Press sheets for CocoRosie’s new album The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn tell a tale — “From her humble beginnings in the South of France, the saga sailed the Seven Seas all the way to Reykjavik. Upon return to her Parisian homeland, she shared a mystical rendezvous with mystical sailors…” — offering example of the sister’s Casady spinning a magical yarn around themselves and delving out from normal existence into strange realms, where an evening at Shepherd’s Bush Empire doesn’t quite seem to fit. Luckily the music is the perfect musical embodiment of this and captures the listener off into it’s spirit…
Steakknife band members Lee Hollis (Vocals), Hell G (Bass), Marc Mondial (Guitar), L. Demon (Guitar) and Lorenzo Stiletti (Drums) have played in the likes of Spermbirds, 2Bad and Challenger Crew, and if these are not exactly household names their pedigree can be more easily judged by the quality of Steakknife’s touring partners over the years – The Descendants, The Cramps and Nomeansno. Parallel Universe Of The Dead mines the same vein of anarchic punk rock of the latter of those three, though it tones down the unhinged madness quotient somewhat, either to its credit or detriment (depending on your viewpoint – I’m still a little undecided).
The Roll Deep crew could be considered the first Grime supergroup, London’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan. Out of their ranks have stepped Dizzie Rascal and Wiley (the latter having ‘retired’ from the mic to concentrate on producing), and their current ranks include underground heroes like Skepta and JME. Their major-label debut, In At The Deep End, bought them relative success with the likes of the Maisonettes-sampling “The Avenue” and “Shake A Leg”. Though they were dropped by Relentless they’ve come back with the first fruits of their own Roll Deep recordings imprint.
The Mirror and the Destroyer is the debut from Attack! Vipers!, a metallic punk band whose various member’s backgrounds include groups such as Jets Vs Sharks, Seven Arrows in Your Bastard Heart, Last Kiss and Thirst.
The Ministry of Sound Sessions compilations aim to bring the “World’s Finest House Music Mixed by the World’s Finest DJs” which, on the evidence offered by superstar house DJ Mark Knight here, means if you love your house music, you probably should stop reading and get on your way to the shops now.
The Crystal Rainbow Pyramid Tour is an apt name for two psychedelic bands on tour in the United States. Mammatus, a recent addition to the revival of psychedelic, progressive loudness are from Santa Cruz, California. Their first record, featuring artwork from Arik Roper, is a stumbling cohesion of early Dead Meadow and Sleep. Pure fantasy is summoned in four long, down-tempo psychedelic allegories; swords, dragons and the epic all notably included.
Crazed art-rockers Tarantula AD are no more but now the same people Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans and Gregory Rogove), are working under a different name (Priestbird), with the same idea (genre twisting experiments blending rock, folk, and epic atmospheres) but with a slightly different approach (more focused and developing moods as opposed to their former scizophrenic shiftings).
Glasgow dance-punk band Shitdisco prove themselves to be the life of the party with a debut that embraces the new rave fad. While it does not make an album that will have an lastability, producer and ex-Clor man Luke Smith ensures that Kindgom of Fear is a breakneck rollercoaster of a ride through tongue-in-cheek references to funk, old school disco and a dash of house.
Onieda Road is The Kamikaze Hearts’ fifth lp, though this is the first to be released in the UK following their signing to One Little Indian subsidiary Tangled Up! Recordings. The band originates in the mountains and farmland around Albany, upstate New York. Their self-proclaimed “upstate porch rock” is certainly on the rootsy side of alt-country, and its easy to imagine the band sitting in wicker rocking chairs, strummin’ away their mainly acoustic songs of smalltown America.
Amandine formed in the small Northern Swedish town of Sandviken as a side project to its founding members Olof Giglöf and John Anderssön’s main projects. The addition of additional musicians and an eventual move to the relative metropolis of Malmö lead to a deal with FatCat and a debut album This Is Where Our Hearts Collide. Solace In Sore Hands is their second effort.
The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn is the eagerly-awaited third album from Sierra and Bianca Casady, aka CocoRosie, coming after their much-lauded previous efforts La Maison de Mon Reve and Noah’s Ark. The stylistic mash-up of artistic operatics, sweetness, darkness and streetwise beats and rhythms displayed a desire to tunnel a new route and push themselves into new places, a desire which was fulfilled, especially on the second record, though could this continue or have they now reached a plateau?
Project:Death creeps in with a deep droning wash of distortion before beefing into a healthy slab of Melvins-style sludge doom. This is a pervasive sludge and the opening track, titled “Do They Ever Return”, sets a mood which the album continues throughout, speeding up and slowing down here and there, but generally wallowing in the dark swampy corners of the musical landscape.
Fans of punk/grind/blast bands like The Locust, Daughters, Some Girls, Blood Brothers etc plus old-school hardcore acts like Agnostic Front will love this. Das Oath’s third eponymous record (of four total) is an awesome burst of raw ferocity — sawing guitars, pounding/blasting drum work and screaming rage.
Big Business are back, and they mean it. Their second album, Here Come The Waterworks, is a roaring hero epic full of huge riffs and equally large vocals. The Los Angeles power duo also obviously now make their name by being in The Melvins as well as their own band — and they still just tour all the time and obviously generally love it.
Wolf & Cub are another in an ever growing list of lupine-monikered acts who don’t quite run the gamut of popular music, but certainly pop up at numerous odd points of the spectrum. The non-definitive list includes the retro punk of Japan’s Guitar Wolf, Canadian noise terrorists AIDS Wolf, Will Oldham and Matt Sweeney vehicle Superwolf and Swedish electro-oddballs Fox & Wolf. WAC have got the dark, narcotic retro rock ‘n roll angle sewn-up, though.
The Sea and Cake specialise in shimmering, well crafted pop; soundtracks to dozing in hammocks, flying kites or cycling through the countryside. Everybody is their seventh record since the 1993 self titled debut and retains the summery optimism and ephemeral jazz flavour of previous outings.
It might not have all it’s high-spirited charm or full throttle imagination, but Long Live The Ripps is imbued with the spirit of Supergrass’ debut, I Should Coco, and a clutch of corking punk-pop songs. In fact the rattlingly good “Vandals”, with it’s tale youthful indiscretion, could be The Ripps’ own “Caught By The Fuzz”.
The Rocket EP follows hot on the heels of Working For A Nuclear Free City’s debut and features four new tracks, none of which appeared on that eponymous long player. Despite the short time between first and second releases, the new material, whilst fitting into the groove left by WFANFC, does not feel like off-cuts from an album session and suggests a band unwilling to rest on their creative laurels and wait for people to look their way.
When James Murphy turned his hand to heading up a band in the form of LCD Soundsystem, the celebrated producer/remixer/head of DFA could easily have taken on one too many roles. But after a celebrated first album and successful global tour he proved up to the task and is back with Sound of Silver, billed as a rebirth as a pop band yet retaining all the rocking elements that made LCD such a powerful and fun act.
Grinderman is the alter-ego of four Bad Seeds, or Nick Cave and three Bad Seeds (Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos and Martyn Casey), a new side-project which found its birth when Cave was writing material for the double album Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus a couple of years ago. Having grown to include Cave’s common collaborators and form a fully fledged outfit in it’s own right Grinderman is an exiting outlet for all the crazier demons that the four members bring to the Bad Seeds but which generally remain lurking in the background of their softer, poetic music.
Phinius Gage position themselves somewhere between contemporary, commercial emo and early 90s skate punk as peddled by Pennywise and their ilk. All chuggy mute/release chord sequences and strummed octaves with the addition of a double bass drum pedal. The vocals are popemo through and through with lots of held last syllables accented or often unpinned by “wooow!” backing and the occasional adoption of the call/response format.
Odori is the first full length from Radicalfashion, the pseudonym of Kobe based Japanese experimental composer and pianist Hirohito Ihara. The record combines electronically manipulated found sounds and field recordings with more conventional piano work. Ihara cites French impressionist Maurice Ravel as a defining influence. This is certainly evident in the way mood and atmosphere are valued over melody. However more contemporary forces are also at play as evinced by the use of short repeating phrases, pioneered by Steve Reich in his early ‘Process music’ phasing works. The result of this marriage of old and new is rich, atmospheric and remarkably visually evocative, sounding somewhat like a soundtrack to one of Michel Gondry’s animated dream sequences.
Restlesslist’s development has seen them expanding from roots in bedroom lo-fi as a two-piece (Matt Twaites and Ben Elliot) creating collages from calculator keyboards, guitars, found sound samples and broken beats, into a full band (adding Tom White and Crispin Cairns) to build soundtrack-style instrumentals, skewed carnival themes and walls of atmosphere. The groups first EP as a four piece, Eyes Are On Your Hands, found a point at what could easily be termed ‘mid-fi’, the original lo-fi ideas being brought out into more rounded songs with a much higher quality sound production, though not quite hi-fi. Last year’s Butlin Breaks 7” continued a trend upwards in catchiness, at least in the upbeat title-track A-side which opened with theatrical jazz-hands and moved through western guitar twangs and rousing Bond-esque cornet. The flip side, “The Cowboy Song”, fittingly showed a different side to the band in an atmospheric, almost post-rock number.
The project is a vehicle for 22 year old Oxford Graduate Ben Hudson, who recruited his Library after being drawn to, and finding surprising success with, London’s hip hop scene. This success has included work with Dizzee Rascal and Sway and a whole year as undefeated Jump Off champion (a kind of live producer battle based around making beats from scratch). Sensibly, rather than trying to be a home counties Eminem (“Hi/My name is Rupert”) Mr Hudson has been true to his background, celebrating his literary pretensions and singer-songwriter background to create an interesting, diversive sound.
The Hussy’s are the part creation of James McColl, the songwriter for 90’s Britpop also rans The Supernaturals (purveyors of 1000lbs-of-good-nature-per-square-inch-indie like “Smile”). Sensibly, rather than fronting their new project with blokey ordinaryness they’ve recruited a young girl called Fili from obscurity (to slightly less obscurity at the moment) in order to add some much needed glamour out front.