Back ’round to the end of another month already, and I’m pulling the usual first-week-of-the-month Tracks of the Month post forward by a week, for reasons that really only make sense to me. Well, that and I have ten great songs that I’m already bursting to talk about.
/Tracks of the Month/March 2019
/Tuesday Ten/2019 in Review
They include releases I’ve been waiting a while for, bands I’d never heard of before hearing these songs, and a few old favourites that I’ll pick up every release that they put out. As always, there isn’t a theme or stylistic link to everything other than that I like it. But it would be great if you checked out the songs, by whichever playback option that you choose.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Track of the Month
As I’ve noted before, I get a lot of promo material in my inbox, and it’s pretty much impossible to keep up (note to promoters who do send me stuff – I can’t always reply due to time constraints, please don’t chase on repeat). But sometimes, things pique my interest, and this one was one of those. I know next to nothing about this industrial duo other than that they are from Austin, TX, and on the evidence of this track, they have more than a passing knowledge of classic industrial stylings.
This track is nasty. It’s malevolent and snarling, with treated, pitch-shifted vocals from the depths of hell and a dense, pounding mix that allows the synth hooks to drag the drums along with them. In short, it’s exactly the kind of industrial music I love and as soon as I get more than twenty minutes spare, I’ll be checking out the rest of the album.
/High on the Hog
I was a massive fan of their debut album New Metal, and the wait is over for new material from this now-relocated band (of the duo, Chris has now moved to New York from Brisbane). Despite the move, though, there’s no jetlag in their turbocharged sound. The propulsive grooves and cool, bouncing synths are all present and correct, as is their knack with a hook that makes it immediately obvious who the song is by. Probably one of the best new-EBM artists out there right now, if you’ve not heard them yet, get on it.
Another band that I know next-to-fuck-all about thus far are this Bristol group, who came to my attention – of all things – by way of a Facebook promoted post. So they do work from time to time. It is an intriguing, unsettling listen, too. Something of a Battles influence leaps out of this elastic, cleverly-paced track, as synths and thumping drums and treated guitars and yet more synths all fight among themselves for prominence in a song that completely changes shape after the first few minutes, into a thrilling rush that owes a lot to techno, that’s for sure. Quite where the fuck they go after this brilliance I have no idea, but I’m all ears.
It seems like it had been an age, but I reacquainted myself with the ever-excellent Amnistia at BIMFest before Christmas, and their sixth album finally drops next week (three years on from Dawn). I’ve rather lost track with a lot of German industrial bands in recent times, as – at least to these ears – the sounds from there have been stagnating somewhat, with little of the progress and forward motion in scenes elsewhere. But there are still diamonds within, and Amnistia is one of those. They call their sound “Bodywave”, presumably as they straddle the line between cold-wave industrial and Body Music, but there is also still humanity within their sound even with the thundering, dancefloor-ready beats. The title track to the excellent new album is one of the moments where they slow things down a bit, and from the lyrics appear to be dealing with issues of mental health. The stepped, dual-tracked vocal chorus is also quite unusual but works really well here.
One thing that has been interesting this month is that, after last month’s post being dominated by rock and metal, this month it is very much back to the industrial stylings that I love more than anything else. So we continue with more industrial, this time from Toronto-based band Odonis Odonis, who seem to be releasing new material at a prodigious rate – this new EP follows three albums in the last four years. The first track from it is a woozy, disorienting stomper of a track that brings to mind noisier, instrumental artists like Izsoloscope at points as the synths coalesce like wraiths across the vocals. This band continue to evolve, and right now it seems like their next phase is going to have an awful lot of teeth.
/The Beta Machine
I remember mentioning in passing this band a couple of years ago, and with nothing else heard of them, I thought that the project had disbanded. Apparently not, with a new album coming very soon. With a history in other bands (a couple of them are in the current form of A Perfect Circle), there is a polished edge to what they do, but it is very much the case that they don’t owe a great deal to the bands they come from. There is an airy grace to this song in particular, with burbling synths at the fringes of a sleek, alternative rock groove and twin, male/female vocals that give this lovely, melodic song a fresh sound that I really like.
Another artist with what feels like a relentless release schedule at the moment is Slighter, but at least they are using each release to experiment with styles somewhat. This one plunges headlong into spacey techno-industrial, with a steady build that promises and teases but snatches away an expected drop and instead proceeds at a sedate rather than relentless pace, and perhaps actually it is a better call. Although with a “single mix” that is five minutes long, I do wonder quite how long this might get stretched out to on the forthcoming full-length release…
/Meat Beat Manifesto
Who would have expected Jack Dangers and his MBM project to continue for thirty-two years? Few artists, especially in the electronic/dance arena, have remained relevant for a fraction of that time, as tastes and styles have moved so fast – in fact, as fast as technology has developed to create the music. But on the evidence of this excellent, choppy breakbeat-led track, Dangers is still absolutely relevant, interesting and well worth hearing.
/Wheeltappers and Shunters
Any band whose debut single – some twenty-two years ago, mind – was called I.P.C. Subeditors Dictate Our Youth and was every bit as acidic and brave as the title suggests (IPC were the publisher of the NME and Melody Maker at the time), was going to get me interested, and I saw this band a few times live at the time, and only returned back to them when they unexpectedly supported Mogwai in London a few years back. The surgical scrubs worn onstage remained, of course, but there’s been precious little from them in the five years or so since – so I was surprised to find this new song on my radar this week. The song continues to feature their beloved vintage synthesisers, and there is something curiously English and “traditional” in the melody that I can’t quite put my finger on – backed up by the bio for the album suggesting that it is “a satirical take on British culture – both high and low”. I wonder if this might be another album feeding on the frankly quite bizarre world of politics that is dominating our discourse at the moment?
/November (Boulevard des Lices)
It’s been a few years since Jeays’ last album, and we had advance notice of this new one coming when he opened with this song at his traditional pre-Christmas show last December. Here it gains a string accompaniment and suddenly becomes even bleaker than it was live. Jeays’ time in Arles in his youth inspired two of his greatest early ballads (the desperation and beauty of Arles and October), and two-decades on from those songs, here’s a lush, elegant follow-up (along with another song called December that suggests that the story never had a particularly happy ending in terms of love. But it seems to have been a place and experience that left an indelible mark on him, evidence that troubled times sometimes inspire the most, in unexpected ways.