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

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 75

Well chums there’s been an extremely eclectic mix of things in this week so without further ado lets look at some of the exciting new music coming your way….

Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records and artist-run cassette label Practical Records present Rachel Mason‘s new album ‘Das Ram’ LP on November 18th…

Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche release their second studio album “Pas pire pop, I Love You So Much on January 20, 2017″…

Keeping up my Antipodean musical obsession I was recently contacted about Fraudband. They are a duo from Melbourne with their own, rhythm based take on psychedelic-rock. They steer clear of the typical sounds within this genre by leaning on influences such as Sonic Youth, Dirty Three and The Birthday Party and they sound like this…

Berlin-based trio The History of Colour TV is back with new music, presenting ‘Wreck’, the first single from their forthcoming third album ‘Something Like Eternity’. You can stream the single here.

the-history-of-colour-tv-wreck-e1477489416289

Hiphop pioneers Dälek will be touring this month for a week of live shows, following on from the release of their 2016 comeback LP, Asphalt For Eden (Profound Lore), the first new record from the NYC trio since 2009. Ahead of these shows, they have released a brand new track, ‘Molten’, and the wind-tunnel production and furious wordsmith delivery that have become the group’s calling card have been amped up to reflect the song’s theme… dates are

22/11 – The Louisiana, Bristol
23/11 – Saint Lukes, Glasgow
24/11 – Chunk, Leeds
25/11 – Thomas House, Dublin
26/11 – Corsica Studios, London
27/11 – Islington Mill, Sunny Salford

The Comet is Coming have released a new single, “Final Eclipse”, which you can stream and purchase now via Bandcamp. It is the first new music from the three-piece since the release of their critically acclaimed, Mercury Prize-nominated LP Channel The Spirits, though the band had also shared some remixes since it’s release. They are playing Band on the Wall on December 11th.

Lawrence English, composer, artist and Room40 curator returns with a brand new record “Cruel Optimism” on  17th February 2017, here’s a taster….

Camilla George is set to release “Isang” on Ubuntu Music early next year. This will be her debut album – the MOBO nominated saxophonist, composer and teacher is already an established musician on the jazz circuit ….not sure if this track is on the album but I’m having to use this rather than the ones I’ve been sent as they are can’t be shared at this stage. What i’ve heard sounds excellent so watch out for this artist…

Dallas shoegazers Bloodhounds On My Trail have released a single ‘Places Like This’ and announced  their ‘Haunted Isles’ EP….

Southern Lord are  reviving the music of Philadelphia’s lost punk heroes, Ruin. Long considered a treasured local delicacy of the city’s earlier hardcore scene, Ruin released two albums during their original run, 1984’s He-Ho and 1986’s Fiat Lux, both of which will be combined for a vinyl release this December.  The LP will see release on December 9th and pre orders are now live via the Southern Lord store.

tthm_ruinlivewebversion
Photo Credit : Dan Long

Canada’s budding Label Obscura has announced that it will release a limited run vinyl reissue of ‘The Coastaline Fire’ LP – the final album by Ontario indie rockers Chore before they disbanded in the early 2000s. All tracks have been remastered for vinyl. It’s a damn fine album and is well worth checking out…

And finally, Friday 18th sees the release of the latest collaboration from Ian Moss and Andy Quayle as Moss Skellington. Following on from two well received singles the duo have now completed their first album “The Lump”. Characterised by Moff’s unique musical vision and Ian’s sharp polemic and biting wit with words, the album brings together two iconoclasts to create a unique musical vision. With subjects as diverse as posh food, murderers and sibling relationships the album provides a heady mix and includes the magnum opus the 17 minute “The Mouse Engine” which was premiered in Leeds earlier this year. The album was mixed by Space Museum who also contributed to the title track.

You’ll be able to download the album from midnight 18th November via Bandcamp

 

 

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 62

in And the summer rolls in with it’s misery inducing mix of ridiculous heat and torrential rain, there’s quite a lot going on but frankly I can’t be bothered getting out of my sweat soaked chair to attend. Instead a ramble through some of the better things that have been sent my way in recent weeks…..

A current obsession is The Drones (no not the ones from Manchester 1976 but the Australian current band). Their recentish album “Feelin’ Kinda Free” manages to do what a lot of people cannot seem to deliver these days which is sound like nothing else that’s prowling around the ether at the moment. The exciting thing (and it takes a lot to get me excited these days) is their unique use of guitars to create new sounds and the adoption of some interesting dance flavoured rhythms on the album. Their back catalogue is equally fascinating and is worth investigating.

From Atlanta, Georgia Gringo Star  (it took a while to sink in with me but the relevance of the name becomes more apparent when you hear the music) have just signed with Nevado Music and have a new album called “The Sides And In Between” out on August 26th.  Pending that they have a single out called ‘Rotten’ which according to the promo:

“presents Gringo Star’s love for nostalgic sounds of rock in the style of The Kinks. Sat between The Shins’ folky twang and Tame Impala’s generosity on the reverb, the melody beautifully shines through the raw psychedelic finish.”

My immediate reaction on seeing the vid was it felt like the The Beatles to some extent, it may have been the Rickenbackers that sparked that thought, or maybe there’s a bit of Yardbirds in there somewhere. The forthcoming album, which I haven’t heard yet, is described elsewhere as a the bands own version of British invasion rock with the sounds of The Animals, Tame Impala and Buddy Holly. I get The Animals reference.

On our record label we have the excellent Bouquet of Dead Crows from sunny Cambridge, and they can seen working as the backing band for Gavin Chappell- Bates who has a single out on the back of his recent album. It is the opening track from the album “Church of Rock and Roll”. Sadly I don’t have a video or a soundcloud at this point but search him out on You Tube and you will see what he is up to.

Alternative electronic producer Dean Garcia, the man behind seminal alternative rock band Curve and electronic dream pop duo SPC ECO, has joined forces with Preston Maddox of post-punk noise-rock band Bloody Knives in a new project, called S T F U. Their debut LP ‘What We Want’, planned for release on July 29, is all about unfolding hypnotic loops that gradually progress to uptempo electronics, trip-hop laden beats, lush noise entwined with shimmering synths, and Maddox’s hazy trance-like vocals. Dreamy with a shoegaze backbone this is epic stuff.

Vogue Dots are Canadian and deliver moody, layered pop styled music…..comparisons with Beth Orton have been made, which means nothing to me, but it sounds nice….

Two years after releasing ‘Best-Selling Dreams’ to wide acclaim around the world, Novanta will soon release his new album “Hello We’re Not Enemies” on Seashell Records. The first single from this release is ‘Goðafoss’. Novanta is Manfredi Lamartina, a musician who is originally from Palermo but has been based in Milan for many years now. On this album, Novanta further evolves his sound, falling effortlessly between shoegaze, post-rock and electronica. Sounds like relentless euro-pop to me…..

Those lovely people at Acid Cosmonaut Records have shared a preview from the second album from DSW.  I got a serious 70s flashback when I heard it, pretty heavy blues rock with a metal undercurrent. Lots of wah-wah going on here….!

Wolves In The Throne Room  re-release their 2006 debut album “Diadem Of 12 Stars” through their own Artemisia Records on 17th June. . Its raw analog sound in many ways pays homage to the band’s varied influences: the harsh black metal of Norwegians Ulver and Emperor or their American counterparts Weakling and Ludicra, the monolithic heaviness of Neurosis and Swans, the sorrowful Funeral Doom of My Dying Bride and in places, the mournful goth of Dead Can Dance.  Described by guitarist Nathan Weaver as the rawest and most “punk” of their five full-length releases Diadem Of 12 Stars was recorded live to tape in Oakland by Tim Green. Joined in the studio by Jamie Myers (Hammers Of Misfortune, Sabbath Assembly) and Dino Sommese (Asunder. Dystopia), every song was recorded in one or two takes and the album was mixed without the aid of a computer. Originally released on a small DIY label and unavailable physically for many years, this reissued version has been carefully remastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service. It’s intense stuff but worth the effort if you want a different take on the sub-genre.

After Ian Moss left Hamsters (Manchester)  in early 1981 the band continued with drummer Steve Middlehurst’s wife Tricia taking the vocalist position before she in turn left due to pregnancy . At this juncture , now down to a three piece, guitarist Bobby Williams became lead vocalist . Wayne Edwards found a studio in Middleton and the band was captured for posterity after explaining to the engineer they most definitely were not after a Wishbone Ash sound. Lo-fi, wonderfully cack-handed, and cocking a snook at the wider music world these three tracks are previously unreleased

 

 

 

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 60

I am somewhat distracted by the cricket season at the moment, and Lancashire are playing remarkably well in case you are the least bit interested, so matters music tend to get shoehorned into the odd 60 minutes or so I can scrape out of the day. There’s a busy week ahead with and Espen Eriksen gig on Thursday and Ed Blaney’s album launch on Friday, the latter being a handy five minute walk from this computer at the rather excellent chinese nosherie in sunny Eccles Town Centre. I’m expecting Ed’s album in the next day or so, and a review will follow hopefully before I attend the launch. There’s been a lot of good gigs on around here but I can’t do the cricket and the gigs or else nothing would get done. There is a huge backlog of things to listen to so i’ve loaded up the Nano so I can have a listen whilst sun-bathing (I wish) at Old Trafford.

So what have we got  for you this week?…….

British shoegaze pioneers Ride have been busy in the past year, including a massive tour, but the band’s frontman Mark Gardener has continued to support his side project Pure Phase Ensemble 4. Their album ‘Live at SpaceFest!’ is the first long-play, featuring Gardener in all his shoegaze space rock glory, to be released since the 1990s. Pure Phase Ensemble 4 ‘Live at SpaceFest!’ is currently available on Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify and the CD is also available on the Nasiono Records website.

Greek hardcore crew Sarabante share a track from their incoming second LP, Poisonous Legacy, which is released on Southern Lord this summer. Loud and scabrous stuff…

Bluesy psych trio Mother Upduff  from Vancouver have a new one out….nice jazzy vibe to this one…

This reminds me of something from the 80s, if only my fact soaked brain could remember what, nice chunky bass sound….they are Eau Rouge from Stuttgart…

Kranky will be releasing the alluring debut full length, Precious Systems, from New Orleans trio MJ Guider (led by Melissa Guion) on July 15th. An ambitious ambient-based record which is described as “subterranean pop and sunset electronics”, it floats between shoegaze and drone in a reverb soaked haze….

Groovy stuff from the peoples republic of Cambridge and better than the average so-called psych stuff floating around the music-web at the moment, there’s a a restless funky edge to it all which ticks several boxes at once…..they are called Psychic Lemon and I think you should listen to them….

Wigan power house trio Deepshade return with their raucous fusion of psyched up alternative/grunge rock with the announcement of their ‘Time’ video single release.
Forming in late 2013 they delivered their debut album ‘Everything Is Popular Is Wrong’ in early 2015. The band David Rybka (Vox/Guitar), Tom Doherty (Bass) and Paul Barlow (Drums).  Good stuff…..

Just in case you think i’m slipping here’s some Dave Graney to finish with this week. Dave is big jazz fan, and often “annoys” the listeners to his excellent RRR Radio Show “Banana Lounge Broadcasting” by peppering it with selected music from the genre. Here he further explores the funky jazz sounds which have regularly popped up during his career.  Elements of this track came from “I like To be Haunted” from the oustanding 2007  album We Wuz Curios, which I append below for comparison purposes. Dave says  “New arrangement , instruments and vocal. New song!”….. it’s a “mistLY” tune, for those of you keeping up with the multiple band names DG uses. I’m really liking this one track a month release schedule at the moment. It concentrates the mind.

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 55

A few thoughts to kick off with this time around……

I was reading some comments on Facebook by a semi-famous musician, from the 1980s,  about a specific genre of music, and how much he hated it, and I thought it was pretty mean spirited, he was particularly venomous in his condemnation. It struck me that there is enough intolerance in the world without getting worked up about music. I readily admit there are styles of music I don’t like, there are bands I don’t like, and there are bands where I maybe like one or two things from their catalogue but the rest leaves me cold. There’s an often used phrase in these circumstances “It’s all about opinion”, which for the most part I agree with, however, and this is the nature of social media these days, some numpty makes a nasty comment about something or another and then the rapid flame wolves (sounds like something from Game of Thrones) descend and the initial transgression expands into a full on hate war. This both dismays and annoys. This is why you will rarely see overtly negative comments in these perorations, I don’t see the point in trashing someones hard work and effort, where there is clear evidence that some time and money has been spent in putting music out there, there are exceptions of course, especially some of the more bland things that tend to get pushed by the music industry.

I get sent hundreds of things a week to listen to, and I always aim to write back to the submitter, whose music  hasn’t caught my attention, with my thoughts and an explanation as to why I will not feature it.  I always feel that a two way connection and conversation on these things is important. Sometimes I don’t get the time to respond,  mostly down to the sheer amount of material that comes my way, II know from experience that it is very frustrating to put music out there and get no response at all so I always try to make the effort.

Enough of my ramblings here are some good things that made the cut this week……

Andre Tajchman is a Belgian indie singer, musician, songwriter and producer based in London. This is his third single which has some very interesting and unique elements. Whilst his music embraces some recent trends there is some fascinating innovation here and it is well worth a listen.

Sinderins have a touch of Family about them. Indeed vocalist David Webster has a lot of Chappo in his stunning vocal acrobatics. I’m not normally a fan of the nu-uk-folk style but this is very good and sounds like late 60s/early 70s stuff. The band’s name is taken from a confluence of roads in their hometown of Dundee.

Previously featured nTTX has a new EP called “Objective”.  Of the two tracks I have heard it is very good indeed, combining a synth-pop feel with a harder EBM edge the results are impressive. Watch out for a track on the Aural Delights podcast in a couple of weeks.

And finally, I had the pleasure of attending an excellent gig last Saturday night at Dulcimer in Chorlton (South Manchester). Featuring Aidan Cross & Johann Kloos, Poppycock, Taser Puppets and West Coast Sick Line.  A packed upstairs room saw four excellent performances from the artists. Notable on the night were the incredible vocal harmonies from Poppycock who just get better and better, and the boundless energy of West Coast Sick Line, who topped off a great evening with a stunning set. I’ll have the pleasure of seeing Poppycock again this Thursday when they are performing at the Eagle Inn in Salford with Franco Bandini, and the legendary Mr Dave Graney.

Dusty and Chaimaine from West Coast Sick Line. photo courtesy of Mark Ridings
Dusty and Chaimaine from West Coast Sick Line. photo courtesy of Mark Ridings

Fascinating Things : Issue 51

Another ramble through the eclectic mixture of things that are sent my way. Amidst a mass of tedious clone music that some commentators are describing as the “big new thing” there are, once in a while. some nuggets that stand out…..

Oakland-based dark punk collective Alaric are set to release their new full length “End Of Mirrors” on May 6th, available on CD, vinyl and digitally via Neurot Recordings and on cassette via Sentient Ruin. Album closer “Angel” is presented below…..somehow it feels a bit like going back to the mid 80s but it has some spark which appeals.

The forthcoming collaboration between Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Bitchin Bajas is very interesting indeed and here is a fascinating video of a track from the album “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties”…..

Chelsea Wolfe has recently announced the release of the “Hypnos/Flame” 7 inch. It is available from April 1st via Sargent House, the tracks being  from her most recent album “Abyss”. Here is the video for the ethereal and delightful ‘Hypnos’.

Former Foxes front man Nigel Thomas has just released his solo album “Travelling Man” which is a good set of songs and to my mind improves on his previous work with the band. High quality English pop music is the best description, there’s a delightful charm about the set and I recommend it to you. An accompanying video for the track “Que Sera” employs the new 360 degree video technology, which is a bit of fun.

‘Rainmaker’ is the second single from Sarah Williams White’s debut album “Of The New World”. The South London born-and-bred singer and producer is part of the  musical community from her corner of the capital that includes the likes of Henry Wu, Mo Kolours and her brother Paul White. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Sarah cites influences including Jamie Liddell, Erykah Badu and PJ Harvey as well as more contemporary acts such as Jamie Woon and Thundercat. A nice jazzy soul thing which you can grab from the peoples republic of Bandcamp.

New Manchester band Ghosts Of Social Networks release debut AA single ‘Love Potion’ / ‘Mockingbirds’ through Integrity Records on 6th May 2016. They sound like the love child of Joy Division and Stone Roses with a smattering of the Jesus & Mary Chain. Can’t find out much about them on-line so I am as much in the dark as you are. Produced by the ubiqitous Gavin Monaghan  ‘Love Potion’ is a dark tale of unrequited love and the use of alcohol to get close to someone. In the most part I like it but it does tend towards the Bonoesque at the end which is a bit off-putting.

The “drum machine gospel” of the lovely Vienna Ditto will be back soon – place your pre-order at Bandcamp. The album is called “Ticks” and releases on May 13th, unfortunately there are no previews available at this point in time.

Mr Mouse and His Space Museum launch their first full length album on April 8th – it’s called “Flags” and finds the duo exploring new sonic avenues. It will be a digital download on German Shepherd Records. Here’s a taster….

 

 

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.
Like Rates
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 39

And so into 2016 by mopping up the rear end of 2015 and running through my top twenty albums of the year.

Theologian’s latest is 70 minutes of industrial noise, buried drum machines, layers of ambience, occasional spoken word, howling guitars and menacing intent. Those bought up on a diet of  early Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and Test Department will no doubt enjoy it. It’s a distracting enough listen to get me through a boring New Years Day afternoon with nowt good on the bad telly-v. Anyway it’s called “Dregs” and you can find it on Lee Bartow’s own Annihilvs Power Electronix label. With Bartow on this release are Daniel Suffering (Whorid, Slavernij) and Dave Brenner (Militia Men, Heidnik), together with vocal contributions from Gretchen Heinel, Faith Ciavarella, and additional percussion  by BJ Allen (Full Scale Riot). (to be featured on Aural Delights Podcast 163)

THEOLOGIAN-Devil's Night 2015-live2 [photo by Gretchen Heinel]
Photograph by Gretchen Heinel
Mark Corrin finished off his ambitious plan to release 12 EPs in 2015 with hours to spare. Number 11 is a remarkable trio of stark improvised pieces from a session in Istanbul.

He has saved the best to last with Number 12, a breezy, bright and compelling trio of electro-pop gems which demonstrate Mark’s more accessible side. A fantastic achievement across all 12 releases which demonstrate considerable variety, invention and quality.

A germ ridden Dr Kloos completes a busy year with a great live album from the Crescent in Salford. Containing some of his “greatest hits” the set, which was recorded on the 6th June 2015 by Jim Watts, is a great summary of Johann’s work to date.

I don’t know about a lot of this so-called “nu folk” stuff. Most of it leaves me pretty cold. This chaps voice has a quality and the lyrics are suitably interesting to grab my ear. He is Jamie Beau and this is the lead track from his debut album ‘Tales of the Earth, Tales of the Sea…’. I am reminded, to some degree, of John Martyn.

Richard J. Birkin, so called “sound artist, composer, live concert performer and creative technologist”, will release his  new 11-track album “Vigils” on March 11th 2016 via Reveal Records, which will be available in CD, LP and digital download formats. Here’s what he sounds like…

And to close my top twenty albums of 2015 starting with my best of the year…..

The Seven Twenty – The Seven Twenty

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit A Think And Sometimes I Just Think

The Holy Soul – Fortean Times

Alif – Aynama –Rtama

Monkeys In Love – Take The Biscuit (couldn’t find anything on You Tube from the album so here’s a classic)

Dave Graney & the mistLY – Play mistLY for me – live recordings vol 1

Moff Skellington – The Corkscrew Tongue

JD Meatyard – Taking The Asylum

Niche – Heading East

Flies On You – Etcetera

Heroin In Tahiti – Sun and Violence

Dilly Dally – Sore

Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek

The Lancashire Hustlers – What Made Him Run

Moff Skellington – Scribnalls

Robert Forster – Songs To Play

Dave Graney – Once I Loved The Torn Oceans Roar

Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain

The Masterbakers – Clouds Over Happy Town

 

 

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 32

Short, sharp and sweet this time around with a handful of excellent new things appearing at the end of the week. Most of these will be featured in podcasts over the next few weeks.

Next Friday sees the release of the debut album from Cambridge alternative rock band Bouquet of Dead Crows , don’t be put off by the name, they are not a doom/death etc metal outfit but instead a very melodic band, with a strong dynamic sound. Available as digital and CD, it can be pre-ordered now.

‘Chip Off The Heart’ is Rah Rah’s second single off their upcoming album ‘Vessels’. Superior pop stuff,

UK Tour dates are:

08.12. London – The Islington
09.12. Liverpool – Studio 2
10.12. Preston – The Ferret

Manchester’s finest agit-pop foursome Ill are back with wacky video and fine single. I was especially struck by the excellent “Slithering Lizards”

A staple in Los Angeles avant-garde culture for years, Anenon is the newest addition to the Friends of Friends roster.  Anenon’s ‘Camembert’ EP is out now and will be followed by a full-length in 2016. ‘Camembert’ sees a collision of free jazz, ambient, hip hop and techno, all tied together with a deft touch and an air of whimsy.

Dave Graney has a second volume of demos from the 1980s and 1990s out called “Once I Loved The Oceans Roar”.  With 17 tracks and over 70 minutes of music this is a real bargain. It’s great to hear the early version of  both solo Graney and Coral Snakes tunes. Especially good is an early version of the fascinating “Dandies Are Never Unbuttoned”. Highly recommended.

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Fascinating Things : Issue 30

Some meandering thoughts this time around….I do have a pile of new things to go through but I have been otherwise distracted on getting things sorted for the forthcoming Hamsters EP, which is rather good.  Not many pictures or sounds this week either but plenty of vague utterances……

I don’t know about you but I get confused by genres. I’ve mentioned this before of course, when I was moaning on about the incorrect labelling of MP3s. But if you take a wider look at things there is a propensity these days toward over-elaborate genre classification, Bands get tagged with multiple descriptors which vary between the common place and the obscure.  I struggle to put some bands into genre boxes, for example where would you put Dave Graney in terms of genres?  “Alternative” is such a wide catch-all that it completely fails to describe his wide body of work on any number of levels. “Lounge” merely touches on some aspects of what he does. “Rock” or “Rock ‘n’ Roll” is what he does sometimes, and occasionally a bit of “Jazz” sneaks in as does some “Blues” and “Soul” and “Country”.  So with one artist you could apply so many differing tags and still not get close to the essence of what the man does. The “Fearful Wiggings” album is a case in point, how the hell do you describe what he is doing on that release? It’s utterly unique, and Dave steadfastly refuses to be shoe-horned into any convenient box, good for him say I. So in attempting to catalogue the myriad of new music that comes my way I’ve given up with genre labels as all they do is confuse and annoy.

I was thinking of Dave Graney in the context of both his forthcoming Demos album, and in that context the city of Melbourne,  which seems to have a disproportionately large amount of excellent output coming from its’ music scene. Every week I seem to come across a fine band from the city, this week, courtesy of the always reliable Tony Thornborough, I was introduced to Empat Lima

Anyhow, back to this genre thing, and what sparked off the ramblings at the start of all this, I noted that the new EP from Rodney Cromwell was described as a  “futuristic feast of analogue synth disco”, and elsewhere in the same promo his last album “Age of Anxiety” was described as “the best new New Order album this year”. All of that is fair enough, other than the “futuristic” tag,  it’s more retro than futurist with clear nods towards Moroder arpeggios, Guy Called Gerald vocal samples, Hooky like bass lines and song structures that would not have been out of place on Factory in the mid to late-80s. Now I don’t know about you but I’m not a big nostalgia buff, I can’t see the point of tribute bands and I do like it when musicians try to strike out on their own and create a new sound,  so,  whilst I like listening to the Cromwell EP,  i’m also left with a slight niggle that maybe he could have tried pushing the envelope a little more, I love filter sweeps but perhaps someone could try and do something different with them? The remix of “Barry Was An Arms Dealer” on the EP is so very Kraftwerk morphing into OMD  that it would fit easily into either one of their albums. Mr Cromwell is obviously a very talented guy, and there is nothing offensive about this release but I hope he turns his talents to creating his own sound in future releases.

Now then, talking of creating your own sound I was mightily impressed by the new single from ex-Stereolabber Morgane Lhote who is operating under the pseudonym Hologram Teen for a two tracker released on Deep Distance on 9th November. Whilst there are clear electronica tropes (airy Kawai K1M choirs for example) there are also so fascinating new ideas mingling under a series of synth layers. The dreamy “Post Apocalyptic Teacakes” cleverly uses differing elements to  create a unique sound. The other track “Tracksuit Minotaur” is a little more obvious with a sort of heavy Kraftwerk vibe mingled with a Goldfrapp rhythm to give it a sort of Tom Ellard/Severed Heads feel. The vocoder repetition is a bit clunky but generally this cuts the mustard as something new to listen to.

Disappears  embark on a European tour during November and December. The tour will see the band perform at Utrecht’s Le Guess Who Festival, before travelling through Belgium, the UK, France, Switzerland and Italy. London fans will be in for a special treat as – for one night only – Disappears will perform David Bowie’s Low in its entirety at the 100 Club. This corresponds to their upcoming live release, their reinterpretation of this classic album,  on 20th November via Sonic Cathedral. You can find more information and pre-order links for this release over at the Sonic Cathedral website. The only other UK  date is in Manchester at the Soup Kitchen on 24th November. Always an excellent band and well worth seeing live I would suggest.

Explosive, unapologetic and infectious, Mickey 9s are four friends from Glasgow who have been playing together since their school days. They describe seeing Daft Punk’s Alive Tour as “a spiritual-like encounter” that inspired them to try to make dance music without synths. After much experimentation, the band found their sound and everything else soon fell into place, right down to the enigmatic image of their masked lead singer, known as St. Cool. Having always chosen the unconventional route, Mickey 9s launched themselves by releasing fun music videos and comic strips to accompany their music as well as organising secret gigs, raves, and all-day pop-up festivals. Word soon spread about their blistering live performances, leading to Mickey 9s winning the 2014 Scottish Alternative Music Award for Best Live Act. After two years of gigging and unorthodox releases, the time has come for them to launch their highly anticipated debut album ‘The Party Manifesto’. The second single to come from the album is ‘Computer Inventor’, a perfect introduction to Mickey 9s’ big basslines, four to the floor pounding drums, cool riffs and intelligent, sharp vocals.

The Sneaky Nixons describe themselves as an angry, semi-political, semi-religious, part-feminist sloppy activist group who play riotous, steam-train guitar music. They have declared war on electronic dance music, guns, promoters, and non-believers of their Rock-n-Roll terrorism. Flashy, arrogant and with a startling superiority complex , the band say they have no time whatsoever for humdrum normality, preferring the out of control, dangerous and volatile, in order to live their lives in a brutal, riotous and rock-n-roll fashion. The Sneaky Nixons’ ‘Sex’ is taken from the forthcoming eponymous compliation album from Across the Ocean Waves Productions, which features the most exciting bands active on Liverpool’s vibrant music scene. All the tracks on the album have been produced by label owner Carlo Variola .

After a fast-paced year touring the UK and Europe, Hull (UK) based Counting Coins are to release ‘All That I Need’ as the second single from their forthcoming self-titled album on the 23rd of November.
The previous single ‘Don’t Look Down’ received airplay both in Europe and the U.S, with rave reviews from a range of music magazines and blogs. Follow-up ‘All That I Need’ is an infectiously upbeat ska/punk song with a bouncy feel and singalong chorus. It will be available across a global range of digital platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer. Counting Coins are set to continue spreading their music with their forthcoming European tour in late October followed by further UK dates being booked in for 2015 and into 2016.

….and that’s your lot for this week