Germany’s two-piece blackened crust band Mantar has announced that they are releasing a mini-covers album focusing on the 1990s, Grungetown Hooligans II, June 26th on LP/Digital via Brutal Panda Records and can be pre-ordered at the link below. Also, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mazzy Star’s release of their seminal debut album, Mantar have shared a music video for their cover of ‘Ghost Highway’, which you can see below.
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Odd, noisy, relaxing, introspective, and uneven are some of the words that can be used to describe BC35 Volume Two and that’s just with regards to the first four songs. For those out of the loop BC35 Volume Two is the second and final piece of the BC Studio anniversary puzzle. In short, producer and cultural antagonist Martin Bisi – known for his recording work with the likes of Helmet, Unsane, Dresden Dolls and more – has assembled a group of musicians and let them kick out the jams. Continue reading
Stereotypes are such a crass and ugly thing. Used as a lazy and offensive descriptor of someone’s personality due to their nationality, they are something that should be abolished. The stereotypical view of Belgium and its people is one of being reserved and downright boring. How better to dispel that myth that with some high-velocity anarcho-Punk? Enter Cocaine Piss. Continue reading
Two icons of rock music who barely need an introduction are John Paul Jones and Thurston Moore. Jones of Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures fame and Moore, best known for Sonic Youth and black metal supergroup Twilight will hold a one-off concert in London at 100 Club, on 28th of March. They will be joined by acclaimed Jazz drummer Steve Noble. Dubbed in a post to Jones’s page, “A unique musical meeting of three of the most inventive performers of our time.” The event is a fundraiser to benefit [London radio station] Resonance FM. Tickets at the link below. Continue reading
In the era of DIY, the music industry has seen a lot of success from self-made acts. When you can run your own record label and put out a very highly praised debut, the bar is set pretty high for anything that follows. The UK’s own Asylums have done just that. They released their debut in 2016 with rave reviews and two years later they are following up with Alien Human Emotions (Cool Thing). This sophomore drop from the Southend natives uplifts the alt./art rock genre in a direction that intrigues a younger audience from the second it’s turned on. Continue reading
More than an odd Melvins comparison has been levelled at Montreal trio Big|Brave and indeed, the riffs within second full-length Au De La (Southern Lord) possess the squealing, throaty exhalations of Grunge. There is, however, a whole other weirdness going on here, which you might expect from a band just coming off a tour with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not least the trend-bucking omission of a bassist from the ranks…
Vocalist Robin Wattie is Björk as a native witch-woman, intoning melodiously then yelping like a possessed shaman whilst managing to retain that harmony. Those riffs, meanwhile, purveyed by Wattie and fellow guitarist Mathieu Ball, carry a Drone-like pace: squalling and whining on the pregnant-with-tension ‘Do.No.Harm.Do.No.Wrong…’, yet groaning under the monstrous feedback of ‘Look at How the World Has Made a Change’. The muscle-tightening edge is maintained by Louis-Alexandre Beauregard’s tribal resonance, powerfully leading each track to a crescendo of noise in an understated yet marked fashion.
Here, however, instantaneous drops to silence raise the hackles as much as the violent explosions of agony. Staccato opener ‘On the By and By and Thereon’ seemingly comes to a premature conclusion before kicking on again into a terrifying sequence of double-hammers. The sampled undercurrent of ‘And as the Waters Go’, meanwhile, is initially pierced by a single crash of rhythm guitar, Wattie’s steadily building vocal growing from a high incantation into a demented wail, the whole continually punctuated by brief zephyrs of calm which pounce upon the listener and chill the soul. Flashes of atonal lead and a pulsing coda bring to mind Sonic Youth on zopiclone, truly bewitching stuff that shreds the nerves while attempting to kiss them better.
The early, soft Psychedelia of closer ‘(re)Collection Part II’ gives way to Wattie’s languid howls, the subsequent near-unbearable intensity of moaning leads and rhythmic drums running through an a Capella Punk centrepiece to a Freeform frenzy and a delightful, Shoegaze finale. An exercise in barely-controlled expression, this is a fascinating album – at times stunning, at others beguiling, but always compelling – and one that ensures Big|Brave will force their way into your memory.
It’s very rare in this game to be surprised. As in genuinely “Well, I wasn’t expecting that!”. Tribulation managed it earlier in the year, but very few do as expectation is there, or at least, a preparation for what a band is going to sound like. So, fair play to God Damn. The Midlands outfit aren’t the sort of band I usually go for, and Vultures (One Little Indian) isn’t the sort of album you’d normally associate with Ghost Cult, but the quality of their hybrid tunes stands out, which is why if even a little of what is written about it below piques your interest, dive in my friends.
The album kicks off with ‘When The Wind Blows’, a quirky Clutch groove that flitters into a raspy distorted vocal, before ‘Silver Spooned’ dances from a grungey intro then barrels into a lo-fi desert groove with dreamy melodies. ‘Shoeprints’ dances and swaggers, wide-legged, from sassy Monster Magnet territory, ending up in a dark, heavy powerful alleyway. ‘We Don’t Like You’ touches heavy psych, Nirvana juvenility and jangle, dark Seattle melodies and the very best of British alt rock, while the eight-minute ‘Skeletons’ has moving acoustics, world-weary vocals and expansive brooding fuzz.
Hand in hand with the alternative rock is a host of fuzzy doom, and it’s the amalgamation into stoner, alt noise, groove, rock and doom n’ roll via Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and a host of other versatile references that makes this an interesting proposition. Vultures doesn’t just do one thing, except for be God Damn. They’ve successfully built themselves a whole new box, over to the side of all the normal boxes, and are all the better for it.
More than a hotch-potch of references from yesteryear, throughout they deliver on the song writing front too, even if they do self-consciously shy away from “the anthem”. There is more than enough to suggest a potential cross-over to more mainstream success in their future. Despite the lo-fi chops, God Damn could equally pulling in the plaudits at a Reading/Leeds type festival. Vultures should open some pretty big doors for them.
In an age where physical releases are going the way of the dodo thanks to the all-conquering march of the digital epoch, it’s heartening when new bands still care enough about their fans to not only produce something that buyers can hold in their hands, but also to put real effort into making each copy a thing of beauty. The self-titled debut album from Cleveland, Ohio based Hiram-Maxim comes complete with a 100-page art book courtesy of local graphic designer Ron Kretsch, and his disturbing black and white images are the perfect accompaniment to the thirty-seven minutes of sprawling, oppressive psychedelia that comprise this debut release.
Spread over four tracks, the music on Hiram-Maxim (Aqualamb) sounds mostly improvised, giving it a genuine feeling of unease as the four band members craft sounds that could be the soundtrack to undergoing a particularly intense k-hole whilst locked in a Salvador Dali museum overnight. The loose, free-form approach often gives way to violent bursts of noise such as on the brutally harsh ‘Can’t Stop’ which sounds as if Throbbing Gristle had been force-fed mescaline. Elsewhere, the tortuous waltz of album opener ‘Visceral’ at least makes an attempt to appear normal in a kind of Sonic Youth-gone-wrong manner while the sparse post-rock melodies and languid singing of ‘One’ fight for prominence with buzzing drone and dissonant drumbeats to create an atmosphere of bemused melancholy.
Offering so much more than your average meat-and-potatoes heavy band, Hiram-Maxim may not have a clue where their compositions are going, but the terrain they visit on the way is freaky and challenging in the way all good psych should be, and crucially never feels pretentious. If you fancy a ramble into dissonant soundscapes where anything could happen then give this impressive first effort a spin and tune your mind into something very strange yet oddly nourishing.
Former …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead member Jason Reece is well known for being an Indie Rock enfant-terrible, destroying equipment and playing squalling discordant alt rock á la Sonic Youth. Yet with Midnight Masses, Reece has looked to produce more gentle, soulful material which still beats with the same black heart of his main act.
Manifesting in 2008, Midnight Masses have been labelled with many genres such as ‘Gothic Americana’ and ‘Grunge Gospel Folk Rock’. Truly there is no easy way to encapsulate this band into a catchy genre sound bite, and they are all the better for it. Singer Autry Fulbright’s take on his band’s multifaceted sound is “The sound of a city… In the middle of a desert” whatever that means.
Amassing over 14 members, Midnight Masses weave hazy psychedelic landscapes with some 1960’s atmospherics, Gospel vocal passages and Krautrock textures. Think Josh Homme, Neu! and Unkle jamming under an isolated desert sky and you’ll be close. As experimental as this all sounds, there are some very catchy tunes on Departures (Superball/Century Media),‘All Goes Black’ has a beautifully catchy chorus despite the melancholy overtones that permeate its every nuance. Since Fulbright wrote their debut to cope with the loss of his father, several other members of the group also experienced the loss of loved ones which accounts for the largely solemn feel.
Introspective and indulgent, painting with a myriad of styles Departures occasionally loses its way. When following the path of gothic alt rock on ‘Am I A Nomad’ or the surprisingly upbeat ‘Clap Your Hands’ provide a much levity from navel gazing to produce moments of true beauty. Undeniably talented, the overall impact is blighted by a lack of cohesion, leaving the mind able to wonder aimlessly when it should be focussed on the journey ahead.
Grief and loss have made some truly extraordinary records, yet the lack of clear direction towards either big city lights of earthy rural darkness leaves us somewhere in no man’s land.