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.

 

Fascinating Things Issue 01

 This is the first of a semi-regular magazine format blog of new music that comes my way and gets featured on my podcasts. You will find a wide variety of music types here and hopefully something that piques your interest.

Chelsea Wolfe is set to release her newest full length album, Abyss, August 7th on Sargent House, here is the single release from the album :

Dead Rider have a series of European tour dates on the horizon in support of their new 7″ single New End b/w Uncomfy, and the  full length Chills On Glass which Drag City released last year.  UK dates are 17/6/15  London – Shacklewell Arms, 18/6/15 Glasgow – Bloc+
19/6/15  Edinburgh – Sneaky Petes, and 22/06/15 UK, Bristol -The Exchange.

In the year of shoegaze’s comeback, Ear to Ear Records presents you a free download international shoegaze compilation, involving 30 bands from 16 countries. In the words of Creation Records co-founder Joe Foster, this is as “an unprecedented spread of hope and art”, which has been embraced by members of such shoegaze pioneers as Swervedriver, Slowdive, The Telescopes, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Swallow.

The Melvins  released The Bulls & The Bees/Electroretard split on Ipecac Recordings, on 2nd June. This 13 song album features both releases on one CD.

Fresh from a BBC Radio 6 Music debut on 6 Music Recommends with Tom Ravenscroft, and a live appearance at Song By Toad’s , Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas“Paradise Palms Song by Toa d Dingus Rock Slop Fest” the ‘Dreamslop’ ep was released on Sunday 31st May, and is available from itunes and all major digital stores via Flowers In The Dustbin records.

FLOW is the new album from the Belgium based quartet Drifter, co-led by Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila and Belgium saxophonist Nicolas Kummert, who won huge praise and acclaim across Europe and Australia as the Alexi Tuomarila Quartet in the early 2000’s.

Inego are named after the Spaniard hell-bent on avenging the death of his father in the 80’s cult classic ‘The Princess Bride’ . The band released their ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ in May . Recorded at Magic Garden Studios and produced by Gavin Monaghan and Joe Murray. The Band play The Headlander Festival in Stockport on June 20th .

The Junta returns with a four track EP on German Shepherd Records on June 12th. Entitled Hydra the music inspired by the Marvel Universe baddies and the Agents of Shield TV Programme. A follow EP with remixes  by Night Operations, Captain Black, Space Museum, Passage of Time and The Junta himself will follow in July.

Austin, Texas’s Sungod have released a fantastic two track EP of their signature psych drone krautrock – highly recommended

Southern Lord have announce the signing of Montreal trio BIG|BRAVE. The three-piece play  long-form out-rock that ventures in to different directions – at times mournful and unsettling – “their music plays out in to moon-bleached grunge where serene vocals crumble over scraping guitars bled of melody.” A new album is penciled in for a late summer release, recorded with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) at Hotel2Tango. This will add to a growing discography comprising their debut EP An Understanding Between People (2013) and the debut LP Feral Verdure, which they recorded at Paradise Studios with Jon Boles, and self-released in September 2014. There’s high expectation of great things to come.

nTTx is the new project of Gord Clement (former singer/songwriter in Atomzero). His new music is a melodic, vocal driven form of EBM, with some synthpop and disco influences. The new single is titled ‘Falls Beautiful’ with a b-side cover version of ‘New Dress’ (Depeche Mode). The single is now available as a free download to the public via his bandcamp page . It will also be available through iTunes, Amazon, and most streaming services.

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Here is a list of incorrect things

This summer, Ben Chasny’s Six Organs Of Admittance will be in the UK spreading the workings of the Hexadic, the system that underpins his most recent album for Drag City bearing the same name. Most of the dates are performances from the full live band, except for a special workshop as part of Supersonic Festival 2015 in Birmingham, where Chasny will be explaining and demonstating the Hexadic process to patrons of the adventurous arts event.

For Mancunians the gig to watch out for Manchester Gulliver’s on June 14th.

6 Organs

Southern California’s Goatsnake have released the title track from their upcoming album, Black Age Blues, the band’s first LP in fifteen years. Black Age Blues will be released through Southern Lord Recordings June 1st, and preorders for the album are now live. In addition to physical preorders, the record is also available via iTunes, offering the tracks “Black Age Blues” and “Elevated Man” for instant download, which are now available to purchase individually. Check out the preorder options at the new Goatsnake store, via BandCamp andiTunes.

In June, Peggy Seeger  embarks on a 16-date UK tour to celebrate her 80th birthday, accompanied on stage by her sons, Calum and Neill MacColl.  Both fine musicians in their own right, between them they’ve played with some of the biggest names in pop and folk music in the world.  Peggy says “The boys asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I said it might be my last tour so I wanted them to join me. How many other families are able to request and give a similar gift?” Peggy plays Band on the Wall Manchester on June 18th.

After leaving a career as mechanical engineer in Boston to focus on art and sculpture, Tristan Shone created Author & Punisher while getting his MFA in Southern California. In the metal and machine shops of University of California, San Diego, Shone forged a relationship with design, sound and fabrication that ultimately yielded A&P’s first three albums and mapped the journey away from traditional instrumentation towards custom made, precision machinery that he calls Drone Machines, Dub Machines and now his series of Masks.

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Author & Punisher’s newest album entitled Melk En Honing, produced by Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual, and more) and due out Summer 2015 via Housecore Records, is a melange of his various drone machineries employed together with multiple physical rhythm machines, some synth and the new electromechanical masks that began to appear in A&P performances across the U.S. and Europe in 2014. After a year of heavy touring and festival appearances, the goal with this album became to try and capture the live dissonant power of the A&P experience. The combination of Anselmo’s persistence, expertise and some of Shone’s new experimentation with various vocal devices, this is a vocal-prominent, bass heavy album that combines A&P’s signature elusive drone sequences and hard hitting rhythms with unexpected terrains of melody and musicality that sustain Shone’s reputation as an unorthodox innovator in a class all of his own.

Gibber

From their sixth full-length album Success, due out June 15th via Season Of Mist, is KEN mode‘s call to end the hostilities that plague our communications and interactions. ‘These Tight Jeans’, the second track on an LP that intrigues and excites at every turn, underlines the bold aesthetic makeover the Canadian band has undergone sixteen years after their inception, with a quickfire round of damaging grunge punk and conscious, catchy lyrical heft – or as the band put it themselves…
  “These Tight Jeans is a post punk-rock tribute to the absolute insanity of the ‘hater’ culture that plagues the media, social networking, and our daily lives as human beings alive in 2015. The first line of the song says it all: “I would like to learn how to kill the nicest man in the world”. Stop disrespecting each other and go run a marathon, do some push-ups, read a book, create something: get a life. Life’s too short. Guest vocals by our friend Jill Clapham, and channels plenty of feel from 80’s post punk and garage rock coupled with our usual bite.”
Rock, noise, math, indie – KEN mode offer a root to it all on Success, locating a common ancestor that’s behind all that they do and have done as a band. It’s one seriously fermented sound that pervades these recordings, a goldrush of skewed rhythms, corrosive riffs and scorching pickup abuse, so diligently pulled off and inherently important to the band. Their path first appears to be one of complex inspiration, but a lineage soon becomes clear, lighting up a way through concentric circles of legacy that encompasses Revelation Records, Dischord, Touch And Go, Sub Pop – the full spread of inventive heavinesses that fed in to the grunge estuary, and out in to the open sea of independent labels in the final decade of the last century, where KEN mode first appeared.
 Success is a funny concept; in its rawest, most pure form, it is entirely relative, and this was the subject KEN mode chose to approach their new album with. Sonically, and lyrically, a shift has been made from the classic spitting of metallic hardcore tinged vitriol, that the band has become known for, to a rawer, more mature, even humourous indie rock aesthetic. In April 2014, the band set out to pay tribute to where they’ve come from: a salute to both their Canadian Prairie roots, and a time when they first started to care about making music; the burgeoning ‘grunge’ and Touch & Go/Dischord scenes of the late 80s/early 90s, with bands like Nirvana, Big Black, Cop Shoot Cop, The Cows, Circus Lupus, and Drive Like Jehu warping their teenage minds. Lyrically, the band’s fascination with comedy spirals around classical western concepts of ‘success’ – from employment, sex, marriage, religion, socioeconomic standing, and particularly the many perceptions people have of how they, and those around them, happen to fit into the world.
Recorded with legendary engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey and so many more) to capture the material in a fully live and analog session in the band’s hometown in November 2014, brought to fruition is the most raw, rock and roll sound the band has ever put forth.

Lords of the South and other news

Bowl Ethereal announce the official release of a 7″ this summer via Southern Lord. This release is an expansion of their digital only debut Five Minutes which they gave away last year as a free download via their website.

Bowl Ethereal are a duo from Virginia comprising Brian Metz (Amish Control Tower) on guitar, bass and production, and influential math metal luminary Pen Rollings (Honor Role, Breadwinner, Loincloth) on drums and also arrangement and deconstruction duties.

On this Brad Boatright mastered 7″, the band opt for brevity, offering up 6 songs in 6 minutes (adding one more song to the original five). However don’t let briefness belie their brawn. Bowl Ethereal load each track with crushingly heavy riffs and sturdy rhythms, displaying absolute precision, where every drum beat, every guitar riff and every unexpected musical corner they turn, is calculated for maximum impact. The resulting record might be short, but it is unpredictably dynamic and commanding, crying out for immediate consumption and repeated listens.

This 7″ is limited to 600 copies and shall be available at this link http://southernlordeurope.com/store/view/s-t-7 and here’s a link to find out more http://southernlord.com/bands/view/bowl-ethereal

Southern Lord have also revealed their latest new addition to their raging summer schedule, with progressive hardcore band Gust, hailing from Trollhättan, Sweden.

The fierce four piece skillfully combines pounding D­beat rhythms with a classic hardcore punk directness, and bring forth a maelstrom of metallic riffs, amalgamating into one brutal and arresting sonic assault, fans of Cursed and Rise And Fall especially will swarm to.

With one demo, one LP and four European tours already under their belt, and with a fifth tour beginning the 24th of June, Gust will release their brand new, and self titled album through Southern Lord Recordings this August. This second LP was self recorded at Fvck Life Studios and is mastered by and features guest vocals by Brad Boatright (Warcry, From Ashes Rise, Deathreat, Audiosiege Engineering) on the track “Humility In Disguise”.

Their incoming ten track keeps their fire burning, exploding with lyrical angst and musical fury from the get-go, bombarding the listener with catchy riffs and spot-on political statements. From this second LP it is clear that Gust are a force to be reckoned with.

Gold is the first major soundtrack work from Dylan Carlson, composed for a foreign language western of the same name. A story of German pioneers traversing the Canadian west. Carlson’s score, which revolves around key guitar motifs and their dialog with drone, repetition and loose improvisation, echoes the vast landscapes and almost existential “otherness” captured in the films juxtaposition of traditional western tropes to places and peoples not normally associated with the genre. This slight remove from genre has been a trademark of Carlson’s approach to guitar and songwriting throughout his career. Whether that be applying the writings of La Monte Young to Black Sabbath sized riffing in Earth’s earliest incarnations or his re-appropriations of country, jazz and folk during it’s second act.

Across the arc of the album’s 24 tracks (designed to be listened to as one suite), Carlson’s lyrical playing dissolves structures into abstraction, stretching out each repetition til you’re left with only the sound of buzzing or scraped strings. It is an inversion of the work of Earth. Stripping away where they would layer. It is an immersive experience. For the first time Carlson’s guitar is presented, bare, alone, with only minimal percussion, fore-fronting his evocative, lyrical control of the instrument in a language that transcends tired “cinematic” adjectives and places you directly into the landscape.

Carlson (founder, guitarist and sole continual member of drone-doom pioneers Earth) began performing under the name DRCARLSONALBION in 2011, primarily as an outlet to explore in greater depth elements he only touched upon with the Earth “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light” series. Initially the project focused on the folklore and musical heritage of England with early releases devoted thematically to the Pendle witch trials of 1612 and to the music of the 60’s British folk revivalists (particularly Fairport Convention). Carlson filters these reference points through his unique, meditative and personal search for the purity of the riff. An expressive, improvisational approach that serves as a counterbalance to the repetitive force of Earth.

In the past two years Carlson has released a cassette, two 7″s and an LP under the name DRCARLSONALBION supported by two European tours with percussive accompaniment from Rogier Smal. 2014 will see the release of the soundtrack he composed for Gold, his much delayed grand opus “Wonders From The House of Albion” and a new album and extensive touring from Earth. More at www.drcarlsonalbion.com

Southern Lord have also announced the impending Summer release of Total Funeral, the fully-comprehensive discography from raging Swedish raw punk act, Electric Funeral.

The vicious brainchild of Jocke D-takt – also of Paranoid, Desperat, Warvictims, Totalt Jävla Mörker and countless other acts – Electric Funeral’s pure angst-ridden style explodes out of the speakers with relentless noise, bursting with energy. The album surges with the sounds of Anti-Cimex, Gloom, Discharge and the like to blazing speeds in the vein of Disclose and Krömosom, and charges straight at the listener with unstoppable force from beginning to end of every single track recorded to date, all of which are now packed into Total Funeral.

Containing every filthy, d-beat anthem by Electric Funeral, the Total Funeral discography boasts over an hour-and-a-half of carnage with fifty-three tracks in total, including the Harvester Of Death, Make Noise Not War, D-Beat Noise Attack, The Face of War, Make A Change, Gröndalen, In League With Darkness and Order From Disorder releases, the split with Go Filth Go, and even several previously-unreleased and new/unreleased tracks.

Total Funeral shall be released on 21 July in the UK/EU in a massive blood red/beer stained 2LP package. Orders for the digital album and preorders for the wax can be placed at this link http://electricfuneralsl.bandcamp.com/releases

California technical death metal faction, Inanimate Existence, who feature within their ranks members of Brain Drill and Son Of Aurelius, will unleash their sophomore effort, A Never-Ending Cycle Of Atonement, this Summer via extreme metal merchants, Unique Leader Records. Tracked by Max Zigman (Son of Aurelius, Smaragos) at Parade Outrageous in Santa Cruz and produced by Zack Ohren (Light This City, All Shall Perish, First Blood, Cattle Decapitation, Warbringer et al) at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, A Never-Ending Cycle Of Atonement boasts eight conceptual tracks of progressive punishment. The follow-up to 2012’s Liberation Through Hearing, which MetalSucks championed for its “erie, psychedelic themes richly animated by the grandiose contrast between shamanic atmosphere and uncompromising brutality,” finds the band’s signature, over-the-top compositions elevated to an entirely new level of profundity. Each movement marvels at its own innovative density as intricate guitar structures coil seamlessly around complex rhythms and infernal vocal tirades all the while maintaining an absorbing magnetism that draws exploratory listeners in with each new measure. The record includes several guest musicians who offer female vocal accents, clarinet, bass flute, harp, bongos and other nuances to the proceedings, only adding to the record’s already confounding depth.

Southern Lord Recordings is also beyond excited to broadcast that influential, visionary metal act, Today Is The Day, has joined with the label’s roster for the release of their massively anticipated tenth studio album later this year. Early this year, Today Is The Day’s newest lineup was announced, as the foundation of the then unnamed album was taking shape. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Austin welcomed Sean Conkling (Regression, Burn Your Halo, Sprawl) on bass as well as returning member Jeff Lohrber (Enabler, ex-Harlots), Lohrber having previously handled touring drum duties for TITD many times in the past. Conkling and Lohrber tracked most of their sessions in December and January at the founding frontman’s own recording and mastering studio in Maine. Since, Austin has been painstakingly layering guitars, vocals and more, and as the final sessions for Today Is The Day’s tenth studio full-length will be taking place in June, the band happily reveals the name of the impending LP, as Animal Mother.

Some things to look out for……

I’ve been hiding away at a Lancashire match for the last four days and inevitably a lot of things have come in while i’ve been out getting frozen……so here’s a round up of stuff in no particular order……

Tara Jane O’Neil plays the Castle, Oldham Street, Manchester on June 9th – this is from her album “Where Shine New Lights” which is very good……

The Reads have a new album out – they were in my top 30 singles of 2013 with Galaxy Egg – the album is called “Lost At Sea” and comes out in June – the lead track is called “Spitting Feathers

The legendary BL’AST play Star and Garter, Manchester on 25th June and the similarly legendary POISON IDEA play the same venue on 12th August

Death To The Strange are releasing a final cut from their EP – the very moreish “Openshaw Blues”

Recommended albums which are out now or due soon…….

NOMEANSNO – DANCE OF THE HEADLESS BOURGEOISIE (WRONG RECORDS) – re-issue

OUGHT – MORE THAN ANY OTHER DAY (CONSTELLATION)

THEE SILVER MT ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA – HANG ON TO EACH OTHER EP (CONSTELLATION)

RUDIMENTARY PENI – DEATH CHURCH (OUTER HIMALAYAN/SOUTHERN) – re-issue (I don’t think the mix is as good as the original but it’s still an essential album)

USA OUT OF VIETNAM – CRASHING DISEASES AND INCURABLE AIRPLANES (AURORA BOREALIS)

HISS TRACTS – SHORTWAVE NIGHTS (CONSTELLATION) – out 12th May

TORCH RUNNER – COMMITTED TO THE GROUND CD RELEASE (SOUTHERN LORD) – out 12th May

FRIEDEMANN – UHR VS ZEIT (EXILE ON MAINSTREAM) – out 19th May

STEPHEN O’MALLEY, OREN AMBARCHI & RANDALL DUNN – SHADE THEMES FROM KAIROS (DRAG CITY) – out 19th May

NIGHTFELL – THE LIVING EVER MOURN (SOUTHERN LORD) – out 26th May

BUZZ OSBORNE – THIS MACHINE KILLS ARTISTS (IPECAC) – out 2nd June

AMENRA – LIVE II (MY PROUD MOUNTAIN) – out 30th June

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – CELESTITE (ARTEMISIA RECORDS) – out 7th July

and finally BORLAND are back with a preview track from their forthcoming album Omar

 

Hope Boy Stoner Float Puddings

It’s an inevitable consequence of writing about music, and all the things that surround it, that you’ll end up upsetting someone at some point.

Music,  and its’ inherent tendency to evoke tribalism in listeners,  tends to make normally rational human beings froth uncontrollably at the mouth when you might happen to mention that you don’t  like the latest waxing from their favourite rockin’ teen combo. I always have that at the back of my mind when rationing out what I write about. I cannot possibly write about everything that comes my way – there is just too much of it – so I tend to pick the stuff either that I like, or where it is an established artist I have been following for years. This tends to result in stuff I don’t actually like not being reviewed – other than some passing remark on Facebook sometimes. There is some music I don’t actually see the point of, or reason for, but i’ll restrain myself from making lists of those I have black-balled as that would be a waste of effort.

I think you can work on the assumption if I haven’t mentioned them on here then I probably don’t like them, or I just haven’t got round to them yet.

So it’s January 2014 and already the pile of things to consider has grown to, what is approaching, an impossible size to contemplate doing them a reasonable amount of justice. So this little post aims to catch up on a number of things before the pile gets so large that I spend all day writing. So here are the first five offerings of material out in January or just beyond.

So what to make of the new album by Bruce Springsteen? Well it’s called “High Hopes” and it’s  like most of his recent releases – perfectly pleasant to listen to,  but lacking the cut and thrust of his early work. There are some moments where you think – oh no not another celidh/barn dance number – and others where you are quite astonished that he has added something new and refreshing to his arsenal.  There is certainly some variety here – but by the same token there are some inevitable Bruce tropes that he can’t seem to shake off. Highlights are the extended remake of American Skin and the moody Down In The Hole. I often feel he is still borrowing from the 50s/60s pop song book he grew up with, and indeed some of the tunes would not be out of place on the soundtrack to an Elvis Presley movie.  On balance this is not one of his best and, at times, he is dangerously close to parodying himself.

Conversely the new album from Carla Bozulich is a thing of complete beauty and to my mind her best work since the best of The Geraldine Fibbers and Ethyl Meatplow. Her first “solo” record, the 2003 album-length cover of Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger, was rightly hailed as a masterpiece of reinterpretation and re-contextualisation. Her first album for Constellation was 2006’s Evangelista, after which Bozulich adopted the Evangelista moniker for subsequent work, and released three more albums between 2008-2011 – the last being the excellent “In Animal Tongue” . She has set aside Evangelista for now, to focus on the songs that form “Boy”, her third record under her own name. Apparently this is Carla’s “pop” record – not so much a misnomer, more a lateral perspective I would guess. This is an incredible melange of brooding blues,  where industrial sounds clash against off kilter rhythms and impressive vocal dexterity.  Tempos rarely exceed medium pace creating an intense and focused listening experience. The expected norms of “rock” instrumentation are set aside for a combination of visceral and laminal drones, sweeps and bleeps coupled with an impressive display of percussion and vocal/spoken word combinations. When guitars do appear they are fractured and brittle creatures in the near distance. Likely to be one of my albums of the year I would guess. Outstanding.

Bong’s latest “Stoner Rock” appears to be delivered with tongue very firmly lodged in cheek. Comprising two tracks, each exceeding 35 minutes,  this an hommage of some sort of to the genre described in the title but the degree of repetition and structure takes that musical form to somewhere around the work of Sunn o))) and other contemporaries. Each piece comprises stately and sustained banks of guitars which develop very slowly to a middle section with some spoken word before ambling back to the original structure and drifting into the near distance. I think the word to apply is minimalist.

Kristian Harting has been around the Danish music scene for a while and has worked in everything from Thrash Metal , Noise Pop, Film Scores and Installations. His solo album “Float”  is inspired by sufi-music, mali-blues, western low-fi pop and the  avant-garde.  Harting composes songs using his guitar, voice, circuit-bending and effects – pushing to create sounds that are gritty and noisy yet beautiful and pretty – culminating in diverse electronic and acoustic trips. It is refreshing to hear a voice that does not seek to copy the current trends and a use of instrumentation that stands apart from the generalised indie sounds of today. If I was to draw a comparison it would be,  musically at least, with God Speed or Mount Zion but with a warmer and more compelling vocal sound.  It is certainly epic in approach and delivery and I have a feeling it is one of those albums that will grow on you following repeated listening. There is certainly a lot to explore.

Henry Blacker is the name of the band rather than an individual. A three piece from Somerset they comprise two members of noise band Hey! Colossus plus one of the pairs brother on drums. They deliver high-ish tempo hardcore grunge type rock with a degree of venom – their debut album is called “Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings”.  You can put them in a camp with Melvins I think – there’s a degree of reckless abandon, some fairly intense vocals and a fuzzed submarine bass  underpinning a very heavy rock guitar sound. There’s also the ability to kick out the jams when they want to. Whether it is all a bit the same thing throughout might be a criticism but I think on balance the scorched earth attack and relentless pursuit of riff and rhythm gives it enough points to shake off any lingering doubts. Imagine a very heavy version of Motorhead fed on a diet of Buzz Osbourne after a bit of Death Metal training  and you are getting somewhere close.

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A bit of a round up……

So here is a round up of things which have come to my attention…..

In terms of local things it is good to see the re-emergence of  Bobbie Peru who I caught at Satan’s Hollow a couple of months back, and who have been touring with The Fall. Within the same circle of musicians I can also report that Mr Heart go from strength to strength, with some new tunes emerging, and were pretty excellent at the aforementioned Satan’s Hollow event. Members of both bands are in As Able As Kane  of course, who will be releasing their new album on 8th July. Hopefully, as with previous releases, I  will be getting some pre-release stuff to share with you. The ever busy Mr Archer seems to be vying with Mr Moran and Mr Dutton to see who can be in as many bands at the same time having just secured the bass role for Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. Other members of AAAK are also about to release material viz Coroner for the Police, or are in the recording studio at the moment i.e. The Words.

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In a different musical sphere entirely – but somewhat adjacent to AAAK – the growth and importance of modern electronica around these parts is a key discussion point.  Positronik continue to produce quality soul-electronica and it’s a mystery to me why a lable has not snapped them up and are not pushing their exceptional tunes. Close allies and friends Exchange  have a new single on the way on June 2nd and also a sophomore album “Seconds” due soon thereafter. I detect a slightly harder edge to the material this time around and I look forward to listening to the whole of the album. Factory Acts continue to impress with a recent new single “Animal Spirit” and are getting into the studio soon (if not now) to lay down new material (that’s when they are not out enjoying themselves watching The Fall that is!). The Tingle In The Netherlands album “What Can’t You Write Something Nice For A Change” continues to impress with it’s reverential synth sound and challenging lyrical content. If some clever promoter out there can get all of these bands doing a gig night together I reckon it would be a special kind of evening. I should also point out that Mr Montague of Positronik has an alter-ego called The Junta who is worth checking out.

I have also been somewhat quiet of late as I have been buried away in my workspace converting the existing Fall website “Reformation” to a different platform. This has mainly been necessary due to the limitations of the existing host. This is a lengthy process due to the vast amount of material on the existing site, and some of the howling errors on it, that need correcting. The new site is looking good but I have at least another few months work before I can launch it on the world. Pending that my erstwhile co-editor Martin Peters is keeping things ticking over on the original beast. Which leads me nicely onto the new Fall album “Re-Mit” which I thought was a real return to form – and whilst it does not reach the dizzy heights of some of highlights of the canon it does demonstrate that Mr Smith and Co can still out-perform with ease some of the mainstream material which reaches me via the usual channels.

Album of the year so far is Dusty Moonan’s “Our Name on the Door”, it’s still free from Bandcamp, and it still represents some of the best song-writing I have heard in a long while. Public Service Broadcasting’s “Inform Educate Entertain” is also one to point out as a bit of a triumph. The forthcoming album from Ken Camden “Space Mirror” is a delightful piece of work – ambient and repetitive guitar pieces – beautifully played. Another highlight is Monkeys In Love’s excellent “….Will Pet And Cuddle You” – a band you definitely have to see live to appreciate what they are all about.

In terms of EPs I was impressed by Sam Smith & Co’s “From Heathens to Devils”, and was very pleased to see Miss Lucid’s “Feed to Breed” finally released. The lads had given me the tracks a while back but wouldn’t let me play them. I shall remedy that soon. Also pleased to see a new single from Suzuki Method and the EP from Death to the Strange. And finally a mention for the debut EP from Kit B and the new single from The Ascension – all good stuff and well worth investigating.

As usual there is a serious amount of new stuff coming in on a daily basis so please keep listening to the podcasts to hear it.

DM06

Looks like a Scouse singer to me……..

Bits and Pieces of News for an Easter Sunday

Laid low with the dreaded sinus decay I am taking the opportunity to catch up on a few things that have come into my hearing of late…..

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Sic Alps following the successful fourth, and self-titled album, last year,  San Francisco’s Psych Pop-meisters  are back with a 12″ single thingy with three great tracks – delightfully packaged and played it is released on May 20th on Drag City. Highly infectious music and most enjoyable….the three tracks will be featured on the Aural Delights Podcast.

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OM’s Advaitic Songs album was a particular favourite of last year – two tracks ‘Addis’ and “Gethsemane”  from the album were handed over a while back  for dubplate reworking by UK roots and dub legends Alpha & Omega.  This has resulted in two releases ‘Addis’ was released on Drag City on 18 March with ‘Gethsemane’ will be released on 20 May.
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Also looking forward to “Ark Procession” b/w “Jericho” the first Al Cisneros (Om’s bass player and vocalist) 10″ offering for Drag City, in June. As a taster I’ll be featuring the original version of “Gethsemane” on this weeks podcast.
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 Silent Cities is the music project of  experimental recording artist, Simon Maddison. Originating from a small town that basks in the shadow of the ‘Angel of the North’ in the North East of England, Maddison having recorded countless demos in a makeshift bedroom studio, began to acquire attention and acclaim from several BBC radio presenters both locally and nationwide. Now residing amongst a community of visual artists, songwriters, and events organisers in Liverpool the first Silent Cities EP is due for release on the 18th May 2013 and is secretly streaming at the website . I’ll be featuring the excellent “Haptophic” on the podcast.
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Still in Liverpool we have a band called The 69 Watts who describe themselves as “a glam tinged psychedelic blues rock and roll band”. I was reminded of mid 70s Rory Gallagher with a slightly harder edge. Most enjoyable – and i’m featuring two tracks on this weeks podcast.
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On April 29th, Melvins will be releasing their brand new album “Everybody Loves Sausages”. A fascinating album of cover songs, tastefully done and hugely entertaining, in parts. “This record will give people a peak into the kind of things that influence us musically,” explained Buzz Osborne (no relation!). “We REALLY like all of these songs along with the bands who actually wrote this stuff because first and foremost we are HUGE music fans.”  With a decidedly Melvins approach to a covers album, the band not only selected a unique assortment of songs to cover, ranging from Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” to Queen’s “Best Friend,” (which is not exactly working for me as a listening experience)  they also enlisted several friends to take part including Mudhoney’s Mark Arm joining them for The Scientists’ “Set It On Fire” and Neurosis’ Scott Kelly pitching in on a cover of Venom’s “Warhead” (which is excellent). While the release is billed as a proper Melvins’ album (featuring the line-up of Osborne, Dale Crover, Jared Warren and Coady Willis), there are a handful of songs recorded as the Melvins Lite incarnation of the band (Osborne, Crover and Trevor Dunn):  “Female Trouble” (Divine a.k.a. John Waters), “Timothy Leary Lives” (Pop-O-Pies) and “Romance By Tales of Terror” (Tales of Terror). Standout track is a version of Bowies’ “Station to Station” with JG Thirwell on guest vox.
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On to matters of a Sonic Attack podcast bent and a track from Belgian band Hessian from their Southern Lord debut “Manégarmr” has been made available. A rabid surge of energetic punk/metal-infused hardcore raging with a blistering solo and pummelling breakdown with a total by-the-throat approach, on par with acts like Ringworm and Southern Lord mates All Pigs Must Die, “Plague Monger” is it’s title and it’s embedded below for your consideration.

As usual Lauren’s promo on this is spot on “From the onset, the combined musical backgrounds of this quartet featuring members of Amenra and The Black Heart Rebellion, and part of the Church Of Ra sect fell effortlessly into place, pushing a sound that was at once pummeling, devouring and empowering across the rural fields where they started rehearsing. After a well received debut EP, a split 7″ with Amenra, a split LP with Pale Creation on Magic Bullet Records and countless shows throughout Europe, HESSIAN have found a new home with Southern Lord who will unleash the band’s debut album, “Manégarmr” on 13th May”.

Hessian
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The Trade are a 5 piece Rock band from the Angus/Tayside area…… http://www.the-trade.co.uk …..  and they have a new single out called “Fight Club” Taken from their debut album “Lie in the Dark” which was recorded at Chem19 Studios in Hamilton, home of Chemical Underground Records, by Jamie Savage.  The album was released in 2011 but the band have been biding their time to release any singles from it till the felt the ‘time was right for guitar music to hit back’. The band is made up of, Ross Milne (Vocals), Sean Hollowmind (Drums), Stevie Morris (Guitars), Liam Moir (Guitars) & Drew McLaren (Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals). Impressive sound and sufficiently unique as to require a dedicated listen – I especially liked Milne’s vocals.
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My chum Mr Christopher Dutton (Kill Pretty, Factory Star, Blue Orchids, Silver Sound Explosion)  who calls himself Carton Head for the purposes of his solo work, has uploaded a new track to Mixcloud, called “The Death Path Conundrum”, which is a lovely piece of ambient music. We are attempting to secure a copy from his dead lap-top for podcasting which seems appropriate given the title of the piece.
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Neurot Recordings have announced the  release of the debut from Arkansas southern rock collective Iron Tongue. Fronted by Chris “CT” Terry, the founding frontman of -sludge band Rwake,the band were  formed when a group of veteran players with diverse musical backgrounds found a common interest in the need to “get down and dirty and way, way gone.”  Churning a soulful blend of earthy, heavily amped, blues-based rock, the band offer up songs of pain, regret and heartache that recall everything from the proto-metal stomp of Blue Cheer and Grand Funk to the darkest hours of Kiss, Deep Purple, Buddy Guy and ‘Skynyrd.  A split 7” with The Dirty Streets, featuring a ballsy version of KISS’s “Two Timer” served as a precursor to the creation their debut full-length for Neurot.

Entitled “The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown”, the seven track offering was recorded and produced by  Billy Anderson (Melvins, Sleep, Neurosis, etc) at  guitarist Jason Tedford’s Wolfman Studios. Steve Von Till describes the album as “a solid slab of balls to the wall of shameless rock, with a power and an edge and soul that rarely exists in music today,”. The album is set for release via Neurot Recordings on May 27th in the UK. I’m hoping to get a promo copy before then.

Iron Tongue

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The promo on this next one says…..”Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of former North East favourites Cut Glass Accent, Digits deliver bold, proggy alt-rock that’s as intricate as it is heavy.  Writing, gigging and recording in their current guise since 2012, Digits are ready to release their debut EP, “Acquiesce to Violence”, a sonic sledgehammer of fists-in-the-air choruses and explosive rhythms. Beyond that, the plan is to keep spreading from their homebase in Newcastle. “We’re looking to get out on the festival circuit to spread our sound even further,” says vocalist Chris Bradley.”

I’ll be featuring two tracks on Sonic Attack this week. ” Acquiesce to Violence” will be released on 6th May 2013 via digital download. Pending that here’s a vid-chip.

May – in hindsight

It has just struck me that it is June 16th already and I have not commented on last months activities. This tardiness is down in no small part to a combination of a deluge of new music of somewhat biblical proportions, coupled with a rather nasty virus which laid me low for a week. Anyway enough of my moaning what can I say about May?

Well three major gigs dominated the month.

And it all kicked off rather magnificently with a stunning day as part of the Sounds from the Other City Festival at The Crescent. All of the bands were excellent and the general bonhomie and beers of that fine pub make for a great venue for live music. A pity there are not more venues of a similar size about.

Cramming five bands into nine hours seemed almost brave when first contemplated but the combination of an excellent sound man and Strongbow fueled coordination meant it all went well. Apparently there was a lot of ligging going in the beer garden which I missed. The only downside of the day was I missed both Charlie Barnes and Day for Airstrikes who clashed with some of the acts at the Crescent. The highlights are too many to list but The General not endorsing a brand lager as part of The Blimp set sticks in the memory as hoot of the day.

A couple of weeks later the five bands of SFTOC seemed a tad simple in comparison with the dozen at Mayfest. Islington Mill was the venue and a combination of high winds, mixed messages, and other distractions made for a fraught albeit but very successful day. Again all the bands were excellent and we managed (thanks to Michael from Neuron No) to capture some of the sets live which will be played on the radio over the coming months.  The Souls proved to be as excellent as they always promised to be and Positronik’s debut outing demonstrated a lot of potential. A lot of lessons were learned on the day both collectively and personally. Ambition is fine (and you’ve got to admire it) but stress is a killer and if and  when it is done again it will be less complex. There is also a developing new mathematical formula built around Murphy’s law which roughly indicates that 20% of bands you book for an event are likely to drop out due to any number of reasons – so always have a back-up plan. Many kudos to Frog in the Wall for lending us their PA on the day which made the acoustic stage work much better than we could have anticipated. The award of “Gig of the Week” in the Manchester Evening News was a great honour and we  have to publicly thank all the bands and SCR DJs, managers and board members who turned up on the day to assist.

And finally, a week later, – Salford Against the Cuts – another excellent evening at the Mill with five bands and a lot less stress this time. Musicallly a little more challenging with three of out of the five being unknown to me but a great set from Death of the Strange – the third of their gigs I had seen in as many weeks – and a powerhouse bravura performance from Trojan Horse. And not being directly engaged in coordinating stuff  I was able to enjoy the music.

On the wider music front, as indicated at the beginning, there has been a serious amount of new stuff coming in – a very quick canter reveals:

  • Doctrines – excellent debut EP with a fresh sound and a challenging approach to form and structure
  • Positronik – initial tracks released which demonstrate considerable promise
  • A very catchy single from The Tapestry
  • A marvellous ambient album from Ian Breen under the guise of “Claw the Thin Ice”
  • A great piece of psychedelia from “Salford Media City” a band operating out central Salford.
  • A very interesting EP from Belle Vue demonstrating a unique math take on pop.
  • A slight change in direction from Day for Airstrikes into film soundtracks which was most enjoyable.
  • Excellent new tunes from Trevor Sensitive and the Locals.
  • A raft of great new albums from Efrim Manuel Menuck, Bass Drum of Death,  The Cosmic Dead and Verma, and many others far too numerous to mention,
  • Finding new (to me) bands like The Smitten Ones, Entangled, and Lilies on Mars.

And if you thought that was busy then wait until the June overview comes around.

There was been some considerable (as yet unfinished) discussion and work to bring a broader spectrum of local music to more of the DJs on the station and I think the Mayfest event assisted in doing that but what is clear is that there are a raft of bands/singists out there in Salford that we have not yet uncovered yet.

What is also clear that we need to establish a more consistent broadcast radio platform for our local musicians as it is more than evident that self-promotions and sales would appear to be the way forward as the traditional music industry processes wither slowly and inexorably in the context of the digital age. This is the age of Bandcamp I would suggest!

So in the context of the above we are developing some ideas around mutual promotion of local music in the spirit of the community based approach of the station. However it is clear that the SCR community is becoming increasingly global with the approaches we are getting from musicians around the world. Some ideas around this will emerge in the next few weeks or so.

I also intend to put together some ideas/advice from upcoming bands about the best way of getting music to us for broadcast as the variety of approaches we get from people is mind-bogglingly varied – from the detailed and professional all the way down to the plain weird. I was extremely  dumbfounded to find that the university courses for musicians don’t appear to include advice and assistance on music promotion in  radio/internet  and , whilst it is a broad and moving and complex church, I do feel it would be helpful to give people some pointers – which will also make our lives easier in volunteer radio.

Album of the Year? Already…..!!???

Well the first quarter of the year is over and already I’m seriously conflicted about what is going to be making the top ten when December comes around…..there has been an embarrassment of riches to blast 2010 into oblivion and frankly there have been so many I have not had chance to blog on them all…so in an attempt to keep some sort of grip on my failing memory here is the top ten  roll of honour so far……they are in some sort of order of preference but that may change when the year has unfolded…..there are loads more to add to the list but frankly i’ve been otherwised engaged on other projects to get to them…….

  1. Factory Star – Enter Castle Perilous
  2. Kin – Flickering
  3. Fall Fan Dave and the Lap Top Dancers- Yelling Boil
  4. Danny Short – Love Has Gone
  5. The Love Load – The Human Resourceful
  6. Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion
  7. Grails – Deep Politics
  8. Van Der Graaf Generator – A Grounding In Numbers
  9. Across Tundras – Sage
  10. Magnus Ostrom – Thread of Life

On the EP side of things the choices get more stark and difficult with excellent releases from Doctrines, Mock Duck,  Crash of Rhinos, Elk, and Day for Airstrikes which just about scraped into April, and many more too numerous to mention. The variety across the ones listed here is amazing – a pity that there cannot be wider audiences for these excellent bands.

Similarly so on the single side of things with Mummy Short Arms, Belle Vue,  The Tapestry, Borland/From the Kites of San Quentin and others providing a wealth of new material which beats the crap out of anything that’s in the charts.

On the local scene Twinkle & Co continue to astound with their mix of 60s pop, psychedelia and modern Manc tones, and we wait with baited breath for the debut albums from Sandbox and Death to the Strange. Periscope and The Happy Fallen have delivered great work together and separately, and all of the bands on the Sways lable are excellent. I was particularly pleased to be able to focus on the excellent Superstar Destroyer lable and the Souls continue to amaze and astound with their great sound. Also great to see some new material from The Hired Help. Positronik have risen phoenix like from the ashes of Pearl Divers and the initial work shows great promise. Kudos also for Mancini Fires and Jealous.

Further afield I have been getting a lot of material in from South Wales, Australia, Canada, and America which is gratifying that our community station is able to reach world wide to music audiences and musicians.

The release that gave me the greatest joy this month though was the excellent Doctrines EP.

May will  be busy with three massive gigs at Sounds from the Other City, Mayfest and Salford Against the Cuts so I hope to be reporting back on them in due course.