Monday, March 30, 2015

Boyhood : When I'm Hungry

Wow wow wow.   This record from Boyhood came out at the tail end of last year on Bruised Tongue and I’m kind of obsessed with it.  It’s hard to find out much on Caylie Runciman’s career so far other than she’s from Ottawa, has one other EP/Tape out on the same label and ‘When I’m Hungry’ appears to be her first full length album.   Comprised of swampy pop and noise explorations these 12 songs are shrouded in psychedelic weirdness.   ‘When I’m Hungry’ is predominantly an electronic record however,  ‘Heat’ allows guitar to the fore in the closest thing this album comes to traditional indie, and a song that could be considered straight up indie on here still exceeds expectation by delivering something adventurous and electrifying.  Runciman’s vocals get filtered through chewy haze alongside a freely ambling melody line pitting loud and quiet arrangements against each other, and if you think you’ve heard this all before just give it a listen and see how her treatment moves the goal posts of where these sounds can go.  As the album progresses it reveals songs made from pimped subterranean beats, blissed out vocals and spooked guitar work.  Runciman wrote/performed all the songs on here and the interplay between drum machines and a drum kit gives the album different grains to latch on to, checking out ‘Maintaining My Uncool’ followed by ‘Cheddar’ is a great example of that.  ‘Where I’m Going’ fittingly shows how Boyhood captures an immersive pop sound that is sunny as it is sunless , and closer ‘Post Poc’ best describes these shady undertones intermittently emerging throughout.  ‘When I’m Hungry’ is an intimate search of the curiously twisted parts of bedroom pop.  It’s this creeper slant touched by saccharine glamour that makes the LP prevail as a blood-tingling debut release; executed with a forward thinking approach ‘When I’m Hungry’ is effortlessly unpredictable, exuberant and captivating.

Bruised Tongue's Bandcamp is here where the album has a few more track's on it than Boyhood's personal page, copies of the LP are still available too!

Monday, March 23, 2015

SAUNA YOUTH : Distractions

Sauna Youth have always been a great band.  Exerting pulse racing punk rock in every bar, basement and house party in and outside of London.  Sauna Youth’s insatiable energy for playing shows has only served to refine their sound, and once it took shape there were no limits to where their songs could go as this new album attests.  When it comes to DIY in this city Sauna Youth have been a pivotal fixture in the scene for some years now, recording and releasing their own material up until debut ‘Dreamlands’ (Faux Discs/Gringo, 2012).   ‘Distractions’ (Upset The Rhythm) is the follow up to that album and it’s not just a follow up, it’s a game changer.  In approaching things from a new angle Sauna Youth’s song-writing has been elevated by experimenting with composing the album together in one room.   If it sounds different that’s because this is their first time in a recording studio, utilising Homerton’s Sound Savers with Mark Jasper documenting the 3 days Sauna Youth spent there in July 2014.  Desire, repetition and distractions are central to Sauna Youth’s impetus on this new record.  No polite po-going happening here, these tracks fully spin out of control with a beer can or two flying over-head.  Once “Transmitters” sinks its teeth in ‘Distractions’ doesn’t let go for 14 songs incorporating spoken word, experimental noise and undeniable punk joy.  Jen Calleja and Richard Phoenix’s vocals bring a brilliant androgyny to record - especially on ‘Monotony’.  Lindsay Corstorphine’s crunchy blown out guitar and Christopher Murphy’s rubbery bass come in from all directions with thrilling melodies channelling all kinds of rock greatness… and those beats!  Richard's immense rhythms are the backbone to it all along side Jen's howling sampler work.   They haven't ended there either, Sauna Youth re-arranged themselves as Monotony in a new project - where they switch instruments and song-writing duties which you can listen to here.    It's a voracious momentum that Sauna Youth has which sets them apart and shows how they keep going from strength to strength.  Sauna Youth have never stopped writing incredible songs, they’ve never stopped playing incredible shows, They've never stopped supporting London’s local music scene – I hope Sauna Youth never stop.

You can pre-order the album here

Friday, January 23, 2015

NOTS : We Are Nots

Memphis four-piece NOTS started releasing material in 2013 and follow two singles with their first full length recently on Goner.  ‘We Are Nots’ is forged from a penchant for wild synth punk polished over the course of touring.  The album packs the same punch as the singles whilst tightening the bolts with sharper production so every element comes to the fore with unflinching clarity.  NOTS sound strong and feverish with ferocious drive made up by Natalie Hoffman’s errant guitar, Alexandra Eastburn’s forthright synth waves, prowling bass lines from Madison Farmer and the dogged rhythms of Charlotte Watson.  The eleven frantic songs clock in at around 25 minutes opening with ‘Insect Eyes’, a demented cyber stomper setting the pace for the record.  ‘Reactor’ leaps out with its stormy approach and a chorus that high-jacks your brain, just try and stop spinning it in your head!  ‘Black Mold’ plays out unshakeable vocals, chugging guitars, melody heavy bass and siren synths making it another track stuck on repeat for me.   With tour dates approaching with Parquet Courts it feels like NOTS are already gathering momentum for whatever 2015 has to throw at them.   ‘We Are Nots’ is a radical force to be reckoned with making this a great album to lose your mind to.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Chris Brokaw : The Periscope Twins


Hissing and spluttering envelop the opening to Chris Brokaw’s ‘The Periscope Twins’ (12XU).  This latest LP from Brokaw is comprised of two 40-45 minute solo pieces mastered by Bob Weston, the first is noise and lead in track ‘The Periscope Kids Are Out on The Skids, My Love (Part 1 & 2)’ reveals the effect recent explorations of abstract forms with Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O))) ), David Michael Curry (the Willard Grant Conspiracy) and Alex Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten) have had on his approach to industrial experimentalism.   The spine of Side A is a choked exhaust - trapping one as it veers on then off track alongside manipulated scarce and wild signals.  As this first piece nebulously spins out it becomes entirely mesmeric resolving itself by pulling back into focus with propelled spits and spurts.  Flipping over, Side B involves meditative electric guitar wanderings on ‘Skating Under Glass, Living Like A King’ and ‘Do You Really Want to Know What That Means?  Do You Really Want to Know What That Means’.  Balmy plucks and strums breeze across pale chirps in stark contrast to what was on the reverse of the record.  ‘The Periscope Twins’ rounds off just as immersive as it started swapping agitated noise for sublime trances of reflective guitar work.  The whole album was done in one take with no overdubs and the instinctive approach to the songs really show that.  Employing a sense of being hypnotized and absorbed by the songs in polar opposite ways makes ‘The Periscope Twins’ two sides of the same coin.  Clocking up 15 albums now Brokaw continues to push further, go deeper and totally thrill.

Hear some of the record and buy HERE

Monday, November 17, 2014

Exhaustion : Bikers

Melbourne’s Exhaustion has come screeching and howling their way back with a wild follow up to their debut album last year.  Bassist Jensen Tjhung (Deaf Wish, Lower Plenty), vocalist/guitarist Duncan Blachford and drummer Per Byström (Ooga Boogas, Leather Towel) have written 7 new arresting songs at the band’s studio.  ‘Biker’ (Aarght!) is the result playing out deranged invocations of frayed rock touched by the experimentalism of No Wave and Industrial sounds.  The LP is built on meditative paranoia; minimal, repetitive lyrics distorted into mesmeric moans, calls and intonations.  The songs culminate in a general sense of ennui sounded out by discordant instrumentals and scrambled ruminations.  ‘Hard Left’ is a stand out track for me with its haunting piano, prowling beats and whirring, jagged guitar work.  ‘Lonely Cars’ is a percussion heavy number involving a tribal mood to the album accompanied by wiry, spiralling out strings.  ‘Silver Fog’ features ricocheted cave dweller vocals anchored by a repetitive melody focused bass and whipped beats revealing a song whereby Exhaustion incorporates structure with the improvisational approach they’re already known so well for.  To my ears at least this is the leap ‘Bikers’ makes from ‘Future Eaters’; it plays with form just as much as formlessness.   Exhaustion are back firing on all cylinders and you can get ‘Bikers’ at all good retailers now! 

Check out opening track 'Blunt Eyes' right HERE

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rodion GA : 'Behind The Curtain - The Lost Album'

In 1975 Rodion GA pioneered a new approach to electronic music from his Romanian home.  Known locally as record hoarder extraordinaire, collating music ranging from a variety of regions played a core part in how his sound evolved.  In the original line up Rodion GA was joined by Gicu Farcas and Adrian Caparu and from the outset Rodion made use of the wide-ranging equipment he’d been amassing.  Incorporating Tesia tape records, drum machines, phasers, flangers, fuzz pedals, a toy Casio VL Tone and Soviet manufactured Faemi organ, the trio forged a radical interstellar style mixing progressive rock, psychedelic and synthesized sound centred by their electronic approach.  Rodion became renowned his DIY approach by employing reel-to-reel tape recorders along with various tape machines and multi-tracks to document work.

The death of Rodion’s mother in 1987 called an unfortunate end to his musical career, and for 25 years he faded into obscurity.  That is until blogger & film maker Luca Sorin focused a piece on Rodion, the exposure opened up possibilities to revive unfinished business 25 years earlier… and it worked.  In 2012 Rodion GA returned with ‘The Lost Tapes’ (Strut Records) plus a RSD 2014 release, and he’s been going strong ever since.   Which brings us to ‘Behind the Curtain – The Lost Album’, 24 recordings spanning highpoints of his career.  The compilation gathers material from ‘The Lost Tapes’ (Strut) and 12 other albums from the late 70s and early 80s that are otherwise nigh-on-impossible to track down.  What makes this fascinating is ‘Behind the Curtain - The Lost Album’ (BBE) was recorded when Romania was still a Communist country, so artists were under heavy censorship rules.  Rodion made these songs whilst constantly worrying about being caught by authorities and had to play a ‘cat and mouse’ game to preserver with his project.  This is a great snapshot of Rodion when he was ON FIRE in the early stages of his song-writing and exhibits his far reaching influence. This resurgence of interest in his work has even seen him deliver a lecture at Bucharest’s Red Bull Academy.  Rodion GA has been recording new music so can’t wait to hear what other leaps forward he’s going to make. Lastly, and most crucially, Rodion is touring Europe and well worth your time for an evening, he’ll be right here in London at Café Oto on November 5th (that's tonight, like in a few hours...!).  Get your tickets HERE