For a variety of reasons, this past month has been an almighty slog, and last week I took a Tuesday off from the /Tuesday Ten series for the first time in well over a year (it always takes a scheduled break for the end of year /Countdown series in December, as well as over Christmas, the last time I took a similar such week off to last week was back in Nov-19).
But, I’m back this week with the usual round-up of the ten best songs of the past month – almost fourteen years to the day since I posted /Tuesday Ten/001 when the world was very different to now (and I was a whole lot less grey). I rather started this series as a way of formalising what were already occasional music posts, and I don’t think I ever really expected it to still be going in 2021.
I will continue doing this, though, even if my work life seems to encroach that ever bit more on the time I have to listen to music. Other posting has had to take a bit of a break, though, although that said there are a couple of recently completed interviews that need transcription finishing on, that should be posted in the next week or so. As well as all that, my Livestreams continue this week – this page gives you all the details.
As usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig or livestream I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
Unusually, it seems these days, working a long way ahead – the full album Spectrums isn’t apparently out until October – Canadian industrial band Odonis Odonis have released some of their best tracks yet as the first taste of it. Apparently assigned different colours, the first two blaze in shades of red, and what will be album closer Salesmen absolutely fucking seethes. Built around a stark drum pattern that kicks really, really hard, and blasts of noise that puntuate every other second or so, this is an utterly relentless, breathless track that certainly owes something to the early trailblazers of EBM, but none of them ever bottled the utter rage on display here. As I write this in the closing days of March, the best industrial track released in 2021 so far.
I’ve long been a fan of what is these days known as Noise Rock – the angrier, snarlier corners of alternative rock where things were and are rougher, nastier and often that bit weirder than the more mainstream stuff. Throat are a Finnish band, and were a new one on me when this exceptional track dropped into my feed, but they are right up my street. The huge-sounding drums bring to mind Killing Joke, the wild vocals The Jesus Lizard, but the unstoppable momentum and savage power on display here just makes me want more of what Throat are selling. And, is that Rick Smith of Underworld that did the video for this?
/Do Not Bow Down
Despite gaining a wider audience well beyond their native Chicago (including a number of well-received tours in the UK and Europe), HIDE have resolutely refused to temper their sound at all for wider acceptance. The first single from their third album is a case in point. Chopped, jagged beats hammer your ears from the speakers, synths wail like banshees, and Heather Gabel’s vocals are roared demands for regaining of the power of self, and the result is an exhilarating, challenging listen. HIDE keep getting better and better.
/Pay Your Way In Pain
The ever-fascinating, sonic and artistic chameleon that is St. Vincent returns, and after the slick electronic rock and deep balladry (and multiple reworkings thereof) of MASSEDUCTION, Annie Clark has made another abrupt turn. An album that apparently is dealing with the aftermath of her father being in jail for “white collar crime”, from the visual and audio touches of this first single, there’s a distinct, oh-so-sleazy seventies-vibe to this new material (just look at the soft-focus filming, the outfits, the hair, the groove…). But as well as that, this is St. Vincent going toe-to-toe with some of her idols, as this certainly has nods to “Plastic Soul” (so Young Americans-era) Bowie and the down-and-dirty funk of Prince – but crucially, you know instantly that it is St. Vincent, and it’s great.
/It Came To This
Hang on, it’s seven years since I first discovered Syd.31? /Memory of a Festival/022 confirms that it was Infest 2014 that they made a splash on the Sunday afternoon, and their full-on industrial punk has continued to intrigue since, but having had a couple of weeks with it before release, I think it’s fair to say that Machine Ready is their best work yet. Spanning far more styles than you might expect – drum’n’bass, punk, industrial, dub reggae and more jostle for space, often in the same song – this is an open-minded, fun thrash, and It Came To This is one of the highlights. Apparently a song about friends who won’t help others, the frantic rhythm was partly created by sampling cutlery and sticks dropped into buckets to get the right sound! You might feel like you’ve run a marathon after listening to this breathless album, but it’s worth the exertion.
/How We Got Here
/Roll The Dice
In the “unexpected releases of 2021” list, a new EP from Toni Halliday is probably top of the list. When Dean Garcia confirmed a couple of years back that Halliday had no interest in a Curve reunion, the general inference seemed to be that she had moved on from making music. Judging on this short-but-sweet EP, apparently not. The most striking thing about this, though, is the utter change in tone. Rather than the often-abrasive, raging power of Halliday’s vocals amid the sonic attack of Curve’s music, this is mostly more laid-back, softer synthpop, perhaps the sound of her being comfortable doing something different and unexpected. The one nod to the past comes in the glowering darkness of the ballad Fragile Seam, which builds a head of steam and then ends all too quickly.
/Form in Motion
Formed from the ashes of the ever-interesting DODECAHEDRON, this new band have made quite a statement with this blasting debut album. There is still the full force of (admittedly avant-garde leaning) Black Metal, but it no slave to one style, using additionally bass-heavy textures, glitchy experimental electronics, and a distinct industrial sturm und drang. Turbulence pulls in nods to Aborym, Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad and Fear Factory to name just four, with epic chugging breakdowns, ultra-technical drum patterns, melodic vocals, and a feel of gigantic mass looming over the whole thing. Needless to say, it’s great.
Back in the old days of the initial run of /Stormblast in Sheffield in the late 2000s, I encouraged regulars to recommend or bring new music, and that policy has been retained on the Livestream version, as I’ve encouraged recommendations (it’s so easy to buy from Bandcamp that I can literally turn around a request in minutes if needed). It has brought about some great finds, such as this – a deathgrind/math metal band from London called Pupil Slicer. There is an awful lot going on here. Face-melting grind, whip-cracking tempo changes, howls into the void, moments of dark ambient… the most remarkable thing is that there are only three of them, frankly. Opening track Martyrs grabs you by the throat – by demonstrating all of what they can apparently do at once – but even more impressive is the fifty-second battering ram that is Stabbing Spiders. Fucking hell…
The Horrors have long been unafraid of changing styles – their initial garage-punk was replaced by stately shoegaze, and while last album V nodded toward electronic rock, I don’t think I was ever expecting them to go full-on industrial metal. Clearly, someone in the band has been paying close attention to Nine Inch Nails, that’s for sure. Whiplash is full of lyrical nods to Closer, but sonically is full of distorted synths and stuttering beats, and sounds absolutely nothing like anything the band have done before – and interestingly, is working in the same realm as the aforementioned Odonis Odonis are now. Has an industrial metal revival in the alternative mainstream already begun, and we’ve not noticed?
Never exactly the most prolific band – despite being an active band since the early nineties, this Australian Black Metal group have released just two full-length albums until now, and this four-track release that sprawls over half-an-hour is their first release in over a decade. I saw them at one of their few non-Australian shows back in 2009, at Damnation that year (/Memory of a Festival/008 refers), and they were certainly a striking band, and this release shows that they’ve lost none of their visceral power. This is searing, old-school Black Metal, with deliberately obscured, wraith-like vocals and a fuzzy, thin production that is clearly intended to hark back to the early days of Black Metal – and it succeeds brilliantly. It sounds and feels evil.