2016 in Review:
257: Tracks (Apr)
254: Tracks (Mar)
251: Tracks (Feb)
248: Tracks (Jan)
Nearly half way through the year, and the great new music keeps coming thick and fast.
Indeed, various announcements of new material this past week suggest the rest of the year should continue to be very interesting, but as always, I’m not just looking with a narrow focus. There is so much more to hear and discover.
Track of the Month
Look Up, Hannah
Look Up, Hannah
The enigmatic, cold industrial-rock of OUT OUT has unexpectedly returned (again?), with a new album coming at the end of the summer on Artoffact. This is the first taste of material from it, and it’s a hell of an impressive track. A thumping, bass-heavy rhythm is the core, with little more than vocals on top until the chorus unleashes savage guitar riffs like punches to the gut. Other elements get added in, too, almost imperceptibly, until we reach the full hit, complete with chanted backing vocals, gently distorted piano and squalling electronics. More, please!
The Burning Bridge
The Burning Bridge EP
Athan Maroulis returns with his first new (i.e. not remixed) material under the NOIR banner since the the exceptional debut album of a few years back (three years ago already?!?), and alongside three covers, the lead track is worth the purchase alone. Not a massive leap stylistically from the album Darkly Near, this is an uptempo electro-industrial track dominated, as ever, by Athan’s wonderful, deep voice. This is soulful, intense stuff. The covers – something NOIR are making a habit of – are also worth your time. One is a live radio appearance of In Every Dream Home A Heartache (the original was on Darkly Near), but the other two are new, and both from a similar time in the early eighties. One of that pair is a sultry, smoky cover of The Chauffeur, the Duran Duran song that I’ve now heard umpteen covers of, but it never disappoints, which suggests that the original must have been pretty damned great in the first place. The other is a curio, for sure – a cover of an early, much-bootlegged Ministry song, Same Old Madness from 1982 (that video has to be seen to be believed). It slows the pace down, and is a much more lush sound than the stark, primitive synth pop of the original.
Sins of the Father
It’s been some time since Rebekah Delgado released new material, and it was revealed recently that serious illness was at least in part the reason. Happily fighting fit once again, this was one of a number of new songs premiered at an exceptional gig last Wednesday at St. Pancras Old Church. The dark, almost theatrical drama of her debut album Don’t Sleep is very much still present, especially in this song, which washes in on a thundering pounding of drums and hits impressive peaks as she apparently examines the pros and cons of cutting ties with the past. What was also notable about the show was subtle change in style for much of the older material, with a bit more of a “rock” feel to certain songs that for me displayed a renewed sense of confidence from Delgado. More coverage from the gig over on Never Enough Notes.
No Man’s Sky
Do this band ever stop? Their latest work has been the apparently open-ended soundtrack to what could well be an extraordinary video game (when it arrives – I believe the release date has been pushed back yet again just recently). This track is unmistakably 65DoS – scratching, swirling guitar lines writhe around restless drums and synths like choirs, with a mournful melody and a staggering climax.
You Will Never Be One Of Us
Winner of the “most savage hardcore track of 2016” award by many, many lengths: hardcore band Nails, with this brutal sub-two minute machine-gun attack. Everything about this track absolutely seethes with fury – the searing pace of the first half, then the slower, shitkicking beatdown that follows; the bellowed vocals, the chugging riffage.
Dial Me In
Another return this month, and I have to say rather quicker than I might have expected (you may recall that their debut album took a relative eternity to appear). This is Factory Floor advancing their sound a little bit, but having reduced to a two-piece hasn’t held them back. A trance-inducing rhythm, lovely acid sounds and a restraint that never allows things to career out of control. Just like we like it, then.
Get My Bang
OK, I’ll admit, I know next to nothing about this band – they’ve been a name I’ve been aware of for some years, but never listened to anything, until this. Maybe I’ve been missing out all the long? This track is a dirty, late-night wonder, a celebration of lust that demands a cold shower might be needed after listening. The slow-paced rhythm – and the falsetto vocals – owe more than a little bit to prime, eighties-era Prince, as does the way everything is tied up in lyrical metaphors. Anyway, this is great.
Walk With Scars
Walk With Scars EP
The side-project of diskonnekted’s Didier Salvatore, this impressive single is a collaboration with Frank Spinath of Seabound (and Edge of Dawn, Ghost & Writer, and a fair few other things, too…). It is sleek, subtle and futuristic synthpop, with an emotional punch given by multi-tracked vocals, and Spinath turning in another of his exceptional vocal performances.
They’re back! Really this time! Yep, sixteen years after their extraordinary Since I Left You, The Avalanches finally return with a new single, forthcoming new album and live dates, and the first single is exceptional. A weird, squelching beat is underpinned by tuba samples – not to mention being underpinned by Wilmouth Houdini’s deeply odd Bobby Sox Idol – and vocals by MF Doom and Danny Brown that seem to take on a number of different personas within the four minutes – but it is all capped off by a trippy, psychedelic video that makes more than a few nods to Lynchian themes, includes dance sequences and a luminous yellow slushie that seems to be the root of all the madness. The nagging vocal hook has now been stuck in my head for days – and it is a song destined to soundtrack the summer, I’ll wager.
Volume 1: Whoever Am I (Compilation)
I’ve mentioned these guys before, but this is so good I’m featuring them again. A blurry, woozy ballad where the vocals are smudged and indistinct to wonderful effect, the words themselves being not so important as the textures and images that they invoke. The echoing, eighties-esque drum effects are quite lovely, too, invoking the sky-scraping musical attitude of the likes of a-ha, where bigger was better. Watch this act, they really are something special.
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