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2nd OCT '09: THE BLACK – Alongside Death (Pulverised) - New album from The Black, now if you're going to play hissing spitting black metal then just cut to the chase with the no messing band name! The cult Swedish extreme metal band have been around in one form or another for some fifteen years or so now and this is abhorrently good extreme old school black metal. Filthy onslaught of hiss and demonic piss, featuring members of Tyrant, Eternal Darkness and Vinterland, this is a black wind of relentless noise. A black noise that finally takes a breath somewhere in the middle of track seven – The Wrath From Beneath – a stop for breath and some foreboding low end resonance before they launch in to the fire again with the closing title track. Alongside Death a throwback to the glorious early days of no compromise shitstorming extremities, the best days before the whole idea of black metal got lost in a stew of bluuuuurrrg and million silly rule obeying identical silly logo parodies. The Black, once again, aren’t doing that much that’s that different, they are however once again hitting somewhere near the spot - these days most extreme metal doesn’t hit anywhere anything any near any spot, most goes straight in the crusher over there in the corner, once in while that In League With Satan bite crunches down again, The Black’s new album just did it. Extreme metal from Sweden on a label from Singapore, you got to love the underground...  or

THE DEAD LAY WAITING – We Rise (Rising) - Pretty much standard issue aggressive intense relentless metalcore deathcore grindcore whatevercore. Plenty of growling (give that man a throat lozenge and tell him to shut up for a moment), there's some of that technical show-off guitar playing and look at us aren’t we clever, everything is pretty much a case of never relenting. They deal out an aggressive onslaught alright, pretty impressive for a bunch of teenagers from Swindon if you like this kind of thing I guess. The constant yapping, growling and technical metal wanking is starting to annoy a little bit too much now... If you want it then here it is, we’re out of here before something gets broken  - or

PONAMERO SUNDOWN – Stonerized (Transubstance) – Perfectly righteous heavy stoner rock from Stockholm Sweden. Simple basic cut straight to the chase stoner rock, heavy groove, bag loads of big riffs, all the fuzz you need. Nothing radically different, nothing you haven’t heard before, we could namedrop all the usual bands needed when reviewing this kind of stuff – Sabbath, Kyuss, Orange Goblin... Nothing clever needs to be said here, this is simply honest no messing righteous heavy rock that just hits all the right spots in all the right ways – in your blood, in your soul... This rocks, they rock, we like rock. Thick fuzzy in the vital zone no messing heavy fuggin rock! or

30th Sept '09:  MARDUK – Wormwood (Regain) – Sweden’s Markuk with a continuing of that unswerving commitment to blasphemy and extremity... Extreme black metal delivered with a little more colour than most and if you really look nothing really is actually black, everything is full of colour. Brooding extremity that gives way to flesh ripping riffs and punching jackhammer buzzsaw speed before the next lull softens you up for the next ripping apart. They not afraid to pace themselves these days, take on a touch of light and shade, refocus the atmospheres, evolve a little where once they went for nothing but full on brutality. Still mostly full on brutality, they haven't gone all wet leaf on us. A rather decent Marduk album then – or

chaka ( Sept '09:  OMO – The White Album (LoAF) – A minimal, clean cut, precise kind of everything is white kind of band, white skirt, white top, white trainers... washing powder clean, second serve, overhead smash. Clean precise minimal electronic pop, “domestic pop for domestic occasions”. Clean synthesisers, Laurie Anderson, slightly lo-fi strangely delightful, Kraftwerk, warm sunny buzz, delightful repetitive goodness, strangely good... advantage... deuce...  Strange half spoken words over repetitive synth lines and inviting hums, an appreciation of uncluttered space . Electronic patterns, clever words...

W.A.S.P – Babylon (Demolition) – Four rip crunching horseman just passed by the front window, there’s blood on the doorsteps, reptiles jousting around ankles and a new W.A.S.P. album just dropped. Good god is this what you’d call a guilty secret? The kind of thing you carry in a plain brown paper bag? Something you’d hide behind your cool post-rock albums so no one can see it? “Not mine mate, someone must have left it here...” Nah, ‘course it isn’t, this is W.A.S.P! They rule! Nothing to analyse or intellectualise about here, no chin stroking needed! Just plug it in, turn it up, fire up a mug of Jack and blast the bleeder at your street! You know the score, a new W.A.S.P album day is always a good day... Who knows what old Blackie is bleating on about this time? Has he ever made sense? Apparently those four horsemen who just frantically galloped past the front window are now riding full force through the seas of fire to Babylon with the wild child going all blind in Texas on a godless run or something vaguely conceptual where all the songs follow in some kind of who knows what while the sky is full of thunder coming home and there’s no time to hide in the red hills of hell... And he does bleat, Blackie is the metal sheepman, Blackie sings like a sheep...
             Full on W.A.S.P, none of your Headless Children almost-prog Who/Heepisms this time around (well besides those overdriven Hammond Organs flowing through those burning Uriah Heep style Lesley speakers there).  This is full on no messing W.A.S.P with those old school classic hard rock hints lurking in the stew with the chainsaws and... Nothing subtle, just familiar W.A.S.P and all as near to top form as can reasonably be expected from a band of some twenty five years plus vintage. (that wasn’t a Headless Children dis there either, that’s a damn fine album!) 
                    You’ve got a W.A.S.P style cover of Deep Purple’s Burn on here, the original of which is such riff-monster of a hard rock classic that it surely must be almost near on impossible to mess the glorious thing up, Blackie and company don’t. Pretty much a straight cover done with all the expected in your face Waspness you require with your biscuits and tea. Hammond versus guitar duel, skies burning, the full on make you burn with a wave of the hand deal, W.A.S.P doing classic purple works as well as their previous takes on Uriah Heep, The Who or Jethro Tull. And there really is no mistaking the voice of Mr Lawless is there? Even when they’re ripping through a prime slice of Purple (or an Elvis song like Promised Land), you know it can be no other, you instantly know it can only be the mighty W.A.S.P flying at your head with all that larger than life shock-rock cartoon metal revolving chainsaw flamethrower cod-piece attitude of theirs. All as over the top and almost as preposterously good as they’ve ever been... Yeah, sure, there’s the doggy ballad, you’d feel cheated if there wasn’t wouldn’t you? The arse factor lurking there in those lyrics really does jump out when they slow it all down a little (arse or genius Blackian apocalyptic vision and our skies really are about to turn as red as...?) 
          Hey look, W.A.S.P doing just what you expect W.A.S.P to do, you either want it or you don’t. If you do then this is the band on more than acceptably good form, if you don’t then you’ll find this to be their usual preposterous over the top nonsense and you’ll bark you indignation as those of us with the better taste demand the punch of the play it again only louder this time button and dip another biscuit in the Jack. Nah, nothing like a good but of Blackie, another good enough W.A.S.P album just landed, all is well, ignore that winged beast over there and get on with it..
3rd Sept '09: MY OWN GRAVE – Necrology (Pulverised) – Sweden’s My Own Grave with more of that angry wasp stuck in the devil’s jam jar stuff. Dark dense merciless death metal storms, standard issue storms of relentless extreme metal, heard it all before a thousand times, decent enough storms though, kind of comforting to have it raging away here, soothing black storm of noise as it were... Members of Depraved and Cavevomit...

ALBUM REVIEW: PERE UBU with SARAH JANE MORRIS – Long Live Pere Ubu (Cooking Vinyl) –  Merdre this is good.... “Merdre” is the single growled word that opens the album, “Merdre” was also the single word that open Alfred Jarre’s play that, so legend has it, sent audiences into riotous fits back there just over a hundred years ago...   We pretty much know the only thing we can reasonably expect from Pere Ubu is the unexpected. Not content with pretty much reinventing rock music in the mid 70’s, they’ve been reinventing themselves with each new album since... down with Pere Ubu the hideous skunk...  Long live Pere Ubu... if you don’t hand over some meat and some gold...  They’ve really outdone themselves this time. Pere Ubu finally got around to making some kind of semi-deranged rather ambitious concept album based on the absurdist play that they originally got their name from... what a wonderful sight, bring me more. Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” is said to have caused riots when it premiered in Paris in 1896 (as did Stravinsky’s Rites Of Spring 14 years later of course, there’s a hint Of Stravinsky’s strokes in here, his forward motions)    Ubu, my vileness, don’t be a bore... It has taken the avant-punk-new-wave-prog band (or whatever the hell you want us to call them this week for the purposes of this review and another exercise is dancing around architecture) some thirty or so years to get around the making an album based on the play that they originally took their name form. Seems the original play was banned after the second performance and the second night of riots... not it time to prevent it playing a large part in launching the idea of the Theatre Of The Absurd and in turn the name of this rather revolutionary band... And here they are paying back the favour and doing some introducing themselves and slitting things open from head to toe and... 
 This isn’t a mere concept album, it really does grab the spirit of the play and runs amok with it, this is a lot more than just another concept album... We’re dragged all over the place with the continuous piece of music. Long Live is an album that you’ll need to invest a little time in, this is an album that takes a few listens and a little bit of undivided attention before it really gets under your skin and you realise David Thomas and company have pulled off something really rather impressive here. Thomas himself is on top form with that distinctive instinctive voice, and Sarah Jane Morris alongside, as scheming harpy Mere Ubu, is brilliant in a creepy almost show-steeling way - taking advantage of the delirium, and angels don’t swear, she has claws everywhere... at least the equal... She’s all kinds of dalmatian tormenting Cruella creepy. Dark lounge jazz, twisted operatic doom, concept-prog story telling, a liberal interpretation of the original play so it would seem, so many splendid ideas, I agree to everything.... Long live Ubo, now sing that song we love... and is that the sound of bile or are we going to stay on the hill? Lot of twists here... Punk satire? Social commentary? This isn’t really 1896 is it? Some of it sounds almost childish in a very clever knowing kind of way, oh look, this is an excellent album, let it in and let it settle then you want to dive in further and further. A masterpiece..
  And they’re at the ICA in London this week, Friday 25th Sept  More from or

21st Sept '09: THE FEW AGAINST MANY – Sot (Pulversised) – A storm of cod-classical b-movie horror film soundtrack and technical death metal growling ‘n crunching ‘n chopping ‘n riffing all mixed together in some kind of over the top stew of death ‘n growl that kind of almost works in a morbidly satisfying everything thrown in with the kitchen sink longass sentence kind of way.... almost. –

KILL IT KID – Kill It Kid (One Little Indian) - Kill It Kid are just so likeable, they hit the spot in such an extremely good way, they bring the sun out, they’re like floating down the sunny river without a care, they just do it right... Sunny alt.blues and rich rich vibrant voices – they sound like they’re wise way beyond their years, they sound like they’ve been on the road and swapping tales for years and years with their gorgeous two-part harmonies and their warm intimacy, their intriguing interplay. They certainly don’t sound like they have an average age of just 21and this does not sound like a mere debut album from an excited young band making their first significant moves. There’s a touch of Tom Waits about them, a hint of Delta blues sunshine in there with their Mid-West truck-stop twists and their breezy folky Englishness (they got their name from an old Blind Willie McTell song so it seems, this is an English thing though, they know where they're from). Truth be told, there’s really nothing revolutionary going on here, nothing that’s going to change musical lives, no, this is just really good simple (clever) uplifting sunny tunes and some rather intriguing lyrical interplay for those times when closer attention is paid. Just a rather enjoyable album from a rather enjoyable band, sometimes that’s more than enough... We like Kill It Kid and this debut more than lives up to all the early promise... Strong songs, delightful tunes, something just a little different (and they do always seem to bring the sun out) – or

19th Sept '09: VOWELS – The Pattern Prism (LoAF) James Rutledge and drummer Chris Walmsley with some rather fluidly experimental oscillation that touch on Battles flavours, Terry Riley-like keyboard moves, different ideas, nothing obvious. Swirling, fizzing, Tangerine Drones that fizz over the top of the glass and flow all over the place, squelch and twinkle and gushing flow, altering intensity and mind dancing crones, busy drums and dense weaves and rewired synths, miasmic clouds and strange movements in different directions, crafted, constructed and all kinds of entwined goodness and dancing around architecture and nailing down clouds as unhelpful words of description... Are LoAF ever going to release a predictable record?

19th Sept '09: GONG - Gong 2032 (G-Wave) - Oh, but this is too easy to dismiss, to brush aside because it's Gong being Gong, because what they originally pioneered has been re-worked more efficiently, because it starts a little slow and compared to the incredible stuff coming out of avant-prog and post rock it sounds pretty, well, normal.  But paying attention, catching more of the lyrics, I found myself exhilarated and moved.  Hard for me, or I'm sure a lot of long-time Gong listeners, to say whether that's down to knowing their history or whether it's intrinsic. Strangest of all, Gong 2032 feels like a soundtrack to today, to the climate protests on the TV and people Twittering from behind police cordons.  And the same kind of economic reality-check that accompanied Gong's first incarnation in the 70s, and their early 90s rebirth too. 
         So, a quick, ahem, potted history of Gong, as given to an ignorant teen of the mid 80s (me) by another of my generation who'd discovered them: they're amazing, you should get Angel's Egg and Camembert Electric and You, they're the best albums, they all lived in a commune in France and played festivals and then there's Floating Anarchy 77 with Here And Now... Forbidden knowledge, and a breath of fresh air and imagination and fun and colour in a time of now-unimaginable drabness. For a while, an unreported stew of young bands blossomed underground, influenced by Gong and Hillage and (more often than not, literally) fighting to play festivals across the country.  And in a few years, Daevid Allen would astonish this new generation by coming out of the wilderness to play modest London gigs, and a bit later Steve Hillage would be playing big clubs, and Gong would reform to fill the Brixton Fridge... Eventually, we got used to Gong being around rather than a mythic band we'd never get to see. (And rave culture came along and extracted the spacey sounds and proto-dance grooves and filtered out all meaning; concentrated it like processed food or hydro skunk; made it empty instant joy without message or purpose or, come the morning, hope. Discuss). Funny enough, while those first reunions were real events and gatherings of the tribes, they were arguably not a patch on Subterrania in 2000 or the Scala, where original Gong camp-followers reckoned they were better than shows they'd been to in the Seventies.  
How strange. Bands aren't supposed to do this. They're supposed to have a virile youthful heyday and then split or spend the rest of their careers as shadows of themselves. But maybe there's some kind of vital energy that comes from being a survivor - and the more obstacles, rejection and crap you survive, the more you are bashed over and over again by bully culture the more meaningful it gets.
       Don't ever make the mistake that Gong's pixies and teapots are fluffy nonsense. They're the biggest single finger you can contrive to the world.  When Gilli Smyth tells you in a voice worn even more beautiful by time that there are witches, it is with layers of knowing and defiance and glee that brings a lump to the throat.  And scattered throughout this album are references to the, ahem, here and now, to war and cluster bombs and terrorists and bankers having breakdowns. There's always been real unflinching darkness in Gong, not only reflecting the bigger world but the flipside of the counter-culture dream - you only had to scratch their playful surface and take a proper look at what they were doing and saying. In Escape Control Delete Daevid Allen even seems to be singing his valedictory - stuff about leaving, going back to that better planet, about 'the 21st Century too bright for my eyes' ...but responds instantly with a call to hope and laughing in the face of fear. 'If you feel like a stranger in a strange land/It's probably who you are'.   
By the standards of many avant/psyche/prog bands doing the rounds at the moment, Gong 2032 isn't hugely cutting edge - the drum sound is a bit of a let down, for one thing. What it does have is heart, and lyrics that become incredibly moving when you put them in the context of the band and their history - their outsider-ness, their time in the wilderness and resurgence as a rallying point for other outsiders. Oh, and of course, Steve Hillage. With years of Ozric Tentacles and the like adopting spacey grooves it took a few listens of the album to appreciate just how good that gliss guitar sounds when it's done by the man himself - warm, subtle, the real deal. The essence of festival, like the smell of trampled grass and diesel generators (no wristbands, no adverts, maybe a man going around with a hat for the genny, the odd knock from a truncheon... proper festivals).  Does it still take you out of yourself?  Can we still dream of being saved by aliens?  Or are we all still smarting from the letdown, proud of our cynicism and all grown up? 
Oh, but Gong knew about cynicism all along - it was never a sugary sweet cop-out, not with those twisted melodies and puckish humour. It mocked the hippy dream even while celebrating its childlike idealism and being one of the purest, most glorious manifestations of psychedelia. It's actually not nonsense at all, its wry and self-reflexive and ultimately honest.  And all these years down the line they’re wiser than ever. Reconnected together, the elements of Allen, Smythe and Hillage, the mercurial spokesman, the magical constant, and the sonic craftman - that's the essence of Gong at the heart of this lineup, and you can feel it.  And this Gong knows the spirit's a bit battered, but it is there: still, incredibly, alive. And that's enough. 

PRE17th Sept '09: RAISING SAND – All Out War (Bullseye) - Liking this, the English band have got things impressively together, they weren’t this good last time around, what happened...? It was bugging me, this really does sound like something, what the hell is it? Then it clicked, they sound like Sammy Hagar’s Montrose  (or maybe Young Heart Attack, who in turn sounded very much like Montrose anyway), that should be taken as a big compliment, Montrose, and indeed Hagar, rule. Raging Sand suddenly got their musical shit seriously together with some rather decent old school blue-edge storm-kicking hard rock then – nothing groundbreaking, nothing that different, just a good helping of old school hard rock that’s done right... or

WE GOT THIS FAR – Blunt Force Volume (WGT) – Some kind of dark stylised dark dark thing from the dark side of Gothdom (and California) and the darker bits of Nine Inch Nails. Some nice bits of colour in their darkness, worth your time should you be one of the beautifully dark people...

DIETER MOEBIUS – Kram (Klangbad) – Respected German Electronic music pilot with some fresh fizz and repetitive drive, oh OK then, some fresh Krautrock (I really was trying to avoid being lazy but hey, call a spade a spade while the toast burns...), some fresh Krautrock based compositions that push forward in a rather crisp refreshing cleansing kind of way – kind of timeless, kind of good... like it, yes, rather like it...

KALAMAZOO – How To Hunt A Dear (Indiz) – Pleasant indie rock colour from Paris, France. Touch of poppy Radiohead, hint of Television, maybe a trace of Placebo, nothing obvious though, they have their own rather accomplished rather enjoyable sound... –

LEAVES’ EYES – Njord (Napalm) - Another one of those Evanescence type operatic girl singer backed by shouting man type neo-classical Euro goth metal bands...  Drowning in their own destiny so it seems...

LEFT LANE CRUISER15th Sept '09: LEFT LANE CRUISER – All You Can Eat!! (Alive Natural Sound) – Some right there in the zone, raw, blistered, no messing, slide-guitar freight-train riding blues. Oh yes, Hillgrass bluebilly hard working good honest black-lunged blues music delivered with a nail on the head righteous punk-fried attitude. They’re from Fort Wayne, Indiana, they sound like Seasick Steve for Rose Tattoo heads in need of an Ol’ fashion lo-fi five dollar shoe-shine... This is good, this is very good, certainly not the putting in of a twenty and the taking out of a forty here, the good is there in these Broke Ass Blues. There’s just two of ‘em, broken down old scratchy electric guitar, gravel throats and drum kit. There’s some great You Tube footage if you have the time to go look. They got bags of soul in there, they got it all nailed, real deal stripped back raw broken bottle stripped to the bone blues goodness - or
Some YouTube: Left Lane Cruiser perform at Wooden Nickel Music in Fort Wayne, Indiana back in 2006

WE INSIST – The Babel Inside Was Terrible (Exile On Mainstream) – They’re from Paris and they’re here at last with a follow up to 2007’s acclaimed Oh! Things Are So Corruptible album.  This is quite a few more steps forward, they’ve built on the strong foundations of recent times. They’ve been evolving for some time now, they’ve been around for something like fourteen years or so and this just might be their time. The Babel... is very much a ‘now’ album, an album that fits in with the current rush of high-end prog adventure and bands really wanting to challendge themselves. We Insist are just there with a complex album and a sound that goes to all the right places without ever getting too awkward or too hardboiled, they're complex and colourful without being difficult. Melody... melodic vocal lines, clever instrumental melody, real mathy prog, hints of lots of things without ever sounding like anyone else – touches of At The Drive-In, bits that taste a little of bands like 31 Knots or Don Cab, a little No Means No flavouring, Victims Family, Tool, Primus, maybe even a touch a bit of Cardiacs in there with their hint of post-hardcore and Gentle Giant and this and that.... Touches of lots (and lots) of current prog-edged modernity, a forever shifting feel -  we’ll be somewhere, we’ll be somewhere, bits of your land, bits of my land - and somehow pulling it all together with something that’s solidly of their own  - tall enough to see over their own walls. The Babel Inside is an album to really get your teeth around, serious modern prog, impressive foundations of their own... bits of your land, bits of my land. Recommended –
MONSTER CEILIDH BAND – Make Me A Dancer (self release) – An happy jiggy reeling real instrumental fiddle and accordion type dancing around wildly none more folk type four piece Celtic sounding folk band. One of those frantically twirling bands that demand cider and sunshine and reels and jigs and should you feel like reeling wildly to some wildly traditional instrumental folk then here you go, they’re rather good at it – or

13th Sept '09: ALBUM REVIEW: FOOT VILLAGE – Anti-Magic (Upset The Rhythm) - They explain that they’re “an acoustic hardcore band who make thunderous drum ‘n shout music” and that’s kind of right only they’re nowhere near as mellow as that would have you think, nothing anywhere as peaceful as mere drum ‘n shout might suggest.... Members of Gang Wizard, Friends Forever and the “infamous” International Voice Of Reason, with some kind of telling screaming drumming tribal new wave who knows what – brilliant, addictively brilliant, as addictive as lots of people drumming and yelling and screaming could possible be... no really. They’re from Los Angeles, they build walls of aggressive carnal noise with just drums and voices. They write love songs in a secret language, they are human, they are animal, cold blood reptiles. The Foot Village nation’s first war, their third album and a “collection of drum essays embracing the physical and rejecting the imaginary”. They insist these aren’t jams, these are very structured, worked out pieces, they’re “anti-jam” so they say... Well that’s what they say. Brutal male and female voices, yelling, screaming, cathartic... brilliant actually  - or– over here in the UK in November, consider this an early warning. 

AIRPEOPLE – The Golden City (Golden Antenna) – No real idea where Airpeople are from, they really could be from anywhere with their politely modern, occasionally complex (not that complex), instrumental rock music. Says here on the press release they’re for fans of Tortoise, Sean And Cake, Mogwai and such, they’re not doing much to excite any ears around here, if you’re curious then go hit the links. They’re from Germany by the way – or

12th Sept '09: THE ADVENTURES OF LOKI – The Adventures Of Loki (Maitre-d) - Just one second chance, I see a little silhouetto of a man, get in touch, get in touch, get in touch with your feminine side... They’ll catch you in their headlamps, knife to your back, gun to your heart, and that’s just how it starts... Dance like maniac, lose control. Teathered and tongue-tied, feisty ball of colourful indie-punk energy (indie-punk? How damn lazy of us is that, write proper reviews godammit!) and a tag-team of girl/boy shouty vocals to go with the frantic attitude and the beating of everything to submission before they tone it down and settle in to the body of the album...  Two girls on bass and drums, boy on guitar, they’re from Lancaster, North of England, they serenade, they scream, they got it, they got, they got it, they know you’re gonna get it... Debut album after a couple of well received singles and see how they can turn you inside out.. Energy, melody, spikiness, they want to do something before you die... She’s one hell of a raw energetic drummer, Rachel is her name, anchoring it down and pulling you all over the place while the other two – Brigit and Steve – add the colour... A raw threesome, raw frantic energy that has a lot more than just the energy to hold it all together and Get Yr Beat On. Seems it was a little more than just a couple of promising singles and a ball or energy then, seems they have some substance, a touch of depth, something that marks them out as just a little more... Angular, slicing, inventive, edgy.... good good good, get in touch, get in touch with your feminine side, the tough mean no messing side... or
10th Sept '09: HEALTH – Get Color (City Slang) – Los Angeles art-pop, some kind of subtle manipulation and moulding of noise and texture... well maybe not so subtle once you work in to the body of the album and get the colour of it, once you get in to the flow... Clever songs embodied with noise, with different textures, experiments brought under some kind of structured control. Experiments for those who don’t really like it too ‘experimental’ or ‘strange’?  Drenched in light and shade, and ever changing set of colourful moods and their much anticipated next moves.  Crunchy distortion and all there within some kind of formal disciplined indie alt.rock framework and some kind of idea of song as key – which some might say is tougher to pull of them just bring ‘experimental’. Damn fine whatever it is... Does it get a bit Jesus & Mary Chain go U.S post-alt.pop there for a while? I think it does.... Rather fine album, fine tunes, fine textures, fine songs, fine pin-point focused ear-burning noise...  or

8th Sept '09: VENTFLOW – Terrorsiah (Casket) – Hissing, spitting snarling storm of Lamb Of Slipknot type no-messing metal from Australia or Southern England or Germany or some such place should you want it...

5th Sept '09: YACHT – See Mystery lights (DFA) – Catchy, joyous you might say, joyous catchy squelchy sunny electro pop from Portland Oregon, little new wave left-field feel, just a little extra something...  –

4th Sept '09: ALBUM REVIEW:  PORCUPINE TREE  - The incident (Roadrunner) - Really don’t know about Porcupine Tree these days, they don’t really challenge either themselves or their listeners that much do they? I guess they’re doing just what those legions of fans and followers all over the planet want them to do, I imagine their devotes, of which there seems to be hundreds of thousands now, will once again be more than delighted with this latest Porcupine Tree album. We go back a long way, Organ and Porcupine Tree, we were probably covering them and their early demos before anyone else took them seriously, those prog-pariah early days when no one else cared that much for such unfashionable notions.  Indeed they headlined the second day of the Organ tenth birthday party weekend at the London Astoria back there somewhere in the early 90’s... People expect us (what with all our prog rock championing and colours firmly nailed when it wasn’t fashionable to do so, with all our self-proclaimed love of all things Van Der Graff  or Yes, our shouting about the coolness of early Genesis when we’d probably have been far better off in keeping these things to ourselves), people expect is to rave and drool over Porcupine Tree... Truth is, they’re kind of boring aren’t they? 
         If mid 70’s Shine On Welcome To The Machine Floyd is your thing, if the smoothness of say Camel or Barclay James Harvest does it for you...  He’s no Roger Walters though is he? And luck is all you make and you just reach out and take it.... And yes, good luck to them, they’ve stuck to their guns and made their good luck, they’ve defiantly hung in there and done their thing and, without really being noticed by the mainstream, evolved in to a rather massive international band. Good luck to ‘em... Just, well... um... and some of those Animals bits there? Little too close for comfort? Time Flies? Time stands still with Porcupine Tree and they’re pretty much doing the same thing now as they have been doing for the last fifteen to twenty years.... Oh they have their ‘nice’ moments, they have their restrained dynamics, they have their melting ‘prog’bits and their Welcome To The Machine instrumental moves, none of that real cynical Floyd darkness though, none of that baggage that always gave Pink Floyd that vital edge back there... And surely, if this is what you want then Radiohead have more than shown how to really be a Floyd for now rather than just very very competently aping the then in such a clinically slick way? How does time break down? Porcupine Tree are a slick Floyd machine on some kind of very well controlled and ‘faultlessly’ satisfying auto-pilot and after a while you realise time flies and the best thing you can do is take whatever comes to you, you better watch out, there may be dogs around.....
  Oh look, Porcupine Tree have made yet another very slick, very polite, very tidy, very melodic, very clean-cut album, a very Porcupine Tree kind of album. Those who want this kind of thing will be more than satisfied, they claim it to be a Porcupine Tree classic.... Those of us who like our music with a bit more, who like our bands to challenge, who like things to come with a bit more bite, a little more dirt under the nails, a little more risk taking danger, we’ll be wondering why Porcupine Tree are content to continue to just make albums like this. Each to their own, good luck to ‘em, not really enough from our so called ‘prog’ bands though, need more than this... or

3rd Sept '09: COWMAN – Palpating The Rumen (Ingue) - Some kind of frantic insect-like relentlessly scuttling scratchy bass punky locked-on drone that’s all wired up and frantic and pecking and pecking some more and on it goes pecking at the wire, sounds like more than one bass, sounds all obtuse and angular and frenetic and menacing and like things are never going to end and on and on scratching and pecking and drilling and and sometimes kind of singing in a frantically shouty way underneath the constant drive that never ends, never stops pecking at the wire and the awkward timings and and arrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Like being eaten by thousands of little scratchy metal insects -

PORCUPINE – The Trouble With You (Blueworm) – Mid West North American alternative indie pop rock. Rather polite – lighter side of Foo Fighters, Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, that kind of thing, feels like something from the early 90’s, not really doing that much for us, go investigate over at

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB – Love On An oil Rig (This Is Fake DIY) - Has their parrot started to talk? Are The Victorian English Gentlemens Club at last finding a voice worth listening to?  They’re still rather difficult to really pin down and this album does sometimes sound like a collection of vaguely related bands rather than the work of just one. Primal ideas, flies stuck in white paint, obscure harmonies and when it does fall in to place then yes indeed. They claim to have a musical understanding now, a more confident beast and they say they’re ready to demand our respect, and yes, they might just be right to think they have a right to think about making that demand... They are starting to talk, they are finding that voice... There’s an awkward something here now, laid out over a whole new album, the Cardiff foursome are staring to make some kind of awkward primitive sense, they’ve put the kettle on. Wire, pointed distortion, strange words, what turns their dial? Strange, weird, kind of compelling, no longer the over-anxious teenagers, rounded absurdists now, focused drums and things, still disconcerting but they may just be starting to make some kind of off-hinge sense now. Wire and Fall and lying around waiting on the floor like a dog settling down for some telly... Kind of like them now, first time that’s been said around here... kind of like this, kind of definitely.. maybe... with the benefit of hindsight... yes, like it... definitely, yes... definitely like it. or
MERAUDER – God Is I (Regain) – Brutal hardcore punk/metal crossover from New York that pretty much does all you want from a new album delivered by a classic NYC crossover hardcore band like Merauder. They’ve been a big part of the metalcore scene since the early 90’s and they’re pretty much sticking to their aggressive guns here... Keeping it real, true to the scene, just like it says on the tin and all that kind of stuff –
PRE1st Sept '09: PRE – Hope Freaks (Skingraft) - Ah Jezzzzzz, once was enough wasn’t it? Do we really need more of their headpecking noise and their discordant screaming? Is there really any point in repeating the exercise, as glorious as that first album was, do we really need a second? There she goes again with her high-pitched manic ‘singing’ and screaming and yelping and there they go with their frantic new wave left-field ‘difficult’ scuttling.... You know, there are people, people who are usually tolerant when it comes to these notions of music and noise and going off and things, people otherwise reasonable and tolerant, who come in here and yell “oh no, not bloody Pre again!”. Indeed, people phone up the radio station and complain when Pre are on air, I love Pre! And yes, it is very much a case of going off and things - you know what we mean by that, squalor is alive, things abound...  And yes there is a very big point in this second album, they are extreme with their hard-boiled noise but this is as relevant as anyone’s second album, maybe even more so? Could they take it anywhere after that debut? Are they just going to be a glorious one trick noise-pony? No they’re damn well not! Pre have expanded their sound, they’ve challenged themselves, they’ve become even more gloriously awkward, even more difficult, maybe even slightly poppy (in a deranged way), they’re even more addictive... Try listening to beautifully bendy pointy pencil-sharp tantrums like Cold or the title track Hope Freaks and then dare to come here and tell us you’re not instantly addicted. Pre are glorious, they’re like Deerhoof thrown in to the deep end of the Pond, they really are going off and things, kissing big ugly sharks like early Cardiacs on extra hyper-active orange juice, they are hope freaks, they are hope, nothing freaky, who knows what she’s yelling about? Once was never going to be enough, this builds perfectly on the original attack of Epic Fits, Pre have more than followed their debut up. Gibber and Twitch indeed - or

DAMON & NAOMI – The Sub Pop Years ( – A retrospective anthology best-of collection drawn from one Galaxie 500 duo’s Sub Pop albums and if you’re not already familiar with their embracing work then this is just what you need. Their delicate warmth and those glowing melodies that caress the earthly peaks, their American alt.folk take on the gentle art of shoegazing, an exquisite swirl of words and rather human honesty that may sometimes lack cheer, but, to quote Robert Wyatt, is “like real water in a world of soda pop... or

31st AUG '09: IMPIETY - Terroreign: Apocalyptic Armageddon Command (Agonia) – They’re from Singapore, took an age to work out what the name on the front cover was, same old unreadable logo and yet another hellstorm of pissed-off wasp guitars, growling vocal regurgitation and more of those million mile an hour speed metal riffs... Like we keep on saying, we get hundreds of albums like this, piles of them puking out of our speakers every week, a spewtum of extreme metal projecting at us from all over the world... Most of the time they’re dealing out the same old same old, most of it doesn’t impress enough to get even the briefest of mentions around here, most of it is a conforming waste of everyone’s time, more about the pose than the substance... Oh, he’s singing goat father, had to check the lyrics there... Bestial To The Bone... Black Fu... Impiety are not that different to the hundreds of others, just they just hit the spot a little more than most do. Classic old school storming death/black/thrash venom, unrelenting onslaught of noise - a terror rain of matted hair, bullet belts, growls and riffs, nothing radically different, just that they’re hitting the extreme metal sweet spot with their hail of damnation and boiled up blackness, their violent onslaught and shitrain of black noise, hitting the spot just little more than most and when this stuff hits the sweet spot then wooooooaaaaaaaaaaagghhhhhhh, bring it all on. This, for once, is wreckomended extreme metal noise -

29th AUG '09: CRAZY ARM – Born To Ruin (Xtra Mile) - Darren Johns, front man out of The Once Over Twice with his latest shot and a debut album that carries on along the same slightly dusty American sounding alternative (positive) track that Darren and his various bands have always followed. It isn’t that Crazy Arm are radically different, just that there’s some rather fine, rather intelligent, rather rewarding depth here, some serious song writing – a band with a little more -  crafted, a little more to hold on to, a band who sound like really do matter a little more than most.... committed songs.  I don’t know, if Johns was from California or some other place, rather than Plymouth here in the UK, then people would be shouting about him and his new band, this man can write a song! We’re vaguely talking Husker Du, X, Fugazi, maybe a touch of REM, Springsteen, The Replacements, The Clash, maybe even a hint of the timeless country warmth of CSNY in there with the hard edge and that intelligent alternative feel... Crazy Arm, like The Once Over Twice before them... well to put it bluntly, if Crazy Arm were North Americans then people would be raving about them (seems the album has been out since the start of June, only just limped in here this week with a very short hand-written note from the band themselves - “here’s a copy of the Crazy Arm album for review if possible, thanks, Darren” – if only you English labels had things a little more together a bit more when you have treasures like this!). Eleven quality songs, all good, no hint of anything near filler, timeless depth, serious alternative, punk-edged, alt.rock intelligent quality - born to find reason, each building on the last – boring looking front cover but don’t let that stop you going in – just get out and give this a little more than just the once over, there’s a seriously good band with some seriously good sentiment and some very serious songs here. If that start to Kith And Kingdom don’t grab your heart first time then I fear you’re already dead to music...  Highly recommended - or

28th AUG '09: O.M.T – Anamantium (Rising) - Choppy growly shouty mix of Maiden style melody, galloping riffs, thrashing metal – brutal bits, melodic tuneful old school metal bits, apparently it stands for Our Malevolent Tyranny, they’re from the South coast of England, this is their decent enough well produced debut, our work is done here, there’s the link –

LIME HEADED DOG – Kfum & Kfuk (Volcano Attack) – All kinds of different angles here, isn’t enough to just be so different, does help though, Lime Headed Dog are as different as a strangely coloured animal;s head, Lime Head Dog are different and good – very good. Discordantly melodic, alive with strange tunes that somehow come out really poppy and yes, there are lots of current reference points (or at least recent, what ever did happen to The Klaxons?). “Microwaved and unlike anything that you can instantly put your finger on..” we said last time... words and beasts and built of love alone... think klaxons, Streets, and flipping like a fish out of water, chess wars and bishop taking knight and all kinds of rushes and going off and things, different pop, awkward, was that a touch of Cardiacs? Just a touch? Different, lime-headed... curiously good -

TOURNAMENT – Years Old (Forcefield) – More of what we like, raw aggressive imaginative bleeding noise, Tournament are from Brooklyn, New York, they deal in raw alternative metal that’s delivered with blistering style. Oft-kilter driving edge for those who like their metal with a little bit of thought, with the challenging edge of bands like Rye Coalition or Drive Like Jehu –
24th AUG '09: CONQUEST OF STEEL – Storm Sword, Rise Of The Dread Queen (No Face) - Old school battle metal from the Northern wastelands of England (Bradford actually), proper old school metal, Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Manowar, Dio, Anvil, all swords and galloping riffs and a touch of English folk/prog for added light and shade, and fighting for the queen and the promised land and a grandiose unabashed boldly ambitious concept album. Bombastic. Proper, no messing tyrant-vanquishing old school proper proper metal –

23rd AUG '09: YEARS – Years (Arts & Grafts) – This is rather special, a lush summer’s day of an album. Bits of delicate acoustic glow, touches of Arvo Part classical caress, some delicate post-rock glitch – warm inviting compositional sound-scaping, all green and glowing  - mostly instrumental but that only adds to the delicate understated power of the vocals when they do occasionally come in in such a soothing window-opening way. Some of this is lush and rich, pastorally classical in an avant kind of way, some minimal and simple (clever) acoustic guitar. When the triumphantly epic 65 Days style prog-glitch does gently kick in, it kicks in a subtle crafted considered intelligent thoughtful way - everything here is done with restrained though and an extra touch of class, a beautiful appreciation of less being so much more. Leaf-green and alive, the work of Ohad Benchetrit, an immense work and very much a piece of work that’s of now. A wistful, uplifting beautiful body of work, alive with hope and shimmering steams of sunny warmth (and maybe just a touch of melancholy). Acoustic guitar pieces that grow in intensity and flow in to digitally sequenced lush orchestral arrangements. Ideas knitted together to form one coherent body of flowing work – flowing emotion, rewarding musical colour, restrained trumpet, whispered violin, prog adventure, lush plants and seeds flowered, sunny, inviting – sometimes things are just right, this is just right, this is one of  those times.  Just right soothing summer-bright heart-lifting beauty from Broken Social Scene’s Ohad Benchetrit – or
21st AUG '09: LE CHAT NOIR – Postcards From The Dark Highway (Garage Sale) - Gruff, whisky raw, Bonny & Clyde, lo-fi, highway guitar blues and dust and rough Nick Cave-ish punkish barroom country rock ‘n roll blues bluster with a side-serving slice of a surf punk rockabilly driving it on.... They’re from Exeter (rather than Texas), there’s two of ‘em, Eileen on drums, Teddy on scratchy guitar and vocals. And I guess we should mention the energy and attitude of those White Stripes as much as Johnny Cash or being on the run or spilt gin or Valentine’s Day Massacres or...  She’s from California, he’s from London... wish she’d join in with the vocals a little more, really good when she does.     Really good anyway, her under-used voice just gives it an extra edgy dimension. Fiery stuff, hellbound whisky-drenched, raw, wild and black cat good, go investigate – 

GUILT MACHINE – On This Perfect Day (Mascot) – One of those dark moody Porcupine Tree type melodic neo-prog bands. This time from Holland, they do it with epic dimension, extremely melodic, very easy on the ear in that smooth slick long-winded polite modern clinical neo-prog way that some people appreciate far more than we do, here’s the link if you want to know more  –

20th AUG '09:  NEW DEVICE – Takin’ Over (Pwerage) – Real deal Eighties sounding big bold brash North American sounding slick ‘n nailed hard rock from the South of England. This debut album came out in late July, impressive stuff, slick hard rock for you people out there who know the idea of a big stadium power ballad jousting with a touch of road-racing, galloping, arm-out-of-the-window hard rock is a very good thing. Bits of classic rock and vital bands like Y&T, Sammy Hagar’s Van Halen, early Aerosmith, the harder edge of those first Bon Jovi albums... see, like we just said, cool as f... turn it up, turn it up..  Fist in the air, peddle to the metal.... Heavy Pettin’, first Def Leppard album, Skid Row, Krokus... you know what we’re talking about...   Hands up, do it right... Yep, this is the real deal, they got it nailed, they clearly love their craft, this ain’t no Darkness / Steel Panther poseur bolloxium.... Proper big brazen stadium filling 80’s hard rock goodness...  Some of us around here love it as much as a Steelheart ballad while some of us think it to be diabolical hard rock poodle-headed turn it off dated 80's radio-metal nonsense... Highly recommended -

18th AUG '09: LITMUS – Aurora (Rise Above) – What a curious spaceship Litmus is, can’t help but like them and their oscillating swoosh, their classic timeless space rock keyboard driven locked-on fizz ‘n swish... The problem here, if indeed it is a problem (and it really isn't), is that every note, every move, every line, has already been played out by those masters of the universe Hawkwind. Litmus may have an album full of their own rather fine compositions here, they are however, pretty much a Hawkwind tribute band - a very very good Hawkwind tribute band and more than welcome what with the Hawkship not flying with so much shine and lustre these daze.... London’s Litmus have a new album then - this is what you wanted, this is what you get they sing, and yes, it pretty much is, it maybe none more Hawk but it is the classic swirling throbbing on the runway spot on authentic best days sound and they could well just be the new kings of infinite space... Hey look, we love Hawkwind around here, they’re still out there in some form, we miss their glory days though – their Acid Daze and Sonic Attacks, the free festivals, the multi-coloured all dayers, Stonehenge... Litmus are doing it in style, this is their finest release yet, it has the right spirit, it has the classic style. Hawkdrive space rock nailed down and done just right should you want it. Recommended - or




KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)
KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)