After a month where I’ve been busy with many things, and less time to write than usual, maybe during July I’ll be back to regular posts.
We start July, as we do every month, with the best tracks of the past month. And also as usual, it’s a pretty broad selection of bands and styles.
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
/Brutalist Architecture In The Sun
/Complete The Shape
Bucking the trend recently across music, never mind our darker scenes, for ever-shorter albums are Kent darkwave duo Brutalist Architecture In The Sun. Here, including the two bonus tracks, this fourteen-track sprawls for over an hour; but stick with it, as there are some real diamonds here. They dabble in some intriguing variety across the album, but for me the most impressive moments are when they turn the heat up, such as on the fiery Complete The Shape. A glowering, punchy drum rhythm and luminous synths give space for a plaintive vocal and a plain goddamned catchy track that should be heard on industrial club dancefloors forthwith.
/An Object In Motion
The towering brilliance of Modern Mirror feels like a lifetime ago, bearing in mind that it was released well before COVID hit, back in 2019. In the meantime Deb Demure has been mostly working on other projects, at least going on releases, but it turns out that new Drab Majesty material has been in the works for some time. Like before, too, though, change is the name of the game. The new four-track EP appears to be investigating slower-paced, acoustic-based sounds, and lead track Vanity to an extent reminds me of a dreamier version of Swans’ early-nineties pitch-dark folk period. This is no bad thing, and the sweetly resigned vocals from Rachel Goswell of Slowdive add quite the texture to this song.
/To Be A Cloud
Somewhere along the line, after the excellent Songs of the Saxophones, I completely missed their second album Eternity Bay – although seeing as it was released in March 2020, I suspect we all had our attention elsewhere…
Anyway, this is their third album, and To Be A Cloud feels rooted in the jazz background Alexi Erenkov originally trained with, with loose-limbed rhythms and a gentle touch. Vocals from both Erenkov and his bandpartner and wife Alison Alderdice have a soothing, laid-back quality, and there is a deep sense of love, longing and most of all, place, within these songs. This is music of the US West Coast, but away from the craziness of the big cities, instead inhabiting those small places where the Pacific fogs roll in, and where you can feel miles away from anywhere.
/Blackbox Life Recorder 21f
/Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760
The first new Aphex Twin material in, as far as I can tell, at least five years, and the lead track from it is a measured, and mellow – by their standards, anyway – piece. Washes of synths sweep and drone through the mix, and while the beats are frenetic when they arrive, it doesn’t feel the kind of piece that is going to tear up the dancefloor. But what it does do is sound like Aphex Twin – that singular sonic template that you know could only come from Richard D. James, a mixture of complexity and beauty that absolutely no-one else has ever managed.
/Public Service Broadcasting
/Broadcasting House (Live)
/This New Noise
Initially performed as a one-off for the Proms last year to mark 100 years of the BBC, J. Wilgoose, Esq. has bowed to the inevitable and finally agreed to release the performance as the latest Public Service Broadcasting album. It’s the right call, too: it returns the band to their original concept, pretty much, and the first track released is a grandiose, stately thing: much like the Art Deco building that it celebrates. The band were joined by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the performance, and it sounds awesome, a celebration of a British institution that should be protected at all costs.
/Monuments to Absence
English Black Metal trio Fen have long been a fascinating outlier in the scene, taking distinct influences from their home country, not to mention an outlook that is very different too. Latest single Wracked – from their upcoming eighth album – though digs deep into classic Black Metal influences for an epic nine minute track. There are galloping rhythms, impressive guitar attacks and audible vocals amid a shroud of glowering darkness – oh yes, the production on this is exquisite, and I don’t think Fen have ever sounded this brilliant before. They apparently took inspiration from black, depressive days where you can do nothing else, and they’ve clearly turned that into something extraordinary.
Black Agent haven’t wasted any time in following up last year’s excellent Industrial Ruination, with Dehumanized out last Friday. Once again, it’s an impressive take on classic electro-industrial by a band clearly brimming with ideas of their own. The track that has really caught my ear so far, though, is the punchy swirl of Frozen Flowers, a track that seems to owe inspiration to both Skinny Puppy and Velvet Acid Christ, underpinned by a gut-punch of a drum pattern that should be destroying dancefloors forthwith.
The long-promised new Bestial Mouths album was heralded by this new track recently. It is a raging maelstrom of fury, frankly, as Lynette Cerezo seethes an anthem to bodily autonomy, instructing those who seek to control to fuck off and leave them alone. Musically this is fascinating: the strings add a grandeur and almost mournful feel to the track, and indeed the depth of the mix hints at the sheer vision on display here. I cannot wait to hear what else they’ve got up their sleeve on this album, as this promises as a great deal.
Another band returning quickly are Toronto alt-rock-revivalists ON, whose excellent self-titled album only came out nine months ago. New single Make Me continues their hot streak, as any frustration at past missteps is scorched away in three minutes of bulldozing hooks and thrilling riffs. I haven’t really got much else to say about this other than I absolutely love it: although their name makes them difficult to find on streaming services, I can tell you…
/Never Fucked Up Once
/Life Under the Gun
From a band formed by a member of a Powerviolence band (Regional Justice Center), it turns out that Militarie Gun are very different indeed – broadly hardcore/alt-rock with massive hooks and big sing-a-long choruses. There’s been some breathless coverage about this band in recent weeks in the wake of the release of this album, and the more I listen to it, the more I’m beginning to see why. Songs from the album have started to get under my skin, particularly this one, a rolling “you fucked up” anthem that takes on those who double down on denial rather than admitting their mistakes. It could be about someone in the public eye (they certainly aren’t short of choice), it could be about someone close. Either way, this wonderful song probably applies to someone you know, too.