Those who deserted Pisa-based riff kings, Mr. Bison, after their 2012 debut album We’ll Be Brief (Dracma Records) will recognise neither the physical nor the sonic entity that exists today. Only guitarist/vocalist Matteo Barsacchi remains from that initial incarnation, now replenished by two more Matteos – vocalist/guitarist Sciocchetto and drummer D’Ignazi – and the dry, ZZTop-influenced sound of that first effort has been gradually replaced by an oft euphoric leaning towards a form of Desert Psychedelia as progressive as it is retrospective. Their fourth album Seaward (Subsound Records / Ripple Music) is the band’s biggest step forward yet, displaying a level of invention and confidence that is both profound and joyous. Continue reading
One of the first UK rock musicians to demonstrate how crowd-funding could really be successful in the non-mainstream world with his phenomenally successful 555% (Pledge Music) campaign, in 2014 Ginger Wildheart embarked on the G*A*S*S (Ginger Associated Secret Society) project. Fans signed up, and in return, received three exclusive tracks a month and opportunities for a whole host of goodies. At the end of the process, a ten-track release of the most popular tracks, Year Of The Fanclub, was made available to the general public. G*A*S*S Mark II (Round Records) is the Directors Cut… Ginger’s own preferred curation of his favourite tracks from the experiment. Continue reading
This eponymous début album from Watford’s Funeral Shakes (Silent Cult) is the sort of record that could be part of rebuilding your faith that your favourite rock’n’roll band can still be the last gang in town. Comprising members and former members of Nervus, the sadly departed The Smoking Hearts and Gallows, the band’s underground credentials are pretty impeccable. This collection of twelve songs (well, eleven songs and an instrumental number) is a pared back, attitude-heavy collection of swagger-laden tunes revealing a (not unexpected) love of UK Punk, hardcore, and melody. Continue reading
Ash, one of the biggest and brightest bands to come out of the UK in 1990s, has announced a new album, Islands, due for release on May 18th via Infectious Music. Infectious was the bands’ labels when they dropped their classic albums 1977 (1996) and Free All Angels (2001). To celebrate the band has also shared a new single, ‘Buzzkill’ with The Undertones’ Damien O’Neill and Mickey Bradley guesting on backing vocals to get you even more pumped up. The band will also play in their hometown at the BBC’s Biggest Music Festival in Belfast on May 26th 2018. Continue reading
The Ghost Cult album roundup is back in town, for your vulgar delectation, though we’re taking a different approach this week and grouping together some of the less-“heavy” releases that are polluting our ears; it’s a walk on the lighter side of the Ghost Cult coin…
Skin could sing a Health and Safety policy, replete with appendices, and make it sound heartfelt, deep and relevant, so it’s little surprise that she is, once again, the undoubted star of Skunk Anansie’s new album Anarchytecture (Spinefarm), their third since reforming and sixth overall. Showing a more considered side, though resplendent in the 90’s production tones their angsty rock used to be defined by, this time around Skunk Anansie are dialling back the vitriol.
While it is hard not to compare where they are now with who they were then, surely a band is only judged against who they were if their current output doesn’t stack up? So, while perhaps only Led Zeppelin should expect the song to remain the same (even though theirs weren’t) and repetition leads only to contempt and ever diminishing returns in the world of musical delights, it is a shame that, once again, maturing or developing as songwriters doesn’t actually equate to better song-writing. In fact, maturity, or indeed banality sees a regression as, pleasant and deliberately crafted as the fare on offer is, other than the distinctive and excellent velvet of Skin’s timbre, Anarchytecture is complete wallpaper. And not even the crazy fucked up wallpaper your grandparents had from the 70’s, but magnolia.
Which isn’t to say there is a dearth of decent material, though, it’s just that all through we are greeted by inoffensive, pleasant if entirely competent and decent songs. Electro-tinged pop mingles with alt.rock.lite on ‘Love Someone Else’, a steady stroll that isn’t a million miles from where Madonna was around the turn of the millennium, ‘Beauty Is Your Curse’ jangles as Skin seems to get a little hot under the collar and ‘Death To The Lovers’ is a sparse, and emotive sensitive number, where once again Skin dazzles with delicacy. Yet high spots are scant, as the remainder of the album meanders away, until the excellent ‘Suckers!’ builds over the course of a minute and a half before cruelly, suddenly stopping in its tracks, replaced by close-but-no-cigar plod staccato ‘We Are The Flames’.
‘Little Baby Swastikkka’ turned heads, ‘Weak’ proved that vulnerability and power could dovetail exceptionally, ‘Hedonism’ was poppy-magic, ‘Charlie Big Potato’ shook things up, and Skunk Anansie were proudly, boldly different and defiant. Skunk Anansie used to be about statements. Musical, political, aesthetic, they made an impact. Anarchytecture simply shakes your hand and wishes you a good day. No matter the maturation process, there is no excuse for safe and uninspired songwriting.
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