Back around to the /Tracks of the Month already, a bit sooner than usual for two reasons – one, last month’s was later than normal because of the way the dates fell, and two, well, you’ll see next week. The usual summer lull – well, in a relative sense – has also allowed me to catch up a bit, and it is actually ten songs this month, too.
/Tracks of the Month/Jul-20
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2020
But also, being almost entirely at home means that I’ve got more time to listen to music. More time to listen to the music I already love, and more time to discover the next release that I’ll love (of which there have already been quite a few this year). As well, 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.
There is the industrial music that is the core of what /amodelofcontrol.com has always been about, but there is also strays into the alternative and extreme metal spectrums. This rather reflects that I’m, at present, doing three Livestreams on a regular basis (the next ones can always be found here – this Thursday it is /TheKindaMzkYouLike/002.
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
/The Universal Want
It always felt like unfinished business when doves went on apparently indefinite hiatus a decade ago, and this was proven with the ecstatic reaction to their live return last year. I was at their extraordinary show at the Royal Albert Hall, that felt like a victory lap and a joyous outpouring of love and celebration all in one. That said, there were no new songs at the time, not that there needed to be then.
But the new songs have now begun trickling out, prior to their fifth album in September, and it feels like the band have rekindled their love of what they do. Prisoners is exactly what I love about the band, propulsive rhythms backing a gentle piano and Jimi Goodwin’s plaintive vocals, returning to a familiar subject in doves songs – dealing with your own mind and fighting back. As he told the NME recently, “A lot of Doves lyrics are shot through with that notion of having a word with yourself.”
Perhaps that’s why I love this band so much. Their songs are regular pick-me-ups, challenges to do better, to be better. As the song sweetly notes: “hello old friend, it’s been a while“. It’s fucking marvellous to have them back.
/Stravinsky’s Only Hit
/A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
I was perhaps a late convert to the joys of Sparks, but then, they’ve had something of a critical and creative renaissance in recent years – and twenty-four albums and nearly five decades into their career, they remain razor-sharp in both their arrangements and song-writing. One of the joyously clever highlights of their latest album is this fabulous mid-album song, which appears to celebrate, take the piss and to commiserate with Igor Stravinsky, imagining him as an embittered superstar, arms full of awards but still only remembered by the general public for one piece of music, which in some respects is perhaps at least partly true. Maybe it is Sparks turning their guns on the general public – as this orchestral-drenched song at least nods to some of Stravinsky’s music to my ears – chastising them for not appreciating this giant, towering influence of twentieth-century music.
Go listen to the entire album, though – there is more joy and coruscating wit than I could ever describe here to luxuriate in.
/The Jealous Star
A recent signing to Artoffact Records, their new album has, like everyone else’s, been delayed somewhat, but Thin Skies is now finally on the horizon, and going on the first couple of songs from it, it is going to be a must-buy. Sure, they are another post-punk band, but like their labelmates ACTORS in some respects, there are industrial electronics elbowing their way into the mix (here in the form of billowing clouds of synths sweeping across the speakers), but the real attraction here is that rhythm – the tumbling drum pattern is something else – as well as the calmly delivered vocals and the overall feeling of restraint, which is relieved by the exciting instrumental blow-out in the latter half of the track.
Wayne Static might have died back in 2014, but the surviving members of the original line-up reconvened a couple of years ago, with a “mystery” new vocalist to tour with them, and also to provide the vocals not already provided by Wayne Static on this album (they used some of the last recordings by him for this).
I must admit – I was left with some cynicism around this project. Usually “left over” vocal recordings are left in the studio with good reason, but this endlessly delayed album is a whole lot better than I might have expected – indeed probably the best release under the Static-X name since Wisconsin Death Trip. The most immediate track to my mind, though, is the industrial thunder of My Destruction, that ties in industrial electronics, thrash metal and even the odd nod to Death Metal in the vocals to fantastic effect.
/THEY KNOW WE KNOW THEY LIE
You can now buy the extended version of Manifesto for a Modern World digitally (following the outstanding double-vinyl release on Mecanica), but in a nod to the many who already have the first release of the album, this EP has wisely been released separately too. Whichever way you choose to obtain it, it is another essential purchase from this ever-excellent Sheffield artist.
Pick of the four new tracks, though, is the relentless drums and cut-up choral samples of Stateless, which eschews the usual vocal sample messaging for a direct dancefloor attack that becomes another powerful weapon in the R&M armoury.
In recent years, HEALTH appears to have been blowing off creative steam between albums by releasing one-off collaborations with a number of other notable artists, often with quite remarkable results. The latest dropped this past month, and what seems on the face of it an even more unlikely pairing than ever works brilliantly. Full of Hell are vicious death-grind, and their face-melting power, it turns out, works brilliantly combined with the industrial power of HEALTH. Just 136 seconds long, not for the first time, I’d love to hear more of this meeting of minds.
Another return I very much wasn’t expecting – Croc Shop (originally known as Crocodile Shop) has rematerialised out of nowhere, with their first new album in eighteen years, and it’s pretty good, too. The lead track is the sharp Empowered, a track that appears initially to be a bouncy dancefloor industrial work, but closer attention to the lyrics reveals it to be a darker, more powerful piece, as Croc Shop has returned swinging, very much in tune with these politically-charged times.
Thanks to my friends over at I Die: You Die for making me aware of the existence of this. A band with scant information online that I can find thus far, they have an album out in September and I’ll be ordering it post-haste. This is brutal, grinding industrial metal – punchy drum machine patterns combined with thick, heavy riffing and barked vocals, that’s so well produced that it sounds like it might reach out of the speakers and drag you in with it. More, please!
/Nightmare Of Being
/De Morte Aeterna
Black Metal has had something of a resurgence of late if you know where to look, and often the good stuff is coming from countries that you might not expect. The UK has a number of solid BM bands, and one such to return is Reign of Erebus, who after a decade away returns with a new album in September, and the first taste from it is a blasting furnace of savage Black Metal, ripping through at a pulsating tempo, thick layers of guitars, scorching blastbeats and vocals that actually have range. Incidentally, drummer Xjort returns to DJ /Stormblast/135 next week for the first time in many years.
/Turn to Shade
Released a few weeks ago, this debut solo track from Daevid Jael, guitarist for Rome Burns and Quasimodo, is an intriguing, downbeat piece. Certainly owing something to gothic rock, but also to more esoteric nineties alternative rock, that’s for sure, it has a gently swinging groove and a feeling of familiarity that I can’t quite put my finger on. I really like this, though, and I would very much need to hear more from the project.