In some ways the musical arrangement, and the intimate honesty of the lyrics could be compared to Arab Strap. But instead of Scottish earthiness, and talk of sex and booze, Barr has an metropolitan emotional eloquence, associated with his Californian roots.
Tonight Leeds Met plays host to two very different sides of the current indie scene. Fighting out of the blue corner, The Chalets bring a distinctively kitsch brand of pop with a good live reputation. They’re the most interesting and shamelessly fun band I’ve listened to in a long time, and seem destined for the top. The red corner plays host to our headliners, The Cribs. As something of a homecoming gig for the Wakefield trio, their raw northern guitar rock sound should go down a storm, but a patchy live reputation precedes them.
What’s in a name? As names go, Tone is not the most original ever. Yes, it’s better than Oasis. But worse than Crispy Ambulance (from whom, members of this band are drawn from, incidentally). It certainly alludes to something in within the wider spectrum of ‘Rock’ but more like plodding heavy metal than the quiet/loud dichotomies of post-rock. Tone formed in Washington D.C. in 1991 and though they have released their three previous albums on Ian McKaye’s Dischord label they are relatively removed from their city’s hardcore punk lineage.
Mastodon achieved incredible success in 2004 with what was widely voted the best metal album of the year, Leviathan, and live performances in support of it were truly impressive. This set at ATP offered promise though of not just expected classics from both Leviathan and previous album Remission but also of some new material – which was achieved. As well as the treat of their awesome cover of the Melvins “The Bit” off Stag.
For nearly an hour High On Fire sweated out the loudest, ear-crushing riffage playing up to metal cliches and doing so beautifully. Matt Pike just loves finding a huge riff, blasting it out and lapping up the whole scenario – his face then screws up as he plays another solo, foot on the monitor, guitar neck pointing high, before spitting and returning to growl into the microphone, probably, although not always anymore, about smoking weed or similar.
The band play raging riff-heavy, cock-metal, generally without vocals, in fact most of the time it seems that they’ve added extra riffs instead of vocals. The band survive as drums and guitars without a bassist because the ultimate classic metal harmonies that the twin guitars perform provide all the notation that is necessary.
The band’s sound constanly switches schizophrenically between the two extremes of the loudest, most frenetic, math-grind, to minimal synth noise, remaining (as trademard) distinctively sci-fi throuhout. When loud and active the band are intense, fierce and lurching around insanely, and when quiet they are deadly and eerily still. They are always slightly frightening and unnerving throughout, but somehow their challenging music and presence is not inaccessible by any means, it’s engaging and one hell of a thrill to be in a crowd to.
If I was to draw out sonic comparisons for East West Blast Test i’d need to discuss the avant-metal of Fantomas, the jazz and experimental tendencies of Frank Zappa and the grind of Discordance Axis as just a starting point. Popular Music For Unpopular People is not just coming from two places as the name suggests but from everywhere. Or at least the musical journey between New Jersey and California, back again and so forth stops off to rest at almost as many styles and genres as there are tracks on this album (23 – in 32 minutes) before the route finally leads to our stereos.
The album offers the experimental ambience with manipulated sound waves and extended notes over throbbing drones that we have come to expect from the band, playing around with ideas of texture and space, and sucking the intentful listener in and away. Its a reflective work, not offering a specific counterpoint to another record as offered with 1999’s Grace (to Neurosis’ Times Of Grace), but standing more as couterpoint to the general noise and speed of life.
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’s release date was moved forward a week by popular demand and record shops were taking advance orders, but how does the album fair compared to this impressive hype? Luckily enough for the Sheffield boys, it’s only going to do as well as it deserves to: Domino’s newest chart hopefuls have mounted a mighty challenge to label-mates Franz Ferdinand’s throne of success, by making what could easily be the pop-soundtrack to 2006.
Anyone fearing the arising of another James Blunt however need not be alarmed, The Bad Robots may be radio friendly but their subject matter and demeanor are much less twatish.
The closest reference point to clumsily place this alongside is _Unknown Pleasures_-era Joy Division, particularly in its sparse but menacing rhythm section and bleak lyrical focus.
Sandwiched between two impeccable drummer-led tracks, new single “12” demonstrated exactly why Forward, Russia! are destined for great things: off-kilter lyrics and vocals backed by an energy that’s frightening. With choruses and little hooks bursting out at all sorts of odd angles, this is the sort of music that shouldn’t make sense but does.
The feel and themes of both the music and also the promo videos included on this ‘enhanced’ CD is that of a Crampsy type sex, voodoo, horror camp and the album does have a great weirdo party mood. Songs like opener “Fantomasofobia” and “Satan Jeans” are testament to this. The schlocky film samples which permeate the record lend to this atmosphere, and the song titles are just great, check out “Anton La Vey 66.6FM” and “Sex Euro and Evils Pop”!
This is the first record from Neurosis-lord Steve Von Till’s new project/moniker Harvestman. Where we have seen the folk leanings of the man in both Neurosis, specifically through the love of the Bagpipes (also present here), and on his two solo albums, Harvestman takes this further, and in a different direction.
Although some of the pieces on Crime and Dissonance have been previously available, this new double-CD compilation offers a choice, powerful and very wide selection (made by Alan Bishop, but no doubt with at least a guiding hand from Ipecac label boss and huge Morricone fan Mike Patton) from more obscure films made in the later 1960s and early 1970s, scores almost always ignored by the collections most easily available.