Sunday, 18 December 2011

New Brigade

Artist: Iceage
Album: New Brigade
Release Date: 2/9/2011

Danish teenagers re- vitalise post- punk in fantastically realistic style

Last year Southend- On- Sea band These New Puritans took British post- punk on its most twisted, difficult and perhaps most creative route yet. As indicative as this was of virtuosity and imaginitive thinking, it more entirely re- interpreted the post- punk sound than harked back to it. In 2011 Iceage's debut "new brigade" seems the most likely candidate to set the bar for other releaes within its raw and scuzzy confines, not only because it's a wonderful set of songs, but it envisions the true attitude of the sound of bands such as DNA and "Pink Flag"- era Wire.

"White Rune" contains clattering, manic drums, sometimes devoid of structure whilst a messy yet clear- cut guitar riff spills over the top, showcasing the band's uglier side. However Iceage also have an impeccable sense of melody, another trait that can be aligned to their post- punk forebears. "Remember" has a rhythmically pounding drum rattle and a jarring, slightly scuzzy riff reminiscent of The Horrors' first album. Melody keeps rearing its head until it reaches its peak in closer "You're Blessed" which features easily the best riff on the album.

"New Brigade" is by no means a new sound, but that's what's so refreshing about it. By creating this album off the back of a no- bullshit mentality, a slew of great riffs and areas of experimentalism and melody to boot, Iceage have avoided the tricks and made a REAL post- punk record. In 2011, that's something that's hard to come by.

Download: 1) You're Blessed, 2) Remember, 3) Collapse
For Fans of: Crass, Wire, The Horrors

Saturday, 17 December 2011


Artist: Amon Tobin
Album: ISAM
Release Date: 20/4/2011

Former Brazillian Drum 'n' Bass forebearer creates too many illusions

Those of you familiar with Brazillian producer Amon Tobin's experimental D'n'B mixes in the '90s had better prepare to be alienated, because none of those influences or sounds are brought to the table on "ISAM". Forsaking song structure for a perplexing myriad of tinkles and electronic rushes, for its first half "ISAM" is actually very pretty and intricate, most notably on the hymnal clank of "Lost & Found." However its rear end descends into plinky- plonky delicateness which is harder to get your head around than the first half arguably was. "ISAM" is not one you're likely to remember.

Download: Lost & Found
For Fans Of: Actress, Patten

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Gloss Drop

Artist: Battles
Album: Gloss Drop
Release Date: 6/6/2011

Keeping their impeccable intricacies in tow, Battles put a friendlier and happier face on their music for what may be the feel good album of 2011

The departure of front man Tyundai Braxton halfway through the recording process of "Gloss Drop", New York veterans' Battles second album, was one that turned them into a more polarising band than ever before. Had the three musicians who make up Battles been any less experienced and the mountainous speculation that began to surface across the blogosphere about what "Gloss Drop" was going to sound like and the brutal weight of expectation may have crushed them. But having spent the best part of their musical careers in criminally underrated '90s bands, Battles certainly know how to react when they are faced with a challenge, a statement that is more than backed up by "Gloss Drop."

The band's 2007 debut "Mirrored" was one that marked them as kings of the experimental rock movement. Difficult, twisting, turning and inexplicably mathy, it marked Battles as one of the most unfathombaly talented bands operating, and it's a trait that raises it's beautiful head once again and comes to define "Gloss Drop", but in a friendlier and generally much happier and (whisper it) almost accessible way.

Opener "Africastle" starts off with throbbing electronics and reverberating guitar lines before exploding into a controlled but epic slice of shimmering euphoria. Right from the off there's absolutely no doubt here of the effort and heart poured into this record. The keyboards and guitars interlock in dizzying interplay, whilst John Stanier's 10- armed drumming powers through in relentlessly brilliant fashion, as it does throughout the record. "Futura" is glitchy and propelled by looped guitar and keyboard interplay, and sounds more stripped back than anything that the band have done done before, even if it is nevertheless a tuneful and percussive powerhouse.

The album's highlight however comes with the hyperactive and manic "Wall Street". It's a bulldozing testament to the talent which was never in doubt anyway on this on record. Stanier's manic drums speed along behind lightning- fast synths and bleeps that never let up the endearing tempo. Musical talent aside though, there's much more glory to be had here. Teaming up with Chilean DJ Matias Agyuayo on "Ice Cream" results in what may well be the feel- good song of the year with its grunts of "Uh, UH, oosh, URGH!" and bouncy ball of rhythmic pounding and a bubbley synth riff. Closer "Sundome", featuring Yamantake Eye of Japanese noise- mongers Boredoms is a wonderfully upbeat way to end an album.

"Gloss Drop" is not only an album that confirms that Battles are one of the most musically talented bands out there at the moment, but it's also a full- blown and upbeat showcase of the fact that they can push that talent in pretty much any direction they want and still make it all click and fall together in an amazing, colourful and creative mesh. By rights, this album should be your undoubted soundtrack to all your happy moments in 2011.

Download: 1) Wall Street, 2) Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo), 3) Futura
For fans of: Don Caballero, Holy Fuck

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

In Gnod We Trust

Artist: Gnod
Album: In Gnod We Trust
Release Date: 6/6/2011

Barely heard Manchester collective take their psycadelic sounds to brave, new heights

"In Gnod We Trust" must have a serious claim for longest two- track "album" ever recorded. The mammoth 20 minutes of first track "Tony's First Communion" build up pensively in an earthy and percussive rattle before climaxing on a masterful fusion of swirling, swivelling electronics and horns. The second track, "Vatican" trundles along in low- rumbling and similarly percussive style for 6 minutes before descending into a terrifying clash of horror- movie synths and microphone effect- tortured screams. Sure, "In Gnod We Trust" is a daunting task, but certainly not one you can fault for ingenuity, and one that becomes infinitely more rewarding with every listen.

Download: Tony's First Communion
For Fans of: White Hills, Eternal Tapestry

Monday, 12 December 2011

Slave Ambient

Artist: The War On Drugs
Album: Slave Ambient
Release Date: 15/8/2011

An expansive an epic take on the psycadelic sounds that have come before them

The psycadelic mind has always been one of the most powerful and potent tools in music. From Syd Barret and Can all the way through to The Horrors' monumental third album "Skying" released earlier this year, drug- addled creative juices have always given way to some of the most creative and sonically visual releases in modern music.

The War On Drugs obviously take the vast majority of their influences from the past. "Slave Ambient", just like "Wagonwheel Blues" before it, reeks of Springsteen, a more epic Velvet Underground and Tom Petty. However this time around so well structured and so uniquely- tinged are the songs that it's fair to say TWOD put almost entirely their own, Bob Dylan- in- 2015 twist on a sound that is ultimately a sum of their influences.

"Brothers" sounds like Bob Dylan fronting Pavement with slightly more colourful ouvre with its clear- cut picking and relentlessly driving drums. "Your Love Is Calling My Name" is an epic 6- minute venture into a world of woozy guitar effects and a heavy sense of epicness in the endearingly grandiose synths. This same sense of sonic freedom is shared by album centre- piece "Come To the City", a propulsive '80s daytime rock masterpiece complete with soaring synths, pounding drums and reverberating guitars.

Whereas "Wagonwheel Blues" held most of its charm in its walls of haze and guitar fuzz, "Slave Ambient" is altogether a much more expansive and more profound listen. It's beautiful soundscapes, usually conjured by a conjunction of soaring and glistening synths and bristling guitar lines give it a sense of roving freedom that few have managed to capture since Bruce Springsteen's mid- 80s heyday. Next time you take a road trip for the summer, make sure "Slave Ambient" is your drivetime choice; you most certainly won't regret it.

Download: 1) Your Love Is Calling My Name, 2) Come To The City, 3) Brothers
For Fans Of: Kurt Vile, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Artist: Real Estate
Album: Days
Release Date: 14/10/2011

Real Estate with a stronger but just as charming sound

As much as Real Estate's self- titled debut was a slight gem to behold during summertime, it always hinted at potential rather than actually fulfilling it. As lush as the the shimmering "Suburban Dogs" and hazily charming "Fake Blues" were, everything seemed flimsy, like a band who knew exactly what they wanted to do but couldn't quite put their finger on what they needed to do to achieve the right sound. The band's second effort "Days" is both rather different and rather similar at the same time, and seemingly gets the balance between charming lo- fi haze and relative strength just right.

Opener "Easy" possesses the lo- fi, hazy charms and intricate and tuneful picking prevelant on the band's debut. However, it sounds much more potent. It sounds like the most restrained moments on The Stone Roses' self- titled debut, but has all the musical depths that those under- appreciated gems did. "Green Aisles" goes even further into maturity, both lyrically and musically. It's picking is reminiscent of The Smiths at their most macabre and morose, whilst the lyrics tell a hazy and somewhat mournful tale of stoner romance as front man Martin Courtney sings "All those wasted months/ all those English drugs...". The best moment however comes with "Out Of Tune", a glistening and beautiful piece of Deerhunter- esque guitar pop, with sparkling keyboards to back it up.

No one could ever claim that Real Estate are worthy of nomination for the originality awards, as most of their charms are recycled from their debut. However what's different this time is that "Days" is the record "Real Estate" should have been. It's built on the potential they conjured up previously, turned it into something bigger, and in doing so hinted at the even higher places this band could venture in the future. Who needs originality?

Download: 1) "Out Of Tune", 2) "Green Aisles", 3) "Easy"
For Fans Of: The Stone Roses, Pavement, The Smiths

Azari & III

Artist: Azari & III
Album: Azari & III
Release Date: 8/8/2011

Canadian House crew cover all aspects of the human mentality on debut full- length

In the world of the rave and free party scene, behind closed doors and drug- addled minds, there are much darker things at work. The blindness to moral values and the ability to just leave the rest of the world behind you can both be dangerous tools. Toronto house four- piece Azari & III recognize this all too well. As much as it is an album to dance like your life depends on it too, "Azari & III" is also a record concerned with appealing to the human conscience in general.

"Azari & III" is a record that not only manages to encompass all sides of the rave world, but also of life itself. Opener "Into The Night" shows the band at their most love- locked and sensual in a suggestive ode to love- making as coos of "I want you, I need you tonight" float over the stripped back but funky musical delivery. "Tunnel Vision" and "Indigo" both showcase the albums more dancey and, well, fun side. The former is a twisting re- interpretation of the mind- melting euphoria of free parties, whilst the latter is percussive fest of low- rumbling bass lines and squelching synths.

But there's also the dark- hearted side. "Reckless (With Your Love)" is a wonderfully crafted throwback to late '80s/ early- '90s house with its funky and crisp piano lines, but it presents itself as a warning against AIDS and a call to avoid throwing your love at just any stranger who walks through a club door.

It's not all as superb as the aforementioned tracks however. A selection of tracks, such as "Lost in Time" or the passive "Manhooker" would only cause confusion if played in a club because nobody would know HOW to dance to them. However, "Azari & III" is a record that has its messages at heart, and is going to stick by them. So next time you go to a club, as much as you may be planning to lose your mind, remember to hold onto a strand of conscience, because Azari & III won't be there to help you.

Download: 1) Tunnel Vision, 2) Reckless (With Your Love), 3) Manic
For Fans Of: Hercules & Love Affair, Tensnake