Fascinating Things : Issue 48

It has been strange old week with winter overstaying its’ welcome a little too much for my liking, i’m grateful therefore for the veritable cornucopia of new things to listen to . And in the light of that  lets start off with some shameless self-promotion for the parallel universe that inhabits this space called German Shepherd Records…..

Franco Bandini released a stunning EP last year which I waxed lyrically about. Since them Franco has been to Spain and back, done a handful of live shows, and an informative radio appearance with my good friend Mr Stephen Doyle. The outcome of the latter is an impressive four track EP with an FB tune, two covers and a traditional blues. It’s a free download so why not fill your boots? His version of ‘St James Infirmary’ is particularly good with the lyrics changed to reflect the local landscape.

Whilst we are on matters of a German Shepherd nature I am pleased to record that the new Taser Puppets EP ‘Fossil’, which is rather special and which I featured a video of last time out,  is now available for pre-order with the title track being there for your listening pleasure……

Summer Heart is the solo project of Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Alexander. Best known for a nostalgic low-fi sound, David’s sun- bleached latest track ‘The Forbidden’ is “just the thing for those pesky winter blues” according to the promo people. This drifting dream-pop transcends the usual fodder that we are fed as hip and stands on it’s own Cocteauish reverb soaked feet. There is an interesting mixing effect in parts which increases the density of the soundscape and provides an intriguing listening experience.

I’ve been neglecting local turn Eugene The Oceanographer, mainly I guess because I was put off by the name, which is a little remiss of me. However I couldn’t really ignore the latest Bandcamp release which is a fascinating amalgam of sound collage, plunderphonics, sampling and such like. Themed around the 1988 Seoul Olympics the collection is in the spirit of the latest rush of found sound escapades mixed with a Manc (Sub) Pop sensibility, and some great, and sometimes surprising, guest vocals. It all takes me back to the early 80s in parts with nods towards Heaven 17 and Eno. Well worth a look and it’s pay what you want.

Following the success of Ulver‘s ATGCLVLSSCAP and KKKMO‘s Are You Land or Water, newly established UK label House of Mythology will soon be putting out their two next releases, Laniakea‘s A Pot of Powdered Nettles (featuring members of Ulver and Zu), and multiple award-winning Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus‘ (recently seen with Nils Petter Molvaer) new solo album, Amputation. Both albums are scheduled for April 29th.  HoM have commissioned a set of teaser videos, the first installments of which can be found below.

I featured The Boho‘s great new single ‘Leaders Don’t Love You” on the Aural Delights Podcast a couple of weeks back, the video has turned up and is worth a watch. It’s out on March 14th.

London four-piece, The Lazlo Device who are a dreamy indie mix of melodic guitars and contemplative vocals have a new single. Taking inspiration from the likes of Radiohead, Joy Division and Arcade Fire, they count Dominic Howard (Muse) and Howard Donald (Take That) amongst their fans already, not that influences my thinking in any way. Band member Ross works as a studio manager at Radio 1 and Dan has been a successful filmmaker for the BBC over the last few years, with their music set to be featured on a forthcoming BBC documentary about the Black Panthers. ‘Looking Glass’ is their latest single out March 4th from album ‘Duelism’ which will be out later in the year. A catchy little chorus gave it the edge in this instance but generally I wouldn’t go for this sort of fey four skinny indie kids type of stuff.

 

Turning to things that will be emerging on future editions of the Sonic Attack podcast there are a few things to attack your lugholes with:

  • As Southern Lord prepares for the March release of ‘II’ — the second LP from  Chicago-based, described as a death metal band,  Like Rats – founded by members of Weekend Nachos, the initial single of the album’s final track, “Grief Incarnate.” has been shared but it is not embeddable so you’ll have to leap over there yourself – impressive hard sound and have listen. Doesn’t sound like Death Metal to me – more hard rock with a gritty edge. On the basis of that album is something to look forward to. Interesting contemplative solo piano coda.
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Like Rats – photo by Peter Nelson
  • Swedish band , Extermination Temple, release their first vinyl with the ‘Lifeless Forms’ 7” EP in early March. The band is another project from the same artist who creates the music for  hardcore band Broken Cross. The self-titled 2014 cassette demo was an equal mix of black and death metal,  but the impending Lifeless Forms 7″ is undoubtedly overall more death metal. There’s a good punk speed to it mind you.

Extermination Temple promo photo

  • Oakland-based old-school death metal band Necrot, which features current and former members of Acephalix, Vastum, Saviours, Watch Them Die and Atrament, has joined the Tankcrimes Records roster for the release of their ‘The Labyrinth’ full-length. Featuring eight tracks garnered from three hard-to-find and long out-of-print demo tapes,the album was recorded at Lennon Studios by the late great Jef “Leppard” Davis (Abscess, Acephalix, Vastum) and at Earhammer Studios with Greg Wilkinson (Brainoil, Annihilation Time, Noothgrush), mastered at Mammoth Sound by Dan Randall (Ghoul, Toxic Holocaust) and will see release on April 15th on CD, digitally and deluxe, foil-stamped LP. They make a lot of noise for a trio, it’s abrasive and unforgiving stuff, and rather enjoyable.

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  • Tankcrimes are also putting out  the new LP from long-running Stockholm hardcore band, Victims, with the April release of the band’s sixth album, ‘Sirens’.  With twelve tracks in just under thirty minutes this high quality, solid, punk metal at its’ best, although the drums could have been mixed a tad higher for my tastes. There are some good fist pumping anthems here!

Victims

  • Ventura, California-based technical death metal unit, Inherit Disease, release their third full-length on April 8 via Unique Leader Records. Titled ‘Ephemeral’, the follow-up to 2010’s seminal Visceral Transcendence was recorded at Seahorse Sound Studios by Samur Khouja (Condemned, Arkaik, Flesh Consumed) and features mixing/mastering by Sasha Borovykh (Epicardiectomy, Cerebral Effusion) from Tsun Tsun Productions. This is mad stuff, completely stone bonkers insane, the drumming is d-beat in extremis and the vocals sound like the plumbing in my bathroom when the pipes are blocked up. The guitars are mysteriously way back in the mix as the gurgling vocals dominate, and the drum sound is most peculiar. Not sure I get it and want to listen to the thing all the way through but it’s certainly unique.

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  • Highlight of this recent slew of metal is the new one from Mannheim’s Black Shape of Nexus called ‘Carrier’.  A fantastic album continuing the bands run of quality releases. Balancing pretty scary intense doom with more restrained passages of bluesy guitar figures it’s a series of stylistic contradictions which work perfectly well in the round. This is a band willing to explore new corners, and avenues, and able to put the disparate elements together to create a compelling soundscape.

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 45

It seems inevitable that this will be the year of the Graney. he is over for a short UK (and then French) tour, including a little gig that Una Baines and I have put together at the Eagle in the heart of Salford in April. Dave’s been busy of late, including a new single (out today) recorded by himself and Clare at the Ponderosa. It’s Dave being witty, and ironic, and wonderfully laid back.  I’m still waiting for the second volume of Play Mistly For Me mind you.

Details of the aforementioned gig, which is limited to 75 tickets so if you want to catch Dave, Clare, Stu Thomas and former Josef K and Orange Juice guitarist Malcolm Ross i’d book early if I were you, are on the flier below. Get your tickets here

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While listening to Dave’s radio show I was, as mentioned before, impressed by Jess Ribeiro, i’ve since invested in one of her Bone Collectors releases, which is more alt.country, and I will be sharing that in future weeks, but here is the stand out track from the most recent album recorded by Mick Harvey.

Talking of Mick Harvey, Dave and Clare posted a series of pictures of Mick, David McClymont and themselves working on a single with Georgio ‘the Dove’ Valentino. Intrigued I investigated Mr Valentino and was impressed by his output. If you track him down on the tax averse search engine you can get his excellent “Mille Plateaux” double album for free and also this offering from 2011, which has recently been repackaged

Away from matters Dave for a bit, now then, I’m a sucker for girls with guitars and drums making a lot of noise, and this lot caught my eye in a recent mail-out.  Of course they have been around for ages and I am, as usual, playing catch-up, They  a sister duo from Oklahoma made up of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, formed in 2009 after a jam session at the girls’ Halloween party. They describe themselves as “like Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, Regina Spektor, Kimya Dawson and Nirvana”. Skating Polly make a good noise and are worthy of further investigation.

I’ve just received the final mixes for the new KIt B EP which is will be out towards the end of March, called “Weird Water” it’s a remarkably good trio of songs, with the title track being particularly fine. Also arrived is the new West Coast Sick Line album called “Europee” which will certainly surprise some people. I reckon it’s better than Billinge in terms of song writing strength/maturity and variety of content. At the same time I was sent the debut album by Saint Lawrence Verge, called “Ashram”. They are a quartet from Modena in Northern Italy who play an interesting amalgam of post punk and progressive rock with strong cinematic elements. Here’s a live version of one of the album tracks, it’s not the highest fidelity, but you can get a good feel for the music. I guess we will surprise a few people with this release but Ian and I both agree it’s special.

Bubbling away for release is the debut single from The Sideshow which I have posted before but I am minded to include again as it deserves a lot of attention.

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 40

After what seemed like an endless Christmas/New Year break in which hardly any new music arrived suddenly I am besieged by virtual piles of new things to report on.

Mention, before we start with the new stuff, must be made of the passing of Mr Bowie. Oddly I don’t actually own much stuff by the great man, which is strange as there are several key releases in his body of work which have had a lasting impact. He was the soundtrack to late adolescence/student years and seemed to bridge the gap between “legitimate” rock music and the “pop” music of the day – the run of albums between Hunky Dory and Diamond Dogs remain essential listening to any one who professes to love music. That he could follow that with the Berlin stuff is remarkable and that he could give-away “Dudes” to Mott shows his generosity.

And so onto 2016……

The Norwegian multi- Grammy Award Nominee (Best Female, Best Composer) called Marie Munroe is soon to release her much-anticipated LP Under My Skin. Scandinavia’s answer to electro poppy Imogen Heap and Jessie Ware has already sold out the entire upcoming tour in her home country, and has just shared the official video to her latest single Can’t Go Back.

Chicago’s celebrated torchbearers of instrumental metal, Pelican, return to Europe for a string of dates this spring. This marks the band’s first European tour since the successes of their  2013 LP Forever Becoming and 2015’s 4-track EP, The Cliff (both released via Southern Lord) and their 2014 Arktika live 2xLP.

UK Dates are:

30/04/16 – Desertfest @ Electric Ballroom – London, UK
01/05/16 – The Fleece – Bristol, UK
02/05/16 – Audio – Glasgow, UK
03/05/16 – Gorilla – Manchester, UK

 

Photo credit : Mark Dawursk

The upcoming new track by the Grammy-award winning Scandi Teddybears featuring Gorilla Zoe (Boyz n da Hood, Joel Ortiz, Lupe Fiasco) proves to be an interesting ear-worm. After Teddys’ eventful 2015 which consisted of: writing hits such as Diamonds by Giorgio Moroder and Charli XCX, working on new tracks with Sia, John Newman, Ellie Goulding, Max Martin and Petite Meller as well as having tracks featured on FIFA, Peugeot and being the worldwide official Marshall Hedphones soundtrack, Teddybears have not forgotten about their “anti-pop though we make pop” vibe.

Bradford’s (UK) experimental/electro act ‘They Called Him Zone’ offers his debut album creation as an entirely free download. Self-produced in a psychedelic studio basement in West Yorkshire, TCHZ produces cinematic sound-scapes incorporating a fusion of dark electronica and acoustic instruments wrapped up with lo-fi integrity and electro -pop overtones.

 

MCR says JFT96

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To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Hillsborough, Salford based punk-rap collective Class Actions have released a mixtape entitled ‘MCR Says JFT96’.

The mixtape features a number of Class Actions tracks relevant to Hillsborough such as ‘Rip Up The Sun’ and the anti-Thatcher track ‘M is 4 Maggie’ as well as a selection of tracks by sympathetic Greater Manchester based artists, including rapper Intoxikie, Stephen Sarson, The Bacillus and Drink and Drive. The aim is simple,  raise awareness of the disaster amongst Manchester based artists,  and,  send a clear message of solidarity to Liverpool and the Hillsborough victims. City rivalries mean nothing when human lives are concerned. MCR says JTF96!

Class Actions Frontman Aslan AK says:

 ‘At the time of Hillsborough I lived very near Liverpool so I remember the tragedy very well. 96 people lost their lives and the establishment helped by the evil Sun newspaper added insult to injury. I am proud to have promoted the truth about Hillsborough through Class Actions as well as getting other artists on board to fight for justice. Everyone regardless of what city they live in must support the Hillsborough victims. Justice For The 96!’ 

Download MCR Says JFT96 now from www.classactionsuk.com

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Electronic Enforcement………

Hotly-tipped Atlanta duo Featureless Ghost proudly present   “Video Enforcement” plus a remix by Cape Town up-and-comers Len Cockroft and Gareth Dawson, aka Tannhäuser Gate.One of the highlights of Featureless Ghost’s debut LP “Personality Matrix” (out last year on Night People), “Video Enforcement” exemplifies the band’s marriage of industrial, dark-wave and techno rhythms with Elise Tippins and Matt Weiner’s emotive and other-worldly vocal interplay. Tannhäuser Gate remould the track into a tough, dancefloor-ready weapon; taking cues from the original’s moody electronic feel, Cockroft and Dawson fuse sharp, machine-driven percussion with a pulsing bassline and growling analog synths. From the opening vocal stutters to the euphoric refrains in the chorus, Tannhäuser Gate up the energy whilst retaining the robotic, dystopian ambience that makes Featureless Ghost’s original so entrancing.

The remix preceeds the release of “The Skyhaven Network Live Sessions”, a two-part video series featuring live performances from Featureless Ghost recorded in their Atlanta studio, to be announced in the following weeks.