For reasons well documented that we are not going to touch on here, notverynicecream (Hassle Records) the sophomore record from Bristolian avant-garde noise merchants Phoxjaw, finally sees the light of day some six months after first scheduled. And focusing solely on the music, is this a record that was worth the wait? In a nutshell … Yes!
Ah, the age-old balance between the jagged, dirty edges of rock and the polish, apparently, required to make a commercial success of this left of mainstream universe we all inhabit. Get it right, and radio and playlists and such stardom-related “things” await… yet, to play that game too much and for too long is to risk losing the soul and joy that is at the heart of the art that got you there in the first place. So, seemingly as a response to the more contrived, collaborative, and involved process that led to their predecessor Fuck Art, alternative rockers The Dirty Nil have given themselves over to their natural instincts, indulging a Free Rein To Passions (Dine Alone) on their fourth album.
The multicultural and multi-talented Adanowsky has turned his hands to many things – acting, directing, producing, and making music. Written during the pandemic and taking inspiration from tarot cards, is his latest album The Fool (Universal Music Mexico). This is the French-Chilean-Mexican polymath’s tenth album and it is a down-to-earth one; a soft and melodious melting pot of pop, indie, folk, funk, and his Latin American roots.
Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief (La Rubia Producciones) is the debut album from Edinburgh-based healthyliving, who comprise of singer Amaya Lopez-Carromero (Maud The Moth), guitarist/bassist Scott McLean (Ashenspire / Falloch) and drummer Stefan Potzsch. The project is the culmination of the three working together under various different guises over the years and follows on from their EP release Until/Below (2021).
Hematite is a hard, steel-gray-colored stone with a metallic sheen. It comes from the Greek word “blood” (hema), alluding to the rust to dark red colored streaks that often run through the stone. Fitting for a duo that formed from former metal outfits, vocalist Davey Muise (Vanna, Trove) and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Gaultier (Big 50, To Speak of Wolves, He is Legend), come together to strike while the iron is hot to forge a new genre crossover. Hematite is where the Wild West meets metal; it’s ‘Gothic Western’.
When it comes to describing 93696 (Thrill Jockey), the latest album by Liturgy, one could just as well start by describing what this album is not. It is not a record to easily put on in the background and definitely not a go-to if you want to reduce your anxiety. Pretty much the opposite is true. This is a record screaming in your ears for attention, that induces anxiety all along the way.
UK indie trio Amber Run has a song likely everyone has heard, whether realized or not. Their saturnine piano hit ‘I Found’ from their 2015 debut album 5AM has been used in several television shows, played immeasurable times over the radio, and of course, became a viral TikTok sound. With nearly a gargantuan 325M streams on Spotify alone, the timeless hit has covered unfathomable ground. Now with their fourth full-length album How To Be Human (TRIPEL Records) Amber Run kicks off a promising album with a short yet equally captivating piano-vocal intro with ‘Flowers (Interlude I)’.
Jamie Lenman has been an ongoing stalwart of the alternative rock UK scene since his early days in Reuben. Now with four albums under his belt as a solo act, Lenman has completely reinvented himself and sound to become one of the more eclectic acts England has to offer. After a cover album and a song featuring MC Illaman from Pengshui, where next, could Lenman possibly go? Well, it seems the solo artist has decided to completely disembark his traditional heavier punk rock sound to embrace more indie pop rock avenues with The Atheist (Big Scary Monsters).
Having a father famous in the same field as you must be a blessing and a curse – being the son of Diego Maradonna, Michael Schumacher,Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan helps get your foot in the door but are hard acts to follow. Eddie Van Halen was the best of the best and after his untimely passing in 2020, his son Wolfgang focused his energies on his solo project Mammoth WVH. His self-titled debut came out a year later, with Wolfgang playing all the instruments himself.
This deluxe edition comes with three extra tracks, the best of which is ‘Talk and Walk’ – a stomping rocker with a smooth, AOR chorus. As for the album, as a whole, it is a decent offering of arena-friendly hard rock, with alternative, Foo Fighters, and Alter Bridge influences. It starts off with ‘Mr. Ed’, a glossy alt-rock bruiser with a sweet chorus and a 4/4 rhythm, a fiery tip of the hat to his dad.
With its seventy-minute runtime you certainly get your money’s worth, from the punchy swagger of ‘Horribly Right’ to the crunchy guitars, short and sweet solo, and thunderous drums of ‘You’ll Be The One’ there is plenty here to like. The best ones are ‘The Big Picture ‘ and ‘You’re To Blame’ – the former is a hefty slab of metal with a pounding riff and a consummately crafted chorus, the latter a sharp alt rocker made for radio with a fiery solo. Not far behind is ‘Feel’ – a lively, Foo Fighters-like track powered with a sprightly drum beat and a restless rhythm.
It is not all thrashing guitars and distortion, he lets his softer and poppier side out occasionally – the lush guitars and the soaring vocal harmonies of ballad ‘Resolve’ offers a sweetly struck bit of variety. Alas the other moments do not quite reach these heights, with ‘Circles’ sounding like a humdrum version of ‘How Soon is Now’ by The Smiths and the polished pop punk of ‘Think It Over” belongs on the soundtrack to some nameless mid ‘00s teen movie.
A mid-’00surs aside, Mammoth WVH (EX1) is a relentless album full of loving made, hard and heavy rockers with a commercial sheen. It is full of attitude and energy, and a big chorus or two, but its length and well-worn stylings means it gets a bit generic at times.
Maryland rockers The Dangerous Summer‘s new record Coming Home (Rude Records) starts with the evocative title track – with its hypnotic piano riff and prominent Pixies influence. This is TDS’ sixth album, and it is a rockier affair than its three-year-old predecessor, Mother Nature.