If a measure of a debut album is the quality of the guest stars on its follow up then TVOTR’s first long player, Desparate Youth And Bloodthirsty Babes, was a cracker. Their follow-up features the vocal talents of labelmates Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead) and Katrina Ford (Celebration) and a certain David Bowie. The New York group have also expanded to a five piece, founding members David Sitek and Tunde Adebimpe being joined Kyp Malone, Jaleel Bunton and lastly Gerrard Smith.
This is the debut mini-album from Brighton three piece The Zico Chain. The six tracks fly by in a blink-and-you’ll miss it 15 minutes, each one a feral, snarling slab of Brit Rock. The singer makes Kurt Cobain sound like Bing Crosby choking on honey. The riffs hit you like a medicine ball rolled in broken glass. The drummer has one speed. Fast.
Though it’s a (grammatically incorrect) plural, Lilys is really only one man. Sure, there’s been a revolving cast of supporting musicians throughout the 7 albums attributed to this name, more than 70 of them in fact (from bands as diverse as The Icarus Line and Beachwood Sparks), but Kurt Heasley is the ever-present beating heart and soul. Listening to Everything Wrong Is Imaginary it’s hard to think of Heasley as a Mark E Smith-style despot scaring off and sacking band members with every album, more like a maverick musician that everyone wants to work with.
The third in a series of Hydra Head remix albums, Alter contains fourteen de- and re-constructions of tracks from the blinding Knut back catalogue — the Swiss metal powerhouse group have ground out four records for the label over the last ten years, including last years Terrorformer and 2001’s awesome Bastardiser. Actually compiled and completed back in 2004 the compilation brings together a range of reworkers: Genevan compatriots such as Seth Svollensen, Ad’s, and Lad and Andres; electronic noise pioneers like KK Null and Mick Harris, other innovators like Dalek and Oren Ambarchi and surprisingly enough, yes, on a remix album, Justin Broadrick.
I like ska music. I like punk. But I fucking hate ska punk. The upbeat, aren’t-we-wacky, long shorts and dreadlocks shit completely passes me by. I mention this as there’s mixed messages on this debut by noisy Liverpool 5-piece, Stig. One the plus side there’s tours and associations with gameboy-mentalist Scotch Egg and Shitmat from the Wrong Music label, and a PR description incorporating theremins and “dirty hawaiian slide” amongst myriad other instruments. Unfortunately this everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach also includes “ska flavoured brass and dirty guitars”. Hmmmm.
“Two gaysemetrical superheroes who have come to spread the message of fun to queerions, hip hoppers, and rockers all over the world”, sounded like a bit of a muff-full to me. I mean, David Bowie and Cyndi Lauper, the island of lesbos and black man’s music going by the name of hip hop. What is the world of Retard Disco coming to? Turns out Scream Club aren’t David Bowie and Cyndi Lauper despite the more than a passing resemblance and are in fact two white girl rappers going by the names of Cindy Wonderful and Sarah Adorable.
Epsilons are a four-piece band from Orange-County, they read Aldous Huxley, they play a rangey garage rock and one of them is still in school. Get used to this sort of promo blurb because these young whippersnappers have the kind of ingredients that leave A’n’R men seeing digits and dollars. Exotic names (e.g. Charlie Moonheart) and age (youngest is still only 16 years old) aside, they’ve already been gigging for two years- that’s already a lot more than The Strokes had been — and they’re checking bands (Devo, The Mummies, The Sonics etc) that are rarely in the same cosmos as kids that age.
They have is a general affinity with US indie bands like Rilo Kiley and particularly Death Cab for Cutie — more satchels and hailclips than skateboards and baggy shorts. The vocals are mostly sung by both Halstead and Goswell and they recall the dreamy sense that Joy Zipper infuse their songs with, but they perhaps lack that duo’s subtle knife edge in a lot of the delivery — veering towards the sweet rather than the sardonic (Though a few bitter lines prevail, like “everyone I ever loved was fucked up” on “Big Star Baby”). There is also a very British edge to Puzzles Like You, not least with their accents of course, and also in the sixties organ swells of “Kill The Lights” or the similarities to later Teenage Fanclub that abound.
Varsity Drag is the latest musical project from original Lemonheads founder Ben Deily and three other vets from a band called Unbalanced. Deily left The Lemonheads in ‘89 after three albums — dude, you missed that pay cheque — just prior to when their mix of power-pop-grunge ‘exploded’ in the early 90s. Deily left to carry out a career in advertising.
Cigarettes last longer than this mini EP. So this is how it goes. We all stood outside the fire exit to the music factory chuffing on tabs. Looking at the puddles that had collected from the morning’s rain, I could see little prisms of light. Everyone was pretty much the same this week. I wondered if this little scene shot through some grainy black and white camera might bring some chic to the toe. A bit of Beverly Knight and a little Barry White. This EP evokes lounge jazz and this was all just a passing thought.
Outputmessage is not one of the most captivating pseudonyms thrown at me in the last few months but is nevertheless the misnomer that 22 year old Virginian, Bernard Emmanuel Farley (I probably wouldn’t use his real name either) rolls with when delivering his mix of house, techno and general electronica. Nebulae is Farley’s debut album and seeks, in his own words, to focus upon melody whilst blending film-sound track inflected scores. Not great news for those of loose mouthed variety of techno stompers, but for myself with techno and house being neither really my cup of tea nor my kettle of fish I wondered whether this record would indeed see me drinking the proverbial herbal whilst smoking the mackerel.
Following Saturday night’s tribute to legendary jazz guitarist Derek Bailey, avant-garde composer and musician John Zorn continued his weekend residency at London’s Barbican and also his acknowledgement of his major influences with a programme influenced by Aleister Crowley. The evening consisted of the performance of two compositions based on the work of the British occult master, and also a screening of the film The Man We Want To Hang, directed by another follower of Crowley’s, Keneth Anger, shown with accompanying sounds played by Zorn.
Greedy Baby is the exiting new collaborative package between longtime techno duo Ed Handley and Andy Turner, formerly of The Black Dog but more recently and commonly known as Plaid, and video artist/director Bob Jaroc. The audiovisuals have already played live and to impressive reception — being asked back after their performance at Ether Festival, and also being chosen to open the proceedings at the first ever Optronica festival of music and film at London’s IMAX.
Entheogen marks the band’s uneasy pigeonholeing, as they carve out a route through atmospheric wastelands and thrashing hardcore terrain with a passion for crazed math and a disregard for generic classification. It’s not simply a template quiet/loud doomy post-metal sound a la Isis, Pelican or Neurosis, although there is a definite debt owed to these bands and their own experiments in both the thoughtful and extreme regions of heavy music.
Final Relaxation is certainly an interesting record — “Your ticket to death through hypnotic suggestion” states the back sleeve, also advertising it as “The most unusual album ever sold!” Indeed it is unusual and most intriguing, however, does it live up to it’s promise? Is it as interesting as it sounds? Does it lead to the death of the listener? Well, I listened to it, and i’m still alive, and I have to say, i’m slightly disappointed.
This is a return to form for the Brooklyn-based Radio 4 after a well received debut (Gotham, 2002) but then a lacklustre second Stealing Of A Nation two years later. Like those previous efforts they invest a political angle to many of the songs (the US Government’s abject failure to deal with the aftermath of hurricaine Katrina is considered on a couple) and maintain an urgent and dynamic groove throughout, but this is the first release on a major label – so the pressure’s on.
Prolific producer Venetian Snares, AKA Aaron Funk, unleashes his first bought of breakcore for 2006 and brings with him more delightful melodies to accompany his harsh beats. For a man accustommed to releasing numerous albums in a year, for Cavalcade he has drawn on the classical influences present for Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett (Planet Mu, 2005) to give a lush sound to the electronic layers that the strings offered on Csillag.
This gig was a rare appearance of The Dodge Brothers in Southampton, one of few outside Lymington, away from their residency and core fanbase at the Thomas Tripp. And the intimate Platform Tavern on Southampton’s Quayside rose to the occasion, filled by an incredibly receptive audience, who at points even flowed onto the pavement outside.
This was much more than a gig, or a concert it was an event. For a start we’re talking the Royal Albert Hall, not just any old venue. We’ve got a huge crowd and you’d expect nothing more — this is Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil leading a band playing some of the most powerfully complex compositions of his father, one of the defining figures of twentieth century music. This was not any old band either but included legendary Zappa collaborators Napoleon Murphy Brock and Steve Vai!
The marketing-dream prophecy that the world would end on 06/06/06, or at least serve up some spawn of Satan for mankind to battle, provided the perfect excuse for Planet Mu heavyweights to unleash an unrelenting barrage of gabba on Brighton, providing its sinners with a fiendish night of hellish fun. This was not for the feint-hearted as the robe-wearing electronic music artists did their best to bosh dancers into submission.
Thousand Natural Shocks describe their music as “essentially new wave with a bit of art-rock going on, played with the energy of punk. But there’s also a big emphasis on making it dance, big beat and fast funk.” Steady on lads! Leave some genres for your seventh album change of direction!
It is tempting sometimes to think that the British indie-pop market has become a ‘no-brainer’ for our US counterparts. They make it melody based with a steady rhythm section, they mention the weather and pine about distant girls (all Brits are prudish), they make sure it references an easy box of canonical rock nostalgia (Beatles, Smiths, Oasis etc) and they bring their own clothes over from New York (cos the British still don’t know anything about fashion). Oh, and they make sure that the NME know who the hell they are. I’m looking at you The Killers, Maroon 5, Panic at the Disco et al. Well, at least we Brits have still got sarcasm, hey Jeeves?!
This is the debut release by Triple Burner, aka Harris Newman and Bruce Cawdron, but is by no means the first fruits of their combined efforts as Cawdron has already appeared on Newman’s Non-Sequiturs (2003) and Accidents with Nature and Each Other (2005). The journey to full collaboration has taken a few years of live performance and like those previous releases Triple Burner has a very live-sounding feel.
The Drift is a masterful album, having the feel of being pieced together over a number of years. Scott Walker’s last album, apart from the film soundtrack to Pola X, was Tilt back in 1995 and it is quite conceiveable that The Drift has been taking painstaking form since then. Holding nothing back, it’s an oppressive, beautiful, stark album, sometimes dense, sometimes desolate, with the power to shock in its changes between the two and remaining forever impacting. The emotive pieces are often incredibly cathartic, sounding so both for the artist and for the listener.
Have You Seen Lucky? is described by the artist as “a cross between everything I’ve done over the past twenty years” and sure enough comes across as a familiar pop/punk/indie/rock hybrid, comparable to Dando’s The Lemonheads and bands like the Foo Fighters. It’s an album which is very easy to listen to, not challenging too much but with a strong focus on a melodic songwriting underpinned by a rock feel. The album is quite middle-of-the-road, perhaps testament to Kastner’s older years, but he’s not really that old and the album picks up speed and rocks a little harder intermittently, stopping the album from easily paling away into college rock obscurity.