Sunday, 2 September 2012

Kreidler - Den

Fusing elements of ambient techno, krautrock, post-rock and film music, Kreidler continue the long-running trajectory of forward thinking German musicians. As with fellow countrymen Mouse On Mars, the sheer sonic depth of their music sets them immediately apart from the vast majority of their contemporaries.

Monday, 30 July 2012

A Place To Bury Strangers – Worship

In a world saturated by pop culture cynicism, the association between rock music and rebellion looking more and more like a bad joke with every decade, it seems to me that the gradual rise in the underground of what I call ‘rock band self harm’ can be seen as perhaps one of today’s most relevant trends...


Mr Fogg - Eleven

Mr Fogg, Reading’s kookiest pop prodigy, has graced us with a follow-up to his euphoric 2010 debut. Having cleared his pathways somewhat gingerly in round one, it’s gratifying to now hear Mr Fogg re-tramping them with the oomph Moving Parts lacked. This is a man, perhaps, now feeling his weight in the world.


Crocodiles - Endless Flowers

As someone who, from time to time, has been known to defend the record geeks behind indie rock and the whole ‘new music through archaeology’ formula, I find it frustrating every time I hear another album milked from the same old recipe – Phil Spector, Velvet Underground, Beach Boys, Doors – which brings little in terms of personality to the table.


Collisions – Believe In This EP

“Fuck this place up!” screams Olly Simmons, and for a second I almost feel the flinging limbs of the sweaty, testosterone-charged melee he’s trying to transport me to. But something’s wrong, and immediately I’m uncomfortably aware of the midday breeze coming through my bedroom window, and my fantasy wafts away like a fart in the wind. What’s snapped me out of it is not only the realization that this isn’t a gig: this isn’t even a rock band.

                     READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Gossip – A joyful noise

Looking through the comments on youtube videos of old Gossip songs is an uncomfortable exposé on how they hit the big-time in 2006. In amongst all the “you go girl”‘s and tiffs over the sex appeal of larger-than-life women, it doesn’t seem like anyone has anything to say about theirmusic. Back then Beth Ditto may indeed have been a conversation starter, rivalling Adele as the epitome of the anti-model, defiantly baring her gargantuan buttocks in the direction of the twig-thin catwalkers of the glossy magazine rack, but once you stripped them of alternative fashion icon status, Gossip always seemed to be a little short of things to say...


Nada Surf - ‘The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy’

Prior to the release of their sixth original album, ‘The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy’, Nada Surf announced their intent for a return to a more visceral, practice room aesthetic. For a band whose retreat from skate-punk tinged alternative rock testosterone (and with it commercial growth) came almost immediately after the buzz of their one and only college radio hit back in ‘95...


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Portico Quartet - Portico Quartet

If you’d have surrendered your spare change to Portico Quartet’s hat on a drizzly London day sometime before their rise to the throne of youth-friendly post-jazz jamming, it may not have been obvious that a few years later they’d be competing for a place as the next Four Tet. However, after the electronic hinting of 2009’s Isla, it shouldn’t be too shocking that the follow-up has found an infatuation with synthetic production– an infatuation that all but buries the sax and hang drum rambling of their tube station busking days.

                                READ FULL ARTICLE

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Anomie Belle - Slither

Anomie Belle’s new single, ‘Slither’, follows November’s ‘Machine’, a single widely cited as an important part of the soundtrack to Occupy Wall Street. ‘Slither’, a collaboration with Sneaker Pimps’ Ian Pickering, suggests she's since got her hands on some chill pills - this one's much less urgent, a new age, floating down the river kind of track. Frictionless and sleek in its dynamics, it’s both unchallenging and subtly sophisticated.

Belle chews her words in a strange sort of way, with tones, pronunciations, and articulations the conventional singer wouldn’t go near. In a way it’s very similar to what Joanna Newsom does, but in place of Joanna’s folky innocence Anomie has a cool similar to Bajka (known for her work on Bonobo’s ‘Days To Come’).
‘Slither’ might not have the punch of protest that ‘Machines’ brandished, but its understated presence has a tender, almost surreal beauty. With its gentle gongs and House Of Flying Daggers strings towards the end, this is the sort of track Buddhist monks would be swaying to if they’d entered the iPod age.

Stressechoes - Bitter Acoustic Noise EP

In last month’s MAG review I teased Rufio Summers for naming his EP ‘Over It’ – an ironic choice, I suggested, for an EP that’s arguably a bit of a blubfest. It seems my sardonicisms can extend to February – the first chorus of Stressechoes’ ‘Bitter Acoustic Noise EP’, this month’s choice, appropriates a questionably relevant Dr Johnson quote most will recognize from Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas’: “he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man”. Artistic license and abstract interpretations considered, it’s still hard to understand why these guys would pick said quote to introduce an EP that’s only a few jaunty riffs and a twinkle-in-the-eye away from being Cheltenham’s resident authority on ‘the pain of being a man’. Someone call a shrink: Gloucestershire is in denial!

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Twilight Sad - Another Bed

Nowadays, if you haven’t re-created yourself by album number three, you might as well be signing up to stack shelves at Morrisons. That’s why The Twilight Sad’s new single, ‘Another Bed’ – which displaces the diesel-thick noise folk they have been known for in the past for chilling, industrial gothica - is a smart move. It rolls along like a corrugated conveyor belt, the bass throbbing mechanically in straight 16’s, saturated with morose vintage synths and hopelessly bleak ambience. It’s like what New Order would be jamming today if Ian Curtis came back from the grave. They’re so adept at doom-peddling it’s actually hard to imagine that they recorded in a studio, not outside in a fucking thunderstorm. They’ve got some convincing emotional baggage, and know how to create atmosphere (sounds like they have as much fun with their bounty of effects boxes as any shoegaze pedal-boffin), but for fuck’s sake, someone give them a hug or something.

Underclass - Beat Your Fist

Their Facebook page may big them up as the next genre-smashing big thing, but in their latest release, ‘Beat Your Fist’, I can’t hear the faintest hint of most of the genres Underclass claim to have welded together. To me this is symptomatic of a patronising trend I have noticed a lot of recently – a band sing a pentatonic scale and suddenly they play ‘blues’; they use a wacky sounding synth and suddenly they’re ‘psychedelic’. Ok, rant over.
Contrary to what I may have insinuated, I don’t actually dislike this record. The middle 8 may sound a little like an alt rock nursery rhyme but the throaty brute force of that riff isn’t fucking around – it’s like something Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would play if someone hosed them out of bed at six in the morning. There’s an anthemic quality to the chorus, but it lacks the memorability needed to be a true rock anthem – next week I’ll have probably forgotten it.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Dustaphonics - Party Girl

It’s like something from Kerouac’s On The Road - the dank smell of whiskey and stale cigarette smoke curls through the bar, thick and cancerous. It hangs in the witching hour gloom. A woman in stockings and a feather boa moans a tune from across the top of a battered grand piano. She’s sexy and dangerous and mostly every man sober enough to lift his head off the bar is swaying to her hypnotic spell. There are silhouettes of old negroes, sleazy looking men in shabby hats, sunken-eyed junkies - all clanking their bottles and stumbling around in the smog to the ramshackle clatter of the band.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Fresh Reviews - Iarla O'Lionaird, Bankrupt, Rufio Summers

Aloha one and all. Got a few new reviews up, pre-release from Lights Go Out, Mudkiss and MAG fanzines.

The three artists involved really couldn't contrast any more - Iarla O'Lionard, the smooth-voiced celtic folk-sop of Afro Celt Sound System; Bankrupt, a snotty punk/ surf band from Budapest; and Rufio Summers, Gloucester's own bright-futured soul troubadour. Next up I'll probably be slapping death metal next to X Factor winners.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Ice Choir - Two Rings

20 years after it landed on our planet, synthpop is still being sneered at from behind guitars and analog mixing desks in many corners of the music world. And true, there's something questionable about a totally simulated orchestration of sounds spewing out romantic goo - its about as convincing as the serenades of a starry-eyed robot. However you can't accuse the music of not having character - the fact that the character’s simulated doesn't prevent this, it’s actually the reason it has character in the first place.

"Two Rings", the debut single from Ice Choir, sees leading synth-tweaker Kurt Feldman jump ship from his shoegazing past to embrace synthpop head-on. Despite having his feet firmly planted in the legacy of bands like Talk Talk and Tears For Fears, this release sees sugary, saturated production that's much more technically evolved than its classic 80's forefathers (although it shamelessly incorporates most of the clichés - for the example the novelty snare reverb tail), and sees a strong New Order vibe woven in. Feldman's voice is smooth and unchallenging - almost like another synth line. But then synthpop fifty years after the advent of the synth isn't meant to be challenging, it's just a pleasant reminder of our past.