12 September 2018
You may remember, earlier this year I reviewed the fantastic Stardust by Soul Dissolution (you can read our review here). That album was a tour de force, one that saw the union of Post and Black Metal reach (for my money) its creative peak. It is an album which will feature high in my AOTY charts and rightly so. However, what I was not expecting was a further release in 2018, but when it comes to Soul Dissolution, nothing is predictable. As you'll probably already know a lot about them from our previous reviews, I'll get cracking with this one.
Nowhere EP is a two-track affair, featuring "Road to Nowhere" and "Fading Darkness". Clocking in at just shy of twenty-five minutes, you need stamina with this EP. Each track is a long and luscious assault on the ears, with gentle lulls, glorious highs and the howling vocals that will signal the death of someone close by. The mixing and production job by Oliver Carell is stunning on this record, both tracks sounding crisp and brimming with tension. Once again, Soul Dissolution have release another stunning monster, one which I would recommend you purchase/pre-order it now.
5 out of five - I wish I had more ears to love this more
Top track - Road to Nowhere
You can pre-order Nowhere EP on the Soul Dissolution Bandcamp page here.
You can follow the activities of Soul Dissolution on Facebook here
At the time of writing, Nowhere EP is not available on streaming sites. If and when this changes, I'll update the links here.
Buñuel is a project combining the talents of Xabier Iriondo, from Afterhours, Pierpaolo Capovilla and Franz Valente, from Il Teatro degli Orrori, along with Eugene S. Robinson, from Oxbow. The Easy Way Out was released on La Tempesta International Records and distributed by Goodfellas Records. The Easy Way Out was released on 27th April 2018 according to the Buñuel Facebook page & Spotify, whilst Amazon has it down as 13th July 2018. This is Buñuel's second album, following A Resting Place for Strangers which was released in 2016.
If you had to describe The Easy Way Out in one word, it would be aggressive. It's not an album for relaxing to, it's not an album to put on to unwind. You listen to The Easy Way Out for a challenge, as it'll never let you rest or feel comfortable. You never know what is going to leap out of the speakers at any given point, from the aggressive opening of "Boys to Men", to the screeching vocals of "The Hammer the coffin" with its free-falling riff and intense drumming, to the final haunted curtain call "Hooker".
When you think you've reached a natural plateau and you're safe, there is another sucker punch around the corner. Take "A Sorrowful Night" for instance, everytime it starts, I find myself taken sidewards with the everchanging nature the music. It doesn't rest, it's fluid and in constant motion. Then, Buñuel follows it on with the seven-minute beating in the form of "The Sanction". It feels like the punishment/joy will never end, this can only be viewed as a good thing. Then you have the short, sharp, female fronted "Shot", a delightful punk burst out of left field on this album. I love that "Shot" has the power to throw this intense album on its head for less than a minute with ease. But it's "Whirlwind" that ticks all my boxes, with its swirling riff, aggressive drum and bass combo and intense words.
With each repeat of The Easy Way Out, you're no closer to understanding Buñuel. You can say that you are, but that's a lie. The Easy Way Out is a beautiful piece of art, an album that mixes the poetry of Eugene S. Robinson with the wondrous music of Messrs Iriondo, Capovilla and Valente. Is it for mass consumption, no - not even close. It's for people who enjoy music that confronts them, it's for those who want an album that will challenge them. I've never come away from listening to this album without being impressed with it, or feeling as if I've been taken to school. It's an enigma, a puzzle that I bring out of my collection to take away the grime of the day.
8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart
Top track - Whirlwind
You can purchase The Easy Way Out on Amazon here.
You can follow the activities of Buñuel on Facebook here
You can stream The Easy Way Out on Spotify here.
You can stream The Easy Way Out on Deezer here.
You can stream The Easy Way Out on Tidal here.
9 September 2018
Ah, Reggie. It's fucking good to have The Full Effect and Messr Reggie back in my life! Reggie & The Full Effect is the side project of James Dewees, keyboard player from The Get Up Kids. My first introduction to this project was "What The Hell Is Contempt" from Songs Not To Get Married To. With its loud emo sound and a huge chorus which stuck in my head for ages, it's on my all-time list of top tunes. During their first run between 1998 and 2008, R&TFE were a band who had a ferociously devoted following, I mean it was approaching scary at times. Their first five albums were good records, my favourite being the aforementioned Songs Not To Get Married To, which is one of the fiercest emo records that I've ever heard.
41 is the second R&TFE album to be released since their return in 2013, following on from No Country for Old Men. Released in February 2018 on Pure Noise Records, 41 has been on my list to review for an awfully long time. Before I sat down to complete this review, I've not been listening to 41 too much. To be honest, I've only put it on every once in a while. Not because I didn't want to or I disliked it straight away, it has just been down to lack of free time on my behalf. I needed a chance to sit down with it properly, to give it a lot of attention. However, now is the time to sink my teeth into it, how has it turned out?
The first thing that is apparent is that Reggie & The Full Effect are still trying to get through their emotional baggage and making it sound wonderfully painful. With a heavier use of synths on most of the songs, 41 comes across as a hybrid record. Take "Channing Tatum Space Rollerblading Montage Music" for instance. This would not be out of place on a Pet Shop Boys record, but it's equally at home here. You then have songs such as "Il Pesce Svedese", which has that trademark fury of R&TFE, but the synth is still there. Whilst the synths have always been there, it seems as if the guitar has taken a back seat on this record.
At fifteen tracks long and much like a lot of Reggie records, 41 comes in a bit heavy for my tastes. You can have too much of a good thing at times, which is the case here. Reggie is best in short and sharp bursts of noise and pain. There is also a lot of 41 that feels as if it's been said before, as if there is a retelling of old pains and memories. Which is why 41 is a decent album and not a great one. There are some great moments such as "Off Delaware", "Alone Again" and "Maggie", but overall it's not one of their best. With that said, an off R&TFE album is still listenable. Ah Reggie, still good to have you back though!
6.5 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.
Top track - Alone Again
You can purchase 41 from Amazon here.
You can purchase 41 on the Reggie & The Full Effect Bandcamp page here.
You can visit the Reggie & The Full Effect website here.
You can follow the activities of Reggie & The Full Effect on Facebook here.
You can stream 41 on Spotify here.
You can stream 41 on Deezer here.
You can stream 41 on Tidal here.
droneroom is the stage name of one Blake Edward Conley, member of Lucy Stoner (and probably a few other bands if I'm honest). It's been just over a month since I received this album, I've also received requests from Keith from Sweet Sound Records suggest I review a droneroom release. The first time I reviewed them on the Sweet Sound Records 2016 Spring Sampler (our review here; however, I need to fix the photos on the review), I was not too complimentary. Not that I was trying to pick faults with droneroom, I guess I was expecting something else that didn't happen. However, I'm more than willing to concede that I might have gotten this wrong. For each track on a sampler is really a song out of its original context. You're not hearing a song in its intended environment, as the artist originally envisioned it. So, sometimes a song might not shine as it would when surrounded by its brethren.
Jesus Years was released in March 2018, released via Banana Tapez records and also available on the droneroom Bandcamp page. Something that I've learnt since I first started blogging, is the importance of finding the right time and atmosphere to review an album. For example, a gentle guitar album is not going to sparkle on an 8am commute to work. For Jesus Years, the first thing you need is the right head-space, you need to have a relaxed mindset to the idea of song structure. If Sunn 0)))) are the masters of drone and noise, then droneroom are their equals with looping and the absence of noise.
Over five tracks, droneroom have created songs which remind me of R.E.M. (especially "Ladybird" which is a natural follow-on to "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1"), but with the steady build of Howard James Kenny (another guitar looping artist from the UK). You also have harsh noise such as on "I Think I Know You", a song that reminds me of a stripped back Lucy Stoner track. I love "Until the Water Takes You", with its beautiful repeating notes. Each track is a little island of noise, an island of drone. Together, they create an album of strange seas, but beautiful tides.
Overall, the main thing I'm getting from this album is the originality of the artist. It would be quite easy to dismiss this (as I did in the past), but you have to hear this in its right setting. For me, that is Sunday, a day where I just want music that builds up an atmosphere and I can drift away from reality for a few moments. Jesus Year is a strange beast, it's not for everyone and that is fine. But it's a beautiful record, full of deep pools of joy if you dig hard enough. It also makes it impossible to give it a general mark out of ten. Somehow, this seems fitting to me. This is not an ordinary record. But there is no denying how good it sounds - for people who need something more than mainstream.
Crazy cat symbol - This album cannot be marked, so here is a box of kittens
Top track - Until the Water Takes You
You can purchase Jesus Year and other droneroom releases on the droneroom Bandcamp page here.
You can follow the activities of droneroom on Facebook here.
Whilst Jesus Year is not available on streaming sites, you should just head to their Bandcamp page and get it there. Just saying......
Steve Amber are a French-based band located in the Saint-Ouen / Paris / Brest region, with an English singer. From a Temple on the Hill EP is to be released on September 17th and they're currently touring Europe at the time of writing. This EP is the follow up to the 2016 Steve Amber EP (available on Spotify and all good streaming services, as well as available for purchase on Amazon). From a Temple on the Hill EP contains five drops of psychedelic indie rock which will be perfect for fans of Radiohead, King Crimson & King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard. Amongst the influences, there is also a cinematic feeling to their sound. I could imagine any of these tracks being used on any Europa film that is coming out soon. Whilst you can spot the obvious influences, there is a huge factor in their sound which is unidentifiable with anyone else. It's what they bring to the table, it's what makes them tick and that is all of their own makings.
Over the course of thirty minutes, you are presented with music to absorb yourself into, to forget the outside world for a little bit. This gives From a Temple on the Hill EP an edge over a lot of the current indie records in the market today. They stand out as they're trying something different from the current trends of the day. To narrow it down to my favourite song is hard, I love them all! But I keep returning to "What The Radio Plays" more often than not, it's a stomping song which gets better with each spin! This is a serious contender for our EP of the year, check it out when it's released on Septemeber 17th!
5 out of five - I wish I had extra ears to love this more
Top track - What The Radio Plays
You can follow the activities of Steve Amber on Facebook here
At the time of writing, From a Temple on the Hill EP was not on general release or available on streaming services. I'll update all links for purchasing/streaming once it is available to the general public.
8 September 2018
Athensville are a Philadelphia based Alternative Rock/Power Pop band who recently got in touch as I was about to post this. Proper is their first EP which was released at the end of August 2018. It was recorded between March & July 2018. Over the course of five tracks, Athensville showcase the sound of a strong band who have focused one five strong songs. Musically, their sound is akin to bands such as Buffalo Tom, Feeder, R.E.M., with a good dose of originality as well. There no weak tracks on this EP, they all have their own identity but without variating too much to cause any confusion on their overall sound. Anthensville deal in melancholic Alternative Rock, with a slight nostalgic atmosphere due to the lyrical content. This is not a bad thing, as it suits the music perfectly. Out of the five tracks, my favourites are “Something Real” and "And We Fell", but each track is a little gem. It speaks to me in a way that harks back to when I was young, I was always an Alternative Rock kid and this slots right into that part of my mind. Definitely a band I would recommend you check out.
4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
Top track – Something Real
I've been a little bit lax in some departments, especially when it comes to single releases. My apologies to all the bands who've been sending me singles, I truly appreciate them and I hope that this review as well as playing them on Attention Please on NE1FM will act as compensation for this delay. Anyway, here we go with my singles review round-up!
Kovax – Cobalt
Kovax – Cobalt
Kovax return with a noisy little MF called "Cobalt". It is a stomping track which has a huge bass groove that is laced through the song like a snake slipping through the grass. It’s a strong follow up to the tracks on the If There Was Ever Any Doubt EP, showing a heavier side to their sound. The way “Cobalt” slows down as the song progresses is fantastic, with the bass taking most of the strain and smashing it out of the park. A good addition to their sound, “Cobalt” a track that is worth checking out.
4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
Granfalloon – Broken Things/Sleep
Granfalloon has released two singles since their wonderful release “Ambulance”. The first of these two tracks is “Broken Things”, which is the lighter of the two tracks. It’s a good, solid release which kept Granfalloon in the mind’s eye. It had a punchy chorus and that sounds which I think they should trademark. “Sleep” is the stronger of the two tracks, with a Euro-Cinema feeling attached to the song. It’s a beautiful song that gets stuck in your mind, much like “Ambulance”. They are just about to release another single and tour Europe, they've also released a tour EP with these songs and as well as "Ambulance" and a track called "Year of the Rooster". Check it out!
Broken Things – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
Sleep – 4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
Ghost//Signals – Hectoring
Ghost//Singals are a band who are starting to get noticed, they are currently being played on the BBC, they recently performed as part of the Hit the North and Lindisfarne Festivals, as well as selling out shows around the North-East. Their last single, "Queen of the Oxygen Thieves" is one of my songs of 2018, it is also on my all-time list and I don't say that to blow smoke up their arses. "Hectoring" is another great song, one that mixes their love of all things Cure with epic sounding Indie. I can see why it's getting them a lot of attention, it's such a catchy number and stays with you long after it's finished. They are already in demand around the North-East and soon the UK, after that - who knows.
4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out
Prey Drive – Pancakes
Prey Drive deal in Alternative Rock/Metal with a slice of pop added to the mix. “Pancakes” is a small tale about how things change, and how nothing can be the same after a life event. It’s a song that works on so many levels, with it being a cheerful number musically, but with its hidden depths underneath the waters. Prey Drive will be a band to watch in the future.
4.5 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.
Youth Killed It – Great British Summer/Where Did I Go Wrong/What’s So Great, Britain?/Headbutt
Youth Killed It are a band that you should all be familiar with by now. I first heard about after being offered an interview for Attention Please. At the time, they were touring with the single “Island”, which was a catchy little tune about wanting to be left alone sometime. During the interview, At the time, Jack from the band stated that they were writing some new material, which they’ve been releasing over the last few months. I reviewed their new album What's so Great, Britain? (link to the review here), which has yielded these tracks. They are “Great British Summer”, “Where Did I Go Wrong”, “What’s So Great, Britain” and “Headbutt”. Each song is a fast indie-pop song that gets stuck in your head and won’t be shifted for love or money. Out of the four, I’m digging “What’s So Great, Britain?” the most, but each song has the charm and cheeky nature of Youth Killed It that you’ve come to expect from the band. Except them to feature high in our end of year chart!
Great British Summer – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.
Where Did I Go Wrong – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.
What’s so Great, Britain? – 5 out of five – I wish I had more ears to love this.
Headbutt – 4 out of five – This is really good, well worth checking out.
Sorry to all the band, I hope better late than never! All the singles here are fantastic! All songs are available on via either all good digital retailers, Bandcamp or streaming services.
When you mention the name Dan Le Sac to a lot of people, it's usually either followed by two responses. Oh, the guy with Scroobius Pip or Who? Both of these do him a disservice in my opinion. Make no mistake, his work on the three DLS V SP records was amazing and as essential as the words from Mr Pip, so to dismiss him as a lesser part is not right for me. Not dismissing that part of his life (which he is rightly proud of), but he was an equal part of it. I can sort of understand why some people say who, he's an underground artist and I work with people who think shark songs & X-Factor are the height of culture and sophistication. DLS is not a mainstream artist, so that makes sense in that way. But it's still the wrong response to say "who", the man is a great musician.
63 Days is the fruits of his labour, the result of a challenge set to Mr Le Sac: Could he write, record, mix and master an album from scratch in 63 Days? From the outset, that gives the musician a massive challenge, just over two months to create and nurture songs into a form fit for the public could be a recipe for disaster. But Mr Le Sac found the experience liberating. On his Bandcamp page, he claimed that the time constraint gave him the freedom not to stress on the record, not to over think it. So, the lack of time actually freedom his mind to focus solely on the music and making that the best it could be.
If you didn't know that story, then you would not have guessed that this album was recorded in such a short period of time. From opening "Closer" to the ending of "She Builds Herself", Mr Le Sac has created an atmospheric world for you to submerge yourself in. The music could easily be used in clubs, or as background music whilst gaming. It's a record for the early morning to the late nights, it's one for people who need something that can take them away from the world for a few moments.
I love the build on each of these songs, especially on "Happy Bombs" and "In My Step". Both have different paths, but both build up slowly and demand repeated plays. But this is not an album to cherry pick, each component is as important as the one before and the one afterwards. You need "High Top Fade" and it's slow intro as much as hard drum beats of "Knife Joy". Basically, this album covers a lot of points and still sounds natural, organic and unforced.
Much like the album, I'm shooting straight from the hip here. This is a fantastic record, one of my favourite Electronica releases of 2018. He was set a goal and I can honestly say that he's not only achieved it, but he's also but smashed it out of the park. This might become an underground classic, it might take a while for people to find, but everyone will love it when they do find it! Head over to the Dan Le Sac Bandcamp page and purchase it now!
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.
Top track - Happy Bombs
You can purchase 63 Days (as well as other Dan Le Sac records) on the Dan Le Sac Bandcamp page here.
You can follow the activities of Dan Le Sac on Facebook here.
You can also follow Dan Le Sac on Twitch, which is fun too!
You can stream 63 Days on Spotify here.
You can stream 63 Days on Deezer here.
You can stream 63 Days on Tidal here.
6 September 2018
Let's be honest, I don't need to do a big history lesson here, we all know that backstory of Interpol. Their return is something that fans have long anticipated, which was delayed by the anniversary of Turn on the Bright Lights and subsequent tour in celebration of that anniversary. It's been four years since the jaw-dropping El Pintor (our review linked here). I've played that album so many times, purchased it on different formats and as presents for people. I can safely say it's my favourite Interpol album, I can play it at any time and it's one of these records that keeps growing in stature in my mind. So, from the beginning, I think it's safe to say Interpol have the unenviable task of following up their best album. It's not an impossible task, but it's still a hard one.
Recorded over the last two years (with a break to celebrate their debut record), Marauder was produced with David Fridmann and released on 24th August 2018. I didn't complete my review straight away as I wanted to live with this album a bit first. Whenever I rush review or give my opinion of any Interpol release, that opinion will change within a few weeks. It's one of those things for me with this band, each release takes an age to settle in my mind.
The first thing I have to say, this is not El Pintor part II, which is a blessing to be honest. Keep trying to improve your craft is something to applaud, trying to recreate the same album again and again without any improvement is never a good thing. But this album seems to have the past weighing heavily on its shoulders. It feels as Marauder was created under the reflection of their first record. It feels as if they've gone back to the start and tried to gain inspiration from within.
This leads to loose feeling record, there are songs which have similar riffs and ideas to previous songs. For instance, "Flight of Fancy" has a riff that is so similar to "Anywhere", they could be two different versions of the same song. There is also the choice of opening track which harks back to Antics-era Interpol. Not similar in style, but "If You Really Love Nothing" is not the most immediate or grabbing song. If anything, it's one of the tracks on the album I would skip without a guilty conscious.
Which brings me onto the next thing about this album, there is a lack of urgency or excitement for a lot of this record. I don't know what it is, but as talented as the band are, there are no standout moments here to keep my attention for longer than a few songs at a time. So many times I would get up to "Stay in Touch" and my mind would be miles away from the record.
And this is part of the problem for me with Marauder, there is a distinct lack of focus or hooks which makes for a difficult album to listen to. Where is the urgency on this album? There is nothing on here that would really make the listener return, it's not an album that feels as essential as other in the Interpol discography. Which is a shame, as the opening single "The Rover" showed such promise. It could be that the studio is not the right environment for these songs, maybe "Surveillance" will sound better live. Maybe I'll get it in a few years time and regret this review. Maybe my head is still stuck on El Pintor, I could really be missing the point here. But the initial impression on Marauder is one of unfocused blandness, such a missed opportunity.
6 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.
Top track - The Rover
You can purchase Marauder on Amazon here.
You can visit the Interpol website here.
You can follow the activities of Interpol on Facebook here.
You can stream Marauder on Spotify here.
You can stream Marauder on Deezer here
You can stream Marauder on Tidal here.
1 September 2018
I've no idea how, but this is an album that sort of slipped through the cracks of my own set up here. Basically, I get more submissions that I can handle, even when I had the rest of the old team with me. So, I got an email about this album in January (eek) and it got lost in the mix. The entry has been blinking at me for ages and during a recent audit of what I needed to review, I discovered my neglect towards this release. So, I start with an apology towards John MOuse and his PR people. OK, let's get on with the review then!
John Mouse (stylised as John MOuse) is the stage name of John Davies. After a successful fan funding campaign, Replica Figures is the fifth album to be released under the John MOuse mocker. It came out on 19th February 2018 being released via KMIYH Records. Replica Figures sees John MOuse returning to work with original band member Sweet Baboo. It's been 15 years since the two worked under John's previous moniker JT Mouse. The press release says this results in "a touching album with glimpses of John's black humour, which has been a signature throughout his career". The album circulates around the concept of memories, different memories, how they are created, the lack of memory, enforced and false memories
What drew me to reviewing this was not the album information, as lovely as that press release was to read. No, it was this little list from the JM Facebook page of artist he identifies with Prince Edward Island, Aidan Moffat, Malcolm Middleton, The Magnetic Fields, Bill Callaghan, Johnny Cash. It's the mention of Aidan Moffat that perked my interest, the albums he released with Bill Wells are some of my most treasured records. So, when an artist mentions his name, I want to hear that artist.
Musically, Replica Figures is a strange and wonderful folk/electronica/indie hybrid, an album of stories and reflections are all told through the JM persona. It feels as if you're temporally being invited into people's lives, they are little worlds of drama or ordinary surrealism which are all too brief. And then you're ejected back into the real world, with a slightly confused feeling about the tales and stories you've just heard.
"Boogaloo" is a fine example of this, it comes over as part Thomas Truax, part Adian Moffat, part minimalist punk and part regressive tale of depression. I love it, the music is a quiet background to the words, which I've been repeating for this last few days. "The King and Jesus Gang Up On Me" is a beautiful song, one which I'm still trying to understand. It's sort of about Jesus and a King at a football game. It's a surreal little moment that will get stuck in your head for long after it's finished.
The opening track "End of Mankind" is a bizarre number, dealing with the events of a crack-addicted hooker, but it's still one that I keep returning to out of morbid fascination. Other songs which I love include "With These Hands I'll Rip Your Heart Out", the fantastic "Sue" and the heartbreaking "Gladiator/Contender", which looks at the memories of childhood. Over the eleven tracks of this album, John MOuse talks about so many different things, sometimes you get an emotional hit that you weren't expecting and it's beautiful.
Whilst listening to Replica Figures, my mind kept returning to the thought that John Peel would have been all over this record. It just seems like something he would have played week after week, which is as high of a compliment as I can John MOuse. It's an interesting and unique record, one that keeps revealing more and more with each spin. Replica Figures has introduced me to an artist that I want to find out more about, it's a charming record with eleven strong stories which will entertain you.
7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top track - The King and Jesus Gang Up On Me
You can purchase Replica Figures and other John MOuse releases on the John MOuse Bandcamp here.
You can purchase Replica Figures on Amazon here.
You can follow the activities of John MOuse on Facebook here.
You can stream Replica Figures on Spotify here.
You can stream Replica Figures on Deezer here.
26 August 2018
As some of you will know, as well as being the overlord/running this wonderful blog, I also contribute to another publication. The blog in question is the amazing Bearded Gentlemen Music. Bearded Gentlemen Music is a blog that was started in January 2012, it's the brainchild of Jon Robertson and Issac Atenco III. It was created out of a mutual love of music, with an outsider approach to trends and styles. BGM has provided many aspiring writers with the opportunity to discuss artists/bands/music that they're interested in. They have also given this opportunity to me, which in turn has led to some changes in my writing style for this blog. Before I joined, I was a fan of BGM, I'm still a fan now and will continue to be when they eventually kick me out for one too many Zappa comments.
I'm setting up this page where I'll add links for any article that I have contributed to BGM. I'll create a new post for each year going forward as well. However, don't just check out my stuff, there are so many cool and interesting articles on the BGM site! I would also recommend their podcast, I appeared on it before and it was such a blast! - Eddie
Clutch: Book of Bad Decisions - Hot Damn!
You can visit the Bearded Gentlemen Music website front page here
Here is a link to the BGM podcast episode I appeared on
Corrosion of Conformity - No Cross, No Crown | Heavy Metal for All Fans of Metal
R.I.P. Mark E. Smith (The Fall)
They Might Be Giants - I Like Fun | Less is more
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Wrong Creatures | Changed Creatures?
David Byrne - American Utopia | A Fearless American Dream
Editors - Violence | Is Violence the answer?
Manic Street Preachers - Futile Resistance | Is Resistance Futile?
We Are Scientists | Six In, All Out!
YOB - Our Raw(est) Heart
Nine Inch Nails - Violent Witch Event: A review of the EP trilogy 2016-2018
Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love | What is love without corruption?
You can see all of these and other reviews I have contributed to this link here.
I'm going to start this review with a question - Have you ever had a band/artist you have a love/hate relationship with? I don't mean in the physical one in the real world, that would be creepy and stalkerish. What I mean is whenever an artist or band release something, your reaction is either absolute joy or crushing disappointment. For me, Death Cab For Cutie is an example of a band I've experienced this type of relationship. I always want to check out their work, but I also am a little cautious about their releases as I've been disappointed so many times.
I cannot blame Death Cab For Cutie for this. When they release an album, it should be what they want to release, and the rest of us are joining them for the ride. They have to please themselves first before they please others. As it has always been and as it rightly should always remain so. But as a fan, you always hope that you'll hear something that will have an impact, something that will shake your foundation, something that makes your world a better place just for existing.
Thank You For Today is the ninth studio album, following their 2015 release Kintsugi. They have been joined once again by producer Rich Costey, whilst it is the first release not to feature founding member Chris Walla. A change in personnel can be a positive thing at times, for both the band left behind and the artist who departed. By the sounds of it, the band and Walla parted on amicable terms so it seems to have worked out for the best.
Thank You For Today with reflection and reluctance at its very core. There is a lamenting of change, such as on "Gold Rush" which discusses the urban changes of their native Seattle. There is also the feverish hope of friendship despite distance on "When We Drive", a song that could be about a lover or the recently departed Mr Walla. This theme is also repeated on "Near Far", a song which once again talks about how a distance between people can affect relationships. You also feel a sense of reflection on songs such as "Northern Lights" and "Summer Years". This could have easily turned into a midlife crisis album, but they manage to steer away from that pit of peril.
Musically, Thank You For Today feels like a new version of their old style, which is a weird thing in my head. Let me explain, the sound is their signature sound, there are no other bands out there which share that same tone. However, they've added some atmosphere to their sound which was missing from a few of their releases. With this, it feels as if the innocence of their earlier has returned. It feels as if they are enjoying creating their music, which is always something that I look for on an album. Sure, it's still as miserable as you'd expect, but if DCFC started to make summer trance anthems, I'd be very worried.
Overall, Thank You For Today is a fantastic album, a return to their roots without sounding like a retreat. They've rediscovered a bit about what makes them special, whilst their beloved home is changing beyond their recognition. Sometimes the past can strongly influence the future, sometimes that has to be removed for something to grown. I think on the basis of this record, Death Cab For Cutie has a solid foundation for the next chapter in their career. Also, Thank You For Today is firmly in the love side of my relationship with this band.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.
Top track - When We Drive
You can visit the Death Cab For Cutie website here.
You can follow the activities of Death Cab For Cutie on Facebook here.
You can purchase Thank You For Today on Amazon here.
You can stream Thank You For Today on Spotify here.
You can stream Thank You For Today on Deezer here.
You can stream Thank You For Today on Tidal here.
17 August 2018
Youth Killed It are a British band from Norwich, currently signed to Rude Records. Formed in 2016 after a change of direction from previous metal incarnation Under the Influence. They consist of Jack Murphy (lead vocals/guitar), Carlos Montero - (guitar), Josh Thexton - (bass), Ben Ford - (drums) & Josh Arter-Taylor (guitar). They've put in a lot of work in a relatively short period of time. They've released two EP (Welcome to The Sad Boys Club and Welcome to The Happy Girls Club), as well as their debut record Modern Bollotics. For a lot of bands, that is their entire career over six years! So, you cannot accuse Youth Killed It being lazy, they are a modern industry wonder - A band who are prepared to put in the effort and getting out there.
Last year, whilst the band were out on tour just after the release of their single "Islands", I had the pleasure of conducting a telephone interview with Jack from the band for my radio show, Attention Please. It was a good interview, I still use the jingle he made on the show a lot. I made a note in my mind to follow up on this with a review of their next record, which they were getting ready to record after that tour. So, I was rather chuffed when a press release for their new singles arrived in my inbox. But the news that got my attention was the forthcoming semaphore album, What's So Great, Britain? This is going to be released on 5th October 2018 and will be supported initially by a short UK tour.
Originally, started work on What’s So Great, Britain? with a production crew, the album was ultimately self-produced as they felt something was missing from those sessions. As Jack Murphy says on the blurb with the release - “Our sound just wasn’t where we wanted it to be, so Carlos and I produced it. It gave us more time and fewer restrictions. It really is from start to finish a band job: no extra writers, no producers, just us.” It takes a certain amount of self-belief and bravery to do that, to step out and say, "fuck it, we're doing it our way". Sometimes it can work against a band, being so insular and enclosed can lead to a lack of creative spark. However, it can also lead to a self-dependence and the ability to follow the beat of their own drum. So, what will it be for Youth Killed It on What's So Great, Britain?
The first thing is that Youth Killed It really know their own sound like the back of their collective hands. Every song on What's So Great, Britain? folds in with the rest of their back catalogue as seamlessly as a feather on a falcon. Over the course of twelve songs, Youth Killed It create a vision of what the UK looks like at this present moment. It's something that I recognise a lot more than the vision that is played out on the TV, this is based in the real world of nervous anticipation, enclosed emotions, national pride, fear, humour, laziness and the weird hangover that seems to be hanging over this septic isle.
At the time of writing, the band have released four tracks as heralds for this album - "Where Did I Go Wrong", "What's So Great, Britain?", "Great British Summer" and "Headbutt". Each track is a social commentary that could have been written about events in my street. They have noticed that we (as a nation) are acting like dicks in some ways, but we could be better as a society. We could also stop trying to keep it all in ("On My Own"), stop repeating patterns of laziness ("The Getaway") or just needing to get away from a fight that will never stop ("Peaceful House"). Each of the twelve songs is a little gem, each one could easily be the best record of the album. Overall, I think "What's So Great, Britain?" is the best song here, it just has that edge to it which lifts it slightly above the rest of the records. But as I said, each track is a belter.
Does this album have any issues? Well, apart from being two months away from release, no. It seems that working on their own was the right decision for Youth Killed It here as they have hit this one out of the park. If you read this blog a lot, you'll know that I love metal and angry music. But I also love it when a band creates an album in their own genre and it's spot on. So why the nine out of ten if I like it so much? Well, there is only one issue for me with WSG,B?, it ends too soon. It;s a great album and I sort of wanted more, but that is just me being a little greedy. From beginning to end, Youth Killed It are on fire with this record. What's So Great, Britain? is a brilliant modern Indie Rock album which has influences in the past, but it's also stamped with their own identity. They might be shaking their head at the state of this country, but they've made an album that should put them on the musical map of this country. This is a great record and you should get it as soon as it's released.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention as well as my time, money and heart
Top track - What's So Great, Britain?
What's So Great, Britain? is not available until 5th October, you can pre-order via this link to various service (link provided by the press release from Rude Records).
You can visit the Youth Killed It website here.
You can follow the activities of Youth Killed It on Facebook here.
At the time of writing, it's a good couple of months before What's So Great, Britain? is released. So, it's obviously not going to be available on streaming sites for a while. However if it becomes available on Spotify (here), Deezer (here) or Tidal (here), if you click on the link next to the service name, it'll take you to the relevant page on the streaming site of your preference.
Here is the video to What's So Great, Britain?
11 August 2018
Welcome back Dot Dash, it's nice to have you back. Dot Dash (for those who have not been following this blog since 2015) are a Power Pop/Rock band from Washington DC. They reach out to me to review Earthquakes & Tidal Waves, following up with a review of Searchlights (you can read both via this link here). To be honest, I was starting to wonder if there was going to be a new record from these guys. They just started popping up in my shuffle mixes, so it seems like serendipity that they're back in my life. In the two years since I last encountered them, they've reduced to a three-piece. A change in personnel can sometimes lead to a change in sound and without further ado, let's look at this album.
The change in personnel has led to a change in tone, but not in a change of style. Dot Dash still specialises in Power Pop/Alternative Rock noise, but the distortion has been turned down a little. This has brought in a new melodic flavour to their sound and it seems to bring everything together. From the opening beat of "Unfair Weather", via the soaring "Triple Rainbow" and to the end of "Sun + Moon = Disguise", they bring punchy song after punchy song. In their slower moments such as the aforementioned "Tripple Rainbow", they have a delicate touch that makes this album a bit of a charmer. The jaunty opening to "Dead Letter Rays" is another example of how subtle Dot Dash can be, as it opens up into a beautiful track that will melt people's hearts. At thirty-two minutes long, this is an album that you can keep listening to, over and over again.
Proto Retro also focuses heavily on the retro sound of the band, so much so that it feels as if it could seamlessly fit into another era. This is not a criticism, just pointing out that their sound is unashamedly proud of their influences and more power to them for it. To be honest, if I had one thing I would liked to have heard on Proto Retro, I would have liked to have heard more than one song over three minutes in length. However, if I'm honest, it mightn't have worked with the overall tone of the record. I think their lighter sound works in their favour, moving the band in the right direction. And as much as I've enjoyed their earlier records, they seemed to have a darkness to them. This album is a brighter sound, one which I'm enjoying more with each subsequent listen. Proto Retro is a breath of sunshine with its tone, quick bursts of Power Pop and top quality songs.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart
Top track - Unfair Weather
You can purchase Proto Retro on the Dot Dash Bandcamp page here.
You can purchase Proto Retro on Amazon here.
You can follow the activities of Dot Dash on Facebook here.
You can stream Proto Retro on Spotify here.
You can stream Proto Retro on Deezer here.
You can stream Proto Retro on Tidal here.
10 August 2018
Finding the right words to open this review is proving elusive, so I'm going to start with that confession. Not because I'm not familiar with Idles, far from it as regular readers of this blog will attest to. Last year, Brutalism (you can read our review here) was number two in our album of the year list behind Oxbow. "Mother" was in the top ten songs of 2017 and still regularly gets an airing around my house. I also was lucky enough to see them live. It was at the Think Tank in Newcastle with support from Dunes and Mouse and it was a fantastic show. I think the reason I'm struggling is that I know how excited I've been in anticipating this album. I've been bugging the PR company for weeks to get my mitts on a stream or download and now I have it. So, it's been an exciting couple of days listening to this record. However, anticipation and actuality can be two distinctly different things. There have been thousands of albums that I've feverishly waited for, but the end results have been lacking. I'm hoping that Joy as an Act of Resistance will not head down the same route. Well, there is only one way to find out.
Joy as an Act of Resistance is Idles second album, which will be released on Partisan Records on 31st August. At the time of writing, three songs have been released as singles before it's release - "Colossus", "Danny Nedelko" and "Samaritans". Each track brings something different to the table. "Colossus" is a slow building monster that can smash holes in speakers, "Danny Nedelko" is going to become one of Idles most treasured tracks in years to come and "Samaritans" is as hard-hitting as anything of Brutalism. However, they leave the hardest and most devastating track has been left on the album. "June" has me in tears already as I can sadly identify with every word of it, the raw and emotional display is terrifying and it's hard to not shed a tear or two. I won't go too deep into it, but it'll be one of the most talked about aspects of this album in years to come.
Elsewhere, you have the fantastic train of thought that is "Never Fight a Man With a Perm", a song that jumps from topic to topic and never seems to stay still. "Great" see Idles ranting about Brexit and the articulated anger on display is fantastic. "Cry to Me" contains a swagger to the riff and the lyrical fragility is a sharp contrast to their usual barrage of noise. "Love Song" sounds anything but loving, in fact, it's rather harrowing in places. It's a tale of modern romance and it sounds vicious as hell in places. But the lyrics keep coming back to me, the riff and noise are lodged in my brain and they won't move for anything. From "Colossus" to the snapping "Rottweiler", each song feels like it's ready to explode and change the world around you. But the songs aren't aiming for epic, that is left for the beige sea of indie artists who are trying to make festival moments. Idles seem to be aiming for something different, they seem to be aiming to bring social change. Yes, there are emotional issues attached to a lot of the songs, but not in the way to bring people together in euphoria.
This is the joy of Idles. Just when you think you've figured them out, they change something unexpectedly. There is no massive move to a new sound, they're still making a glorious noise. This is in keeping with the incendiary tone of Brutalism, but there is also a layer of confidence added to the sound. You cannot fake that sort of thing, its impossible ignore as well. They know their own worth, it oozes through each note, each beat and each snapping vocal. To the outsider, it might sound like noise and incoherent ranting. To the experienced, it's another slice of Manna from a noise influenced Eden. Yet, when I reach the end of this album, I have to ask the following. Are there any issues here? Are there things that could be changed? Have they repeated themselves? These are questions I must ask if only to make sure this is not a love letter to the band. Well, that is the billion Euro question, isn't it.....
In one sense, the steps forward here are not huge, some tracks could have fitted effortlessly on Brutalism. Is that really a crime though? It's only just been over a year since Brutalism was released, so their sound is not going to be that much different. Therefore, it shouldn't really be an issue here. At the end of the day, I'm focusing on how the album leaves me once the final note has rung out. I think they've reached whatever target they set themselves. Joy as an Act of Resistance takes them further down the road towards infamy, it meets the hype head on and hits it out of the park. It's a harrowing, vicious and brutal record in places, but who said Idles were ever easy? I love it, it's a small improvement on everything from Brutalism, so it's not the shocker that I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't change the outcome for Joy as an Act of Resistance. This is a great album and it'll be near the top of my end of year list. It doesn't repeat the shock and awe of their debut, but that was never on the card in some ways. What I love this album though, is the fact they've made an album where there is no dead weight, no wasted effort and it takes everything forwards. That's an amazing thing when you consider how volatile their music sounds. At the end of the day, it would be stupid to ignore this record, so why bother? Order it now, purchase it now if you're reading this after the 31st August 2018, it'll be an essential record for 2018. And I'm so glad that I haven't ended this review with the obvious line......
9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....
Top tracks - Colossus/June
You can pre-order Joy as an Act of Resistance on the Idles Bandcamp page here.
You can pre-order Joy as an Act of Resistance on Amazon here.
You can visit the Idles website here, another place you can pre-order Joy as an Act of Resistance.
You can follow the activities of Idles on Facebook here.
At the time of writing, Joy as an Act of Resistance is not available on streaming sites. However, once (and if) Joy as an Act of Resistance is added to either Deezer (Link), Spotify (Link) or Tidal (Link), you'll be able to find it by hitting 'Link' against your service of choice. But you really should buy it, that would be a much better idea.
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