CAT/ has teamed up with some friends. It is nice to have friends…

 

 

Collaborations are tricky things to get right. If one person takes charge it doesn’t quite work, and one person is left out, have it too loose and it’s a free for all and no one is happy. Luckily CAT/’s jaunt in the studio with WRCKTNGL and KTNG is a slice of post-dubstep, dark electro perfection. Each artist has their own say, and their style is represented, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like a single producer’s work.

 

 

Throughout it’s all too short duration Glare throbs and pulses and digests itself, while never losing track of its purpose, yet at the same time never quite keeping to its brief. But what is that brief? To create a track full of ambient moans, claustrophobic bass drops and oppressive break beats. It’s a tour de force, not just for CAT/, WRCKTNGL and KTNG, but for the Titan Squad umbrella that covers them. Let’s hope there is more of this in the pipeline, as its too good to be a one off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grindustrial throws convention to the wind and delivers an album that mauls the senses

 

 

Deviation is the spice of life. Well, kind of, but liking a variety of different music keeps you on your toes. And the new Grindustrial album, No Wi-Fi, definitely keeps you on your toes.

 

 

Grindustrial is an Italian band that offers up a short sharp dose of industrial grindcore that is peppered with inventive samples. This is exemplified by the opening track Lento-Veloce. After a barrage of internet-dial up noise blast beats and savage guitars explode out of your speakers and let you know what you are in store for. Title track, No Wi-Fi, is just under thirty seconds of psychotic riffs and chopped up vocal samples. Pollos at times sounds like its being played backwards with an intensity that inspires.

 

 

Despite its short length, No Wi-Fi offers a break from the tedium of modern life and shows that despite conventional songwriting structures, no choruses or verses, just sheer hooks and unadulterated melodies. It’s a harder and heavier cousin to the Residents’ classic Commercial Album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not only does VANIA sound good it has A E S T H E T I C

 

 

Vapourwave is s term that has been banded about since the early 2010’s, but what is it? In a nutshell it’s a genre of electronic music that borrows heavily from 1980’s music, but infuses it with elevator, soul, jazz and lounge. The samples are slowed down and cut up so they take on a whole new meaning. But there is more to it than slow retro samples. There is heavy leaning on commerce, capitalism and Japanese culture. And it’s that artistic penchant that have led some to call vapourwave an art movement, rather than a genre. However most new vapourwave artists don’t follow this blueprint to the letter, instead they make a hybrid of chill/synthwave with retro predispositions.

 

 

VANIA is one of these new artists. While VANIA’s new single, Electro Queen, isn’t 100% Vapourwave, it does borrow from it to create a version of it that is, on one hand just a laid back electronic track, but on the other it oozes A E S T H E T I C. Electro Queen opens with a repetitive loop that slowly sounds dulled, until a jaunty break beat kicks in that sounds like classic 1970’s soul and Daft Punk at the same time. This continues along its merry way until it a false ending rears its head, but after the fade up it’s business as usual until its outro.

 

 

What Electro Queen really does well is showcase VANIA’s skill at arrangement and production. From a few elements, and some clever tricks, Electro Woman sounds massive, catchy and incredibly fun. This is exactly what you need after a hard week at work. A short dose of retro themed fun! Whether VANIA can carry on this momentum into another release will remain to be seen, but so far this is definitely A E S T H E T I C!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How do you protest against protest songs? Fast Romantics have the answer!

 

 

Whenever I see a six piece band I always think “If this was a 5-a-side team, who would be the sub?” and just like clockwork I get this thought when I see a picture of Canada’s Fast Romantics. This sextet is made up of Matthew Angus, lead singer, guitar, Jeffrey Lewis, bass, Kirty, vocals, acoustic guitar, synth, Kevin Black, guitars, Lisa Lorenz, keyboards and Nick McKinlay, drums.

 

 

After releasing their debut album, Afterlife Blues, in 2013, Fast Romantics gigged and recorded, then in 2015 they unveiled The Julia EP, another dose of retro fuelled rock majesty. Now they’ve returned with their new single Why We Fight. If you can imagine Arcade Fire covering Bruce Springsteen then you’re on the right lines. And just like the Boss Why We Fight is big, loud, proud and incredibly catchy.

 

 

Why We Fight feels like someone shouting into a well of torpidity and apathy rather than being aggressive, abrasive and mordant, as the title suggest. Fast Romances’ singer songwriter and guitarist Matthew Angus explains:  “’Why We Fight started out as a song about myself, about what it is that drives me to even be in a band in the first place. But it quickly evolved into an ode to anyone who finds themselves hungry for something that might seem out of reach.” This feels like the battle cry we are in the need for, during these transient political times.

 

 

Why We Fight is released on 27 January through Light Organ/Postwar Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guero delivered an EP full of music to enjoy and cherish, rather than listen and forgot.

 

 

Seventeen days down and Michigan native Guero has already released a mini album, [ white elephants ] and an EP that is playful, but not a pushover. [ loops. ] is this EP. Though it only has six songs and lasts less than fifteen minutes, it contains some fantastic motifs, ideas and more importantly Guero nails every one of them to create an EP that begs to be played again and again.

 

 

Opening with harp strings and a melancholy flute, Dorothy1 sounds like a Cut Chemist pissing about with some lost ?uestlove drum beats an classic Hollywood scores. Session follows on this classic vibe and proves the old adage that if it isn’t broke, don’t try and fix it, it certainly true.

 

 

Strangrstringss is the standout moment of the EP. Its built around a beautiful string and vocal loop, that Guero has slowed down and underpinned by a delicious breakbeat. It’s woozy, hypnotic and frankly remarkable. Due to its understated nature it treats the same with care and kindness, rather than manhandling it through a samples and chopping beats around it. Sai and Dorothy3 close the EP with more laidback, wonky hip-hop. The samples are again chosen to complement the music, rather than just being picked as a vocal hook is needed.

 

 

Let’s hope the Guero continues this style with another longplayer. It would be interesting to see how he’d work with an MC, but that might get in the way of the music and that would be a shame, as this is something that needs to be heard!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raise the flags, fire up the klaxons, Lupen Crook has returned!

 

 

Today is a good day. This is something that we all want to say a lot, but sadly we can’t. In all fairness it only takes one thing to make a day good, so it’s a shame we don’t say this more often. Today’s one good thing is that Lupen Crook has release his first new music in what feels like years.

 

 

But instead of just one new song, the Crooked Man has unveiled two. No Clothes sounds like an out-take from his current Sex-Cells project. It has an Add N to (X) vibe to it, but it is still chocked full of his trademark sardonic charm. Woozy synths do battle with robotic beats, while depth-charge bass wobbles keep everything chaotic. Forty Winks is a more traditional Crook track. Acoustic guitar, slightly baritone vocals, but halfway through Krautrock influences start to emerge showing that he’s not just the fight-folkie we’ve come to love and admire.

 

 

Let’s hope that this is the start of a year-long project that sees the Crooked man releasing one or two songs a month, that grows into a larger, more cohesive project. Or maybe it’ll give Crook the impetus to pick up his old seven string and bash out some new classics. Either way 2017 is starting to look very rosy along the dirty mile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can Wrestling Wave become the underground sound of 2017? Let’s hope so!

 

 

Last year an album came out that on the surface was just a bit of fun, but after repeat listens it became something far more enjoyable and important. That album was Wrestling Wave by Limousine. At first it was a hilarious trip down memory lane, as the songs are made up of samples of classic wrestlers’ interviews and promos with underlying music that sums up the vibe of the track. Limousine has now returned with Wrestling Wave’s follow up Long Limousines. I managed to interrupt Limousine’s hardcore diet of synthwave and to ask a few questions.

 

Where did the idea for this project come from?

 

The Limousine project all came about by accident, I had been in a lull for about 3 years of not really doing anything musically, I had previously been in metal bands and electronic music projects both solo and in groups. During those 3 years I listened/purchased a ton of music, I had been heavily listening to vapourwave for a couple years, around a year and a half ago I decided I wanted to create something different but still be a part of the vapuorwave family tree, that’s when I decided to create ‘wrestling wave’ the genre, I was at work doing my daily routine, listening to vapour mixes on YouTube when I accidental clicked on 2 videos at once: 1. A Vapourwave mix, I don’t even know which one probably one by Jason Sanders (Shout out to Jason), and the second being a WWF shoot interview with references/footage to past matches etc, at first I thought it was part of the mix but then I realized I did it by accident, I fell in love with that accidental taste and tried to create an entire sound around that, almost like an epiphany really. Glad I went through with it though now.

 

Do you have the idea for the artwork first and then make the music match it or the other way round?

 

When I realized I found something new with Wrestling Wave the genre I went all out from the gate, I remember my ideas were flooding through me for the first few months completing up to 3 drafted songs a day, instrumental and vocal just like that, so from the beginning I was churning a lot of tunes as I had tons of ideas from the last few years, finding & holding onto samples here and there. By the first 3 months I was sitting on 100+ tracks, some with vocal some just instrumental, I come up with my album concepts after I have a heap of tracks to pick and choose from, there’s a narrative in there if you’re listening closely.

 

What is it about wrestling circa 1982 – 1996 that makes the promos and interviews so samplable?

 

This is almost a question more so for the listener as its 100% nostalgia, for me to be honest it’s all about the ego, in the sense that it’s the wrestlers themselves that really carry these songs, the history they created that sadly has been forgotten over the years, I mean these guys were literally strung out on drugs spitballing in front of a camera some of the greatest things that have ever been said on our planet straight off the dome, that shit wasn’t little league, it’s also 100% ego as I don’t have to work with real singers/vocalist as that becomes an ego battle in itself, so I don’t need to compromise for anyone else at the end of the day as I’m a one man show, if I like the way something sounds I’m running with it.

 

Were you a WCW or WWF fan?

 

I was born in 1990, so I was brought up in a household that celebrated both Hogan and Flair in their own rights, as did I respect Sting & Undertaker for their roles, during the mid 90’s it’s almost like it wasn’t just WCW & WWF, it all felt like one for a while(2Become1 Spice Girls style), those moments, shit was real, loved them both but stopped watching wrestling altogether around 2001 after the WCW/NWO Invasion, we all died a little bit that year, Lucha Underground is dope though, I’ve been to a handful of their tapings in LA in the last year, shout out to Pentagon Dark! (0M)

 

Who is your favorite wrestler of all time (face and heel if it’s easier)?

 

The cynic in me is screaming ‘La Parka’ the original one though (L.A. Park), who I do love and adore, but it’s hard to put my finger on just one, I loved the stables, NWO was hard as shit, no way around it, they changed it all with a double edged sword, 4 Horsemen, I was a huge fan of Doink, Scott Steiner (who deserves to be in the HOF), I love them all, all the wrestlers I’ve worked with rank high on my list.

 

Which wrestling films and books are your favourites?

 

‘Wrestling With Shadows’ & ‘Beyond the Mat’ both impacted my outlook on what we saw on that square box each week growing up later in life. Both tell the truth of what goes on behind those wacky merch commercials, behind those weekly title changes, behind those illustrious entrances, it’s mostly sad really, lots of heartache, real life betrayal & temptation. I give those guys a lot of credit for doing what they did and the sacrifices made, ‘The Wrestler’ also does a pretty good job of conveying it for the mainstream.

 

What is your favourite match and PPV of all time?

 

WrestleMania X-Seven, one of my last GREAT memories of GREAT wrestling, Rock v. Stone Cold ’nuff said! I do not have a favourite match off top..

 

When creating the music do you try and match their theme songs perfectly, as that tends to explain the character perfectly, or are you more about creating an overall vibe for the song?

 

More about the vibe honestly, yeah the wrestlers are dope and they need to stay respected to keep it from coming off too ‘cheesy’, but I use their vocal as more of an instrument at times, others I’m celebrating the words they’re actually expressing. Sometimes it just comes out perfectly and I give The Universe a lot of credit at times.

 

Have you sampled anyone and the music hasn’t quite worked and it didn’t make an album?

 

YES, seriously, I have had some brilliant ideas come up in my head (Mr. Wonderful, Sid Vicious, Scott Steiner, Iron Sheik) that I thought would FOR SURE be fire but crashed and burned about halfway through, like I said earlier I’m sitting on a couple hundred tracks at the moment and most will never leave my hard drive more than likely because 100% of the samples I use are from YouTube so the quality sucks to begin with so some stuff just ends up trash like any other artist would have, I have a few WWF/Blackbox PPV tapes from back in the day I’m planning on re-watching one day if I’m not burned out by then. I have a shit ton of Flair tracks done and completed, I debated releasing an album 100% dedicated to Flair/4 Horseman samples at one point, may still do the Horseman idea but I’d get bored I would think and so would the listener.

 

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

 

Lots of things cooking in the kitchen, currently have a handful of projects in the works, trying to figure a schedule to make everything fit while working my main 9-5, I’m working on re-presses of the tapes, Wrestling Wave the album will 100% be seeing a repress/new versions in the coming months, new releases are bubbling but not giving any Info/Titles up on that yet, but expect tapes, vinyl, hats more condoms and other weird things I can find to make to be up on the Bandcamp eventually. Also there are a couple LIVE events that are lining up here soon, more than likely only LA & SF for now but that’s still in the works but expect an ‘animated’ live show once I do get around to them, neon signs, world titles, ring aprons..

 

Do you want wrestlingwave to become the sound of 2017?

 

At the end of the day this is a micro genre I created, I’d love to see other artists join the movement and am always up to listening to tracks/collaborating to put out on my label Total Power Records, but we will have to see, I’m just about creating fun memewave albums, creating awesome merch for people to keep forever and riding my wave, they can ride with me if they wanna find me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What shall we do to the Drunken Sailor? Buy their releases of course!

 

 

London’s based Drunken Sailor Records make waves with every release. Last year’s LP II from Hakan was thirteen tracks of Italians punk that is obsessed with Turkish culture was a high water mark. With the release of S.B.F.’s self-titled EP this appears to have equalled, if not eclipsed it.

 

 

S.B.F. are made up of two Californian’s, Cruz and Raymond, and a drum machine. Both of these American’s play the kind of punk that is catchy, infectious and hard to ignore. But the real kicker is the use of a drum machine. This conquers up memories of Big Black and the Misfits, the viciousness of Albini’s playing, the power of Danzig’s vocals and the rhythmic beauty of Roland’s drumming. Despite the power of the music there is an underlying compassion to the lyrics. It’s like Driving Miss Daisy with a brutal car chase in the middle.

 

 

S/T 7” is out now on Drunken Sailor Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JW Ridley and Speedy Wunderground are getting 2017 off to a fantastic start

 

 

To quote the late, great, Roddy Piper “Just when you think you know the answers, I change the questions”. Not only is this an amazing quote, but it’s also true thinking about London based label Speedy Wunderground. This label, that famously only releases 7” singles that are written and recorded from scratch in a 24 hour session, has been responsible for some of the catchiest and most forward thinking music in recent years, but considering Dan Carey is at the helm and Alexis Smith is engineering this isn’t a surprise. What is surprising is how the managed to trump themselves with each release. And SW20 is not exception.

 

 

This time the musician getting the SW treatment is JW Ridley. Ridley is an art school graduate from London and his debut single sounds like, as he eloquently said “Everything (Deathelss) is the most important thing I’ve ever done for myself”. After a year of personal difficulties and crisis you can feel Ridley cleansing himself by the end of the song. Woozy synths, angular guitars, languid vocals and a backbeat that sounds likes it’s from the Life Aquatic, Everything (Deathless) crackles and pulsates forward until an exquisite fade out.

 

 

As this is just part one, and knowing what we know about Speedy Wunder B-Sides, Steve Mason, Scotti Brains and Fews were talking to you here, we can expect the flip to be a quasi-instrumental affair that has a blatant disregard for conventional song structure, time signatures and lyrics. With this release you are really spoiling us!

 

 

Everything (Deathless) is released on 10th February through Speedy Wunderground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ghent’s El Negocito Records have found a band that match their drive for forward thinking music and eclectic tastes

 

 

Jazz is delicious hot but disgusting cold is something that the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band once said. And like a lot of things the Bonzo’s said, its right. Its hard to know if they would have liked El Negocito Records new release by GLiiTS but one thing we should all agree on this is anything but cold!

 

 

GLiTS are Peter Vandenberghe on piano and Bart Maris on trumpet. Together they make the kind of music that will either drive you mad or to rhapsody. Luckily for everyone at thisyearinmusic it’s the latter. This is the kind of music that you can put on countless times, lose yourself and somehow manage to find something new to latch onto each time. But I guess this is what you’d expect after twenty five years working together, in various forms. What makes their dynamic to, um, dynamic is their interplay, and at times, their lack of.

 

 

There is an old line in jazz that it’s the note you don’t play that are more important than the ones you do. And this these notes that really draw you into their latest album, Getting Lost in Tiny Spaces. Vandenberghe will pull you one way, and you expect Maris to follow him, but instead he stays where he is, creating this blackhole-esque that pulls you toward it, then once you’ve been suitably drawn in Maris will quick make up the distance and you are seemingly trapped with the music all around you, only to have one of them veer of at breakneck speeds and thus creating it all again. It’s the music version of finding yourself trapped in your own half by a quick, attack minded football team.

 

 

This is a fantastic album that not only plays with space, but colour, tonality, rhythm, texture, colour and everything else in between. But if jazz isn’t you thing and you’re starting to get scared, fret not, this isn’t mind melting stuff, there is a simplicity to it, but you have to break it code first and don’t mind getting lost in tiny spaces…

 

 

Getting Lost in Tiny Spaces is out now on El Negocito Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Half Waif puts her cards on the table, and they’re looking very hard to beat…

 

 

Nandi Rose Plunkett is a talent. That much is obviously apparent to anyone who heard last years Little Elephant Live Session 12”. While it only consisted for three tracks, each of those pulsated with ideas, verve and a pop sensibility that showed a maturity and restraint that her peers are missing. Now she’s gearing up for the release of a new EP, Form/a, next month on Cascine.

 

 

The overall theme of the EP is home. What is home? What makes a home, and more importantly, how can I get home? Recently Plunkett said “There’s an inherent restlessness in the way that I write and think about sound,” she explains. “I’m the daughter of a refugee, and somewhere in me is this innate story of searching for a home. As a result, I have many – a collection of places that I latch onto, that inspire me, that fuse themselves to me. I’m sentimental, nostalgic – yet constantly seeking what’s next, excavating the sound of my past and colouring it to make the sound of my future. I’m a child of divorce, fiercely loved but forced into independence at a young age; I rocket into relationships with the desire to find roots, commonality, to create stillness in the midst of public noise. In this way, my songs are like the notes of a large scavenger hunt, clues pinned to trees I have known, or tucked under rocks on my path, urging the listener to keep looking a little deeper, because maybe they will find something special in the end.”

 

 

So far all we have to go on is Served Logic. This is a song that exemplifies everything that last year’s single, and her comments on Form/a, stand for. There is a slight neo-country Lissie vibe to the proceedings, but this slight genre twist just adds to Served Logic’s charm. It reminds us of all the beautifully heart wrenching story tellers from the past, but the music is contemporary and pops and clicks with a delicate pop charm that makes it hard to ignore and harder to turn off. Half Waif? Oh no, there are no half measure about this!

 

 

Form/a is released on 24th February on Cascine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dallas Distortion Music unveils another slice of forward thinking music with Cinema’s debut long player

 

 

What is one of the most important things for a band to have, other than great songs? A search able name. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead had the right idea. Texas’ Cinema thought they’d go from something more obtuse. When you search for Cinema Dallas you get, well, a load of cinemas. Which is a shame as their debut album, Absence, is thirteen tracks that, after a first list, have the complexity of mist, but just like mist there is a lot going on to keep everything from disappearing into the ether.

 

 

Each track is recorded using a modular synthesizer, recorded live to high-bias audiotape. Tape degradation can be found strewn across these recordings, giving them a slightly timeless feel, like they were found at a garage sale and uploaded to a Bandcamp page without any editing and manipulation.

 

 

Through delicate phrases and layering Cinema manages to create a feeling a flux and movement. At times it feels like the musical version of ripples on water after you’ve dropped a stone in. The further the ripples go out the gentler and smooth they appear, but due to the original drop the initial force comes back again and again.

 

 

Absence is out now through Dallas Distortion Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MXLX has returned. Our savant savour has returned

 

 

MXLX has emerged from his studio after months of fevered work. This work takes the name of Kicking Away at the Decrepit Walls til the Beautiful Sunligh Blisters Thru the Cracks. So far details about it are sketchy, apart from it consists of eight tracks and features new single Perdita de Sangue.

 

 

Loosely translated as loss of blood, Perdita de Sangue is four minutes of gentle maelstroms, fuggy vocals and almost hidden basslines is one of the most complex and addictive songs in his canon. As it skews along its sanguine path, one thing is apparent, MXLX means business and he’s angry. This is a stark contrast from the last time MXLX reared his head and delivered a thirty minute blast of sheer metal maladies, but the intensity, has remained.

 

 

Given the lack of activity from MXLX last year, compared to other years, let’s hope that 2017 sees him firing on all cylinders and releasing his best work to date. As we need him, this electronic savant, to guide us through these dark and worrying times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Through their creative scope and arrangement prowess Baishe Kings shaped 2017 to their collective will

 

 

2016 was a mixed bag. It felt like for every good thing that happened, something bad did. Daniel Clowes released his exquisite book Patience, but Leonard Cohen died. Cannibal Hymns released a slew of records that put them on the musical map, but Lunar Quiet lost their front man. England got knocked out of the European Championship but Iceland proved that a small nation, that had 10% of its country watching in the stadium, could defeat Europe’s footballing elite.

 

 

One stand out moment was witnessing London’s Hip-Hop group Baishe Kings for fill a ridiculous claim they made, to release an album a month for the whole year. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. An. Album. A. Month. And what’s more not only did they do it, but each subsequent album eclipsed the one before it.

 

 

 

 

These albums ran the gambit from Boom-Bap, Drum and Bass, Conscious Hip-Hop, a Party Album and pretty much everything in between. Highlights included an album devoted to cheese and the first ever 3/4 Hip-Hop album. But what made these albums special wasn’t that the music felt it was knitted together from forgotten samples and new loops, but the lyrics. Baishe Kings lyrics are filled with these subtle lines that mix England’s past with its present.

 

 

If this is your first time listening to the Baishe Kings, don’t try and force it and follow everything from start to finish, as you’ll miss some amazing name drops and beats. Instead just let it wash over you, but keep an ear open for some reference that seems tailor made just for you. While the lyrics are the heavy weight title main event, to use a Baishe wrestling reference, the music is definitely worthy of a ladder or intercontinental title match. The beats are laid back with inventive samples that pop and fizz in the background, rather than banging and slamming in your face. If you think Tricky and Prince Paul you’re on the right track. In fact the SuperKush album sounds like the Baishe Kings only had the Tricky vs. the Gravediggaz EP as kids and decided to make music that sounds like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blushing show that shoegazing and dreampop are far from dead in 2017

 

 

In 2015 Michelle Soto played her friend Christina Carmona her songs. Carmona’s classical vocals and bass playing worked well with Soto’s guitar. Their husbands heard the tracks and joined the band and Blushing was formed.

 

 

Since then they have honed those songs into their debut EP Tether. Over four songs Blushing have crafted something that is melodic and atmospheric just is doused with a pop sheer that makes them hard to ignore. While you can hear the collective influences of Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, Belly and Beach House they have a collection of songs that sound like no one else. Yes they aren’t reinventing the wheel, but sometimes you don’t want a new wheel, you’re happy to see it just painted green.

 

 

Tether is full of what feels like auto biographical lyrical moments and charming motifs that rise and fall like an ebbing tide. It’s equally at home being played full volume, as it is being played quietly on headphones as a loved one is sleeping. The only real question is will Blushing be able to untether this level of musical and lyrical excellence for their follow up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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consuumer are on the brink, but what is on the other side, only they know

 

 

What do you get if you mix the grunge, proto-punk and doom rock? You get Brighton based noise rock duo consuumer. This duo managed to combine the energy of The Stooges, the intensity of Sunn O))), the technical beauty of Black Sabbath and noise of the Melvins to create something that shakes you to your core with every note played.

 

After releasing their debut single, Radio, and playing pretty much anywhere and everywhere they are about to unleash their debut EP Shattered Fruit. The band recently said “I think that as a whole the EP works within themes of being young, confused and uncomfortable, both of us work jobs we hate to fund doing the thing we love and I think that the frustration of not being where we want to be and not necessarily being comfortable in our own skin made the record quite cathartic for us.” This definitely comes across. At times it feels like these noise-niks are so angry with the world all they can do is scream and attack their instruments, yet at other times of melodic introspection it feels like they are world weary and just want everyone to get along.

 

 

This is exemplified on title track Shattered Fruit sounds like Lightning Bolt covering Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf at their most laidback. This is in fact a massive compliment as it shows that, unlike some of their peers, consuumer known when to make an unholy racket but never at the expense of the song.

 

 

Shattered Fruit is released on 13th January

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nick Hallbery, AKA Edison’s Medicine, is starting the year as he means to go on. By this I mean he’s just released a debut EP, Hell Is Never Far Away. This isn’t really anything to get that excited about, as thousands of musicians have released debut EP’s this year, but what marks Hallbery out is that he’s released one that at times sounds like it’s come from three days in the future, but at the same time sounds like it’s also from three days ago.

 

 

Hell Is Never Far Away opens with Jean Baptiste, which sounds like Django Django being remixed by Dan Avery. Its catchy, rhythmic, but with a hint of big room flavour to it. Increments is harder hitting than the opener, the breakbeats are slightly tighter, the bassline deeper and the loops more menacing and invasive. As Increments progresses, everything gets tighter and cyclonic. Small eddies appear from nowhere only to disappear a few bars later. Melodies get lodged in your head only to vanish a few moments later, as another one has taken its place.

 

 

The EP closes with Godless Woman featuring Matilda Eyre. Eyre’s crisp vocals add an extra texture that was missing on earlier parts of the EP. Godless Woman is haunting and eerie, but in a delta blues way, rather than late night Channel 5 horror film. The combination of organic and synthetic sounds works well and makes you wonder if any of the previous tracks would have benefited from this treatment. After a few moments pondering you realise that no, they probably wouldn’t as you’d miss out on the subtle arranging and production.

 

 

This is an EP full of contradictions and xxx. On the surface you think it’s going to be an ambient house affair, due to its genre tags, but when you get into it you soon realise that its far more interesting and vibrant, running the gambit of experimental, tech-house, lo-fi techno and elements of soul pop, due to Eyre’s inclusion. But what is more impressive is how Hallbery has managed to arrange it in such a way that none of its elements are over, or, under powering. It all flows effortlessly along like its normal for all these elements to be occupying the same space together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Syd Static has released an EP that demands to be played again and again

 

 

Syd Static is a name that you should remember, but will probably forgot. If you do forget that’s a shame, but you do have chance of re-finding him and get blown away again. Because that’s what Static does. Blow you away. Through his debut EP, Brousse, Static has crafted three song that are bouncy and introverted. They have the power to make your night if they are played in the second room of club, yet are inventive enough to keep you entertained on your commute home.

 

 

The stand out moment is the opener, and title track, Brousse. Hypnotic, gyroscopic loops engulf you, while glitchy and switchy beats career off every surface, shattering into tiny shards that then go off on their own course. Loop 104 follows this pattern too, but it slightly more subdued.

 

 

Let’s hope that Static has more on his psychic hard drive that this teasingly succinct EP and 2017 is a year of Static!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mitch Murder empties his psychic hard drive and releases and odds and sods album for the ages

 

 

In certain circles Swedish synthwave producer Mitch Murder is nothing short of a deity. He makes contemporary electronic music that includes jazz, pop, soul and bossa nova and is influenced by Jan Hammer, Renoise, Vince DiCola and Paul Hardcastle, meaning that it has a sounds like the future while hinging at our cultural past.

 

 

As 2016 came to an end, Mitch Murder decided to empty is hard drive and release a compilation full of unreleased and free stand-alone tracks titled Selection 4. These songs feature samples from Jean Francois Freitas’ Another World, Russell Shaw’s Syndicate and Marcin Przybyłowicz’s Witcher 3, along with vocals from Emi of Satellite Young.

 

 

Selection 4 is a mixture of unreleased and free tracks that Mitch has recorded over the last year, or so. While this isn’t normally a cause for celebration, the beauty of this compilation is how it feels like a fully formed studio album. And this is Mitch Murder’s power. He effortlessly makes single serving and free standing songs feel like they belong as a whole, and more importantly makes us feel connected to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So that’s another year over. As the dust is still settling it’s hard to know how history will judge it.  Will it be considered a good vintage or will it be remembered as the year then the tides changed and everything started to get slightly worse. Either way the judging won’t be down to us anytime soon. One thing that everyone can agree on is that in 2016 a lot of cultural icons passed away, but I’m not going to comment on this now, but needless to say we lost some exceptional talent.

 

 

Despite all the bad things that happened, 2016 was a good year for music. On previous years I’ve listed all my favourite albums in great detail, but this year here is thisyearinmusic’s Top albums for the year

 

#10 MXLX-Documents Shredded // Communications Ceased

 

 

#9 Speedy Wunderground Year 2

 

 

#8 2016: The Year All Bad Things Went Away and Everything Turned Out to Be Fine

 

 

#7 Scattered Purgatory-God of Silver Grass

 

 

#6 Soundwalk Collective-Killer Road

 

 

#5 Fairhorns-Committee XIV

 

 

#4 La Femme-Mystere

 

 

#3 Las Aves-Die in Shanghai

 

 

#2 Yann Tiersen-EUSA

 

 

#1 Kate Tempest-Let Them Eat Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slaves and machines

in a control zone
Despair and famine
no place called home

torture and humiliation
standard of everyday life
torment and mortification
ruthless quota; Someone’s gotta die

they deprive your dignity
so they can bathe in vanity
your nemesis is a lifelong fight
against disregard for human rights

fugitives will be executed
and their families will be punished
charges will be undisputed
and traitors will be vanished

The control zone, you’re on your own
all hope is lost long ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elysian Tunes and Curlwond channel chip-tune and juke on new EP

 

 

Some songs are just fun. They don’t have a complex story about how it’s all about the rise of capitalism and the death of the individual. They’re just a collection of fun sounds, energetic beats and energy. This is exactly what Curlwond’s new EP, Gloss, is all about.

 

 

Opening track Amazing Grace is punchy, playing and pulsating. There is an effervescence to it that is hard to ignore. This is probably the chiptune coming to the fore, or maybe the d’n’b breakbeats that pepper the later stages, or maybe still it’s that a layer of pop has saturated the whole thing. At times it sounds like the music from the Zelda games being covered by Chris Moss Acid for an Activia Benz release. Ultimately it’s just brilliant. The rest of the EP follows this pattern and Sugar Kitty comes close to eclipsing the opener. At times it almost pulls this feat off, but there is something about Amazing Lights that is hard to shake off, once it’s gotten into your head and under your skin.

 

 

Elysian Tunes have released another evocative and captivating release. What makes Elysian Tunes such an interesting label is you never really know what you going to get, but you do know it’s going to be inventive and enjoyable. And at the end of the day isn’t that all we really want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God’s Teeth and The Interstellar Tropics isn’t a name that runs off the tongue easily. The same can be said for their music. Instead of gliding out of your speakers or headphones it comes forth ungainly, with jerks and spasms. This of course is to its benefit. If it was smooth and slick it wouldn’t be God’s Teeth and The Interstellar Tropics, would it?

 

 

The music is abrasive and awkward. It’s full of tonal juxtapositions and melodies. At first sounds out of sorted with itself and idiosyncratic, but after a few minutes you realise that this is far from the truth. Under all the off-centre layers of ad-hoc rhythm you find purpose and regimented melodies. Granted it doesn’t have a polished sheen, but it’s not meant to. It’s meant to sound unorthodox from the skitter drumming, to its wailing guitars and clock chimes. Everything is designed to put your on edge, while trying to make you feel comfortable. In the sequence where it sounds like a ruler is being thwocked on a table there is a very catchy melody playing just below it. This technique peppers the album, and adds to its charm.

 

 

What GTatIT have done is make black and white psychedelic drone. This might sound like a slight, but I promise it is not. It is in fact high praise. Instead of using every instrument they could get their hands on GTatIT have used a few, but inter woven them to create something that is as terrifying as it is delightful. What they’ve done is similar to 1950’s B-Movies. They trick us into thining they’re in colour. I’ve watch Plan 9 and Quatermass and the Pit so many times that I could tell you what colour certain characters of the film are. The same is true for Kim Deitch’s. I would swear that Smilin’ Ed was in colour as it’s so vivid and exciting, but alas its in black and white. The same is true for GTatIT. And that’s the greatest trick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oliver Wilde is back and with Howling Owl Records look set to blow away our winter malaise

 

 

This is where the tragic happens is the tagline for Oliver Wilde’s new singles Your So Kool-Aid. As expect it’s another slice of wonky wooze-pop but unlike his previous offerings it leans heavily on the spectrum towards electronic side of things. Wilde recently explained this change “‘You’re So Kool-Aid’ documents having full-blown wobbles attempting to reinvent my so called ‘sound’. Takes a few listens to work out why it exists in the first place, demanding you spend more time with it than you want to. It’s just another ugly and obnoxious troubled pop tune from the decompression chamber of general malaise, with lit synth hooks.”

 

 

Your So Kool-Aid, and previous single Good Kind of Froze, are taken from his as yet unreleased third album, Post-Frenz Container Buzz, which is due for release in February through Howling Owl Records. This looks set to blow the last of 2016’s cobwebs off us and give everyone a proper dose of psych-wooze-pop.

 

 

Without hearing the full album you get the impression that Wilde isn’t out to take an prisoners with this new collection of songs. The musical scope is bigger than anything he’s so far released and the subject matter is by far the most personal of his career to date. Wilde has shown himself to be the real deal and worthy of all the hype he has received. The only down side is February won’t come quick enough…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hidden Bay Records round off a successful year with Andrew Younker’s Brainchild EP

 

What’s better than a fledgling record label? How about a fledgling record label that is releasing amazing music and looks set to release more! This is exactly what is happening with French label Hidden Bay Records. So far this year they have released the wonderfully lo-fi Glider-Demos and Luna Quiet’s Cold Spell single, as well as a wonderfully upbeat release form EJ Marais. Now they’re on the cusp of releasing a new EP from Andrew Younker.

 

 

Brainchild is twenty minutes of blissed out slacker indie pop. Before you start thinking “Slack? That was so 1998!” This is slightly different. In between laments about modern living and love, lose and redemption Younker infuses and peppers his song with elements of shoegazing, power pop, psych and pretty much everything in between. But instead of it all sounding like a music hodge-podge it flows seamlessly and everything builds to create a wall of sound that embraces you, rather than tries to knock you down.

 

 

Given that Younker has already released an album a single and EP this year it’s safe to say that we’ll be hearing from him in 2017. What Younker has done on Brainchild is craft a driving/travelling playlist. The music never stops moving, undulating and pulsating. While listening to it you constantly have the feeling that you are travelling down a motorway later at night and the road lights are flashing over you in time with the beats. I’m not saying that this is some kind of Drive experience, but I guess that’s down to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Silber Records and Nonconnah skew Christmas and show its darker, eerier side

 

 

Zach and Denny Corsa, them from Lost Trail, are back under the guise of Nonconnah. After moving from Tennessee to North Carolina they decided a change was in order. Luckily for us the music isn’t that dissimilar but it’s different enough to warrant a name change.

 

 

They’ve just released their debut EP through Silber Records. It’s part of Silber’s Christmas series, but before you start worrying, this isn’t just a load of Wizard, Slade and Wombles covers, its twenty minutes of slow, calculated post-rock. The music goes as fast as glaciers, and is as warm!

 

 

Snowplows and Icicle Tracks are the stand out tracks. Snow Plows feels like a Twin Peaks outtake that has been slowed down and manipulated until it ends up sounding all spooky and eerie. While this might not sound like a classic Christmas song, it does play into the Victorian Christmas ghost story vibe. There is something spooky and eerie about Christmas and this is a musical interruption of it. Icicle Tracks is made around a backwards loop that slowly undulates. It’s as trippy as it is chilled. As with Snowplows it’s conjures up dark rooms, candle lit vigils and a general feeling of unease.

 

 

Given Lost Trail’s prolific output, Nonconnah seems to be on the right tracks, but only time will tell. Let’s hope that the rumour of a long player in 2017 isn’t just a hoax, like an escaped mental patient dressed as Santa on a rampage. Oh wait…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anaemic may not be ground breaking, but this music is certainly distinctive

 

 

In the sphere of electronic music, especially in 2016, it’s hard to stand out and be original. Shelburne, Vermont’s Anaemic definitely stand out. So far this electronic artist has released a night on flawless EP and an ongoing series. The series is called Compilation and every time something release worthy is recoded it gets added to the track listing. It’s kind of like a playlist, but that isn’t what interested us today. Oh no, today we’re concerned with the four track Better Songs EP.

 

 

 

Aaaaaaaa is a fine introduction to the EP, as it skitters along, but makes you very aware of what is it follow. Stand out track Blue is just under three minutes of blissed out glitchy guitars and laidback beats. There is a cool slacker vibe that runs through Blue that makes you question where, and when, the guitar sample came from. At times it feels like an outtake from some lost studio session, but then it a motif appears and it sounds like the most current thing ever. This isn’t an isolated incident. Throught Better Songs Anaemic peppers with this. Poinsettia feels like a found piano sample the Anaemic has underpinned with a popping beat. Its delicate, but in your face. Oh Brother closes the EP with samples of children at play, repetitive synths, and bouncing trap-esque beats. The track also features Mutant Joe on vocals. His manipulated and chopped up vocals bring to mind Death Grips, but instead of the PCP infused rantings, Mutant Joe is concise and erudite.

 

 

Earlier in December Anaemic released Compilation. A series of vignettes and sonic experimentations that work far too well to be ignored. Let’s hope that 2017 holds either Compilation II or a long player, because at the moment I need more of this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pancho Villa’s Skull can be found in Mexico, Texas and on my MP3 player

 

 

First things first, Pancho Villa was a Mexican revolutionary leader. Actually he was one of the more famous, prominent and vilified figures of the Mexican Revolution. After his assassination in 1923 his body was buried xxx. This is where the story should of ended, you know with death and burial, but life has a twisted sense of humour. In 1926 the body was dug up and the head was removed, along with other body parts. The death mask ended up in a girl’s school, the trigger finger in an El Paso pawn shop. The body was said to have been reburied near where he was assassinated, but there is an official burial site in Mexico City. But the head has never been recovered or accounted for. Right about now I expect you are thinking “But what does this have to do with music?” The answer is simple and concise. Pancho Villa’s Skull is the name of a Mariachi Punk band from Detroit.

 

 

Since 2013 Pancho Villa’s Skull (PVS) have been releasing catchy, slightly political acoustic bangers. When you listen to their music you might not immediately hear the Mariachi or punk influences, but they are there. It was never going to sound like Mariachi El Bronx was it Instead they sound far more classic and timeless. Their new EP The Mariachi Punk EP is a mixture of old and new songs, and this suits us at thisyearinmusic fine! The opening track features the Moonstar String Duet and doesn’t really set up the EP as you’d expect. Instead of blistering guitars and shouty vocals we’ve presented with luscious strings and delicate melodies. No Mas is up next and this is a true assessment of what is to come. Shouty vocals and rhythmic guitars are the order of the day. This is a catchy three minute stab of political punk. Next up is an old favourite Sangre Inmigrante. Again it’s the same blueprint of exquisite guitars and delicate percussion. The chorus is “I don’t know how you got here and I don’t really care. We are all global citizens and we breathe the same air”. This is a statement that isn’t just true it’s sung with vibrancy and passion. This is the war cry of the migrants, underclass and undervalued in society. The rest of the EP is equal to its opening, but never quite surpasses it. Injusticia closes The Mariachi Punk EP in fine singalong form and begs and implores you to play it all again, due to its catchy vocals and viscera guitar work.

 

 

Pancho Villa’s Skull may have a macabre name but their music is anything but. It’s asks us questions that we all should be able to answer. It is unapologetic in its verve and vigour and above all its very, very, very good! So where is Pancho Villa’s Skull? Ultimately who knows, but for now it’s living in my MP3 player, harddrive and most importantly in my head!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Art is Hard and Neurotic Fiction but the jangly in jingle jangle!

 

 

As Christmas is right round the corner Bristol’s Art is Hard have decided to give us a present. Well technically they’ve just released the next instalment of their Pin Pal series. This in itself isn’t a surprise, but the surprise is that instead of one single it’s a double A-Side.

 

 

The band that is supplying both of these future bangers is Neurotic Fiction. Mediator is a short sharp dose of jangle pop. Neurotic Fiction started as “an excuse for four friends to hang out and write music” and this excuse is paying off as the music they make skirts the thin line between DIY punk pop perfection, which makes sense considering a lot of their songs are “learnt and recorded in one weekend”.

 

 

Neurotic Fiction have added themselves to a list that grows longer by the day of bands to watch in 2017. Mediator and Generals, along with their earlier recordings, that this is a band to start getting excited about! Jangle all the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have you ever wondered what a Christmas card designed by Thomas Hardy would sound like? Just ask Tombed Visions Records

 

 

Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra (KBK) make the kind of music that is inspired by Christmas cards. I don’t mean pictures of jolly overweight men in red and white or comedic scenes of families sitting around a table overloaded with food while a dog and a cat fight over the scraps. The Christmas cards that KBK soundtrack are of whited out landscapes and villages. All you can see is snow. No one is moving. Everything is silent. The sun is, either, rising or setting in the back ground, you know if Thomas Hardy made Christmas cards. There is an isolation and claustrophobia that screams from these paintings and pictures, but there is also a tenderness, that only comes when people are truly at ease and resigned to their collective fates.

 

 

The majority of the music on Desimber is minimal soundscapes that are constructed by guitarists Romke Kleefstra and Anne Chris Bakker. While these are improvised, there is a meditative structure that is hard to ignore. As these powerful audio panoramas, slowly undulate Jan Kleefstra’s poetry has the ideal backdrop. The poetry is spoken in Frisian, a language made up of Dutch, German and Lox Saxon. These lyrical tones add the dynamism that gives Desimber something tangible to grab hold of in the fug of music.

 

 

This is the kind of music that maybe you won’t play very often, which is a shame as it a flawless exercise of self-control and minimalism, but it does evoke a time of year, when people are on their own and others aren’t. Desimber indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bart Graft gives up an early Christmas present with free downloadable single Poppy

 

 

When discussing synthwave/80’swave with friends some of them don’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to make that kind of music. They get nostalgia, especially for a time that never really existed in the real world. Watch any late 1980’s or early 1990’s film/TV show and you know what I mean. Teenagers hanging out in shopping mall. Constantly shopping. Eating junk in the food court and constantly preening themselves in high-end fashion shop mirrors. But throughout all this there was a constant soundtrack of pleasant muzak. The actually reality of this was that you’d go to the shopping centre, spend hours loitering, smoking outside, getting a Burger King/KFC from the bus station and then just before the shops shut buying the first thing you picked up.

 

 

Irish musician Bart Graft longs for this time. He pines to be an extra in a John Hughes mall scene. To spend all day with a neon slush puppy within reach and listening to a loop of easy listening music in which punk never happened and instrumental synth artists were kings. On new track Poppy he has made this very song. Catchy keyboard melodies and drums set to DEAF merges seamlessly to create something that hankers at the past, abet a past that might never have existed in the first place, but grounds it in contemporary culture.

 

 

Graft has totally captured the vibe he attempted pastiche. At times you are forgiven for thinking you are watching some infomercial for a blender, ‘space underwear’, a gourmet V-Slice or a collection of albums that sounds like infomercial soundtrack. All the codes and conventions are there, however Graft isn’t taking the piss out of the ear, and genre, oh no. He’s showing it upmost respect and that is why Poppy works. He’s showing us a reflection of ourselves that never existed. An existence which doesn’t lead to this reality. And that is what makes this music so enjoyable. The thought that all the mess we’re in now wouldn’t have happened. And who said pop music was 2-D…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flask remind us that there is more going on in December than Christmas

 

 

One thing that gets me excited about music is anonymity. The second I get a sniff that a band isn’t revealing something immediately turn into a mixture Sherlock Holmes, Starlee Kine and Columbo! I start searching the interviewing and shaking down friends to any tip-bit of information until the mystery is solved. The fever that takes hold of me is as intoxicating as it is all consuming. My recent obsession is Phlask.

 

 

All the information that can be gleened from this is they are a three piece from California, who love Gibby Haynes/Butthole Surfers, Jim Jarmusch films, experimental music and Jackie Chan. Of course all of this could be subterfuge.  However the music that make is far more interesting than these, and their, collective influences…

 

 

Phlask make a droney motorik that is hard to ignore. This is by definition motorik is hard to ignore due to its repetitive nature, massive bass riffs and general lumber presence that overwhelms your senses and receptive organs. Just look at last year album by Fairhorns if you need an example. But just like Fairhorns, Phlask is incredibly moving and listenable.

 

 

A-Side Bubbles sets all of us up in its opening salvo. Huge chord progressions echo around euphoric vocals, while the bass slugs it out with the drums until an ad hoc solo takes over. Then ¾’s of theway through everything kicks off and the pace increases the song intensifies until everything is a blur. Blue Reed follows on this pattern, but is instrumental and comes out of the traps at a hundred miles an hour. This is the sound of a band that firstly don’t care and secondly make music full of infectious melodies and subversive rhythms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Luka Fisher and Silber Media team up again for an EP that is as harrowing as it is welcoming

 

 

For those in the know Luka Fisher is a big deal. Despite his lack of solo releases he is a main stay, and frequent collaborator, on the LA underground scene. Last year he released an EP through Silber Media, as part of their 5in5 series, namely the Sleep Gallery EP. The 5in5 series is a simple premise. 5 songs 5 minutes. As with the rest of this 5in5 cohorts his EP was full of droney sonic improvisations. This might sounds like some wishy washy nonsense, but in those 5 minutes  Fisher displayed more control and reserve than many fail to pull off over larger pieces of work. Now he has returned with the Mind Drone Business EP.

 

 

Opening with a few guitar string pucks, Mind, slowly builds and skews into a ninety second thing of fragile dissonance. Its Minds lack of elements that add to its minimal charm. Drone starts much the same, but there is an air of malice that underpins it. As it slowly builds it takes on the conventions of a score. As the music builds and slowly swells the final images of beloved character being murdered/vanishing after a crime flicker in front of us like a dying candle in a darkened room. We take nothing from its heat or illumination, but we are transfixed by it. Business Without Conflict is the most interesting of the trio as for the first time the sound of technology, old school modems connecting to the internet, and chopped up vocal samples show us how our place within the world is slowly vanishing. We created the technology and it was old and jerky, then, as with everything, it gets fine-turned until the new variations overtake original.

 

 

Fisher has built on last year’s Sleep Gallery EP, but shown he is more than a one trick pony. Let’s hope that in 2017 Fisher steps out of the underground scene he knows and loves and embraces the bright and airy land above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stamp the Wax return with an alternative advent calendar that even the most grinchy can get behind

 

 

Right, Christmas fever has hit the nation and everywhere you go, you can’t help see Christmas jumpers, dogs wearing reindeer horns and the pubs and bars across the last is sell Christmas cheer. So some of this this level of gaudiness is a bit too much, but Stamp the Wax have an alternative. Namley their musical advent calendar.

 

 

This is the third year that Stamp the Wax have released an audible advent calender, and like previous years all the proceeds go to charity. This year it’s the Steve Reid Foundation that will be benefitting. The charity was started by Giles Peterson to support musicians both creatively and financially.

 

 

Stamp the Wax have promised that this year’s list will feature “More winter warmers from new friends and old, including the familiar bouncing groove from the re-emerged house gem Takuya Matsumoto, some brass-lead soul from multi-instrumentalist Bastien Keb, a soul reissue from Athens of the North and a journeying cut from Max Graef. Dark Sky and Glenn Astro return with more hidden treasures and a there’s even a special shelf dusting for the astral king Sun Ra.”

 

 

Today’s musical gift is by Hareton Salvanini. Laid back horns ring out, vocals croon over the top and soaring strings tie everything together. Think Serge Gainsbourg working with Swingle while Gunther Kallmann works out those delicious vocal harmonies!

 

 

So far Stamp the Wax is leading the pack as the best way to count down to the big day and it all goes to a good cause, so what’s not to like, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cat’s Eyes are made up of Canadian composure and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zaffira and Faris Badwan, him from the Horrors. They make the kind of music that takes the best bits of 1960’s pop and the avant-garde to create luscious soundscapes with lurid subject matter. But instead of sounding like a vanity project from a member of one of the most consistent and lauded bands in recent years, it comes across as a fully formed project. “That’s great though” I can hear you say. Yes it is, but it’s not perfect.

 

 

The main problems with their latest album Treasure House is that the sequencing feels too formulaic. The album opens with the title track ‘Treasure House’. Delicate strings welcome us before Badwan’s lullaby-esque vocals tell us this that he has a sensitive and tender side that doesn’t really have a place in the Horrors. On ‘Drag’ however Zaffira shows she can do anything her partner in crime can, but she adds a 1960’s beat music shuffle to it. This is the kind of track that Candie Payne always hinted at, but never quite delivered. Massive vocal hooks, catchy drumming and the whole thing is drenched in an effortless cool vibe. ‘Chameleon Queen’ sees Badwan having a bash at Beatles-esque whimsical pop. You can almost see him in a black Sgt. Pepper outfit with silver trim while he croons “I don’t care if you want me back” and “I don’t care about you anymore” while faux-psychedelic organs swirl around us. George Martin would have been proud. ‘Be Careful Where You Park Your Car’ sounds like a follow to The Angel’s classic ‘My Boyfriends’ back which see Zaffira’s vocals filled with venom and spite.

 

 

The problem is by now you’ve worked out the formula for the album. One track has Badwan on lead vocals, the next Zaffira. This pattern pretty much follows through for the whole album and kind of takes the edge off it. This isn’t to say that the songs themselves are formulaic. Far from it. ‘Standoff’ is filled with a garage rock menace and threat. Badwan practically snarls his way through with biting lyrics. ‘Everything Moves Towards the Sun’ has a childlike music box quality to it. It’s delicate and measured, but the lyrics are poignant, “Everything move towards the sun, everything’s turning”. On ‘The Missing Hour’ Badwan does his best 1930’s Scott Walker. A troubled story is played out over a ridiculously cinematic backing track. The Strings and arrangement of ‘Girl in the Room’ seem to be inspired by John Barry and a vocal delivery that Nancy Sinatra would be proud of, make it sound like the best Bond theme that never was.

 

 

But the main problem with Treasure House however is that Zaffira and Badwan aren’t on enough songs together. The reason their self-titled debut album worked so well was because on the tracks where they duetted it sounded like a post-punk Nancy and Lee. The melodies were gorgeous, the subject matter dangerous and the overall results was breath-taking. The juxtaposition of their vocals justified the price alone and the rest was a bonus. On Treasure House however this doesn’t really happen. Yes the songs are catchier and slightly better executed, and the music evokes a by gone era but remains grounded in the modern world so it’s not a pastiche, but it all sounds, well, too safe. And safe isn’t what you want from a Cat’s Eyes album is it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Limousine’s Wrestling ☯ Wave is a kitsch jaunt to a past that never existed

 

 

The opening track to Limousine’s Wrestling ☯ Wave sounds like someone is channel hopping until they land on something they like, and in this case it’s Golden Age WWF/WCW. Wrestling in the 1980’s and 1990’s were fantastic. The matches were well structured, the outcomes spit sofas and living rooms the world over and the heels were second to none. I’ve always liked heels more than the faces, but you’re meant to right? So what does all this have to do with a music review in December I can hear you ask. The answer is simple. Limousine has taken snippets from promos, interview spots, commentaries and crafted beneath them music that not only evokes that times, but compliments wrestling samples. Wrestling ☯ Wave is that album.

 

 

 

Throughout Wrestling ☯ Wave there is a feeling of nostalgia. It’s the kind of nostalgia that Douglas Coupland has spent a career explaining. But like Coupland, this nostalgia doesn’t really exist. While the music is sounds like ‘classic’ wrestling themes associated with the wrestlers in the samples, the crux is that these themes never really existed, apart from Excellence, which sounds exactly like Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart’s theme. Instead Limousine has taken the codes and conventions of vapour/chill/synth wave and created something different instead. Wrestle Wave.

 

 

Is Wrestle Wave here to stay or is this just a flash of kitschy brilliance? Who knows, but like the original art form there is a guilty pleasure derived from finding out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Passion Pusher’s new single is lo-fi, illegible and totally captivating!

 

 

In a world of over produced and auto-tuned music it’s great to hear something that isn’t. Edinburgh’s Passion Pusher is this kind of artist. Since 2012 he has released over 200 singles, EP’s and albums, each showcasing his ability for absurdity, an ear for melody and a general disregard to musical conventions. There is a primal innocence to his music, where everything is allowed and nothing is wrong. In a way it’s like if Lone Pigeon never had seen musical instruments before just started recording what he played.

 

 

On his new single Spitefully Done Well Formed Creative Yet Still Functionable he’s stripped things back even more, yes that is possible, and what he delivers is as honest as song writing gets. The Impersonator kicks things off. Jaunty keyboards underpin, stream of conciseness vocals while a mellotron keeps everything progressing smoothly. Still At Home is an Ailie cover and is the tightest song on the single. Tinny guitars assault the senses and delightful vocals remind you that when he wants to Passion Pusher can record glorious pop gems. The singles end son Old Gelle. A disjointed track that feels like being drunk, or seasick, or both. As it skews one way, then another your senses are cast into a state of flux. When it comes to an abrupt halt you are initially glad as the motion has stopped, but at the same time you miss the sensation and play it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lucky Shivers. Remember that name. Lucky Shivers…

 

 

What do you get it mix London, Northampton, Leicester, a Karate Dojo and pop hooks? Apart from a bloody good story, Lucky Shivers. This quartet make the kind of slacker dream-pop quartet that is as life affirming as it is raucous.

 

 

Lucky Shivers have just released their debut single, Human by Night, and it’s nothing short of fantastic. As an introduction to their sound, style and world goes this does it all. We are exposed to their ability as wordsmiths, their dextrous ear for melody, their love of abrasive guitars and finally, and most importantly, their ability to mix it all together into a cohesive mass that gets better with each listen. But what really makes this a great single is its totally charming. Maybe not as charming as meeting a gent dressed in a three-piece tweed one New Year’s Eve at a bar who buys you a drink then discusses with you about your favourite subject, while regaling, and entertaining you, at the same time, but its close. So very close….

 

 

If physical music is your bag and especially cassingles, cassette singles, then keep your eyes out for a limited glitter cassette. This is something you’ll cherish and keep, until you need some money for the electric meter.

 

 

Human by Night is released on 3rd February through the Shipping Forecast Music Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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