Monday, 4 June 2012


News. Sam has started a new venture named 1656 Music. Founded alongside Cathy Pellow, 1656 chiefly concern themselves with music supervision, music licensing & music related events curating. They work with all sorts of cool people like Chelsea Wolfe, Russian Circles, Boris and more. Have a look at the site here.

As for myself I will be working at Matador over the summer so expect a slew of Matador related posts amidst the usual cast. How exciting, stay tuned.

 - Josh

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hysteria - Ceremony UK tour 2012

Hooked up with Ceremony for their UK tour last month, it was great to see them play every night, and even greater to see how well audience after audience received the new Zoo material. The show at XOYO in London was savage, the equipment gave out three quarters of the way through. Manchester was too good, it was a blast to show the guys round my home city. The final show of the tour, in Leeds, was ridiculous. The venue looked like a bar / restaurant or something and descended into complete chaos. Kudos to the dude who broke his shoulder from going at it so hard.

Thanks to Jake, Anthony, Andy, Ross, Ben, the Eagulls boys, Robbie, Stuart and Natalie from Matador, as well as the Rohnert Park crew who came over. Here are some photos..

Sgt Pepper's & Zoo
Caught in the headlights
Vs Wagamama
Rough Trade
Moho / Manchester
Sinclair's Oyster Bar
We visited Morrissey's old house
Adam & Nathan
- Josh

Monday, 16 April 2012

Dark Times

Dark Times are a Scandinavian punk group playing out of Oslo. The sound of their self titled cassette jumps and jitters around a select group of 80's and onwards hard hitting punk bellwethers. They manage to avoid stringing themselves to one cohesive sonic vision - which, admittedly, isn't always the best path for a band to take, as less indoctrinated listeners often like togetherness and relatability. It works charmingly for this group though.

Dark Times swing through heavy Big Black stratums, cruising angularly into squeals of Jesus Lizard riffing and on into well-hewn Grrl-style territories. The female lead singer bleats and blasts along almost independently - as if cleaved from the maelstrom behind her. Everything sounds quintessentially lo-fi except for her sweet vocal ringing that acts almost like a crown of light against the rough and tumble of half broken guitars fighting it out with half broken amplifiers.

 Her voice is also interesting in another respect; in that she sings almost pitch perfectly similar to the lead vocalist of Sweden's Burning Kitchen. If it turns out to be the same woman, well, I wouldn't be surprised. If anyone can shed light on this, please feel free to.

There is a strong noise factor to Dark Times, that's constantly in battle with the less demanding essential qualities of Bikini Kill or a battery acid version of Plastiscines. You can hear the two strains collide on the second track "Talk Too Much". A peppy riff somehow manages to keep itself in formation to produce perhaps the lightest minutes of the cassette, when all the while it feels as if you're only a tuning or so away from a total freeform pig-fuck. Parts of the record lumbers along in that half-drag Flipper state, if Flipper didn't view the art of simpler song writing as tantamount to treason.

Give this a listen, I'm almost as excited about this group as I am about what Shoppers are doing right now. Download

 - Josh

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Colm - "45"

Colm originated from Fontenay aux Roses, France.
They played a blend of twee pop, post-punk, noise pop, and alternative rock.
Existing in the early part of the 1990s, the band released this EP - "45" - in 1992, and their only LP - "(Serum)" - in 1994, shortly before disbanding.
The music showcased on this EP is clearly that of avid music fans; crafted, honed, honest.
Singer Daniel Dauxerre spent his working hours behind the Paris counter of Rough Trade, which only helps to reinforce the afforementioned claim.
Above all else, this is a record by those who love records.

The opening track, "Starchild", greets the listener with the kind of noise associated with My Bloody Valentine (whose drummer coincidentally shares the same name as this band, though I doubt remotely related), before giving way to a riff closer to foot-tapping than shoe-gazing. The soft and comely vocals here seem reminiscent of lighter Dinosaur Jr. tracks - specifically when Lou takes the reins - and delivers the same power in it's catchy and playful hooks.
Swirling, encompassing, and ever so slightly jangly guitar licks dominate the outro of this song - offering a perfect composition of noise and pop.

"When I Was a Bird" follows quietly in the footsteps of the previous song. Dominated by a light whisper of vocals atop lurking, lurching, and muted guitars - this track revels in the glory of the loud//quiet dynamic.
The song relies heavily on the cooing repetition of it's own title, before ushering into the jarring line "When I was a bird/ I saw, and felt, everything so right/ I tasted the sugar of your life"; as the final word of that verse is spoken, the namesake lyrics are again repeated, this time above a roaring rise in thunderous drums, which breaks prematurely into the most rewarding of guitar hooks.

Track three, "Never Smile", opens with the ever-present swirling guitars, similar to Sonic Youth's signature sound. Buried vocals are what sells this song, with ripping drums and post-punk influenced guitar work taking the lead.
A short break down showcases just how much influence the band has amalgamated into their style, as we are presented with something much closer to Southern Death Cult than Sub Pop. The guitars then give way into a verse reminiscent of a jangling Joy Division, before lapsing back into their patented hiss of noise hooks.

"Orange to Green", the records closing song, clocks in at 7 minutes 21 seconds - and rewards us with a drawn out and realised explosion of shoegazing and noise rock.
Easily the heaviest and most dense track on the EP, the band shows one last triumphant flare of piss and vigor, amongst the soft lullabies of pop and post-punk.
A suited finisher to a sonically soothing experience.

It's not often you stumble across a little known band with such a remarkable sound; that you know, given the right chances, could've been huge. Colm are exactly that.
They have just the right amount of fermenting feedback to satisfy the most fervent of underground fans, and couple it so passionately with calming pop sensibilities - harkening as far back as "Pet Sounds".
Yet, they have become victim to the passing of time, and are ghost-like with their presence.
For those who love their music to subdue and suffocate, this is unmissable.


- Thom.

Dreamdecay - Fern

Challenging noise from where else but the hub of punk ingenuity, Washington state. Dreamdecay are a Seattle born toast to a doggedly unwavering, touch-warmer-than-death strain of noise rock.

Their five track record 'Fern' floats into being with a blizzard of screaming guitars - a clamorous instrumental race to the beginning of the song that sounds like Earth trying to play a 'Bloody Valentine jam and freaking out under the frustration. 'The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves' with another guitar and a Scratch Acid injection.

On first hearing the vocals I thought they pulled directly from the commanding cries of Michael Gira, yet there's something almost heraldic about these utterances, that kind of touch upon desert splutters and doomy coughs. Praise to the lead singer though, whose post-punk lump in the throat does well to arc over the top of the candle-lit tumult swarming beneath him.

I think the intention with this record is to initially trip up it's listeners, with huge blocks of impassable sawing, screeching fuzz and buried beneath the sand vocals. 'Fern' throws all of it's initial weight behind the idea of testing you as a listener, but comes down hard with lashings of North Western musical heritage to wash away the drone fan's take on rock that you've been struggling to swallow. Tracks II & III do much of what the opening number did, but bake it into four and two minute drone odes to Confusion Is Sex.

'Fern' treads heavily, most often at a lumbering pace, yet ignores the confines of already written Sludge metal and takes convention to task with the bestial assault of the Melvins and a charged post-punk overlay. The now noticeable slacker vocals push a little harder into the skirmish.

Things progress to an almost funereal state by the time the ending track appears, not before track 'IV' gets to flex it's Jesus Lizard without the metal chops with a quickly spun math-y opening that ends up working as the entire spine of the track, holding up a canopy of drawn-out early Swans electricity.

The sheer love for butchering about with feedback and laying off any metallic precision keeps this record constitutionally punk in some sense, but the common feel of 'Fern' doesn't lend itself to anything other than a 'noise' tag. There are passages of ear-splitting doom, vague dream sequences of gazey proportions and even a well submerged predisposition towards the sooty grunge of Mudhoney. Get listenin'

Dreamdecay - Fern

Thanks to Justin of the band for sending this in. You can check out the band's blog here

- Josh

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Violent Future - Demo

This bunch of fun time punk fellows play out of Toronto, and harbour members of Urban Blight, the now defunct Bad Choice and the fledgling S.H.I.T. - whose demo also dropped this year.

The Toronto scene is known to me as being an axis of confident, beat heavy, often old time, 80's indebted Hardcore. Merely dip a toe in and you'll be dragged off by a slipstream of great Torontan bands. Kremlin are a Germs polluted ode to a less attitude ridden H100s. School Jerks play what they want and Urban Blight stomp harder than any.

The Violent Future demo tape is ruthlessly authoritative, peddling an unruly Negative Approach flavoured broth of banging Hardcore Punk. The six songs on offer here are spat out incredibly confidently, with real attention paid to writing rolling, at times perky Hardcore songs. Negative FX's 'Feel Like A Man' is an obvious stepping stone. A big nod to 86 Mentality and scattered Wasted Time influence ties in with a real love for the sensible side of DYS.

Favourite demo I've heard since the break of 2012.

Violent Future - Demo

- Josh

Salvation - House of The Beating Hell

Had this on heavy rotation for almost two weeks now, in which time it's crept up my mental ranking list of Youth Attack releases to perch somewhere between the Raw Nerve full length and the holiest of holies - Cult Ritual's '1st' LP.

'House of The Beating Hell' is Salvation's fourth (correct me if I'm wrong) effort on Youth Attack, and for me it serves as a hallmark of how well black metal sensations can mortise with the traditions of hardcore punk. Remarkable in it's own right for hedging the turning tide of a label devoutly rooted in the thick grunts of Hardcore and the scrappily blasted endeavours of ex-Orchid members.

I'm not a fan of the blackened shrieking-in-a-cave vocal din, I notoriously dislike most Black Metal influenced records - It took me a great deal of time to absorb the Sexdrome full length and I havn't even touched on the great wealth of 'real black metal' out there - but Matthew Adis' impassioned racket on '.. Beating Hell' coagulates so well with the clot of orbiting guitar lines and the utterly pin-point drumming that I can't help but concede to having my mind changed.

I had a big debate with fellow writer Thom over the black metal vs hardcore punk anatomy of this release. Thom is fully embroiled in all things black metal, black punk and corrosively noisey, so when he listens to '.. Beating Hell' he sees all the drum fills, riff parts and structural tweaks where Salvation havn't ticked the Black Metal box. It's different for a wildly obsessive Hardcore fan like myself, because I instantly pick up on the vocals, the cold ringing guitars and the challenging drum patterns that make most 80's punk drumming look like child's play. For me the Black Metal influence is savagely apparent, but you'll have to make your own mind's up about that.

Track two, 'Intake' is my pick of the crop. Urgent, unhinged, maniacal, laced with dread with no unecessary disharmonious driftwood in sight. The unerring drum parts of 'Tethered Man' steal the show as Adis collapses into a seething eddy of screeching, reappearing for the last orders of 'Twice The Vision' - a debilitating round off to a record that plays on pace and accuracy without forgoing raw, unrefined punk side of their blade.

I think the core reason why I'm spinning this record so much is the fact that Salvation have worked with diligence to produce a front of originality. A lot of the guitaring looks towards Darkthrone for prompts, and the structure maintains a grasp of relatively traditional punk lore, yet the whole thing sounds so young, so emergent - as if the next year or two will see an explosion of dark punk music makers waxing rhapsodic about this Philadelphia band's offerings. This is up there with the best releases I've heard so far this year.

Salvation - House of The Beating Hell

- Josh