Tuesday Ten: 121: Tracks of the Month (January 2011)

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Time for the first roundup of new music to recommend for 2011 – it’s my Tracks of the month January 2011.

Track Of The Month:


Another stonking brute of dancefloor industrial from KMFDM, this is their best single in years. Someone has lit a fire under the band, judging on this track – vocals furiously spat out by Sacha K. in classic KMFDM sloganeering style, and the beats and riffs are in perfect lockstep as it rips out of the speakers. All three versions I’ve heard so far are pretty fucking good, but the Komor Kommando remix looks like it’s the pick of the bunch.

Admit Defeat

A new band who I don’t really know an awful lot about, other than that their first few tracks have been quite astounding technical metal, that while using similar techniques to Meshuggah (just check that bass sound) are rather more melodic. I’m pretty confident that this band may well catch on pretty quickly, and I’m really looking forward to an album from them.

We Are Crowd v1.6
Electronic Body Matrix Vol. 1

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So, hands up who really thought Cubanate would ever return? No? Thought not. Neither did I, to be honest, but on the evidence of this I’m glad they have. To say they’ve picked up from where they left off with the rather divisive Interference would be doing them a disservice, as this has none of the drum’n’bass or wall of sound approach that so dominated that album. It has the mechanical rhythms of old, but a rather more organic sound (is that a real drum kit used?), and Marc Heal’s bark is present and correct. My big hope for music in 2011, though, is that they play live again…

Anna Calvi
Anna Calvi

I’m always a little suspicious of the whole business of the BBC “Sound of…” every year, as it always appears to be the wishlist of the record labels to be successful in the forthcoming year, rather than a real list of genuinely interesting and intriguing music for the new year. But there are always exceptions to every rule, and here is mine this year. This album really appears to have caused divisions in reviews, but I rather like it. If nothing else, she has a fabulous, domineering voice that simply demands to take centre stage on every song. Reminiscent at points of PJ Harvey, she also brings to mind singers of generations past, but musically her songs sound pretty different to anything else around at present. Which can only be a good thing – too much “new” music of late has simply been “cookie-cutter” stuff. Anyway, onto this song: I simply can’t get it out of my fucking head. Sultry, brassy and bent on bigger things, clearly, this is some way to introduce herself to the wider music world.

Oh My Heart
Collapse Into Now

Christ, this sounds like the REM of old, and it’s fucking marvellous for it. A tender, delicate ballad apparently about New Orleans, it’s the kind of song they excelled at back when they were globe-straddling superstars around the time of Automatic For The People, and it’s just gorgeous. Also of note is the second song I’ve heard from the album, the single Mine Smell Like Honey, which for all the world sounds like it should come from one of their late-80s masterpieces – urgent, fast-paced rock with a massive, massive chorus. R.E.M. appear to have discovered the magic again, at least in these two songs – perhaps I should be looking out for the new album after all, as I definitely wasn’t expecting this.

Judge of My Domain
Modern Ruin

I’m still not 100% taken with the new, and long-awaited, Covenant album. It’s not worrying me yet, though, for two reasons – one, that Northern Light also took bloody ages to get into, and two, it has tracks like this on it. It’s exactly what Covenant do best – the slow build, the dancefloor-friendly beats, the detached vocal, and an absolute monster of a skyscraping chorus. Somehow I suspect this is going to be a live favourite pretty quickly…

Asian Dub Foundation
A History of Now
A History of Now

I didn’t even realise they were still around, to be honest, but this is still as awesome as I remember them. An ultra-energetic mix of rock, rap and asian sounds, no band has sounded like them before or since – and while fashions in the music press changed and seemed to forget them, checking their website suggests that I have a few albums to catch up on myself. They are playing live on Thursday night at ULU, I’m still debating whether to go or not. You can download this track, by the way, for free on their website.

Ace of Hz
The Best of Ladytron

Ten years of Ladytron already? Blimey. Any anniversary that a band reach seems to be a good excuse for a retrospective of some sort, and Ladytron are no exception, with a best-of coming in March (despite there having been only four albums so far). Still, the tracklist seems to have got the balance right, including this rather lovely new track, which is better than just about anything other than Black Cat from the last album (definitely a good thing). Better still there’s a new studio album coming later in the year, too.

Ghost & Writer
Man On A Wire

Yes, more Frank Spinath, but this time his intriguing new side-project with Jimmyjoe Snark III of The Weathermen, a band who I’ve heard a lot about but never actually heard. And having now read a bit into their background, I’m suddenly left wondering if this project is meant to be as serious as the press releases all suggest that it is. Apparently each song is a story, a short film noir-esque take. Not quite got the story of this one yet, but the music is sublime, a restrained, icy electro gem. Chalk up another album for the shopping list later this week…

Concrete Lung
Suicide High Rise
Versions of Hell

Concrete Lung emerged a year or so ago, with an impressively ugly, heavy take on bridging the divide between scuzzy metal and old-school industrial, and with a formidable live sound. And after such a good debut EP, I was really interested to hear their first full album. I got it on promo just before Christmas, and have listened to it a lot since – soaking up the detail so that I can get a fully informed review completed (which is getting there, I’m happy to add). What is most notable is that they have expanded their sound beyond the brutality of the EP, with a real variety of styles in use. The most striking, though, is the vicious industrial punk of this track, which storms by in less than two minutes.

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