As we hurtle headlong through the summer – it’s my birthday next weekend, and Infest just three short weeks after that – it is time already for another roundup of the tracks of the month, and I have to admit I’m already starting to consider what might be making the end of year lists – although there is loads of interesting releases to come yet.
Google Play Music
Coming up soon on amodelofcontrol.com, by the way, are a few new interviews with some fascinating artists (a mix of new and older names), and the start of a new regular column that I’ll be revealing the details of in the fullness of time. In the meantime, on with this week.
(Also, see some of you, I’m sure, at SOS #2 this coming weekend – I’ll be there for both nights. I wouldn’t miss In Strict Confidence playing locally for the world)
Track of the Month
A Worthy Compensation
Their first new album in eight years is imminent, and the first taster of it came on the recent Dependent compilation. A crackling, pulsing synthpop beauty, frankly, with a glorious touch of melody and it’s catchy as hell – harder edged than I remember the band, but if the lengthy gestation period for this album has resulted in material that is all as good as this, it’s fine by me. Lyrically it’s kinda standard fare, at least initially – an unattainable beauty who entrances everyone she meets – but it has an edge and a wicked, subtle sense of humour that elevates it above the norm. A warm welcome back.
Leave A Trace
Every Open Eye
I was really curious to see whether CHVRCHES could repeat the trick of their glorious debut album, and going on this first track from the follow-up, we needn’t have worried. The lyrics are still as bitter as before – Lauren Mayberry has an amazing way with articulating the darker side of relationships, the way they collapse into recrimination and heartbreak, and here she excels herself with a stoic fuck-you to a previous lover who is telling a very different take on whatever happened between them. Musically, it’s another pristine, shimmering synthpop effort, with various effects and motifs bubbling up to the surface but never letting Lauren’s voice lose the spotlight.
Jason Novak and Chris Connelly have wasted no time in following up last year’s debut tvmalsv with the imminent Corporate_Sting. There were many great things about that first album – and it’s grown on me more, the more I’ve listened to it, too – and this first taste of the new release suggests that they aren’t trying to fix anything that wasn’t broken. This rolls along on a flatbed of bristling electronics and brawling beats, with Chris Connelly fighting to make his voice heard amid the sonic maelstrom being unleashed around him. Roll on Infest and Cold Waves – they are of course playing both.
And My Father Left Forever
Feel The Misery
MDB celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary this year – actually, maybe not celebrate, it doesn’t seem an appropriate word for this band – and return with their first new album in a couple of years, and it is also notable for the return of Calvin Robertshaw (the original guitarist). Let’s be honest, though, there is no real departure to their sound here. Unlike Paradise Lost, who suffered the wrath of their fans when they dared to experiment with their style, MDB simply shrugged off any complaints (and you know, in hindsight? 34.788%…Complete is a great album) and have continued to forge their own way forward – which is dark, punishing doom metal with a surprisingly romantic and dramatic edge. This first song from their new album is an elegaic, lengthy lament that appears to see Aaron Stainthorpe dealing with the loss of close family members, and shows that the band’s core is still in rude health.
Call To Destruction
What Should Not Be Unearthed
Nile are back, and they are absolutely fucking furious. A bone-dry hurricane of riffage and blastbeats, this takes us into the mind of religious zealots that are destroying priceless historical artifacts in the name of their god, and Nile are deeply unimpressed with what they see. What I find amazing about Nile, though, is that despite their extreme, brutal sound, they have an uncanny knack of making their music interesting, varied and listenable – something a number of other death metal acts do really do with paying attention to. They play the Dome on 08-Sep with Suffocation, and I intend to be there.
It has been a long time since the last HEALTH album proper – six years! – but in the meantime they’ve released a soundtrack to a blockbuster video game (Max Payne 3), which has probably brought them more exposure than anything else they’ve done has. Going on the recent show in London, too, I’m fairly certain it hasn’t resulted in them compromising on their sound at all – that was a punishing hour or so of a set, and a satisfying mix of old and new that displayed how talented a bunch of musicians they are, and also how many different elements they manage to stuff into their sound. This track, though, is in the realms of the brilliant DIE SLOW – an industrial-influenced noise pop song that allows the vocals to the fore (one of their few songs to make them intelligible at all), but while it has a vocal hook or two, it also has a lot of stabbing, glitchy synths that remind nicely that even if this band are now showing a velvet gloved hand to greet the mainsteam, it is one with glass splinters embedded in it.
The Problem with Redheads
I have absolutely no problem with redheads, and no problems with this gorgeous, dreamy song, either. This is shoegaze with a sleepy, early-hours feel that manages to create this atmosphere and feel with barely any guitars at all, the mix making the drowsy beats and weeping synths all sound slightly out of focus. Vocally this doesn’t half sound like Liz Fraser, too, with the difference being that you can at least make out some of the words…
Daniel Myer’s relentless schedule continues, with both a new Architect album and a Haujobb album due in the coming months. Although we’ve had the odd new Haujobb track in the past year (particular that stellar collaboration with Jean-Luc de Meyer), this is the first new Architect material since the extraordinary Mine, and intriguingly it sees Daniel Myer shifting restlessly with another new approach. The elegant, soulful vocals of Emese Arvai-Illes remain, but instead of the downbeat electronics and glitchy drops that characterised Mine, this is harder-edged, reminiscent of Architect of old but without ever overpowering those vocals. Of course, this may not be representative at all of the album, but either way, it is a fascinating starting point.
I’ve not been a fan of recent IAMX work, to be honest, but this new release is the best thing Chris Corner has put out in ages. At first a bleak, monochrome song entirely at odds with the title, what seems to be a song wallowing in it’s own misery suddenly bursts into life at the first chorus, with multitracked vocals screaming out of nowhere and Corner shows a range and power I never even knew he had.
I always felt that I should have liked Crystal Castles more than I actually did. There were moments where they were absolutely fascinating, but to me they always seemed a better idea than they ever were in practice. This first taste of Alice Glass’s solo work since her departure from Crystal Castles, though, really is quite something. For a start, this is brutal, jagged industrial noise that just happens to have the forceful vocals of Alice Glass over it – but also, it is a fascinating clash of ideas that works brilliantly. Finally, the proceeds go to a good cause too.