Time for another of my monthly new(ish) track roundups. You know the drill by now, right?
Track of the month
Just after last month’s list came this – Chino Moreno’s new side-project. And like the last Deftones album Diamond Eyes, this is a thing of wonder. Pretty much appearing out of nowhere, this is a much more electronic take on the more languid side of the Deftones, and the first release is an EP that is five tracks of elegant, restrained songs that make much of sparse instrumentation and allow Chino’s voice to take centre stage to astonishing effect. These are love songs, frankly, but very much familiar in their cryptic lyrics that provide another link back to the parent band. Is this what Eros was meant to sound like? I can only hope there is more of this coming. For the record, this glorious track is the pick of the bunch – and if you so wish, you can download the whole EP for free from their website.
Not heard of these guys before, so thanks to John at Resurrection Records for happening to play them while I was there. And just for once, perhaps I can be excused for having missed them before, seeing as until recently they’d never had any form of distribution here. This is the song that caught me – a quite wondrous melodic electro song, with a quasi-drum’n’bass beat that really does make it sound very different. If they sound like anyone, it is Fractured. Who are special enough, so take this as a recommendation for sure.
Neon Girls EP
Ph my, I’m /loving/ this shoegaze revival thing right now. Seemingly one of the buzz bands of the moment in London, judging on the (many) ecstatic recommendations I’ve seen for them, I really ought to check them out live at some point. In the meantime, this doomy, echo-ey track will do nicely (as will the other handful of tracks I have). Yes, it is shoegaze influenced, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. For a start, the MBV-esque guitars only start cascading over the chorus as the song accelerates – their impact heightened by the bass-heavy verses that conjure up the band appearing only amid flashes of light in a very large, dark warehouse. The vocals, naturally, are barely identifiable.
Night of Hunters
Blimey. Two years already since her last album. And from the first teasers released, I have to admit that the “bonus” track released on the FB page along with the video of the new single…is far, far stronger than the single itself. The good thing is, the orchestral glory of this track actually turned out to be the opening track to the forthcoming album (out in a couple of weeks). I can’t ever quite put my finger on what it is that makes some Tori Amos songs so much greater than others, but this is one of those. It has an atmosphere that draws you in, a sound you can immerse yourself in. Having heard this, I’ll definitely be checking the album out (Carry had put me off a bit, really).
I’d be very surprised indeed if MIAB didn’t suddenly gain themselves a few hundred new fans pretty much instantly after last weeks’ utterly astonishing live show at Infest. And they did this without providing a set of dancefloor anthems, instead going for the heart. From a recorded sound that is almost totally alien (it is those vocals, and the cold electronics used, I think), they transformed it into an emotional rollercoaster that so, so many people admitted made them cry at one point or another. The point that did it for me was just as the chorus to this track burst into life: the way the tempo accelerates, and that voice hits high note after high note – and the desperate sadness contained within. Despite their critical acclaim at the time, MIAB never quite seemed to get the recognition they deserved. Something tells me that has now very much changed, and quite right too. But how on earth will they top Crossroads as an album?
Year of the Snake
The Age of Hell
A rather unexpected move was to give this album away for free in the UK with Metal Hammer. I’m not sure what this says about the state of the UK metal scene, however, but from the sound of the first single/video, it is fair to say that not a lot has changed in the world of Chimaira. They are still furiously angry, and make an awesome, chugging behemoth of sound: this is thrash metal with electronic tinges, and a whole barrowfull of hatred. I bet they still fucking slay live, too.
(Not available online)
Following a healthy dose of brutal industrial/rhythmic noise at Kinetik, I was looking forward to great things from these guys at Infest, and they didn’t disappoint – forty-five minutes of searing noise that divided the audience into those that stuck around to enjoy it, and those that decided to get away as far as possible…as it should. Their latest album is a cracker, too. Complex, pounding rhythms, and cranium-invading noise. Best played very loud (and in my house, on headphones).
Oh dear. I was really looking forward to the new LSD album, and sadly on the first few listens, it really hasn’t grabbed me whatsoever. The big problem for me is that it all feels rather too polished. Like the leap to a bigger label (Metropolis, the biggest fish in the industrial pond in North America, really) seems to have put pressure on the band to release a more radio-friendly sound – that has smoothed out the spikier edges somewhat. The infuriating thing is, they didn’t need to do this – their earlier material was more than radio-friendly and anthemic, they just needed that extra push. So it is perhaps no surprise that the strongest moment by far on the new album is where they properly let rip with a punk-industrial speed-fest – appropriately titled Stolen Car. It’s short, concise and catchy as hell – everything the rest of the album isn’t.
We’re Not Dancing
Actually one of about three bands in this list that I’ve kinda missed in the past and could thus have qualified for the section below, by the time of Friday’s Amanda Palmer show I’d still not got ’round to checking out Bitter Ruin’s recorded output. More fool me. Their short set was once again fantastic, an intriguing interplay between the two of them which only gets more and more complex as this song goes on. Instrumentation-wise, Bitter Ruin have avoided adding anything more than an acoustic guitar on all of their material so far, and I kinda hope it stays that way. As it stands, it gives more of an opportunity to give Georgia and Ben’s extraordinary vocals the chance to shine. This, incidentally, is the new single. Buy it in the week after 03-October, and you might give them a chance of reaching the charts.
This month’s “why didn’t I hear this before?”
The Soft Moon
The Soft Moon
Found through jwz’s blog, as it happens, and a throwaway reference to Doktor Avalanche had me interested. Rather wonderful and pitch-dark gothic post-punk, this is yet more US goth that is doing a better job than the British stuff at the moment, in my view. As, for a start, it isn’t just a straight copy of the “classic” stuff. It is dark, claustrophobic music, where the vocals are little more than an afterthought – drenched in reverb and other effects, and buried beneath the bass-heavy drones. Not to everybody’s taste, I’m sure, but certainly worth a listen.