A week that has brought yet more appalling news from the US and elsewhere, and it’s all feeling a bit grim really, isn’t it?
I don’t really have anything else to say on that front right now (I’m going to address it in some way next week, when I’ve had more time), so for now I’m going to get on with wrapping up the best music of the past month.
I’m sure I’m not alone in that I use music as an escape from everything else, and this month has very much felt one of those times. This perhaps goes some way to explaining why there are no less than twenty songs featured this month – and I still had to hold over another five songs to next month.
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 me. 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
Lockdown has – like many other bands – changed the way Russian Circles approached their songwriting, but if this monstrous track is a sign of what else is to come…blimey. The trio have always approached their mostly instrumental post-metal with a sense of groove and ferocious power, sure, but here everything that they do so well has been distilled down into four minutes and thirty seconds of bulldozing, metallic force. As is usual, their music is driven relentlessly forward by Dave Turncrantz’s astounding drumming and Brian Cook’s low-end basslines, but here Mike Sullivan’s guitar work is given equal billing, and the result is the most thrilling work from the band in many years – and that’s some marker, considering how consistent the band have been over the past decade and more.
/As The Moon Rests
A.A. Williams made quite the name for themselves over lockdown, I thought, with a succession of acoustic covers (and takes on their own songs) that brought out the impressive songcraft and the strength of Williams’ vocals. Thus, a second album of new material was keenly awaited, and the first single from it is an impressive, powerful piece. Leaning into slower-paced, doomy textures, it soars into a hard-hitting, melodic chorus that appears to lead a song about survival, no matter what the cost.
/Bring Down The Government
While they’ve also been busy lately as part of Brix Smith‘s band, deux furieuses also have their third album in the can, ready for release later in the year – but in the meantime, we now have a taste of what’s to come. They are hardly strangers to political songs (most notably their rampaging Grenfell tirade Let Them Burn), and this new song is even more blunt than anything else they’ve released so far. A call to revolution, a call to a reckoning, this should be the soundtrack to every anti-Government protest until this godawful fucking Tory Government are ousted at last.
Once again, I’m behind the curve, having come to this band late – and quickly wondering why no-one told me about them before. An Irish band that are that nudging into shoegaze textures, but like Curve in particular, are unafraid of using electronics and a whole lot of volume to up the ante somewhat. The excellent single Still has bass that hums like an electrical supply, and cavernous reverb around everything else makes the song sound enormous, even as the guitars are scratched and distorted into infinity. I look forward to seeing how this band are live when they play Ramsgate in September – I have this hunch my earplugs will be necessary…
/Choose Your Fighter
One of a few bands this month that I’m a bit late to – friends have been raving about this duo for a while, and with the release of Supernova just recently, I know see what they mean. There’s something of a nu-metal feel to some of their songs (and that’s no bad thing!), and Choose Your Fighter also adds in some electronic pop elements at points, but broadly is simply a huge, rock-dancefloor-friendly track that like the rest of the album, is very good indeed (as is the video).
/An Endless Static
The towering influence of Neurosis is often felt in terms of outlook and production, I feel, than outright sonic influence – perhaps because the shattering force and intensity of that bands’ sound is a difficult one to copy (especially because of their use of samples and electronics in terms of textural effects). Sheffield band Gozer, though, are clearly influenced by them – sprawling, lengthy songs and a mediative feel are the order of the day here, and the gruff, bellowed vocals add to the familiar sound. Even so, this newish band are making an impressive sound here, and take themselves into different realms with use of blastbeats as this piece reaches a hefty climax. I very much need to look out for them playing live in the south.
/Yeah Yeah Yeahs
/Spitting Off The Edge of the World (feat. Perfume Genius)
/Cool It Down
The unexpected return of this band feels like one to celebrate (even if we can ignore the mostly forgettable Mosquito from nine years ago), especially as this slow burn of a track has got it’s claws into me over repeated listens (especially when listened to when the sun is shining). With the vocal assistance of Perfume Genius, this song feels like a raised fist of defiance in a dark, bleak 2022, as Karen O encourages us to rise above the failures of our forebears and build anew. In a time that seems to get darker and worse by the week, hearing songs like this gives me a jolt to keep moving forward.
/Pop Will Eat Itself
/The Poppies Strike Back
Despite their seemingly never-stopping activity in recent years, this is the first new material from the Poppies in eight years, and also rather feels like the first time they’ve truly leaned back into their “classic” sound on record since they reformed. Self-referential lyrics, not to mention a distinct political shout-out or two too, and a bass-heavy electronic groove to anchor the song – along with, if I’m not mistaken, a couple of samples from old Poppies songs – and the Poppies are indeed striking back in some style. Buy it direct from the band, at Shopwilleatitself.com.
/Crusher of Bones
A group I’ve only come to in recent times as they’ve been reissuing a few older releases is Reptilicus. An Icelandic electronic duo that have been active for a surprisingly long time, the recently reissued Crusher of Bones comes from as long ago as 1990 (!). Even if you listen to nothing else by Reptilicus, though, Snakes should have your attention. A nasty, punchy piece of work that has beats like sharp reptilian teeth and a slow sense of dread running through it. As well, it’s produced and recorded so cleanly that if I had been told this was from 2022, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.
/Floating In Nothing
The first track from the second album by James Hammontree’s Black Magnet picks up where he left off on Hallucination Scene – ferociously heavy industrial-metal that sounds and feels almost impossibly dense. Sure, he has decades of work by a variety of bands to influence him, but what’s intriguing about Black Magnet is how fast he managed to find his own sound and run with it. This track – which has guitars buzzing through it, but really is all about the electronic maelstrom and rumbling basslines – in fact leans into extreme industrial electronics as much as it does the thundering dread of bands like Godflesh. Needless to say, this is fucking great.
/A Love Letter
What is is with Winnepeg that seems to inspire such rage from almost any artist that I hear from there? KEN Mode (or “Kill Everyone Now”) are the latest to grace my stereo, and their latest missive is a hulking brute of a track that takes the early-eighties Swans approach to noise rock, with unremitting, brutal drums, guitar and bass in lockstep to pummel your eardrums, add to that barked vocals and squalling saxophones and it’s fairly clear this may not appeal to everyone. It certainly appeals to me, mind.
/The Soft Moon
/Him (Feat. fish narc)
The Soft Moon have had an established sound for a while now – screamingly intense electronic post-punk that uses distortion and effects to create an unsettling, sometimes difficult listen (and live, at the volume Luis Vasquez plays, it is even…More). The upcoming album Exister apparently has quite the variety in style across it, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to judge that, as lead track Him broadly nails what we know already from The Soft Moon, although perhaps with a bit more focus on the vocals (unusually we can hear what Vasquez is singing clearly, and guest fish narc is even clearer).
/The Cassandra Complex
/Hotline to Elvis
Remarkably the first album from this long-running band for over twenty years, The Plague has turned out to be a hugely enjoyable, and varied album – much as CX have often been (and apologies for not featuring this in the past month or so, as I originally intended to!). A band that don’t really fit into the usual pigeonholes – Rodney Orpheus is happy dipping into industrial, goth, post-punk, darkwave and even lush balladry whenever he feels like it – and this album just rams that sonic wanderlust home. The lead track is for me the pick of the album, a full-throttle electro-rock track where Orpheus pokes fun at claims Elvis is still alive, while doing his own best impressions of The King at points. Who knew a phone number could be such a catchy hook? “1-900-909-ELVIS…”
Unexpectedly released last week was the first new Antigen Shift material in some time (eight years, in fact, since the excellent Brotherhood), and not for the first time, they have moved on considerably. That’s perhaps for the best – electronic and industrial music has mutated and changed a lot in that time, too, and anyway, Antigen Shift have never really shown any interest in getting bogged down in one particular sound. Nick Thériault and Jairus Khan’s work on this short EP continues the variety, with each of the thumping industrial tracks here taking different approaches. The highlight for me is the pounding groove and shimmering synths of No Renewable, that has me hankering for a dancefloor to play it to.
/The Humdrum Express
/The Gig Chatterer
A fair bit of driving for work lately has seen me returning to listening to BBC 6 Music on a regular basis for the first time in a little while, and as is often the way, a track will catch my ear that I might not have otherwise heard. This time, it’s from Kidderminster artist The Humdrum Express, who appears to have a keen eye for the detail in the musical world, and The Gig Chatterer gives a voice to the arrogant git that’s always at gigs these days, those that talk really fucking loud and frustrate many other gig-goers – and, it seems, performing artists too. Sadly, as I’ve found before, when the performer does call them out, they don’t hear them…as they are still talking.
/State of Slow Decay
Back in the day, I loved In Flames. One of the foremost Swedish death metal bands from Gothenburg, they rather drifted away from the sound in recent times, but twenty-seconds into this, and you might be asking “is it 2000 again”? This feels like them putting down a marker, that they’ve returned to their “classic” sound, and it is absolutely fantastic from start-to-finish. The song gallops forward (the drumming is amazing), before dropping down into a glorious guitar solo and a clean-vocal chorus that reminds me why I loved them so much. More of this on the new album, please!
/The Decline of Pleasure
With grateful thanks to a couple of US friends for mentioning this band, otherwise I might have missed them entirely. Anyway, an LA-based duo who appear to have a deep love for eighties synthpop and electronics, with a keen line in melody and hooks that in another time, may have seen them bothering the mainstream. Album opener Earthbound is extraordinary, as synths and beats (and a subtle guitar deep in the mix, is that?) accompany a tour de force of a vocal performance that has had me have this song on repeat for a couple of weeks. Seriously, it’s that fucking good.
/A Certain Fractal Light
/Albums | Singles | Soundtracks – an Anthology 2007-2022
There’s a lot of goth and post-punk bands around, but consistency is perhaps not always a given. It is for In Isolation, the Nottingham band who’ve just marked fifteen years active with a hefty, 28-track compilation that brings together fan favourites, covers and rarities alike – and as a testament to how good the band are, it flows well despite the variety of sources for the songs. One of the highlights from the album for me is the quite lovely A Certain Fractal Light, the title track from their 2016 album, that seems to be a wistful musing on the power of love and time, and the beauty of the light in bleak weather. I’m sure there’s something deeper I’m missing, but either way, I love this song.
The remarkable power of Heilung remains undimmed, it seems, judging on their hypnotic first single from their third album. With lyrics apparently taken from the inscriptions found on bracteates from the 4th to 7th Centuries AD, the slow, steady trancelike rhythm allows the vocals to carry the noble, powerful melodies that weave like snakes through the song. Heilung have forged a path quite unlike any other in recent years, and regardless how accurate their amplified history is (see the section in /Tuesday Ten/341 about Wardruna, Heilung and more), their music remains a bracing listen.
/Hallogallo (Stephen Morris and Gabe Gurnsey Remix)
/NEU! 50th Anniversary
The fiftieth anniversary this year of the first NEU! album is such an important one for anyone who listens to a huge swathe of alternative music. Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger were part of a movement in Germany that rejected previous norms, and in something of a musical scorched earth policy, wanted to create music that had no connection to the past. That resulted in bands like Kraftwerk, Faust, NEU! and many more (many of whom were rather perjoritavely dubbed “Krautrock” by the UK press), all of whom sounded rather different to each other. NEU! were underpinned by the “motorik” beat of Klaus Dinger, whose drumbeat seemed to stretch into infinity, this steady rhythm that could then be used as a launchpad. The mighty Hallogallo – the first song on this album – remains a set-text whose influence stretches into techno, industrial and rock, and as part of the celebration of this album in 2022, a number of current artists have reworked the songs to show their own influences. Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor) and Stephen Morris (Joy Division, New Order) have teamed up for their take, which seems to strip a few things away and streamline that glorious drum rhythm all the more, but doesn’t fuck with the central essence of perfection.