Top 50 Albums of 2019 – Part 1 – 50 to 24

It is that time of year again when I reflect on the last 12 months and select my favourite 50 albums of the year. 2019 has been a particularly strong year and whilst there is a list in number order to fit some sort of format  they could probably all be equally ranked as the standard has been so high.

As with last year Australian artists and bands, particularly those from Melbourne, have dominated reflecting the impressive music scene in that city. Local bands to me, here in Greater Manchester, have also made the list, not just because they are my friends and associates but because of the quality of their output.

It’s an eclectic mix reflecting the nature of the Aural Delights Radio show and my listening tastes. I don’t expect people to agree with this, it is subjective, by I hope you find something in this and the next programme that you might have missed, or has slipped from your memory.

50. Tomistoma – Distances

Cai Brown’s distinctive approach has echoes of early 70s rock, which couples with kosmische, krautrock and space rock, as well as the core intent of bringing doom into the mix. This sixth release, in just under a year and a half , demonstrates a fertile imagination. It takes me back to the heady days of early Atomic Rooster whilst embracing modern sounds and a forward looking approach. The two EPs he released this year were just as good.

49. The New Fools – Brilliant 

Tony Jenkins is one of those polymath musicians who appears all over the Cambridge music scene in a variety of guises. As well as running Everlasting Records, he can be found further up this chart as part of Lizard Brain, and,  in another guise in the duo Kammahav. This debut album from his pop/rock band was packed with melodies and hooks and clever songwriting. As usual with Tony there is something dark and mysterious lying just below the surface of the songs with lyrics that venture into places which don’t quite fit with the pop sensibility of the accompanying music.

48. The Coathangers – The Devil You Know

A year of relentless touring for this energetic trio with a sixth album, a three year gap since the last one lead to some expectation. The contrast of Julia and Stephanie’s vocals creates a tension in the music that takes them above and beyond guitar lead music of this ilk. Their polemical approach, especially on the major issues of the day in a post-truth world, is as vital as it is entertaining.

47. Tombstones In Their Eyes – Maybe Someday 

Los Angeles psych-rockets who manage to break the glass ceiling of so many other bands who get labelled in this way and who have developed their own sound.  This was the first long-play from them since their debut release ‘Sleep Forever’ in 2015. This album comes on the heels of some  deserved critical acclaim. Shoegaze, stoner and post-rock are all in there somewhere but a new sound manages to emerge from that melange of styles.

46. Prettiest Eyes – Volume 3  

Another L.A. band. This trio were compared to Suicide in one review, also being described as post-industrial (I don’t know what that means and I can’t be bothered to look it up as I have another 30+ reviews to write). Suffice to say it was suitably different to my ear which has been deluged with an awful lot of very similar sounding music this year none of which was as good as this.

45. Plastic Crimewave Syndicate – Massacre of the Celestials  

My chums at Cardinal Fuzz sent a lot of new music through this year, most of it of a very high quality. This stood out  as being suitably wacky and irrelevant with it’s Zappa/Gong approach to melding disparate elements together to create a fun sound. Talarie Peterson of the wonderful Spires That In The Sunset Rise (which seeps over from my Jazz Show territory) adds a wonderful counterpoint to the psychedelic freak out madness. Check out the six other items on their Bandcamp page. You won’t be disappointed.

44. Peter Jefferies – Last Ticket Home 

A living legend of New Zealand underground music, from his seminal bands Nocturnal Projections and This Kind of Punishment, to his collaborative efforts in bands such as Plagal Grind and Two Foot Flame, he is perhaps best known for his solo work on  “The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World” (1990) and “Electricity” (1994), as well as numerous other albums. This compilation contains rare singles, both released and unreleased, radical live interpretations, and a wealth of never released material dating from 1991-2019. An utterly unique sound and a compelling listen.

43. Low Dose – Low Dose 

Featuring the final lineup of cult noise-rock band Fight Amp with the addition of vocalist Itarya Rosenberg of the Legendary Divorce, this Philadelphia band play heavy, grunge-tinged punk, the  melodic side of noise rock,  with comparisons with Slint and PJ Harvey being made in reviews and promo.

42. Jump For Neon – Vicious Tricycle 

Ex-pat Welshman, now residing in China, William Gray never disappoints with his impressive song-craft and attention to detail. The follow up to the excellent “Put Me Down Dinosaur” continued a run of quality releases.

41. Imperial Wax – Gastwerk Saboteurs

The last three long standing members of the last decade (or so) of The Fall continue with an impressive debut filled with trademark riffing and attack. I was prepared to be disappointed but was impressed by the forward steps that they had taken with this collection, demonstrating of course that MES always had the ability to surround himself with good players.

40. Hanterhir – Our Hour   

Difficult to follow up last years memorable Saving of Cadan but they managed to do some with two great albums. This is one of them. A class act and with their own Cornish perspective on music. They don’t seem to do Bandcamp (unless I am missing something) so here’s a track from the album.

39. Enablers – Zones

I think this is their 11th release, and I sort of lost track with them after 2011’s  Blown Realms and Stalled Explosions which the promo company sent me multiple copies of for some reason. Anyhow that’s by the by –   poet, writer, and narrator Pete Simonelli makes the difference here with a world weary take on some of the darker aspects of life. Narrative delivery is a thing I am particular fond of (as will be evidenced later in this listing). Notwithstanding that the music is pretty damn fine as well. Another band with a huge catalogue of work which deserves wider exposure.

38. Alex Spencer – Shine

Her second album finds Alex working with a jazz trio to create a great folk/rock/jazz mix which doesn’t stray into the middlemass of the mundane, and has some fascinating song craft. An album about juxtapositions and metamorphosis, the recording of the vocals creates an unearthly xenochronous  vibe across the piece.

37. Butch Bastard – I Am Not A Man 

Butch Bastard was born when this singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, producer, and director uprooted his life from Seattle to Los Angeles in 2014 and started recording tracks from the comfort of his bedroom.  10 self-produced compositions performed in character as Butch Bastard along with Josh  Tillman, Father John Misty keyboardist Jonathan Wilson, and drummer Mitchell Rowland with additional engineering from Nico Aglietti. A remarkable voice with great songs. Another one who doesn’t do Bandcamp…..so here’s a vid.

36. Charlie Marshall, The Body Electric – Shiny & New 

Two years on from the exceptional “Sublime” Charlie concentrates on pop, r’n’b, soul and funk with some great new tunes and a few covers. It was great to host Charlie in Manchester in 2018, he is a wonderful performer, and this collection continues his current run of fine music production. As usual there are a series of strong messages about politics, science and climate.

35. Cosmonauts – Star 69 

The fifth album from the Los Angeles pysch fuzz  garage heavyweights. Imagine  Spacemen 3, The Stooges and The Jesus & Mary Chain with a West Coast drawl added to create a fuzzed up mixed up world.

34.  David McClymont – Invisible Volatiles 

Ex Orange Juicer and Moodist now based in the backwoods of Australia with a superb collection of tunes. He has featured on Mick Harvey’s albums and of late he has been working with others, notably Momus, but this collection is a solo offering. High quality stuff memorably covered on a rare radio show interview with Dave Graney, who of course made the introduction leading to the album being sent in my direction.

33. Dead Sea Apes – The Free Territory 

Out of Stalyvegas with the wind in their sails the Apes again make the chart with their 15th release. More experimental and introspective elements of their work are in play with loops, evolving textures and improvisations used instead of the usual guitar bass and drums set-up . A transitional phase for the group, having been partly recorded with departing bassist Nick Harris.  Nik Rayne of The Myrrors also steps in on a couple of tracks. Quality.

32. Dyson Stringer Cloher – Dyson Stringer Cloher 

I’m a big Jen Cloher fan so I was bound to pay attention to this. A remarkable debut album some five years on from a country leaning EP. Wilco’s Glen Kotche fills the drum stool duties. Three strong women coming to the fore with vocals to die for and songwriter chops in full effect.

31. Two Lost Souls – Cords and Digits 

Paul Rosenfeld and Ian Moss originally worked together on a track on Moss’s Words and Music project. Since that time Ian had been drip feeding me tracks for months with no clear plan, perhaps an EP might have emerged. Over time it grew into a remarkable collection which combines Paul’s guitar lead compositions with Ian’s mostly spoken word narratives. A bit of a change in direction for both artists but the sum of the parts is memorable. A selection of guest bass players make the songs fuller sounding. A few older Moss lyrics are brought back in a new context and sound fresher and more vibrant.

30. Hash Redactor – Drecksound  

I think the promo sums this one up nicely…“The band is fronted by guitarist Alec McIntyre of Ex-Cult, with NOTS rhythm warriors Meredith Lones on bass and Charlotte Watson on drums, and rounded off by George Williford on second guitar……. their debut full-length dives into territory that feels distinctly untethered from their lineage and era. Drecksound is a clattering, shambolic oasis in the sleek digital desert of the late twenty-teens.” From my perspective it fills a huge Fall shaped hole in my life.

29. The Woodland Hunters – The Thoughts Of Chairman Jim

I came to this via Sand Pebbles, two members of which are in this band. Melbourne of course!  A heady mix of influences from 60’s guitar wig-outs to swamp rock, 70’s jam bands to raw’n’dusty Americana. Anyone who starts an album with a track called “Strange Days For A Presbytarian” is OK in my book.  As good as Dream Syndicate at their best with a bit an Elektra 60s vibe going on.

28. Third Eye of Mars – The Secret Language of Seeds

…. or Herbarium Parabolicae ou Língua Secreta das Sementes -the third release from this exceptional Brazilian outfit. Pure psychedelic rock, barking mad in places, but very high quality stuff which comes across as a mix of Amon Duul II and Gong. This requires several listenings to fully appreciate its’ complexity.

27. Jess Ribeiro – Love Hate

Extremely difficult for Jess to follow the exceptional “Kill It Yourself” but four years on she is back with another brilliant album. As with all things Jess one feels the tongue is very firmly in the cheek in parts. She has moved onto a more stripped back mid 70s New York vibe but the trade mark Ribeiro vocals are in play. Amazing that Courtney B has become huge and Jess has not, just as good, if not better in parts.

26. Ember Rev – From The Country To The City To The Sea 

The prior release Premonition and Ruin was exceptional, and this mirrors and expands on that. Dan Ecclestone’s songwriting is at its peak at the moment and he has a collection of musicians around him that can realise his singular vision. A narrative spread across an album of songs covering hope, loss and redemption. Remarkable!

25. The Flesh Eaters – I Used To Be Pretty  

LA’s unconventional “supergroup”, reunites the classic 1981 lineup of Chris D, Dave Alvin, John Doe, Bill Bateman, Steve Berlin, and DJ Bonebrake for their first new recording in more than 35 years. They haven’t lost a step in the intervening time. A glorious swampy bluesy sexy noise – the mutant offspring of Lux Interior, Iggy Pop, Stan Ridgeway and Fee Waybill with a soundtrack for a Troma Film that would have Lloyd Kaufman salivating pure toxic goo.

24. Shifting Sands – Crystal Cuts

The best thing to come out of Brisbane since The Go-Betweens. A remarkable follow up to the exceptional Beach Coma from four years ago. Emotional intense songwriting and performing, like Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson at their best. Check out some of the performances from their Euro tour of this year – amazing.

Numbers 23-1 to follow in a few days.

SS

 

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.

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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……

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Office Politics

By my reckoning we now have  the fifth Monkeys In Love full length after “Death Jeans”, “Will Pet and Cuddle You”, “Take The Biscuit”, and “Live in Stoke Newington”. It’s called “Monkeys In Love Are Ready For The Mountain”.  First thing to say is that, as usual, it’s excellent, and, as usual, it’s markedly different from what went before, a hallmark of the “Monkeys” approach.

The difference this time around is that the melodic hooks are not so overt. They are constructed to work seamlessly within the whole of a song rather than being a defined part that implies a change within the construct of a piece. There are trademark Monkey earworms in play but they take their time to sink in and lodge in your mind on the second or third listen. Musically there is some continuity across the ten songs giving an overall conceptual mood to the album as Steve narrates the story. The groups love of library and advertisement music is perhaps more palpable in these songs. In considering this release in the body of work as a whole, and specifically the preceding album, a comparison would be the difference between “Selling England by the Pound” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, or, “The Who Sell Out” and “Tommy”, in that there is a more theatrical feel to this album than its predecessors.

The band introduce the album as follows:

The album features ten new songs that trace the nervous breakdown and eventual quasi-spiritual rebirth of a beleaguered office worker. Musically speaking, there’s a kind of mid-80s college rock thing going on in our sound this time round and although we’d love to say it was a deliberate artistic choice owing to the alarmingly mid-80s political climate of late, we can’t honestly remember if it was a conscious choice or not.

The band admit that production/recording is  “ever so slightly slicker on this album. It’s still pretty lo-fi, but a lot less lo-fi than previous releases“. The lyrics also follow up on a couple of songs from the previous album ‘Monkeys In Love Live In New Stoke Newington’, but the listener is left to work out which those songs are and how they relate to this album.

The line up for this release is

Danielle McCullough: guitar, flute, recorder and melodica
Eamonn Murphy: guitar, bass and FX
Laura Simms-Luddington: singing
Steve Simms-Luddington: singing, keys, programming and FX

The plan is to re-release the whole back catalogue so comparisons can be made with previous material for those jumping on at this stage. Steve promised me an out-takes/rarities album for German Shepherd a couple of years back – still looking forward to that!

Any how – quality stuff, wrap your ears around it.

Website

LIVE at L’Ubu

In 2015, The Apartments released the album No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal in Europe and influential French Music magazine Magic made it the Number 1 Album of The Year, a feat never before been achieved by an Australian artist. This was not surprising given the huge popularity of the band in France, and also the excellent quality of said release.

To support the release of No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal, The Apartments toured France in September 2015 with a full band. Their show at Rennes’ legendary L’Ubu Club was recorded, resulting in this double album, LIVE at L’Ubu.

The live recording captures the dynamic line-up of a combination of Australian, French and English players in a seven-piece band. This format allows Peter Milton Walsh to, for the first time, drop the guitar and masterfully sing and perform a set of songs from the extant album along with others from The Apartments impressive back catalogue.

In the parallel universe that exists somewhere at the back of my subconscious Walsh is huge and Ed Sheeran doesn’t exist. His bitter sweet songs are the stuff of magic and he is someone that gets the “Grant McLennan” moment every time he constructs a tune. This collection of songs transcends criticism, it’s everything that popular music should be. Legitimate, honest and full of emotion. He has the tone and content of David McComb at his best. He is a master craftsman.

If you have not come across The Apartments before then start with this album and you’ll soon be reaching for the back catalogue. If you don’t like this music then I fear for your eternal soul. Personally I’d play this music to children at nursery school so they can get an early education on what good music is.

Available digitally and as a very limited double vinyl. Hopefully a CD version will emerge at some point for those of us who still like these things.

Full Upon Her Burning Lips

2019 seems to be a year where rock rears it’s head again and gains some ascendancy in a busy musical landscape.

The masters of sensuous guitar led music are back, and, with their latest album “Full Upon Her Burning Lips”, Earth forego the additional instrumentation that embellished some of their previous records and reduce the team to the core duo of Dylan Carlson on guitar and bass and Adrienne Davies on drums and percussion.

Matters commence with  “Datura’s Crimson Veils”, a twelve-minute opus that reflects Earth’s new approach with Carlson’s sepia-toned Bakersfield Sound guitars lurching across a barren landscape while Davies punctuates the melodies with intent and a particularly effective cymbal roll adds an alien sound to the mix. Indeed her cymbal work throughout the album is exemplary.

The approach on this release in some part looks back to the riff-constructed approach of their “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light” albums, but stripped of their ornateness….

“It was definitely a very organically developed record,” Carlson says of the process. “I limited the number of effects I used. I always like the limiting of materials to force oneself to employ them more creatively. Previous Earth records were quite lush sounding, and I wanted a more upfront and drier sound, using very few studio effects.”

The stripped down approach had another advantage. “I really wanted the drums to be present,” Carlson says. “I felt with previous Earth records that other instrumentation took up so much of the sonic space that the drums were kind of pushed to the side.”

This methodology highlights Davies’ ability to elevate the drum kit beyond its rhythmic functions and allows it to serve as an expressive, nuanced, and tonally rich component to Earth’s sound without reverting to bombast.

Less is more.

 “In the past I’ve usually had a strong framework for an album,” Carlson says. “This one developed over the course of writing and recording. It just felt like ‘Earth’—like just the two players doing their best work at playing, serving the music.”

The absence of a pre-existing narrative guiding the compositions results in songs were more open and intuitive, often resulting in musical vignettes like “Exaltation of Larks” or  “Maidens Catafalque”.

“I wanted this to be a ‘sexy’ record, a record acknowledging the ‘witchy’ and ‘sensual’ aspects in the music… sort of a ‘witch’s garden’ kind of theme, with references to mind altering plants and animals that people have always held superstitious beliefs towards. A conjuror or root doctor’s herbarium of songs, as it were.”

The ten tracks on Full Upon Her Burning Lips came together in bits and pieces. Songs like “Cats on the Briar” and “Mandrake’s Hymn” emerged from a handful of musical phrases and repeating patterns concocted in moments of downtime during their 2017 tour schedule. The delightful “Descending Belladonna” came from a live soundtrack project. Other songs came from rehearsals in the months leading up to recording or in moments of inspiration in the studio.

The record was engineered, mixed, and mastered by longtime associate Mell Dettmer at Studio Soli. Knowing their process and their sound, Dettmer helped harness, shape, and document the songs in a manner that highlights the depth of Earth’s sparse components. For the patient listener, the cyclical nature of the songs “She Rides an Air of Malevolence” or “An Unnatural Carousel” reveal new elements with repeated listens, with the subtle variations between passes creating a kaleidoscope of sounds.

“I feel like this is the fullest expression and purest distillation of what Earth does since I re-started the band,” Carlson says in reflection of Full Upon Her Burning Lips.

As a long time Earth fan I found the new approach refreshing, there is a tendency in some rock circles to “over-egg the mix” in the search of something memorable, whereas this band manage to achieve that goal by simplifying their approach. Both restrained and adventurous in equal measure, this is instrumental music of the highest quality and a primer for how to use the guitar without fret worrying shredding, and the drums as more than mere percussion. I have to agree with Carlson, this is their best work to date and it immediately goes on the albums of the year list for 2019.

Sargent House releases the album to the world on May 24th, 2019 on 2xLP / CD / digital formats.

Life Metal

It has been four years since the last Sunn O))) album, their eighth studio full length “Life Metal” emerged in April (the discography is incredibly complex – see below).  Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have brought on board Steve Albini for this release and whilst the core style of the duo is not lost there are some additions to the sound.

There are four lengthy tracks which are characterised by the usual deep and sonorous chord/riff/drone sequences, chamber metal if you will, that typify the Sunn O))) experience. However there are subtle changes to the soundscape through a combination of Albini’s engineering/mixing and the addition of several “guests” into the party.

Hildur Guðnadóttir renowned film music composer, and former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic and Angel, brings a unique contribution through vocals and electric cello, and the “new” instrument, the cello like haldorophone, to the proceedings. The main contribution comes via the albums mammoth closing composition/concerto “Novæ”.

Tim Midyett, a close friend of Greg and Stephen since the Seattle days of the early 90s, (and member of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit and Mint Mile) plays aluminium neck bass and baritone guitars.

New music composer Anthony Pateras arranged and recorded  pipe organ for track two “Troubled Air” (titled after an essay by author Aliza Shvarts, who also penned the liner notes for last release Kannon).

Impossibly long slow notes, sustain, feedback, and intensity are the key elements and you shouldn’t expect anything radically new.  However the analogue direct to tape/vinyl techniques appear to have added a more dense and visceral feel to the recording. The middle two tracks add to the canon without too much refinement. However the opening and closing tracks, the latter reaching a mind numbing 25 minutes, take on a sort of imperious in your face attitude that compels listening. Both break from the tradition of just riffs and chords with some “lighter” moments.

This is not music for people who like the conventions of a nice melody, a beginning, a middle and an end. It is brutal for the most part, and strips back the genre to it’s basics, you could argue they are the L.S. Lowry of heavy metal, reducing forms and processes to fundamentals of riff and noise. There is no percussion, just layers of guitars at maximum gain with other instruments occasionally fighting their way to the forefront. I find it fascinating, I don’t know why I like it, but it gets to me. I find the simplicity quite cathartic.

A second album recorded at the same sessions is due later in the year. A tour is underway also

The discography is something like this…..in reverse order

  • Life Metal (CD 2xLP 2019)
  • Downtown LA Rehearsal / Rifftape March 1998 (LP, 2018)
  • Нежить (Live in Moscow 3xLP, 2016)
  • ⻘青⽊木ヶ原 // 樹海海 (packaged with initial copies of Kannon album, flexi 7″, 2015)
  • Kannon (CD & LP 2015)
  • LA Reh 012 (LP, 2014)
  • Soused (collaboration with Scott Walker, CD & 2xLP 2014)
  • Terrestrials (collaboration with Ulver, CD & LP 2014)
  • Rehearsal Demo Nov 11 2011 (LP, 2012)
  • The Iron Soul of Nothing (collaboration with Nurse With Wound, 2xLP 2011)
  • Agharthi Live 09-10 (Live in Europe LP + 7″ 2011)
  • Monoliths & Dimensions (CD & 2xLP 2009)
  • GrimmRobes Live 101008 (Cassette 2009)
  • Che (with Pan Sonic) (10″ 2009)
  • O))) Presents… Pentemple (LP & CD 2008)
  • Dømkirke (live in Bergen 2xLP 2008)
  • Oracle (12″ 2007)
  • Altar (collaboration with Boris, 3xLP & CD 2006)
  • WHITEbox (4xLP Box 2006)
  • La Mort Noir dans Esch/Alzette (CD 2006)
  • AngelComa (split with Earth, LP 2006)
  • Black One (CD 2005, 2xLP 2006)
  • Solstitium Fulminate (packaged with initial copies of Back One album, CD 2005)
  • Cro-Monolithic Remixes for an Iron Age (12″ 2004)
  • Candlewolf of the Golden Chalice (12″ 2005)
  • White2 (CD & 2xLP 2004, remaster 2xLP 2018)
  • Live White (live 2xCD 2004)
  • Live Action Sampler (promotional mix 2xCD 2004)
  • The Libations of Samhain (live CD 2003)
  • Veils It White (12″ 2003)
  • White1 (CD & 2xLP 2003, remaster 2xLP 2018)
  • Flight of the Behemoth (CD & 2xLP 2002)
  • The Grimmrobe Demos (demo 1998, CD 2000, 2xPLP 2003, 2xLP 2004, 3xPLP 2008)
  • ØØ Void (CD 2000, 2xLP 2003, CD & 2LP 2011)

 

 

 

Payola

Attempts to finally get to see the reformed Vee VV this year have failed miserably. A combination of factors including guitarists with poorly hands and other matters have left me wondering what they could be like live after all this time. Never mind  I can console myself with the remastered CD collection/compilation of their work called “Payola” released by Edils Recording in a marvellously eco friendly digipac (cork and paper). 19 tracks from across their career involves four different line-ups.

The bulk of their recordings are included and the collection provides a rich history of post punk North West UK in the 1980s. Bass and riff driven in the most part with a combination of that early 80s guitar tremor/flange/phase/jangle and incisive vocals with politically astute words. The music provides an impressive bridge between what bands like The Fall and The Moodists were doing at this time, and the emerging pre-goth epic sound that would start with The Birthday Party, get captured by Bauhaus and Killing Joke, and then get lost in it’s own eyeliner. Comparisons with Gang of Four have been made elsewhere, I guess there’s some read over but Vee VV feel less mannered and more organic. There’s a relentless hypnotic feel to the music.  It wipes the floor with most of the current insipid indie crap that gets forced into my in-box on a daily basis.

You get 67 minutes of marvellous music – if you want to know what was happening on the Fylde coast in the 80s this is a good place to go, if you want a primer in exciting music creation then this is the one to check. With contemporaries The Membranes about to release a remarkable album this feels like a good time for the Blackpool sound to be back and challenging the music scene to up its game.

I’ll be featuring tracks on the Aural Delights show during May and June. I hope I get to see them soon.