Tuesday Ten: 123: Tracks of the Month (February 2011)

Another month, time again for my usual monthly rundown of ten tracks you should hear. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of this months on Spotify, but what there is of it can be found on the link in the box.


Track Of The Month

And So I Watch You From Afar

One of the most thrilling instrumental acts this side of 65daysofstatic – on record they are joyously life-affirming, and live they are something else again – are back after what seems an age, but is only really a year or so at most. Whatever the wait, it’s been worth it. A dizzying, whirling dervish of a track that starts with a crackling, complex riff before tearing off into a number of different sections, like Meshuggah if they only loosened up a bit and had some fun. There are some serious musical skills on display here, but they never get in the way of making your listen enjoyable. And even better? You can download this for free – see the link above.

Control (303 Mix)
Electronic Body Matrix 1

The problem with 4CD compilations – and especially so in this case with an additional download card for 40 more tracks – is that it often takes bloody ages to even hear everything once, as it’s often a bit much to listen to all of it in one go (and I have no interest in hearing any more of Virgins O.R Pigeons again, ever, amongst others). So picking highlights can also take a while, too. This is definitely one of them, though, from this recent release – a sleek, punchy dancefloor-bound track that is neatly minimalist in it’s structure and is sure to fill dancefloors in time. That long-promised album can’t come soon enough, either.


(no longer available)

Talking of the dancefloor, my friend Tim pointed out recently that we’d both managed to completely miss the last pow[d]erpussy album, released at the tail end of 2009. So did everyone else, so it appears – I’ve certainly heard none of it in clubs anywhere in the time since. Mores the pity – this is an absolutely storming dancefloor industrial album. The pick of the bunch, though, is this sample-driven, guitar-riff sampling brute, that swaggers in, spits on the floor and waves it’s arse in your face. It’s enormous fun, naturally, and I’ll certainly be playing this in future sets more often after it’s debut on Saturday night at Club Tron.

That Perfect Body

Is there a single band of this past decade that have perhaps nailed the sound of “classic” EBM better than these guys? Some may deride them as simply rehashing the past, but I’m pretty sure that they are more than that. Most importantly, they have rather more of a sense of humour than their predecessors (and peers), and a damned good ear for a catchy tune, too, as this brute of a single amply demonstrates. It’s been around a while, of course, but I was reminded of it’s brilliance recently when it fitted in seemlessly at Endurance the other week…

Dependence 2011

Another year, and we’re still waiting for the follow-up to Light It Up. Now six years (!) and counting, at least the last two years have now seen a drip-feed of one new song to sate our appetites a little. Ok, so it’s not quite got the elegance and wow-factor that Notes From A War had, but it’s still pretty special. Rather more “rock” and live in feel than many Stromkern tracks – particularly in the chorus – it is however a continuation of the vaguely melancholic air that they had on last year’s track, as if all their rage and fury was spent in the strongly political Light It Up, and this is the comedown, where it’s time to regroup.

Common Man Down
Self Addiction
Self Addiction EP

Watch on YouTube

One of the latest signings to Bit Riot, I first stumbled across these guys on Gears Gone Wild: Spring Break last autumn, in the form of the Cyanotic remix of this track – which was an impressive track. However I wanted to see how the original fared, and interestingly enough it’s a great single that is more than a little of a nod to old-school Nine Inch Nails in it’s industrial-rock sound, the vocal delivery and big, big chorus. The EP, while good, is basically seven versions of the same track – I’ll make more of a judgement on the potential of CMD once the album arrives, I think. Still, get the track for yourself for free on the Bit Riot Records 2011 Sampler (link above).

Light Asylum
Dark Allies

I’d like to thank Greg for pointing this one out – a very, very odd duo from New York who seem to merge electro, goth and big, brash soulful vocals. And remarkably, not fail at doing so. The musical backing doesn’t actually do a lot over the six minutes of the track, aside from a pulsing, thundering beat, but it’s not that that grabs the attention – it’s the vocals. Which are extraordinary. A belting soul diva performance, that actually fits the feel of the song beautifully. Oh, and the video is absolutely nuts (and might be a little bit NSFW).

Morning Mr Magpie
The King of Limbs

Hey, everyone else has offered their opinion on the new Radiohead release – once again appearing with little or no notice, but without any of the honesty box business this time – this time it is a set price, a choice of download types and a shiny boxset version (the latter of which I’ve not taken up, but I have happily shelled out £6 for the MP3 download). The album feels a bit short, certainly – eight songs and only thirty-seven minutes? – but Radiohead had intimated previously that they were bored of the album release. So perhaps this is their riposte? Anyway, like pretty much everything Radiohead have done since Kid A, this is a difficult listen at first – trying to work out what they are doing this time, finding the songs in amongst the electronic experimentation and perhaps most importantly, trying not to expect them to return to past, glories? This is probably my favourite track so far, though – a lovely vocal melody from Thom Yorke over a backing that I suspect is rather less electronic than it sounds at first.

PJ Harvey
The Words That Maketh Murder
Let England Shake

One artist perhaps even less inclined to visit the past than Radiohead is Polly Jean Harvey, who has remarkably made a career from reinventing herself on every single release. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ghostly and downright wierd last album – more than anything it was her use of a higher vocal register that I really couldn’t get used to. So I approached this album with a little trepidation, but that same vocal style seems to work better here. Perhaps, though, it’s simply that she has a better set of songs here. Many of the songs on this album are about war, and the horrors therein, and this track is certainly one of those. But despite the bleak lyrics, it’s an almost jaunty rhythm, aided by brass and other vocalists, too.

How To Be A Werewolf
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Yeah, so it’s not up to the level of Young Team, but albums like that only come along once in a bands lifetime. That’s not to say it’s bad, though – it’s better than most of their material since Come On Die Young at least. And it has some glorious moments on it, too, where the Mogwai of old emerges fresh and new, creating instrumental guitar rock that actually displays emotion. Like And So I Watch You From Afar do, in fact, but in a more stately fashion, relying on the slow build rather than an explosion. I’m still kicking myself for missing the gig last week, too.

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