement” is another Morricone classic from the same film with Bill going all Tex-Mex and Kang providing ethereal notes before moving into the stately core of the tune. The trio is completed by “A Farewell To Cheyenne” which mixes Caribbean rhythms with 60s French Cinema elements to create a delightful piece of music.
A quick slip into Disney territory is perhaps the least satisfying point in the set but is soon redeemed with Bills own “Tales From The Far Side”, originally debuted on the 1996 Frisell album “Quartet”, a de-constructed “Moon River” and a mammoth reading of “The Godfather”.
Overall we have the best of Frisell on display here, consummate playing, a great tone, and great arrangements of classic tunes blending jazz and americana to create a very pleasurable listening experience.
Here’s the whole gig from the Lincoln Centre that launched the album and as the announcer says at the beginning, if you like it go and get the CD.
There are not really enough hours in the day to absorb the vast array of new musical offerings that are emerging in 2016. Because of the veritable flood of news this time around this issue is more of a series of snippets of information, and passing thoughts. rather than more considered reviews…..
Great 21 track sampler out of Portland, Oregon – a lot of variety with a good mix of garage punk and psych leaning rock, with some real sonic curve balls in the mix.
Interesting stuff out of New York on the Loveless label from Claremont. Some cutting edge use of percussion and samples, and it’s free!
I know little of AM but I really like this album. Great tunes, light airy indie pop music. Highly recommended!
Some forthcoming releases
14th February 2016 – Ten Thousand Miles Of Arteries – Even Spilled Seed Crawls Toward The Womb – Annihilvs Power Electronix label has just started out and this is another one from that stable. A solo project from label owner, NLC, this is dense industrial noise in a supposedly a doom metal context. The execution is interesting, vast swathes of sound buried in reverb/echo is the main thrust. At 30 minutes it’s more an EP than an album and this is just about the right length as I think any more would tax the auditory canals somewhat. Perhaps a little too unforgiving for casual listening but generally a good addition to an emerging genre which blends the morbid insistence of doom with the complex landscape of industrial rock.
14th February 2016 – Whorid – Bloated Pig Carcass In A Shallow Wake – as mentioned above Annihilvs Power Electronix are on a mission to fill your ears with disturbing sounds. This one, the first release on the label is from the Philadelphia based “self-harm electronics” act Whorid – the solo project of Daniel Suffering, who is also a core contributing member of the excellent Theologian. Coming across like a more unforgiving version of early Cabaret Voltaire in partnership with a noise band, the opening track alone blisters the ear drums with buried and fractured spoken word mingling uncomfortably with white noise and chittering percussion. You can file this with Merzbow and Wolf Eyes in that “difficult” part of your collection. This sort of stuff both intrigues and compels in equal measure and your average punter will be reaching for the off switch after a minute, it fascinates me.
19th February 2016 – Rangda – The Heretics Bargain – Sir Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano cooking up a storm with some great twin guitar workoutswho i. Corsano is a great drummer and maintains a perfect pulse for the two exceptional string-smiths to ply their trade. Their third studio album kicks off with Masada like klezmer before more exploring more traditional forms. Damn fine and it makes the best of the year list with ease.
26th February 2016 – Conny Ochs – Future Fables – an interesting mix of bluesy soulful alternative song-writing with Ochs clear voice demanding attention. More of an “american” feel than his previous work I feel.
Late February – Okkultokrati – Snakereigns/Night Jerks – Southern Lord re-release two albums from the Belgian band as a precursor to releasing their fourth full length. There is something remarkably life affirming about young men with copious hair head-banging away, it’s like 1972 all over again.!
4th March 2016 – Soon – Vol. 1 – singer/guitarist Stuart McLamb and drummer Thomas Simpson of indie band The Love Language in a wholly different setting. Punishing metal sounds with epic melodic indie voices is the best description, although there is time for some folky more contemplative stuff. Working with bassist Rob Walsh (Bitter Resolve) and guitarist Mark Connor (Grohg) they create a highly enjoyable hard rock experience. This one easily makes the best of the year list. Reminiscent of the juxtaposition of rock and folk in mid period Zeppelin.
4th March 2016 – Diminished Men – Vision In Crime – featuring Steve Schmitt on guitars, drummer Dave Abramson, and Simon Henneman on Bass with a great album echoing Naked City era John Zorn. Marvellous!
11th March 2016 – The Brian Jonestown Massacre – La Facon Don’t La Machine Va Vers I´Arrière – limited edition (500) 7″ vinyl – includes a B Side Remix by DJ Shadow – pre-order
11th March 2016 – Spazz – Sweatin’ To The Oldies/Skatin’, Satan & Katon – my pal SD pointed out quite correctly that this band could be seen as having an inappropriate name. This got me thinking and I did some research into the potential for perhaps a different transatlantic usage of the word. The “Urban Dictionary” sort of lets them off the hook in that original nasty use of the word seems to have been adopted as more of a catch-all of general overactive behaviour. I’m not sure they get away with it but in any event what we have two albums of reissues from the supposedly influential Californian powerviolence trio which mines their back catalogue. With 64 and 67 tracks respectively at just around an hour each the format gives you a clue of what you are going to get – short, sharp, badly recorded and intense slabs of punk. Notwithstanding the name it was all a bit too much for my ears but if you are a collector of extreme American punk you will no doubt lap this up. Out on the Tankcrimes label.
11th March – Richard J. Birkin’s – Vigils – as a brief respite from all the noisy stuff this preview from Birkin’s new album is a lovely thing. Great video as well
11th March 2016 – a sizeable pile of new things from the ever excellent Cardinal Fuzz has arrived via the ether.
Dreamtime – Self Titled/Sun – heavy psychedelic rock from Brisbane. In the spirit of the raft of new Antipodean bands doing this sort of stuff.
Shooting Guns – Born to deal in magic/Spectral Laundromat – from Saskatoon in the heart of the Canadian prairies, Sabbath are clearly an influence but there is also a touch of kraut-rock in there as well. Copious use of fuzz pedal and long sonic explorations.
Foul Tip – Forever Driftin’ – American Drums and Guitar duo with a relentless rock sound with a touch of slacker. Apparently this is one of fourteen albums they have made. It’s got that sloppy feel that Alex Chilton indulged in at times. Great sound and in your face attitude. Well worth checking out.
25th March 2016 – The Body & Full Of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache – as trailed in the last edition of Fascinating Things here’s a further primer from what appears to be an experiment in mutual sonic self destruction. As one commentator on Soundcloud put it “Holy Shit”. Not for the faint hearted, it is relentlessly cathartic, and violent. You have been warned!
A Shoreline Dream, are back with their new single ‘Revolvist’, the second song to be released from their forthcoming LP, to be released later this year. I was rather taken with the dense production, the intense insistent cinematic sound and gnarly bass.
The video features Denver side-show performing legends “The Scissor Sweethearts” – Siara Gray and Serana Rose
Neurot Recordings have announced a full-length collaborative debut between apocalyptic doom duo, The Body, and grindcore/harsh noise outfit, Full Of Hell, this March. Fittingly titled “One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache”, the album includes eight new offerings along with two bonus tracks.
2015 was a busy year for SUNN O))). Following the recent release of “Kannon” – their first full length album since 2009’s “Monoliths and Dimensions” – a series of European appearances, culminating in their curation of four days at Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? festival, news has emerged that their live album DØMKI RKE will be re-released 5th February 2016.
Kannon, in its earliest incarnation, was inspired from live compositions of SUNN O))); elements of which were present at DØMKIRKE. DØMKIRKE was recorded at the Bergen Cathedral in Bergen, Norway during the Borealis Festival in 2007. The four-song double album was initially released in September 2008 and is available on vinyl only, with one track featuring on each side of the records. This performance features intrinsic members of SUNN O)))’s line-up, including Attila Csihar (vocals), Tos Nieuwenhuizen (Moog), Lasse Marhaug (noise), Steve Moore (organ, trombone) with Greg Anderson (guitar) and Stephen O’Malley (guitar) vitally remaining at the centre of the SUNN O))) constellation.
The sixth Black Market Karma album “The Sixth Time Around” is now out and is very good……
Ritual Productions follow up their signing announcement of Helsinki’s primitive elementalists Horse Latitudes with the first insight into the sound of their forthcoming full-length, “Primal Gnosis”, by way of an album trailer. The Finnish four piece are known for their slow, primordial and powerful music, combining suffocating doom, black metal and hypnotic psychedelic repetition.
The near seven-minute trailer offers sonic snippets of three songs – ‘Incantation’, ‘Spirals’ and ‘New Dawn’. The dark ambient textures and solemn, sombre moods are cut with pummelling bass lines and howling. Very atmospheric.
Beauty Sleep, a new 3-piece from Belfast have been drawn to my attention. Born at a local house party, the three musicians bonded over spelling naughty words on a fridge magnet crossword. Made up of Ryan McGroarty, Cheylene Murphy and Aimee Williamson, the naughty words led to musical discussions that required further investigation, post-hangover. The hashtag says “dreampop”, and it’s one of those annoying ones that your forebrain says you shouldn’t be liking but your hindbrain says keep listening,
‘Facepunch Transport Layer’ sounds like a name Mark E.Smith would have come up with in around 1982 and is the appropriately-titled first single to see public release from Black Shape Of Nexus’ impending fourth LP, “Carrier”. The best description is probably slightly unhinged, and rather flippin’ marvellous, a bit like Arthur Brown with a motorik bass line. Unfortunately it’s one of those occasions where Soundcloud hasn’t got an embed option but you can listen to it here. I recommend you do.
Conny Ochs‘ forthcoming third solo album, “Future Fables” – set for release in late February via Exile On Mainstream – has been trailed, Interesting stuff. Future Fables will see release through Exile On Mainstream on February 26th, 2016. Preorders have been made available through the label, on both CD and LP
Mamiffer (the duo of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner) forthcoming LP, “The World Unseen”, is officially confirmed for release via SIGE Records on 1st April. Here’s a snippet from the album, Ethereal and dreamy with a hint of GSYBE, Sadly no embed again but have a gander here.
A few snippets of forthcoming releases from German Shepherd Records to close….
One half of Staggs, m.t. scott has a new release. Pending new Staggs material he has delved into his archive and enhanced a collection of excellent tunes which merge trip-hop, ambient, cinema soundtracks and sprinklings of guitar and piano. Blessed with the usual Scott world weary and sardonic narrative the songs capture a feel somewhere between Before and After Science era Eno, John Barry and european neo-realism. Entitled “The Broken EP” it will be released on 19th February via Bandcamp and the usual digital outlets.
Intelligent, emotional and thought-provoking this is one not to be missed for lovers of fine music.
Iron Mouse (formerly Ion-Morph) and Space Museum celebrate the next phase in their partnership with a five track EP “Treatments” released on February 12th. This is their first release under the new name.
The duo’s usual obsessions are in play with tunes about the treatment of mental patients, abusive patriarchs, religion, retro music and cover bands, and politics/duplicity, all wrapped up in layered post-rock electronica.
Here’s a video of lead track “Treatments”,
Salford/Manchester/Chester band Kit B will be releasing an EP this year. Featuring “The Junta” aka Monty on bass as well as other local music legends Danny Cusick (The Hidden Gem), Mike Powell (Exchange, Night Operations) and Peter Slater (Vee V V, Tunnelvision) the band deliver cutting edge Manchester indie and are gaining a growing reputation since their self-released EP “Be Your Own God” from 2015. It will feature this track “It Always Rains (On Sunday)”.
In the parallel universe where the folks who run German Shepherd live Moff Skellington is a national treasure, spoken of in the same hushed tones as such notables as Ivor Cutler, Vivian Stanshall, and Mr Fong who used to run the chinese chippy on Lower Broughton Road in Salford (probably the best Spring Rolls in the known universe). In the “normal” world he is steadfastly ignored by the great unwashed mass of Adele. Coldplay and Mumford fans. I firmly believe this must change . “Neither Whiff Nor Spoor” is Moff’s 28th album and continues the tradition of the blend of music, art and performance known as Eddodi. Bringing together such diverse influences as Pere Ubu, Tom Waits, The Fall, The Mothmen, and Captain Beefheart with his own particular form of traditional english music, Moff once again delivers a heady stew of words, sounds and emotions. Simply put there is no other artist in the world who is producing material like this. The subject matter is. as usual wide and varied, and very unique. Here is a preview track.
A slight hiatus due to busy times at German Shepherd Records means things have slipped slightly so here is a rather hefty chunky catch-up of things incoming in the last week. After a quiet turn of the year things are starting to motor on the news and release front. This is part one of two FT’s for this week due to the vast amount of new tuneage.
Brazilian psychedelic rocker Headless Buddha releases a new single on 5th February – have a listen….I think it’s rather good…it’s from their forthcoming second album. The band is the work of Rio De Janiero based multi-instrumentalist Mauro Sanches.
Calgary, Alberta-based band, Wake, release their third full-length album, “Sowing The Seeds Of A Worthless Tomorrow”, on 26th February via an international alliance of independent labels. Putatively a grindcore outfit this new release strays into a variety of differing sub-genres including black metal, crust, d-beat, noise, sludge, and post-hardcore. Short and memorable the band packs eight tracks into just over eighteen minutes of music. Not for the faint-hearted, very intense and cathartic say I.
Chicago’s post-metal trio, Snow Burial , self-release their debut full-length, “Victory In Ruin” on 1st February. It mixes up sludge, thrash, shoegaze and math rock coming across a little like the bastard offspring of Fucked Up, “Red” era King Crimson and The Melvins. With former members of Hoss, Canyon, Doctor This Virus Is Silence the band self-financed and released two EPs entitled Oxblood Siren and Oxblood Tides in 2014. They make a very impressive noise for a three piece and must have one of the dirtiest bass sounds in the known cosmos. The album kicks a lot of butt and manages to balance the melodic, the progressive and the downright noisy into an impressive set. Recommended!
“Dominion Of Misery” is the forthcoming new album from Oregon-based technical death metal band , Omnihility. It’s the follow-up to their 2014 release “Deathscapes Of The Subconscious”. The opening “Intro” is a progressive cinematic piece which lulls the listener into a false sense of calm before the carnage that follows. Driven by light speed d-beats, and riffs that defy the anatomy of the human hand this is a challenging listen. Omnihility is defined as “the absolute belief in nothingness” which seems to be a contradiction given the density of the sound on the album. With ten tracks across forty one minutes this is one that requires stamina. Fascinating musicianship and a blunt force trauma soundscape with guitar playing that makes Steve Vai sound like a tortoise.
It feels like it’s back to the 80s for the new single from Emporium, released February 5th 2016 on Whimsical Records. It’s from the album ‘The Electric Emporium’, out the same day.
Diminished Men – featuring Steve Schmitt on guitars, drummer Dave Abramson (member of Master Musicians of Bukkake) , and Simon Henneman on Bass VI – will be releasing a new album on February 26th. Titled “Vision In Crime”, the three piece’s latest recording is a feature length journey through jazz and soundtrack territories. Their are similarities to the work of Pachora, the Tiny Bell Trio and John Zorn’s work. With guest appearances from saxophonists Skerik (Critters Buggin, Garage-A-Trois, Wayne Horvitz) and Neil Welch (Bad Luck, King Tears Bat Trip) this is a remarkably fine album and comes with a big recommendation from this listener.
SOME TOUR NEWS
The legendary Tad Doyle is bringing his new trio Brothers of the Sonic Cloth over on a first european tour, sadly he is only playing one UK date – Black Heart in London on 2nd April.
Legendary Australian troubadour Dave Graney is over for the Stewart Lee curated ATP at Prestatyn in April – which has a stunning line-up – and I hope to have some news about further dates from Dave and the band, which will be Clare Moore, Stu Thomas and ex Josef K/Orange Juice man Malcolm Ross as a special guest for the tour.
30th January 2016 – Monkeys In Love play Jefffest 3 at the Bank Top Tavern in Oldham 4pm onwards – free entry
6th February 2016 – Monkeys In Love play The Sun Inn, Stockton on Tees
8th February 2016 – The Sideshow – CB2 Basement (Acoustic) – Cambridge, Plus support from Simon West
16th February 2016 – The Sideshow in session on Dave Hammonds Smelly Flowerpot Show on Cambridge 105
19th February 2016 – Kit B play Dulcimer, Chorlton, Manchester with Factory Acts and Boxhead & Gloves
28th February 2016 – The Sideshow play The Fleece – Bristol, All day event, more details to follow.
12th March 2016 – JD Meatyard plays Holmfirth Picturedrome with Half Man Half Biscuit
18th March 2016 – Taser Puppets, Monkeys In Love and Expelaires play Gullivers. Manchester
18th March 2016 – Moff Skellington is doing a turn at Shangri-La, Prestwich (The Carlton Club)
24th March 2016 – The Sideshow play Mama Liz’s Voodoo Rooms – Stamford, More details to follow.
April 8th – The Sideshow play The Portland Arms – Cambridge, Gavin Chappell-Bates album launch, support also from Horse Party. Neil and Graeme from Bouquet of Dead Crows will be part of Gavin’s backing band on the evening.
May 5th – The Sideshow play The Portland Arms – Cambridge, More details to follow.