Tuesday Ten: 211: Tracks of the Month (August 2014)

As we start to inch out of summer and into autumn, suddenly the release schedules are starting to fill up quickly, with tons of new music worth checking out starting to appear as a result. So, here is the first fruits of the musical harvest coming our way.

As always this is pretty much me scratching the surface. I always end up with something left over, and I do my best to find other ways to cover the music I hear. But in the meantime, these ten will do nicely. By the way, the majority of this week’s playlist is on Soundcloud.

Track of The Month

Rabbit Junk
Pop That Pretty Thirty EP

Despite a few sound issues, Rabbit Junk went down well with their appearance at Infest (and, by all accounts, their subsequent show at Slimelight the following night), and clearly made a number of new fans – and the new EP released this week should only help to boost numbers further. Why? Basically this features the strongest set of material JP has put out in a long, long time, and the star attraction is this track, a bouncy, punk-metal-industrial-pop monster with a refrain that spells out the title and quickly had the crowd singing along at Infest. Actually the whole EP is great – and a worthy mention for the new version of Crutch, too.

Consuming Guilt
A Place To Stand EP

After a year where this LA duo have gone from being a small-scale band to being a Big Thing, lauded by parts of the music press that wouldn’t normally touch industrial like this, it is perhaps remarkable how the thirty-minute blast of their debut album still stands up. This feeling is reinforced by their first new material since then, with the lead track from their next EP. It is no real change in style – still treading a fine line between punk fury and tough-guy EBM, with a rough-edged feel that only pushes the aggression levels higher. One of the reasons I chose to make the trip to Cold Waves III in late September, this band, and I can’t fucking wait.

As my Vancouver-based friends at I Die: You Die mentioned the other week, it is more than a bit of a shock to find W.A.S.T.E. covering The Offspring amid the vicious, noisy-industrial-violence that we’ve come to expect from Shane’s work. But you know what? This works brilliantly. There is the bleak, cold feel that permeates all of his work, and indeed it works better than the original, partly thanks to the restrained feel and partly down to Jamie Blacker’s downbeat vocal that holds it together. I’ll wager we won’t hear a more surprising cover than this in 2014.

The Twilight Sad
There’s A Girl In The Corner
Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave

After a period spent looking backwards – with some admittedly exceptional shows where they played the whole of much-loved debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters – Glasgow band The Twilight Sad are returning this autumn with their fourth album, and initially it appears that the starker, stripped back sound of No One Can Ever Know is the order of the day. But then, as the song unfolds, subtle touches highlight a beautiful, mournful song. The recurring piano motif is elegaic, while electronics blur the edges of the instrumentation so that nothing ever quite stays in focus. To finish, out of nowhere, there is a groundswell of noise that suddenly elevates the song into a controlled maelstrom that is just genius. They tour in late September/early October in the UK, and then across the US the following month – a strikingly intense band live, they are well worth seeing.

Don’t Cry

Another band where it has been a while since they last graced our CD players or iPods with new material, this is the first new track from their forthcoming album Radiant that is due next month. Even with the gap since the last album, this is still recognisably Iris, for sure – the elegant, sleek synths, Reagan Jones’ plaintive voice and an ear for melody that is not far off unmatched. Looking forward to hearing the album…

Body Count
Institutionalized 2014

I first heard this at Bloodstock – Ice-T going nuts with an updated version of the Suicidial Tendencies classic. The return of Body Count anyway has been greeted with a surprising amount of positive comment in the metal press and elsewhere, particularly with the controversy the project has caused in the past – but one comment from Ice-T about the band was perhaps the most interesting: “Body Count is 100% grindhouse over-the-top. It’s what you wish you could do but can’t.” Which brings me back to this track – updating the themes and context to the present day, but otherwise the rage-against-the-system brilliance of the original song is present and correct, and it sounds like Ice-T is having a fucking ball.

Massive Cauldron of Chaos

1349 have been quiet of late – last album was Demonoir back in 2010. So it is something of a relief to see them blasting back with the first few tracks from their forthcoming new album, which suggests little experimentation and more straight-up Black Metal. Which is fine by me – when they are on song 1349 are one of the keepers of the flame of “traditional” Black Metal, with scorching tempos, buzzing guitars and vocals forged from the ice and snow of Northern Europe. This track, needless to say, absolutely fits this template, and frankly fucking slays. We’ve not had much good Black Metal of late – or at least I’m not finding it – and this sure as hell redresses the balance.

Body Betrays Itself
Bestial Burden

Margaret Chardiet’s work as Pharmakon pretty much stands unique in the musical landscape at the moment. Certainly no-one in some time has made such uncompromising music to break through to wider attention, but maybe right now is the right time for this. Her last album under this moniker, Abandon, was fifty-four draining minutes of jagged electronics and throat-shredding screams, and this picks up the baton nicely – and perhaps even pushes the envelope further. A recent interview explained that she has gone through serious medical issues in the meantime, and this track sounds like Chardiet exorcising all the pain and suffering in harrowing, electronic detail. By no means for everyone, this, but her confrontational music is worth a listen for the adventurous.

Perc & Truss
Two Hundred
Two Hundred EP

Talking of punishing, this meeting of electronic minds has served up an utter monster of a track. Six minutes of relentless, thundering steel-edged techno, with acid touches that weave insidiously through the mix leaving you a touch woozy by the end of the lengthy assault. Perc is, as far as I’m concerned, a master of what is not far off industrial-tinged techno, but crucially is perfectly listenable at home as much as in clubs – and indeed this is heavier and better than much of what you might consider the dancier side “industrial” at the moment. Maybe we’re just looking on the wrong side of the fence.

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Leaning on Shadows

As a teaser for their forthcoming debut album Leaning on Shadows, this is more than a bit odd. V▲LH▲LL have been spectacularly good so far at creating deeply creepy atmospheric witch house, and somehow they take it to another level here by sampling, of all things, The Teddy Bears Picnic for the chorus! Otherwise things are pretty much as I’d expect – slow, drowsy beats, off-kilter synths and a distinct feeling that all is not well.

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