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 clich├ęs - 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.