These are turbulent times in the UK at least at the moment – with the prospect of choppy waters elsewhere too in 2016 – and it has rather been sapping my will to write, among other things.
2016 in Review:
261: Tracks (May)
257: Tracks (Apr)
254: Tracks (Mar)
251: Tracks (Feb)
248: Tracks (Jan)
But, the world continues, and letting it stop would not be a good thing either. So here I am again, with ten great new songs – interestingly all from overseas, from the US, France and Germany – from a variety of styles, too.
Another thing, too: congratulations, to my friends Alex and Bruce over at I Die: You Die in marking their five years of doing their (always great) thing over the past month. Needless to say their writing (and podcasts) are always worth checking out.
Track of the Month
The Glowing Man
The Glowing Man
A third sprawling, two-CD, two-hour epic, and once again, Michael Gira and his band make you work for the joy here, but it is worth it. The title track in particular, an astonishing, motorik groove that drills and hammers at the senses for twenty-nine minutes of auditory perfection. This is the end of Swans as we know it, apparently, and once again (like Soundtracks for the Blind ended their first chapter), Gira seriously knows how to stage a goodbye.
A sign of how far 3TEETH have risen, perhaps, came last week with none other than Billboard.com premiering their new single – the first taste of their second album, due later in the year. If you are familiar with 3TEETH already, this will tick the boxes – grinding, heavy metallic-tinged industrial is the order of the day – but it is perhaps notable that the production chops here are a step above where they were on the first album. There is an awful lot going on here, but the mix is crisp and clear, and Lex’s vocals are processed to a point, but the crucial point is that this kicks really fucking hard, with a chugging, relentless chorus that is their best yet.
Electronic Saviors Vol.4: Retaliation
Yes, I featured their single I’m Yours on 254: Tracks (March), but this track is very much one of the best moments of ES4. There is something wonderfully cool and detached in what Coldkill are doing, channelling the best moments of Covenant in particular. There are the distant, controlled vocals, precise drum programming and nagging synth hooks that come together to produce track after track of brilliant, post-futurepop. I’m really quite excited to hear the album now, as there has been nothing I haven’t liked about their material so far.
Electronic Saviors Vol.4: Retaliation
Once in a while, the stars align and inspire KMFDM into writing furious, brilliant industrial rock, and 2016 has done it again, with this belting song that opens another sprawling instalment of Electronic Saviors. Except…something sounds a bit dated about it, and sure enough, this is an unreleased song from 1994, that to me appears to be a song discarded from the NIHIL sessions. Either way, this is better than anything KMFDM have done in recent years – it has groove, it has fury, it has that excellent twin male/female vocal attack, it even appears to reference The Sisters of Mercy. Actually, though, this seems appropriate still for this year – KMFDM are releasing ROCKS in September, which is yet another rehashing of the old.
Let Me Go
There has been a buzz about this band for a while, and it seems said buzz is now crossing out of our realms to bigger things, and with good reason. Their new album is due next month, and this is the first taste – heralded with a massive, echoing synth hook that signals just what you’d expect – a brilliant, catchy quasi-gothy synthpop song, that gets better and better with every listen, and is topped off by a wonderful, melodic chorus. Roll on the album.
It is rather surprising to realise that the new album from Gojira is their sixth, and that a band I’ve always had in my head as one of the “new breed”, are now pretty much veterans. Either way, this song in particular struck me, when I first heard it, as a potential breakthrough to much bigger things. They’ve always had the critical acclaim, but maybe not the success – this album should change this, and this song has everything in microcosm. Their technical, challenging metal style is still present and correct, but it is that much snappier and catchier – focussed, you might say – and it sounds glorious (that riff! those squalling guitar effects! that chorus!).
It might be summer now, but that isn’t stopping some bands released some really quite dark, unsettling music. Welcome to the dimly lit world of Pure Ground’s second album, then, where this song proceeds with no real urgency, but a deep, pervading sense of utter dread and menace. More than anything it is those vocals – a mix of threat and aloofness, like he knows the end of the time is coming but it isn’t his problem.
Yeah, so many might be getting tired of the slew of bands dubbed “Post-Metal” now, but sticking with it really does reveal diamonds in the rough – and Russian Circles are definitely one of them. Now onto their sixth album, this first track from it perhaps suggests a heavier, more direct tone once again, than the occasionally morose Memorial had. This track rolls forward on a sweeping, guitar-led melody, before dropping into a thrilling, grinding breakdown that twists and turns and never once allows the instrumental theme to become boring.
After their exceptional debut album a couple of years back, Clipping. return with a new EP, and the lead track continues the impressive work so far. As we already knew, this isn’t hip-hop/rap as you normally know it. The rapping is at hyperspeed, dragging the rhythm of the song in its wake, and the electronics have far more in common with industrial/power-noise than anything else – which makes perfect sense when you realise they have sampled Whitehouse. No, really.
Ooh, I like this. Female-fronted industrial-glitch rock with a grinding, heavy chorus. Yeah, so it isn’t breaking any new ground, but sometimes that is no bad thing. This is a new band revisiting ground others have trodden, but perhaps doing it better – and a band I’ll now be keeping an eye on to see what comes next.
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