What We’ve Been Listening to…Tragic, Butch Kassidy, Cucamaras, Mhaol, Cross Wires, Les Bods, O., Human Interest, Cowboyy, Splint, Yabba
By Jon Milton
Tragic don’t seem to get a lot of press, which baffles me. Harnessing a mixture of all out punk energy, post punk finesse with a bit of grunge thrown in here and there for good measure sounds like a great combo, after all. If you’ve not heard of them before, their new EP ‘Recidivism’ should serve as a good start. The EP features the frenetic ‘Backfoot’ and ‘Wake Up Terry’, two Nevermind era Nirvana-esque tunes ‘Terry The Self Obsessed Empath’ and ‘Downtown’ and the sublime ‘Recidivist’ and very good it is too.
For those who favour immersive, psychedelic noise with a bit goth thrown in for good measure, check out Butch Kassidy’s ‘Live at Village Underground’ set. They remind me of ‘Dreamtime’ era Cult/Death Cult, early eighties Cure and even Sisters of Mercy, with lots of brooding and intensity and chunky basslines. Five tracks span just under half an hour and it's well worth a watch.
Cucamaras new single ‘Porcelain’ is a self-assured little number seemingly signalling a new direction for the band after their ‘Soft Soap’ EP earlier this year. The vocals have that Lenny Bruce touch that fellow Nottingham dwellers Do Nothing do so well so maybe there’s something in the water up that way.
Way back in the 1980’s World Domination Enterprises released an absolutely belting tune in the form of ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’ with the most wonderfully abrasive guitar that you could ever hope for. There’s a touch of this on ‘Asking for it’, the new single from Mhaol and it perfectly complements the songs powerful message. Their debut album ‘Attachment Styles’ is out in February next year.
It's been a while since we heard from Cross Wires, but they’re back with a new single ‘Mourning’ and a second album ‘Yesterday in Mourning’ on the way. Says singer Jonathan of the track “My original basic Garageband demo idea had the feel (in my mind anyway) of a ‘Boxer’ period track by The National but once we got in a room together and the boys worked their magic it ended up having a Berlin era Bowie meets late period Blur feel to it. It’s one of my favourite things we’ve ever done”.
Another band back after quite a while are Brighton’s Les Bods with their new single ‘Level Dweller’. The band unashamedly make music from that golden late sixties / early seventy rock era, with this latest tune sitting somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and 13th Floor Elevators. Hopefully there will be more from the band next year, although given their laid-back approach to releasing output over the last two and half years, my expectations are limited!
A week or so ago I had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful O. play at the Mutations festival in Brighton and those good people at Speedy Wunderground have now seen fit to release the first single from the two-piece, OGO. Given that only drums and saxophone feature it should come as no surprise that both instruments get a proper workout on this track from two incredibly talented individuals. OGO is kind of in the same vein as Binker and Moses and the Comet is Coming but these two have their own unique style.
As its been a while since my last article (give me a break, I have a family, a day job and post pandemic fatigue!) here’s a few honorary mentions of notable tracks from exciting new artists released over the last couple of months, all via the excellent Nice Swan Records:
- Human Interest - Mixing Paint
- Splint – 145
- Yabba – Get by
- Cowboy - Gmaps
By Jon Milton
Gilla Band's third album is a breathtaking achievement. Prior to listening to 'Most Normal' I had a passing appreciation of Gilla / Girl Band but little more. It was only on a whim that I decided to give the album a listen, but wow, wow, wow, it is brilliant.
First things first, Most Normal has to be listened to in a single sitting. There has clearly been a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into this record to get it to where it is, and it is best appreciated in its entirety.
Opener 'The Gum' sets the tone with its harsh yet bewitching sonic onslaught. 'Eight Fivers' juxtaposes percussion and vocals with a brutal cacophony. 'Backwash''s bouncing bassline is mesmerising. 'Gushie' provides a trippy interlude that takes the edge off the scampering, manic 'Bin Liner Fashion'. 'Capgras' is the sound of a breakdown. 'The Weirds' continues the mania, split into three disparate parts. 'I Was Away' and 'Almost Soon' are the closest the album gets to conventional music before disorientation returns in the form of 'Red Polo Neck' and 'Pratfall'. 'Post Ryan' concludes the journey with another warped bassline overlaid with glorious noise.
The influences of electronic artists like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and the Chemical Brothers are pretty obvious on Most Normal, but what sets Gilla Band apart from these is the production, which so expertly melds analogue with electronica to create something unique. It may well be the album of the year and by some distance.
Anyone who managed to catch SOURDOUGH's excellent single 'Holocene Ending' early this year will be aware of what an exciting, under the radar prospect this band are. The band have just released their debut EP on Vandalism Begins At Home Records which features Holocene Ending along with three more incendiary tunes.
In these volatile, uncertain, complex and uncertain times, SOURDOUGH attempt to provide a voice for the disaffected many, with an EP that pours contempt on governmental abuse of power. And all of this was written before the government decided to issue arguably the most bonkers mini-budget of all time, and in doing so widen the gap between have and have nots.
Opening track 'Ragged Trouser Opinionist' considers the pursuit of power, Holocene Ending the abuse of power and 'Mind and Body' and 'Behind the Screen' the feelings of being powerless. The band's impassioned rhetoric is aptly accompanied by its music which burns with energy, anger and urgency.
Within the first minute of listening to Courting’s ‘Guitar Music’, you may well be thinking that the title was just an elaborate ruse and that an entirely different non-guitar based experience was about to hit you. Album opener ‘Cosplay/Twin Cities’ begins with 30 seconds of uplifting piano, harp and synth and then morphs into a deadpan ‘SexyBack’ like industrial number, replete with dentistry drill noises. Once that initial shock gets out of the way, the six strings make their entry on the excellent single, ‘Tennis’ and pretty much make their presence known throughout the rest of the record. In fairness there was always a hint of the band’s predilection for playfulness with that Cher effect vocal on ‘Loaded’ (included here) and there are little flourishes throughout the album.
The smart lyrics, great tunes and bright inventive ideas on Guitar Music certainly make Courting standout from the crowd and it is a very enjoyable debut album indeed. At times they’re winging a bit, with ‘Jumper’ close to straying a bit too far into mainstream territory and ‘PDA’ almost in danger of getting annoying with that click track, but there again they’re young and I’m not, so perhaps I should just get over myself. At 32 minutes long and with tunes as good as ‘Famous’, ‘Loaded’ and ‘Tennis’ on there you can’t really go wrong.
The latest addition to Blitzcat Records impressive roster of artists (including Gag Salon and Kyoto Kyoto) are Bristol's HAAL, who have just released a new single in the form of 'Janus'.
The song is inspired by the cult 2013 sci-fi thriller show 'Utopia’, whose themes around transhumanism and secrecy adorn the PS2-style graphics video, designed by Will Newcombe. Musically, think Massive Attack fused with a bit of grunge and Marc Ribot's guitar on Island era Tom Waits and you'll be in the right ball- park. Not a bad set of references, eh?
Immersive visuals will take centre stage at two special headline shows - the first in HAAL's hometown of Bristol at The Louisiana with support from Crimewave (Sept 16th), the second in London at Bermondsey Social Club with special guests Waterbaby (Sept 22nd). Check out the video below to give yourself a flavour.