Toxic is not a compilation of Britney Spears out-takes but a collection of tracks compiled from the famous Toxic nights between 2002 and 2005 held at The Boule Noire, Boulevard Rochouart, Paris, baby. Still likely to remain unknown even to the greatest Francophiles amongst us an easier way of describing Toxic would be to say it was Paris’ equivalent to Fabric Live. Curated by in house DJ’s Dj Solo and Uncle O the album takes Hip Hop as its bedrock, lays an electro-punk duvet on top of it and supplies a funk pillow- inviting us all to get nostalgic in bed to those halcyon Toxic nights. Rah.
Under their previous moniker Roerhedds, Volt released an outstanding 3” three-track CDR which I think was called Tortur (it’s all in their native German so i’m not sure what says what), the awesome album Breed (bluNoise — so generally only known to be in existence by Germans), and then at the end of last year they hit us with their first official Volt release, the Romeo K.O EP, which was equally good if not better. Here, on Exile On Mainstream as with their last release, we finally get the debut Volt album, and it’s, well, average and disappointing.
The production on Waiting For The Next End of The World is very pop with the vocals kept nice, clean and clear and high in the mix, the male/female-ness giving that extra sweetness to what could otherwise turn out a bit nastier and dirtier. The guitars aren’t too clean but their noise is polished and curbed so that whether riffing or chugging away they never stray out of their station. In many cases the choruses take the songs right back into the pop arena but some tracks like “Mayday” could easily become a lot noisier in another band’s or producer’s hands.
Night Ripper presents equal touches of the ass-shaking, psychedelic, avant-garde, schizophrenic, and radio-friendly at a rapid fire speed. It is not a hackneyed attempt at a mash-up, it is a complete disassembly of popular music, stripping it down to its parts, and using them to construct a giant musical robot of the most funky and powerful nature.
Since 1994 the Big Chill Festival has avoided the hyperactive buzz of Reading or Leeds, the vast chaos of Glastonbury and the noise of soulless dance music festivals to be a place of escapism that lets you truly unwind for a weekend. A stable diet of good vibes is the spirit, so who better so select his festival favourites than the man who has been on the line-up lists since its inception? Mr Scruff: step forward (and bring a cup of tea with you).
Eric Chenaux has been a fixture of the Toronto underground for 15 years. He’s played in and recorded with jazz, folk, punk and hardcore bands and recorded his first solo LP 10 years ago. His skills on the guitar are the one constant in this career arc, it seems. He connected with another region of the broader Canadian musical scene when Constellation invited him to go to Montreal to record this solo recording with Godspeed’s Efrim at Hotel2Tango.
Nina Nastasia’s first offering since the move from Chicago’s Touch and Go to Brighton’s ever more interesting FatCat label is a beautiful and more accessible album. Not to say that the New York singer/songwriter’s previous work has ever been too much but the rawness and starkness has perhaps been toned down into often sweet balladry for On Leaving, or as the artist puts it, it’s just “more sad than mad”.
Whilst everyone and their Dad is celebrating the re-birth of rave, Squarepusher seems to have distanced himself even further from the heavily processed jungle that made his name a hallowed word amongst many of us in the mid nineties.
The pounding riffage and tempo are similar to Nick Olivieri’s contributions to the first three QOTSA albums and much of Songs For The Deaf in particular. However, though it is a well-produced racket it frequently lacks that band’s melodic edge and either Olivieri’s mania or Josh Homme’s laconic drawl. That said, when it is good, it is pretty good. Opener “A Meeting With Foul Play” begins like a punch from a passing motorbike — hard and surprising — with a cathartic hyperspeed chorus. “Youll Never Make It Stick” is what all those weedy emo kids wished their bands sounded like and “The Conclusion Of A Death Ride” is amphetamine-fuelled speed metal. Songs of sex and drugs to make Lemmy proud.
Personality: One Was A Spider One Was A Bird is the follow-up to The Sleepy Jackson’s well-received Lovers (2003). TSJ have always been a band in form and in the live arena but in reality they are the genesis of one slightly bonkers Aussie, Luke Steele. Lovers was Steele’s attempt to “make a perfect pop album”, and though it fell short of this but still included some off-centre pop gems (most notably “Good Dancers”). This second LP took three years to write and became more of auteur’s project as Steele sacked numerous band members (retaining only long term-drummer Malcolm Clark) and maintained his singular vision, this time to combine Beach Boys vocals, Prince’s rhythms and jazz structures.
FatCat records, usually the preserve of wonkytronica like Mum and Mice Parade or the avant-folk of Animal Collective has picked up the second album by this New York-based trio for release in the UK, and their genre jump is justified. Awesomer (so called as it’s better than their first record) is a frenetic and fun blast through 10 years or so of distorted rock n roll, from proto-grunge to, erm, post-grunge, taking in The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine on the way.
Raise The Bullshit Flag’s title track, the album’s first, comes on with a hardcore call to arms, the dual vocals screaming out how they want it to be hoisted above a burning horizon before mayhem ensues as the songs kicks in. The band play a chaotic mess of metallic hardcore, with ample space for intense blasts and big riffs, resonating discordance and impassioned aggressive vocals. The _Jane Doe_-esque dirty production helps the almost The Locust-like yelps and blasts to pummell away at the inner ear, making loud headphone listening a treat.
The “sense of urgency, of music that couldn’t be held at bay anymore” which Anita discusses comes on with the dirging stomp of opener “Believer”, okay this isn’t pedal to the metal but theres a dirty groove behing a lot of this record which invokes at least a subtle movement. “When Planets Collide” takes that groove in a lazy, alt indie direction, before it’s ‘oohs’ and big licks are stripped away as the song takes the left fork a minute and a half in to reveal a more chilling core, which is rocked out again, ending a completely different song than it had been both at the start and half way in.
It is perhaps both a credit to Hip-Hop’s speed of innovation and a subsequence of Hip-Hop’s relatively short life that an album shelved and lost in ‘97 can be considered a buried treasure on first release only nine years later. Darc Mind’s Symptomatic Of A Greater Ill is exactly that jewel, indefatigably Hip-hop rhinestone but almost impossible to date and contextualise. Tempting as it maybe to relate Symptomatic Of A Greater Ill in terms of its original position in fabric of Hip-Hop history and to the here and now of the current scene, the album does its best to eschew any material fads or references to celebrity fags that could inextricably tie it to a particular movement in time.
Yikes are a San Francisco noise-punk trio composing of John Bryer (The Coachwhips, OCS, Pink and Brown) on guitar and vocals, Eric Vark (Curse of the Birthmark) on second guitar and Mike Donovan (NAM, Big Techno Werewolves) on drums. Secrets to Superflipping plays like a cross between My Bloody Valentine with broken strings and crude oil poured over it and The Stooges with a dismembered rhythm section. Closer to the point would be to suggest that this is the sound of a ‘super group’ indulging themselves and unclipping their wings.
There is too much to talk about here — this is a wholly awe-inspiring collection capturing hundreds of reasons why Tortoise are so revered, some reasons take succinct nugget form, others are stretched and make their point expansively over time whilst others cant make their mind up just which point they are trying to make — making many in the process — all somehow within the same little cardboard box. Dimensionally transcendental like a sonic Tardis the box holds a wealth of material spanning four discs — three CDs and a DVD: CDs one and two pull together an extensive mix of rare singles, compilation tracks, tour records, split release songs, remixes and more. The name, A Lazarus Taxon, references the paleontological term for a series of organisms which disappear from the fossil record but then reappear later — the Lazarus taken from the biblical tale of reanimation — and CD3 is the long-since out of print 1995 remix album Rhythms, Resolutions and Clusters (although now also available again individually in a coinciding reissue). The audio-visual fourth disc brings together most of the band’s music videos as well as footage of twelve live cuts from five different performances.
“Go on tell that long-tongue liar, midnight rider, the rambler, the gambler and the backbiter — tell them god is gonna cut them down”. Over the course of his life Johnny Cash was all of these — he would be the first to admit, but it is as the “man in black”,the legend, that is the profile now most synonymous with Johnny Cash’s popular perception. Concurrently, the immediate presumption of American V, the penultimate album of the American series overseen by Rick Rubin, would be an album packed full of heart rendering anthems and painstaking bedside dirges. It would certainly appeal to the masses. Instead, American V contains a handful of covers, the last song Cash ever wrote, and in general a set of songs that go out to diffuse the myth and humbly re-affirm Cash’s worship of the twin god’s in his life, death and his wife June Carter.
In “Don’t Touch Dead Animals” Boston’s Kayo Dot have offered just a single track to this split release, but one which expands and progresses through eleven minutes and is an intense, epic and wholly interesting treat. After the opening of part one, as described in the previous paragraph, the band — in all its orchestrated glory — holds much suspense as it sets a quivering mood such of early King Crimson, playing out the songs most sustained, yet very moody section with noises and instruments snorting, wavering, swelling and chuckling, perhaps demonstrating the wildlife of some strange sonic jungle or farmyard — or maybe comparable to the tuning of the orchestra playing in the pit of the theatre behind Henry’s radiator in Eraserhead.
Misnomers are common in rock music. Just as The Monks weren’t ministers of the cloth and there were only 3 members of Ben Folds Five, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club are neither English, Victorian or gents (well, one is). The Cardiff-based three-piece are heavily indebted to Gang Of Four and the jerky, bass-propelled sound of the mid-to-late 80s, but TVEGC are mostly distinctive in their own right and this eponymous debut is a good one.
Canadian Emo band Moneen are back with their latest offering The Red Tree. It has been widely documented that the recording process for album was no easy process, reflected chiefly through rock-umentary The Start To This May Be The End which had cameras tailing the band throughout the first weeks in the studio but this over-intensity and anguish prevalent in the film seem to have been refreshingly diluted and filtered for this third full length. As a band Moneen’s sound fits most of the requisite elements of everyone’s idea of Emo though in terms of melodrama and bombastic guitars they’re a little more restrained. The Red Tree exudes a highly polished and big studio sound but the band manages to expand on this using tape loops and general studio wizardry to move slightly outside the Emo boundaries and into at times, a more interesting mix of songs.
Remember Finnish band Lordi that won the Eurovision Song Contest. They were funny rite? Horror-punk outfit The Other are funny and in the same way. Trouble is funny works in Panto as it does for the Eurovision Song contest but on record, funny never really grants more that that primary novelty listen between crapulent mates. The Other sound generally like the soundtrack to a spoof Teen-Horror flick, an 80’s one at that, mixing soft metal and punk with stadium rock until you’ve shit the bed.
The Avalanche is subtitled “Outtakes and extras from the Illinoise album”. Stevens has taken the fragments and ideas leftover from those sessions, worked them over in a studio with help from some of the same musicians to fill in the gaps and has managed to make (another) minor-key classic that stands up on its own or as a companion piece to this previous record.
The album is half-way between the soothing indie strains of groups like The Cardigans or The Concretes and the relaxed electronica and lounge of Morcheeba, Air and Zero 7. It’s an extremely agreeable album, perfect for summer days and nights, its cheerier upbeat tracks containing a distinctly sunny sparkle and the more fragile numbers remaining still soothing and beautifully calm.
Kick Up The Dust is the debut from the Vancouver band Blood Meridian, named after the Cormac McCarthy novel. The band are part of a local musical family tree which includes Black Mountain, Pink Mountatintops and The Black Halos, and focused around singer/songwriter/guitarist Matt Camirand (who’s been in them all). Formerly a bassist in The Black Halos, Camirand apparently formed Blood Meridian during one of his previous band’s tours, and recruited fellow Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops player Joshua Wells as well as other rock-scene compatriots Kevin Grant, Jeff Lee and Shira Blustein to complete the line-up.
This is the new big indie-pop thing, right here. “Hazelville”, opening track on Captain’s debut album This is Hazelville, comes on like a Coldplay/Keane soundalike until it bursts into something neither of those bands can do, or at least seem to be able to do anymore, something driving, catchy and upbeat and, importantly, incredibly warm and uplifting. Though they may take the place in the recent pop lineage of the two aforementioned groups (and perhaps Travis before them), Captain have something more, and more worthwhile than them, which is why they will succeed.