What We've Been Listening To This Week...Yard Act, Eyesore and the Jinx, Velvet Starlings, J.Zunz, The Utopia Strong, Protomartyr
By Jon Milton
Finally! April saw the release of ‘The Trappers' Pelts’ the excellent debut single from Yard Act, a Leeds based band compromised of Ryan, Sammy and George of Treeboy and Arc, and vocalist James Smith. This week the band returned with another piece of gold in ‘Fixer Upper’. Where The Trappers' Pelts saw the ghost of Mark E Smith recant a lucid tale about neo-liberalist values, Fixer Upper brings us a more John Cooper Clarke-like telling of Graeme, the archetypal overbearing self made man whose keen to let everyone know just how well he’s done. The band have an album planned, which on the strength of these two tunes and others played at the Dork Homeschool Fest, should be something to look forward to.
We featured two new releases on the blog on Friday, The Exile Parlour by Eyesore and the Jinx, and Karmic Lemonade, the latest single by Velvet Starlings. The former contains four quality tunes that combine intelligent, witty and acerbic social commentary with inventive, incisive noise which you can read about here. The latter marries Cream’s confident riffing with the Doors Hammond heavy vibes with a bit of Kula Shaker thrown in and you can read about it here.
Our other single of note out this week is Four Women and Darkness by J.Zunz, a solo project from Lorena Quintanella, one half of Mexican duo ‘Lorelle Meets the Obselete’ taken from her forthcoming album out on Rocket Recordings, ‘Hibiscus’. The song is a bit of a trip, swirling voices building around a mesmeric sonic background, building into an epic crescendo. Its well worth checking out alongside its video, which you can see below.
Equally mesmerising and immersive is the latest album from The Utopia Strong. 'Dreamsweeper' has just one track, 37 minutes in total, although it is available in parts 1 and 2 if you’d prefer. Part of a run of self released limited edition vinyl that has managed, within a day of release to have a copy appear on Discogs for over three times its original price, Dreamsweeper is a recording of a performance given at Oslo in Hackney in September last year. If you love experimental trippy music and are prepared to take the time to zone out to this, its well worth the effort. Give it a listen here.
Given the rash of albums released on the 17th, we deferred reviewing ‘Ultimate Success Today’, the new album by Protomartyr until this week so it could get a proper listen. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) its been inspired by lead singer Joe Casey having a mid life crisis brought on by their debut being reissued, with the band playing and recording it as a single unit and following similar daily routines. Titled after ‘get rich quick’ infomercials, most of the lyrics were written by Casey on the spot.
Now I have a confession to make. Lots of people have raved on about Protomartyr, but I’ve really struggled to get in to them. They just seem a bit bleak. Sometimes however you just need something to get you over the line and it might just be this album. The music seems lighter and more intricate than what I’ve heard before, its subtleties less dominated by its vocals, with even flourishes of jazz coming through.
Ultimate Success Now begins with Day Without End, sounding like a seventies Lalo Schifrin cop movie score, and then moves into a series of well constructed, powerful songs that culminate with the reflective Bridge & Crown and Worm in Heaven. Overall its an extremely compelling work and one that may serve as the best introduction from which to explore the band's music.