It is, then, the week of another bloody election this week here in the UK, and there has been distinct signs of just how fucked off everyone seems to be with it across the coverage of it (not helped by the uptick in terrorist attacks in the country in recent weeks). Fuck knows what is going to happen on Thursday, mind, with opinion polls showing all kinds of outcomes.
296: Tracks of the Month (May 2017)
Still, we’re into June, which means the next round of new songs that you should hear. There has been a torrent of new release announcements in the past couple of weeks, but I’m sticking with just ten songs this month, and there may well be more when the Tuesday Ten series reaches 300 next month (and I have a few plans for that too).
One other thing I’ve completed – the entire Live Review archive is now online. The remainder of the album reviews will follow.
Track of the Month
Misery Loves Co.
After promising new material last year (including in an interview with amodelofcontrol.com), the first taste of that has now arrived, in the form of the first new MLC track in seventeen years. This picks up the strands of where the band left off, in some respects, as the song combines both the ominous darkness and the melody that the band were always so good at doing.
The heavy, heavy bassline is the lynchpin of the song, with Patrik Wiren’s growled delivery changing to a soaring, melodic glory for the chorus – the song threatens to explode into an industrial metal monster, but never does, instead practising restraint and sticking to a grinding, mechanical chorus that has a surprisingly human heart.
This is simply fantastic, and a wonderful return from a band who should never have left in the first place.
The long wait for the next Arcade Fire album is nearly over, with the title track from it dropping at the end of the last week, and it picks up where ‘Reflektor’ left off, with a driving, loose gospel-and-string-tinged song that is frankly fucking glorious – and once again will likely sound absolutely amazing sung back by crowds of thousands. Arcade Fire seem to me to be about the idea of shared experience, where the hopes, frustrations and fears are experienced together in a way that makes their music the most astonishingly, amazingly uplifting thing, even in their darkest moments. I don’t how they manage it, but I’m happy for them to keep doing so.
The title about sums it up – KMFDM are back with their first new material in a few years, and it appears that, from this lead single at least, that their retro trip this year is revisiting the mighty Megalomaniac. So: this a notably more electronic track than they’ve released in a while, with the guitars very much in the background (aside from the amazing kick-up into the chorus, which is KMFDM doing exactly what they do best). For once, too, I don’t think they namecheck themselves (the first lead single where that hasn’t happened in *years*), and it’s all the better for it. More serious, more catchy, better than before. Here’s hoping that, this time, the album matches up.
Color of Nothing
I have to say that I was surprised to find that it was so long since the band’s last studio album Counting To Zero. Much has changed in the past six years in the wider musical world, and it appears that Collide have also made a few changes. Everything about the new album is harder edged, less ethereal and much more direct. Nowhere is this shown better than the sprawling opener Wake Up, full of squalling, seething guitars, punchy drums and clever programming – all with Karin’s vocals swooning over the top. It’s great to have this now long-lived band (they’ve remarkably been doing this for over two decades now) back.
United States of Horror
I’ve managed to miss every single one of their (reportedly insane) London shows so far, including a tiny secret gig that looked like it was just on the right side of a riot the other week. But the new album kicks ass. A mix between industrial punk, DIY hip-hop, samples and straight up punk/grindcore madness, there is a lot to process in forty-six minutes here. Remarkably one of the songs here has made it to daytime play on 6Music (!), and that is City Rejects – an exceptional, two-minute tear through eighties hardcore punk stylings that is immensely catchy with it.
Every Country’s Sun
There is always a frisson of excitement when a new Mogwai album is announced (at least in my own world), and this song delivers that excitement with the bass sound harking back to their earlier, more savage days, one where there was an ominous build to their music, and you weren’t quite sure exactly what was going to hit you next in their sonic assault. They are of course long past that now, having taken their broadly-post-rock sound into electronic and soundtrack realms, with atmosphere being far more important than brute force. And so it is here, with a pretty melody floating on solid bedrock that does finally bare some teeth, hitting another level without ever resorting to guitar violence. Twenty years and more into their career, and they remain a fascinating, enigmatic band.
Cigarettes After Sex
A band with a curious story – they released music a few years ago, all-but sank without trace, and then blew up virally out of the blue last year. Their new album is due out next month, and the lead single from it is an extraordinary, spaced-out wonder. There is more than a bit of a nod to Mazzy Star (Incidentally, Mazzy Star’s longtime drummer passed away the other week), in the vast empty spaces in the production, the gentle rhythms, the guitar sounds…but there is something more carnal about this band, from the band name through to the lyrics, even the feel of the music. The album is out this month.
Give It All
Pulse Code Misery
A band that appeared on a Glitch Mode compilation a while back with the tech-industrial monster Evoke (which also appears here, in a slightly different version), their long-promised and long-awaited debut album has now been released. Being as they are on Glitch Mode, there is the distinct “house style” of production (I’m fairly sure Sean Payne is involved somewhere), but RELIC are no cookie-cutter band, relying heavily on mechanised groove and unusually clean vocals for this style of music. They are also unafraid to take on slower, heavier grooves, but to be honest their more dancefloor-friendly tracks are the best here, and the spiralling downwards chorus of Give It All and the charging pace sticks long in the memory.
Planet Earth First
Forms of Hands 17
The mighty Winterkalte return with another one-off track (the chances of another album look remote, after all this time, although S.K.E.T. did release their first new album in some years just recently…), this time on this year’s Forms of Hands compilation. If you don’t like them anyway, this will do nothing to convert you – this is uncompromising, bludgeoning industrial beats, complete with all kinds of scorching synths and effects attacking from all sides. The video, though, is where the title makes more sense, as said brilliant imagery (seriously, this is very well put-together video) detailed just how fucked our planet could be. Which with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last week, has made the fight to save the planet that bit harder.
Another band returning recently after a lengthy absence have been northern metal band KILL II THIS, who were quite the thing around the turn of the millenium, with their industrial/electronic-tinged metal, which pushed a few controversial buttons at points and was otherwise just damned good. Their return over the past couple of years was unexpected but welcome, and there was always hints of new music – and this is the first taste of it. They appeared to have jettisoned most of the samples and electronics, switching direction towards a more straight-up metal approach. It certainly suits the current vocalist (who has an impressive range), and as a metal song it’s great, but without all those electronics, it doesn’t sound a great deal like the KIIT of old, at least to me.