29 May 2017

Jlin - Black Origami (album review)

There’s a scene in Toy Story where Buzz and Woody are trapped in the Sid’s bedroom; he decapitates toys and switches their bodies creating Frankensteinien monstrosities who are introduced as terrifying, but in the end they play a key part in the protagainsts escape. The various snips and snags and jagged fluency of Jlin's sophomore Black Origami sounds like it is a collection of compositions created by these unlikely heroes. It’s a dark and completely shattered form of unique beauty.

24 May 2017

Pull My Strings: A Review of the Great Escape

Some cultural context for the Great Escape, a multi venue festival that takes place in Shoreditch-on-Sea every May, comes from well before the festival was first held - 1980 in fact. The Dead Kennedys' were invited to the Bay Area Music Awards, to pick up their 'best new wave band' accolade, but instead of performing California Uber Alles, as planned, they rocketed into the first 20 seconds of Cali... before Jello Biafra belligerently sneered "hold it! We've gotta prove we're adults now. We're not a punk rock band, we're a new wave band." The band dropped black ties onto their shirts with painted on letter esSes to make them a group adorned in huge dollar signs, and lurched into a freshly composed number called Pull My Strings. Contained within that song is all the context you need to understand what the Great Escape is like.

I swizzed a free ticket, and whilst I was aware of it's rep as an industry festival, I didn't know that it would be quite like it was; hours of queues, hours of queues in which men in burgundy hoodies discuss 'lucrative content' in shrill middle class voices, whilst men with bad haircuts discuss 'the most exciting next big thing' with the monotony and excitement of the google translate audio voice. Nearly everything has a sponsor; bands that sing "Patti Smith wouldn't put up with this shit!" mere moments after plugging VEVO.

Strong Island Recordings Announce Beach Ball - A Must See Summer Psych Out

Summer sees the inaugural Strong Islands Records Beach Ball, an event in aid of MacMillan that'll take place at Coastguard Studio in Southsea. It'll feature a lot of our favourites, DJs and a whole fucking record fair. Chase those (probably inevitable) post-election blues away with it.

16 May 2017

GFOTY - Month of Mayhem (track review)

In case you hadn’t seen PC Music have been releasing tracks daily this month, and GFOTY’s second track of the month is the best so far. Its driving abrasive synth beat sounds reminiscent of artists like Pharmakon and Death Grips. GFOTY’s performance on the song is perfection providing an ear worm chorus and a cheerleading final verse. The visuals which accompany Month of Mayhem are equally as perplexing showing GFOTY in a studio accompanied by someone in an unsettling wolf mask. The track ends with around 30 seconds of blissfully plucked harp music leaving very confused but overall very satisfied.

14 May 2017

A Tiny Draught of The Vile Stuff: The Stubborn Beauty of Richard Dawson

"My bedroom walls are papered with the stripes of Newcastle United
Between which I perceive the presence of a horse-headed figure
Holding aloft a flaming quiver of bramble silhouettes
He is the King of Children
Singing like a boiler: 'Tomorrow is on its way'"
- Richard Dawson 'The Vile Stuff'

What if... the water supply of the Simpsons retirement home was spiked with LSD, whilst what sounds like three different guitars battle out to play three different songs? And what if... the guitar amp was actually powered by rusted lines on deserted pylons, whose creaking structures are by now fully submerged? On the Newcastle artist Richard Dawon's outstanding 2014 album, Nothing Important, the impression is given that a fuse may overheat at any moment; great sparks erupting, leaving the plastic plug socket an oozing, molten mess.

Dawson's guitar is a turbulent creature, at times seeming to violently disavow the wishes of its player. It's an instrument prone to deviant fits of (mis)behaviour; sloppy sounding and rhythmically jumbled, like a crazed butcher hacking away at a carcass with a blunt blade. Meanwhile Dawson's voice alternates between a guttural gasp and shrill falsetto, sounding both regionally specific and wholly unfamiliar. Across three solo albums proper (The Magic Bridge, The Glass Trunk, Nothing Important), Richard has managed to carve out a position as England's most visionary singer-songwriter.

Harry Styles - Sign of the Times (album review)

The two biggest selling albums of 2017 in the UK so far are Ed Sheeran’s Divide and Human by Rag’n’Bone Man. These days it feels like there are two paths to commercial success either jump on a tropical house instrumental, with some Rihanna style dancehall vocals, or be an authentic everyman like the two previously mentioned. You can imagine Ed slopping from town to town busking to pay his bills. The ginger neo-minstrel is just so dedicated to his noble trade and he could never do anything but music and above all he’s a nice guy. A lovely guy. Very nice.

Matt Maltese: For After You've Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Bomb

Most the music I cover on here personally often comes from the darkest realms of human consciousness. Be it foam-mouthed garage rock, droning clusterfucks of psychedelia, or nuevo-shamanic dirge-pop, music that shakes the Earth at its very core. In fact, the amount of times I've published the word 'apocalyptic' this year must have hit three figures.

9 May 2017

Let's Talk Some Connan Mockasin

There are so many artists in this day and age which don’t get adequate publicity which they deserve. Discover Weekly on Spotify enlightened me to the ethereal Connan Mockasin, who has reignited the psychedelic pop scene.  He’s originally from New Zealand but moved to England in 2006; but with little success he moved back home.

Forget Consensus: The Best of 2017's Musical Margins

There's a lot of talk around about how divergent our tastes have become from one another. To a degree that's accurate, as you do now tend to see less large scale movements, all centred around a crazed infatuation with some new emerging sound - bar noticeable exceptions like Footwork. Yet in the wake of these scene based surges has risen an insidious new form of consensus culture, sharing no similarity with either large scale collective creativity, or some fractured utopia where we each individually venture into new and uncharted regions of sound. Instead, we lay witness to a poisonous rise in sites like Album of The Year, Metacritic or Rate Your Music. Outlets, which in theory, should expose people to a greater degree of music, but in actuality form a creative hierarchy, where the same set of consensus albums receive countless of plaudits, and many of the more interesting new forms fall through the cracks. One useful tool these sites have created, is the ability to see an album of the year list generated from an accumulation of all the other large music publications' end of year lists. It's useful in so much as proving just how indistinguishable these lists have become, making it more essential than ever for this foul trend to be bucked. Below are just a number of albums or projects, whose work deserves far greater coverage, ones who expose a great deal of consensus "greats" to be pale and uninspired.

RIP Jovis and the Bedwetters. Glam-pop outfit Show Boy come of age on their debut single...

Jovis and the Bedwetters are no more. The premier pop group of the South London scene have gone from a glam-stomping novelty to a serious pop-osition with their first track under new guise Show Boy. Debut track Young Gun sees them come of age, in a glammed up furore of Nile Rodgers guitars and caterwauled vocals. Hear it below.

7 May 2017

[Enter Queen Zee and the Sasstones]

As someone that goes through weeks of listening solely to tubthumping, filthy garage rock, even I can unhappily confirm the longheld criticism that it's a genre a bit too dominated by a certain brand of machismo. Whilst there has been no shortage in bands that feature musicians that aren't white, straight, and male, a look back on the genre's history reveals it to be a haven for angry young men (who, to be fair, historically have things to be angry at) and there'll always be a worry that garage will remain a breeding ground for masculine ideals. So with that in mind, enter Queen Zee and the Sasstones, our heroes for the evening.

Cashmere Cat - 9 (album review)

Cashmere Cat is a Norwegian producer who is best known for having produced Kanye West’s Wolves, as well as for working with artists like Ariana Grande and Benny Blanco. His debut album brings in a star studded line up for one of the most creative electronic pop albums of the year.

The interesting thing about 9 is that there are only two tracks here that are pretty radio friendly. Trust Nobody is a standard sunny alternative R&B it features Selena Gomez doing a sort of trap style hook which is initially awkward, but given a few listens I find this style suits her quite well. Quit features another former child star, and previous Cashmere Cat collaborator Ariana Grande. Her vocal performance is fantastic as it has been on all of her recent projects. This track tricks you into expecting some Ibiza style EDM drop but instead soothes you with a much more satisfying smooth synth and some tropical percussion.

Sevdaliza - ISON (album review)

The astronomical success of Artists like FKA Twigs, Frank Ocean and Lorde playing around and fusing abstract, dark and gloomy sonic ideas and crafting them into sleek sounding accessible songs has led to a new generation of would be household names. Sevdaliza is one of the most interesting and forward thinking artists to borrow ideas from these artists in recent years.

Iranian born singer-songwriter Sevdaliza has an MA in communication as well a few appearances for the Dutch international basketball team, and she has a pretty good debut album to add to that. ISON isn’t a perfect record, but standing at over an hour long, it’s certainly ambitious for a first full length release. But definitely to its credit this album has plenty of refreshing expansions on styles of the records its influenced by.

6 May 2017

Mac DeMarco - This Old Dog (album review)

For me, Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV’s (Mac DeMarco) sound brings about an almost nostalgic feeling. Salad Days was constantly playing during my summer in 2014. His soothingly woozy guitar tone soundtracked my post-college days, during a summer, that essentially consisted of fuck all apart from music, alcohol and another brilliant performance from England at a World Cup.

The Canadian’s debut full-length album, 2, was released to rave reviews, producing country-like guitar riffs on Cooking Up Something Good, while deploying his deadpan delivery over unsettling pop-ballads such as My Kind Of Woman. What followed was the release of Salad Days, where DeMarco’s slacker attitude remained solid on his second album, and it also included his best release to date; the brilliantly dark, synth-driven Chamber Of Reflection.

Perfume Genius - No Shape (album review)

Mike Hadreas tackles homophobic prejudices and difficulty with self-expression on his 4th album as Perfume Genius, and whilst it’s not his crowing jewel it’s certainly his most triumphant work to date. Mission statement Go Ahead serves as a middle finger to people who would dwindle Mike for being different. He asks “what you think? I don’t remember asking” over an awkward yet thumping drum beat which is embroiled with bouncy stuttering squeaking synth stabs. Mike sounds at his most empowered when he sings “you can even say a little prayer for me” possibly addressing religious people who are opposed to homosexuality.

5 May 2017

Aaron Dilloway - The Gag File (album review)

From its earliest days reverberating out of Throbbing Gristle's Death Factory, noise and industrial have had a fixation upon trash, muck and bile. On Aaron Dilloway's latest album, The Gag File, the sewage is flowing down the street, not only letting leash an ungodly foul stench, wreaking havoc upon its outward appearance, but also revealing fellow neighbours most unsightly secrets. It would be of no surprise to discover that this truly grotesque monstrosity is some locked up product of Cronenberg, deemed too ghastly for even body horror aficionados.

Aaran Dilloway is something of a legend within the noise community having been a founding member of the seminal act Wolf Eyes - a group which he remained a part of until roughly a decade ago. Across his solo work to date, he has created tape-led abominations; great hulking creatures, emitting blubbering, woeful cries from their sludge filled mouths. This may be a more concise and lean effort than his sprawling opus Modern Jester, but pleasingly, appals and debases to an equal measure.

LCD Soundsystem's resurrection: The Verdict

As the world caves in and the Earth rushes head on for armageddon, it seems only one man can make things seem like they're going to be okay. One man can provide lavish technicolour to a world that'll seem even more grey in retrospect than the post-war era, a mean feat considering we only look at that time period in retrospect via the medium of black and white footage and photographs. In 2017, only one man can save us, and that man is James Murphy.

4 May 2017

The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time, Stage Two

What more fitting way is there for a project themed on memory to end, than for said memories to slowly wither into the ether. The Caretaker's lifespan is drawing to a close, and it's even beginning to become clear for those without a press release at hand. A malignant unease is seeping in, the spectral haunting that defined James Leyland Kirby's output - under his Caretaker moniker - is gradually becoming claustrophobic, the memories once looked upon as a source of comfort are now cause for concern, what the character clings onto whilst the remainder of his world drifts away.

The second stage of his six part album - Everywhere At The End Of Time - continues its thematic arc, encapsulating the experience of those who undergo early onset dementia. Stage One could feasibly have passed for some unaltered lost stash of big band LP's, their crackly content worn through heaps of dust and their musky surroundings, whereas throughout the run-time of Stage Two, we find the editing process rising far more clearly to the foreground, its intrusive presence forever changing our relationship with the weathered music that it draws from.

Introducing Starcrawler, Rough Trade's Newest Signing

There are only a handful of record labels whose signing announcements are always worth paying attention to, and there might not be any of the size of Rough Trade that have such a high success rate. So when the London label announces a new band it's always my prerogative to listen to them straight away. Following their signing of Goat Girl last year, who I instantly fell in love with, they've today announced the next band on their roster will be LA garage rock troupe Starcrawler.

MADONNATRON! Music To Soundtrack A (Good) Modern Day Wicker Man

Right, imagine a Wicker Man remake. But a good one. One without Nick Cage. Maybe with Daniel Day Lewis or Idris Elba as the protagonist. Got that image in your head? Well, Madonnatron's music is the soundtrack to that film. Announcing their debut album yesterday, with the track Headless Children, Madonnatron are part of the South London scene that has birthed us everyone from the Fat Whites, to Meatraffle, through to Shame and Goat Girl recently.

3 May 2017

Mushy or Garden? A Chat With Power Pop Trio Peaness

Melodically rich power-pop, Peaness have every ingredient necessary to be the 'next big thing': infectious guitar hooks, gorgeous harmonies, and above all, the fact that they sound like they're having fun during every second of every song. With one of the most amusing, if ill-advised, names in music, we caught up with the band before they both headline London's Thousand Island (fka Upstairs At The Garage) and release their next EP Are You Sure?

Sam Gellaitry - Escapism III (EP review)

The latest EP from Scottish producer Sam Gellaitry is his most dynamic project to date. Now signed to XL Recordings Sam Gellaitry gained 100,000 followers on souncloud via self-releasing tracks, but make no mistake he is no generic trap producer.