Noise Annoys

I was rather fond of Black Shape of Nexus, they had a certain something that set them apart from the usual purveyors of metal. From their ashes emerge Bellrope who from the opening minutes of “Hollywood 2001/Rolltrost” seem to be engage in some form of ritual disembowelment. Howling and screeching from the vocalist and the same from the guitarist doesn’t do a great deal for me. The second track “Old Overholt” has a little more structure to it pursuing a fractured motorik riff ,which is good but then they layer more noise of the top and it sort of loses focus. I imagine this is some form of catharsis for the protagonists however it seems a little inchoate to me,  it eventually settles down and gets into a repetitive groove which makes some sort of sense. Apparently it is  a paean to a form of whisky.

The title track “You Must Relax” features a very dirty bass sound and the morose duelling vocals of Arne Heesch and Yvonnne Ducksworth of label-mates Treedeon. I was reminded of The Fall’s Spector vs Rector in terms of intent. Guitars are extremely heavy.  After 11 minutes of being battered senseless you feel like you need a bit of break but it is not forthcoming from “TD200” which slams itself into you for another 11 minutes. I am sure it is deliberate but I can’t help but feel that the vocals needed to be higher in the mix. That this is followed by the 17 minute “CBD/Hereunder” is further evidence that the band are not going to give you an easy ride. Described in the promo as ” a heavy combination of chugging guitars and psych-like leads locking into a repetitive, almost entrancing groove”,  you need a strong stomach and backbone to last the course.

The band who dub themselves as “the total absence of tonal sanity” which is pretty spot on. The album releases  on Exile On Mainstream in February 2019.

Fans of Celestial-era ISIS, early-Cult Of Luna,  and Old Man Gloom will find something to tickle their ossicles here. For me there is something to hook onto especially on the concluding track but overall I feel a more coherent production but have served them better.

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Tour The Ruins

Float Here Forever is a three-piece alternative rock band from Detroit, Michigan featuring Darrell Bazian on vocals/guitar, Nick Marko on drums/percussion and Samantha Easterbrook on vocals/bass. Their first full length Tour the Ruins is released on January 1st 2019. The album was recorded at Temper Mill studios in Ferndale, Michigan by Grammy award winner Dave Feeny (White Stripes, Loretta Lynn) and mastered by Alan Douches (Dillinger Escape Plan, Brand New, Mastodon) of West West Side Music.

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Fourteen powerful rock tunes make up a highly enjoyable album which echoes the later days of Husker Du and Bob Mould’s next band Sugar. With the ability to carve out driving rock music but add a distinct melodic edge this band stands out amongst the alternative rock community.  Songs are short and to the point, not overstaying their welcome, the whole song book fitting into just over the 30 minutes. The dual vocals of Bazian and Easterbrook are particularly compelling. When the band slow things down the musicianship is particularly impressive with the three piece creating an epic sound.  A very impressive debut created by quality musicians who have honed their art to create great music.

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Darrell Bazian has spent the last 2 decades writing and composing music for bands that he formed, managed and played in. (Osmus, Singer Soldier) He has opened for platinum and gold selling artists and has had his music aired on regional radio stations. He spends most of his time with fellow band mate Nick Marko composing and engineering music for the ALP Music library.

Nick Marko (Singer Soldier, The Holy Fire) started playing clubs at the age of 14 and started releasing records on a national level in the 2000’s with The Holy Fire (Sony). He became recognized as a drummer by publications like Revolt Media and Amplifier Magazine. Billboard.com described The Holy Fire as a “vibrant mixture of shimmering melody and darkly literate post-punk texture.” Marko, a former Sony/BMG recording artist was produced by Michael Ivins of the Flaming Lips and has recorded with Grammy winner Dave Feeny.

Samantha Easterbrook joined Float Here Forever for the recording of Tour the Ruins. She has been fronting bands for over a decade in the Metro Detroit scene.

Float Here Forever released The Owl their first EP in 2016 and followed it up with the EP Inexhaustible in 2017.

The new album will be featured extensively on the Aural Delights Radio Show on Analogue Trash radio during January.

parasitic insects teach us humility

1987/8 …. the murky years between post-punk and the emerging Madchester.  The Manchester Music Scene was in some sort of flux. The nationwide scene was dull, with Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Stock, Aitken and Waterman dominating. On a wider stage the Sonic Youth influence was palpable, “Daydream Nation” was the album on everyone’s lips, the since self-disenfranchised “Moody Chops” had his first solo album out, “Surfer Rosa” was making the Pixies a thing. Michael Jackson dominated the charts. The Fall hit a pre “Brix-exit” creative high with “The Frenz Experiment” and “I Am Kurious Oranj”.  Similarly Wire returned with the incredible “A Bell Is A Cup”. “16 Lovers Lane” both celebrated and destroyed The Go-Betweens as Grant and Amanda’s romance ended. Dave Graney and Clare Moore were moving between The Moodists and Coral Snakes/White Buffaloes and London & Melbourne. In Manchester clubs went in another direction, availability of ecstasy started to change the musical landscape. Towards the end of the year “Bummed” presaged what was to come.

Out of this context Boz Vile and Art Carbuncle, plus a drum machine called Sissy, conceived and delivered Flea.

The Boardwalk was a venue and rehearsal rooms at the bottom of Little Peter Street, now long gone and replaced by the “Great Northern Square” – it was the venue of choice for aspiring rock acts and a central part of an ongoing music scene. Many of the bands that would dominate the emerging scene started there. Flea were part of that collection of artists. They were active between 1988 and 1993 playing at many of the key gigs in the city around that time period.

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Flea dissolved in 1993 when there particular brand “micro chip axe murdering” failed to connect to the psychedelic haze of Madchester in full flow.  Another example of genuinely talented musicians with cutting edge music being lost in a morass of the mundane. Their edgy, anarchic, sound was more in tune with what was happening in America and I have no doubt that if they had relocated to America’s West Coast they would have received a warmer welcome and achieved some longevity.

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“parasitic insects teach us humility” collects recordings from 1990/1 in Bedford and Manchester and the release on German Shepherd Records emerges from that labels’ relationship with Boz Hayward, and also an appearance at the Star and Garter in September 2017 supporting The Cravats when the duo (and Sissy) re-emerged after a 25 year gap. Rat’s other band Dead Objectives also played the gig. A follow up gig at this summers Manchester Meltdown lead to a continuing conversation about releasing the album. Several months later it gets general release on November 16th.

I don’t need to say any more – have a listen…..

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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

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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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.