Into a new month, so time for my usual roundup of great tracks from the past month.
There has been a heck of a buzz about this single in the past week or two, and from the first time I heard it, it was obvious why. Yes, it uses d**st*p influences, but in an amazingly intelligent way, never letting the “drops” take centre stage, instead simply using them as part of a complex rhythm pattern and, even more astonishingly, gracing the elegance of the electronics with a glorious vocal turn that when it gets to the chorus, simply had me mouthing “wow”. Front Line Assembly’s recent dabbling in these realms (Airmech) got praise enough from me, but frankly this – and the remixes accompanying it – hits that album out of the park.
The Bones of What You Believe
Sugarcubes + The Knife x Prince = CHVRCHES? Ok, so a little simplistic, but each song this band releases shimmers with the brilliance of all of the influences they bring to the surface – however the band too have an astonishing knack of sugaring a very bitter pill indeed (listen closely to the lyrics, they aren’t half as sweet as they first sound). This mix of sweet and sour, perhaps, is one good reason to listen to this, but the other is a little more basic – this is a phenomenal pop song that fully justifies the hype that has been building around them for a few months now.
I was convinced since I first heard it that If I Had A Tail was going to be the song from the album that made it into this month’s list, but having listened through the album twice now, this track actually wins hands down. It’s, um, funk-rock of a sort, but don’t let that turn you off it. It bounces along slowly, with Josh Homme giving his best soulful turn, there is a kicking middle eight, a squalling guitar solo, and it sounds filthy, and oh, wait, it’s another song with more than a hint of a certain Purple one… Anyway, the whole album rocks, but not quite how you might expect. Certainly worth the wait, either way.
i! are a band that I really should feature more often. Their fearless experimentation may go too far “out there” for many, but their electronic music is really quite great, and often quite chilled out, so this remix is an absolute revelation. Taking a Barcelona-based (although from the vocals I suspect they are from other parts of the world originally) grime/rap act into industrial realms, it hints at a number of genres but never lets itself get bogged down or pigeonholed into one corner, instead twisting itself into new shapes just as you think you might have nailed it down.
What Do You Say
The Sun Comes Out Tonight
Richard Patrick and his band return again, and this time – at long last – he has broadly dropped the acoustic balladry for a return to the shit-kicking, muscular industrial-metal-groove that they were so good at in the first place. Amongst many strong tracks on the album, the first single is probably the best of the bunch, built around a titanic, dense riff that propels the chorus forward under a hulking rhythm, not to mention a refrain and chorus that burrow into your head.
Reach for the Dead
So after a deeply bizarre and cleverly orchestrated promo campaign, a hugely anticipated release is finally unveiled. No, not Daft Punk, but the very much more leftfield duo Boards of Canada. And as much as this is an elegant, gorgeously crafted electronic piece, unlike many others I’m not feeling the emotional connection that music like this really should invoke. The album is out next week, and I guess I’ll have a chance then to see if the whole album does more for me above a purely technical level (I prefer to pick up the physical release rather than just listening to a full album stream – I’m well aware you can listen to the whole thing right now).
Come On Now
Hardly the most prolific of acts, however with releases as glorious as this, I’m perfectly happy for them to exercise this kind of quality control. Once again, the new album is stuffed with glittering synthpop tunes, but the best of the bunch is this track, which bristles with predatory menace and contains a chorus with a frankly fucking amazing, dramatic synth hook that has been stuck in my head since I first heard it. With this being their third album of such brilliance on the spin, I think the title “Queens of Synthpop” would not be overstating things.
Eye of a Storm
Trial and Error EP
It may not be too fashionable to like this band, but frankly I don’t care – they’ve made melodic industrial with real emotional depth for some years now, and frankly are somewhat underappreciated here. The new EP – precursor to a new album coming later in the year – has a strong lead single, but of much more interest to me is the B-side hidden amongst various remixes, a quite brilliant track with a wondrous, downbeat chorus and a deeply sad feel to the whole song, seemingly (at least superficially) about finding shelter from terrible emotional times. These darker moments are frequently this band’s finest, and this track is another to add to that list.
A recent signing to BitRiot, and another indicator that they are looking beyond the usual confines of the industrial scene to sign up some fascinating bands. Yes, this was released a few months back, and I’ll confess that this has been bumped off the list by other tracks for a couple of months, but I really had to feature it at some point. Difficult to describe all that effectively – somewhere in the realms between drone, nightmarish industrial and blackened industrial metal is about the best I can do – the chilling atmosphere it builds is assisted more by the freakish, bloodsoaked video that is not safe for work.
You So Much As Move
Fragmented Armageddon EP
Once one of the best live acts in the UK, this band seemed to peter out with a bit of a whimper really, their third album One Lie Fits All really wasn’t up to much. But a year or so back, they resurfaced and I was happy to pledge to their fundraiser to get moving on a new EP (and album, in the end). It took rather longer than intended, but the results have been reasonably impressive, with a couple of new tracks (Pandemic Schizophrenia in particular is great), a couple of remixes and this arse-kicking rebuild of a song from that weak third album. It has a steady build, a brutal breakdown, and a monstrous, heavy chorus and great hook – in other words all the elements that I loved about this band in the first place. The EP gets a full release soon, and it will certainly be worth getting hold of – more info here.