Our working week began and ended with songs sung by the same man but different bands. Monday’s listening focussed on the broody, snarling Another Day at the Zoo by Lumer and Friday’s was centred around The spy who came in from the cold, the second single by Document. Alex Evans performs vocal duties for both bands, and long may that situation continue if he can balance commitments as the outputs are excellent. Another Day at the Zoo exudes attitude, anger and contempt for politicians and the state of the nation, and The Spy who came in from the cold’ is a sprawling beast that recalls Bauhaus in their 'In the Flat Field' days, minus the goth schtick. Post punk never felt so alive.
Continuing with post punk, the new singles by Fiende Fatale and Lice are well worth checking out. Fiend Fatale’s Bang! is manic, relentless stuff, and from the looks of the brief clip of gig footage that I saw this week, the band look good live. Lice's Conveyor is not as frantic, but equally as impressive, it reminds me of ‘Wise Up Sucker’ by Pop Will Eat Itself with a little bit more sass. I’d never heard of either band until this week, but they’re firmly on our radar now.
Moving on to swamp rock, The Novus have released a sterling new track this week called Frosty. Driven along by a tasty riff, Frosty is a fine rock tune from this band from Stourbridge. Their 2019 single PMF is good too.
Staying with rock, we reviewed the new album by Slift here. Ummon came out on Friday and it is an absolute beast, taking in heavy rock, prog rock, space rock, psych rock and even a bit of krautrock. You can listen to it in full via the link here.
The wonderful world of Krautrock (albeit in completely different form to Slift) also features heavily on ii, the debut album by Och, out last week on Rocket Recordings. I wasn't sure what to make of the band from the two singles released in the run up to the album release, but they make absolute sense here. If you like your music on the trippy, spaced out side then this is a great go-to album.
Off-kilter synth, repetition, experimental noises, drones and feedback give you a little flavour of what’s in store, and if that’s enough to whet your appetite, dive straight in as this is exceptional stuff. The eight instrumental pieces are quite filmic, as though the album could be a soundtrack to an obscure 70s sci fi movie, or possibly one featuring David Bowie from that era…
The album kicks off with the sound of a train setting off, before a wave of feedback kicks in, underpinned by krautrock, leading to a noisy crescendo and then calm. And that’s just track one! Across the album the music veers from menace to calm in a heartbeat, and in places (such as on album closer Pandemi pa Handelo) disorientation. Those familiar with Och’s label mates The Utopia Strong should be very comfortable with the music on offer here. This is the sort of album made for zoning out to, and everyone should zone out every now and then.
French indie pop outfit Juniore also released a new album last week called Un, Deux Trois. You may have heard the spritely Ah Bah D'Accord which was released as a single last year and featured heavily on the 6 Music playlist, although the album itself is quite a chilled affair. In amongst quirkier tracks like Bizarre there are many laid back, effortlessly cool songs and it’s a very pleasant listen overall. Think of Brigit Bardot, Jean Jacques Perrey, Air and (ahem) Eurotrash and you’ll get the picture.
Staying with indie pop and concluding this week’s round up is the debut single by Forever Honey Christian. It’s taken from their debut EP ‘Pre-Mortem High’ which will be released in April. The band are from New York, and formed over a common love of jangly, guitar driven late 80’s pop and harmony saturated rock of the 60s. Christian is very 80’s, like a cross between Martha and the Muffins ‘Echo Beach’, Tears for Fears ‘Mad World’, Talk Talk’s ‘Talk Talk’ and the Cure’s ‘A Forest’.
Heavy rock, kraut rock, prog rock, space rock or psych rock, one thing’s for sure, Slift ROCK. Their new album ‘Ummon’ is an album that rocks so hard you’re left exhausted but satisfied by the end. There are riffs aplenty and extended guitar workouts, all drenched in a sea of wah. It’s a dizzy ride.
The trio from Toulouse composed Ummon during endless tours across Europe in 2019, and conceived it as the soundtrack of an imaginary film. Ummon is certainly heavier than their debut album ‘La Planete Inexplore’ although it continues the sci-fi/fantasy theme – with song titles that include ‘Citadel on a Satellite’, ‘Dark was space, cold were the stars’ ‘Thousand Helmets of Gold’ and ‘Altitude Lake’. The band describe Ummon as ‘a dreamlike odyssey that features the Titans, their exile to the outer reaches of space in search of their creators, and the return of Titan Hyperion to Earth’. So now you know.
Photo by RABO
The first part of the album is pretty relentless, growly vocals and dark riffs that twist and turn unpredictably, and are explored best on the longer jams like ‘It’s Coming’ and ‘Citadel on a Satellite’. ‘Altitude Lake’ slows things down, ‘Sonar’ takes it up again with an almost jazz feel to it before the tempo drops down again until the album’s storming 13-minute long closer ‘Lions, Tigers and Bears’, which rattles along at a canter until its eventual breakdown at the end.
All in all, Ummon is quite a journey, songs that meander purposefully and inventively, traversing a range of styles over the course of 70 minutes or so. It demands to be played loud, and with your full attention focussed on it all time, such is the quality of the playing. Maybe some bright spark will make a film to it one day too…
Ummon is released on 28th February on Stolen Body Records.
Slift visit the UK in May for a few dates, albeit at the time of writing a few of the dates seem yet to be confirmed:
09/05 LEEDS, Mabgate Bleach 11/05 MANCHESTER, (TBC) 12/05 • GLASGOW Broadcast 13/05 NEWCASTLE Cluny 2 14/05 CHELMSFORD, Hot Box 15/05 BRISTOL, The Lane 16/05 • BRIGHTON, The Great Escape 17/05 BRIGHTON, (TBC) 18/05 • PORTSMOUTH, (TBC) 19/05 LONDON, (TBC) 20/05 BOURNEMOUTH, (TBC)
What we’ve been listening to this week…The Eskimo Chain, Egyptian Blue, Vanishing Twin, White Flowers and more...
Links to music in blue
This week began with a desperate (but successful) scramble to get tickets for the Blinders at the 100 Club at 10am on Monday morning. Its been a few years since I went to see a gig at this iconic venue, so really looking forward to May when that night comes.
Also, on the gig front, we secured tickets for Life at Lafayette in London and I went to see the Howlers play at the Horn in St Albans. Life have been on our ‘ones to see in 2020’ list having failed to see them last year, and Lafayette is a brand spanking new 600 capacity club in Kings Cross brought to us by the people that run Omeara. The Howlers played an excellent set, and I met up with Nishant from the Palpitations and his wife, so a good night all round.
Of the week’s new releases, Egyptian Blue have a new single, taken from their forthcoming EP Body of Itch. Never is another excellent track from the band, who’ve just been out on tour with the Murder Capital. On the evidence of Never and their set when I saw them play supporting Yak last year, they seem to be rapidly maturing as a band, so the full EP should be one to definitely keep an eye out for. You can read our profile on the band from last year here.
The Eskimo Chain also bought out a quality new single last week, The Day is out for Blood taken from their forthcoming second album ‘EXO Incorporated: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’. The Day is out for Blood follows on from Evacuation Day and both tracks are now available on streaming platforms. We should have a review of the new album ahead of its release, and there’s some background to it in our article here.
White Flowers impressed us last month with their debut single Night Drive, so much so that we went out to see them play for Independent Venues Week, supporting Toy. They’ve released another good track Portra this week, with both tracks are now available on vinyl.
Also coming out on (blue) vinyl soon is a new EP by the Vanishing Twin. There are 4 tracks on ‘In Piscina’, all very good and enough to tempt me to buy said vinyl via Bandcamp. You can do the same and listen to the EP via the link here. Our 2019 feature on them is here.
We've got some excellent new stuff to go through next week, so make sure you keep an eye out for our songs of the day next week, and our update next week.
Links to music etc in blue
Being a naturally inquisitive type, after I saw Yammerer play last month, I thought I’d check out the other acts on their label Restless Bear. There’s two that sit on their Bandcamp page, Deh Yey and Gravves, and they recently released a split EP on vinyl featuring two tracks from each band. Both bands are intensely noisy with a bit of shouting thrown in to boot, which is absolutely fine by me.
Deh Yey are a two-piece band from Chester who joined the label last year, having previously self-released two singles Speedy Quicksedge and Death and Politics (about US gun culture) in 2018. Their contribution to the EP features two new tracks Danephesians 4.31 and A Matter of Life and Likes, which like their previous singles are dark riff heavy and politically aware. We were keen to find out more the band, and they kindly agreed to answer a few questions about themselves…
For anyone that’s never heard of Deh Yey, describe yourselves:
DEH-YEY are a heavy punk band based in Chester. Being a two piece, we started out trying to sound like the White Stripes (obviously) and then (singer/guitarist Cash) Burns realized that shouting at the audience was way more fun than failing to write a half decent blues jam…so we just went heavier.
You have a split EP out on vinyl via Restless Bear, talk us through Danephesians and A Matter of Life and Likes (musically + lyrically).
Danephesians 4.31 is our take on the Bible, I tried to just take the piss and poke holes lyrically. Musically we wanted something fairly simple but PHAT.
A matter of life and likes is just about us sheep being glued to our phones. I wanted to take the music a bit further on this one and tried making the listener feel a bit motion sick, speeding up, slowing down and throwing you all around.
You manage to get a massive sound out of just drums, vocals and guitar, how hard is it to write music? Have you ever considered expanding the line up?
Its dead easy in the rehearsal rooms to bang out a jam sometimes, my writing has adapted to the two-piece set up over the years so I’m not finding it as difficult anymore. We’re not looking to extend the line up any time soon…
Which bands have inspired you?
Girl Band, IDLES, Future of the Left, Shame, Black Midi
If you could choose any bands to support out on tour who would it be?
We’d love to support and chat to Girl Band, we love their madness.
What radio stations would you love to hear yourselves being played on?
All the radio stations…
What’s the plans for 2020?
Gigs, more singles and other miscellaneous band shit.
The band play the Salty Dog in Northwich on the 28th February with the 99 Degree and Red Stains, Off the Square in Manchester on the 3rd March, Yes in Manchester on the 14th March and M2TM in Wrexham on April 18th. You can follow the band via their face book here to receive updates on all tour dates and releases and via Restless Bear here. You buy the EP here
We hope to have an interview with Gravves soon.
Links to music in blue
Post-punk, indie and a little bit of psych-rock have dominated proceedings this week. The first new single to catch the ear was Itch/Scratch by Human Pet, which reminds me of Adam and the Ants in their early days (including the Red Indian chants in the background). Next up was Presenteeism by Public Body, another song which feels like its sprung from the influence of late 70s post punk, but this time in the Gang of Four mould. I’ve been caning both tracks, they’re wonderful stuff. Out at the start of the week was the new single by one of our ones to watch for 2020, Working Men’s Club. White Rooms and People is not quite at the same level as Teeth but it’s still a good tune nevertheless, reminiscent of the Human League, but in a good way.
The big news of the week came on Thursday when the Blinders released the lead single from their new album Circle Song. I saw the band play in April last year and wondered if they could evolve their music from what was that hugely impressive debut album Columbia, and thankfully from what I’ve heard in Circle Song I think the answer appears to be yes. Circle Song is like a cross between ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’ and ‘Drive in Saturday’, and Bowie even gets a mention in the lyrics. I was so impressed I pre-ordered their album on gold vinyl and exclusive art print etc from those good people at Blood Records, which is where you can also get hold of Sheafs debut EP. The band have a few low-key gigs lined up in May.
On the album front, the debut from Leeds band Mush came out on Friday, and its pretty good. There are shades of the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart and the Fall across the 12-track album and lots of politically charged themes – Poverty Pornography, Gig Economy, Island Mentality for example. The vocals are not everyone’s cup of tea, liked a hopped-up Lou Reed but there’s some great playing in there, particularly on tracks like Revising my Fee.
Outside of indie and post punk, the new album by Dead Sea Apes got a few plays. Recorded live in the rehearsal room last December, Night Lands is comprised of three improvised dirges, long mesmeric, repetitive tracks that build into a crescendo, and ultimately rewarding you for staying to listen to them in their entirety. As with all long pieces of music in these fast-moving times, the album is not the easiest listen in the world and does require patience, however if you fancy zoning out from the world then it’s worth listening through in its entirety. Night Lands is released on Cardinal Fuzz records and you can listen to the album on its entirety here or buy it here.
Also within the world of psych-rock we should have a review of the new Slift album (which is released on the 28th February) to share next week.