Fanzine Roundup

We just moved house and I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate long enough to string a sentence together, luckily though a collection of great Fanzines landed on my doormat just before the move, inspiring me to put fingers to keyboard again.

As well as those quality publications mentioned below I also really enjoyed the recent Fanzine issue of Maximum Rock and Roll;  it was super interesting, to read interviews with some of the zinesters responsible for the fanzines I’ve been enjoying the last couple of years.  I’ve also recently picked up issues 16 and 17 of Nuts! which I’ve read about, but not managed to source previously;  the leaflet style layout is a touch awkward to read in the wrong setting but it stands out because of this, I may get around to covering it in more detail at some point.  Vernacular Visions, a photo zine which was put out as Degenerate #18 and features flyers and slides of found images, is also well worth a look.

 

Reckless Chants ZineFirst up is Reckless Chants #22, a wholly personal and nostalgic undertaking of remeniscences about the past, and very honest musings about, shitty families, sexuality, friends and music; in essence these are coming of age stories, memories put down in a way that inspire you to write your own history down.  This is my first time reading this zine but I’m already looking to pick up some more.  Jessie has an easy style which has taken years to perfect, it’s the way I always imagined my writing sounding back in the days when I turned out reems of poetry and kept a daily journal, but in reality, those scrawls were always cheesy; cliched angsty outpourings.  This however is an intelligent woman musing about important moments in her life and it’s very inspiring and touching.

 

 

Seven Inches To Freedom Zine

Seven Inches To Freedom Fanzine #13.  I am always a keen reader of 7″ and this issue doesn’t disappoint.  The writing is as emotionally charged as ever and there are a great selection of punk music and zine reviews.  The writing has insired me to check out the bands reviewed, in this issue as with previous issues there is plenty to check out and get excited about.  I always feel that 7″ has an edgy feel, as if the writer is about to jack it all in and this might be the last issue, but the books keep coming thankfully.

 

 

 

 

 

Degenerate 19 cover
Degenerate Mag #19 is still an off kilter gem, I managed to get this copy from UK distro Inflammable Material, cutting out the US postage issue.  Sam has a loose style which feels sometimes like stream of consciousnesses, like his inner thoughts are seeping directy onto the page,  I love that feel,  but the reviews and articles are so well paced and worded that this can’t be so.  Sam has the knack of making everything sound appealing, and I always read the zine with the laptop open next to me so I can check out the bands he mentions and listen as I read about them.  Another great issue.

 

 

 

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Review: La Luna Album

La Luna cover imageLa Luna Always Ready  (10th May via Middle Man Records)

Toronto DIY four piece La Luna (or sometimes Brain Fever) haven’t been prolific in their career to date, with only two full lengths in the seven years since they formed, however I’ll take quality over quantity any day and this record really fits the bill.

Always Ready puts me in mind of one of my other current favourite bands, Svalbard, with a solid hardcore base, an abudance of complex guitars, and a fantastic female lead vocalist, (along with an occasional blast of dual girl/boy vocals).  La Luna have a more straight forward structure however (less post rock edge and more HC) and a heavy dose of relentless, restless energy which makes for an infectious mix.

Forging a scuzzy, screamy path, Empty Portrait leads us into the album with a blazing charge of riffage and heavy hit drums; half way through the track the band also lets us see another side to their sound with a controlled, off kilter moment, slowing things down with softer, spoken vocals and cleaner more technical riffs.  What an opener.

The album is a ride, from this great opener until the closing moments; intense, agressive but with an edge of technical finnesse which makes it hard to put down.

 

 

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Review: Witching Waves Album

witching wavesLondon trio Witching Waves sound at times quintessentially British; there are nods to The Cure, My Bloody Valentine and many great shoegaze bands, in fact, all the good stuff of my teens, and this makes me very happy and keeps a nostalgic fire glowing in my heart.  But what I really love about this record is that it also feels set adrift from the Brit scene in some ways.  A modern European and American goth via indie-punk sound seeps through, reminiscent of bands like Neon Piss, Cadaver Em Transe and Silver Shadows.

As seems to be the way of the moment, Crystal Cafe draws on the late 80s goth-punk, post-punk sound; the tunes are injected with heavy doses of melody and darkness in equal measure so the comforting past is given a modern edgy twist.  The melodies are bitter sweet and the guitars are suitably scuzzy, but the production rounds all the edges, making the fuzz more palatable and helping the tunes shine through, which may help give the record a wider audience, as these are essentially classic pop tunes and really stick with you.

Crystal Cafe is out now in the UK via Soft Power Records and you can check out Witching Waves previous album on Bandcamp too.

 

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New Year, New Music

Interested to see that John Congleton has an album coming out soon from his new band The Nighty Nite, this project has been floating around for what seems like an age, so it’s a treat to finally hear something new from him.  The new Deftones is also sounding pretty good and a record from Sumac is coming soon – so plenty of ear candy on the way.  It’s been a great start to the new year, with some quality records already released, I’ve been enjoying these:

 

Neurotic Fiction demo small
Neurotic Fiction – Demo

A new demo from Livi of Hell Money and Twisted, this is great – Livi’s voice is fantastic, and this low-key, low-fi release really suits her style.  Its not as loud and heady as the other bands I’ve seen her perform with but it works really well here.  I’m hoping this demo leads to much more.

 

 

Cayetana Tired Eyes Cover
Cayetana – Tired Eyes
New 7″ with two quality tracks of catchy, punky tunage.
Still can’t get enough of this lot.

 

 

 

Acid Fast Last Night On Earth small
Acid Fast – Last Night On Earth
I was worried I wouldn’t like this album as much as their last, but I needn’t have been, as its just as melodic and raw – a combination that I love.  Their catchy punky-indie tunes are addictive and distinctive.  Definitely one for my album of the year list.

 

 

Terrible Love cover smallTerrible Love – Change Nothing EP
Quality HC which interested me initially as the band boasts former members of Goodtime Boys, Bastions and Grappler.  The sound here is meaty and tuneful with a raw edge, and their experience shines through, but they’ve also managed to keep things sounding fresh. I really like what I’ve heard here and will be checking them out when they tour the EP in April around the UK.

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Records of the Year 2015

2015 was a year. This is some of the music that got me through it.

 

Albums

Svalbard album cover
Svalbard –
One Day All This Will End
Svalbard produced the album I’d been hoping they would – richly layered and addictive, it holds moments of post-rock beauty, hardcore strength and pure melodies.  A positive, uplifting record and the clear winner this year for me.

 

 

Twisted Utopia
Twisted – Utopia
This album is so good, a close second on the list. It was released in January but I came to it later on. Again this one has great melodies, something I’m a total sucker for, it’s catchy and fun with strong female vocals and punchy punk attitude oozing through on every track.

 

Nervosas st
Nervosas – Nervosas
A more frantic and aggressive sounding release from the Ohio Punks but still with the dark edge and melodies I loved from their last record, the vocals are as goth as always with fantastic female backing, and their sound is as immediate and addictive as ever.

 

all dogs
All Dogs
Kicking Every Day
I love this band. Girl fronted high energy poppy punk tunes, they really know how to put together a great tune with edge and keep you hooked.

 

 

Brother Ghost buried coverBrother/Ghost – Buried
Cinematic, multi layered, genre challenging record, cleverly redefining the sound of this band.  Hints of psych, blues, indie and post-rock, make for an anthemic, rousing listen – it all hangs together so well too, never feeling disjointed or overly complex.  There is so much here to discover and keep you coming back, it’s a real gem.

 

Taman ShudTaman ShudViper Smoke
Viper Smoke creates its own space; an all encompassing spacey zone: the production, epic yet almost claustrophobic at the same time, the distorted vocals, twin bass and gothic atmosphere, create a place you don’t want to step out of, a space away from the banal and mundane, something all the best records manage.

 

 

EnvyEnvyAthiest’s Cornea
Envy are one of my all time favourite bands, so its always a huge treat to get my hands on a new album from them. This record is, dare I say it, more accessible than I’ve heard from them in the past – shorter tracks, very melodic, some actual singing rather than all screams or spoken word, however, none of these are negative observations, this is as huge and dreamy as they’ve ever been.

 

 

ParisoParisoPariso
Pariso’s final record unfortunately – it’s unashamedly shouty male hc, they batter you with noise, but have some great moments of technical finesse, which, along with the heady nastiness is what drew me to them in the first place. The tracks are dark and meaty but with an underlying core of something more dreamy; some of the riffs really soar. Really solid, a fitting end.

 


Hag face rip

Hag Face
R.I.P.
New Hag Face is never a bad hing, The Candadian all girl punk band don’t mess about.  Attitude and a clear message combine with memorable vocals and some great tuneful touches, good stuff.

 

 

drug church hit your headDrug Church – Hit Your Head
The first of two appearances on this list for Drug Church.  The EP below made my list early on and this full length was released in October; so the band managed to bookend my year nicely.  Drug Church are so easy to listen to – melodic, gruff and full of class riffs, but thematically and lyrically they stay pleasingly off centre, giving them nicely rough edges.  Love them.

 

flesh world
Flesh World –
All The Wild Animals In My Life
I consider this a grower compared to their 2013 record, but after a few play-throughs I’m now fully on board.  Abrasive yet melodic post-punk gems, dark and scuzzy yet also quite accessible in its own way

 

 

fist city
Fist City – Everything Is A Mess

This is a very accessible and immediately memorable sophomore album from the Canadian indie-punk four piece. Melodic songs, with excellent off-kilter clipped vocals, are backed by sometimes jangly, sometimes fast and spiky guitars and hypnotic rhythms; the combination is just perfect for rocking out to.

 


steve von till album cover

Steve Von Till –
A Life Unto Itself
Steve Von Till‘s fourth solo outing is a beautiful journey into Americana with his distinctively gruff vocal delivery leading the way along with sparse acoustic guitar sounds.   It is a powerful record, a warm and comforting set of songs.

 

 

Make album cover
Make –
The Golden Veil
Its great to hear an album that plays out as a whole experience, something I seem to come across less and less – this is old school post-rock, taking me back to the days of early Godspeed, Envy, Pelican – a no nonsense, moody record full of all encompassing tunes; huge, heady and powerful, it’s easy to get lost in.

 

the good life
The Good Life –
Everybody’s Coming Down
I’m a total sucker for anything by Tim Kasher, no secret there, this is a great album though despite my predisposition.  Pretty minimal but sporting plenty of fuzzy off-kilter guitars; it doesn’t go as far as dischordant but certainly skirts around it and the guitars ride over some nice melodic touches.

 

Hell Money
Hell Money
Discography
Hell Money are a local Punk/Hardcore band, this was their final offering as a band and It’s a great collection.  The band featured Livi, front woman of Twisted and Leigh from Goodtime Boys, so as you can imagine, it’s scuzzy punk of the highest order. 

 

Employed to ServeEmployed To Serve – Greyer Than You Remember
Greyer Than You Remember is a dark ride; quirky, technical, hardcore with metallic riffage which thunders and squeals under Justine’s powerful screams.  The sound is meaty and often verging on dischordant, not an easy listen then, but this isn’t pop music so you get what you signed up for, on balance it’s nasty and powerful but also full of surprises (in a good way).

 

Asunder Sweet and other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor –
Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
Not their most spectacular album but still very beautiful and worthy of a place on this list.  Godspeed have been constant companions of mine for so long I can’t imagine not getting excited about new material from them. I’ve played this album many times since its release and wouldn’t be without it.

 

 

EPs

Octaves Caravels Split EP
Octaves/Caravels Split
A cracking split, released early in the year.  Caravels have now gone their separate ways but they certainly went out on a high and this is the best I’ve heard from Octaves in a while. 

 

 

Swell-drug-church-520x520Drug ChurchSwell
This EP continues on where the last album finished and seagues comfortably into the new one – husky vocals, playful lyrics, great melodies, heavy hit drums and rich well-rounded guitars; the whole record is a great package of memorable and addictive tunes with no duds.

 

 

Maths EP Cover ImageMathsThe Fires Courting The Sea
It’s been 4 years since we’ve heard from Maths and this return sees them in great form with a solid release; new EP The Fires Courting The Sea is 6 tracks in just 11 minutes, a fast trip through their brand of screamo/hardcore. It may pass quickly but the journey is a satisfying one – tuneful tracks with great vocal interplay, stop/start rhythms and off kilter riffage.

 

Kindling
Kindling
Galaxies
I love me a bit of scuzzy, dreamy shoegaze and this is top notch stuff from No Idea Records. I feel like I’ve warped back to the 90s and the time of Slowdive et al.

 

 

Alright EPAlrightS/T
Poppy, female-fronted indie punks, Alright, hail from Charlotte, NC and feature members of Late Bloomer and It Looks Sad.  Truthfully it was the Late Bloomer connection that drew me in, in the first place but this self-titled EP is a really sweet release with light fuzz on the guitars, simple yet catchy melodies and a breezy feel.

 

Towanda EP
TowandaBlack Sheep
The super crunchy guitar sound on this EP is brilliant, along with the bratty female vocals, I’m into this.   I thought I’d heard enough of this kind of thing recently but the Montreal trio have really got to me.

 

 

Fleabite cover smallFleabiteTTYL
Jagged yet melodic girl fronted punky pop tunes from Fleabite who are one of my new favourite bands. They have top tunes and this new record is, if anything, even more melodic than their last. Fleabite always have a layer of harsh blown-out fuzz over everything but on this new EP their sound is richer, a little easier on the ears and has a lovely surf-rock quality. Love this.

 

Telepathic coverTelepathicPowers Of Ten
The new 6 track EP from the Bleeding Rainbow folks.   This is not a million miles from their old rockin’ shoegaze sound, if you were a fan of the old band you’ll likely be in to this too.  The EP has great melodies and is nicely heavy on the guitars.

 

 

Rakta em Transe
Rakta Em Transe EP

A bit of a mash up between Rakta and Cadaver em Transe expect dark, dreamy post-punk, with danceable beats and great melodies. Two great bands do their thing.

 

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Review: Svalbard Album

Svalbard album coverSvalbard – One Day All This Will End, Album Review

This may be their debut album but you know you’re listening to a band already totally in control of their sound,  elements of post-hardcore, post-rock, metal and doomier genres combine seemlesly with fantastic melodies and classic structres meant to draw you in.  The result is a poweful and positive record which is easy to connect with and come back to.

A listen to the band’s earlier EPs reveals a leaning more towards post-hardcore, a route they could easily have gone down and still been a great band, but they have gradually edged into more interesting territory.  So, by the time their split with Pariso came out last year, their sound was much more complex and rewarding and they were poised to hit us with this beautiful beast.

There was no doubt this record was going to be huge, but it is also dreamily epic and for such a heavy album, very uplifting.  Take the opener, Perspective, the melody running underneath soars and takes you with it, all the while those aggressive vocals add edge. Mid-way a slower section reigns you back in before the build towards the horizon.  Yes, yes yes.

Svalbard know how to work their listening audience, wringing out goosebumps and closed eyes and pounding fists. Disparity is richly layered and addictive, the kind of track you want to put on repeat. There are moments of post-rock beauty like measured and melancholy track The Vanishing Point and more straightforwardly hardcore moments like The Damage Done but all are bound in that unmistakable Svalbard feel.  This is the record we’ve been hoping they would release and it doesn’t disappoint, put it on your christmas wishlist.

The record is out now through Holy Roar Records.

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Review: Shopping, Why Choose

Shopping
Admission time. I haven’t listened to Shopping before. They are a band that have been at the edge of my radar for an age, people mention them all the time and they often feature in best of lists but I’d never got round to listening to them before, so, the long and short of it is, that I won’t be making comparrisons to their old records.

Standing on it’s own this is a decent record of jangly, minimal Brit punk with a surf edge to the guitar sound and shouty, slightly bratty female vocals – all good so far but not particularly out of the ordinary.  It is charming though, the charm comes from the jagged rhythms and relaxed ‘spoken’ vocals – it’s a record that is impossible not to bop about to.  Opener Wind Up sets things up nicely, the surf feel bringing a fun and breezy Summer vibe.  Take It outside has some nice (slightly shambolic) gang vocals and Straight Lines mixes things up again with male vocals taking the lead – they keep you on your toes throughout the record.

The album has a minimal sound; they aren’t afraid to let you hear the spaces between the notes, resisting the urge to pack it full of feedback and distortion – it does feel very raw and real but also clean and crisp, letting you hear the great melodies in full.

A solid record, fun but also well put together.

 

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Now Playing: August Round Up

This hasn’t been the best month; laid up, recovering from a dislocated knee, missing gigs I had tickets for and trapped in the flat because I can’t make it down the three flights of stairs I need to navigate to get to fresh air.  To avoid cabin fever I’ve been sprucing up the blog, catching up on reading (fanzines) and listening to some great music. Here are some recommendations from my recent binges:

 

Twisted UtopiaTwisted – Utopia
This album is so good. It was released in January but I only just picked up my copy from Specialist Records on the back of seeing them live – I urge you to check them out if they play anywhere near you. The album will be making my top ten this year because I haven’t heard a better example of catchy, scuzzy female fronted Brit-Punk in an age.  There are so many great melodies it feels unfair to pick favourites but if you want to check out a track look no further than Toxic Convener for a class example. It may be catchy fun but the record also doesn’t let you down on the punchy punk attitude, it oozes from every note. Fantastic.

 

the good lifeThe Good Life – Everybody’s Coming Down
I’m a total sucker for anything by Tim Kasher, no secret there, this is a great album though despite my predisposition.  Pretty minimal but sporting plenty of fuzzy off-kilter guitars; it doesn’t go as far as dischordant but certainly skirts around it and the guitars ride over some nice melodic touches.
If you’re looking for comparisons I’d say it walks the line between Tim’s solo work and his Cursive output, you can hear touches from both; folksy indie but with heavier blasts of guitar. As with other Good Life records though it’s more laid back and dreamy than both his other projects, some great female backing vocals on tracks like Diving Bell help to define the sound too.

 

Nervosas stNervosas – Nervosas
This new self-titled full length from the Ohio Punks feels more frantic than their previous records – they haven’t lost the dark edge or the melodies, the vocals are as goth as always with fantastic female backing and their sound is as immediate and addictive as ever but the pace is x2 and more aggressive.
Not very easy to get hold of a hard copy of this one in the UK unless you want to pay some epic postage but it is available on Bandcamp as a digital download.

 

EnvyEnvy – Atheist’s Cornea
Envy are one of my all time favourite bands, so its always a huge treat to get my hands on a new album from them. This record is, dare I say it, more accessible than I’ve heard from them in the past – shorter tracks, very melodic, some actual singing rather than all screams or spoken word, however, none of these are negative observations, this is as huge and dreamy as they’ve ever been.  This is of course an album of epic post-rock tunes, quiet/loud dynamics, beautiful strings and incredible crescendos of guitar to overwhelm.   I don’t think they have a bad record in them.

 

Towanda EP
Towanda – Black Sheep EP

The super crunchy guitar sound on this EP is brilliant, along with the bratty female vocals, I’m into this.   I thought I’d heard enough of this kind of thing recently but the Montreal trio have really got to me.

 

 

ParisoPariso – Pariso
This is Pariso’s final record, side A is new material which would have gone on a full-length and side B is essentially a rarities collection. Pariso are unashamedly shouty male hc, they batter you with noise, but, have some great moments of technical finesse, which, along with the heady nastiness is what drew me to them in the first place. The A side of this record points to what would have been a classic Pariso record in the making, it becomes tinged with melancholy when you know it will be their last release of new material. The tracks are dark and meaty but with an underlying core of something more dreamy; some of the riffs really soar. The B side is a nice touch, some gems to be had from their back catalogue, a nice package overall.

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Album Review: Tyranny Is Tyranny

Tyranny Is Tyranny – The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism

Tyranny Is Tyranny coverI was pleased to see this record arrive in my inbox as I was a big fan of the United Sons Of Toil record I reviewed for Roomthirteen back in the day, and this is a new band featuring the same folks. I was impressed with their activist spirit and their mix of alt-rock, punk rock and doom laden metal amongst other sounds and whilst this new record is something different it’s still very much the sound I would have expected. I was also pleased to hear that for a group of people with such strong ideals the lyrical messages still come across; they haven’t lot any of their anti-Capitalist edge.

Tyranny Is Tyranny still employ technical riffage and a dark feel as they once did under that different moniker, however this has a more post-rock, post-punk feel with moody atmospherics taking centre stage rather than a scarred angsty edge.  I love this change in direction, especially since they have kept hold of their uniqueness, that rootless melting pot of ideas and noises, but this record feels more relaxed and subtle.  The melodies are strong and the whole feel is expansive with widescreen orchestral moments in evidence.

“The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism” was released on 13th June 13 through Phratry Records. I haven’t heard Tyranny Is Tyranny’s 2013 debut, but I feel compelled to check it out having heard this, if you’d like to do the same head over here to their Bandcamp.

 

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Album Review: MAKE, The Golden Veil

Make album coverMAKE’s new album (out 20th July) is a serious, doom laden affair but it has a gentle heart.

In the three years since I reviewed their debut album, MAKE have been busy evolving their sound – they are stlll making epic metallic post-rock but this new record feels infused with a wider set of influences.  Although the record has a greater scope it somehow sounds more refined; a softer side to the band has emerged and with it a dreamier soul, taming those hard edges and bringing everything together to create a more satisfying mix.  Where Trephine was more direct and sludgy The Golden Veil feels less grounded, drifting wonderfully, concerned more with atmosphere and beautiful expansive guitars than with power chords.  As with their previous releases there is a cinematic aura at the core of the record with a  widescreen feel still in evidence (on tracks like The Architect), but this record brews more slowly, giving you time to enjoy the view.

Its great to hear an album that plays out as a whole experience, something I seem to come across less and less – this is old school post-rock, taking me back to the days of early Godspeed, Envy, Pelican – a no nonsense, moody record full of all encompassing tunes; huge, heady and powerful, it’s easy to get lost in and is sure to feature in my records of the year.

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