Another month down, thus another tracks of the month post – quite the mix this month, with a mix of new, returning and unexpected music – and in a variety of styles.
/Tracks of the Month/Feb 2019
/Tuesday Ten/2019 in Review
I’ve started a new job this week which may impact on posting schedules for the next couple of weeks – and certainly, there won’t be a Friday round-up this week, although that’s nothing to do with my job as I’ll be at Crufts!
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Track of the Month
/He Is Not
/Why Aren’t You Laughing?
I’ve been intrigued by this Dutch six-piece for a while, but until now I wasn’t captivated particularly by their previous album Optimist – I mean, it was OK, but I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped I would when I read about it – but this track is something else.
This has a shocking intensity to it in every element of the song – the taut rhythm, the rolling guitar riffs, but most of all in Milena Eva’s outstanding vocal, which is an exercise in restraint in making it clear that she is only giving, and giving away, what she needs to, nothing more. The song generally is intriguingly oblique, too, and based on this, the new album cannot come quick enough.
/Caution to the Wind
I have confess that I’d long given up hope that Bitter Ruin would return. Their star seemed to shine brightly for a while, and they genuinely appeared to be on the cusp of wider success…and then they went away. But unexpectedly, they’ve returned with this tentative step back into the limelight, and happily, it’s like they were never away. This first song is a lovely one – a gentle piano-and-strings ballad that sees both Ben and Georgia intertwining their vocals to great effect, and in many ways, this feels like a reconciliation. With themselves, with their fans and the wider world. Welcome back.
Many of my readers may not recall this band – a Welsh alt-rock band who existed for a few short years and two albums a few years either side of the millennium. I adored – and still do, frankly – this band, their first album and associated B-sides all still on regular rotation on my stereo. But they were long gone, I thought, having moved on to other things.
So colour me very surprised indeed when I stumbled across a new song the other week – which turned out to be one of a handful of songs that were recorded for a third album that never happened, and their last label Mighty Atom has arranged for a few songs to be finished off, tidied up and released as an EP next month.
This first song very much is a nod back to their debut, with the muscular, driving rhythms and Ishmael Lewis’s soaring, melodic vocals in full effect, and hearing “new” material from this band again has made me happier than you wouldn’t believe. Look out for a bigger piece on this band in the coming weeks on amodelofcontrol.com.
/Brian Wilson Stole My Prom Date
/13 Ghost Stories
“You can come back to earth for ONE day, as a ghost. What do you do?”
A fascinating concept underpins the new album from Jean-Marc Lederman (The Weathermen, Fad Gadget, Ghost & Writer and Lederman/DeMeyer) and a whole host of collaborators, who were given the above question to come up with lyrics and vocals for. An intriguing list of collaborators – from a variety of musical styles in the gothic/industrial corner of the world, mostly – means that Lederman has really had his work cut out in making his music work with the different vocal styles, but what’s really interesting to me is that a broad consensus emerges in the lyrical theme. That one day would be a day of regret, and of wanting to make amends.
A number of songs leapt out at me on first listen – although that might be down to familiarity with some of the vocalists over others – but I particularly like the unmistakable, smooth-edged stylings of Stefan Netschio (Beborn Beton) in the curiously titled Brian Wilson Stole My Prom Date…
On the subject of collaborations, another interesting one this month has been this unexpected release, featuring Eric Gottesman of Everything Goes Cold and Kurt Larson of Information Society. It is a rare collaboration like this that feels balanced – there’s definitely elements of both artists here, and their contrasting vocal styles work well together, too.
But really, the importance of this song is in the message. In an America – and wider world – that seems to be delving ever deeper into burying their heads in the sand when it comes to Climate Change and the likely perils that will manifest, this is a jab of a reminder that the whole idea of denying Climate Change is short-sighted, stupid and very fucking dangerous indeed.
/We Know It’s Over
Another return comes from This Is Radio Silence, who break their musical silence of four years or so. It is a grandiose, impressive return, too, as the band’s expansive, star-gazing electronic rock seems to have widened even further in scope than before – the languid pace of the song, coupled with the glittering synths and shimmering guitars that pepper the mix, and Ben McLees’ emotional vocals, all come together to make for a gorgeous, impressive seven-minute song.
Kill II This returned, a little unexpectedly, over the past year, back with their original vocalist, and judging on the first new song, a bit of a streamlined sound. No such concerns with this new song Coma Karma, that sees the electronics make more of a return, the riffs slash and snarl, and the distinct sense that this is the Kill II This that I loved in the first place. A new album and shows in both Manchester and London come later in the year.
I’ve written about SPC ECO – and indeed interviewed Dean Garcia – on this site a few times now, so any new release by them will at least get a listen and likely a purchase, and this new album is no exception. But this track keeps drawing me back to it, a sultry, after-dark piece that is all bass and breathy vocals and frankly is fucking glorious – and doesn’t half sound like Karin from Collide doing vocals at points, too.
/His Monster’s Voice
/End of Transmission
It feels like it has been a long time since I last heard the electronic mastery of i!, that marvellously ungoogleable group from the north of the border. But I’m glad they are back, as their intriguingly wide-ranging electronic experimentation has continued. Of particular note on this lengthy new release, especially in the context of their more subdued, playful work in the past, is this stomping monster of a track, that draws on both industrial and more thoughtful trip-hop and, like much of their work in the past, couldn’t give a fuck about previous genre boundaries, and is all the better for it.
/Now That’s What I Call Angry Robot Music 2019
For as long as I’ve been listening – the best part of fifteen years (!) – every Glitch Mode Recordings compilation has been worth digging into, for both new songs or remixes from existing artists I’m already aware of, or to find new bands. The new comp (excellent title, by the way) is no exception, but this track for me is the pick of the bunch. It seems like it’s been a while since I last heard from Eric Dusik’s project, and the studied, punishing intensity of his programming here reminds me that I want to hear much more of his work.