By Ian Smith
A new band on me. I have a distant memory of Julian Cope raving about them on Head Heritage but that’s about it. It turns out that Monoshock hailed from California and were pretty much ignored back in the day. I am sure that the mid-teenage Ian Smith would have been too busy listening to Loop or The Telescopes to notice the early singles and too busy hiding in a cupboard to escape ‘The Britpop Explosion’ to stumble across any of their later output.
And it’s a crying shame that I didn’t discover them earlier. The dissonant howl of the Stooges is the first point of reference and this is a sound that DOES NOT LET UP. Riffs and Fuzz are the order of the day and the tracks fly by at breakneck speed. Iggy’s gutteral holler is all over this, spliced with a dash of Hawkwind and a dollop of Pussy Galore. The sound at times is all over the place and all the better for it. ‘Over-produced’ this ain’t.
Monoshock released one long-player, 1995’s ‘Walk To the Fire’, and then they were gone. Which is criminal, really. Not that you can measure music by the yard. There is the occasional nod to English Punk, most notably the ‘Pistols on occasion. I can also hear Barrett-era Floyd on a couple of the more reflective numbers.
After prolonged consideration, I have decided not to mention the sax-solos. I think you should find out this element of the sound by buying the vinyl. Today.
The band that Grunge forgot.
Listen / Buy at
By Jon Milton
October has been a bit of a noisy month all in all, with that debut EP from Fuzz Lightyear, the discovery of Pop Vulture and earlier this week the new single from Grandma’s House. To cap it off, Sheffield’s Femur release their new single Misery Express today, and its probably the most feral offering of them all.
The band describe Misery Express as a track that ‘oozes an unsettling anguish by way of crashing verses alongside ethereal and atmospheric choruses, with its lyrical content reflecting this sentiment in its discontent for the toxically manipulative male character. Eliminating the risk of leaving anything to the imagination, the accompanying music video is the perfect visual representation of the anarchic journey into Femur’s psychedelic-grunge universe, clad with coffins and formalised in pressed white suits’. Our take is that it’s a chaotic psych/noise rock missive that really deserves to be played loud. Very loud.
Femur consists of Felix Renshaw (Vocals/Guitar), Ed Burks (Guitar), Ryan Gillvray (Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals) and Danny Cox (Drums). By all accounts the band have ‘gained quite a reputation since their inception by repeatedly destroying each and every UK stage they get their claws into, having caused chaos at the likes of Shacklewell Arms (London), Night & Day Cafe (Manchester) and their beloved and hardened Washington (Sheffield)’. Until this poxy pandemic gets under control however you’ll just have to imagine being down the front at one of their gigs. I’d imagine they are very sweaty affairs, just as they should be.
Misery Express, as well as its accompanying merchandise can be ordered HERE.
By Jon Milton
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that a song called ‘No Place Like Home’ by a band known as Grandma’s House might be a feel-good schmaltzy number sung by a bunch of smiling, sickeningly wholesome individuals, tactically released ahead of Christmas to warm our hearts after a dreadful year. It is, however, a snarling piece of post-punk from an ‘all-female, queer punk trio known for their fast and raucous guitar riffs, thumping bass lines and aggressive drums’, and therefore far more amenable to our ears!
‘No Place Like Home’ is ‘an anthem born from the blackened ashes left behind by Brexit, focusing on the warped ideologies of the British press that continue to fester their way into the country’s psych, their shameless manipulation taking us sleepwalking towards division and damage that we may not recover from. The song breaks through the fog of Post-Brexit Britain and its fragmented values, where hate can seemingly exist without consequence, validated and veiled by the sensationalist tendencies of headlines and media’.
The bands’ rhetoric forms part of what seems to a growing movement of disquiet within the alternative music scene in the state of the nation and the increasingly self-centred far-right behaviours that seem to have emerged since the Brexit vote. Its good to see artists getting angry, articulating their feelings and showing that they care, and it’s been a long time coming, too long in fact. No Place Like Home stands up well musically too, a real whirling dervish of a track that builds itself into a frenzy, reminiscent of early Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Slits with a bit of surf rock thrown in.
The band were formed in late 2018, and they’ve toured extensively in their native Bristol having played most of Bristol renowned music venues such as The Louisiana, Rough Trade, Exchange, The Old England, playing alongside big names such as Frankie Cosmos, Rita Lynch and Stef Chura. Their debut single ‘Devil’s Advocate’ released earlier this year was well received, with So Young describing it as a ‘Molotov of untempered adrenaline’, and they managed to get it played on BBC Introducing within 4 days of the band uploading on the BBC website.
As for the future, surely they must be a brilliant option as support for IDLES on their tour next year – politically aware, angry energy and from the same city?
No Place Like Home is out now
By Jon Milton
Back in the 80s Leeds used to be known as Gotham City, due to the proliferation of wonderfully dark and doomy goth bands like Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, Skeletal Family, March Violets and Ghost Dance. These days the city is still a hot bed of talent, but with far greater musical diversity. There’s quality post punk from the likes of Treeboy and Arc and Yard Act, Psych Rock from Magick Mountain, Quirky indie from Mush and a whole host of other genres which those good people at local artist development organisation Come Play With Me showcase on their Come Stay With Me compilation. And then there’s noise.
Photo by Sam Joyce
A couple of months ago Dense released their blistering EP 'Abjection' and just before that Pop Vulture released an EP recorded live at Leeds’s Mabgate Bleach venue which we talked about last week in our round up. Now we have the debut EP from Fuzz Lightyear, Fuzz II.
Fuzz Lightyear consists of Ben Parry on vocals and guitar, Varun Govil on bass and Josh Taylor on drums, and their press pack suggests that if you’re a fan of Metz, Heavy Lungs, DITZ, Show Me The Body and The Wytches you’ll be in good company here. I’d throw grunge and Dinosaur Jr from their early days into the mix too.
The band first came to our attention in March when they released Animal, which also features on this EP featuring vocals sounding not too dissimilar to those of Kurt Cobain and music that could have passed for Nirvana in their pomp. The rest of the EP however explores different paths. ‘Pulling Teeth’ is a full throttle aural assault where Metz meets Motorhead and has it off, and ‘L.F.W.D.’ and ‘The Lovers’ take the pace down a bit but maintain all the anger and intensity, one moment reflective the next raging. It’s all glorious noise though.
Next week we’ll be talking about yet another noisy new band from the city call Femur who have a single on the way, but for now Fuzz II is going on repeat, interspersed with a few revisits of Dense’s Abjection. Happy Days.
Fuzz II is out now:
What We've Been Listening To This Week: Magick Mountain, Yard Act, Pop Vulture, Oh Sees, Little Barrie, Dirty Burger, Viagra Boys, Torture and the Desert Spiders
By Jon Milton
That fine city Leeds and it’s remarkably prodigious musical conveyor belt of talent has delivered again this week in the form of a new single from Magick Mountain, a postcard from Yard Act and an EP from Pop Vulture.
Cherokee is the fourth single to be released by Magick Mountain in as many months, taken from their debut album Weird Feelings, out next week, and is another decent psych / garage rock tune with a distinctly Oh Sees and Hendrix stylings. All the singles have been good so we look forward to hearing how they all come together on the album.
We were sent the fine debut EP from Fuzz Lightyear this week which we’ll profile in the coming days ahead of its release on Friday. The band play a gig at Mabgate Bleach on the 23rd October, supported by Pop Vulture who we noticed have an EP on Bandcamp that came out in July recorded at that venue and thought we’d check out. It’s good. Chunky bass, coruscating guitar, schizo vocals and inspired percussion are the order of the day on these three tracks, full of energy and they sound like a right handful live. As with fellow Yorkshiremen Autosuggestion who also had a live EP from Mabgate Bleach out earlier this year the set is a little rough around the edges, but clearly there’s a lot of promise here. Listen via Bandcamp here.
Yard Act sent me a postcard this week with a telephone number on it, which was nice. Being a curious type I called said number, and was greeted by a minute long message with a short monologue taken from their song Peanuts, which I can only assume is going to be coming out as a single soon. Hopefully they’ll bite the bullet, get it fixed, get it seen to and released soon because they’re a great band and we love their music.
The Viagra Boys returned this week with a new single Ain’t Nice and news of a new album on the way. Ain’t Nice sounds a bit like Slow Learner from their debut album Street Worms, which is no bad thing. Another Swedish band Dirty Burger also got in touch this week about their debut album ‘Part Time Loser’ which has some decent Stooges-like tracks and a lot of New York Dolls ones too. Worth giving a listen to, despite the dreadful band name.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Little Barrie, so was excited to hear news of their new album ‘Quatermass Seven’, and it doesn’t disappoint. Whereas previous albums ‘Death Express’, ‘Shadow’ and ‘King of the Waves’ have kicked in around the hour mark and outstayed their welcome a little bit, this new one is bang on the 30 minute mark which is just about right. There are just seven tracks on the album, including the extended eight minute instrumental After After and latest single 'Steel Drum', and there's a bit of 70s Lalo Schifrin feel amongst the usual quality swamp rock/blues vibe.
I also have more than a soft spot for Oh Sees, although the sheer volume of music coming from their way at the moment is a bit overwhelming. After the Levitation Sessions last week, this week they’ve released ‘Metamorphosed’ a selection of out takes from last years Face Stabber sessions. There are just the five tracks on the album, with the first three done in five and a half minutes and the last two spread across thirty seven. I kind of prefer this mix of short brutal songs in with trippy jams rather than the constant aural pummelling that is Protean Threat. Metamorphosed is a good selection of tunes, although it’s definitely one for the fans rather than first time listeners to the band.
Last up this week is the latest single by the interestingly named Torture and the Desert Spiders, 'Money'. The band, led by multi-instrumentalist Anna Kunz are based in Liverpool and Money was written, recorded, produced and mastered in her bedroom during lockdown, which gives it a bit of a demo feel. The song is apparently about ‘seeing house shows back in Nashville and the kind of weird experiences you’d have on a night out’ and its rather good. Curiously the bass line reminds me of the Pink Panther cartoon, very slinky indeed. Money is part of an EP and there's another new track 'Scarlet' due out in a week or so.