Yes it’s that time again……and with it being a very busy year I thought i’d better prepare the long-list early on…..so in no particular order the candidates for this years “Best Of…..” not jazz albums… I’ll whittle it down to a top ten in due course, and I may well include some other ones I have missed and some things in the pipeline which look like they make the list.
There are a couple of very strong front-runners at the moment and after that it all gets a bit difficult…………
The Seven Twenty – The Seven Twenty
Niche – Heading East
Heroin In Tahiti – Sun and Violence
Dilly Dally – Sore
The Holy Soul – Fortean Times
Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek
The Lancashire Hustlers – What Made Him Run
Moff Skellington – Scribnalls
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Think
Robert Forster – Songs To Play
Bouquet of Dead Crows – Of The Night
Dave Graney – Once I Loved The Oceans Roar
Monkeys In Love – Take The Biscuit
Corrections House – Know How To Carry A Wip
Esmerine – Lost Voices
Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain
Moff Skellington – The Corkscrew Tongue
Liberez – All Tense Now Lax
Vienna Ditto – Circle
JD Meatyard – Taking The Asylum
Ken Mode – Success
Dead to Dying World – Litany
Myrkur – M
The Creeping Ivies – Your New Favourite Garage Band
Ought – Sun Coming Down
Big Brave – Au De La
The Happy Fallen – Lost and Found
Cryin’ Queerwolf – Diva
Alif – Aynama -Rtama
Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes – Night of the Wolverine (Expanded)
ZX+ Don’t Drink The Water
Author & Punisher -Melk En Honing
Dave Graney & the mistLY – Play mistLY for me – live recordings vol 1
Flies On You – Etcetera
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
The Go-Betweens – G stands for Go-Betweens : Volume One 1978-1984 (yes I know it’s a box set but it’s too good to ignore)
This time around a pulling together of things that have been nestling in my in-box:
Since being championed by John Peel way back in 1986, The James Taylor Quartet have set the standard for the coolest sounds in funky acid jazz. On dozens of mighty albums and at their legendary gigs at home and around the world, they’ve become a byword for distinguished British creativity. The internationally-acclaimed titans of funk will work through their considerable back catalogue as well as showcasing new material. Renowned for their live performances, this will be a treat. Band of the Wall. Manchester 17th October, 19:30
Whomadewho drummer Tomas Barfod’s returns to the Friends of Friends label with Glory, featuring friends new and old and a sound bristling with youthful energy and slightly off-kilter dance floor rhythms. Kill J, Fine and Nina K feature as the record bounces from shimmering Scandinavian pop to dance floor numbers. A follow up to Barfod’s breakout ‘Salton Sea’ LP (FoF 2012 it releases on 16th November 2015.
Know How To Carry A Whip is the imminent new studio release from , Corrections House. A nine-track, forty-five-minute record it was captured by the band’s own Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea) alongside “recently institutionalized minister of propaganda”, Seward Fairbury, in a subterranean bunker complex in Vietnam.
Deeper, darker, and far more fluid than 2013’s excellent Last City Zero debut, Know How To Carry A Whip featurwa a guest appearance by Negative Soldier. The record finds Corrections House — Parker, Fairbury, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod) — at their most intense. Releases 23rd October on Neurot.
Pseudo/Sentai‘s Bansheeface is clearly the work of deranged individuals. Coming across like a mix of The Residents, Todd Rundgren and Gentle Giant working on the soundtrack to a Troma movie. There’s also nod towards The Mars Volta and Zappa in terms of structure, dynamics and bombast but generally speaking this is unique and very refreshing and the comparisons are merely reference points. The best current comparison is my near neighbours Trojan Horse. It is released on 16th October independently. Check out the pre-order and while you are at it have a rummage through their back catalogue. So nice to hear a band that sounds completely unlike any of their contemporaries.
Talking of deranged the completely unhinged Die Choking have a new one out on 8th October. Eleven tracks in thirteen minutes sort of gives a clue as to what to expect. You get elements of hardcore punk and crust with speed/grind metal. Impossibly fast and completely up and in your face. It is called III which is not unexpected as it is their third release.
A couple of digital charity singles from those busy chaps at German Shepherd records. The first Socialists (are back) is in aid of he MSF Yemen Emergency Fund, the second The Unforgiving Streets will help local homeless charities. A couple of pungent Electro Punk ditties which are most suitable for leaping around to.
Ought are back with their second full-length album Sun Coming Down, following a very successful first year for the Montréal based quartet that saw its 2014 debut More Than Any Other Day make well-deserved waves for its blend of no wave jangly post punk and no-nonsense jittery rhythmic approach. WIth a “Best New Music” nod from Pitchfork and appearances on a wide range of year-end lists they gained a serious amount of critical acclaim.
Having spent most of 2014 on the road pleasing audiences with a blend of post-punk and the feverishly observational testifying of singer/guitarist Tim Darcy (who officially changed his name from Tim Beeler this year), Ought spent the first few months of 2015 writing, playing the occasional local gig, and eventually heading back to the Hotel2Tango recording studio in the spring to lay down a batch of fresh tunes.
Sun Coming Down keeps the band’s tight, twitchy and economical sound, with the unfussy, understated rhythm section of drummer Tim Keen and bassist Ben Stidworthy anchoring Tim Darcy’s electric guitar and Matt May’s fuzzed-out keys .
Opener “Men for Miles” adopts a feverish/frenetic approach mirroring the amphetamine rush of early 80s Fall and sets the scene for the rest of the platter. “Passionate Turn” marries early a moody VU feel with arty ’77 Talking Heads changes, and Verlaine insouciance. Darcy is on fine form throughout with a bitter-sweet feel to his vocals. “The Combo” hits you with an unrelenting wall of sound moving from a rolling guitar thrash to a purposeful two chord shift, and then a tasty little riff section, I’m minded of the unrelenting scabrousness of Slates mixed with Bunnymen melodies. Darcy declaims like a good ‘un and it’s all very satisfying,
The title track continues the mood with edge of madness guitars thrashing over a rhythmic wash, both repetitive and dynamic there is a hypnotic quality to this music which is instantly compelling, and there are enough changes in form and structure to make it stand out against any contemporaries.
Songs like ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ with a more-ish bass riff, and ‘Never Better’ build from simple beginnings into huge repeating waves of music and vocals. Darcy’s voice and lyrics continue to make the key difference between the band and the rest of the known universe: his blend of seemingly detached irony, insistent proselytizing , fragmented wordplay, and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall, mirror and improve on a Smith, a Bramah or a Byrne at the height of their powers.
Sun Coming Down confirms the distinctive qualities of this band and they pass the second album test with no problems.
Another one from the forthcoming second Ought album, “Sun Coming Down”, which is out on Constellation on September 18th.
Forthcoming UK dates are:
01.09.15 London – Village Underground
02.09.15 Manchester – The Deaf Institute
03.09.15 Birmingham – Hare and Hounds
04.09.15 Dorset – End of the Road Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens
Space are back with a new single ‘Strange World’. The band will also embark on an extensive UK tour of the same name throughout October and November 2015. ‘Strange World’ combines Space’s signature sound with a Mariachi vibe, creating a record that could serve as the soundtrack to a David Lynch film. This is Space at their finest, a record set to delight their army of fans as well as winning many more.
The new single from London-based Silver Shields, who are upholding the Shoegaze tradition, is called “I Wonder If You’re Thinking Of Me Now”. Release date is 21st August 2015.
If melodically charged garage rock is to be the soundtrack to your summer, then UK trio Monster Jaw have an offer that may fulfil your needs. The British rock act are offering their full EP releases from 2013 – 2015 as completely free downloads until the 1st September 2015. This includes all their EP releases to date – ‘Get A Tattoo’, ‘Losing All My Friends’ and their recent lo-fi and self-produced ‘Basement Sessions’.
Fascinating ambient sounds and off kilter rhythmic constructions from the ever busy Mark Corrin on his latest in a series of EPs. Dreamy but also slightly disturbing.
Songwriter Hannah Curwood originates from the stark, remote region of Central Otago in New Zealand. Now based in London, Hannah in the Wars is the result of working alongside Roger O’Donnell of The Cure and a handpicked group of musicians.
Hannah in the Wars‘ eponymous debut album, released earlier this year, is a collection of beautifully written melodies and emotionally engaging narratives, taking inspiration from life’s trials and triumphs and perfectly showcasing Curwood’s distinctive and powerful vocals.
Both ‘Only Wanna Be’ and B-side ‘Sweet Release’, lifted from the critically acclaimed album, were written following the breakdown of a relationship and Curwood’s decision to move half way around the world to start afresh. Of the songs, she says their creation came easily and, despite the subject matter, they have come to occupy a positive space in her mind, particularly after seeing them so well received by audiences on her recent two month tour across the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Berlin.
The new Locrian album sounds like it is rather fine indeed if this preview track is anything to go by – what a great racket!
More big and long notes from Hope Drone from the album “Cloak of Ash” sounds like God Speed You Black Emperor on industrial grade steroids.
Pureland is Silverbird‘s debut album and is released on September 18th 2015. Songwriter Tim Barr founded Silverbird after spending several years on New York’s vibrant music scene playing gigs as part of Lana Del Rey’s band, opening for The Blow, and studying and playing with Dizzy Gillespie’s pianist protegee Mike Longo.
Barr and English producer Kristopher Harris recorded Silverbird’s debut EP ‘Surface Life’, released in May 2014 to critical acclaim. Joined by Corey Davis on bass, Dan Whaley on lead guitar and Jacob Schuab on drums, Silverbird were soon selling out venues across NYC. With influences as diverse as Wilco, Heartless Bastards, and Sparklehorse, their music strides fearlessly through an ever changing emotional landscape. Infectious melodies and swirling, intricate rhythms combine to provide an absolutely enchanting soundscape.
A remarkably fine album.
Swirling, dreamy pop hooks accentuated with the haunting sounds of a Farfisa organ cloak the sombre and sardonic musings of former Fuck Knights guitarist and Nightinghales front man Ben Bachman in his new project, High Tiny Hairs.
This EP lays bare and showcases Bachman’s stylistic influences, the likes of Alex Chilton, Brian Eno and Syd Barrett, with a short set of self-produced releases.
The songs, bouncing between sixties Baroque pop and the new psychedelic movement of the early eighties, are mesmerisingly elegant and poetically dark, yet quirky, and romantic. The Minneapolis based singer/songwriter evokes a hazy, late night tête-à-tête with his ghosts.
Kowloon Walled City will release their long-awaited new full-length this Autumn. Grievances, their third album and first for Neurot Recordings, finds the San Francisco band at its artistic peak, having moved even further away from its sludgy, post-hardcore origins and toward a more sparse, more melancholic detuned heaviness.
“We dug into this expansive, less distorted vibe. The songs are mostly slow and bummed out but we still want them to push, to have energy,” said vocalist/guitarist Scott Evans.
Evans, together with guitarist Jon Howell, bassist Ian Miller, and drummer Jeff Fagundes spent over two years working on the seven songs for Grievances. The intense editing process weeded out about two albums’ worth of songs. Howell’s unusual chord changes and discordant aesthetic channel Unwound and Slint. Miller’s gritty bass adds a surprising layer of depth and melody, while Fagundes’ drums resonate in what sounds like an impossibly large room. Evans’ shouted vocals are raw with frustration and disappointment, but without the typical veneer of macho aggression.
Kowloon Walled Cityformed in 2007 and has released an EP, Turk Street (Wordclock, 2008), and two full-length albums, Gambling On The Richter Scale (Perpetual Motion Machine, 2009) and Container Ships (Brutal Panda, 2012), as well as two splits. Among the bands it has shared stages with are Neurosis, Tragedy, Sleep, Thou, Coliseum, Zozobra, Fight Amp, Roomrunner, The Body, and Helms Alee.
Grievances will be released worldwide on October 9th, 2015 on Neurot Recordings, with vinyl on Gilead Media. Preorders to be announced in the coming weeks.
Le Butcherettes are giving fans an early preview of the music from the trio’s previously mentioned forthcoming album, A Raw Youth (released Sept. 18, via Ipecac Recordings), with a stream of the delightfully titled “They Fuck You Over”….
Brisbane shoegaze duo Forevr (sic) has released their debut EP after recording it in April of this year. The duo is Donovan Miller (No Anchor, Roku Music) and Sam George-Allen (Mega Ogre, Low Season).
‘Demonstration’ is their first recorded material. The four-track EP was recorded live at Tym Guitars in Brisbane, using programmed drums, dense synthesiser and cavernous, shimmering guitar. They wanted to make loud, beautiful music. ‘Demonstration’ is what happened.
Channelling the lush textures of My Bloody Valentine and the romance of the Cocteau Twins, FOREVR have adopted an electronic foundation – drum machines, audio sampling and synth bass – that places them at the forefront of modern shoegaze. ‘Demonstration’ has received praise from music press in Australia and abroad, including Triple J and international radio stations Primal Radio and DKFM. Triple J’s Nat Tencic calls their music “perfect shoegaze” and Primal Radio describes their sound as “sinister decadence”.
‘Demonstration’ is evocative, textural, beautiful and best played loud. The EP is available as a name-your-price download and on black CD, and has just been released as a limited edition gold cassette tape (for mailout this week). A full length album is currently in production.
Ought have announced a new album on Constellation which is released 18 September 2015 and is called ‘Sun Coming Down’. Here is a preview track. Sounds as good as the last one:
Helen is a pop group from Oregon. Liz Harris (vocals/lead guitar), Jed Bindeman (drums/tambourine), Scott Simmons (bass/guitar), and Helen (back up vocals).
Originally started with the intention of being a thrash band, it turned into something else entirely. The Original Faces was recorded over a period of several years in Portland by the band members, their friends Nick, Chris and, largely, Justin Higgins. The record was written together, with some songs based on Liz and Scottʼs demos.
You can hear the first excerpt from the record, which will be released 4th September via kranky, below.
I reviewed the new album from Liberez a couple of weeks back they have uploaded a video of the excellent “419 Chop Your $” from it recently. Release date is 24th July.
IIVII is the new solo project by visual artist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, Josh Graham. Founding member of Red Sparowes and Battle Of Mice, Graham currently plays in A Storm Of Light, and has made appearances with Jarboe, Blood And Time, Tombs, Syndrome, Fallen Black Deer, and Tribes Of Neurot.
On IIVII’s debut “Colony”, Graham focuses on sonically engulfing and moody soundscapes, layered with a science-fiction edge. This approach has allowed Graham to expand upon his sonic body of work and traverse new electronic territory, focusing on the subtle orchestration and manipulation of dense sonic atmospheres.
Depicting a derelict space colony in view of Saturn, the artwork was also completed by Graham, who currently serves as art director to Soundgarden, and has also worked with many bands including, Neurosis, Jesu, Shrinebuilder, Sleep, Vattnet Viskar, and ISIS.
Live shows will fuse guitar, analogue and digital keyboards, cassette loops, and more. Select live performances also welcome multi-instrumentalist Will Lindsay to the mix. Lindsay is a longtime collaborator in A Storm of Light, and his resume includes Indian, Wolves In The Throne Room, Bloodyminded, Lord Mantis, Anatomy Of Habit and more.
“GODHUNTER vs. DESTROYER OF LIGHT: Endsville” presents a collection of brand new end-time material from both acts. Additionally, the bands will collaborate on a major widespread tour together, which will see them both playing the East Coast US for the first time.
The release includes twenty minutes of new material and a cover track from each band. Tucson/Vancouver based sludge band, Godhunter, captured the tunes for their platter at WaveLab Studios in Tucson by Dana Fehr (North, Juarez), the newest in a steady line of titles since their 2014-released debut LP, City Of Dust, including their GH/OST:S split LP with Secrets Of The Sky and The Outer Dark collaborative 7” with Amigo The Devil.
The parallel release by Austin-based psychedelic doom outfit, Destroyer of Light, follows the band’s 2012-released self-titled debut album and 2014’s Bizarre Tales Vol. II EP, recorded at Orb Recording Studios in Austin, engineered and mixed by Matt Meli. The entire album was then mastered by James Plotkin.
The two 12” EPs will be united in a gatefold setup on two different colors of vinyl, in addition to a digital release, the cover artwork to feature custom sculpture art by Bestia Dentro and photography by Andrew Weiss. Endsville will see a collaborative release via Battleground Records and Heavy Friends Records on July 28th.
A more than acceptable week of new music over the last seven days with some exceptional albums coming in for evaluation and podcasting. Some of these have been trailed in an earlier post……
First up the latest from Earth “Primitive and Deadly” which is released on September 1st on Southern Lord. Carlson has gone back to his early work for this one – a blistering set of rock oriented tunes which are dynamic, epic and packing a guitar driven punch that few can match. Add guest vocals from Mark Laneghan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) and you have something special indeed. As much as Carlson’s guitar has always been the focal point of Earth’s music, it’s been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and Adrienne Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn 0))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) & Jodie Cox (Narrows). Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich & enveloping, “Primitive and Deadly” is Earth reaffirming their position as leaders in guitar based music.
It’s safe to call Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche a bit of a Montreal supergroup, its members having been active in the city’s experimental rock communities for well over a decade, including participation in Panopticon Eyelids, Pas Chic Chic,Red Mass, Set Fire to Flames, and, from the Constellation roster, Fly Pan Am. Avec le soleil has solidified over the past year into a tight four-piece unit, and moved towards mastery of a highly original, deeply satisfying, giddy and heady mix of prog, post-rock, math-rock and funk The pair of 20-minute pieces featured on the album “Zubberdust!” is the culmination of the group’s first two years of development. (The pieces are subdivided into sections for CD and digital track IDs.) This is (mostly) instrumental rock that blends a primitivist repetition with organic ever-shifting electronic overlays – along with the occasional full-stop and 180 degree turn. JS Truchy’s wordless lead vocals (and his choral arrangement on “Face à l’instant”) add compelling textural and melodic counterpoints while lending the music an especially timeless feel. Pretty hard to fit this in a specific genre basket given the variety of things going on but overall a damn fine album which might have a slight touch of Zeuhl about it. It’s released on Constellation on 29th September.
As trailed a couple of weeks back Last Ex is the new instrumental rock ensemble led by Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield. In addition to duties in various groups orbiting Fairfield’s E-Tron Records (including H. de Heutz, Ferriswheel and many others), the two are perhaps best known as core members of Timber Timbre, which spawned the Last Ex project. When Timber Timbre’s ambient music for a horror film went unused back in 2012, Trottier and Fairfield began revisiting the sound palette they had built up for the soundtrack at Fairfield’s studio in Hull, expanding on their techniques and textures, adding drums, bass and various other instruments. The duo found that they had dug into some very fertile territory, writing additional songs throughout 2013 and bringing their obsessions with sound collage, tape-based music concrète and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to bear on the cinematic lyricism of the initial widescreen guitar- and string-based material. Derived from the title of the abandoned film, Simon and Olivier dubbed their new project Last Ex. With its combination of assured lyricism, cinematic guitars, dusky analog atmospherics and taut percussion, this is a vivid, concise and expressive instrumental album that sits snugly between fellow label acts Do Make Say Think and Exhaust on the one hand, Hrsta, Tindersticks and Evangelista on the other. The self-titled album is released on Constellation on 13th October and makes for a fascinating listen.
Montreal four-piece post-punk group Ought has been gathering momentum the old-fashioned way, with a humble and deceptively unassuming debut album (as reviewed here) that’s been worming its way into many many ears thanks to its combination of intelligence, authenticity, directness, simplicity and energy. Constellation are releasing a vinyl- and digital-only EP “Once More With Feeling” which corrals a couple of selections from the band’s older songbook, re-recorded this Spring at Hotel2Tango to reflect some of the ways they’ve grown and evolved over the past year or so. It’s a very fine set of tunes that highlights and brings fans up to date with Ought’s first two years of songwriting, revealing additional facets of the band, including its ability to play with nostalgia and balladry (“Pill”), feverish Iggy Stooge like revival-tent testifying (“New Calm Pt. 2”), and improv/abstraction (“New Calm Pt. 3”). Out on 27th October from Constellation and highly recommended by the Eccles judge.
This September, two years after the remarkable “Atma”, doom trio powerhouse YOB release “Clearing The Path To Ascend”, an aptly titled album for what is a crowning achievement for a band whose journey now nears two decades of creating music. As commanding as it is cathartic, as is the YOB way, the four tracks on this album don’t simply offer the usual riff-soaked doom genre. YOB break barriers, clearing the way for genuinely visceral listening experience. There are some clear influences such as Cathedral, Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Black Sabbath – however they have distilled this into their own sound with threads of progressive rock and drone melding in with the heavy rock elements. With a ferocity that’s as completely unhinged as it is utterly focused this is a remarkable hour and two minutes of music . Drummer Travis Foster wields his signature rhythmic furore while bassist Aaron Rieseberg, provides unforgiving pulse – all the while in a impressive synchronicity with Mike Scheidt’s uncanny vocal range and signature guitar sound. Released on Neurot on September 1st.
The Melvins return with “Hold It In” (Ipecac) , their first studio album as a quartet since 2010’s “The Bride Screams Murder”, on October 14th. Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song outing are Butthole Surfers‘ guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. Hold It In was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year. “Hold It In is a refreshing piece of fiction in a boring world of fact and bullsh*t,” said Osborne. “Paul is one of the best guitar players I have ever heard and Pinkus has an outside the box type of approach to both guitar and bass that you just have to let it ride. I can’t believe this actually happened. I’m thrilled.” “It’s very rare you get a chance to work with three folks from the ‘Break A Wish’ foundation, all at the same time,” said Pinkus. “I believe they’ll remember their experience with me forever (or until they finally all lose their fight with S.I.D.S).”
Here’s a preview
Torch Runner are back in no time with news of their forthcoming LP, titled “Endless Nothing”. On it, the North Carolina trio set off rabid grind, repellent metallic clout and hardline vocal harangue in an uncontrolled explosion, which will attract lovers of bands like Napalm Death, Converge and Nails. It is due for a 29th September release, available as CD and limited edition vinyl formats on Southern Lord. Here is an example of what you will get:
Other highly recommended releases coming soon, or indeed out now:
There has been a lot happening in the last seven days so here is a quick bullet point round-up of some of the news which has been brought to my attention:
Monster Island have a new album – their fifth – called “House of Lancaster” out on Monday 25th August – which is excellent news for lovers of their particularly fascinating approach to music
Mr Heart have got a new bassist to replace Sophie Lord – she is Amy Spray – and they have a gig in Bolton on 30th August at the Blind Tiger with Coroner for the Police
German Shepherd records have a new EP out by a band called Scratchings, No Gravy – it’s called “Eccles Cross Breakdown” and you can get it here. The next releases on the label will be a new EP from Modal Roberts and the re-release of the excellent album from The Bacillus called “I Can’t Adapt To This Prison You Call Society”
In further German Shepherd news the label is co-curating a gig with Louder Than War signings Kill Pretty at Dulcimer, Chorlton, Manchester on 12th and 19th September. Kill Pretty headline both nights and have special guests – West Coast Sick Line, Indian Pale Male and Poppycock on the 12th, and 2 Koi Karp, Andy T plus As Able As Kane on the 19th. Advance tickets are available with a booking fee from here. All of those purchasing advance tickets will get a free set of Kill Pretty badges when they arrive at the gig!
Earth‘s brand new full-length studio LP, Primitive And Deadly, the album shall be released in less than two weeks through Southern Lord. With founding guitarist Dylan Carlson weaving his slow-motion, organic dirges throughout the amazingly restrained percussion of his longtime cohort Adrienne Davies, the duo are here joined by bassist Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and additional guitarists Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Rabia Shaheen Qazi of Rose Windows lends her angelic voice to the album’s third composition, “From The Zodiacal Light,” as heard in recent weeks, while the fifth track, “Rooks Across The Gate” and second track, “There Is a Serpent Coming,” feature evocative vocal contributions from Mark Lanegan previously of Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age, Mad Season and more. The lyrics for “Rooks…” were written by Dylan Carlson and the lyrics for “Serpent..” by Lanegan.
Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche is a bit of a Montreal supergroup, its members having been active in this city’s experimental rock communities for well over a decade, including participation in Panopticon Eyelids, Pas Chic Chic, Red Mass, Set Fire to Flames, and, from the Constellation roster, Fly Pan Am. Avec le soleil has solidified over the past year into a tight four-piece unit, and moved towards mastery of a highly original, deeply satisfying, giddy and heady avant-funk. They have an album out on Constellation on 29th September. Looks interesting from the notes I have seen.
Last Ex is the new instrumental rock ensemble led by Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield, both longtime fixtures of experimental/punk scenes rooted in the cross-province hub of Hull/Ottawa (straddling the border of Quebec and Ontario, respectively). In addition to duties in various groups orbiting Fairfield’s E-Tron Records (including H. de Heutz, Ferriswheel and many others), the two are perhaps best known as core members of haunted blues-folk ensemble Timber Timbre, which spawned the Last Ex project. When Timber Timbre’s ambient music for a horror film went unused back in 2012, Trottier and Fairfield began revisiting the sound palette they had built up for the soundtrack at Fairfield’s studio in Hull, expanding on their techniques and textures, adding drums, bass and various other instruments. The duo found that they had dug into some very fertile territory, writing additional songs throughout 2013 and bringing their obsessions with sound collage, tape-based music concrète and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to bear on the cinematic lyricism of the initial widescreen guitar- and string-based material. Derived from the title of the abandoned film, Simon and Olivier dubbed their new project Last Ex. It is released on Constellation on 13th October.
Montreal four-piece post-punk group Ought has been gathering momentum the old-fashioned way, with a humble and deceptively unassuming debut album that’s been worming its way into many many ears thanks to its combination of intelligence, authenticity, directness, simplicity and energy; and with live performances in which it is reported that the band’s channeling of genuine passion, politics and charisma are consistently connecting with and exuberantly galvanizing audiences. While they continue their relentless touring across North America and Europe this Autumn, Constellation will be releasing a vinyl- and digital-only EP which corrals a couple of selections from the band’s older songbook, re-recorded this Spring at Hotel2Tango to reflect some of the ways they’ve grown and evolved over the past year or so. Ought will be doing a full UK tour in November. The EP is called “Once More With Feeling” and is released on 27th October.
A rather fine evening (Saturday 28th June) at the Bank Top Tavern in Oldham with a stunning set from Factory Acts, and an admittedly ramshackle but rather joyous affair from Kill Pretty rounded off a busy week musical. Bank Top Tavern is a good venue, and there was a good crowd, many plaudits to Jeff Grainger for organising the whole thing. Highly recommended as a place to watch live music.
Talking of live music there are a pile of gigs coming up if you like the sort of stuff I play on my Podcasts……
Yob and Pallbearer are embarking on a tour of titanic proportions this September, both performing in support of their respective new albums. The tour date confirmed for the Greater Mancunia area is Friday, September 05, at The Roadhouse. They are at the Brudenall in Leeds on the 7th if you cannot make the Manchester date. For Pallbearer, who recently announced the arrival of their much anticipated new full length Foundations Of Burden (to be released on Profound Lore in August), this marks their first full European tour. The band have said that they are “beyond thrilled” to announce these dates opening for the mighty Yob. Supporting their monumental new album, Clearing The Path To Ascend (which Neurot Recordings are releasing in September) Yob are excited to be returning to the UK and Europe, and both bands couldn’t have picked a better time to share their new material.
Ought have confirmed a tour with dates in the UK and Ireland this November, this follows the recent news of their two upcoming summer festival appearances at ATP’s Jabberwocky and Green Man. Given the praise for their recently released and thrilling debut album, More Than Any Other Day (Constellation Records), this promises to be a great run of shows. They are playing Sound Control, Manchester on November 18th.
Angry Scousers Corrupt Moral Alter have their debut full length “Mechanical Tides” out on July18th via Season of Mist – they have a string of dates coming up, none of which in the Manchester area – nearest options are 23rd July Maguires, Liverpool and 24th July Packhorse, Leeds. The album is described as a mixture of sludge and punk – looking forward to getting an advance copy to share with you via podcast.
Late this Summer, Southern Lord will release all of the material from late 1980s Seattle hardcore band, Brotherhood, collecting the influential act’s demos and 7″ releases in one remastered, cohesive anthology entitled Till Death. Brotherhood was formed during the West Coast Hardcore surge in the same days of Insted, Bl’ast, Chain Of Strength and Uniform Choice, the members all bred in the Northwest on The Accused, Poison Idea, The Melvins, and with East Coast threads born of SSD, DYS, Corrosion Of Conformity and Straight Ahead all comparatively woven into their sound. A straightedge hardcore band that confronted racism, sexism and intolerance, both in their lyrical delivery and on stage with ill-mannered show attendees, Brotherhood was a rare band of this scene as they were accepted in all of the subgenres of punk rock and hardcore, even receiving praise in the — at the time — very anti-straightedge publication MaximumRockNRoll, as they did in the many adamant straight edge fanzines of the time. This near universal acceptance can be clearly be attributed to the many years each member of the band had spent previous to Brotherhood in bands, publishing fanzines, booking shows and promoting bands as well as their strong desire to buck most trends that came their way and forge something new.
The band was founded in Seattle by Greg Anderson in 1987, who recruited former False Liberty drummer Victor Hart, friend Ken Hagel on bass and East Coast transplant and Open Your Eyes fanzine editor, John White on vocals. After years as a singer in False Liberty and Inner Strength, Greg picked up the guitar and started writing songs built upon the aforementioned influences. Following local shows and the opportunity to open for such legends as Youth Of Today, Angry Samoans and Fugazi, Brotherhood began to gain recognition on a much wider scale in the hardcore community. This initial lineup was not to last, as in 1988, Ron Guardipee Of Hateful Youth took over on vocals and Nate Mendel of Diddly Squat joined on bass. Having played many times together in their previous bands things quickly came together for this new and much more solid Brotherhood lineup and in November of that year the Music Bank recording session was conducted. Debuting this new lineup on the Pushead curated Thrasher Magazine’s Skate Rock Vol. 7 compilation Brotherhood soon also released their Of Friends demo, their No Tolerance For Ignorance 7″ on Skate Edge Records and Words Run… As Thick As Blood! 7″ on CR Records, all released in 1988 and 89. Playing throughout the Northwest US as well as a North American tour with (quite possibly the bands biggest influence) Seattle’s The Accused, by the end of 1989 Brotherhood came to an end. Their relatively short-lived run went on to inspire many of the seminal bands that have followed in Hardcore and Straight Edge such as Undertow, Unbroken, Champion, No Tolerance and many more. Members of Brotherhood have since forged numerous other musical endeavours including, but by no means limited to, Christ On A Crutch, Sunny Day Real Estate, Foo Fighters, Resolution, Digh Down, Burning Witch, Engine Kid, Sunn O)) and Goatsnake. Southern Lord will release Till Death in deluxe LP and digital download packages in September. A confirmed street date, preorders and more on the album will be made available in the coming weeks.
As Earth make their way through the South Pacific as part of their ongoing tour through Japan, New Zealand and Australia, building up to the release of their tenth studio collection, Primitive And Deadly, we are delighted to reveal the very first audio insight into the album, as an early surprise for the band’s vast international fanbase. The third of the six movements on the hour-long Primitive And Deadly is the sprawling eleven-and-a-half minute “From The Zodiacal Light,” which you can listen to below. Check out my Earth retrospective podcast here.
Ethereal doom trio, Ides Of Gemini, are preparing to unveil their sophomore offering, Old World New Wave, via Neurot Recordings this September.
Ides Of Gemini features guitarist Jason Bennett, drummer Kelly Johnston-Gibson and the haunting vocal prowess of singer/bassist Sera Timms, also of Los Angeles dark-psych conjurors Black Mare. The follow-up to the band’s 2012 Constantinople debut, which Pitchfork christened “darkly beautiful,” and Terrorizer likened to, “a metallic-filtered kinship to Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star,” Old World New Wave was recorded at Valley Recording in Burbank, California, engineered and mixed by Chris Rakestraw (Danzig), mastered by Grammy award winning producer, Matt Hyde (Slayer) and boasts the striking hand-drawn cover art of Johnston-Gibson.
Comments Timms of the offering, “For Old World New Wavewe all really coalesced as a band, and were able to work off one another’s strengths. J came up with the basic concept and musical framework of the album, and Kelly and I gave it form and identity. For me, my own personal musical identity, taste, preferences etc. were eclipsed by the power of the music which worked as an animate force unto itself-so much so that I cannot listen to any of it objectively, or tell you if it’s good or bad, but I can tell you that it’s distinctively Ides Of Gemini”
Adds Johnston-Gibson of the images surrounding the record, “The artwork is an interpretation of Sera’s lyrical narrative, which carries over themes from Constantinople, as well as symbolic of transformations experienced by us as individuals and inevitably as a band. The minimalist, direct style of the cover and accompanying illustrations is indicative of our energies combined to create one clear, singular force, as experienced through the music, while the visual content has more to do with the story: essentially a conflict between opposing energies leading to destruction, therefore allowing a clean slate for integration of opposites into a resurrected whole.”
Old World New Wave will be released on CD and digitally via Neurot Recordings and on vinyl via SIGE Records on September 15th, 2014. In the meantime, check out the teaser video
And finally, the productive Mr Stephen Evans has sent another tune to me, this time under his ZX+ name, it’s a short, sharp and rather fine tune, he says he has a bit more recording to do and then he will have a new release, looking foward to that ……in the mean time enjoy this one
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
Ought has been burning with a strong and steady flame since flickering to life in Montreal in 2011. Holed up in a shared apartment that doubled as their rehearsal space, the four band members self-recorded a first EP and played their first show in these domestic confines, then busted out into the city’s loft circuit, and into the city streets during the Printemps d’Erable Quebec student general strike, in 2012. These inspired months of mass mobilization against neo-liberal austerity measures galvanized a wide and inspiring range of agit-prop expression in Montreal, and indelibly shaped the emerging sound, vision and social mandate of the band.
Guitarist/vocalist Tim Beeler, who previously had been writing poetry and folk music, drew new energy from electrification/amplification and from solidarity/protest alike; his declarative, observational vocal style ranges from wide- eyed to worried, but never submits to cool irony or emotional detachment.
Ought’s earnest, stately and exuberant post-punk is dextrous, deliberate, unfussy and fluid, with debts to Cap’n Jazz, The Feelies, Lungfish, Gang Of Four and early Talking Heads, among many others.
The band shifts from sharp angles and stuttering counterpoint to softer edges and chiming flow, with an economy of elements and fidelity to their basic 4-piece constitution. The instrumental interplay is consistently whipsmart, supple and deceptively simple. Beeler’s speak-singing can give way to melancholic melodic croons and ragged, desperate yelps, always driven by sincerity of feeling and connection to his subject matter, whether that’s the conundrum of our fractured interiority, or communion with others in our fractured social space – or, for the most part, both.
Ought are a righteous and humble young band, fiercely dedicated to grassroots organizing and artmaking, taking as self- evident the inseparability of politics and aesthetics.
They came together in Montréal as a band of expatriates initially attracted by sense-sharpening Canadian winters and university tuition that doesn’t cost $40k a year. The city’s cultural scene – especially its independent music ethos and galvanizing radical politics – was the underlying attractor, however, and one they jumped right into. Guitarist and vocalist Tim Beeler, originally a folk musician hailing from New Hampshire, fell in with New Jersey native Matt May (keyboards) and Australian émigré Tim Keen (drums, violin) – the three of them began sharing an apartment that doubled as practice space, where they were soon joined by Portland OR transplant Ben Stidworthy on bass. Ought played its first show and recorded its first EP in the apartment’s largest bedroom, in the summer of 2012.
Ought is part of a vital and politically-engaged DIY arts community that has coalesced around one of the loft spaces at the northern limit of Montreal’s Mile End district in recent years (the same zone that incubated Constellation almost 20 years ago). The four band members are, unsurprisingly, participants in a half-dozen other music projects. Various members have also worked with Montreal’s fearless and beloved CKUT radio and the Howl! Arts Collective.
Additional Ought history comes by way of the band’s own account:
It’s hard to talk about how the band came to be without talking about Loose-Fit , the Brasserie, and The Femmaggots . Loose-Fit was (and is) booking shows out of a local mainstay-type bar in Petit-Patrie called Brasserie Beaubien. This empowered a lot of people to be adventurous with new projects, and also it being always pay-what-you-can and chilled out and a publicly accessible venue (versus a loft-type situation where the address can’t be posted)—basically, it was (is) a Good Thing Going On. The Femmaggots were (are) our friends (and, some, housemates) at the time and besides being near and dear and fucking great people, they inspired a lot of others to start making music—many in this weird kind of punk-esque/political/wordy/funny world that we were also really into.
SO…the Femmaggots, plus the Brasserie made for a slowly expanding spiral of great music happening, plus actively bringing in lots of other groups that we didn’t know about + hooking up with great people coming through town. More Than Any Other Day definitely came out of this environment (and coming to terms with working varying degrees of bad jobs, etc), but also Quebec during the student strike , which was a total lid-off type situation that we were all really affected by. Meeting + playing with all these amazing people is really the story of the band, having never really gotten hype’d or even making physical releases and just really playing lots and being excited and thankful for the opportunity to keep playing and having a true fucking blast at shows, as they say.
Following another recording session in early 2013 and the release of a second EP via Bandcamp, Ought spent a few days at the Hotel2Tango studio with engineer Radwan Moumneh (Suuns, Matana Roberts, Jerusalem In My Heart) in fall 2013 at the invitation of Constellation, laying down a clutch of songs new and old that comprise the band’s first “proper” full- length album.
The Aural Delights View : Unrelenting, uncompromising and loads of other words beginning with un-. A fantastic noise – it reminds me of the shiver up the spine I first got on hearing “’77”, “Hex Enduction Hour”, “Spiderland” , and “EVOL”. This is a masterful reconstruction of the history of post-punk guitar rock – at one point a barrage of sound which pummels you into dumb acceptance – “Pleasant Heart” – at another the fractured jittery dance rock of early Talking Heads bursts through from a slow start on “More Than Any Other Day” with Beeler adopting the manic intensity, albeit in a less mannered and more angry way, of David Byrne in his hey-day. “Habit” is perhaps the most “Heads” oriented track on the album echoing the schema of “Fear of Music” with its’ one word title and Beeler’s “speak-sing” approach but there is also a fevered intensity towards the end which transcends that comparison. The band then flip the genres with “The Weather Song”, which gets a bit Osterberg, and then morphs into a high tempo American guitar pop work-out with stunning changes, great melodies, and an instantly memorable set of hooks. “Forgiveness” begins with an organ drone with atonal layers floating around the edges and develops into a laconic heartfelt howl of rage over chittering guitars – for some reason I was reminded of the insouciant drawl of Shaun Ryder at one point. In any event marvellous and memorable stuff. Back to the back-beat with the excellent “Around Again” which feels like something from late 70s/early 80s New York in parts and then goes off somewhere else entirely – there are at least four distinct elements to the tune and each of them is excellent – together they are beyond that. There’s an excellent band from Bolton called Total Victory who operate in the same zone as these guys and, apart from the accent differences between the two singers, “Around Again” would fit comfortably on one the Lancashire bands albums. Penultimate track “Clarity!” broods away over surging synth whispers and insistent guitar until exploding into another emotionally charged attack on this senses. No time to catch your breath before plunging into the glorious closer “Gemini” another unrelenting, unforgiving and uncompromising 7 minutes of splendid music. An early contender for album of the year.