Thundercat unleashes catchiest, and surrealist track to date

 

 

Surrealist pop just got a new anthem. Brainfeeder lynch pin Thundercat has unleached his new single, Bus in These Street, onto an unsuspecting world. This is the first new material Thundercat AKA Stephen Bruner, has released since last years The Beyond… Where the Giant Roam. And like that mini album it’s insanely listenable.

 

 

Over two minutes Bus in These Streets is full of playful basslines, heady melodies and a joyfulness that is lacking in most pop songs. But don’t let it’s fizzy vibe XXX you, the lyrics are a scathing attack on our societies obsession with social media and pointless updates. Anytime you’ve seen a post/tweet that saying “Had a burrito”, “Socks rule!” or the classic “FRAZZLES!!!!” and you rolled your eyes, this song is for you!

 

 

All in all Bus in the Streets sounds like something that would appear on Sesame Street warning children about the perils of technology and acting like a dick. As I listen to it for the, who knows, twelfth time I have muppets, fraggles and chickens dancing through my head. If that isn’t a great way to start a weekend, I don’t know what is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Warning this post contains spoilers. The majority of the spoilers are for the tracks contained in the mixtape, rather than what happens in the excellent Stranger Things, but I can’t promise I won’t let something slip by accident.

 

 

For those of you who might not know Netflix’s series Stranger Things is pretty much the biggest thing going at the moment. The basic premise is in 1983 a twelve year old boy, Will Byers, goes missing on the way home after a mammoth game of Dungeons and Dragons. Everyone thinks he’s just run away, but his mum and friends think differently. In a nut shell its Super 8 meets Pan Labyrinth, with a load Spielberg, John Carpenter and Steven King thrown in for good measure. The soundtrack chocked full of 80’s hits and the original score is cool neon synthwave. Needless to say it lives up to the hype!

 

 

If this wasn’t enough DJ Yoda has now make a mixtape inspired by the series and, basically, all the films it references. Opening with a sample from the series when Jonathon says “We made you a mixtape” then samples of Mike showing Ele his toys, including Yoda. Over the next hour John Carpenter, John Williams, Toto, Dolly Parton, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, even though the time frame of the series and their releases doesn’t quite match up and of course the Clash. As the mix carries on your transported back to Hawkins and to the hunt for Will.

 

 

What makes Yoda’s Stranger Things Mixtape so enticing, and playable, is how he manages to evoke the sense of the series through using music from the period, snippets of dialogue and make it a lot of fun. Because in essence that is what the show it. Lots of subtle, and some blatantly obvious, pop cultural references that make us as audiences giggle with glee at the thought of the pay off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Get ready for Ulrika Spacek to destroy a venue near you soon!

 

 

Ulrika Spacek are slowly becoming more than a name whispered in dark backrooms throughout the country. They have the sound, hypnotic psych influenced motoric garage rock. They have the songs, this year’s debut The Album Paranoia was chocked full of them. And now they are getting ready for a sojourn through Europe thanks to a twenty seven date tour. But this isn’t all. They’re also releasing a 7”, Everything: All the Time, through Tough Love Records.

 

 

Everything: All the Time is everything we’ve come to expect from Ulrika Spacek and more. Massive guitars dance with echoy bass while their trademark drums keep the dancers forever spinning and gyrating. This is the sound of a band who know exactly what they want to do, and more importantly, how to do it! The B-Side is Lady Godiva’s Operation, which like the A-Side needs to be played LOUD!

 

 

Ulrika Spacek’s EU Tour Dates:

 

 

02/09/2016 Antwerp Het Bos Belgium

03/09/2016 Asten-Heusden Misty Fields Netherlands

10/09/2016 Liege Live Club @ CU Festival Belgium

24/09/2016 Liverpool Psych Fest Liverpool, UK

25/09/2016 The Cellar Oxford, UK

26/09/2016 Start the bus Bristol, UK

27/09/2016 Electrowerkz London, UK (HEADLINE SHOW)

28/09/2016 Point Ephemere Paris, France

29/09/2016 Lyon Le Sonic France

30/09/2016 Luzern Sudpol   Switzerland

01/10/2016 Ancona Loop Club Italy

02/10/2016 Psych Fest @ Monk Club Italy

04/10/2016 Zurich Zukunft Switzerland

06/10/2016 ACUD Berlin, Germany

07/10/2016 Grüner Jäger Hamburg, Germany

08/10/2016 Stengade Copenhagen, Denmark

10/10/2016 Paradiso Noord Amsterdam (s/ Ultimate Painting)

11/10/2016 King Georg Cologne, Germany

1210/2016 Green Door Store Brighton, UK

13/10/2016 Soup Kitchen Manchester, UK

14/10/2016 The Fulford Arms York, UK

15/10/2016 What Became of Us @ the Cookie Leicester, UK

16/10/2016 The Hug & Pint Glasgow, UK

17/10/2016 Cluny 2 Newcastle, UK

22/10/2016 All Year’s leaving @ Hare & Hounds Birmingham, UK

03/11/2016 Lieu Unique Nantes, France

04/10/2016 Lorient Les Indisciplinés @ Le Manège France

 

 

Everything: All the Time is released on 23rd September through Tough Love Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ocean Floor pulls something special from his archive

 

 

Please forgive me, but this review might get transcendental and esoteric. These aren’t things I massively believe in, but given the subject matter, this is the way things might go. The reason for this disclaimer is that Bristol’s premier ambient merchant Ocean Floor released a new single, though its far more than that, a few months ago and it’s taken this long for to get my head around it to pen some words.

 

 

Simply titled 7/9/14 it consists of just under twenty minutes of swirling synths, fuggy drones, carefully crafted organs and no beats/percussion. In a nutshell it’s about as ambient and atmospheric you can get without having Brain Eno written on it. The sleeve notes are as sparse as the music itself, but it was recorded at The Islnd by Henry Liam Collins on 7/9/14, hence the name, as part of Noisseenoise. And that’s about it. We don’t know if this recording was part of a bigger performance, or something that Ocean Floor came up with before, or maybe after, a set. What we do know however is that this piece was recorded in one go, and possibly improvised too, and everything we hear is in real time.

 

 

Given all this information a standard review won’t really work for this one, so you understand my opening disclaimer. These are ethereal musings for a nocturnal meditation. I’m not saying you have to practice yoga positions or anything, but playing this when you are in a calm and complacent mood makes perfect sense, and if you’re like me, playing at night, with the lights on dim makes this music, and your surroundings, take on a different vibe. It turns into a place where the little people might venture, or if you remember Arthur Machen, then White People!

 

 

The real power of 7/9/14 is that after repeat listens it asks more questions than it answers. Why did this take so long to be released? Is this part of a larger, and more diverse piece? What was the audience reaction? Was this recorded for personal listening to test out a new piece of kit? When will the follow up to Jupiter be released? Overall though this doesn’t really matter as Ocean Floor has delivered another slice or ambient majesty that isn’t a single serving drone loop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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K.Flay unveils the EP she’s always hinted at!

 

 

Kristine Flaherty AKA K.Flay has been on my musical radar ever since I first heard her remix of Gucci Gucci in 2011. While that song was decent, Flaherty’s remix was something else. Even before I’d finished listening to it, I’d googled and was buying and downloading everything she had released. After that fateful day when two stranger’s futures were intertwined, I’ve been a loyal fan. When Flay released the Eyes Shut EP through Sony I was convinced this was Day 0. Sadly, like the album she recorded, nothing came of it and she remained in the shadows while lesser musicians got bigger. Since Eyes Shut Flay has released a slew of singles, a youtube book club, EP’s and her debut album, Life as a Dog. They all showcased her deft touch at production and razor sharp lyrics, but they were missing something. The inventive zeal of Eyes Shut wasn’t quite there, that is until now, until Crush Me.

 

 

Crush Me consists of four tracks that range from a straight up garage rock banger to a tender and sentimental ballad. But the most remarkable thing is that they all flow together than carry a loose story arc. The EP opens with Blood in the Cut. This is the most aggressive, and catchy, track on the EP. Loosley it’s about being single and angry. Musically this is summed up by sounding like a mixture of the Dead Weather, Nick Cave and Trentemøller. The lyrics however are the star of the show. Flay’s drawly delivery, coupled with nuggets like “Met back up with the boy I love, Cried on the streets of San Francisco, I don’t have an agenda, All I do is pretend to be ok so my friends, Can’t see my heart in the blender”, “Lately, I’ve been killing all my time, Reading through your messages my favorite way to die, Take my head and kick it in, Break some bread for all my sins”, and the chorus of “It’s too quiet in this room, I need noise, I need the buzz of a sub, Need the crack of a whip, Need some blood in the cut” eloquently sum this up perfectly. This is Flay at her best!

 

 

Hollywood Forever is up next. This time Flay explains her fears and anxieties. Again the lyrics are the star of the show. Opening line “I’m hiding from mirrors, I’m frightened of sex, Despising my image, I’m enlightened and slightly obsessed” feels slightly beatific. “I used to be so confident, So sober and awake, I never thought to act, Devoted and ashamed, Wanted to call my ex, To hear him say my name, Over the phone to me” is something that we’ve all gone through, but Flay sums it up succinctly and laconically. The music is a slower version of Blood in the Cut, but instead of the anger, we have slightly redemptive tones and a subtle aching of melancholy.

 

 

The next two songs are slower, and this pace if reflective in the subject matter. Dreamers is basically about if you could what would you re-do differently, but at the same time realising that only you can control your life. The EP closes with You Felt Right in which Flay tells the story of a romance that never quite happened, but resonated deeply. The music is laidback, but with occasional bass drops, however the soaring chours could be the stand out event on EP. The lyrics are like a diamond bullet to the head “I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Headed on a bad trip with the wrong high, I don’t really know why, But you felt right to me, I hadn’t had a good thing in a long time, Moving in the fast lane with the wrong guy, I don’t really know why, But you felt right to me”. In a weird way You Felt Right should open the EP, as it’s the start of the story, but ending it feels more fitting.

 

 

Crush Me shows that Flay hasn’t lost any of her musical and lyrically prowess, as it’s is visceral, yet tender. This juxtaposition is what makes Flay one of the most exciting musicians on the scene today. Let’s hope that there is more of this calibre in Flay’s harddrive as it sounds like her has a fire in her belly and something to say. When an artist has these at the same time anything can happen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paris based Acid Arab look set to release one of the albums of the year

 

 

Acid Arab are a Paris based production duo, comprised of Guido Minisky and Herve Carvalho, who since 2012 have blurred the boundaries between countries, genres and cultures to make music that pulsates and throbs with malice and delight. After a first listen of lead single Buzq Blues it’s hard to work things out, but after a few dozen listens it all seamlessly merges into one cohesive four minute banger.

 

 

The most potent element in Buzq Blues is how the Eastern and Western elements gel, rather than sounding like a sound clash. Acid Arab recently said “we are fascinated by Eastern Music and its codes, such as complex rhythmic structures, which drive dancers into a trance, just like acid house does”

 

 

Rumour has it that Acid Arab’s studio is based in Entrepôt, the 10th Arrondissement, and that after they’re written a song they always play it out in a club that night. This idea of experimentation and test driving is refreshing, compare to some electronic artists and how long it takes for them to release their music. MIA and Aphex Twin we’re talking about you here…

 

 

After releasing a slew of EP’s and singles their debut album, Musique Du France, is due for release at the start of October. Giving their almost flawless back catalogue, and the sublime Buzq Blues, Musique De France looks set to be the electronic release of the year.

 

 

Musique Du France is released 7th October through Crammed Discs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last year’s inaugural Together the People, curated by those good people at One Inch Badge, was a mixture of established acts Super Furry Animals, Roots Manuva, Levellers, Billy Bragg and Brakes playing alongside up and coming musicians such as Lucy Rose, Public Service Broadcast, Ghostpoet, Normanton Street and the Neon Satins Brass Band. Together the People wasn’t just about music though, there were local interest events going on too. From Beach Hut Writers, Sea Shepherd UK, Brighton Housing Trust, Future Brighton Debate all giving the local community something to engage with while they were waiting for their next musical fix.

 

 

This year’s festival is following a similar path. The Saturday Night headliner is music legend Brian Wilson performing the Beach Boy’s best known album Pet Sounds live. This alone looks set to be the highlight of the weekend, but it’s the acts below Wilson that look the most appealing.

 

 

Suede are joining Wilson as Co-Headliners. Since 1992 Suede have released forward thinking music, and have a back catalogue that will definitely offer something for everyone!

 

 

The Horrors also feature on the bill. Their infectious mixing of garage rock, shoegazing and indie-prog should be enough to win over another crowd. Last year Melbourne’s Hiatus Kaiyote’s breakthrough album ‘Choose Your Weapon’ won over music fans and critics alike. Their brand of prog, heavy rock and psych neo-soul got them a Grammy nomination too. Hiatus Kaiyote are predominately a live band though and their set looks too good to miss!

 

 

Hip-Hop is your thing, don’t worry as there is plenty on offer, most notably US rapper Sage Francis. Francis has teamed up be B. Dolan to present Strange Speech, Famous Development. Let’s hope other members of Strange Famous and Speech Development roster are added as special guests, most notably Scroobius Pip, Buck 65 and even the illusive Jackamo Brown! If you want something on a free style tip, then Poets Vs. MC’s is for you. This Brighton intuition. Basically a team of rappers takes on a team of poets in a word-play street battle. Expect it to be pithy, barbed and epigrammatic!

 

 

If you like things a bit more soulful then Max Jury on Saturday and Stevie Parker on Sunday should be right up your steet. Jury’s self-titled debut album puts him somewhere between George Harrison and Gram Parsons. Parker on the other hand uses electronic influences to get her stories of love, loss, rejection and redemption across. You might need some tissues ready after these sets.

 

 

Together the People isn’t just about established bands. Oh no. Brighton is the owner of one of the best music scenes in the country today, and this is also on display. Egyptian Blue, Fur and Post Heather, who all played incendiary sets at The Great Escape in May, look set to make a claim on ‘Best Band in Town’ with sets throughout Saturday.

 

 

 

But if you want to sit and enjoy some familiar musical friends in a slightly unfamiliar surrounding then Turin Brakes and Gaz Coombes might be more up your alley. Last year saw Coombes’ second solo album, Matador, receive a platitude of praise and awards. Turin Breaks’ blend of laid-back acoustic indie folk makes them a great addition to any festival line up.

 

 

One Inch Badge will have us salivating like Pavlovian dogs until September every-time they make an announcement relation to the festival!

 

 

Together the People is taking place September 3rd & 4th in Brighton’s Preston Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michael Simmons AKA Conformist is back with his second album Lifestyle Bible. If it is anything like 2013’s debut Paid to Fake It, Lifestyle Bible will be critically acclaimed and further cement Simmons as a forward thinking electronic music producer.

 

 

Lifestyle Bible is composed of eight songs, each one being an example of Simmons’ layering production techniques and ad-hoc approach to composition. So far only Komputer Jenerated is only track released and it gives clear indications of Simmons’ artistic progression and what to expect from his second long player.

 

 

Komputer Jenerated sounds like a mixture of Paul Hardcastle, Bentley Rhythm Ace and Coldcut whilst being produced, and subsequently cut up, by Brion Gysin. As it skitters along samples, and motifs, appear and re-appear giving Komputer Jenerated a cohesive feel, while at the same time making it all sound idiosyncratic and totally playable!

 

 

Lifestyle Bible is releasing on 14th October through Consumer Cosumer Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If Loyle Carner and Rebel Kleff always worked together the world would be a better and catchier place!

 

 

OK, this might get gushy. Loyle Carner is basically my favorutie musician at the moment. So far he’s released five singles, one with the living legend Kate Tempest, and a six track mixtape. Out of these six releases there are thirteen tracks and I adore them all.

 

 

What Carner does, that most musicians find it hard to do, is to get over his point over quickly and make you feel what he is on about. After a few bars you get what the track is about, musically, and then after the first verse you know exactly what Carner is driving at. This is the same on new single No CD. After a massive Led Zep-esque guitar riff, Carner goes straight into the chorus “Oh please, We ain’t got no P’s, because we spent all our money on old CD’s. It’s like, On please, We ain’t got no P’s, because we spent all our money on old CD’s. We say, On please, We ain’t got no P’s, because we spent all our money on old CD’s. We got some old Jay-Z’s, some ODB’s, placed them up in perfect order, because of my OCD, won’t let me keep it.” I dare you to play this back-to-back and not get the chorus stuck in your head. After this intro the track puts it foot down and let’s rip. Backed by a huge beat and more classic guitar riffs. Then just when you thought you had the track worked out producer Rebel Kleff ups pops up. Kleff appears about half way through and drops some great verses, as well as the beats, that really tie the whole thing together. Now if the track and subject matter weren’t enough Carner and Kleff has delivered an amazing video too. In it Carner walks through a house and in every room different people are playing Rock Band along with No CD, again this is something I know about.

 

 

If Carner tried to write a song for me, he would never get it as spot on as No CD. This is something I know all about. When I younger I’d rather buy music then go out on a Saturday night. When I was at uni I went without food to buy records and books. And as an adult I’ve gone without holidays and new work clothes to get that must have item. Things have changed a bit now, but still this song strikes a chord with me like few every have.

 

 

 

Rumour has it that Carner is working on his debut long player and if his six previous releases are anything to go by it’s going to be a greatest UK Hip-Hop album not just in recent years, but ever!

 

 

No CD is out now being released through AMF Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edinburgh pop chauntress Emilie gets our ears wagging on debut

 

 

Emilie is new. Like REALLY new. Eyes for You is her debut track taken from her debut EP, I Can  See You In The Darkness, released 16th September. So what do we know about Emilie? At the moment not much, which just adds to the enjoyment factor, other than she lives in Edinburgh, writes, plays and produces her own much, which a little help from an unknown producer, and she’s supported SG Lewis.

 

 

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who or where she is based as Emilie is releasing delectable slices of pop that require repeat listens, upon repeat listens. On Eyes For You Emilie sounds like London Grammar, but you know, better.

 

 

Given the strength of Eyes For You there is enough going on to warrant checking out I Can See You in the Darkness. Whether it will surpass this slice of electro-pop will remain to be seeing. However Emilie has done enough for our eyes to be on her…

 

 

I Can See You In The Darkness is released 16th September through Stellar Recordings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shy Layers release on Growing Bin Records could be the sleeper hit of the year

 

 

JD Walsh is a master of melody. He’s sings are chocked full of a pop sensibility that other musicians would love to possess. The real kicker is that he could easily make big and brash summer pop hits, but he’s decided, instead, to make laidback electro pop/Afro-Lounge bangers. They are perfect for playing at BBQ’s, pool parties, or whilst strolling by the sea as the sun sets.

 

 

Don’t let the title confuse you as Black and White is anything but! Woozy synths mix with choppy Afro-beat rhythms and heavily vocodered vocals. You don’t really know what’s going on as the Afro-Beat and electronic elements juxtapose, rather than complement each other, but there is a feeling of easy and companionship. Famous Faces feels like a reworking of Fleetwood Mac’s classic Albatross, but you know a synth-lounge. It’s a song for long late night conversations and longer drinks. Stabilized Waves is a woozy and wonky soundtrack to your favourite summer holiday. Lazy melodies and rhythms jostle for your attention, whilst never exerting themselves as the temperature is too high. You can almost see the heat waves coming from the speakers when it plays. This is a fantastic piece of music and when the Afro-Beat guitar kicks in you’ll get even more comfortable on your sun lounger.

 

 

Holding it Back picks up the pace a bit with a driving bassline. The beats slowly pop around us while laconic synths engulf us like a summer mist. The vocoder is back, but its inclusion is delightful and really brings Hold it Back together. Bees and Bamboo showcases Walsh’s gift at melody. Throughout its three minute duration Walsh doesn’t hold back. Afro-Beat guitars wash over us continually, as the sea on a shore. Just bubbling below the surface are delicate synths and basslines, but it’s the guitar that is the start of the show here. The album closes with 1977. Again Walsh shows off his softer, melodic side. A shuffling beat welcomes us while a 1970’s-esque vocal keeps everything moving forward.

 

 

If any album could be the surprise sleeper hit of the summer, this could be it, but given how you can only get it on vinyl from an indie in Germany, and it isn’t on i-tunes/Amazon might put some people off. Saying that the album is culled from Walsh’s previous two EP’s so it is possible to put it together. Either way this is irrelevant as Walsh has crafted ten songs that appear to be made of pure sunshine and fun. If this doesn’t soundtrack your summer, and if we get one, Indian summer then you’re doing it all wrong!

 

 

Shy Layers is out now on Growing Bin Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PWR BTTM unleash their tender side on new single

 

 

In the past lo-fi punk duo PWR BTTM have released songs that range a chocked full of dirty riffs, lurid imagery and an overflowing self confidence that would make Michael Phelps stand back. But now they’ve returned with possibly their most tender and heart-warming/breaking song, which will appear on the UK release of their album Ugly Cherries.

 

 

New Hampshire opens with the line “When I die please bury me in New Hampshire, I really like the leaves. Don’t be sad I’m done my share of living, I think I have to leave”. This could be one of the most brutally honest lyrics in a very long time and it sets up the rest of the song perfectly. Melancholy guitar and drums chime away, until just after the minute mark there is an explosion of feedback. This pattern carries on until a charming solo kicks in half way through the song, backed by a xylophone. After this the song tried to pick up the mood a bit with a euphoric surging guitar and some delightful harmonies until everything stops. Very much like life itself.

 

 

What New Hampshire shows is that there is more to PWR BTTM than just queer punk. They know what it is to, and die, and they have no fear to do either. It’s a brave move and one they should be applauded for.

 

 

Ugly Cherries is out on 7th October through Big Scary Monsters and the December tour dates are:

 

3rd – Brighton @ West Hill Hall*

4th – Leeds @ Brudenell Games Room*

5th – Glasgow @ Hug & Pint*

6th – London @ Shacklewell Arms* – sold out

7th – Amsterdam @ Sugar Factory*

8th – Cologne @ Blue Shell*

9th – Berlin @ Lido*

10th – Hamburg @ Molotow*

 

* = w/ The Spook School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Neo-Yé-Yé band La Femme have the summer in their hand, oh and you’re there too

 

We’re getting into silly season now. Bands left right and centre are releasing their biggest and catchiest songs in an attempt to get you to buy their releases and see them at all the festivals they play. The latest band to win us over are Paris’ La Femme.

 

 

Sounding like, well, not much else La Femme combine, then whisk pop, surf, psych, chanson, electro, hip-hop in to a neo-Yé-Yé that has the ability to make you smile and dance at the same time. This year they have released the exquisite, sublime and bizarre singles Sphynx and Où va le Monde. Each one not only showcase their skill for melody, but also for their disdain for playing it safe. Sphynx sounds and feels like a lurid freakout dream sequence from a Jodorowsky film. The psych disco beat keeps everything moving forward, to what feels like impending doom, while delicate vocals charming synths hint at a light at the end of the tunnel. Où va le Monde on the other hand feels like the lightest, brightest and poppiest thing, all warpped up with a delicious beat and warming vocals. At times it’s hard to fathom that the same band made both tracks and they appear on the same album.

 

 

The album they appear on is called Mystere, an apt name if ever we heard one, and it out on Disque Pointu on September 2nd. Mystere is chocked full of fifteen songs that fit in perfectly between Où va le Monde and Sphinx. Everyone here at thisyearinmusic likes to think of ourselves as people who don’t give out spoilers, but all we will say is that you’ll want to stick around for the final track Vagues….

 

 

Mystere is released on 2nd September through Disque Pointu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It appears that if you want to be in a band at the moment you need to have a cover in your arsenal. Nirvana had Leadbelly. Adele has Dylan. Dylan has Sinatra and now Noise Funeral have, well, five.

 

 

What is great about this EP is how lo-fi and ad-hoc it is. At times it rounds about as ropey as you can get, out of tune, bum notes and distortion. However at other times it sounds like the best thing ever, out of tune, bum notes and distortion. Noise Funeral have really tapped into what the songs are about and exploited that on every track. About a Girl, in its original form, is a heavy, feed backing rocker about, well, a girl. This is all carried over in their cover. Like the original its catchy as hell and like the original there are part when you think the whole thing will fall over and make a mess on the floor. The same is true for Paranoid. The Black Sabbath original is a total monster of a track. Its loud and proud and so is Noise Funeral’s. Coming out of the blocks at a hundred miles a hour, and not letting up for a second, this is one of the stand out moments on the EP.

 

 

As the title says Organ Covers. I you don’t like celestial sounds organs, maybe give this a miss, but if you have a soft spot of kooky covers, Russian organs and anything kitsch this  is for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Newcastle’s Kane Dare Records and Mausoleum’s release an EP full of dark electro and brooding basslines

 

 

Synth wave, dark electro, lucid pop and witch house are growing in popularity by the day. Labels like Rain Dragon and Retro Promenade have been releasing quality release after quality release for a few years now. There is something about massive synths, dark basslines and a retro sheen that makes everyone here at thisyearinmusic smile.

 

 

An EP that has defintley made us smile today is Mausoleum- Mausoleums. This six track banger is chocked full of everything we love, and have already mentioned. Tiki Mask kicks things off in fine form. An synth welcomes up, before slightly freaking us out a bit with eerie motifs and phases. Just after the beat kicks in a cryptic lyric of “When they see me right behind you, When they see me I disguise you” accompanies the music as it swells and pulsates. Five opens with driving bassline, squelchy tweeks and an unrelenting beat that makes the Eastern Bloc look like Butlins!

 

 

Sounding like Kraftwerk being covered by John Carpenter, Mausoleums manage to capture brooding intensity of Carpenter’s films, while never losing sight on a deviantly  simple rhythm. This is the music working out montages, spring cleaning and saving humanity from supernatural annihilation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hunck unveil their latest opus. This time romance is on the agenda!

 

 

Love is hard to find. Some people think you bump into when you least expect it. Some think it can’t be bought and others think it can. I have no idea about where London’s avant-pop group Hunck think it comes from, but thanks to their new single All Dressed Up we know what they’ll do when they find it. Basically take it out and show it a good time!

 

 

Like their songs the video for All Dressed Up is a skewed take on the genre. Instead of the classic “band-performing-while-stuff-happens-around-them” Hunck have chosen to channel their inner Frank Sidebottom. Fred and Thom are the stars of the video. Fred getting all dressed up, then waiting around watching Japanese TV, while Thom stars on the TV then delivers an incendiary solo.

 

 

As with all Hunck songs, and this is no disrespect to the music, the lyrics are the main event. Fred’s deadpan, tongue in cheek delivery makes these words of love even more devastating! “If only she would look my way, A thousands suns would melt away, today” and “I’m gonna take a chance and ask, if I can take her out to dance, tonight” sum the song, and the band up perfectly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forget Suicide Squad, Jeremiah Jae and PBDY team up for only super group you need this summer!

 

 

I‘m not going to lie, the JP Moregun mixtape is a match made in heaven. Jeremiah Jae has released some of the most forward thinking and ground breaking Hip-Hop in recent years and PBDY’s beats, not to mention his We Are Tar label, have soundtrack more time in recent years than I care to remember. Now they’ve joined forces and the results are beyond flawless!

 

 

Honey I’m Home opens with a delicate sample that ends up being glitched to the Nth degree while a tight beat and Sopranos sample tells you everything you need to know about this mixtape. It sounds ace, will feature musical samples you won’t know and is loaded with more pop cultural references than an episode of QI! Millions Bucks samples the Sonics The Witch while Jae laconically drawls all over it, like only he can.

 

 

The stand out track is the English Channel. On this JP Moregun put their foot down and show us not only what they are made of, but what Hip-Hop should be in 2016. As the title suggests the lyrics drawn heavily on Jae’s time in the UK, and by the sound of it he watched a lot of BBC and Channel 5. But again its thanks to PBDY’s production allows Jae to shine. This time its French pop music that gets chopped and mangled into strange and unexpected territories!

 

 

PBDY’s productions feature samples of songs that on their own would make up your new favourite playlist, but being chopping, layered with film snippets, some incredible beats and Jae’s lucid abstracted lyrics they become something greater than the sum of their parts. You could spend the rest of the summer dissecting and analysing this mixtape, and I probably will, but you’ll miss the beauty and simplicity of it.

 

 

JP Moregun is the antidote to Hip-Hop that says nothing other than how wealthy and well-endowed it is. This is the sound of music being made for the sheer thrill and enjoyment of making it. Let’s hope the JP Moregun II won’t be too long in the offing. But as they say never look back, this is the winning seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All Tvvins are getting ramped and pumped to release their debut long player

 

 

Lar Kaye and Conor Adams have more musical experience than their youthful faces show. Both have cut their teeth in multiple bands, Kaye in post-rock Adebisi Shank and Adams the singer in Math-rock group Cast of Cheers, before they decided to join forces and try and take over the world. Looking at their previous bands it’s almost unfathomable that they are now in an indie-pop that makes big bright and bold pop bangers, rather than the unfathomably complex and intricate post-math bands that they originally found themselves in.

 

 

Their debut album IIVV is set for release through Warners on 12th August. Given the previous six singles, Thanks You, Too Young to Live, Darkest Ocean the most recent being These 4 Words, it looks set to be a full of songs that sings about the darker side of relationships, but also hint at things do get better and all you need is a little faith and self-belief to make it happen, whilst being covered in glitter and Day-Glo paint.

 

 

These 4 Words kicks off with a bright and breeze beat and loops, this is easily the most POP thing they’ve release to date. The chorus has that rising euphoric thing that is really popular at the moment and the music sounds immediate, like you can only enjoy it for a split second then it’s gone into the ether, you know like snowflakes and a good laugh. There isn’t really much going at the moment on that deviates from the verse-chorus-verse formula, but that’s all pop music is right? And that’s why pop music is fun, right? Because of the lack of change and happy-go-lucky under currnet. Harold Pinter to music this ain’t!

 

Expect All Tvvins IIVV to soundtrack all your shopping experiences, cocktail excursions, walks along and beach and BBQ’s. Basically this album has the capacity to be everywhere, all the time! I just hope you don’t get bored of it, otherwise it’ll be a very long summer indeed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gonjasufi is set to release third album in six years

 

 

Sumach Ecks AKA Gonjasufi first appeared on the scene seven years with the single Holidays/Candylane. Since then he’s released two genre defining albums, a slew of singles and a remix album. Now Ecks is about to release his third album CALLUS, and as A Sufi and A Killer and MU.ZZ.LE showcased it contains the contents of his psyche DJ box.

 

 

New double A-Side single The Kill/Prints of Sin is a slow burner filled with searing guitar solos, luscious string sections, ad-hoc electronics, tight drum loops and Ecks trademark distorted stream of consciousness vocals. Both songs book end each other perfectly. The Kill opens with angry drums and soothing synths, until Ecks starts to deliver poignant lyrics after poignant lyrics. As The Kill progresses it gets slower and more abstract until it segues in to Prints of Sin. Kicking off with a bubble of electronics and following with this blueprint until its warped outro. Both songs complement each other perfectly showcase Ecks eclectic personality.

 

 

CALLUS was written and recorded over a four year period. The themes and topics make it Ecks’ most honest and purifying album to date. It goes to show that even when you are angry and hurt you can turn that to create something positive and beautiful.

 

 

Callus is released on Warp Records on 19th August

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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California producer Monty mixes two of the best parts of contemporary culture together

 

 

In the past many producers have tried mixing computer game music with pop/hip-hop/metal/techno and the results have been patchy. For every awesome Doctor Spin-Tetris we get a woeful H.W.A.-SuperSonic and the least said about SFX-Lemmings the better… But now Californian producer Monty has made possibly the most inventive computer game mixtape in a long time by sampling The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and giving it a gritty LA Hip-Hop make over. And what’s more it sounds amazing!

 

 

Anyone who has ever played a Zelda game will know how luscious the soundtracks are. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the original NES game, if you are everyone at thisyearinmusic salutes you, the GameBoy version, arguably the best and most taxing edition in the series, or any of the later versions you know the score will be we enjoyable as the game itself. Luscious melodies and hectic motifs swirl around Link as you explore the world, solving puzzles, defeating baddies and ultimately rescuing Princess Zelda.

 

 

What makes Monty’s mixtape so in keeping with the original source is how much respect he has taken with it. The ten tracks that make up Beats of Time are made exclusively from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time soundtrack and sound effects from the game. The album opens with Title Theme, which pretty much does what it says. Through subtle and poignant beats, Monty gives us all the majesty and beauty of the original theme, but gives it street smarts. Deku Tree follows on this exquisitely, albeit with slightly harder hitting beats. It isn’t until we get to Epona’s Song that things really start to take off and Monty starts to show us what he’s capable of. A tender guitar and gentle kicks things off, before SFX from the game keep things moving forward until its delightful outro. It’s beautiful, but it also has a sense of humour, which is something the games have always possessed. Song of Storms and Master Sword have a bounce that wouldn’t be out of place on a Non-Projects or Brainfeeder mix album. The beats are crisp and sharp while the samples juxtapose this perfectly. Ganon’s Castle Bridge brigs the story to a close you Link defeats the villain of the piece Ganon, in his castle. The album, like the games, ends with Staff Roll that brings everything to a logical conclusion.

 

 

What Beats of Time does incredibly well is mixes seamlessly two of the largest parts of contemporary culture, hip-hop and computer games, and ends up with something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Whether Monty will tackle another game in the future will remain to be seen, but given how inventive Beats of Time was the chances might be high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1-800 Dinosaur Presents Trim is one of the finest and forward thinking albums released in 2016 thus far

 

 

The musical polymath that is James Blake first started 1-800 Dinosaur in 2010 as club night banner while on tour. It was a way for him, and his backing band, to let off steam and play different music than he is singularly know. 1-800 Dinosaur now consists of Blake, Foat, Trim, drummer Mr Assister, guitarist Airhead, and DJ Klaus and they’ve just released their debut album ‘Trim’

 

 

Instead of opening with a salvo of rapid fire beats, bowling loosening bass and the sound of the inner city sprawl, that is Trim’s inspiration, we’re greeted with World Music xylophones and shimmering synths. While the music whips and swirls around us Trim delivers stream of consciousness lyrics are as intelligent as they are entertaining. Instead of rapping about gang issues and other stereotypes, this Grime artist offers us an alternative. And this is what 1-800 Dinosaur is, an alternative to over produced hip-hop that only name checks its postcode and what its wearing. ‘Before I Lied’, picks things up a bit, for the first time on the album we have conventional bass and breakbeats. Sounding like a slower and laid back re-work of DMX’s classic ‘X Gonna Give it You’ with an inspired horn section. Trim’s grime raps are as clever and inventive as on ‘Stretch’, but the beats are tighter and everything has a grittier feeling to it.

 

 

‘Man Like Me’, is classic grime in the Wiley Bow E3 vein, but musically its more ad-hoc and shambolic. There are moments when it feels like everything is going to collapse under it loping bass and ungainly beats. ‘White Room’ is tailor made for when you walk into a club, it’s busy, everything is strobing and it looks like the small room is in a different time zone to the rest of the world and everything is in slow motion. However the star of the show is Airhead’s searing guitar riffs. They give the song this feeling of euphoria that when juxtaposed with the stark electronics gives it a warmth seldom seen and hear in electronic music. ‘Seeker’ sounds like a cut-and-paste remix of music and dialogue from the Channel 4 programme Utopia. It’s all choppy beats, lurid, creepy, but ultimately one of the stand out moments of the album. Speaking of standout moments, the best is definitely left for last. However the reason why ‘No Manners’ is so addictive to listen to is partly down to a delicious string sounding loop and it has a catchy as chorus. “The kids got tunes, bangers, And I’m out with the hoodlums, goons, jackers. And they throw us in the works, spanners, And we ain’t like those other grime MC’s, rappers. You might end up with you your whole crew in tatters, you’re whole crew’s in tatters”.

 

 

1-800-Dinosaur Presents Trim, is far more than a Blake side project. It’s a fully functioning collective that, luckily for us punters, have put on some amazing nights and released some forward thinking music. The real power of this album is not only the showcasing 1-800’s collective musical prowess and their ability to mix and merge genres and style effortlessly to create music that sounds like nothing that has been released commercially in recent month, but of Trim’s vocals. Throughout the album he is the glue that holds everything together. Some of his lyrics are just roasting and bravado, but others are tongue I cheek rhymes meant to evoke a sense of fun, but there is also a lot of poignant and thought provoking stuff that not only sums up what’s it like to be living in 2016, but hints at a way to try and make it better. 1-800-Dinosaur are much more than a club-night, a label and a supergroup and where they go from here it’s hard to say, but it’ll be well trim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Biffy’s new album will polarise fans, but there is still plenty to sunk your teeth into

 

 

Eight albums fourteen years isn’t to be sniffed at. Nor is 20 years in a band and still finding new things to be inspired about, but this is exactly where Biffy Clyro find themselves. Their latest album ‘Ellipsis’, basically meaning using more words than necessary, finds them writing some of heaviest and most visceral music to day, album with pop-bangers. In a recent interview they said “You’ll either love it or hate it, that’s what we want!” Overall I like it, but its not a perfect album by any means…

 

 

‘Wolves of Winter’ kicks the album off in fine form. It’s obvious that since the last album Biffy Clyro have been immersing themselves in Pink Floyd and Prog rock, as a sample of laughter, guitar loops and echoy vocals usher us into the opening salvo. But there are elements of contemporary dance music in there too. Who knew Biffy were into EDM and dubstep? Suddenly a gargantuan guitar riff explodes in our face, everything kicks off and goes blurry. The opening line is “How’s it gonna feel when there’s no one to support ya? How’s it gonna feel when you’re standing there alone?”. Not the best opening lyrics, but let’s hope it picks up. Then comes the most interesting lyric on the whole album “We have achieved so more than you possibly thought we could” Are they laying into their original fans, or just lashing out to anyone whoever wrote them off? Either way it raises more questions than answers. ‘Friends and Enemies’ has a pure pop sound to it, but the drums hint at the power and aggression just lurking under the surface. Sadly it never quite breaks, but the inclusion of the child’s choir is a master stroke. Again the lyrics let the song down “Her eyes were described as deep set cigarette burns” and ““With a friend as good as you who needs enemies. I guess we all make mistakes, but we’re growing” is ok on your first album, but this is number seven from Biffy.

 

 

‘Re-Arrange’ slows things down a bit and is one of the one of the tenderest songs on Ellipsis. It shows that Biffy still have a soft side, even if the previous three songs have been stompers. ‘Herex’ picks up the intensity, but again the lyrical content lets it down. “With silence as my witness, Your cacophony is the truth” sums this up perfectly. ‘Medicine’ is an acoustic ballad. One thing you forget about Biffy is that Simon Neil’s vocals have only got better with age and this heartfelt break up song suits his tones perfectly. Plus the fact it’s a gentle, sedate number means that when ‘Flammable’ kicks in with massive riffs and drums it has more power. ‘On a Bang’ is one of the heaviest songs on the album. Again Biffy are showing off their rock roots, searing riffs are layered upon searing riffs, while Neil screams himself horse. Sadly though the lyrics are trite and wipe away all the good work of the music. “You only fuck computers”, “Don’t blame Mother Nature, She rides on lightning” and “Well there’s your shitty future, You mother fucker”. Indeed…

 

 

One of the stand out moments is ‘Small Wishes’, which sounds like a jug band on speed. Jaunty guitars, penny whistles, hilarious basslines and psych drumming show that Biffy have a lighter side and its inclusion really helps to break up the face melting guitars and pummelling angst that comes before it. ‘People’ closes the album and has Bond Theme qualities. Haunting piano and melancholic guitar is backed by luscious strings and synths that skew and shift before our every eyes, well ears, and get more epic as the song progresses, until you don’t think you can take anymore but you do as you can’t bear to turn it off.

 

 

‘Ellipsis’ sounds amazing. There is not denying it. On ‘Ellipsis’ Biffy sounds tighter, heavier and more vibrant than they have in recent outings. Live these songs are going to go off. Bigtime and give their already burgeoning back catalogue some competition. The only real downside it that they’ve run out of things to say. It feels like after crafting some generally hair raising moments, and adding some inventive production flourishes, children’s choirs and faux-dubstep bass drops, they forgot to spend as much time on the lyrics. At times its angst by numbers with lines like “With a friend as good as you who needs enemies. I guess we all make mistakes”, “My bodies gone cold, I’ve lost control”, “Sex is silence” and “My heads a fucking carnival”. There is nothing as eloquent or heart felt as ‘Many of Horror’. And this is what makes the whole thing fall down. C’mon boys! You’ve done the hard bit by writing proper exciting music, but you’ve left us with nothing to sing along with! But given the title, maybe that was the point…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain Dragon Records new sampler shows how diverse and entertaining their label and a love of the 1980’s can be!

 

 

When you think of Canada what comes to mind? Maple syrup? The TV show Due South? Neil Young and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart? Yeah me too, but now you can add 1980’s themed neon soundscapes thanks to Rain Dragon Records.

 

 

Since opening their doors in 2014 Vancouver’s Rain Dragon Records has been purveyors in everything synthwave. Through countless releases, actually its thirty eight, they’ve carefully cut a swath through the electronic music landscape and carved out a niche in day-glo soundscapes. This means that on the surface their roster seems slightly one dimensional, but dig below the surface, thanks to their recent release, Rain Dragon Records Presents Various Artist Sampler 2016 and you start to get a slightly different story.

 

 

TSTR kicks things off in a Footloose meets A-Ha kind of vibe. Epic keyboards hangout with hard hitting drums while a guitar wails to its hearts content. Boogie Idol combines laidback beats with Japanese vocal samples to create something that wouldn’t be out of place on the Akira soundtrack. Stilz Endless Night opens with a rhythmic bassline and cascading synths. This motif carries on until an eerie/sci-fi sounding melody kicks in and Endless Night is off into unchartered territory.

 

 

The stand out track is by Bart Graft. On The Blue Planet, Graft, takes its blueprint for searing guitar solos, catchy keyboard melodies and drums set to DEAF, and merges them 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. Yes it’s just big dumb fun, but in a world of daily killing sprees, political corruption and multi-national corporations that have given up pretending that they’re doing us a favour and now just admit they want out money, what’s wrong with a bit if fun?

 

 

Rain Dragon Records Presents Various Artist Sampler 2016 is the greatest 1980’s sound never released. Yes its tongue is well planted in its cheek, but its chocked full of high-octane chase sequences, hero themes, scuffles in dirty alleyways and poignant soul searching. If you like your music with massive drum fills, neon synths and dressed in pastel power suits with shoulder pads then this, and the rest of the Rain Dragon back catalogue, is for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oliver Wilde and Nicholas Stevenson team up and make our lurid dreams come true

 

 

When musician’s you like get together to be create it can either be a car crash, Weezer and Lil’ Wayne, or a match made in heaven, Jack White and the Insane Clown Posse. Luckily Oro Swimming Hour is the latter. Oro Swimming Hour is made up of Oliver Wilde and Nicholas Stevenson, him from Lucky Shivers and Red Kite fame. As expect the music is delicious hazy pop with a skew-whiff harmonies.

 

 

So far seven songs have appeared in the past 24 hours via their soundcloud page. These song run the gambit between barebones demos, Alice Trappings, and fully formed psych pop masterpieces like Big Dipper. Lyrically, at times, it’s hard to get what Wilde and Stevenson are singing about as the lyrics are quite abstract in places, like all good music should be, but ultimately the songs are about love, loss, redemption and being young in 2016.

 

 

The stand out track is Marshmellow. At ninety seconds long it’s the shortest of the seven. As with previous Wilde releases Marshmellow is another slice of woozy wonky bubble-gum pop. Melodies swirl around you like eddies of wind on a beach. At times you feel them passing through you, but a moment later they’re just ruffling your clothes.

 

 

Given the speed in which these initial seven songs have appeared, let’s hope there is more in the vault and even a long player somewhere down the line…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mild High Club return with a slab of smoooooth 1970’s inspired indie pop!

 

 

Last year Mild High Club appeared on the scene with more than a great pun band name. They delivered a debut album, Timeline, that packed a woozy MOR punch in just under twenty eight minutes. Now they’re returned with a new single and album, both called Skiptracing. The single is another slab of wonky pop with smooth indie jazz leanings.

 

 

On Skiptracing Mild High Club sound like a version of American pop-rock from the 1970’s. A time when radio was king and all you needed to do for a good time was drive into the never ending horizon while tuned into AM radio. This isn’t that far from the aim of the album. Singer Alexander Brettin sums it up thus “The album’s story arc is that of a private investigator attempting to trace the steps of the sound and the spirit of American music.” Listening to Skiptracing you can see that it’s all there. Massive hooks, faux-lounge chords, tight drumming, vocals laced in reverb, jazz leanings  and a load of a cowbell!

 

 

Ultimately Skiptracing sounds like Connan Mockasin covering Steely Dan, with a hint of the theme from Tales of the Unexpected thrown in for fun. Now if this final endorsement isn’t enough to get you to check it out, nothing will be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weird Siblings are your antidote to over produced songs that say nothing

 

 

When a band breaks up you always wait with baited breath about what they’re going to do next. This is exactly how I felt when Tyrannosaurus Dead called it a day. Luckily singer Eleanor Rudge continued with The Hundredth Anniversary. They are poised to release their fantastic debut album later this year. Singer Songwriter Billy Lowe has been musically quite since the break-up, but now he’s re-emerged with a new project and it is well worth the wait!

 

 

Weird Siblings sees Lowe teaming up with Rudge again, but this time it’s stripped back and pretty lo-fi. In April they released the Weird Siblings EP. This was four tracks full of internal musings about the world, love, heartache, basically it’s everything we’ve come to expect. Now they’ve released the Oh Dear EP. Again it’s more of the same, but there is a verve and bounce that was missing from their debut. As with their debut it was “Recorded over a weekend in June at Eleanor’s house”. Oliver is the standout track with its keyboard’s and jaunty guitar and thought provoking lyrics. “And I thought about our friends, in ways you never liked, and I lied about the time, That I stayed out all night”. This ramshackle recording is one of the EP’s best features. There is an urgency that draws you in. When you are lost in their music, with you will be after repeat listens, you’d be forgiven firstly that they are in the other room and secondly they’re just playing for you.

 

 

While Weird Siblings aren’t as visceral or frenetic as Tyrannosaurus Dead they are the flipside to that coin. The songs still contain the same confessional songwriter that made the former get lodged in your head. Lyrics like “Being wrong ain’t really that hard to do, you just listen to someone much louder than you” sum this up perfectly. And it’s just great to hear Lowe and Rudge singing new songs together. I, and I know I speak for all of you here, hope that it isn’t long before we have a long player to cherish and get obsessed over, like we did with T-Dead and The Hundredth Anniversary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Retro Promenade is far from a niche label putting out synth covers and fake scores. Here are some key releases to get you started!

 

 

Retro Promenade is a label from Austin Texas that releases 1980’s and 1990’s influenced music and art, each releases comes with a limited edition poster. Their music is full of neon synth-wave, unadulterated pop, retro motifs and ultimately fun!

 

 

First Up is Retro Promenade’s most recent release Fairmont Futura Turbo. This EP by synth-wave producer Raider is based around the Ford Fairmont. This car might not seem the obvious choice of subject matter for a dreamy and woozy electronic EP but it does make perfect sense. The Ford Fairmont was sold between 1978 and 1983 and the music sounds like it’s been lifted straight out of some cult score and given a contemporary beat. Its laidback, classic and fun. Which I guess is what the designer’s wanted the Fairmont to be too.

 

 

 

 

An album that everyone at thisyearinmusic immediately fell in lust with was Bart Graft’s Art Exhibition. As their blurb says “It slices; it dices; and it makes french fries in three different…
…you know what? Just have a listen It’ll absolutely blow you away.” Seem legit. Jammin’ with Ariel sounds like Harold Faltermeyer having a go at Brian Eno’s ambient series, but having a laugh with it, instead of making minimal soundscapes. The searing guitar solo is the stand out moment. Why can’t the art galleries I go to play this, instead of Shostakovitch…

 

 

 

 

One of the best things that Retro Promenade does is commission fake soundtracks to fake films. The standout fake soundtrack is Protector’s 2014 masterpiece Return of the Killer Train. While this film doesn’t exist, in my mind it plays out like a mixture of Duel and Nightmare on Elm Street. Will the killer train be stopped before it claims another victim? You’ll have to listen to find out!

 

 

 

 

The jewel in Retro Promenade’s crown is its Twin Peak’s album from 2015. Over three volumes that showcased the up and coming producers around at the time, they covered, remixed and released songs that were inspired by the original series and the music. The songs are the same, compositionally, but everything has been given a cool neon synth sheen. If you are, or know of a, Peaker this these are albums for you!

 

 

 

 

If these links have whet your whistle check out the rest of Retro Promenade’s vast back catalogue including a John Carpenter inspired covers album, an alternative score for Batman as he fights crime in Gotham and their most recent, Die Hard inspired, Christmas album! Retro Promenade is a label that is far more diverse and varied than it first appears, much like the decades and genres it loves.

 

 

Oh and going forward how about a version of the Akira soundtrack, just putting it out there Retro Promenade…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GORAM showcase their brand of progesssive stoner doom on new EP

 

 

Metal is one of those genres that never really goes out of fashion. This is partly because it’s never really in fashion. I don’t mean any offence here, so please don’t be offended my metal family, but due to the nature of the genre, heavy riffs, shouty vocals, soul crushing drums, it’s never really going to break into the mainstream and top the charts (Bring Me the Horizon have come closest to that honour with their last two albums hitting the peaks of # two and three in the album chart). Part of metals appeals is that its main elements can’t really be changed, so the genre hasn’t really moved on since its blueprint was worked out in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

 

 

Saying that one band that seem pretty happy to play around with the genre are Bristol’s GORAM. Taking the conventions of the doom/stoner genres and adding elements of progressive metal, plus some deep guttural screams, they have crafted a debut EP, Ashes, that is as rewarding and inventive as it is hard and heavy. On a first listen it might seem impenetrable due to the dense compositions and raspy hinterland vocals, but you’d be mistaken. Give it another listen and focus on the guitars, especially the lead.

 

 

Opening track ˈkarɪən they start off in the classic ‘metal’ mould, but about a quarter they start to soften and these massive hooks and melodies open up and there is your opening. It basically says “We’re loud, heavy and will run rampant through your head, but we also love classic rock and don’t these riffs remind you of anyone? Yes we like them too!” Second ˈmɑːsk wastes even less time before they start to show off their chops. From the opening salvo it’s just riff, after riff, after riff, after riff, before we are beaten into submission and awe! This pretty much carries on for the rest of the EP. Closing track ˈæʃɪz kicks off with the dirtiest bass riffs on the EP, until peels of feedback, and finally and maelstrom of sludge metal majesty envelopes us. Just when you expect everything to go up a notch it doesn’t and some slivery guitars slice some space in the claustrophobic soundscape. This gives you enough time to prepare for the next barrage of metal brutality.

 

 

At times GORAM sound like Mastodon going through a classic rock/metal phase, massive rhythm section and some of the best riffs you’ve ever heard. But the real kicker is the repetition, is the repetition, is the repetition, is the repetition, is the repetition, of the riffs. This helps cement the song into your head and psyche. This is a fantastic EP that not only show masses of promise for the future, but also plenty of subtle, and un-subtle, nods to the genre’s past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What? You don’t know about Strange Cages? <insert you name> Strange Cages, Strange Cages <insert your name>, I’ll just leave you to get acquainted…

 

 

Do you like contemporary music with a retro feel? Yeah? Awesome! Strange Cages are for you then! Hailing from the south’s seaside pleasure centre Brighton, sorry Bournemouth and New Quay, this trio make songs that sound like your favourite bands of yesteryear, but all modern and 2016. “How do they do it thisyearinmusic?” I can hear you ask. Well true believer the answer is simple. They write amazing songs!

 

 

Right, imagine if the Sonics, Music Machine, The Cramps, the Lemon Pipers, Count Five and Jimmy Iovine produced it and gave it a delicious pop sheen. OK, ok, there is more to it than that, but this is the crux of it. Loads of organs, loads of wayward guitars, filthy bass, unrelenting drumming and quizzical lyrics and all doused with a shambolic spirit, so you’re on the end of your seat as to whether they’ll make it to the end of the song in one piece.

 

 

But this isn’t the best thing. Oh no. Strange Cages are due to release their debut EP. Ego Killer is set for an early August release, which suits everyone at thisyearinmusic fine, and given the sneak peek we’ve heard, it’s going to define our, and possibly your, summer! Lead single Bam Bam Boom is three and a half minutes of what we’ve come to expect, catchy neo-acid-pop fuelled hysteria. A massive bass riffs kicks things off, and is the driving force of this three and a half minute juggernaut, until the rest of the band joins in and its descents into an existential freakout. Yeah, we knew you’d like it…!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Massa Confusa team up with the best vocalist you don’t know

 

 

Once upon a time there was a band call Retriever. They released some exceptional singles and EP’s and then, just when they looked set to release their long waited debut long player they called it a day. I’m not going to lie, it was a dark day. But now their lead singer, Jackie Purver, has teamed up with Massa Confusa to release a single that packs a musical and lyrical punch.

 

 

The opening sounds like a funky version of Kasabian’s 2009 single Underdog, but before it all kicks off like a night out in Wetherspoons, Massa Confusa bring things down a bit, thanks to some clever call and response vocals with Purver. Descension then follows this pattern until it’s gradually ends. The real star show however are the lyrics. “You’re a sceptic, I’m robotic”, “You’re neurotic, Yes You’ve got it” and “You’re hallucinate, Supersonic ” it’s an updated version of Spiritualized I Think I’m In Love, but you know, funnier and less lovey dovey.

 

 

Rumour has it that Massa Confusa should be releasing another album by the end of the year, which should be a high water mark of 2016. But let’s hope this gives Purver the impetuous and desire to get back in the studio and deliver another slice of forward thinking post-punk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Silver Waves do the unthinkable and out noise themselves

 

 

Silver Waves, AKA Dylan Mallett, is not for mass consumption. If Mallett was, he’d make inoffensive pop music that is catchy, but ultimately means nothing. But he doesn’t want to, so he’s chosen a different path. This patch is rather uneven and at time is covered with grass, pebbles and brambles. It’s the kind of path you’d only take if you have a curious mind and wanted to know where it went, and had the time to find out.

 

 

Over the past few years Mallett has released a couple of EP’s, on a couple of labels, that showcase his brand of experimental symphonies. They’ve raged from full on gabba workouts, to delicate tone operas, all wrapped up in a blanket of feedback and distortion. Now he’s returned with his third EP, imaginatively titled EP3, which takes his ideas of how much is too much to another level. Consisting of just two song V and VI, EP3 opens to what sounds like Velcro being ripped apart then reverbed, manipulated and screamed over while droney electronics vie for your attention. Bass stabs and break beats pepper V, all the while an overriding feeling of unease permeates throughout, until its exquisite outro. VI opens with a barrage of blast beats and cut up vocals. It’s abrasive and lets you know that V wasn’t a one off! During its eight minute duration you are taken on a journey through avenues of dark lurid soundscapes and inescapable cacophonous maelstroms.

 

 

After a first listen it all just sounds like noise. Not even organised noise, but a load of sounds shoved together, compressed then a load more of unrelated beats thrust underneath. However after a few listens you realise that there is a method to the madness and everything carefully plays off each other with glorious counterpoints. Granted this isn’t an easy listen, and at times it’s not even that enjoyable, but that’s not the point. The point is that EP3 is about as experimental and visceral as you’re likely to find and when it does work it’s transfixing and fantastic. Oh the EP also contain remixes from Ossia and Giant Swan. And I’m sure you can guess how that goes… So what are you waiting for? Well go on then. Click the link and buy this slab of experimental majesty!

 

 

EP3 is available now through Howling Owl Records/Portals Editions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wax Machine announce new single and launch night

 

 

Brighton is a melting pot of music. Every day you read about a new band forming or a debut gig. Sadly there aren’t enough days in the week to check it all out, so you have to optimise time. Some of these new avenues for music lead you to dead-ends, others take you to places that you didn’t think were possible.

 

 

The Wax Machine are one of these bands. This quartet have slowly been making waves with their 60’s garage rock inspired freak-outs. Earlier in the year their track Shades of Orange was featured on The Active Listener’s Great British Psychedelic Trip Revisited. Not bad for a band just starting to find their creative feet. Their next single, Red Room, is another slab of psych fun dressed up in an indie garb. In the words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

 

 

While Wax Machine aren’t doing anything that ground breaking or original, at times their sound is reminiscent to that of the Zutons, shambolic indie-psych, idiosyncratic guitars, driving horns and syncopated drumming, all under a pop sheen, there is something primal there too, however they are doing it well! Through their brand of neo-psych you are transported to a time when all you really needed for a good night out was your mates and good house band. And why shouldn’t we want to go back to that place? Luckily through Wax Machine we can!

 

 

Wax Machine will be playing at BLEACH in Brighton on 3rd August for their Red Room release party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HEYROCCO just brought it….

 

 

Coming out of the traps at 100 miles an hour, HEYROCCO’s new track Yeah sounds like the personification of the teenage dream. Fast guitars, illegible vocals and incendiary drumming makes this two and a half minute belter melt into you psyche, faster than a Cornetto on a sun drenched pavement.

 

 

Whilst listening to it you can pick out references points including a punk intensity, Beach Boys melodies, a smidge of garage rock circa 2000-2003 all under an indie pop umbrella. It’s almost like Anarchy in the UK was covered by The Distillers, which was then covered by The Parrots, at their most visceral and lo-fi, while your best mate sings long and makes new lyrics in the car after a day of being day drunk and reading Generation X. This all probably stems from it being produced by Brendan Benson, yeah, it all makes sense now right?

 

 

Despite all its bravado and teenage ferocity, Yeah is actually full of tender lyrics that blight growing up in a world where the youth are never really listened to, despite it’s their future that is being affected by decisions that people old enough to know better are making. The lyrics also manage to evoke Voltare, whilst being catchy as hell “It’s never gonna go away, but everything will be ok, When everything says the same, I go insane”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Milo’s Planes and Howling Owl Records team up. What’s not to love?

 

 

Last year Bristol’s Milo’s Planes released an album, Aural Palate Cleaning Exercises. I lot of people didn’t hear it, but the ones who did were changed. It was an album full of visceral guitars, shouty vocals and an incessant desire to combine discordant music with catchy melodies. Now they’ve returned and their next long player, Delivering Business Success, will be released on 26th August on Howling Owl Records. This is a no brainer…

 

 

This is Milo’s Planes first foray in recording in a studio and Matt Sampson was at the helm. Don’t worry, it’s still chocked full of Milo’s rhythm heavy hardcore sensibility. However to announce the event, instead of releasing a single from the album Milo’s Planes decided to releases a cover of The Velvet Underground’s classic Sister Ray. Just like the original its chocked full of chugging guitars, drone like vocals and a total disregard for conventional production techniques.

 

 

If you like your summer album full of airy compositions, lyrics about beaches and cocktails, this might not be the one for you. It’s a dense beast that at first sounds like a cacophony, but, like all great albums, the more you play it the more secrets it reveals.

 

 

Delivering Business Success is released on 26th August through Howling Owl Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In 2011 a Welsh duo Right Hand Left Hand released a debut album called Power Grab. This wasn’t just a clever title, the music within was full of clever ideas and forward thinking composition. In the intervening years Right Hand Left Hand have played countless gigs and festivals and supported Super Furry Animals, Future of the Left, Los Campensinos and the Mae Shi to name an illustrious few. Now they have returned with their second self-titled album Right Hand Left Hand.

 

 

Lead single ‘Tarts and Darts’ picks up from where Power Grab left off, but this time they have expanded their sound by adding layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of devastating riffs that starts to redefine post-rock. From the opening layered riff making Right Hand Left Hand sound like a different band. The time off appears to have focused them more and the math elements are more pronounced than on previous tracks. By the half way mark, when ‘Tarts and Darts’ starts to build toward its monumental conclusion, you’re totally swept along with its vim and vision.

 

 

The album doesn’t start this way however. ‘Seat 18c’ eases us into the album gently. There is a slight abrasive feel to the proceedings, but through layered guitars and lyrical drumming and percussion ‘Seat 18c’ moves forward until its delightful outro. This then leads in nicely to ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’. In a matter of seconds the intensity levels have been heightened and there is an element of menace that the opener was missing. Another subtle difference is that there are lyrics. This lyrics don’t just tell a slightly surreal tale, but add a nice change of texture of tone to opening track ‘Seat 18c’. However this break is fleeting as the remainder of the album is mostly instrumental. If ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ was heavier and more erratic, ‘Jack Churchill’ is reminiscent of the opener. It’s a slow burner that has more in common with Kasabian’s third album than post-rock. Atmospheric guitars swell while synths throb and bass ripples all the while a massive repetitive beat keeps things moving forward. It’s like Kraftwerk played at 45 RPM!

 

 

The ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear’ is a stand out moment. The music acts like soundtrack to a B-Movie or pulp novel classic that never existed. Cinematic synths jostle with gangster-esque guitars to create a feeling of anxiety and danger. You can almost imagine the her Jenkins’ inner monologue pepper this score like Harrison Ford in the original Blade Runner. As the song draws to a close claustrophobic chines usher in the demise of Jenkins, at his own hand. His war, just like the song is over. The album closes with ‘Spring-Heeled Jack’, another cinematic beast. As the song progresses you get the feeling that Jack is creeping up on this next victim, and after he has struck, he flees into the night before anyone can catch him. This is the exact feeling that you feel after the album has finished. Right Hand Left Hand have stalked you, taken you on an exhilarating ride and finally vanished without a trace as soon as it is over.

 

 

While intensity underpins this album, but there are pop hooks that stop it from being something to endure to something that you can actually enjoy. The melodies and riffs are catchy and interesting arrangements stop things getting formulaic and boring. Basically Right Hand Left hand are Lightning Bolt’s little brother that followed their blueprint, but added a pop sensibility to it. This is what makes Right Hand Left Hand sounds like the neo-post-rock opus it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brighton’s favourite live band returns with not only a new EP, but vision too

 

 

Since the release of Tano Dragon and thanks to countless gigs, Merlin Tonto have developed their indie prog sound thanks to Owen Thomas’ carefully arranged synth compositions and Miles Boyd and Stefan Eliades’ pulsating bass riffs and off-kilter drumming. But that’s not all, they have also grown not just as musicians, but as songwriters too. This is showcased in the themes of new EP Baotou. Not just content on setting some trippy synth loops to a beat, Baotou has a fully defined concept. When asked recently what Baotou is about, Miles said “The EP title is named after an industrial city in Inner Mongolia which has this huge man made toxic polluted lake, a by-product of all the industrial activity in the area. Apparently it’s created this dystopian, almost like alien environment which we thought really conveyed the sound and imagery of the EP”.

 

 

Although Baotou is made up of four songs, it needs to be played in its entirety and as loud as you can to get the full effect. Lead single Time Pilot kicks things off in fine form. It says “So you liked the last EP and have come back for round two? Good. We’re pretty much the same band, but you might notice some subtle differences…” These differences is that the rhythm section is tighter and the electronics more out there and ultimately it feels like a step up. Shimmering Mist opens with, well a shimmering mist of electronic drones and blips until the band comes together in glorious unison for a few moments and then a slow outro beings. Forest Primeval is chocked full of techno influenced pulses and bleeps, that show the bands influences aren’t just Kraut and Prog rock based. As it progresses it teeters on that brink of breaking and self-collapse, but luckily neither happen. Beat the Sun closes the EP with track that on one hand wouldn’t have been out of place on Tano Dragon, but shows how far they’ve come since then.

 

 

Over all Baotou sounds like Holy Fuck writing a twenty minute pop song, while Vangelis producers and orchestrates everything from his framework of synths. Their songs bustle with sci-fi motifs and lo-fi indie prog attitude, culminating in a sound that bustles and pulsates along while glitchy blips and hypnotic loops fire around you.

 

 

Rumour has it that the rest of 2016 will consist of gigging and writing and recording sessions for their highly anticipated debut album.

 

 

 

 

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Coosbay return after a six months break with a new hint at their woozy psych future

 

 

In January I stumbled a new band. It wasn’t at a gig, nor was it through a recommendation, I found them the old fashioned way by digging and following leads, man I sound like a detective/Batman, and eventually I found Coosbay. I was blow away by their scope and sound. Now they’ve returned with new song Lover.

 

 

This southern psych pop group make a laid back woozy sound that, as I said in January, is full of  luscious harmonies, sparse production, questioning lyrics its captivated me like little else has recently. Luckily Lover is more of the same. But this time the scope and scale of their ambitions is much, much larger. At four minutes long Lover slowly twists and skews itself along. Laidback guitars, sounding somewhere between Pink Floyd a-la Dark Side and Manchester’s early 2000’s indie psychers Orange Can, but with the vocals sounding more like Robert Harvey, him from the Music, than before. This works wonderfully well as in frontman George, they have a guitarist and vocalist who knows what he wants to do and more importantly how to do it.

 

 

While listening to Lover I’m reminded of the TV show Bored to Death. Coosbay would be the perfect addition to the much rumoured feature length episode/TV Movie. Throughout the series they have always picked quirky forward thinking indie rock, and this is exactly what Coosbay are. Live Coosbay are incendiary, and recorded they answer more questions than they ask. It can only be time before they put out an EP. But until then Why Do I and Lover will do us fine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cold Pumas have always been touted to be the business, now, with their new album, they’re living up to the hype

 

 

Since their 2012 debut Persistent Malaise Brighton’s Cold Pumas have done the hardest thing. Keeping things on track and staying relevant. This might sound like an easy thing to do, but after that first album comes out and you get a bit of attention, it can sometimes go to a bands head, and by the time album two is released the band have gone off in weird and isolating directions. Remember that band who were once big, oh and that other one who had that song that peoople liked? You know who I mean…

 

 

Luckily this isn’t the case on The Hanging Valley. Everything is basically the same, but different. The music is tighter, if that’s possible for a lo-fi indie pop combo, the lyrics get to the chase quicker, but without losing any of their guile and insightfulness and everything is lavishly covered in a filthy Pixies-esque sheen. In short it’s a joy to behold, and listen to.

 

 

Listening to Fugue States, and The Hanging Valley, is like reading your own mind’s worse fears and greatest joys. Discouragement, Self-inflicted unemployment, love, the repetition of life’s repetitions, redemption, creative dormancies of romantic contentment, inner-city commute. It’s all there. In thirty eight minutes Cold Pumas describe exactly what it feels like to be alive in 2016, for better or worse. This is their power. They managed to cross class, employment and education and get you right to the crux of the song. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point…?

 

 

The Hanging Valley is released on 19th August on faux Discx/Gringo Records

 

 

 

 

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South Korean ethereal dream pop group release the musical equivalent of a freeze pop on a summer day

 

 

In two hundred words I’m going to tell you about something wonderful and hopefully make you a fan of this unique and exciting project.

 

 

For about a year South Korea’s Janice and the Pink Monkeys have been releasing slices of electronic dream pop. This is personified, and intensified, on their new release This Girl Harriet. Consisting of only three songs, but don’t think you’re being short changed, each track is at least twenty minutes long, we’re taking on a journey through a lurid musical landscape where there are no corners and everything is both fluffy and bubbly. Imagine a longer, slower version of Brian Eno’s classic Deep Blue Day and you’re on the right lines.

 

 

As the three songs, Harriet, Harrier Harriet and Never Afraid, take their time slowly snaking and roaming through vivid dreamscapes there isn’t really a stand out moment, apart from the start of This Girl Harriet to its delightful end. There is another reason to adore this EP. During the creative process Janice and the Pink Monkeys wrote, and published a diary about the process. This is a fairly frank, but surreal series of blog posts. If you want more of an insight into this South Korean’s recording procedures click on the link below!

 

 

Damn two hundred and fourteen words…

 

 

goodenough.webcomic.ws

 

 

 

 

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Morgan Delt emerges from his Topanga Canyon studio after a long hibernation

 

 

Last time we heard from Morgan Delt in 2014 they were melting our faces off with, well, liberal uses of Eastern percussion, feedbacking guitars, incendiary riffs, lo-fi garage rock symphonies and a general underlying feeling of enmity and acerbity. However now he’s returned, with an album called Phase Zero, and everything is more serene and a feeling of peace and contentment flows from it. Yes the Eastern influences are still there, but they’re more melodic.

 

 

Sounding like a mixture of classic hazy LA bands The Byrds, Notorious period, with a touch of the production values of Fleetwood Mac, Tusk era, Terry Riley electronics and general psych vibes a-la The Insect Trust and The Travel Agency and you have the idea of the kind of music Delt is now making. But these shorthand’s doesn’t do the music any justice, oh no, the more you hear the more you pick out, much like a draw full of phone chargers, MP3 player leads and headphones all tangled up, you’ve started on an unravelling that will take longer than you think.

 

 

Lead single The System of 1000 Lies is a slow burner that is the musical equivalent of a summer sunset. But just like a summer sunset if you stay out too long you’ll get burned, and this is what The System of 1000 Lies does through melodic guitars, rhythmic synths and stumble stop drumming. It starts off as a pleasant thing to do, but gradually, after more and more listens, it’s all over you and there is no escape.

 

 

As this is the first indication of Phase Zero, let’s hope that they follow in its delicious formula and its another collection of lo-fi symphonies that firstly you can’t ignore and secondly why would you want to?

 

 

Phase Zero is released 26th August through Sub Pop

 

 

 

 

 

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Cool Ghouls return, but this time they have more fire in their collective bellies

 

 

When listen to San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls it’s hard not to think of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and a whole slew of one single Nuggets band. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t just tapping in to the past because it’s popular and trending.

 

 

As frontman Paul McDonald recently said “San Francisco has always been great and hopefully always will be but these days there are things we despise. The lifestyle The Bay once afforded artists has been decimated. This gold-rush of the tech industry is forcing prices up and it’s been a flood of bullshit. Some people are being forcibly displaced, others are disheartened and leave by choice. Our song ‘Never You Mind’ is a reminder to the creative community not to roll over. San Francisco isn’t dead until you let it die in your heart.” So it appears that on their third album, Animals Races, Cool Ghouls have come out fighting. You’d be forgiven, after listening to the comeback track Days that they’ve just released a song full of sunshine and blissed out optimism.

 

 

On comeback track Days opens a rhythmic strum of an acoustic guitar before a piano and drums kick in. Imagine a slowed down version of the Velvet Underground classic I’m Waiting for the Man, but with a slight Northern Soul vibe. As the music slowly meanders and chugs along, McDonald’s lyrics get more scathing and biting. “Another day, same as before, and the morning through your window, sheds no light on your door. What’s the use when all you get are days, another gone, another coming yet”.

 

 

If this is a sneak peak of Animal Races then we are in for a treat and a response to sugary summer pop songs that won’t keep you warm then the sun goes down.

 

 

Animal Races is released 19th August through Melodic

 

 

 

 

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1990’s punk attitude + 2016 styling / social commentary = Ledger

 

 

New Jersey has a rich musical heritage. Looking back over the ages and you’ll seen names like Count Basie, Bill Evans, Wyclef Jean, Les Paul, Frankie Valli, Nelson Riddle, Whitney Houston and a certain Mr. Bruce Fredrick Joseph Springsteen all hailing from the state.

 

 

Now a new name has been thrown in the ring, Ledger. This trio, consisting of Ed McWilliams on bass and vocals, Chris Bryson on drums and Mark Holdcraft on guitar and vocals, make a form of punk music that lies heavily with an early 1990’s American methodology. Think Green Day/Offspring/Social Distortion/bink-182 and you’re on the right lines. The guitars are heavy and distorted, the drums are fast and the vocals are guttural and snide. It’s basically what you want!

 

 

Ledger make music that is fun at heart. They’ve tapped into the playfulness that the early 90’s American scene had, but there are flourishes of social commentary that show that all is not well in 2016. The lyrics to Save the Clock Tower are basically a re-telling of Back to the Future. Through understanding the codes and conventions of the punk genre, and being able to reduce a tow hour film to just under four minutes, they’ve produced something that is as catchy as it is clever. Yes there are flaws, but we’ll just put these down to it being their debut EP and lo-fi recording. However these imperfections are endearing, like the early Ramones and Green Day albums were, as when they hit a blip instead of worrying about it they just carry on. This is the punk way. As the old adage says “Two chords is punk, three chords is jazz”. And this is definitely punk!

 

 

 

 

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SWAIN steps out of the studio and onto the stage

 

 

One of the best things about searching for much online is that within a few seconds you can find exactly what you are looking for. Spotify and Bandcamp have reduced what used to take hours, days and weeks into a simple operation. There is a downside though. Once you find your new favourite, unless they live near you, it might be really hard to see the live. This is a problem everyone at thisyearinmusic has a lot. One of our recent finds, and favourites, is SWAIN.

 

 

This American singer songwriter has us captivated. His low tempo take on the singer-songwriter troubadour is enchanting. So far this year SWAIN has released a slew of singles. Each song has a lo-fi feel to it. They’re like the old delta blues tradition. One song. One take. They are raw and have emotion to them. Basically it’s powerful stuff.

 

 

Now he’s released another single, For Shame, but this time it’s from a live set. Off the bat, you can tell this not the same guy, he’s an agenda and something to say. There is a power and level of aggression that isn’t on his studio recordings.

 

 

After the whoops and caterwauls from the crowd, SWAIN opens with the line “Styrofoam and xylophones”. This has a touch of Bob Dylan to it, when he would just put words together that rhymed rather than for their meaning. This is a clever technique and shows that SWAIN has more tricks in his box than originally thought. The music is frantic and rhythmic. There is a slight grunge/sludge feel to it, but due to being played on an acoustic it never loses sense of what it’s about. Being angry and venting it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Switzerland’s Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders return and show they can do it in the studio

 

 

A few months ago we showcased a live EP from a Swiss jazz group called Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders. We originally said “The band are tight, but there is an element of freedom to the playing. They all know their roles, but they are also aware that if they wanted to they could go off on ones and the rest of the band would carry the tune until they decided to come back to the fold.” Needless to say we loved it.

 

 

Now they have returned and instead of another slew of live tracks, they’ve opted for two studio recordings. Odissey is a serene gentle, almost cool jazz, number. It’s the sound of a lazy afternoon on holiday not doing very much. As the sun beats down, you lose more and more motivation for movement, and the same if true of Odissey. As it skews along for four and a half minutes, your interest in anything other than the song vanishes until all you can do is sit and listen to it on repeat. Again and again …

 

 

The second song, The Battle of Lausangeles, is a totally different beast! It’s much more abstract than Odissey. Spaced out drum rolls and guitar sonics open the proceedings, then all of a sudden it suddenly takes shape and a slow strutting funk rhythm appears. Think of the Miles Davis classic On the Corner and you’re on the right tracks, but more laid back. This pattern continues for just under seven minutes until it slowly potters out.

 

 

What Odissey and The Battle of Lausangeles show is that Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders can do it in the studio as well as live. The future is very bright for this jazz funk septet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asbury Park quartet Modern Crowds sound great on debut EP, but don’t really push the envelope

 

 

If Paul Westerberg was dead he’d be turning over in his grave. Luckily he isn’t and isn’t. A reason for this hypothetical event to happen is the Modern Crowds debut EP Go. Westerberg’s presence hangs over it, like a tree’s shadow falling over you on a particularly sunny day. Well, maybe not, but you get the point. Modern Crowds is made up of Joseph Pellegrinelli on vocals/guitar, Adam Baczkowski on guitar, Michael McGowan on bass and Charlie Kupilik on drums and Baczkowski helped out behind the scenes too.

 

 

Where Did We Go Wrong kicks the Go off. Visceral hypnotic guitars intertwine with pounding drums and seismic bass. All the while Pellegrinelli‘s droney vocals keep things moving forward, but at the same time, keeping everything grounded. The highlight is instrumental breakdown about ninety seconds from the end. Malestroms of guitars swirl around us until, from nowhere, Pellegrinelli’s vocals cut through it and lead us out. Paradise sounds like a mixture of David Bowie and Green Day, but before you get excited, it doesn’t really do anything as interested as it could. There isn’t anything wrong with it, but at the same time and to quoting Courtney Barnett its, pedestrian at best.

 

 

As with most thing, Modern Crowds have saved the best till last. Green Light is a melodic, slightly tear jerking, number that is chocked full of Beatles-esque motifs. Think Dead Prudence covered by a melodic Guided by Voices and you’re on the right tracks. The message here, as has been subtly suggested throughout the EP, Modern Crowds have a softer side. It’s a fitting way to end EP. Instead of closing with some big dumb rock, like the opener, it gives us something to think about.

 

 

The downside to the EP is that we’ve heard it all before. Yes the EP sounds great, the drums are tight, guitars claustrophobic, bass throbbing and vocals guttural, but the lyrics are trite at times and feel like an after-thought. I totally understand that Modern Crowds are a new project and still finding their collective feet, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt as overall it’s a fun record. However their next release will show if they’re the real thing or just weekend warriors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Closet Goth releases his finest work to date on Warped You Records

 

 

Colin Bauer is a closet goth. Well, that isn’t actually correct. Colin Bauer is the Closet Goth. For most of the world these two sentences are the same thing, but for anyone who is a fan of Arizona’s Warped Your Records this means a great deal. Bauer has now successfully released one album and a handful of songs for various comps since last year, but now, with his second longplayer for the label Everything is Spinning, we see him delivering on his early promise.

 

 

Everything is Spinning opens with the instrumental maelstrom inducing Hyphen. It cuts a dark figure as it stalks around your ears. Love Matt Aurand and Isabelle’s Song are also instrumentals, but don’t think that due to the lack of lyrics they are just there to make up the numbers, far from it! They has as much power and intensity as anything else released this year. Musically its melodic, dark, brooding and a joy to hear. Its only on What is No One Laughing At My Jokes?, with its hardcore-esque screechy vocals that Bauer really lets rip and starts to get some anger off this chest. For two and a half minutes it slams and pogo’s all over the shop whilst repeatedly holding our collective collar and screaming in our face.

 

 

The next few songs, Is There a Dfference Between Red and Blue?, Time and I Spend My money,  are slower and more melodic, but the intensity is still there. I Spend My Time is the longest song on the album. In fact its intro is longer than most of the other tracks. Droney bass, atonal guitars and an overriding feeling of doom and malice pervades. Saying that its one of the most complete songs on Everything is Spinning and its stand out moment. Another instrumental, Teleprompter, shows up near the end. This is basically just a massive melodic solo. An abrasive sounding guitar cuts through our collective being as it meanders along. There are no other instruments other than Bauer’s solo guitar. The album closes with title track Everything is Spinning. Another darkly broody screamer. I couldn’t tell you what he’s singing about, but I know exactly what it’s about. Isolation. Alienation. Being ignored by the powers that be, and possibly girls. It closes the album with the same visceral power it opened with.

 

 

Sounding like The Cure in full on Pornography mode, his music doesn’t mess about getting to the joint. It cuts and jabs its way along jostling us one way only to relax its vice like grip for a few moments only to start pulling us another way. The phrase wall of sound gets used to often to describe things that it isn’t. On Everything is Spinning we, the listener, are confronted with a fall of sound from the opening note to the last reverb drenched chord. This isn’t so much music you listen to, but music that is thrust upon on. And I for one am glad it was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Art is Hard’s Pin Pals singles club just got series thanks to Zee Town and the Dog Boys!

 

 

The good people at Art is Hard are at it again. Over the last few years they have come up with ingenious singles clubs. We’ve had postcards, pizza boxes, handcut square 7” records and a myriad of other things in between. Now they’ve hit upon the amazing idea of pin badges. Every month, for twelve months, Art is Hard will release a digital single with an accompanying one inch pin badge. So far Two White Cranes, Sad Culture and IYSAYA have all been immortalised in pin form, but now its Falmouth’s Zee Town and the Dog Boy’s turn.

 

 

Last year Zee Town and the Dog Boys released two EP’s that were nigh on flawless with their execution of wonky slow jams full of melancholy and longing. Their label Wavey Head puts it best when they say “an alluring haunting 15 minutes that takes you to the last sunset of the season, most probably on a cliff top in Kernow”. But that was then, what about now. Plastic Boy opens with psych flourishes before a breath takingly melodic guitar riff and faux marching band drum beats kicks in. Then Plastic Boy skews and sways along throwing beautiful harmonies, Kraut keyboards and walls of woozy guitars. Another element to Plastic Boy’s unyielding charm is that it was produced by Dan E Brown. Let’s face it, this is just the icing on the cake!

 

 

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Reflowered Girlz knock it out of the park on debut release

 

 

Reflowered Girlz have only being going since late last year. I find this hard to believe. Part of this disbelief is that their songs are fully formed and, as a band, they are tight and powerful. This isn’t an easy thing to do. Established bands find this hard to do, yet alone a band on their debut release. Whatever the magic formula is Reflowered Girlz know all about it.

 

 

Their debut EP kicks off with Love Song. Opening with the lines “I don’t care what they do, I just wanna be with you, I don’t care what they say, I just wanna love you all day”, that is after a barrage of drums and distorted guitars. These are themes we’ve heard hundreds of times before, but Anna Reflowered Girlz really wins us over. This is done through an honest delivery and catchy hooks. Living Un-Normal sees the band tackle mundane subjects and question them in an extensional manner. “It feels like I’m living inside of my mind, My head always hurts from just being alive, My eyes can see thermal, Living un-normal” sums this malaise up perfectly. Again it is backup by driving drums, purring bass and visceral guitars.

 

 

There are traces of The Go-Go’s, Sleater-Kinney, The Detroit Cobras, The Replacements, Runaways and a slew of other seminal bands throughout the Reflowered Girlz EP. Some of them are as obvious as a tone of voice, others a more subtle, a turn of phrase/guitar sound, but instead of sounding like a pastiche or a rip-off, it all works to make Reflowered Girlz one of the most enjoyable and exciting releases in recent months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jellyskin are part of a shoegazing revolution sweeping the nation!

 

 

Shoegazing is back! In all fairness it never went away, it just dropped off everyone’s periphery, but now there is a resurgence in the genre. On any given night across the country you can see amazing new bands with heads aimed at their pedals.

 

 

One of these new bands is Leeds trio Jellyskin. Debut track Grey Glass Hat sounds like a Broadcast covering Yo La Tengo while Kevin Shields produces. Opening with woozy synths and dark soundscapes it tracks and ethereal trail for four minutes.

 

 

Later in the year Grey Glass Hat will be part of Sea of Skin Records’ new compilation album. Given in that sealand are also on the album this is something that none of us will want to miss!

 

 

 

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The Bug unveils new single before he drops yet another EP! Prolific needs a new definition….

 

 

It seems like only last week that Kevin Martin AKA The Bug was releasing his last EP. It was in fact August 2015. In that time frame it’s looking like the world is falling apart, countries are imploding under petty nationalism, heads of state are dropping like flies and unprovoked violence is on the rise*. Despite all this global horribleness there are a few things to look forward to. I don’t want to list them all, but one of them is Martin’s new release, the double A-Side Box/Iceman. Box features rapper D Double E while Iceman features Riko Dan.

 

 

Musically it’s business as usual. Deep basslines meander through valleys of stark drum machines and layered effects and studio trickery. Its dense, dark and devastating. But it’s the lyrics that are the main event. Box showcases that D Double E is at the top of his game. He uses a simple word like ‘Box’, then due to his references and inflection it has a totally different. At one moment he’s saying be different thing outside of the box, then if you are too different you’ll be inside a box, like dead, then a moment later he uses a football reference that means you have to twist and turn to get in space so people can see you for what you are. All of these thing have different meanings, but because they are all grounded by the same word they are all the same. Clever man…

 

 

* Um, didn’t Martin kinda predict this on his last two albums?

 

 

 

 

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