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14th MAR:  OBLIVIOUS – Goons And Masters  (Transubstans) - None more retro Seventies flavoured long hair ‘n flared powered hardrock (from Sweden). Touch of stoner-boogie in there with the melodic blues based riffs and the Free meets Kyuss/Clutch flavours that blend rather well with the liberal sprinkling of Sabbath or Pentagram. All very very righteously Seventies, defiantly stuck in another time and place. Big sound, tuneful sound, retro sound, they do it extremely well –  
12th MAR: EXTRA LIFE - Made Flesh (LoAF Recordings)  - Made Flesh, the second full-length release from New York ensemble Extra Life, has possibly the greatest ending of any album, ever. It has one of the greatest starts, too - a glorious gallop that captures the essence of the band in two minutes: precision tribal/mediaeval drums, squirling analogue synth, some kind of weird distillation of Paint It Black and a Peter Greenaway film, and vocalist/composer/frontman Charlie Looker letting his East Coast-flavoured chorister's voice take on a raw edge as it leaps through a vocal line straight outta 16th century Europe. 
          The songs in between are just as good.
                 Like anything unique, Extra Life's sound is agonisingly hard to describe. Almost as difficult as describing Cardiacs. Looker has gathered some of the cream of the burgeoning New York experimental music scene, including musicians from Ocrilim and Little Women, with violin and wind synth a seamless part of the sound.  Undoubtedly progressive, peppered almost casually with mathy complexity, they seamlessly combine it with intense industrial darkwave heaviness and richly gleaming 80s synth pop.  The only bands that even vaguely resemble them are Thinking Plague and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - otherwise, nothing compares.  But in reality, the dark heart of Extra Life is lost in time, sucking energy from around four hundred years ago.  At its core, their melodies come from Early Music (the good stuff that happened just before proper orchestras were invented), especially monastic plainsong, with its chilling tunes and strange vocal acrobatics. This is not the classical music of later centuries, it's haunting and sharper and wilder, a revelation to ears that find much of the classics over-romantic and cliched. Somehow, European madrigals and plainsong seem uncannily relevant to these stories of fractured, desire-wracked lives lost in the cities of the American East Coast. Maybe it's a millennial, end-of-days thing, maybe the crumbling edges of our shiny civilisations know plague and poverty enough right now to make this connection. It's not some sort of sonic decoration, this is not twee or folksy showing off with crumhorns - its the vital messy energy that kept humanity going back then, same as it does now. Sex and death, then. 
       One of the most satisfying parts of Made Flesh is the way all eight tracks work together as a whole, balancing and contrasting.  If ever there was an argument for the idea of an album, this is it. Between the elegant heaviness of The Ladder and Easter (driven by Nicholas Podgurski's jaw-dropping drumming), there's the magisterial title track (a touch of early Japan, via the middle ages), the exquisite delicacy of Black Hoodie and the quieter, darker empathy of One Of Your Whores and wry modern troubadour's ballad Head Shrinker,  They connect with lyrics about desire, death, injury and healing, submission, pleasure... Then there's the magnificent, slow-burning eleven minutes of The Body Is True.  Here's the culmination of the theme, obsession almost, running through ***Made Flesh: that of flesh, body, mortality - in this case, a hymn to striving for physical perfection, the futility of it and a recognition of the urgency of living in the moment.  Looker's lyrics are as intensely physical and sensual as the music, and it's this that give Extra Life ...well, life. There might be a decent number of complex and adventurous bands around the globe right now, but so many are instrumental, with a big hole where meaning and emotion should be. Extra Life feed that need. More than that, these lyrics - like the music - stick in your head and stand up to being picked over, and that's rare. Combining songwriting like this and playing that's as close to contemporary classical composing as it is to rock, the result is truly powerful.
       Made Flesh is at once bolder and more accessible than the dazzling Secular Works (The Organ's album of the year 2009) - a little less subtle, a little further away from the outer limits of experimentation, but wider in scope. Each track is a masterpiece of elegant engineering and an almost palpable, febrile physical energy: memorable, multi-layered, disturbing even, all working together to make spectacular, irresistible entity.
  I guess they've done it again. or

Rip Cruncher's motorway ride... ripride!12th MAR: DIE! CHIBUAHAU DIE! – Bitch Songs (Stressed Sumo) – So what have we here then? Urgent road crash of a band, bag loads of  urgent energy, Motorhead riffs - those riffs do sounds like Fast Eddie riffs, that is a good thing of course.  They’re from Cardiff, they’ve got no time to hang around, songs that need to go places in a serious hurry. Scathing hardcore rock ‘n roll scuzz ‘n high energy bite, non-stop course of destruction, not doing anything new of course, but bands like this aren’t about new things, they’re about energy, attitude and ramming everything in there... Good good good...

ABADDEN – Sentenced To Death (Rising) – Some kind blustered up stew of relentlessly generic heavy metal served us a debut from this UK band. A whole load of thrash metal bites and generic modern metal shapes all thrown together in to a great big pot along with the kitchen sink and everything else. No hint of any kind or original move or the indeed the merest slither of identity or x factor, just an onslaught of decently produced, decently played generic heard it all before far to omany times twin guitar thrash metal. Is there a point to any of this? More generic thrash metal, lots of energy, lots of bluster, none of the tongue-in-cheek attitude of Municipal Wastes of this world, at least those bands do it with a retro smile on their face. No, this is just a stew of every relatively melodic thrash metal band you ever heard, all thrown in the pot without any kind of extra flavouring or anything to make us need to ever play it again – which is a shame because there clearly is a decent metal band trying to break out here, maybe next time around then? Maybe now the debut is out of the way they’ll feel the need to challenge themselves and add something new, there is a good band in here somewhere...  –

11th MAR: I AM COLOSSUS – I Am Colossus (Casket) - Another one of those super-slow growling grumbling doom records that come along every so often, more of those super slow Sabbath slices and what is this that stands before me? Figure in black with the same old riffs? Rumbling on here for hours and hours, Super slow super heavy doom and low-end growling and ugging and gnawing from ‘singer’ man. They’re probably from Birmingham, let’s have a look... Yeah, right first time. There’s one or two riffs that are maybe just a little too familiar (really can sing the lyrics to ‘Black Sabbath’ at one point, did they intentionally make that reference?). Most of the time this is powerfully heavy standard issue regulation rule-obeying authentic doom  metal - we’ve all heard it (and indeed enjoyed it all before), crushingly slow doom and riffs that take an hour to land in your ear and all that, I Am Colossus do it all as well as anyone. I guess their real power is going to be found in their live performance, standing there in front of their power and their mighty riffs, not sure if you doom heads out there really need this album. Hang on though, it isn’t until the rather excellent fifth track, In Ruins, where they take a step back from the obviousness of the crushing riffs and the vocal delivery and stretch it all out with some slow atmospheric acoustics laced with whispered words – far more dark and powerful, as well as evidence that there may just be more to this band. Actually this one track and this different dimension might just make the whole album worthwhile, no sign of a crushing doom riff until the last ten seconds of  the five minute piece of beauty that leads on to In The Name Of The Father, a track that marries their original doom style to this new found (dark coloured) shot of imagination – now if the album had started at track five, instead of bludgeoning us with second hand Sabbath riffs and heard it all before St Vitus moves, we just might have been a little closer to recommending this half decent doom-beast of a debut album, most of it really is a little too obvious, most of it done already, half decent though, damn powerful  -

8th MAR: LIARS – Sisterworld (Mute) - Liars, well documented around these parts - front covers, interviews, bag loads of radio play and such - we like those Liars lots around here.  New album out this week,  today actually, hardly need our support now, seeing lots of positive acclaim for this latest album, and rightly so. Been waiting for them to jump that shark, they certainly haven’t with here with Sisterworld, nowhere near any big ugly sharks. Not so much dragging you off to the forest this time, more just starring you down on the main street and clubbing you there and then, right there in the broad daylight... Who bothered who? What did they do that? ‘Cause they could that’s why.... More of that menace that could only be New York’s (or are they an LA band now?) ever brilliant, ever thrusting, ever towering Liars. 
           Still sinister but now out in the open and riding the same train lines as you, can’t say this is Liars best album, they‘ve all been their ‘best’ album, this is as ‘best’ as any of them - and each one goes off in slightly different way whilst only ever being a Liars album. One of those rare bands you recognise straight away, one of those rare bands that really don’t sound like anyone else      Notions of not being afraid to die blowing in the breeze, carrying victims one by one, menacing again  – they’re really not this menacing when you sit down with them, they are on stage though, like their music takes them over or something, like they grow another foot and deliver their music from up above you. First time I saw them, there it was, empty stage in a little venue and this microphone in a stand in the middle – how high up is that mic? How tall is this guy? Tribal and trance-like in a menacing kind of way that isn’t really obviously tribal or trance-like (but is if you get the menacing drift), and they’ve got those woods all over the artwork, just don’t ever feel we’ll make it to those woods this time around. And then the soothing beauty of the final track is almost too much after those scarecrows on a killer slant and all the still seeing of an outside world with the proud evolutions and the overachieving... Too Much, Too Much. No false promises or throwaway dreams here, Liars exploring the underground support systems created to deal with loss of self to society, Liars sounding as vital as they ever have. Liars, like we’ve said before, are one of those rare rare bands that you really should make the time to see and hear.. One of those vital bands, a good thing indeed, Liars at their best again...

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo (V2) – The BRMC running through their alternative LA psychedelic blues based pop/rock once more, more of that spreading your love like Jesus and such.... It was like Jesus back when their demos were originally landing here. They never really built on those early demos, none of the albums have ever really come with the excitement of those early days. These days the Motorcycle Club sound like a band happy to just be getting by doing what they need to do - no need to take too many risks or anything like that. Guess those satisfied with the earfood served up on previous Black Rebel Motorcycle Club albums will be happy enough with the slightly glammy slightly psychedelic slightly alternative modern pop rock that comes with a slight throb and a bit of a stomp and.... well...  They’ve always slightly disappointed these ears, they promised so much more back in those early demo days, always felt like they compromised to get where they are, smoothed things out a little too much and unlike their one time leader, back when they were part of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, sold out to the record company man and took the safe option. Still, if you were happy with Howl and what-have-you, you’ll be more than happy enough with this. Just another Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album really –

7th MAR: BURZUM – Belus (Byeobog) -  Black wind of blackest metal and back to blow some more after an eleven year hiatus and all that history that comes with a new Burzum album. History that matters if you know it,. but then again the history really doesn’t matter, in these times of a million bands, it really is about what you’re doing right here right now. Eighth studio album (is it really eleven years since the last one?) and that rusty wall of corroded ambience they throw up is here again. Nowhere near as ambient as before, it is that wall of anticipated atmospheric (almost melodic) noise is there but Belus, in some ways, is a step back to the earlier days of Filosofem or Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. Not a rehash though, it would be so very easy to make a return and just rework old glories, churn it out, flog some T-shirts, make some money – no, somehow that wasn’t ever going to be the Burzum way. No no no, this really really isn’t about anything besides the here and now and this new Burzum album makes perfect artistic sense, this new Burzum album might just be the finest yet. Still a black metal beast and a slightly disturbing wall of noise but this is more than just that. There’s a genuine avant edge here, without abandoning the blueprint and the marks of  the beast that is extreme metal, there’s some genuinely challenging almost orchestral noise here – hard hitting, abrasive and yet, all at the same time reassuringly soothing and strangely disturbingly melodic. Melodic and soothing in a hell is going your burn your black soul kind of way storm of fire coming down on you manner. Growling vocals, walls of riffs piled upon each other until there really is no escape, a relentlessly big noise, a black wind that’ll suck you in, a transcending experience, black metal yes, but a whole lot more as well. The most impressive Burzum experience by quite some way –
4th MAR: BATTALION – Underdogs (Silverwolf) - Real f**king heavy metal anybody?!? screams the press release.... The album, in the legally required dreadful cover, it is a legal requirement with 80’s sounding thrash metal, there can be no other explanation can there? The album opens with a brain-stretching track called Thrash Maniacs and follows that deep analytical life-swerving piece of philosophy up with a second meaningful punch in the face called Headbangers, oh yes, a band for the thinking person. Amongst the eleven thought provoking titles you’ll also find such lip-smacking prospects as Wings Of A Demon, Running Alone, Bullets and Death – wander what they’re saying here, what could it all mean Cyril? What kind of name for a thrashing metal maniac is Cyril anyway?  No, nothing deep, nothing meaningful, no need for an in-depth lyrical analysis, no chin-stroking needed here. Pull up a chair, enjoy the view (as Mythra once said) we’re talking lowest common denominator, fight to the end, dumb as a stick, proper, old school, 80’s sounding, no messing, straight at yer, bullet-belt wearing heavy metal of the thrashing like a maniac variety (all the way from Switzerland).  We’re talking clasic retro-thrash for Kreator heads who don’t mind just a touch of Accept now and again, just for a bit of variety, on their days off from Exodus and Whiplash, not too often, bit of Accept once a month or so, don't want to be getting all arty or anything! Excellent stuff, they got it nailed just right, nice one Cyril, real f**king heavy metal anybody?!? -

SHAKE IT LIKE A CAVEMAN – When You Smile I see Your Fangs (Beast) – Hi Organ, I’m a one man band from Tennessee. I live in a car and play a lot of rock ‘n roll, my pals in Black Diamond Heavies lined me up with you, here’s a live recording we made in France last summer, the album is pretty dirty, good for when you’re drinking beer, Peace, Blake - so reads the delightfully scruffy hand-written note on a piece of paper torn out of a book... 
      When You Smile certainly is dirty sounding, dirty fractured lo-fi scuzzy street-blues and that authentic energetic low-slung broken bottle Seasick Steve boxcar riding down at heel sound. These bluesmen probably get a little annoyed with being compared with Seasick Steve and we can appreciate that, we’re merely talking somewhere along the same vibe here, just a vague signpost pointing you in the right direction so you can go find out for yourself should you feel the need. Good album, bit of a Saint Silas feel, indeed a Black Diamond feel, that rolling early days ZZ Top thing, damn fine album, damn fine no messing lo-fi raw live real sound... Hope that car he lives in is something good, something with fins on the tail and grit in the tank... Authentic broken down no messing proper sounding old school blues is good for your soul –

2nd MAR: URAN – Uran (Sulatron) – The classic taste of organic Instrumental space rock and forward moving synthwinds all standing on a runaway waiting to take off in a rather Hawkish nature. All instrumental slices and impressive fizzing swizzing synth engines firing up like those classic Hawkwind sounds of  the vintage keyboard 70’s....  Space is indeed deep, energetic festi-punk psychedelic space drive from Sweden, tasty slices of analogue spacefood, more bites and slices than full flowing pieces, can’t better a classic slice or two of authentically raw, real deal, dirty synthwind space rock–

THE ARGENT DAWN – A Blank Eternity (Rising) - You’ve got ‘singer’ man gargling Draino and getting nowhere near being able to form anything like coherent words, you’ve drummerman sounding like he’s playing with a nailgun, you’ve got regulation extreme metal guitars buzzing away... Hang on, that bit was coherent, singer man says he’s shat his diaper, that line was rather distinctive... Growl grrrrrr, bluuuuuuuurgggh, gargle gargle, who the flip we got here then? Debut album from The Argent Dawn, five pIece death metal outfit from the Southwest of England who say they’ve been around since 2006... “Drawing influences from bands such as Decapitated, Bloodbath and Aborted, the band have been busy ripping off their death metal collection since their conception” so says the press release... Well no, it doesn’t quite say that but hey, if they have been busy writing this debut album since their conception why the flip have they not come up with an original move in all of those four years? Just what is the point in churning out more and more of this same old predictable heard it all before extreme grindcore death metal vomitary and regurgitation? Didn’t Napalm Death close the book on all this stuff years and years ago? At least add little hint or two of an ingredient of your own, a little finer print of something just a tiny bit different. Oh look, same old thing, yet again, they do it well enough, as well as any of the others, thing is the others have done it already and if there is a point then you can go grab hold of it over at

1st MAR: VELVET STAR – Velvet Star (VS) – Seven track mini album from the scuzzy glammy no messing Yorkshire rockers. A straight forward, basic, no-frills, riffed-up, scuzzy, glammy, muck ‘n bluster kind of thing for those who like it on the Cult, Guns ‘n Roses, Stooges, Terrorvision, Wildhearts side of life –

26th Feb - Albums albums 

ADAM DONEN – Immorality (Walker&Orfang) - South African songwriter and acclaimed poet,  "blatantly, unashamedly influenced by Leonard Cohen....." and that really is no bad thing is it? Not when that influence beings out songs this good. 
         “Cut your hair and straighten your spine: If you smile right you can preside over the decline of a civilisation, And what more could you want?.” 
         “Adam Donen grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, the eldest child of prominent anti-apartheid activists. He delivered his first poetry performance at age six, reciting works by William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge to ANC freedom fighters inside Polsmoor Maximum Security Prison. Much as everyone who heard the Sex Pistols' Manchester Free Trade Hall gig is said to have started a band, so everyone who heard Adam would later become a cabinet minister: audience members included  Tony and Lumka Yengeni and Jennifer Schreiner. Adam began playing guitar a year later. He moved to London at eighteen, read English and started a band. His first project, garage band Alexandria Quartet, toured the UK for much of 2006 and 2007, playing six shows a week in grotty dives. Their music was violent and political, and they channelled Old Testament-style hellfire at apathetic Blair babies. After sixteen months of raging, burn-out set in. A spell of depression and agoraphobia left Adam in an underground hovel in Hackney, disinclined to leave the house or take visitors. There he set to work on new poems and songs. He developed an obsession with the 60s band Love; upon discovering that they based their string arrangements on Rimsky-Korsakov's Principles of Orchestration, he duly devoured the textbook.....  Around this time, a mutual friend brought Adam to the attention of producer Robert Harder this led to 2008's limited release album and poetry book As Our Parents Slowly Turn to Clay, recorded in Harder's 2-Noise Studios. An orchestrally-tinged rock album. And now ‘Immortality’ a second collaboration with Harder.” 
              Don’t really make the habit of just lazily reproducing artist biographies and press sheets, does rather tell you the story so far though, or at least shine a little introductory light on it ... And this really is a fine album, rich in words and rather beautiful tunes, some of it simple acoustic wordy, some orchestral warmth, all very much about the words and the lines that keep on catching ears in their audacity of rope, words whistling on hard through the fallow and the one good eye gone from the horse and divorced from the tunes they’re marched from a conjurer’s hat. Just fine songs, alive with the coming of Spring’s good words and let it all come to you in the sigh of an hour . No remit to submit, you really have to listen for yourself, burn your own Icarus tongue numb with the depth and Leonard Cohen-like quality of a rather accomplished album...

WITH CHAOS IN HER WAKE – Treason (Rising) – Those Cookie Monster vocals are verging on the comedic, sounds like there’s two of them growing away somewhere in the (almost ridiculous) sludge and the stew that is the debut album from the brutally extreme metal band. They’re from Hull, their certainly boiling up a storm, all rather generic and predictable, a never-ending onslaught, an energy ball of (rather predictable) violently extreme metal. Decent enough debut if you can deal with the almost silly vocals and the predictability of it all, need my extreme metal to be a little less obvious and maybe just a little less silly -

THE DOLLY ROCKER MOVEMENT – Our Days Mind The Tyne (Bad Afro) – Retro as retro can be sixties/seventies groovy psychedelic pop, fried frazzled acid riffs and all those garage sounds and, well decent enough if you like this kind of thing, nothing you psychedelic garage-pop freaks won’t have heard before though – or

SWORN AMONGST – Severance (Rising) – Third album already, the still rather young UK outfit are churning out their rather regulation groove-orientated 90’s sounding Pantera-flavoured relentlessly intense choppy thrash. They talk of stepping outside their comfort zone, not really walked the talk though, once again they’re kind of sounding like nothing more than half decent standard issue thrash metal. They do it well enough, body-breaking relentlessness and all that... A thrashathon of heard it all so many times before metal...

25th Feb MIDLAKE – The Courage Of Others (Bella Union) – This is something a little special, yes, I know, another album ans we're saying it yet again, but it really it is. They’re from Denton, Texas, they've been a healthy word of mouth reputation and an ever growingfollowing for a while now. From a small town in Texas, they do have a touch of an English folk about their rich wholesome sound though. A rich wholesome warm sound and some delicately crafted alternative songs, I guess they do really sound North American (in a positively English way though), or maybe just a worldly sound and feel all of their own? Less keyboard based now and with more of an acoustic grounding – rich mellow full-bodied songs, beautiful songs, alternative folk-flavoured delightfully-detailed songs that glide and swell so well, everything here really pleasantly enjoyable - there's even a trace of that Canterbury sound... Singer Tim Smith (no, not that one) has a vibrant voice, he talks of 70’s electric folk-rock, I guess that’s where Midlake are, not in any kind of retro way though, this is very much a band and a quietly ambitious refined and hearty sound for now.  Rather recommended – or

24th Feb - Albums albums, only the good ones though, back...

LONELADY – Nerve Up  (Warp) – There’s nothing on the album that’s as instantly beguiling as that wonderfully organic experimental b-side that’s on Lonelady’s current single, this is very definitely more of what you find on the fine a-side... More of that pin-point Eighties sounding English art-pop birthed of Manchester and all things musically good from those late 70’s/early 80’s experimental days when pop, for a wonderful moment or two, ran in the direction pointed out by Joy Division... 
            Here’s what we said of the first taste we had last week (for this album is more of what we found on the fine fine a-side of Lonelady’s single Intuition, here’s the single review, or at least the a-side... “Sounds like one of those really good ear-catching left-field new wave flavoured pop singles you’d occasionally catch in amongst all the dross on Top Of The Pops back in the day. Sounds a bit like one of the better Comsat Angels singles (they were good, won’t have a thing said against them) or a far more stable Grace Jones (or Lena Lovich) messing with a healthy touch of Joy Division  (but not in that obvious way all those post-Franz boy bands think they touch on Joy Division and somehow never do). Lonelady sounds nothing like any of that really but you get the drift don’t you?  Sounds like a PiL single with Johnny handing over vocals to some kind of intriguing girl who knows as much as he does...  She’s Julie Campbell, she’s rather good, this is excellent. Paul Morley said she was the love/hate child of those Bunnymen, he’s right (and he is one of the few music journalists that deserves real respect, always worth listening to) and this fine two track just sounds like one of those strange left field pop singles you’d find somewhere in the 80’s, one of those discoveries you’d love forevermore..  One of those classic singles you’ll talk about for years - like you talk about that Ex Post Facto single or the first time you really heard The Associates or got what The Fall really were or that single the Raincoats once put out, or A Certain Ratio and... She’s from Manchester, of course she is, thrilliant single...”
                And the album is more of the same, not just a repeat of the same song and the same idea though - fine variations on a thrilliant theme, each song alive with a little bit of a personality that make it different enough from the next, all of them could be classic singles, no filler, no let down, oh how we feared the let down after the thrill of the single. Sometimes you hear a single, rush to get hold of the album to find it was a one off moment of stand-out excellence and  the rest is..  Not here, any of the tracks could be the next single and we rather think you need to go explore the fine art of Lonelady as soon as you can. Proper intelligent challenging 80’s flavoured art pop cleverness, awash with personality and colours of her own.. Being clever is sometimes very good (and do pleaswemake every effort to get the current single Intuition just for the b-side Bloedel). Lots of music about right now, we’re swamped with it all, do make time for Lonelady..

KING KOOL – Vampin (Oilbug) – Standard issue low slung scuzzy biker garage rock ‘n roll, including a regulation cover I Wanna Be Your Dog. The Stooges cover pretty much tells you where this two piece are at, dirty deviant sound, biker road-trip scuzz and the American dream off the rails via the Fens of England and a dose of Brit-rock grit. or

22nd Feb - JASON & THE SCORCHERS – Halcyon Times (JCPL) – Nashville’s legendary cow-punk trail-blazers back with their first album of new material since 1996. They’re maybe a little more restrained and mellowed out and a touch more middle aged and genteel these days, still enough of a rocking edge to that cow-punk country rocking twelve bar blues sounds of theirs though. A little more in the middle of the road with their barroom country cowpunk, still the very real gritty raw country rocking deal though, gracefully maturing like a good Southern sipping whisky  –

17th Feb - Albums albums, only the good ones though, we don't review any old thing around here, we listen to everything, we only bother with those worth your time and our space... 

ELECTRIC ORANGE – Krautrock From Hell (Sulatron) - Classic Krautrock as it would sound if it really was to be from hell? The bubbling orange fires of Krautrock hell? The devil’s own prog rock cauldron bubbling and boiling away? Fluent Krautrock flavours fused with an organic-sounding analogue-driven old school prog rock undercurrent. Meaty keyboards, instrumental warmth, well actually, not so much of a prog rock undercurrent as we journey in to the heart of the German band’s latest album. This is full on no messing kraut flavoured proper prog rock, alive with the honeyed hum of Mellotron, the realness of Farfisa, Hammond and a whole stew of glorious vintage analogue keyboards, synths, Lesleys and ‘analogeffekte’ in their gloriously Seventies flavoured (mostly) instrumental cauldron. A front line cutting edge mix of prog, kraut, space rock and all richly blended so that Electric Orange have a warm identity all of their own. They’ve been around since the early 90’s, their entire catalogue is worth your time and ears, this latest album might just be their best yet. Rather recommended and if this is hell then bring it all on -

15th Feb - THE POSTMARKS – Memoirs At The End Of The World (Unfiltered) – Creamy girl fronted soul drenched goodness. Songs that have a touch of the Burt Bacharach in the lush arrangements and the way they flow, some of that Sundays, Cardigans cream and best of all the pop sensibilities of St. Etienne. Tie your shoes, put on your poker face, don’t tell me you don’t love St Etienne style (Northern) soul-drenched creamy girl-voiced pop. She as a gorgeously easy voice, a slightly art-house sixties movie aesthetic (and they got the album artwork spot on). Cute, melancholic, uplifting, breezy, lucidly smooth... they’re from Miami, they sound a little French, a little English, they sound just right, all pulp fiction and the fine art of sunny daydreaming indeed... or

MUSÉE MÉCANIQUE – Hold The Ghost (Souterrain Transmissions) – From Portland Oregon with a delightful debut album. Simple quiet unassuming bits of musical treasure, a whole string of them, all glowing and ornate and cleverly detailed. Songs held together by a frame of acoustic guitar and a simple quiet voice, songs brought to life by a collection of vintage instruments, elegant details, simple folk touches, slight orchestral flourishes, glockenspiel, melodica, accordion, cassette player (so it says on the instrument credits) and all with just a hint of an uncluttered electronic heart somewhere underneath the gentle delicate glowing quite and rather gloriously beautiful songs. A rather different album, a gloriously beautiful quiet unassuming album, a delight... or

EXHIBIT A - Portrait in Rhyme (Rising) – According to the press release we once said they were “puss-burstingly good”. We probably did, sounds like the kind of thing we might say around here, guilty m'lud, thing is there’s so many of these screaming extreme metalcore puss-bursters flying past our ears these days that they all kind of blur in to one great big ball of dark green and purple extreme metalcore puss ‘n bile. Can’t honestly remember ninety nine percent of them longer than the time it takes to put the CD back in the case and for all the bluster and the energy, the aggressive intent and the blistering attitude, there’s really nothing that radically new or different going on here with Exhibit A’s debut album. Nothing to have us remembering this for much longer than all the other KillSwitchAvengedthingies. Not that this is a bad album, more that Exhibit A have made yet another screaming bloody blur of extreme metalcore gore, another spewtum of big riffs, violent low-end screams and whatever else they feel like throwing in the blender... They’re not bad at it, their blend is better than most and if we were to be left in a room with nothing but this then things could be worse, the production might not be quite as slick  as the big (usually North American) guns but Exhibit A are as good as any of them.  And yes, the Stoke-On-Trent band have a raw edge and a brutal blistering delivery, they hint at a need to do more than just this same old thing, there are little twists of hope, stabs of a slightly different nature in their with their mostly standard issue modern metalcore stew.  And they kind of peck at your head after a while, seven or eight tracks in and you’re really wanting a change in texture, a little more than just the tiny hints of light and shade...  And you’re kind of thinking shouldn’t yer screaming man have finished regurgitating his dinner by now...?  Ah, acoustic guitar, we’ve hit the emotional meaningful sensitive bit, hang on though, the change of pace lasted for something less than half a minute, the bad fish shouty man had for tea has struck again, more puss, more projectile metal, more bluurggggg and...  Oh look, as raw streetwise extreme metalcore goes this is better than most, as low-budget band-fighting-against-the-odds debuts go this really isn’t bad. Exhibit A have taken some time to actually come up with their debut (is this really their debut? Press release says it is, all a blur, one big metal blur of a thousand soundalike bands who all dress the same, look the same, pose the same for the band photo, are you sure they haven’t put out an album already?). Oh look, better than most at doing (mostly) the same old thing, little hints of a need to be a little different somewhere in their blend, good luck to ‘em, hopefully they get that puss all burst and cleared up and yer singing screaming man gets over the stomach cramps  and they build on this not bad debut album... Now get it out of here and let me get back to that Extra Life album... 
         If this thing you’re reading now was one of those glossy rock mags we’d give this album a 7 out of 10 and tell you the best tracks are at the end, that Death of Love suggests that now they’ve finally got over the hurdle of getting the debut out they might just come up with some extreme metalcore that does challenge things. There are signs here, Death Of Love is the stand out track, Death Of Love is way beyond the mere adrenaline rush and the puss bursting, Death of Love suggests Exhibit A have more to come...

ACTNOIR – Shape A New Start (Eibon) – Not sure where the new start they talk of shaping is? This is slick slick generically slick, more all too slick electro-rock darkwave goth-pop slickness somewhere near A perfect Circle or H.I.M with maybe just a touch of Depeche Mode and no real identity of  their own. Cones in a purple cover with a man looking at the tears falling on to his outstretched hand and if that idea excites the spiders in your pretty head then here’s all the links you need, I’m off to eat cheese or do something useful – or

NITZER EBB – Industrial Complex (Major) – New studio album from the long-standing Essex industrial outfit. Fifteen years on from their last studio output, this is a clean cut machine-driven beat-infused set of industrial-pop Depeche flavours for those who want them. Further investigation via

14th Feb - SANKT OTTEN – Morgen Wielder Lustig (Denovali)  - A soothing relaxing gliding instrumental cruse in the calm rewarding waters somewhere between Boards Of Canada and a relaxed, unhurried, no need to rush along any kind of autobahn, Kraftwerk. A refined blend of easy on the ear post rock and mellow electronic krautrock flavoured ambient flow. Instrumental glide, gentle graceful warmth, subtle shape-shifting as they cruise by, all rather good in a mellow tangerine coloured dream of a way, all nice and cleansing and deep breath, inhale, enjoy...  warm and luscious synthness – or

STERBUS – Chi Ha Ordinato Gli Spinaci? (Self Release) – Sterbus appears to be a person, could be the name of the band as well, he is the only consistent in the line ups on the different tracks. Certainly feels like a full band and even though the vocalist, and other personnel, keep changing, the whole thing flow as one definite whole. Those of you paying full attention, will have heard the rather fine Sterbus version of Dirtyboy on the Organ radio show, a Cardiacs classic of course and an excellently interpreted version. That version isn’t on here but that Dirtyboy side of Cardiacs is, not a clone, not a copy, just a subtle positive influence in there alongside the healthy hints of Radiohead and the genuine need to push it all a little and be genuinely different. Opens with a rather fine slice of Oceanland World, Kinks flavoured pop restraint, there’s some rather beautiful moments here, a charming set of songs, some graceful details. Song For Elliott is a stand out, don’t really notice the thirty-eight Beatles song titles that pass by somewhere in the lyrics too much. At times, when the pace picks up there’s an alt.rock American flavour, once again only positive flavouring and this collection of nine songs really does have a feel that isn’t that obviously like anything or anyone else - well a moment or two might be sailing a little close to Radiohead, Ice Cream Coming and such...  Rather enjoyable album from Italy, rather good, and that version of Dirtyboy is rather special –





KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)
KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)