Nerve Quakes are, as they say, one to watch, particularly for goths or people open to the idea of goth – and they are very much a living, vital band, as the 7″ double a-side Running/Rewind, is testimony to.
Running is a track with industrial energy, slamming into its first chords with no mercy before the brief respite of the pounding verse and Caitie Moondog’s outstanding voice. If the lyrics want for tightening or a step away from vague gestures (an appeal to ambiguity which plagues Australian goth at present – these are something about robots, borrowed time, and yes, running both literal and metaphorical), then Moondog’s commitment to them more than redeems. Her voice is unyielding.
With over three decades and nineteen albums under their belts, fierce Japanese girl pop, girl punk band Shonen Knife have more than proved their staying power. Although they’ve remained consistently productive during that time (and their most recent album prior to this one, Overdrive, was only released in 2014) the band have undergone a dramatic line-up shift, adding drummer Risa and bassist Naru with only Naoko Yamano remaining of the original line-up. Despite this, Adventure, written by the group collectively about their experiences of the last few years, doesn’t greatly depart from form: if you’re looking for Ramones-influenced pop punk with their trademark cute and quirky lyrics, here you’ll find more of the same.
The vitriolic Nottingham duo returns to form after a short revue with Key Markets, an album probably meant to take aim at some notion of consumerism. Does this represent the bitter taste at the back of lyricist John Williamson’s throat following the commercial success of its predecessor,Divide And Exit, the 2014 outpouring of bile to universal acclaim that brought Sleaford Mods not only into the national spotlight, but turned them into music industry buzzwords on the international stage?
Probably. It’s hard to make out – Williamson’s lyrics stagger in jagged, unfocused zigzags like a blinded bull. Williamson quickly falls into a droll, irritated hum, akin to a mass of hornets not quite disturbed enough to leave their nest. With Andrew Fearn’s stripped back instrumentation, kit and a wet, sloppy kiss of a bass, the album rolls over you like a train over tracks, creates a drone, a haze, and sends you off, that sound-blocking you do at your retail job to avoid thinking too hard about your bleak at best future in a receding economy.
With a pedigree of DIY cerebal post-hardcore influences like Fugazi, OFF!, and Savages, WaLL have set themselves a high bar, and matched with their ferocious, confronting energy live and frontman Kieran Welton’s weird promotional hashtags via the band’s twitter @wall_sounds – #postculture, #depressionisoppression, #iamobject, #iamsubject, #object, #object, #object, and the ever present ‘here come the hot chocolate kids’ slogan – give the project an indefinable quality hard to manifest in the studio. Object has gestated long in recording and production, and to much surprise and still absolutely none at all, has come out perfectly formed and already walking with the blood and caul still in its hair. Continue reading ALBUM REVIEW: WªLL, Object, 22.07.15
Y Dydd Olaf (The Last Day), an album inspired by Owain Owain’s 1976 Welsh-language dystopian science fiction novel of the same name, marks another entry in the ever-growing archives of cambrofuturism — Welsh futurism, a lens through which a disenfranchised culture can find an identity in an imagined future — and similarly draws on electronic, krautrock inspiration for that peculiar sound: think late Super Furry Animals, the Manic Street Preachers’ Futurology, and ’80s psychers Llwybr Llaethog.
Gwenno is no stranger to this territory and her airy vocals and beautiful, bold production let the imagination run wild. A blissful experience that effortlessly transcends the language barrier.
The Adelaide two-piece The Hard Aches bring Pheromones into the punk world with a stripped-back, barely-driven guitar and kit and a penchant for pouring their hearts into their lyrics.
If you’ve been craving gymnastic vocals scolding over drink driving; emotional hardcore based around moving out of a friend’s house because things are weird now you’ve had sex and you’re sure they’ll be happier even though your other housemates are terrible people; or just a particular young, white, urban Australian perspective, it’s a gem in a narrative begging for expansion but representing a specific and closed chapter.
Perth indie-popsters Our Man In Berlin’s second EP, Spirit Down marks a crystallisation of the group’s ethereal, reverb-driven music, demonstrating an evolution from the more stylistically scattered Is It Right? EP.
Opener Bones is a powerful introduction boasting ‘90s alt-rock guitars in a mesh of synth and falsetto, and the rest of the release largely follows suit with empty electronics and airy vocals. A solid record but with the exploratory air of a stepping stone to other directions, Our Man In Berlin are worth keeping an eye on.
Coinciding with a smattering of live dates after half a decade in hibernation, Super Furry Animals reissue their 2000 Welsh language record, Mwng, which passes like a year in their home country.
With warm, folky tunes like Ymaelodi Ar Ymylon ushering the listener through a plush summer into cold, pensive Sarn Helen and the mournful (in English) This Is (Not) The Song That Will Save The Language. Bizarre Welsh bonus tracks from early recordings, a Peel Session and a brilliant live recording featuring Gruff Rhys’ usual vague preambles are included for the fans. Continue reading ALBUM REVIEW: Super Furry Animals, Mwng Reissue, 05.05.15
This blissed-out, spacey offering from Errors adds another dimension to their solid back catalogue, spliced with their trademark pulsing, layered electronica.
There are shadows of lyricism here but with a transparency hard to pin down, phasing into hymns and chants between catchy digital melodies and beats. High gloss and harking back to ‘80s synthetic new wave, Lease Of Life blurs together into one formless entity, textured by melody and tune but otherwise difficult to discern. This obscuring holds its greatest weakness and greatest strength: Errors bend and twist, avoiding definition.
‘Errors – Lease Of Life’ by Richard Moore, first published by The Music 16.04.15
When you approach a band keeping ‘thee’ in their name, the likelihood always favours the group being a Thee Oh Sees knock-off. Cardiff’s Thee Manatees would be an exception to this rule. Describing themselves as ‘Tarantino-esque’ and ‘Lonestar Noir’, Thee Manatees’ conceptual ground feels out of place in their colder, greener homeland, more inclined to street gang stabbings and crack deals than the grand scope of your LA organised crime. But as one can vouch for the cocaine lines in the backrooms of Cardiff bars, it’s clear where this music crawls out of; a desire for something else, at its heart escapism, a reinterpretation of the artists’ experience. Continue reading ALBUM REVIEW: Thee Manatees, EP1, 13.04.15