We’re nearing the end of the year, which means that I’ve only one, or maybe two, /Tracks of the Month roundups left after this in 2019 (I should clarify – because of the way release schedules work and the way that I write, my end of year lists appear on successive Tuesdays in early December and cover from December to November). So I’m now fully into considering what might be the best material of 2019, and this month has offered more food for thought.
/Tracks of the Month/Sep 2019
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2019
Indeed, I did wonder whether I needed to write about more than ten songs this month, but I’ve held over one or two to potentially feature next month instead. So this is, as usual, the best ten songs of the past month, covering Industrial and a few other genres besides as my musical tastes go way beyond that, and I can’t be bothered being entirely pigeonholed.
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
/Information Overload (Same As Always)
/The Trigger Effect
I’ve been writing about Cyanotic on /amodelofcontrol.com for over fourteen years, since I first heard Transhuman (/But Listen/015…in Jul-05!), and after a relatively fallow period where releases were few-and-far-between, Sean Payne’s tech-cyber-industrial project has had a steady stream of releases in the past few years. This new release, The Trigger Effect, though, is their best in years. Mostly eschewing the downbeat industrial-ambient explorations for foot-on-the-throat heaviness, it rams you back against the wall from the off with this storming track, where the band turn the beats and bass up to eleven for a thundering track that features Rollins from Johnny Mnemonic assisting Payne in trying to deal with these media-and-(dis)information saturated times.
/It’s Coming It’s Real
The end of the last “phase” of Swans was perhaps logical. After four albums since reformation in 2010, and an evolution that resulted in epic track and album lengths, and equally punishing shows as a result, where else could Michael Gira and his band take it? The answer appears to be a dialling back of the sonic intensity, if this first track from the upcoming new album, and the beginning of a distinct new phase, is anything to go by. Less of a band and more of a revolving collective now, the lead track features Anna and Maria von Hausswolff offering almost soothing backing harmonies, as Gira delivers one of his dark lullabies that sways, swoons and leaves you almost in a trance by the end.
A much-anticipated release, this – and not just from this site, where KANGA’s debut album was #1 on /Countdown/2016/Albums – and it seemed to be subject to unspecified delays, but it has been worth the wait. There has been an intriguing pivot in style, too, as the overt pop edges have been roughed up somewhat, but without losing any of the panache that got us interested in the first place. The hooks are still there, too, as this song charges forward, and this song appears to have a double meaning. There is a failing relationship that could perhaps be resurrected and saved, but also a metaphor for KANGA moving forward – “we can burn it down and start again“. This isn’t as drastic a change musically as that suggests, but it is a notable one, and a brilliant one too.
A little unexpectedly, I interviewed Sascha K. of KMFDM last week (/Talk Show Host/057 refers), and his take on this song was rather less negative than perhaps I’d thought for a song whose key line is “This World is Paradise…for assholes“. Yes, this is KMFDM, doing what they do – and they are looking at the world in 2019 and, like many of us, are not impressed with what they see. But perhaps they see ways of doing things better. Either way, though, this lead track is slower, harder and heavier – and unexpectedly has a lengthy instrumental coda on the album that takes it to eight minutes in length! – and is a good lead into an album that sees KMFDM finding new and old sounds and collaborators for a more varied, adventurous release than we’ve heard from them in years.
/Just Do It
DEF NEON’s appearance at Infest last year – and their DJ set this year – were both notable for how diverse their influences obviously are, but also that they have a “we don’t give a fuck” attitude that means that their concepts work when in other hands they may not. Highlight of recent live sets is this new song, as it goes – the lead track from their upcoming second album, and easily their best song yet. Stabbing, peaking synths do the work of guitars until an epic solo arrives, Micky’s vocoder effects back up Emily’s forceful vocals, and this is a perfect example of how a band with a great live sound can translate it to record successfully – too many bands can’t do this, and should be taking notes.
I was impressed by the thumping power of Kontravoid supporting Boy Harsher at an incredibly sweaty show at Heaven earlier in the year, and their new album has dropped this week, led by this fantastic track that I must have been tapping my foot to at that show. Led by synths straight from the classic 80s EBM playbook, the beats come hard and fast, the vocals work neatly to aid the momentum, and this is catchy as fuck, even when constructed as minimally as this.
/You Must Be New Here EP
I’ve written extensively about Chicago-based band Ganser in recent years, and I make no apologies for featuring them again, as they continue to be fucking great. Describing them as simply post-punk seems to sell them vastly short, as their sound also takes from the more obscure ends of eighties indie in the UK, but most importantly retains a sense of mystery and impenetrability that has so made them stand out. The vocals here are pushed higher into the mix, but with an ambiguity and drawl that leaves this listener wanting to try and understand, while enjoying that glorious cascade of guitar as the song takes flight. See also the exceptional statement of a video that accompanies it.
/Cult of Luna
/Lay Your Head to Rest
/A Dawn to Fear
Cult of Luna are one of those bands that I’ve never quite listened to with rapt attention, and having now listened through to their astoundingly dark and intense new album a number of times, I’m beginning to realise that I’ve got some catching up to do. This track is astounding – a monstrous bassline anchors a track that swells and rolls like the ocean on a beach, guitars and synths that work together to provide what sounds like a symphony of noise above, and vocals that unexpectedly roar offer a tender embrace, a shelter from the storm. The shortest song on this staggering, eight-track, seventy-nine minute behemoth of an album, it is possibly the best metal album I’ve heard all year.
/On Graveyard Hill
/Beneath the Eyrie
Finally, a post-reformation Pixies song that actually sounds like Pixies, and also actually sounds like they care. It’s taken them long enough. Pretty much, I’ve avoided their post-reformation material aside from the odd cursory listen – absolutely nothing grabbed me like their “original” material, simply as it didn’t sound remarkable at all. Perhaps that was because times had changed – Pixies were no longer a band changing alternative music as they went along, instead trying to create lightning in a bottle a second time (which almost never happens). Maybe they just needed to be able to do their own thing, without a weight of expectation that has seemed to nearly destroy them so far. And here, they have – Black Francis is howling about the Witching Hour and a lady called Donna casting spells and bewitching him, suddenly the music has bite again, and hey presto! Pixies sound like Pixies again, after nearly thirty years.
/No Treasure But Hope
The ever-remarkable Tindersticks – have they ever released even a middling album? – appear to be ready to continue with an unexpected new album next month. I say unexpected as this one seems to have materialised with little notice, and has been recorded quickly, pretty much capturing near-live recording. However it was recorded, though, this lead track is wracked with sadness. Stuart Staples – never exactly a singer full of joy, it has to be said – here sounds like his life has collapsed in on him, such is the impact of his vocals. I’m intrigued to hear what else they’ve come up with on this new album.