Tuesday Ten: 143: Tracks of the Month (September 2011)

A new month, so my usual round-up of good new songs (and the odd old one, too). You know the drill by now, right?


Track of the Month

True Colours

FUCK. YES. Forty seconds of blistering hardcore, and it is some way to introduce their new vocalist (ex-Alexisonfire). Not really much else to say, other than the gleeful way it is introduced – the drum-beat acts as a warning siren, before it rips through in short time and ends with an utterly monstrous beatdown. I’d kinda lost interest in this band after their marvellous debut, but this has most certainly got my attention again. More material awaited with interest… (Also, fact fans, by far the shortest track of the month in this series ever).

Pop Will Eat Itself
New Noise Designed By A Sadist

Ok, so it isn’t *quite* the real Poppies – Clint Mansell is missing, for a start – but they are back, and remarkably celebrating their 25th birthday with a new album (and tour later in the month, and I’ll be reporting on how that gig goes, of course, as I’ll be at the London show). The new PWEI sound is…well, a bit like the old really. But the really old. Less electronics, less samples and otherwise it is pretty much business as usual. Something doesn’t quite feel right, though. It has the zany subject matter – more akin to the imagination than the real world, as ever – but the tunes are not quite there. There are a couple of cracking moments, though, of which Mask is the pick. Jagged, distorted and treated guitars bite their way through the track, the twin vocal attack is present and correct, and there are some damned strange fairground-esque organ effects. It is nuts, but brilliant. Interestingly the album is anything but front-loaded, too – it gets better as it goes along, broadly.

Spotlight Kid
All Is Real
All Is Real EP

Yeah, so sue me – my love affair with new-ish shoegazey bands continues. This lot are Nottingham-based, and have a link to one of my favourite indie bands – the much-missed Six By Seven (the drummer is from that band). There is none of the searing intensity of Six By Seven, mind – instead motorik grooves, droning, multi-tracked vocals, and lots and lots of guitars. This single is quite lovely, too (even if it is a year old), with a new album reported to be imminent.

Rather more on the intense scale of things is the first sign of new material from this Scottish band (the new album is due in February 2012). Where they have upped the ante once again, with a savage, dense production, and an increased emphasis on programming and electronics. But crucially this is a subtle thing, with the core feel of the band retained – the deeply accented vocals and squalling guitars – but here the track is given impressive time to build, ratcheting up the tension by holding the track on a leash for much, much longer than you first expect. And indeed, just when you think the roof is going to blow, they go the other way, stripping it down to an electronic pulse. An intriguing shift, and it will be very interesting indeed to see how the album works out as a whole.

St. Vincent
Strange Mercy

My continuing weakness for female solo artists continues with the charms of St. Vincent – Annie Clark’s project. Her previous work is no encouragement for me (I fucking hated the Polyphonic Spree), but her new album is glorious, and nothing like what I was expecting it to be (indeed, the first thing I heard of her solo work was her seething take on Kerosene earlier this year). Instead of it being indie-schmindie navel-gazing, this is the sound of a confident, talented artist letting rip with a stunning set of songs – of which this is the lead single. A glorious, sunny electro-pop gem with a soaring vocal, this is a song that has quickly become an earworm.

Chelsea Wolfe
Black Spell of Destruction

Watch on YouTube

Ok, not often you get a female singer-songwriter covering Burzum. Yeah, ok, so this isn’t on one of her albums so far that I can tell, but this is damned interesting stuff (as is her recent album Ἀποκάλυψις). This is pitch dark, scratchy stuff, with her vocals apparently deliberately distorted and recorded in strange ways, and all of the songs having a vivid, bleak atmosphere that absolutely sounds like no-one else. And this cover doesn’t, either. Stripped of the black metal riffage, it is laid bare as a nightmarish howl from the depths – and I think it is fair to say that I can’t think of anyone else covering this. (Note: the Spotify playlist has a track from the new album instead).

Land of Nothing
Act of Faith

Another band I really ought to have been listening to before – a band who still embody the spirit of real EBM. i.e. actual Electro- Body Music, rather than just industrial pop music, y’know. Yeah, so it is defiantly retro, but done well, and with some killer tunes. And all three of the songs that I got on promo from the new album the other week absolutely slay – the album is now on my shopping list for this coming week.

Curl of the Burl
The Hunter

For their new album – and for the first time – there is no concept, just track after track of blistering technical metal. And also, something of a lurch for the mainstream, it could be said. Less in the way of proggy noodling, from what I’ve heard so far, and more in the way of snappy, shorter songs. And this one has the bonus of a bonkers, low-rent tribute to old-school horror movies with cheap effects in the video. Not to mention being a fantastic seventies psych-metal freakout with a radio-friendly chorus. I never thought I’d say it, but is the mainstream beckoning for the most inventive – and technically adept – metal band of the age?

Face The Beat Vol. 1

What is it with bands basically aping the sound of another, to the point that they are almost indistinguishable? This is the second on this compilation (the other being the totally and utterly redundant Halo In Reverse, who I really should get around to mentioning in full sometime), but at least this has the good grace to turn the spotlight on an artist who was interesting and different. So, God this sounds like Lesley Rankine fronting Pigface. But that’s a better thing to be aping than Suicide Commando, perhaps. So garage- industrial-rock, with a snarling, oh-so-slightly-psychotic lead singer whispering, screaming and wailing into the microphone. Their Youtube videos confirm that they are German – and it definitely isn’t Lesley Rankine. But still, this is really quite interesting, and not all of their songs are such obvious copies – even if this is the most immediate track by a mile. clone, thats for sure.

Fantastic Planet

Going back rather longer than usual, here is a 90s rock band that somehow I totally missed in recent years. No, really, I had somehow completely forgotten about their existence, despite since realising that I’ve owned at least two of their releases on compilations – one a cover of Depeche Mode, and another being A Perfect Circle covering Failure’s The Nurse Who Loved Me. This is wonderful, strange spaced-out alt.rock, with some wonderful melodies and a sense of a band who were doing something truly interesting and were sadly ignored at the time. When hearing tracks like this, though, it isn’t hard to see why A Perfect Circle covered them – sonically they are in the same ballpark, with similar-sounding guitars, and even to a point vocals. This song is by far my favourite on the album, though – a lengthy, elegant sprawl that unfolds into a stadium-sized chorus.

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