Tag: Post-Punk

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Lower – Seek Warmer Climes Album Review

Lower – Seek Warmer Climes Album Review

Lower albumDanish four piece Lower released their debut full length record on 16th June.  In Denmark they are label mates with Iceage (Escho) and like that band they have also been picked up by Matador for this release.

Lower have more of a moody post-punk sound than their label mates, marked with looping downbeat riffs, occasional moments of dischord and dreamily melancholic vocal lines, however what they do share is a knack for melody, and many of the tracks on this debut will have you echoing the music with languid head bobbing.

My familiarity with Lower only extends as far as owning the Someone’s Got It In For Me / But There Has To Be More and Walk on Heads EPs (both from 2012), and this LP has a somewhat softer edge –  smoother lines with a less raw and squally sound, especially when compared to Walk on Heads’ more urgent scuzzy guitars. This softened sound doesn’t actually take anything away from their tunes however, in fact it refines the tracks and makes for a more mature package – the melodies come to the fore, pushed by the excellent vocals. Lost Weight, Perfect Skin is a briliantly constructed post-punk pop song; from the repetitive central guitar riff to the laid back but catchy vocal lines, it sticks in your head and is one of the tracks that will have you coming back to the record.

Much of the rest of the album is more subtle – dark bass lines and dreamy vocals  creating a swirling, moody atmosphere (Expanding Horizons) or quietly dischordant and rising to a more intense climax (Tradition). This is one of those records that will catch listeners by surprise – the curious may find themselves becoming entranced with its subtle charms and have it grow into one of their hits of the year. Well worth checking out.

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.