Now there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but someone has definitely been throwing some elaborate claims around about this sextet from Austin, Texas. Spotted as bright young things after a series of self-produced EPs, then signed to Capitol with Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead) on board for the production of their debut album Movie Monster, Sound Team’s sound can only be described as fresh faced indie rock. It straddles a few different styles, but maybe thats just the sweet sound of directionless youth.
The fact it is a drums/bass combo might give the impression of a power-duo and at times yeah they are in the sense of distortion, loudness, noise, er, power, but there’s so much here. The call to arms of “Unite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” fools in with a quiet organ rotating, as Godspeed brass drones before a typically post-rock shock explosion but it’s not template stuff, it soon buts out to a group shouting chant with the power bassline then kicking in and the song pumping out shouty, orchestrated noise for a further few minutes, the brass giving it a decidedly Spaghetti Western rouse.
As part of alt-country standard bearers Wilco, Jay Bennett was involved in 7 or so years of well-regarded output. Whilst with that band and since leaving he has been involved in production and session muso work with big, bland names like Sheryl Crow, and his second solo effort takes a sense of the experimentation from one part of this brief history but also troubled slightly by the MOR spectre of the other. Mostly he’s got it the right way round, and in the right ratios.
Joe Lally is of course the bass player from Fugazi, and has been since their birth back in 1987. Or rather he was, in that the band have been on a hiatus since 2003 which doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. So what has Lally been up to? Well a variety of things with other people as well as working on the material that forms this, There to Here, his first solo album. It’s not purely solo bass and vocals but it very nearly is (in fact it is sometimes just vocals), and it generally feels like it is, but in fact the record includes a variety of accompanying performances from many that you might expect, as well as some guitar solos from leftfield.
Kieron Phelan and David Sheppard have been making music together for over a decade performing in a variety of projects since they were teenagers. Under the moniker Phelan Sheppard this is just their second LP though, following 2002’s O, Little Stars.Harp’s Old Master offers light but emotional cinematic orchescapes offering a range of styles, all, however, meandering through pastoral areas decidedly pleasant to the ear.
The Immediate have signed to Fantastic Plastic records to release their debut album, joining other new and interesting propositions like Guillemots and The Victorian English Gentlemans Club, and despite coming from Dublin have managed to avoid the Irish genetic predisposition for drab and ernest folk-rock by recording 11 sixties-versed indie-nuggets.
Alton Ellis is known as the Godfather of rocksteady and reggae and it quickly became clear at his performance at Camden’s Jazz Cafe that the reason for this may well be no simpler than that he actually fathered god — he is that good. In his early seventies now, almost old enough to have made the previous statement believable, Alton Ellis has been recording and singing live for six decades.
New York’s Grizzly Bear struck a few chords which continued the mood from Brosseau’s set, both often giving off a beautiful sense of peacefulness and calm, but the headline act were in many ways a different concept all together. For a start they are a four-piece band, and accordingly the scale of the pieces and the instrumentation involved in their performance is increased, but even more than usual, Grizzly Bear take a decidedly experimental approach. Only one of the group’s members stuck to one instrument, but he also sang, the group all taking on various vocal duties at different points. The floor and other surfaces were littered with a variety of effects pedals, electronic equipment and acoustic instruments — the usual range of guitars plus a clarinet, flute and even an auto-harp.
Charlotte Gainsbourg is of course the daughter of everyone’s favourite French pimp-daddy Serge Gainsbourg and his one time partner the English actress Jane Birkin who sang on a number of Serge’s tracks noticeably “Je T’aime” and “Ballade De Melody Nelson”. An actress in her own right, 5:55 is Charlotte Gainsbourg’s first solo full length and to steady the ship she inscribes the help of Nigel Godrich and Air to provide music and production as well as Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon who take on song writing duties.
“It is 2025. The global environmetal crisis continues to worsen… International politics is in a dire strait… In the midst of the maelstrom the first signs of the true crisis go unnoticed. Reports are confused as to the origin of the viral pandemic whic sweeps the world…” Yes… it’s a zombie-themed metal concept album — well what else can you expect from a band who give their names as B’Hellmouth, Medico, X Undead and El Diablo?
Architects’ two guitarists were never to be caught just knocking out the same riff as each other to fill in gaps — every segment and moment of each of their songs had been painstakingly arranged. Nor was there any suggestion of a ‘lead/rhythm’ division — as they yo-yoed up and down the fret-board counterbalancing each other, the freely moving parts worked together like a Brazilian goal.
The sonic image conjured by a name like The Bonesaw Romance can really only be one of capital R Rock and the group’s eponymous debut is clearly trying to live up to this, the press sheet describing the group as “a four-piece monstrous rock n’ roll extravaganza”.
The big news for most Mouse On Mars fans is that their latest album Varcharz sees them ditch former label Thrill Jockey, for whom they recorded five albums, to work with Monsieur Patton’s Ipecac Recordings. The smoke on the water for Varcharz is that Mouse On Mars have reinvented themselves with this full length serving only as a experimental proto-type for what is more to come — so nothing new there then.
Chris Herbert plays an avid part in Birmingham’s digital arts scene, creating sound installations and performing at Modulate A/V Collective nights. Mezzotint is his first recorded release though, and offers an interesting tapestry, dense with a digital collage of threads of sounds, noises and melodies thickly woven in amongst each other.
Nomeansno have been churning out their anarchic take on punk since 1982. This is their 10th full length album and their first for 6 years but thankfully fashions have passed them by. They fall on the right side of tongue-in-cheek, using it as a vehicle for delivery of puerile, twisted, punk rock songs. It works in a similar way to Frank Zappa or Butthole Surfers do — there is a sense of unhinged lunacy about proceedings (coupled with an uncompromising musical vision), rather than forced weirdness. Is this a comedy record? Well, not really. The wacky quotient on “Mansion In The Sky” and the untitled closing track are slightly too close for comfort, but “Mondo Nihilissimo 2000”’s none-more-black world view is pretty funny and generally though it shouldn’t be dismissed as lightweight or a novelty.
On a Siberian evening, when Russia was blowing her cold, post-communist freeze onto the Deutsch in Berlin, I got the chance to have some discourse with Julian of The Liars. Sipping on a beer in the American owned, aptly named ‘White Trash’ bar in Prenzlauberg, we managed to reveal alot of the intricacies within the new record: Drum and Mt. Heart Attack.
Whereas the Polmo Polpo that Constellation has released before (Like Hearts Swelling) offered electronic and synthetic manipulation in its rising and rousing washes, Sandro Perri has been reinterpreting these songs in a more pure and organic instrumental form, both on his own, with friend Eric Cheneaux (who’s Dull Lights album is released on the same day as a kind of partner record) as a duo, or with more folks as a band of up to six people. This recording documents these live experiments which showcase the essential elements of the Polmo Polpo sound i.e. Sandro Perri, his guitar, and song development but with that song development being quite different due to the addition of several new elements into the arrangement.
Crisis is a confident record, well produced and played (with particularly fine drumming). For the most part it is a cut above many of their ‘post-hardcore’ brethren, mainly for the reason that they are happy to include a tune amongst the polished buzzsaw guitars and power-screams. The contrast between Dallas Green’s sky scraping vocals and George Pettit’s gutteral roar works well on the Deftones-apeing “This Could Be Anywhere In The World”, the excellent “Mailbox Arson” (which has a slightly 80’s hair band element to it at one point — a good thing) and the rabble rousing “We Are The Sound” and “We Are The End”. These latter two extort their choruses in multi-voiced, macho yell which gives them a fist-punching, aggressive but euphoric air.