The Battery Farm – I Am A Man

Manchester band The Battery Farm have emerged out of the dissolution of  long standing The Madding Crowd with a more abrasive sound, a renewed vitality, a clearer vision. The transition from rock into punk is palpable and welcome to these ears.

Their second single presents their self-described doom-punk coherently  with a more focused attack on the aural and visual senses, and the distinct sense of a new sound, much needed in a conurbation riddled with tribute bands and resting on it’s musical laurels.  Unfiltered and teetering between joyous and angry this is powerful stuff, the sound is primal/basic/exciting, the message is coded in the video with the iconography of “;” being a clear indicator of at least some of thinking behind the piece. Most pleasing is that there is clear intent to strip the sound back to basics and deliver the emotional aspects without clutter.

Warning there are strobe effects on the video.

Ben Corry – Vocals/Guitar
Dominic Corry – Guitar/Vocals
Paul Worrall – Bass/Vocals
Sam Parkinson – Drums

The Battery Farm

Gloom Ballet

This afternoon I was discussing the recursive nature of music with a good friend and I concluded after much thought , that there possibly four levels of music viz:

  1. True Innovators with a unique sound
  2. Quality bands who have borrowed their sound from a combination of other bands
  3. Bands that completely copy artistes from 1. or 2. above and to which there is no discernible difference from the innovators they are aping.
  4. Tribute/Covers Bands

The relative merits of each of those categories I’ll leave up to people’s personal tastes. From my perspective I tend to listen mostly to 1. and occasionally 2. Of course it’s probably a lot more complicated than that but I won’t go down that rabbit hole.

The Wraith fall into category 2.

Less than three years since forming this  L.A. post-punk band has completed its debut full-length, Gloom Ballet, with Puscifer guitarist/producer Mat Mitchell. The foursome just signed to Southern Lord Recordings, who’ll release the album worldwide on November 29th.

Southern Lord owner Greg Anderson has been amazing to work with, and we really appreciate his willingness to incorporate a different sound into his roster,” said Wraith guitarist Kaz Alvis.

This album presents a modern take on pre-goth ‘80s UK post-punk (Death Cult, Killing Joke, Chameleons, New Model Army) mixed with SoCal deathrock (T.S.O.L., Samhain) in an interesting combination, with the balance being with the former rather than the latter.

The Wraith was founded by frontman Davey Bales, formerly of Virginia peace-punks Lost Tribe, and Alvis shortly after they separately arrived in L.A. Their irresistibly distinctive sound – skeletal basslines and tribal beats propelling Alvis’ textured swathes beneath Bales’ poetic, anguished bark – immediately gained a following, with homemade demo “Comatic Romance” racking-up thousands of YouTube views.

LORD269_SECT_Jacket
The Crass like imagery of the cover will not be lost on people old enough to remember Dave King’s iconic designs, somewhat apposite given his recent passing.

West Coast shows honed the songs that became The Wraith’s lauded 2017 EP, “Shadow Flag”. A couple of videos and line-up changes later – the band is now completed by returned drummer Scott Raynor and Brit bassist Paul Rogers –sound earned the ear of Mitchell (who’s also worked with Love and Rockets, The Flaming Lips, Meat Puppets, King Crimson and more).

“The Wraith is a flashback to many of the bands that inspired me to start making music,” said Mitchell. “Given the opportunity to work on an album with them, how could I turn it down?”

With bands like Klammer bringing this sound back to the fore last year, this is probably a timely release. Original lovers of the 80’s- sound will recognise and possibly enjoy this slightly harder edged treatment, newer/younger listeners will enjoy it’s energetic anthemic brashness. I would imagine this is music which works best in a live setting.

Well worth a listen…….. 8/10

403028
Photo credit: Michelle Shiers

Introducing Matthew Hopkins

In 1974, two Catholic schoolgirls met at the age of 5 over a scabby knee and sang together in praise of the lord, ‘til they discovered Salvation in the form of Hex Enduction Hour. An explosion of hair spray, eyeliner and ideas ensued.

Julia moved to Blackpool and joined the band The Tingletones as singer before moving to Manchester, when she became singer for the short lived Arthur Badfrown Band. A move to London at the turn of the century saw her finally pick up a guitar. Upon returning to Manchester, she joined Government Death Epidemic as guitarist. She has recorded with Craig Scanlon and Steve & Paul Hanley (ex The Fall).

Matthew Hopkins

Anne has sang, go-go danced and played tambourine in 60’s- garage outfit The Stags since 2001. They are stalwarts of the garage scene playing around the UK and Europe and worked closely with Frank Sidebottom.

Matthew Hopkins

Max, Anne’s son, has been playing drums and guitar with bands since the age of 13. He is currently playing his own material in duo Fibs as well as occupying the drum stool for The Stags.

Matthew Hopkins

A hiatus in both womens’ musical projects gave them the chance to get together and get creative – Matthew Hopkins was born in 2016. Max completes the team, bringing exceptional musicality and skill to the bandi

The trio’s marriage of tight harmonies and a post-punk sound gives them a unique sound which is rapidly gaining attention on the Manchester Music Scene.

Anne and Julia have also contributed vocals to Four Candles recent album “Nettle Rash”.

Here is their first release on German Shepherd Records.

And here they are live at Manchester’s Peer Hat Venue…..

Music for Grown Ups

Dave Graney and Clare Moore return with a second album for 2019 with the intriguingly titled “One Million Years DC”. The collection of 11 songs is uniquely different to the years earlier offering  Zippa-DeeDoo-What Is/Was That/This? , which was more rock based. Here we return to the cool jazzy pop sounds that were encountered on The Coral Snakes “Soft ‘n’ Sexy Sound” or The Dave Graney Shows “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” or  Dave and Clare’s “Hashish and Liquor” and “Keepin’ It Unreal” releases.

19ONEMILLIONYEARSDCcoverweb

The opening track “He Was A Sore Winner” sets the scene by kicking off with a slide guitar drenched attack on a specific politician (although to be fair it can apply to any of that breed) of which Dave says it’s like the Kinks, but it could apply to any number of anglo wonky pop types like Kevin Ayers or Robyn Hitchcock. This is typically Dave and Clare in delivery with layers of musical loveliness, and a tongue in cheek delivery. A modern protest song perchance?

However the pop opener is a bit misleading as we then head deep into Graney/Moore territory with the explorations of song forms and delivery that are specific to these artists.  “Hell Is You Babe” has the same vibe as tracks from the excellent “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” album, cool, smooth,  this is music for adults, none of your adolescent pop nonsense here, this is proper stuff for grown ups.

“Pop Ruins” is a sort of list tune, I love list tunes, referencing key influences from the mythos of underground music, the edge of populism, those hip albums that your mate owned that you always desired, those places you always longed to see a concert at ……Grateful Dead, Television, Husker Du, The Roxy, The Whiskey a Go Go…… Dave serenades them, channeling Melvin Howard Tormé , with Clare adding that marimba touch over shimmering guitar. Those old rock venues/temples are listed, prescient and apposite given the death of pub venues for music and their transformation into gastro/family friendly places. The world is changing and i’m not sure we like it anymore.

Dave’s exploration of his own role in the rock and roll firmament has been covered before with the likes of memorable songs like Heroic Blues, and I Aint Hi-Vis, “I’m Not Just Any Nobody” follows that autobiographical route with a peroration on the nature of identity and fame. Rock and Roll is where I hide indeed.

The music business theme continues with “Comrade of Pop” a delicate tune which name checks Mr Osterberg and Mr Morrison, picks lyrics from The Ramones, and makes a statement, I guess, about when it’s time for anyone to “hip” , to be a “comrade”, to be accepted by the purists. The interplay of pedal steel from Shane Reilly and Dave’s filigree guitar lines is excellent, nay gorgeous.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro as  Hunter S. Thompson observed. Dave builds on this with “Where Did All The Freaks Go?” a wistful consideration of past days where you had some sort of idea where things ended and began. Great backing vocals from Harry Howard and Ed Preston make for a sixties sound , the original Star Trek theme came to mind, The Andy Williams show perhaps.

“You’ve Been In My Mind” was the title of a 2012 album from the MistLy but appears herein as a song which is all about Clare’s vibes and spacey sounds, if Dave and Clare were exploring the rock side of the 60s/70s on “Zippa-Deedoo” they are circling the light entertainment world here – John Barry, Bert Bacharach, John Mathis albeit through a semi-psychedelic fog, perhaps even a velvet one.

“Answering Machine” is all glitch and fret slides and features Coral Snake Robin Casinader on Mellotron and has a passing resemblance to Manchester’s Mark Corrin’s recent “Pub Bin” album with it’s wry/dry observational humour.

“You Can’t Have Your Boogie” again examines music, this time in the context of commerce, and is a perfect soundtrack for the bearded hipsters of the Manchester Northern Quarter and the tribute/nostalgia bands that infest the pubs and clubs. The parallels between Manchester and Melbourne are there to be mined and commented upon.  If London = Sydney then Manchester = Melbourne – there’s a whole psycho-geographical treatise to be written on that in respect of music, structure and place.

“I Come Clean” – autobiographical or observational? Hard to tell, as Dave is at his most abstract here, one of those songs, like “Dandies Are Never Unbuttoned” which will take some time to decipher. Regardless of that, the sound is exemplary

“Old Friends” closes the album with a journey through relationships, a heartfelt commentary on distance and the passage of time. More great backing vocals again this time from Emily Jarrett and Will Hindmarsh of Go Go Sapien. Dave says “don’t take this bad” he’s just got the horrors and appears to be exorcising them, albeit reflectively, and the album ends as all good albums should leaving you wanting more.

Graney and Moore have created two great albums in 2019, nothing more needs to be said. You need to listen, this is music for grown-ups but the young ‘uns can listen as well, they might well learn something.

And not a fur bikini in sight either……

thumbnail_19dgcmdrama

Pyroclasts

Sunn O))) have announced the release of Pyroclasts,  via Southern Lord on 25th October in LP and Digital formats.

sunn333_SUNN_Pyroclasts_CVR

The new album is the result of a daily practice which was regularly performed each morning, or evening during the sessions for the previous album Life Metal. The music was laid down ar Electrical Audio during July 2018, when all of the days musical participants would gather and work through a 12 minute improvised modal drone at the start and or end of the day’s work. The piece performed was timed with a stopwatch and tracked to two inch tape, it was an exercise and a chance to dig into a deep opening or closing of the days session in a comprehensive musical way with all of the participants. The aim was to connect/reconnect, liberate the creative mind a bit and greet each other and the space through the practice of sound immersion. The players across the four pieces of Pyroclasts are Tim Midyett, T.O.S., Hildur Guðnadóttir, and as always Stephen O’Malley & Greg Anderson.

The music on Pyroclasts is inextricably linked to Life Metal. It exists on the very same tape reels, and was  recorded by Steve Albini.  It is a sister, or perhaps a shadow album.  Sunn O)))  invite and encourage the listener to use Pyroclasts as a lens to review and reexperience the complexity of the Life Metal album, and even to interrupt its sequence with Pyroclasts.

O’Malley and Anderson have dedicated thie album to the memories of Ron Guardipee, Kerstin Daley & Scott Walker.

Nettle Rash

Third album time from a band that has visibly evolved over the last three years.

Four Candles is a band comprising of ex Hamsters / Resist bassist Jon Rowlinson , ex Resist Drummer Phil Peak , Middlesbrough’s finest export Mark Taylor on guitar and ex Hamsters vocalist Ian ” Moët” Moss. They formed in June 2016 and it was soon evident the creative chemicals were flowing between the four individuals producing vibrant exciting music. Low on funds they scraped together enough cash for sixteen hours studio time in November , in five hours  ten tracks were recorded in one or two takes with minimal overdubs , the next eleven hours saw the album mixed, April 2017 saw the release of  “Killing The Image”.

Birthed in punk and post-punk the band expanded their genre reach with the deliberately shorter second 2018 album “Spiritual Rapture” embracing more rock elements and funky bass lines as well as bringing in the sax of David Wilkinson and keyboards from  engineer Simon “Ding” Archer.

cover

The third album from the band, “Nettle Rash”  finds them moving on further  and expanding their repertoire with the presence of Mark Taylor’s guitar coming to the fore, and Ian Moss’s words taking on a broad range of subjects from Climate Change, through political issues including the badger cull, to an exploration of the seamier side of sexual entanglements. There is humour in there as well to temper the more dystopian aspects of the album.  With guest vocalists Anne and Julia from the band Matthew Hopkins and again keyboards from engineer  Archer the aural palette of the band has been expanded. This is their strongest album yet.

The live energy of the band has been effectively captured with this release with Moss exorcising several kinds of demons over a tight and driving band. The added value of “The Matches” i.e. Anne and Julia as a counterpoint to Moss’s attack gives the band a whole new feel which builds on and enhances their reputation. The value and impact of the album is further enhanced by Mike Kerins stunning cover art.

German Shepherd Records subscribers will receive an additional exclusive track “Like Sheep”

 

Invisible Volatiles

Quality popular music is still out there. You may have to go to the other side of the world and another hemisphere to find it, but it’s there. Don’t believe all the hype you get fed by the pluggers and promo people, there are better things than the Oasis wannabees that are relentlessly paraded before you. There are young folk producing good music but you should not forget those of more mature years who still have the chops and attitude to produce quality content.

cover

A case in point is David McClymont with a new release called “Invisible Volatiles” which you can access as Pay What You Want via Bandcamp. McClymont of course came to notice as part of Orange Juice but his CV demonstrates a much wider and impressive career with The Moodists, Blancmange, Paul Haig, Mick Harvey, and a couple of fascinating  releases with Nick Currie (Momus). Of late he has had a run of solo/duo releases, from 2014 onwards, which have been consistently excellent with this latest offering being the best of the collection so far, although you should also check out his album with Rick Morris from last year.

There must be something in the water in Melbourne that ensures that the bulk of the musical material emerging from the city demonstrates quality and a commitment to push the boundaries. This collection of songs journeys between quality popular music, with a subtle hints of David Bowie, through near but not quite country rock, to more acerbic (but only slightly) tunes all written with attention to detail, specifically melody.

I commend it to you without reservation.