Spectres return with their second album to save us from ourselves
Has it really been two years since four guys from Bristol emerged from the fug and released an album that is still as life affirming as it is confounding. Sadly it has, but the good news is that they’re about to return with their second album Condition. As a title Condition is pretty emotive. Are they talking about social conditioning, or is there a specific condition to writing music? Well luckily frontman Joe Hatt explained it thus “I’ve always been interested in the human condition in terms of how we are programmed emotionally and either try to adhere or break away from that. How we condition ourselves to try and blend in or get through the day, whether that be blocking things out, or drinking it all in, or in many cases both. The title came to me when we were mixing the first record and, from then on, it just stuck. It was about another year before I started writing lyrics for Condition, but it was good having that starting point forming and sprawling in my head for that amount of time as there was already a mood set.”
After hearing their latest single Neck it’s safe to say its business as usual, but instead of releasing Dying 2.0 Spectres have gone back to basics and looked deep in themselves to record a song that gives up more of its secrets with each listen. The recording process sounds as quixotic as we’d hope “We were going to bury our phones, burn our laptops and just write music for a week, come back and record it,” Hatt said “But we didn’t get a chance to do this as all of our holidays from work were used up by us gigging more than we were used to. The romantic idea of the writing holiday soon just disintegrated into panic when we suddenly realised we were recording the album in a month and we only had about four songs.”
Condition was producted by Frank Arkwright, he’s worked with Mogwai and 65daysofstatic, so we know it’ll sound fantastic and have that rich quality that all his best productions have, but it’s the themes that are the real kicker. “The same things drive us now as they did before because they’re so deep-rooted,” concludes Hatt “Making noise that can’t help but make people forget and remember everything at the same time, and total disdain towards a world where we kind of need to exist.” And this is what we need. We need a band shows us how bad things have got, but also hint at how it can get better. This is Spectre’s power and this is why they’re here to save us, even if we don’t know it!
Condition is released 10th March through Sonic Cathedral
Oliver Wilde is back and with Howling Owl Records look set to blow away our winter malaise
This is where the tragic happens is the tagline for Oliver Wilde’s new singles Your So Kool-Aid. As expect it’s another slice of wonky wooze-pop but unlike his previous offerings it leans heavily on the spectrum towards electronic side of things. Wilde recently explained this change “‘You’re So Kool-Aid’ documents having full-blown wobbles attempting to reinvent my so called ‘sound’. Takes a few listens to work out why it exists in the first place, demanding you spend more time with it than you want to. It’s just another ugly and obnoxious troubled pop tune from the decompression chamber of general malaise, with lit synth hooks.”
Your So Kool-Aid, and previous single Good Kind of Froze, are taken from his as yet unreleased third album, Post-Frenz Container Buzz, which is due for release in February through Howling Owl Records. This looks set to blow the last of 2016’s cobwebs off us and give everyone a proper dose of psych-wooze-pop.
Without hearing the full album you get the impression that Wilde isn’t out to take an prisoners with this new collection of songs. The musical scope is bigger than anything he’s so far released and the subject matter is by far the most personal of his career to date. Wilde has shown himself to be the real deal and worthy of all the hype he has received. The only down side is February won’t come quick enough…
Art is Hard and Neurotic Fiction but the jangly in jingle jangle!
As Christmas is right round the corner Bristol’s Art is Hard have decided to give us a present. Well technically they’ve just released the next instalment of their Pin Pal series. This in itself isn’t a surprise, but the surprise is that instead of one single it’s a double A-Side.
The band that is supplying both of these future bangers is Neurotic Fiction. Mediator is a short sharp dose of jangle pop. Neurotic Fiction started as “an excuse for four friends to hang out and write music” and this excuse is paying off as the music they make skirts the thin line between DIY punk pop perfection, which makes sense considering a lot of their songs are “learnt and recorded in one weekend”.
Neurotic Fiction have added themselves to a list that grows longer by the day of bands to watch in 2017. Mediator and Generals, along with their earlier recordings, that this is a band to start getting excited about! Jangle all the way!
Kuro have the prefect track as the winter of your discontent kicks in…
OK, so today’s not been great. Actually, who I am to say, maybe today’s been your dream day, and if that’s the case, bravo! If you’re not having a great day, then Bristol’s Kuro might have the answer. Before we go any further let’s explain who Kuro are. They are a duo from Bristol consisting of classical violinist Agathe Max and noise artist Gareth Turner. On paper a classic violinist someone who likes to create abrasive noise soundscapes shouldn’t work, but, like a lot of things, it works perfectly. The school of thought is very similar for both back grounds. Layers and layers of sound and Avant-Grade noise is built up to create something breath taking and harrowing. Listen to John Tavener in the 1990’s and you’ll know what I’m getting at. This duo met at a ZamZam Records night. “At the end of the show we decided to play a jam together, and the improvisation went very well” Max recently said “Gareth and I had already a very similar approach to the sound, textures and layers with our solo projects so it was easy to connect and create a wider range of frequencies playing together. We met a few other times after this first gig and we carried on improvising together whenever we had the chance to. At some point we decided to record something so I moved to Bristol in October 2015 to spend time practicing and composing music together.”
Now they have recorded an album, KURO, and its set for release November 14th. KURO is full of dark chamber music with drone/psych jazz motifs, as you’d expect from a band named after the Japanese word for Black, but there is plenty of beauty and elegance going on too. Arashi, which kicks the album off, is about seven minutes of searing juxtaposition, organic strings vs. stark electronics. Incantation in C is a nine minute walk through paranoia, alienation and suspenseful, fingers down the black board, strings. The remaining four tracks follow suit, but you know, more full on. If you think Mica Levi’s Under the Skin score remixed by Mogwai and you’re on the right tracks.
KURO is released 14th November through Rocket Recordings
Luxury Death emerge from the ashes of Nai Harvest to deliver a thunderbolt of catchy riffs, psych-otic keys and a chorus of earworm proportions!
When a band you like, Nai Harvest, end you’re left wondering firstly what releases there are took forward to now? After you’ve realised that yes, there are new releases to count down to, you ponder if new bands will come from it. Luckily in this case yes, yes there will be. Luxury Death is just this band.
Luxury Death is made up of Ben Thompson on guitar and vocals and Meg Williams on keyboards and vocals. What makes Luxury Death an exciting proposition is they made music full of DIY glee and wild abandon. This is music full of inventive hooks and catchy choruses. Basically classic earworm material.
Their third single, Painkiller, lives up to their first two singles, Radiator Face and I Feel Your Pain, but it feels more immediate, but you know chocked full of bittersweet DIY pain that only fledging bands are able to capture.
Painkiller is released on Art is Hard as part of their ongoing Pin Pals singles club and was produced by Luke Rowland, who is part of the live set up, and mastered by Dan E Brown. This combo really helps shape the song in to another classic Art is Hard single.
Next year Luxury Death will release their debut EP due early next year
Art is Hard get their PinPal singles club back on track with a fine addition from Holiday Ghosts
Holiday Ghosts, despite their name, do not make spoooooooooooooooky themed music. Instead they make vibrant, rhythm indie based guitar bothering music. But this is what you’d expect from a band made up with members of The Black Tambourines, Lost Dawn and The Red Cords.
On their debut track, Paranoia, the lyrics are full of millennial angst and hilarity, the best example being “I don’t know that to say, But I guess I’ll do it anyway”. How many times, almost daily, do I suffer this thought? Probably more than I care to admit. In anyone else’s hands this would come across as whingy, self-entitlement, but the Holiday Ghouls give it a throwaway, comedic slant, which makes Paranoia even more endearing.
As with all PinPal releases you receive another addition to your lapel, or coat pocket, badge collection. While the pin isn’t as spooky or haunting as their name belies, there is an element of supernatural fun to it. Imagine if the Man in the Moon was cast in a Woody Allen film and you’re on the right track…
Asda release the live album of the year. This in itself is cause for applause, but wait until you hear it in full!
Asda Live at the Death Disko is actually Sebastian Gainsborough and Chester Giles at their most visceral and devastating. Despite sounding like a live recording in a League 2 level supermarket’s carpark, it was actually recorded on Thursday 28th July in Cosies in Bristol. This small venue had no idea what was in store for it, and its punters, when Gainsborough and Giles took to the stage.
“Get Traaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaashed!” is Giles’ early battle cry. This sets the tone for the whole piece. This is a note of self-discovery and, possibly, revolution. One reading of Giles’ lyrics is to just go out, take dubious substances and lose control as asda’s basslines take over your body. But this is a simple reading. Another one could be that asda wants to try and bring down the cultural shackles that we are attached to. “Instead of just doing what we’re told, how about try something different, even if it’s just for one night. If you don’t like it, you can go back to normal tomorrow” is the under lying message. But it’s not all revolution self-destruction, there are also elements of total comedy on display. Lines like “I was drunk on poverty” show that it’s not as serious was you thought.
Although this set is mainly full or feed-backing microphones, deep bassline and disjointed breakbeat it does contain a few ‘hits’. The most enjoyable is Spud-U-Like. This is taken from their rare as 10” three track EP. Like with all Giles’ best work it is a damming indictment on society and its disposable nature. The “99p pizza slices, tastes like school dinners” line shows how even food, the life blood of a species, has been brought down to base levels. And that no matter where we do, we’re still stuck in the social conventions we grew up in.
This isn’t an easy listen, and at time it’s not even that enjoyable, due to the confrontational nature of Giles’ vocals and Gainsborough’s music, but there is something, lurking under the covers, that is immediate and important. This could be one of the most important releases of the year, but due to it murky sound and lurid subject matter it will be lost in a soup of torpidity and clinical studio production. I know what I’d rather listen to…