The end of the first full calendar month of lockdown – a month where I’ve barely travelled more than 1km beyond the confines of our flat, and have, in musical terms, otherwise been involved in livestreams and listening to an awful lot of music (both from my own collection and online) while spending even more time at home (I work from home anyway) than usual.
/Tuesday Ten/407/Tracks of the Month/Apr-20
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2020
The good thing, for me, anyway, is that the torrent of new music has not abated at all. In fact, there’s probably even more around than usual, and this has meant that I’ve been having to juggle what was to be included here. I actually ran out of time this week, finally stopping at featuring fifteen songs, with at least five more held over to be featured next month (partly as those five also needed more listening to get what I wanted to write sorted out). Also, this is why I’m continuing with my posts, including these /Tracks of the Month posts. Indeed, perhaps these are more important than ever. We need to find ways to help artists out while they aren’t touring, be that by sharing new music, buying new music, even streaming new music. So consider this part of my own assistance for the greater good.
As many of you may have noticed, I’m uninterested in sticking to particular styles of music. My tastes in music don’t fit into one particular box, and thus what I write about here won’t be confined as such either.
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
/Fetch the Bolt Cutters
I mean, I could literally include all thirteen songs from this album this month, it is so, so searingly brilliant. A whirlwind of Apple’s strident voice – entirely out of fucks and rising to fight back against everyone, but also casually fearless in her support of other women too – sinuous bass, an arsenal of unlikely percussion and even dog backing vocals, this album is the first near-flawless release in a while, but also one that demands listen-after-listen as your brain catches onto something that just happened, or something that was just said, and you have to listen again to go “really?!?”. And then marvel at the brilliance and chutzpah.
One of the best – and appropriate, right now – images to come from the album comes from the lovely, waltzing Cosmonauts, that has perhaps a slightly lighter touch than some of the other songs here. It compares a couple trying to deal with each other in the confines of living together, to a pair of cosmonauts stuck with each other in space, and true to the concept, the song eventually begins to spin off its axis into a thrilling, wild climax.
A friend noted on the day of release that Fiona Apple sounds liberated here. Yeah, liberated by being free to do absolutely what she wants, let her imagination run wild in the music she wanted to make, be able to say the things she needed to say – and that many needed to hear. For once, too, it is a testament to her record label that they allowed this to happen, as the raw intensity and glorious songs here needed no further input. Album of the year contender? Too fucking right it is.
/Operation C.O.C.K.S.U.R.E. EP
One of the many releases that all dropped at once on Friday (when Bandcamp was waiving their artist fees – something that’s happening every first Friday of the month for the foreseeable, it seems) was this unexpected new EP from Cocksure, and it’s well worth picking up. The pick of the EP is the title track, which takes a little while to wind up, but once Chris Connelly gets unleashed, all bets are off. A thundering, groovy rhythm backs up Connelly in full rant mode, as he appears to offer his vision of the country, one where various less savoury – or less progressive – elements might face his wrath and have to answer for everything. Operation Cocksure, by the way, was actually a suicidal WWII plan that thankfully was never realised.
It feels like it has been an age since the last new Youth Code material – and aside from their solid collaboration with HEALTH, it has been four years since the excellent Commitment to Complications. This new track, though, gives an inkling into how their style and sonic interests might have shifted that little bit more in those four years. It still has the vicious, punk-edged kick that makes Youth Code so great, but it also has more reflective moments, more…space. Youth Code remains one of the most fascinating of the newer breed of industrial bands forging ahead with their own ideas, as in a short time they’ve managed to fashion a recognisable sound that isn’t getting old – indeed it perhaps points towards an intriguing future.
/Just Look At That Sky
I’ve written a lot about Ganser since they first began to emerge from Chicago, and their sound has gradually evolved, with a distinct feeling to start with that they were still feeling their way forward into what suited them best. That has transpired to be enigmatic, quasi-experimental noise-rock with post-punk influences. Doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, that description, but their music does. The first trip into the upcoming new album comes with a song and video that is as dark as the first vinyl release is bright, canary yellow. Lucky is an abrasive, scratchy beast, as cynical in outlook as it is savage in tone, a nod to a particular type of Chicago band that came before them. As I’m thinking, all too often, at the moment: “hell of a day…hell of a day”.
/New Colossal Hate
/Lamb of God
After some time away – after what Randy Blythe has been through over the past decade, a break might have been necessary – the first tasters of their upcoming album hark back to the brutality of their earlier years, especially this monster of a track. The drums in particular sound sharp-edged, while the riffs come at you like battering rams, and yes, it has a brutal breakdown that is very much moshpit friendly. Lyrically, too, the song has teeth – decrying the rise of autocrats and the vicious inequalities that result. Lamb of God were always among the more interesting of the new breed of straight-up metal bands, and this fantastic new song reminds why.
Psychedelic, proggy Black Metal is not a style I’m going to be selling to my wife anytime soon, but I’ll be playing this quite a bit in the future. Frankly, this is an absorbing, overwhelming listen – six lengthy songs that take Black Metal into mind-blowing, cosmic realms and is worth sticking with for every minute of the fifty-minute runtime. This song is built upon a hypnotic, terse rhythm that owes more to CAN than any Scandinavian band, never mind their similarly-minded forebears, but above it are scrawled terrifying howls, bursts of seething guitars, synth squalls and a whole lot of “what the ever-loving fuck was that?”. This is far fucking out, man.
Stumbled across thanks to 3TEETH (who this band were due to support in LA on a now-postponed tour), the world of industrial-metal is very much alive and kicking. This band – who’ve already had an intriguing short-film made about them – clearly have a good line in catchy, spiky songs, if this one is any evidence. Drums and riffs tumble around groovy, hook-laden synths, and the song bursts nicely into a ripping chorus that you can just imagine being roared back by a sweaty crowd. Already signed to Roadrunner, a bright future awaits, I’ll hazard.
I’d only lamented their recent silence recently on /transmission/019 (the /amodelofcontrol.com podcast covering the a-z of industrial music, if you’re not aware), so it’s rather great to hear the return of this mysterious act. They’ve long moved on from being tagged as “Witch House”, really – they, whoever they are, prefer the threatening term “Bloodwave” – and this EP continues that gradual drift. The pace is still relatively slow, but this is ominous, dark stuff, that would be very much at home soundtracking some kind of psychological horror film. An excellent return.
Talking of experimentation, this arrived on promo the other week, and if you’re going to get my attention, one way is to have a band name as awesome as this. Being somewhere on the cusp of post-metal, jazz and experimental electronics, this initially appears to be another, mellowed out post-metal piece. But stick with it, and out of what appears to be a calm pool comes choppy, chugging guitars, off-kilter drums and a general feeling of a band that are restless, and want to muddy the waters a bit. Consider myself ready for the full album, when it comes in summer.
/Letter from Hadyn Park-Patterson
/Letters to Gods (and fallen angels)
The upcoming album from Jean-Marc Lederman continues his recent policy of collaborative releases, this new one around the concept of letters to a higher power (and I go into much more detail on this with Jean-Marc on /Talk Show Host/062 that was published this morning). There is, needless to say, something of a contemplative feel to the release, as the wide variety of artists involved grapple with some fairly deep concepts. One of the intriguing and unexpected vocalists here is Hadyn Park-Patterson, from Glasgow band The Ninth Wave, and their song is a beautiful, dreamy, piano-led song that takes you into the deep blue sky.
/Matte Black Smile
It’s been an awfully long time coming – it was originally meant to be released in 2012, and I seem to recall that I was sent an early pre-release copy back then by the long-gone label Juggernaut – and in the meantime Tara Lessard, once of the band, has passed away (her vocals feature here, too). But finally, David Giuffre has completed this album, and you know what? It’s worth the wait. This track, in particular, is fantastic. A slower-paced stomp, it strips away down to the beat and vocals for the verses, before whipping up an impressive whirlwind of a chorus. Full review of this album to follow in the next week or so.
/A Violent Breed
/A Violent Breed EP
I’ve featured this band before, their anthemic industrial metal, strangely enough, striking a chord with me pretty quickly. Sure, there are nods to their influences (remember when Marilyn Manson was good?), but they have a relentless, searing style that’s likely to gain them a lot of friends quickly. This track doesn’t hang about, either, processed, chopping riffs that change up into a roaring, anthemic groove that makes me want to flail about the room. Now signed to Armalyte Industries, expect their new album later this year…
Another group to return after a little time away is Cease2xist, whose harsh industrial/metal hybrid feels like it has evolved into a new form on this malevolent new track. Chrysalis has an impressive, dark feel, as it gradually builds into a monster of a track that casts a long shadow. There are bass elements, electro-rhythms, distorted vocals and lots and lots of space, creating suspense and dread as you expect a heavy drop that never actually comes. This is an exercise in unexpected restraint and is all the better for it.
Remarkably one of three releases from Heavy Water Factory in the past month – there has also been the Going the Social Distance EP and the remaster/re-release of the lost-classic Author of Pain – this track reminds neatly why I loved them in the first place. The dense, precise electronics provide the base for an exciting, memorable track that while something of a throwback to the nineties, has more than enough of the feel of now to make it feel a vital release in 2020.
/In Your Own Blood
/There Is No Redemption
W.A.S.T.E. first came to my attention around 2006, with their vicious album This Is What We Seek – and the roaring industrial noise of that and the follow-up EP Violent Delights saw them gain the rare honour in this house of being outright banned from being played in the presence of my now-wife (that might particularly be down to an infamous incident where I unleashed Suburban Crime Scene at Autonomy late in the night, and nearly deafened most of the club in the process). They’ve toned down the aural violence a bit since, having instead moved toward ominous, pitch-dark grooves that are no less threatening, just maybe a bit less loud (although it would have been hard for them to have retained that intensity and volume for ever!). This new album is unexpectedly vocal heavy, the vocals treated and distorted to fit the thundering, slow-paced rhythms, and this track feels especially nasty (and even better for it), with synths tearing into the mix like buzzsaws.