Immediate

I’m late to the party as usual on this one. They are a Manchester band but a friend from Northampton brought them to my attention. They are a six piece (yes I know the photo only has five but it’s the only one I could be bothered to grab) called D.U.D.S. (or possibly d.u.d.s. depending on what part of the internet you are looking at). There appears to be quite a bit of internet chat and 6Music action so I suppose I ought to file them away in the “not obscure enough” pile but I was quite taken with the Trout Mask guitar of the opening track so I persevered.

As I continued it became clear I was back in 1982 again.

In summary it’s Beefheart plus Gang of Four plus James Chance/White plus Talking Heads plus early DEVO, maybe a bit of early Tuxedomoon,  plus any number of noisy guitar oiks who were hanging around Oldham Street/Swan Street at the time of Hex Enduction Hour. If you are as old as me you will have heard it all before and be mildly bemused about the rotational nature of music (time wise that is…if you hang around long enough all types of genres come back round again). If you are under 40 and haven’t mined the back catalogue of Manchester post punk (i.e. 1980 to 1985) then you are in for a pleasant surprise as their angular atonal brashness is quite arresting.

Of course Ian Moss invented this type of music with the Dodos (not the american ones) and The Stepbrothers so it once again proves he was way ahead of his time.

Anyhow I’ll be playing track a week on Thursday but here it is if you want to check it out…….

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Motus Octo

Bouquet of Dead Crows return with their second full length and a fuller, more aggressive sound emerges, consolidating the tension between the hard rock of the music and Toni Cooper’s melodic vocals. The music takes on a much broader more orchestral sound, the riffs are heavier, the structures are more complex. The band have demonstrated a clear development of their sound in this release.

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The title (referring to the fact that there are eight tracks on the album), essentially means ‘eight movements’, or eight emotions.

Limited Edition Colour Vinyl Versions of the album plus T-Shirts and gig tickets are available at Music Glue . CD copies have completely sold out.

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Bouquet of Dead Crows are:

Antoinette Cooper : Vocals
Neil Bruce : Guitars
Graeme Clarke : Bass
Andrew Coxall : Drums, Percussion, Trumpet, Synths & Keys, & Backing vocals

The album was recorded and produced By Neil Haynes at the Parlour and artwork was by Stewart Harris

It releases November 23, 2018.

Tour dates to support this release….

NOVEMBER

15th – Esquires, Bedford
24th – Motus Octo launch at The Blue Moon, Cambridge
29th – Gringos, Norwich

DECEMBER

1st – Smokehouse, Ipswich
6th – Mama Liz’s Voodoo Lounge, Stamford

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

In November 2017, before Ulver embarked on their European tour supporting the  successful The Assassination of Julius Caesar release , out of the blue they launched the EP Sic Transit Gloria Mundi digitally on their own Bandcamp page – under the radar of most. It followed a bit later on Spotify, iTunes, etc. They have finally got round to releasing the album in physical form for the first time by way of a 12″ vinyl upcoming on House Of Mythology on December 7th, 2018.

The new version of the release contains the three studio songs from the digital release with the addition of four live recordings.

In respect of the three studio songs the band report:
“The sad remains from the Caesarean banquet. Two songs we kind of left on the drawing board but resumed work on this summer. Additionally, a cover of a childhood favourite – one we actually started some twelve–thirteen years ago, around the time we first started talking about making some ‘pop’ music. This EP was finalised in our new studio in the old town of Oslo in September, and sent over to Youth’s in London in October, for imperial sound quality. ” 

Ulver also uploaded two videos, using footage from their  concert at Labirinto della Masone, Italy, in the summer of 2017. Two songs, “Southern Gothic” and “Transverberation” from that concert have now been properly mixed, alongside “Nemoralia” from Odeon Theatre, Tasmania,  summer 2017, and finally “Rolling Stone” from Grieghallen, Bergen International Festival from 2018.

The bands particular form of epic prog is in full effect here. Huge cinematic statements with Kristoffer Rygg’s vocals soaring effortlessly over massive reverb drenched soundscapes. The live tracks are especially fine with the band firing on all cylinders to deliver memorable performances, the version of “Rolling Stone” is a stand out statement from a band in fine fettle. The Frankie Goes To Hollywood Cover is a bit of a head scratcher in the context of the bands own material but that slight concern is abated by the quality of the rest of the release.

The band were previously featured on Aural Delights 228

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Photo – Ingrid Aas

The band has decided that for the time being these four live tracks will only be available on this vinyl edition. 25 minutes of exclusive bonus material, as a bit of a reward or incentive to those who still buy physical music.

The vinyl is available in three different colours: punk yellow, purple and classic black. The cover shows Francis Bacon’s Study of Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953),  Design iis by the immaculate Paschalis Zervas, + wolframgrafik.

For purchasing in the EU/UK 
For purchasing in the US 

 

Synth Driven Funeral Doom

American Black Metal Band Wolves in the Throne Room are releasing a cinematic/epic debut album by synth-driven funeral doom band Vouna via their Artemisia Records label on November 9th.

The record evokes a devastating and beautiful journey of becoming the last person on earth. Razor sharp tremolo picked guitars cut through the heart like a knife. Mournfully sung vocals and cinematic melodies are combined with crushing doom drums, while layers of primitive 90s digital synths conjure a lush and rugged soundscape.

All of the music on the album was composed and all instruments performed by Vouna frontperson Yianna Bekris (previously of Vradiazei, Eigenlicht, and Sadhaka). The music was inspired and influenced by Finnish funeral doom, English masters My Dying Bride, Eastern European black metal, and Greek folk music.

Vouna was recorded at the Wolves In The Throne Room studio, Owl Lodge, which is located at the edge of an ancient forest in Olympia, Washington State. Nathan Weaver collaborated with Yianna to create the artwork, which mixes archaic Hellenic mythic images with Cascadian atmospheres.

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At 31 minutes the five track album does not overstay its welcome. The sounds are indeed grand in scale varying between simple strummed acoustic guitars and full on orchestral workouts. Yianna’s plaintive and mournful voice dominates and her multi-instrument dexterity is impressive . The sound varies between arcadian folk and cinematic doom metal via post-rock. Music of this kind can tend to be overlong and overblown but in this instance brevity and impressive structure result in a highly entertaining listening experience. At times I was taken back to the epic grandeur of the first King Crimson album.

I will feature the epic “Drowning City” on Aural Delights 310 on 8th November.

Preorders for CDs, LPs and other Vouna Merchandise are available at the Artemisia USA Store  

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Armies of Indifference

It’s been quiet on here of late, blame the weather if you will, or cricket, or beer, or nothing sufficient to moan about, or torpor, or indeed being far too busy on radio show construction and the record label. No excuses, but it does take something annoying, or indeed, irritating, to shake me from my reverie.

Kill Pretty had a song on the as yet unreleased third album which was called “Lotus Eaters”,  a delightful tune which opined on the way folks get sucked into a pseudo-nirvana, well that was my interpretation of it. I can conflate that with a line from “Lie Dream of a Casino Soul” by The Fall in which Mr Smith complains “It’s getting just like that here now, it just goes to show”.

On paper Manchester, like Melbourne,  should be alive with new exciting music, despite the slow demise of venues, the Ruby Lounge is next on the list, and new ones seem to be confined to Ancoats or “the university part of the town” (stop quoting Mark E Smith Bob, it’s getting boring, Editor), but somehow bloated rock gods or tribute bands appear to be sucking all the oxygen out of the “Scene”. Thank , insert deity of your own choice, for The Peer Hat where Nick and Dom are continuing to offer options, although that toilet door on the downstairs gents wants fixing, and that DJ they have on Thursday nights seems to be obsessed with The Clash.

Imagine my inner distress when the “next big Manc thing” sounds like a combination of Joy Division and The Cramps. I won’t mention their name as that’s not the sort of thing I do, but when bands of just post teens sound like “look back bores” (enough with The Fall references already…..Editor) my heart sinks. I wonder if they are all music students who have just completed the module “Post Punk 1980-1983” on their current course.  For god’s sake even the singer is adopting I Curtis mannerisms.  Maybe we have entered a “Post-Tribute” band era where bands mash-up their various tribute tropes to attempt to create a “new sound” but all it ends up sounding like is a mutated version of one or more of the original. Three chords but no big boots this time ….. the sad thing to consider is when the New Romantic re-boot might arrive.

You have to wade through a load of crap to get to the good stuff. Fortunately there is a scene, just under the radar, which, whilst not breaking the 6Music glass ceiling, manages to relieve my irritation. It needs more publicity though.

In this context the people on one the front tables at Shangri-La last Friday Night walk out muttering “a load of shite” three songs into Adventure of Salvadors’ set – when Loop is attacking his theremin with some vigour.  For some reason they were not impressed by a band that continues to offer something fresh and interesting. Their loss and everyone who remains gain. Powering through favourites like “Anne Boleyn” and “Look What You Made Me Do”  the band are on fine form, somewhat disabled by a sound engineer who appears clueless, but managing to get some of the crowd out of their chairs to throw some shapes, even Mr Doyle manages to get into some frug like moves. A new album is due and I await that with some anticipation. They close with “Welcome To My Village” which works well with its’ AoS hat on but if I am honest I do prefer The Junta version.  In timely fashion they will be appearing at the second series of Manchester Meltdown which returns in January, something Mancunian dwelling music lovers should not miss as the impressive line-up below demonstrates. These are the names you should be looking out for, a collection of the well established backbone of the scene, and some fresh new talent. Hopefully by that time Four Candles will have recorded their new album.

I won’t leave so long until the next one of these….

Under the Waves off Kanagwa

After too long a wait Sam Smith, formerly of Sam Smith & Co, and The Parish Church Fire is back with a stunning new single which is a marker for his first full length album in early 2019. Building on his success to date in capturing the raw heart of rock and roll Sam has delivered a breathtaking new tune, an epic song wracked with emotion which will leave the listener gripped until the very last note.

The song forms part of a suite of new tunes which will emerge as an album in 2019.

Dunce Confederacy

There’s a point towards the end of the Lords of Zubos album “The trouble with Paté”, i.e. the release that precedes this one I am going to talk about here,  where John Rowley berates John Senior and his brother Mike plus Paul Hogg for spending two years messing around, getting stoned and creating a muddled mess. There’s some validity in that tongue in cheek badinage as,  whilst the Zubos album is a sometimes confused, sometimes suspect, melange  of Firesign Theatre like surreal theatrical snippets, its successor “Road Trip (Fall of the Rebel Angels)” takes the bones of that experimentation and transforms their work method into a collection that transcends comparison with any other contemporary releases in 2018, and stands as a unique piece of art and music regardless of the year. The Zubos album ought to be heard in advance of the Aliens album as it, despite its sometimes worryingly laddish humour, creates a framework with which to listen to the latest release.

Hull has a fine track record of producing good music. Last year I was taken on a between pub trip around the City Centre by some locals who introduced me to the rich history of the cities musical heritage which is not all about Mick Ronson despite rumours you may have heard to the contrary. Of late Warren Street Records, and Lou Duffy Howard and her various projects, and the annual Humber Street sessions have continued to cement the Hull reputation with a rich vein of material. Bands like Life, Loudhailer Electric Company, El Whaeko, La Bête Blooms, EMBRS, and  The Evil Litter are all fine examples of what Hull is delivering at the moment. Add to that list Ten Million Aliens.

Ten Million Aliens are the latest incarnation of the partnership of  John Senior with producer John Rowley, ex-guitarist from John Peel favourite’s Red Guitars (of which the aforementioned Lou was the bass player). The duo remains largely unknown outside of their local music scene and has worked together for years on some fascinating studio projects including the aforementioned Lords of Zubos and more recently a similarly fascinating and fantastic album “On The Beach” which features the late Eddie Smith. Senior has recently remixed one of the bands on the German Shepherd record label – The Mind Sweepers.

With the addition of Rich Banks on bass and guitar, they have taken matters to another level from Lords of Zubos with this new album.

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There must have been some degree of pre-cognition in play when the album was started two years ago as some of the subject matter covered eerily mirrors and reflects Trump’s current Republican base with chilling accuracy. It also echoes, to some degree, John Kennedy Toole’s picaresque novel “A Confederacy of Dunces”, in that it lays bare some of the more absurd and obsessive elements of American culture. I was pondering a while back as to why there was not a current protest movement in the music biz which reflected the state of things in both this country and the States. To some degree, this album covers that gap. It also strikes me that this album is a musical counterpart to the visual art of Garth Ennis’ Preacher series, an America which is both familiar and alien.

The opening “A Confederacy of Fools” mirrors the Toole novel in both title and content by exposing the partisan simplicity of the dialogue of the right, and indeed the far right. The music reflects the place and is wonderful, the words reflect some rather worrying thought processes that have been given a wider stage by the orange man-baby of late.  The puerile arguments against countries that play “soccer” instead of “proper” football (i.e. American) is both chilling and hilarious.

It’s not all about politics mind you, there is a heartfelt tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis via “The Killer” which collates some remarkable comments from the great man. Americas tortured history with regard to race discrimination is forensically examined with “Long Time Coming”  which is brutal but captured beautifully in a remarkable piece of music which is reminiscent of John Zorn’s cut-up technique used on “The Big GunDown.  The remarkable “Soul Food” is a hilarious take-down of American Food Culture which would turn any dedicated meat eater into a vegan overnight.

“Cuban Nights” cheekily borrows an Afro-Cuban jazz motif to contain the story of The Bay of Pigs crisis and the chilling time of the Cold War in the early 60s. “Rocket Clank Clank” starts off with Jeff Tracy and then embarks on a trip around 50s sci-fi movies with a Nuggets-style vibe. Any track which includes my favourite movie “Forbidden Planet” and Star Trek TOS is always going to get my vote, that they launch into a post-punk hook in parts of the song is both baffling and fascinating. “From A Buick 8” centres on both American car culture and the advertising industry of that country with a bluesy piano work-out. “Cops and Robbers” adopts a Bill Burroughs/Brion Gysin cut-up technique by marrying cop-show funk with a seemingly random series of excerpts from tv and film, Senior’s piano on this track is particularly fine. “Dust to Dust” provides a jazzy interlude with spacey guitar and reflects elements of American history. Like a lot of the music on the album seemingly incongruous found sounds float around to create a feel which reminds me of the work of Hal Willner (particularly his Charles Mingus hommage “Weird Nightmare”). The brilliant “Don’s Guns” takes a George Clinton/Bootsy Collins/James Brown riff and morphs into a guitar/organ Jimmy Smith style freakout while tuning into various sounds from Nixon, Reagan through to Quinn Martin via various other destinations before commenting on the current Second Amendment debate which bedevils the USA.  “Bound for Glory” reflects the Trump presidency before embarking on a fractured journey from Bill Black/Scotty Moore to Mary Halvorson via techno and hi-life. The musical hooks here are intelligently constructed. Obama’s hopeful message is left hanging as the train whistle blows. The plaintive closer “Mr Tangerine Man” which quotes John F’.. Kennedy, and 9/11 disaster, and other key moments,  before getting into the utterances of the latest incumbent of the Presidency is sanguine food for thought and the perfect closer to an album full to the brim with outstanding creativity.

I unreservedly recommend this album to you as one of the most outstanding pieces of work I have heard. The irony is, I guess, that it took a couple of guys from Hull to make one of the boldest statements about America in a long long time.

Parts of the Lords of Zubos album can be streamed here but I suggest you acquire the whole thing as there is a narrative which runs through the complete set.

More info and shop here – http://ten-million-aliens.co.uk/

Many thanks to John Rowley and John Senior for their generosity and special thanks to Brad Cain for bringing the album to my attention in the first place.