Already into August, and planning now begins for a number of festivals coming up. In the meantime, here are the best tracks of the past 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
It cannot have been easy for Eugene Hütz recently, watching his homeland pounded by a Russian invasion: but he’s fought back in his own way, with masses of fundraising and providing reminders that he is far from the first punk to move to the west, and now, at last, there’s a new Gogol album coming, the first in ages. Judging on the first few songs – including a reworked, defiant Forces of Victory – Hütz is simply continuing to do what he does, but there is definitely a more focussed, angry political edge to his lyrics. Focus Coin is very much an example of this: over a tight, ska-influenced rhythm, Hütz tears into the rampant misinformation of the age, which rolls into a savage, blunt chorus (“Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie… All of them liars“). It’s great to have them back.
/The Way of All Flesh
/Shotguns & Razorwire
These Sheffield goths made a bit of a splash with Esprit d’Escalier seventeen or so years back, and after a long-time dormant, they returned in 2018 with a new singer and a continued commitment to unashamed gothic rock. Their shows recently – I saw them both at Goth City last month, and then in London last weekend – were both impressive affairs, with a great sound, a good mix of older and newer songs, and a definite sense that the new vocalist (also called Dave, as their original vocalist was!) has now settled in and appears much more confident than he was. The lead track from the new EP is a track, judging on the credits, that was written some time ago, not that you’d know it from the sound. Synths bubble away as guitars slash across the mix, and the track builds steadily until it explodes with quite the force – and vocalist Dave gets to demonstrate his considerable range. An impressive return.
/This Is What We Do
Never exactly the most prolific of artists – in their active period, they’ve released just three albums since 1995 – but finally, a fourth Leftfield album is on the horizon, due for release in early December. Maybe we were expecting too much last time around, but Alternative Light Source in 2015 felt a little…underwhelming, rather lacking in the rhythmic force that they’d made so thrilling on their earlier albums. So it is a cause for celebration that Pulse is so great. Everything about the first part of this track feels rather ominous: the looming bassline, the arcing acid lines, the rumbling breakbeat (and is it me, or is there something of a nod to Phat Planet here?)… before it bursts into colourful euphoria later on. Fantastic.
Joe Crudgington has been carving out a niche for himself under the name Drownd, with some interesting collaborations and relatively high-profile support slots, and the second album from the project was released just recently. The ripping power of single Filth is really quite impressive, too. Nodding back to nineties industrial-metal in many ways is no bad thing – they are far from the only band to be doing so in recent times – and this track makes impressive use of classic quiet-LOUD dynamics to make the instrumental elements kick really fucking hard indeed, and the general feeling is of a band to watch.
The marvellous Belgian trio Brutus return with their latest album Unison Life in October, and the impressive singles so far suggest another great release. As before, their sound is based around the monstrous rhythm section of Peter Mulders on bass and Stefanie Mannaerts on drums, but what’s most interesting about this track for me is Stefanie’s vocals, that are delivered with such power and conviction that her voice turns ragged at points, as if she is pushing to the very edge of what she can do. What else have they pushed to on this album, I wonder?
The NYC Industrial weirdoes BILE have a new album due soon (they’ve been promising it for a while, to be fair), and the title track for it dropped this month (with a deeply odd AI-generated video for it, too). If you’re familiar with the band, the punchy kicks of this track won’t be a big surprise, but when they are on this form it’s an essential listen. The sci-fi theme appears to be around a concept where Pot has become a synthesised cure for many things in the future, and the rush to farm it as a result. Musically, dense programming and ripping riffs make for a hugely enjoyable piece, whether you care for the concept or not.
One of the best sludge-metal albums I’ve heard in years and years, the new album from Chat Pile closes with this nine-minute epic that amid the downtuned bass, industrial drums and building-high riffage, appears to detail some kind of dope-induced psychosis and breakdown as the protagonist sees a “purple man” in his room. The amount of dope smoked must have been “heroic”, frankly, to get to this stage, and as vocalist Raygun Busch unfolds the story, he seems to get more and more unhinged, while the music around him begins to collapse too. The bit where you just know things are totally fucked in this story? “I’m fine, seriously”. Er, dude…
Apparently an early taster for their upcoming album, this belter of a track suggests it might be something special when it comes. Perhaps dialling back their overt eighties-leaning sound of their earlier material, instead aiming for sharp composition that does an awful lot with just a drum machine, synths and vocals. There’s a distinct feel of aiming – and reaching – for anthemic status, and hooks that take residence in your head.
/Cheeba City Blues
Hot on the heels of Deviator last September, we’re already getting another Noise Unit album, this time Bill Leeb working with older material created with Jeremy Inkel before he died too young. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first track from this release (the album title references Cyberpunk classic Neuromancer) seems rather reflective, as Leeb faces up to the passage of time. A very different sound to what was on the last Noise Unit album – and indeed the last few FLA albums, too – it has more humanity than anything Leeb has put his hand to in some years, and is all the better for it.
/All Welcome on Planet Ree-Vo
An intriguing new release that popped into my inbox late last week is this from a new Bristol hip-hop/bass duo, who reference Grace Jones in the first few moments, before taking the listener on something of a breathless, three-minute trip into their Bristol world (and space). The rhythm is an awesome, bouncy hit that leans into breakbeats but never fully commits, as if the duo have no interest in allowing themselves to land on just one musical planet. Join them on their trip – it’s well worth your time.