Albums Club #44: Bambara, Destroyer, Blossoms, These New Puritans, Arbouretum and more

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Albums Club #44 featuring Bambara, Destroyer, These New Puritans and more

Keeley Forsyth, Jah Wobble, Helen Money and Real Estate feature in another bumper crop of albums, as Banjo looks at a new Getintothis night out.

Recently we had our very first Getintothis’ Social.

It took place at District in the Baltic Triangle and consisted of a few bands, some fine spoken word courtesy of Cath Holland, a DJ set and a fiendishly difficult pop quiz.

The aim of all this is to provide something that goes beyond a gig, or at least something that goes beyond the usual gig tradition, whereby we turn up to a venue, watch a band and then go home.

At the Getintothis’ Social, we would like to offer a chance to get more involved, be a part of a bigger whole and, as the name would suggest, to socialise.

There have been other times when the concept of what a gig can or should entail has been put under a microscope.

The post-punk movement of the late 70s/early 80s saw such experiments as replacing support bands with films, gigs being done on video rather than in person and bands handing out instruments to the crowd, to make them part of the music rather than just punters.

The early 90s saw bands such as Primal Scream and The Shamen add a club vibe to their gigs, with DJs taking over when the bands had finished and the event going on into the small hours.

Of course, this isn’t to say there is anything wrong with gigs. After many years of gig going, we can happily say this is where we feel happiest, where we find the stories we will repeat and the memories that stay in our mind.

But there can be so much more we can do when we have a bunch of like-minded souls in one room. We can get involved, make friends and forge new connections with people. We can see performances from artists we may otherwise have missed. We can win the pop quiz (not that I’m one to brag, but this may have happened to me)

I think we can say that we are not trying to remodel the humble gig, but perhaps just change things up a bit on our own night. And this itself can change and evolve over the months as the events grow.

It gives gig-goers another event to be a part of. And that can only be a good thing,

We hope to see you there soon.

Banjo – Features Editor

Different Eyes day set for Phase One in aid of the National Autistic Society

Album of the Month:

Bambara: Stray
Wharf Cat Records

New York based three-piece, Bambara, return with their much-anticipated follow-up to 2018’s simply stunning Shadow On Everything with Stray.

In the lead-up to Stray it was hard to consider Bambara (Reid Bateh – singer/guitarist, Reid‘s twin brother, Blaze – drums/vocals, and William Brookshire – bass/vocals) topping the brilliance of their former conception, but with Stray they have certainly raised the possibility.

Rather than one main theme which was the basis throughout Shadow On Everything, Stray compartmentalises Reid Bateh‘s spellbinding tale-spinning with 10 short stories that each illuminate and enthral more and more with every listen.

Bambara‘s southern gothic-inspired leanings may draw comparisons to The Birthday Party/early Bad Seeds while sonically, their nervous freight train blues assault gives a delicate nod in the direction of the much underrated Gun Club.

Essentially brought up on a diet of Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson, Bateh effortlessly spits out quips that will eternally be etched to your brain. At times it feels like a sordid version of a Cormac McCarthy novel unfurling right before your eyes.

Bateh‘s storytelling is dark and dirty, embellished with cigarette ash and the stench of stale liquor. There’s a razor-sharp edge to his craft. A slightly debauched wordsmith producing gritty realism through a scope of intense anxiety-riddled protagonists navigating on fault lines.

And the results are fascinating.

The scene is set with the opening track, Miracle. A ghostly number that builds with a creeping bassline and methodical brass.

“Got a tattoo, says ‘Meanness’/Inside her lower lip/She pulls it down in the mirror/So she can read it/
Framed by her blonde wig/In a bright white room/Spit crawls down her fist/As she lets her lip go.”

Bateh‘s female characters are hazardous vixens bloodthirsty for danger. Women you shouldn’t fall in love with but can’t help being drawn to them.

Heat Lightning comes as advertised, brimming with rockabilly rage to get your bad swerve on, while Sing Me to the Street wouldn’t look out of place as a foil to a Jim Jarmusch film. Lead single, Serafina is – quite frankly – poetic genius that ploughs a path towards the darkest corner of the earth.

“My name is Serafina/But people call me Sera to save some time/’Well, I’ve got all the time in the world’ and “Serafina/Shoots Roman candles all around/Serafina/Smiling with matches in her mouth.”

It’s simply a rock ‘n’ roll banger with restless heart-on-the-wire riff-a-rola and tumbling percussion. There won’t be many better songs released this year.

Stay Cruel is as close to a ballad that Bambara gets with an echoing blues riff, backing female vocals and subtle brass feminising the band’s approach. It works a storm. Then there’s Ben & Lily. Back by bullet-train blues instrumentation, Bateh once against unleashes memorable one-liners and catchphrases that spark the senses.

“Yeah, I’m dreaming on the run/Always driving towards the sun/Yeah always dreaming on the run
Yeah they’re driving straight for the burning sun.”

The rockabilly blues traipse of Sweat expels more darkness and raw energy with a howling chorus that spits wild fervour. Which then leads us to closing track, Machete. Bambara always close albums big and with Machete, old habits do indeed die hard. A twisted horror story of lust. Love. Murder. The end.

That’s what Bambara are about. They distil darkest and give it free rein with an alluring effect. Some say guitar music is dead. Pastiche. Derivate. Not Bambara. As long as they continue producing this brand of ear-worm then these notions are resoundingly quashed.

Stray is an album where the liner notes must be read with fervent interest. Bambara don’t demand this of their listeners. Like a moth to a flame, subconsciously you are drawn to them. Some of the passages so jarring, you might just get burnt.

This is what upper echelon art demands. Walking that tightrope between beauty and pain and with Stray, Bambara produce both in equal measure. – Simon Kirk

 

Arbouretum: Let It All In
Thrill Jockey

Dave Heumann‘s Arbouretum have always straddled the worlds of folk, rock and psychedelia – however rarely, if ever, have they done it this successfully.

The band’s tenth album, and fifth for Thrill Jockey, continues their odyssey into the outer reaches of English folk, country blues and wild Americana yet. Let It All In is their most focused and coherent to date.

We alluded to last month when writing about Sunburned Hand of the Man how psychedelic rock had become the new indie landfill – and while Arbouretum hadn’t added to that bottomless pit, they’d strayed somewhat close with deviations into music territory awash with like for like sound carriers.

For the most part, Let It All In distils the Baltimore band’s want for swirling freakouts and balances beautifully restrained musicianship with the odd extended jam aligned to Heumann‘s masterful imagery. It makes for compelling listening throughout the 46 minutes on offer.

None more so than on opener How Deep It Goes which serves as the perfect signpost of what’s to come – an ever-building motorik rock song which bursts into a glistening instrumental final third to truly transcendental effect.

And it’s the versatility of Arbouretum on Let It All In which makes for such a compulsive listen; the effusive bar-room closer High Water Song book-ending a record which sees Heumann channelling his inner Arthur Lee.

None more so than on the otherworldly psychedelic blues on Headwaters II and A Prism In Reverse while Night Theme sees keyboardist Matthew Pierce come to the fore with a two-minute cosmic instrumental lullaby wrapped up in shoegaze synths.

Recorded at Wrightway Studios, producer Steve Wright deserves mighty credit for overseeing an album so dense in layers yet able to shower the record in light and levity aplenty. Buffeted By The Wind, another employing Love like melodies with Heumann in wistful mood offset by playful sun-kissed melodies.

Yet when they do cut loose – as on the album’s epic near 12-minute title track – boy, do they cut loose.

Bass player Corey Allender and duel drummers Brian Carey and David Bergander combining on visceral wrecking ball rhythms as Heumann plugs into the heart of the sun with some white-hot riffing.

Fuzz tones collide with leaden slabs of percussion and hammering piano – we can only imagine how good it would be to hear this in the flesh.

Sensational stuff by a sensational band back at the top of their game. – Peter Guy

 

Ladytron, Stealing Sheep, Dave Haslam: O2 Ritz, Manchester

BaBa ZuLa: Derin Derin
Glitterbeat

When living under an authoritarian regime, playing in a band, releasing albums and making a living from music is even less straightforward than it is elsewhere.

If you play a song with lyrics that might be critical of your nation’s leader, you may well be visited by the police in the night and could spend days in the cells and perhaps even imprisoned. With recorded material it can be even more difficult.

BaBa ZuLa, the giants of Istanbul psychedelia have many stories like this to tell from their adventures since 1996, so this album, their first is 5 years, is not released in Turkey at all. In many ways, we should consider it a privilege we can hear it at all.

The references to non-Turkish music are strong and embedded throughout the album: all forms of psychedelia from Krautrock to dub reggae, even touching on the trippier ends of indie at times. But this is a 100% Turkish album.

The sound world and rhythms take some time to settle in before you begin to hear the shading and intelligence at work – they truly are from somewhere else. This is one of the many things that make this album so completely rewarding.

The music has roots in pre-Islamic shamanic Turkish culture and draws you in with the magic of the steppe. Spend time with it and it will offer up new vistas and flavours with every play.

This is their most complete, complex and mature album, rich in content and research but equally throwaway and light at times.

Don’t miss it. – Jono Podmore

Liverpool gig guide: A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Georgia, Zee Davine, Deep Cuts and more

Blossoms: Foolish Loving Spaces
Virgin

Blossoms could have opted for a change of production crew and scenery for their latest album, but the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” clearly rings true in Foolish Loving Spaces.

The winning combination of James Skelly and Rich Turvey at Parr Street strikes again as they join forces with the prolific writing skills of Blossom’s frontman, Tom Ogden.

Less than 12 months on from Cool like you, we encounter a third album where there isn’t a single song out of all ten of them that you would care or dare to skip.  The anthemic opening salvo, If You Think This is Teal Life sets the scene for a shift in their musical landscape.

The marked influence of electro-pop in the second album has been muted somewhat and its thunder stolen by Tom and his piano and a host of gospel backing singers, most markedly so in the second single from the album; The Keeper.

Whilst recording the album, the bands’ influences have been decidedly retro, incorporating apparently Primal Scream, Talking Heads and U2.  I think there was even a nod to Terry Jacks in Gravity, She is seasons, she is sun”.

Ever adept at knocking out tales of romantic angst, Your Girlfriend chronicles the despair of fancying your flatmate’s girl and having to tolerate their public displays of affection; “I should be moving out but can’t cause we’ve just signed the lease”.

Oh no, I think I’m in love has boundless energy, a musical interpretation of your heart skipping a beat and deliberating if this is the one.  All doubts are firmly cast aside with Falling for someone affirming “You’re the one that I adore”.

These peachy pop songs that should be on commercial radio in a continuous loop in every supermarket.  It’s just that indie isn’t currently en vogue.

Rumour has it that Tom Ogden has even penned a song for Brandon Flowers; something not so far fetched when you consider that Blossoms will be a support to The Killers on their UK tour this year.

Where can they go next? Well the good news is that there is a fourth album is already being written, deep in darkest Stockport no doubt. – Jane Davies

Plans unveiled for new Manchester venue to be biggest indoor arena in UK

Destroyer: Have We Met
Dead Oceans

Thirteen albums in and Dan Bejar‘s Destroyer project isn’t letting up any time soon.

His latest instalment, Have We Met, may just contain his most morose set of songs since he began two decades ago in 1998 with his debut, City of Daughters.

Brought up on a diet of French cinema and 19th and 20th century literature, lyrically, Bejar has always produced abstract material. His fascination for words and fey obscurity will always be his greatest weapon  – “when lightning strikes twice/the funeral goes absolutely insane” (Crimson Tide) and “Calling all cars/The palace has a moss problem/It glows in the dawn light/Goes wherever you go/Sewn into your hem/It’s me versus them.” (Kinda Dark).

Bejar‘s hazy diatribes are usually backed by carefully orchestrated pastiche soundscapes, but on Have We Met, if anything, we hear Destroyer actually sounding like Destroyer. It sounds both ancient and fresh.

His landmark album, 2011’s Kaputt gave a heavy nod to glam and soft-rock, while 2015’s Poison Season brimmed with heartland rockers and Springsteen homage. Sounds that have their way of nestling into your subsections and staying there limitless amounts of time.

2017’s Ken leaned heavily on New Order‘s elusively distorted shards that pierced you directly in the heart. That’s always been Bejar‘s greatest strength and on Have We Met he once again delivers fleeting abstract synths and cherry-picked guitar riffs that send shivers down your spine. Look no further than the riff on opening number, the dance floor-skirting Crimson Tide.

This is Bejar at his best.

Kinda Dark is an electric dirge that’s been put through the glam mincer. There’s a sunken gloom that even by Bejar standards finds the darkest corners available.

The melodic synth running through It Just Doesn’t Happen traps you into believing you’ve heard the track a million times. But you haven’t.

Again, it’s Bejar‘s uncanny ability to instantly seek refuge in the cerebral cortex of your brain. His melodies are as contagious as coronavirus.

The Television Music Supervisor is an off-kilter ambient number that feels inspired by Radiohead‘s Kid A. Once again, Bejar‘s abstract kitchen table musings are on show (“Measured in echoes/By famous novelist brothers/Shithead No. 1 and Shithead No. 2.”).

Just look at the world around you/actually no don’t look,” sings Bejar to begin The Raven. The shimmering percussions, swirling synths and rich guitar licks during this song cast it as one of Bejar’s finest songs every written. It’s certainly his most atmospheric and producer and Destroyer bandmate, John Collins, deserves a lot of credit for how Have We Met has crept behind the studio walls.

While Kaputt saw Bejar lay down the vocals whilst lying on his couch, a lot of Have We Met‘s vocals where recorded while occupied at his kitchen table late at night while his wife and child were asleep.

Speaking on Have We Met, Bejar stated that the album “came together in such a crazy way – all equal parts ecstasy and terror”.

You can feel it, too, particularly on closing track, Foolssong, which is a fine number that has a loose Dennis Wilson air about it.

It’s a song that concludes an eerie post-apocalyptic feel that develops during the backend of Have We Met, where Bejar‘s vocals seem to simmer below the mix. Already considered as the prince of pessimism, here he is arguably at his most downbeat.

Preceding Foolsong is University Hill. An incongruent ditty that seems like a square peg in a round hole. Ironically, it’s very much a Destroyer song. Bejar has carved out a thirteen album career unleashing these kind of curve balls.

So too with the title track. Most would associate such moments as comprising with a lyrical golden nugget, not just a two minute forty-five second instrumental.

Again, this is Dan Bejar we’re talking about here. A bourgeois drifter that has spent an existence swimming against the tide whilst carving out his own thoughts. A master of independent thought.

Reading interviews in the lead up to Have We Met‘s release and it was obvious that Bejar was in a far more pensive mood than his previous albums of the last decade. Like he has grown comfortable in the discontent around him. There seems to be a sudden acceptance.

It’s suggested that Daniel Bejar is serenading the apocalypse on Have We Met, but his sharp prescience and sneering cynicism for the world already places him contently dancing alone after it. – Simon Kirk

Erland Cooper interview: “The skill is knowing what to leave out”

Keeley Forsyth: Debris
The Leaf Label

If it is often difficult to separate art from the artist, it is also often very difficult to separate the story behind the art from the art itself.

Call it projection, an attempt to find meaning in a piece of work that might not be there, or the act of the listener filling in the blanks themselves, but it is very easy to experience a body of work, particularly an album, through the lens of what we know about how and when it was created.

That prior knowledge of the situations regarding the art’s creation can colour and define how we perceive and understand it and isn’t always fair for the creator.

Sespite his protestations that it categorically isn’t about his divorce, it is impossible to listen to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks without thinking, actually Bob, it is. The fact it is held up as the greatest ‘break-up album’ ever is testament to this dissonance.

It is tempting therefore to assume that this is the soundtrack to that period of Forsyth’s life, or an aural documentary about the experience of literally losing one’s voice and rediscovering it. Tempting, because it does so neatly fit with this hypothesis.

As an album, Debris is a wondrous, intense experience that is undeniably claustrophobic in parts, searching for an escape, yet redemptive in others, finding strength in its fragility.

Forsyth herself stated that singing was a big part of her recovery process, physically and mentally, and the eight songs here bear fruit to that, as Forsyth’s voice itself is – thematically and musically – the beating heart of the album; simultaneously cavernous and vulnerable.

Bringing to mind the lower ranges of Aldous Harding’s voice and Tilt-era Scott Walker (one can imagine her singing Farmer in the City perfectly), her haunting, tremulous voice ebbs and flows against the sparse instrumentation, deftly arranged by experimental composer Matthew Bourne and producer Sam Hobbs.

At times her voice is as hushed as to be barely audible and the sounds of the room bleed in, all creaking chairs and buzzing guitar strings. This isn’t an album to be played across a room, this is intimate, at times overbearing music and ultimately, absolutely beautiful.

Look to Yourself is perhaps the best illustration of this, with its melody and lyrics free to roam amidst the vast space created and Forstyth’s voice gradually building to a breath-taking zenith. It is heart stopping and heart breaking.

Regardless of the album’s backstory, the songs too do fit with a theme of dark versus light. The lyrics are peppered with images of windswept, rain-battered, bleak mountainscapes and engulfing shadows, matched by the aforementioned sparse musical background.

Yet this darkness is occasionally pierced by shimmers of light, of strong oak trees digging their roots deep into the ground and promises of starting anew – the final song on the album is literally titled Start Again and the brightness of the synths used instead of guitar offers some welcome relief and hope for further ascendancy post-Debris.

Even if the album is not literally about Forsyth finding her voice again, we should all be very thankful she did.

We will be hard pressed to find a finer album in 2020. – Matthew Loughlin

 

Helen Money: Atomic
Thrill Jockey

It should come as no surprise to anyone that listens to Atomic that trauma is central to the album’s making.

Bathed in skeletal structures, haunting ambience and at times skull-crushing drones, Atomic is far from an easy listen.

Following the death of her parents, composer and cellist Alison Chesley decamped with her siblings to the Redwoods of Northern California to share in each other’s grief to bond, comfort and reconnect.

Being there with them, looking up at these giant trees that were there long before we were, looking up at the Milky Way, looking out at the Pacific Ocean – it just gave me a sense of perspective and how connected we all are to everything,” she says.

The resultant music carries the weighty sense of loss but also a beautiful calm which allows the listener to get lost amid it’s myriad of tones and textures.

Chesley‘s stripped back cello forms the basis of several of Atomic‘s tracks – see opener’s Midnight recalling the film work of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the sparse plucking melancholy on One Year One Ring, or better still the mournful yearning on Marrow which lays her emotional turmoil in stark detail.

Yet there’s a whole galaxy of sonics at work throughout the album.

Having worked with the likes of drone masters Earth and Sleep, it should come of little surprise that there’s lacerating metallic sheets of noise elsewhere on Atomic.

The spine-tingling disquiet of Nemesis gives way to walls of rampaging dissonance reminiscent of her work with Japanese post-rock titans MONO while the relative calm and string-assisted harmony of that begins Coil gives way to a strident thrash frenzy.

Our favourite arrives in the form of Brave One which carries a distinctly Pink Floyd cosmic throb; all treated guitars and psychedelic menace which threatens to explode but instead holds you tight in it’s grasp.

Many Arms closes the album with the merest glimpse of piano amid those stark cello strings – it’s as intimate a sound possible. Presumably just how Chesley intended. – Peter Guy

Elvis Costello and The Imposters, Ian Prowse: Olympia, Liverpool

Northwest: II
Tempel Arts

Northwest are not a band I have previously been aware of, but this changed with a chance email detailing the release of their new album. As you can probably imagine, we get quite a lot of these kind of emails at Getintothis.

What then was it that made me single out this particular message, made me click on the  link and then made me listen to Northwest‘s new album? Let’s call it fate. Maybe I was just fated to stumble across this lush gem of an album, something that would chime with my soul and fill a gap that I never knew was there until I heard this record.

Northwest‘s 2nd album is a gorgeous, beautiful thing. If, like me, you find it a great shame that This Mortal Coil only made three albums, the answer to your problems could well be at hand. Northwest pick up threads from the likes of Filigree and Shadow and use them to construct their own fabric.

Fans of early 4AD would be well advised to listen to this album at their earliest opportunity.

Opening track Wind is sparsely populated, opening with an accordion and  almost whispered vocals. As with This Mortal Coil, this is as much about effect as instrumentation, the music and vocals combine to create one glorious swell of sound.

Other instruments and voices gradually fade in and the song grows around you as you listen, the glacial tone gradually warming up as it evolves. the effect is similar to sitting indoors in a warm blanket on a cold, grey day, comforting and unsettling at the same time.

Winterland takes this template and develops it further still by adding washes of orchestration, building to almost Beatles levels of noise in the mid section, before reining it back and reverting to subtle and beautiful instrumentation.

The Day and Interlude II follow suit, occupying a strange hinterland between sparse minimalism and baroque orchestration. This is not an easy thing to pull off, and twin traps of too much and not enough lurk either side of the path that Northwest have chosen to tread.

Thankfully their balance is perfect and they walk it with style.

All of a Sudden is a beautiful piano ballad and stands out as a single, having perhaps more body to it than some of the other tracks that make up this album.

Before the Spell starts with an oboe (possibly – I am no expert at naming wind instruments) and takes me back to childhood days listening to the likes of Peter and the Wolf on my parent’s record player. A skillful use of dissonance and developing melody make this one of the album’s stand out tracks. It grows from tiny strands of noise into a haunting and affecting song that would be perfectly at home in a David Lynch film.

In fact the atmosphere that this album conjures up would go perfectly with one of Lynch‘s black and white films. Both take their audience into other worlds where the outside seems to be temporarily kept at bay.

Immerse yourself in Northwest‘s music and let it calm you and transport you. Simply sublime. – Banjo

 

Real Estate: The Main Thing
Domino

Marking their 10th year as a band and their fifth EP, New Jersey outfit Real Estate return with The Main Thing, their most progressive album to date.

Monday last I had a dream/Not sure I woke up all week” sings Martin Courtney in opener, Friday, a shimmering track that resonates with a dream-like quality. Brimming with mesmeric instrumental cycles and teleological pondering, it’s clear from the off that Real Estate seek to cover new ground with this record.

Lead single, Paper Cup follows with a punchy, stomping glam feel, set soaring with an indulgent section of cinematic strings.

While Gone slows down to a gentle plod, like rowing through a thick, syrupy lake, there’s an added depth apparent in these opening tracks.

Each guitar lick blends fluidly into the next, feeling like a purposeful step away from the regimented surf-pop of previous records. It feels as though there’s more secrets to reveal and a complexity to uncover.

As a band though, they owe so much to their early, jangly surf-pop and aren’t about to let that fall by the wayside just yet.

You and November are nostalgic of that sound: sun-kissed, charming and perfectly in tune with a bildungsroman movie soundtrack. Watch out for the sublime solo that melts over You, a glimmering, belter of a track.

As the record progresses, they grow more experimental with a measured, mellow, jazz-tinged number in Falling Down, boasting an intoxicating guitar tone that recalls the breezy delights on Haruomi Hosono’s Pacific. A darker, more pensive feel becomes apparent in the record’s most complex composition,

Also A But, which would translate fantastically well to a live performance, so let’s hope they’ve got this one on lock for festival season.

The record as a whole is a culmination of sharpened recording techniques and a congruence that can only come with a decade of writing together.

It was time for Real Estate to spread their wings, cover new ground and take on a whole new challenge, and in this, they deliver. – Matthew Wood

Rage Against The Machine – a Top Ten to ignite revolution

Soakie: Soakie
La Vida Es Un Mus Discos

It’s seven tracks in 14 minutes. It only just qualifies as an album, and to be fair, the band does describe it as a mini album.

But that’s only half the story. This piece of work that’s shorter than your morning tea break will leave you wide awake and searching the rest of their back catalogue on BandCamp.

Based in Melbourne and New York at the same time (how the hell does that work), the band has been making waves recently and this release shows us why.

It’s fire and rage. It’s punk. At a decibel level that needs to be ramped up to very high.

With song titles such as Nuke The Frats and Ditch The Rich, you get part of an idea of what’s going on here.

But it’s Boys On Stage that will really open your eyes. “There are too many fucking boys on stage …” screams vocalist Summer before launching into the second longest track on the album (2:09) to make her point.

What’s Your Gender and Don’t Talk Back seal the deal. The point is made loud and clear.

Quick and dirty, but also quite brilliant. It’s an uncompromising scream fest that will have you going back and again. After all, 14 minutes isn’t really long enough to get the full effect. You need to be punched at least twice.

We are reminded a lot of the Svetlanas gig we saw at Rebellion last year. We needed a sit down after that one. And perhaps, Sheer Mag could come close. But not quite.

Soakie don’t really take any prisoners. – Peter Goodbody

 

Sløtface: sorry for the late reply
Propeller Recordings

The Norwegian punk popsters are back with their second long play release, following the success of 2017’s Try Not To Freak Out.

To be quite frank, this new album is more of the same, but that’s no bad thing. It’s a really enjoyable dance / mosh fest.

The Norwegian quartet’s claim to notoriety is that they used to be called Slutface and, indeed the change of name to Sløtface makes no difference to the pronunciation. It was – Ha! – Facebook issues that caused the band to reconsider their moniker.

Fiercely political and radical, the whole album covers issues such as gender equality (Tap The Pack) and immigration (S.U.C.C.E.S.S). The latter of which has lead singer Haley Shea screaming: “Why be good enough, when you could be the damn best, you better represent, be the best damn immigrant”.

It’s a cry that’s probably aimed across the Atlantic more than the band’s native Norway, but either way, it’s a belter. As, really is the rest of the album.

New Year, New Me is probably the slow burner and an introspective plea to Shea’s bad habits – she keeps hoarding books she’ll never read. Don’t we all?

Sløtface fit in well with a scene inhabited by bands such as Witch Fever, Tokyo Taboo, Hands Off Gretel and Dead Naked Hippies.

Albeit, they’re at the more pop end of the spectrum than out and out punk, they nevertheless are deserving of your ears and we reckon this is a quality addition to our playlist. – Peter Goodbody

 

These New Puritans The Cut
Infectious Music / BMG

These New Puritans’ most recent release, The Cut, is certainly not designed to win over any new fans; it’s too lengthy and miscellaneous to be considered a proper album. Its value is instead tethered to their 2019 release, Inside The Rose, and chronicles the development of the album from 2016.

Though the songs left over from Inside The Rose are serviceable enough, you can see why the band left them off the album to avoid excess weight. Very few of these tracks are going to get stuck in your head like the main hook from Where The Trees Are On Fire.

Instead, The Cut’s best offerings are the reimaginings of songs from Inside, like the orchestral rework of Infinity Vibraphones, which places the track’s glacial strings at the heart of the song.

The two remixes of Beyond Black Suns, by Scintii and Andrew Lilles, retain the original song’s dark vampiric groove but double down on the lo-fi sinister vibes.

One exception to this is Sphinx In Pieces, which stays true to the baroque stylings the band do so well, but features a truly emotive chorus melody and a eerily beautiful choral ending.

We’re offered a glimpse into the oft hidden bones of the band’s songwriting, in the form of the piano versions of Anti-Gravity and A-R-P. As the band tend towards massive orchestrations, it’s nice to hear singer Jack Barnett’s haunting baritone more clearly than often.

Tending towards cultish mumbles and ghostly lines, you’re able to hear the minutiae detail in his gravelly voice that are often hidden within dense soundscapes.

Its weaker points may well appeal to die-hard fans; the scratchy and garbled phone recording of the hook from Where The Trees… doesn’t really feel necessary, and neither do the two live intro tracks.

But what The Cut does best is collect a fairly eclectic selection of music under a banner of experimentation and a celebration of the album writing process. – Will Truby

Jah Wobble Interview: “Joining the Pistols would have been a big mistake”

Youth and Jah Wobble: Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse
Youth Sounds

A meeting of minds that was always bound to happen, Youth and Jah Wobble have a lot in common.

Starting out in the post punk world, both played bass, both have a well known love of reggae and both have had a musical journey that has taken in the eclectic and the esoteric.

Wobble started out with Public Image Ltd, playing on their two first incredible albums, before going on to a long and varied career as a solo performer, taking in world music and reggae infused pop.

Youth meanwhile was a founder member of Killing Joke before going on to be producer du jour in the 90s and beyond, producing or mixing for the likes of The Verve, U2 and Kate Bush.

He was also involved with The Orb and was a key player in the Psytrance movement.

So what can we expect when these two musical legends come together.

Well, for those familiar with their later work, it may hold few surprises but many treats. it contains, as the title would suggest, dub heavy basslines and a post punk sensibility.

There are more than a few hints of Orb-like heavy chill here, which may be explained away by the involvement of Alex Paterson.

Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse is an album that would feel equally at home drifting out of the speakers on a chilled out Sunday morning as it would being cranked up on a smoky Saturday night.

Opening track Breaking Shells features rising star Holly Cook, who we can see playing Liverpool’s Positive Vibration reggae festival this June. It eases us into the album nicely, with a great bass line and a singalong chorus.

From there, Burnt Umber takes us into Orb in dub territory before Inspector Out Of Space adds an Eastern.World Music vibe to its reggae understylings.

It is immediately apparent that Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse is the work of people who are deeply in love and deeply involved with reggae music. This is no dilettante project but rather a labour of love.

As well as the catchier, poppy end of the reggae spectrum, there are some seriously heavy dub vibes going on here. Full Metal Dub takes us back to the late 70’s recordings such as those picked up by Virgin’s Front Line label.

Rhino features Vivien Goldman on vocals and is a more modern take on things, benefiting from Youth’s years of experience as a producer.

The combination of World Music (terrible term I know) and reggae is deftly handled and delivers music that it seems impossible to sit still to.

By the time we get to last track Blades, we have been on a journey that has encompassed both musician’s influences and loves.

It is a personal and revealing journey. It is also a very enjoyable one. And it has a brilliant soundtrack. – Banjo

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