Category: Now Playing

Records Of The Year 2016

Here it is, my list.  make of it what you will.  2016 has been a strange kind of year but one thing it hasn’t lacked is a soundtrack.

 

LPs

Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp
Michelle Zauner (also of Little Big League) impresses with an emotive album of beautifully crafted pop songs dedicated to the memory of her mother.  Her vocals are sugary sweet bubbles carrying track after track of excellent, joyful melodies. At times the record can be difficult to process without tears threatening to come, and the line between celebration and melancholic reflection is finely balanced.

 

Touché Amoré – Stage Four
Painful subject matter is balanced with great melodies, memorable riffs and moments of raw emotion on this fantastic album, (another record sadly dedicated to Mother), the band bring a new twist to their sound here with tunes leading the way and screaming sometimes giving way to sung or spoken vocals letting the listener experience the impactful lyrics in full.

 

Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe
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, giving the pop tunes a chance to shine through.

 

Taman Shud – Oracle War
The record has a dream-like quality, repetitive, distorted, droning loops of riffage and vocal chants lend the atmosphere a ritualistic quality, and you feel yourself lost in their world of smoggy, doom laden, psychedelic licks, meanderings, over the top vocal effects and satanic crooning; Taman Shud really are an entity all their own.

 


John Congleton and the Nighty Night – Until The Horror Goes

In another incarnation John Congleton produced some of my favourite albums, ever, The Paperchase is unfortunately no more, however this album is an interesting transition into a more slick, electro style for him, still with a slightly disturbing lyrical content and packed with great melodies.

 


Svin – Missionær

Quite a chilled, low-key release fom Svin this time, a little less bombastic and epic sounding than I’m used to from them and with a dark, cold tone, this record is as experimental as ever though and has some sweet moments which have had me coming back for more.

 


Towanda – Plaything

All girl punk from Canada, attitude and tunes rule here in equal measure; they featured on my list last ear with the cracking EP Black Sheep and proving they have plenty more offer, this full length really hits the spot.  I just love their brand of distorted, rockin’ punk tunes.

 


Belgrado – Obraz

Dark post-punk from Barcelona in true 80s style but with a modern, experimental twist, Belgrado are consistently solid and this album delivers on atmosphere and tunes.

 

 


VHS – Gift Of Life
The Seattle Punks are consistently solid.  This album hasn’t been off my playlist this year; with a minimal lo-fi sound, class riffs, great vocals and some really memorable tunes its a winner.

 


Télédétente 666 – Karen

An intriguing album of industrial-electro, noise-punk; the riffs are what keep you coming back to the record, fantastic distorted and melodic scuzz, darkly moody but super rockin’ stuff.  Love it.

 

 


Behaviour – 375 Images of Angels
This record, released through Iron Lung, reminds me, at the back of my mind of many things but none that I can pinpoint successfully.  It is an off kilter, dramatic (at times), minimal (at times), darkly droney and very addictive punk (ish) album.

 

 

Also in the running were:

Acid Fast – Last Night on Earth
La Luna – Always Ready
Deftones – Gore
Planes Mistaken For Stars – Prey
Make – Pilgrimage of Loathing
Mannequin Pussy – Romantic

 

EPs

Neurotic Fiction – Demo
A 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.

 

 


Solids – Else
Canadian guitar rock with heart.  Solids have the knack that all great duos have; their sound is much bigger than it sould be, the guitar distortion and dual vocals fill every moment with lovely noise.

 

 


Tough Tits – Hairless EP
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne all girl punk trio;  lo-fi production, shrill vocals, uncomplicated drums.  What this lacks in scope it more than makes up for with energy and attitude.

 

 

Grieving – Demonstrations
There is something really charming about this EP from the Cambridge four piece.  I get Reuben and Million Dead vibes at times and then more of an indie feel with some sweet riffs; it is in essence very British, with a strong 00’s thing going on. I like that it’s minimal with an emphasis on some great melodic moments and a lovely clear guitar sound.

 

Terrible 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.

 

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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.

 

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.

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.

Now Playing: June 2015

There have been some great releases the last few months, I haven’t been able to cover them all in full so here’s a rundown of some of the records I’ve been enjoying:

fist cityFist 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 and will make you want to do just that.  The songs meld with dreamy/spacey rumbling instrumental interludes to add interest and what you get is an accomplished, well rounded record made to last.
(previously published in Buzz mag June)

flesh world
Flesh World – 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.

 

 

valet
Valet – Nature

A nice bit of super-dreamy shoegaze which also touches on many other genres here and there and has lovely floaty vocals and 90s sounding riffs.  The opener, Sunday, is a favourite, reminding me of Slowdive (if they were covering the Cocteau Twins perhaps).  A decent change of pace.

 

annabel album coverAnnabel – Having It All
While I don’t think this is Annabel’s strongest release,  a new release from them is always welcome so it doesn’t take long for me to get lost in their emo, indie-rock tunes.  This record feels slicker, less immediate and quirky,  however there are still some great tunes here and it is worthy of your time.  The jury is out on whether it will stand the test of time for me against their other records, but I’ll worry about that later.

sweet john bloom
Sweet John Bloom – Weird Prayer
Short melodic punchy tracks, ranging in style from indie rock to post-punk and power pop the album is certainly diverse but not erratic.

 

 

Fleabite cover small
Fleabite – TTYL

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 cover
Telepathic – Powers Of Ten EP

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.

 

 

Temple cover
Temple – Kill/Let Die

Just two tracks here but really decent (emo) indie-rock tunes and getting repeated spins from me.  I love the punchy, jagged guitars, strong bass lines and the mix of sung and shouted vocals running over eachother.

Goodtime Boys Live Review, Undertone, 24th May 2014

Rain

It would have been great to have heard the Goodtime Boys new album Rain properly before seeing them play on 24th May, but it wasn’t to be – our PC only came back from the shop a few days ago after breaking down with the album stuck inside its cold dead maw, leaving me sadly playing catch-up.

Honestly though, not knowing the tunes by heart didn’t take anything away from their performance, which was strong and fluid.  Since seeing them last in 2012 it feels like the Goodtime Boys sound has evolved gradually into something more melodic and varied and in a live setting the band felt tighter and more confident.  It was a commanding performance even in that small venue, and with no stage to separate them and us, they held our attention easily while they ripped through their set – playing pretty much the whole of the new album.

It feels strange that Goodtime Boys are still playing £5 gigs in tiny basement venues in the UK when they’re signed to Bridge 9 in the US, but Pennie explained to me after the gig that the band is not interested in being the next big thing; after all, he’s been there before and to me it seems right that they are getting to play with bands they love in front of smaller groups of hardcore fans like this.

Of course, it wasn’t just Goodtime Boys playing, before the headliners the excellent Svalbard opened the evening with their noodling envy style guitars over screamed girl/boy vocals.  This band are getting better all the time and I’ve read a few reviews where they’re being touted as the best upcoming band in the UK and it’s understandable – they sound fantastic live, arguably better than their recorded output. They are obviously well practised and pull off all those epic post-rock style moments with ease, sounding huge in the small venue.  They also pulled in a pretty sizeable crowd for first band on.

Next up was London hardcore mob Grappler; under the surface of weighty riffage and heavy hit drums there is a lot more going on – some complex guitar work and nicely melodic sections filter through and I imagine that on record the little touches would be even more evident. Their live show is all about their intense frontman though – he’s almost scary up that close – leaning in and screaming in our faces whilst eyeballing us with manic stares and then moving side to side, kicking out and flailing limbs in every direction catching the front row with glancing blows.

I’m going to recommend you check out all the bands mentioned here – Goodtime Boys debut full length album Rain is out now through Bridge 9 in the US or you can order from Palm Reader Records in the UK.  Svalbard and Grappler can be found and listened to on their Bandcamp pages (links in the band names).

 

 

Now Playing – Picks For May 2014

There has been so much good music to distract me of late that I think it warrants a full ‘now playing’ post in addition to the usual little list on the home page.  Not all is new in terms of release dates, but its all new to me and, I think, worth passing on.

 

Flesh World cover imageFlesh World – MLP
I seem to hearing about this album everywhere lately (championed by MRR and The Quietus amongst others), but the great reviews are deserved – this is a fantastic album.  Post-punk with memorable melodies, wrapped in warm fuzz; it’s dark and moody but also catchy and infectious and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.  The album is available through Bandcamp at a price to suit you or from La Vida Es Un Mus webstore.

 

The Good Wife Cover ImageThe Good Wife – Love Songs
This is available for free via Bandcamp in an unmastered format as unfortunately The Good Wife is no more.  Apparently the band split up shortly after recording this album but even in its unfinished form it holds some monstrous tracks and serves as a reminder of how great this Brit noise-rock band were.

 

Perfect Pussy Album Cover ImagePerfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love
Noise-punk mob Perfect Pussy seem to be making a name for themselves in recent months which is great to see. Their new album is a lesson in raw fuzz and sludgy production; there is nowhere to hide from the barrage of harsh guitar noise and the vocals are sometimes lost in the grime. However, the album is also full of energy and attitude and has an oddly optimistic edge; despite the sometimes startlingly personal lyrics, warm melodies still manage to seep through. Find it here.

 

Benny The Jet Rodriguez Cover ImageBenny The Jet Rodriguez – Home. Run
This is going to be my Summer 2014 album,  although it came out last Summer – oh well, I may be late to the party but I got there in the end. This is lovely; sweet and catchy, like a cross between Make Wave, Little Big League and Cayetana (in my humble opinion). You can listen on Bandcamp but unfortunately it’s not available for download; so far the only distro in the UK I’ve manage to find it on is Strictly No Capital Letters so I recommend you get over there and buy it now.

 

Mountain Cult Cover ImageMountain Cult – LP
This is another old one, it came out in August 2012 according to Bandcamp but is well worth checking out if you can afford to ship it from the US (no download code available unless you purchase the LP unfortunately) . The album reminds me somewhat of Clinic but much more lo-fi, scuzzy and punk-edged. This is a dark and moody record with great bass lines, jangly guitars and almost unintelligible vocals, I really can’t get enough of it. Listen here.

 

Everyone Goes To Space Demo
Everyone Goes To Space – Demo

A recent find on Bandcamp from this Brazilian group, and one of the most satisfying emo records I’ve heard this year so far. It’s very much in the style of Dowsing, Annabel, Nai Harvest and the like but with a heavier edge at times – great melodies, great to dance to and available here.

New Music and Zines July 2013

A little late in the day his month due to continuing internet problems which I won’t bore you with again here but I’m finally online and posting again.

I’ve really been enjoying the Purple 7 12″ which arrived a couple of weeks ago from Let’s Pretend Records, the tunes have a fuzzy 90s charm which is utterly charming and makes me feel all nostalgic for my teens – especially the opener Poison Ivy  – a top tune. The new David Lynch album The Big Dream is really decent too – it has that Twin Peaks/Badalamenti feel to it and will be getting  a few more listens I’m sure while I write up my Roomthirteen review.

I got hold of Limited Readership zine issue 4 a couple of weeks ago too, brit publication with a laid back, personal writing style (lots of musing) and mixed interests.

Limited Readership #4

Punk and metal (mainly old school) are both covered along with some interviews, plenty of nostalgia, a couple of articles on movies and a small review section. This zine is always a breezy read with articles generally quite broadly covered but with that personal perspective nudging its way in here and there – as I mentioned there’s quite a bit of musing going on, Rob Tyers likes to think things through and chat to us about it which is one of the things I like about this zine, you feel like you’re getting an insight into the person behind the paper.

As always, it has a great design and layout too!

 

Off to see MINE tonight in Newport hopefully, which, if I manage to get there, will no doubt see a review on these pages. More soon.

New Music and Zines June 2013

It’s June already and I don’t seem to have had a great deal to write about so far but May and June have seen a bumper crop of zines come my way and a few great new records, not least the fantastic new Svin EP which I reviewed for Roomthirteen here and subsequently bought on vinyl from the band, hence the pic below.

Svin are a Danish  post-rock avant-garde four piece, the standard guitar and drum set up is bolstered with the addition of some brilliant saxophone and clarinet and makes for a really rich and intense sound.   You can listen on their Bandcamp and make sure you also check out their 2011 album Heimat.

 

In zines I’ve really enjoyed reading the new issue of Fluke (#11) Fluke #11 Cover Imageand am now sorry I’ve never managed to pick it up before, essentially the zine is  interviews only but they’re super interesting, more insightful and detailed than in most zines I’ve read thus far.  I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Barker Gee and Ed Crawford and the piece on Hobo art is fascinating. The layout is just the way I like it, type and cut and paste with some handwritten elements – an obvious labour of love.  I recommend picking this up or any back issues you can get hold of; try the Facebook for info on new issues or wowcool.com for back issues especially although if you’re shipping outside the US the postage can be a touch expensive on that one!

 

Degenerate issue 12 cover image Degenerate issue 12 came out recently too, it’s a slim issue but A4 sized and each page is packed with words and pictures. As always, this issue is impeccably put together and looks great ( a mix of type, cut and paste). An interesting article on SF and interview with Scraper led me to listen to the band here and the zine does include a red flexi disc with two tracks from the band on (Third Wheel and Your Friends Are Hippies). Also inside is an interview with Rank/Xerox, an article on post-punk and record reviews. Find Degenerate on Facebook and more of Sam’s writing at his blog. Recommended.

 

Brit zine A Short Fanzine About Rocking A Short Fanzine About Rocking cover image is now in its Spring 2013 issue (or issue 35 if you’re being picky) and has quite a broad range of bands covered – everything from Deftones to Creative Adult so they’re not too worried about keeping it underground, actually that fact can be quite refreshing and also means that the zines runs at a massive 82 pages. I sometimes think with this zine that they’d be better off making it more frequent and skinnier as many of the live reviews included are 6 or 7 months old, likewise the albums. I will admit I tend to skim the  reviews by the more mainstream bands as I’ve already read a ton of reviews elsewhere, although you may argue with zines it doesn’t matter so much as they tend to be the kind of thing you pick up at a show 6 months after they come out so it may just be me being picky. The front section is packed with interviews, not all are hugely interesting (the usual how did you come up with the band name/ how did you form questions) but because there is so much content there are a few really decent ones, definitely still worth picking up.

My MRR sub just ran out and I’m contemplating whether or not to pick up another one, it has been interesting reading about the more obscure end of the spectrum and the record and zine reviews have helped me discover some great records and zines since reading. I’ve also become fond of the Al Quint and Degenerate Ephemera columns. One to mull over.

 

Back To The Future

I recently acquired a new turntable:

Rega Turntable

I’m not going to do some huge advert for it, however it’s about a million times better than my old one – I hadn’t realised how muddy the sound was on it until I cranked up this one. The result of this new depth of sound has had me dragging out old albums again. This probably should come as no surprise if you’ve been to this blog before as I am given to harking back to the past anyway, but I’ve remembered why I love vinyl so much and how vast the difference is between it and the sound of my ipod (even with decent headphones).

This1988 album by Bastro:

Bastro Cover Image

Rode Hard And Put Up Wet sounds superb again – it brings back memories of me listening to it at 17 with the door to my tiny box room shut having a sneaky cigarette next to the open window, I loved this record and played it to death on my old hand-me-down system (which incidentally was still better than the one i just consigned to dusty under bed ‘storage’).

This is a real post-hardcore gem, although at the time I probably would have called it American Hardcore, and I recall buying it because of the Albini connection (he engineered the album) and they used a drum machine so it had that Big Black feel to it. They have interesting time signatures and fantastic discordant horns which I remembered instantly this week when I was listening to the new Svin record (read my Roomthirteen review here) and I immediately pulled this six track mini album out of the stack to get stuck back into.

I’m sure there will be more nostalgic waffling on old records to come soon. I’m even considering digging out my old Ride and Slowdive stuff although I fear they may not have aged so well.