By the looks of things, Ska Punk or power-pop punk, (however you wish to refer to it) seems to remain popular to an acute degree, among a small cluster of teenage girls and sweaty gormless half drunken men who I assume had nothing better to do on the night than embrace the sticky confines of the local pub to catch a band still celebrating a spark of feeble recognition supporting the likes of Less Than Jake and a tour with Reel Big Fish almost two years ago. The band were set up in a small clearing to the right of the dimmed bar with just enough space for the semi-conscious, half excited gathering of heads to hustle inside, scuttling over my feet; heads that would soon begin to seep out of the door and into the cold street to escape the dastardly onslaught of aching cheesy pop punk dread that I’m sure was summed up when the band requested somewhere good to party that night; probably to forget all about the fact they are still showing up at dinky pubs like Avondale’s to play to teenage girls and at least one Specials fan that was noted on his lazy trudge out the door. New Riot are still screaming the joys of a sound that is arguably best kept locked away, a sound that pulled at my strings over a decade ago with the whiney squawk behind Blink 182’s abysmal form of deranged punk rock that should never include the word pop aside it.
A space rock groove and subtle pop sensibility to it’s vocal attack. The washed drum strides and instrumentation feed the affect of a dreamy neo-psychedelic skewed art rock/pop hybrid, it’s second half progressing midst a spot of piano hook lines and guitar/keyboard improvisation that glides to its close like bat’s on acid.
Click HERE for ‘Only Ark’
This is where everybody wants shoegazing to go, surely? The space that is evoked from the almost seemingly mindless selection of mystiqued avenues you never new guitar dynamics could create are spat out all over to work a beautifully refined, rare form of alluring shoegazing artistry that is voiced with such peculiar chic.
There’s spouts of garish blasts of feedback and chord selections that undoubtedly stare down Kevin Shield’s face, an aimless vocal beauty that spills the grace of Liz Fraser wrapped within a delicate bloom of its own right, (could I suggest) a new age of shoegazing. It has something you can’t quite put a tab on; perhaps the tripped shifting rhythms or this darling spillage of distortion that erupts methodically is the mix pushing me into an inspired trance and leaving me enthusiastically compelled for this new music, thank you Brooklyn.
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It must be all so dark and gritty in Belfast or at least taken a downfall because Girls Names have done a U turn since 2010s Dead To Me and written a post goth-punk whaling that charmingly rips off so many that have gone before and in great fashion. The New Life is a hauntingly savage abyss of brittle high end guitar leakage that applauds the pleas of Echo and the Bunnymen and the Cure; perhaps not the same stress as the Killing Joke but its there somewhere… just take the trip a few times. It heaves like a fragile 80s post-punk super mix melded together to expose an inspired youth take on the evidently remaining grips of the murky underworld of rock that still reeks its stench with the young ones of today’s music.
San Diego’s Wavves are still noisy but maybe not quite as berserk; berserk, probably the best word to describe them (four years ago). Still, that nastily croaked vocal line remains with us, there’s still a moaning guitar line dusting its feet and tearing around the marching drums but the gutsy, chanced punk rock that was so well dug up in 2008 has hit the road. It’s nowhere near as Lo-Fi as their self-titled debut so do be warned if you want that scratchy clatter of minimalist rock outfitting screaming you in the face, because it’s gone away, refinement is underway. This is a rehearsed script, everything seems integrated a little finer… and so what?
Bias towards their debut aside, this record had to follow 2010’s King of the Beach, it’s musically logical, the only worry is that perhaps Warner Bros have had a bit more say and stuck their finger in the pudding just a little too far. There’s seemingly only space for prettier lead guitar flicks (Paranoid) and that real lazy, west coast punk orientated noisy stint lapped up in 2008 has only became weirdly joyous, the sound speaking a more happy surf rock than having a bad day surf rock and lets shout about it, it’s like there sound has been taken apart for a clean, a port polish, a newly oiled machine in search for new friends. The sticky Lo-Fi charm has fallen away, the manic guitar mess interludes have been removed, the strange noisy drones are all gone (‘Spaced Raider’ / ‘Yoked’) the basic mess that was tied together then, just doesn’t resonate with Afraid Of Heights. Give us that ghastly howl back please, that obscene languid guitar/vocal attack. Sorry, we’ve had a borderline pop makeover and this production has diluted our raw acidity… we’ll half save ourselves by retaining our nihilist outlook.
Static for most part of the show, dipping in and out of mainly old and few new, clippings of the most sought after shoegazing noise vistas around, the night would perfectly blow away any possibility of making out the live settings’ vocal line apart from a graceful elegance to Belinda’s voiced mourning that could be caught now and again; a slight frame dressed in black, a pair of gleaming diamond earrings catching the eye in flashes a midst the rumble, the wall of amplifiers panning away at a 30 degrees from Colm to avoid casualty I’m sure, an almost half diamond shape. Not only did they hoard all kinds of little amps that seem to have been thrown on stage as if to say ‘fuck it-why not’ then the array of sparkling glittered Fenders that I’m sure anyone with a care towards the wood and strings might have melted into an envious oblivion at Belinda’s constant interchange between tracks, Kevin of course favouring a line of beaten Jazzmasters that have definitely seen the light of the late 80s, battered and weary but still able to spark a fit of ghastly screeching before the entrance to songs, a demons claw hanging down through your gullet and scraping at your bowls.
If you hadn’t the height to peak above the skyline of fixed heads towards the stage set, then the backdrop, splashing in all kinds of colours and jump shots to seeming nothingness became seeming perfection in parallel to the noise engulfment that was already blasting your mind and rolling the pit of your stomach to make ill. There is no myth behind just how loud this band are, My Bloody Valentine are absolutely vociferous and it’s a scary phenomenon to at last witness this live, ‘You Made Me Realises’ holocaust will turn people to the door and it’s a goodnight from them until the next time I’m sure, unable to clear that sonic glop from their head that leaked in through the ears, unable to remember just where they had been for the last two hours, so much so that I’m sure they only wish to return to the fucked up grips of this noise atrium once again, perhaps in another 20 or so years.
Ride Your Heart is spilling sun, sea and Los Angeles musically; entering the scope of its charming merge of 70s surf rock shimmer and punk haste, its sound bleeds within the same veins of a Lo-Fi indie potency identifiable with Deal twins’ the Breeders, its aura letting one envisage a fitting afternoon on the sand where everything is just great and dandy and happy and absolutely perfect. Everything seems just fine listening to this record, perhaps too fine, docile and pleasantly poppy or (trying to refrain from using)… feel good. It lacks the venom that you might have expected the track titled ‘Looking For A Fight’ might bare, especially when the ‘new band of the day’ gifted by the Guardian last year advocated that Germs fans might enjoy, I’m not quite sure where they were getting that from. However, as far as one’s search for small indie rock troupes go with I suppose, a slight punk attitude and hoarding a pleasant noise, it should fit just fine in their collection.
Available April 2nd via Dead Oceans.
With all the hype the supergroup has absorbed in the last year or so, it was only fitting that the debut would offer something (I expect) not only Radiohead fans or Thom Yorke devotees could bite into and enjoy but also an original take on what can happen jamming with the musicianship of somebody like Flea and the involvement of Nigel Godrich, Radiohead’s sixth member. That said, it almost becomes AMOK’S initial downfall depending how the individual listen’s to music, the stigma cloaking the word supergroup imposes a first degree expectation that the record is going to be or should be great or good or whatever.
As far as exciting new music and original ingenuity goes, dismissing names because that is just what they are… and this is music, on these terms, AMOK is a captivating project, a warbling electric psychedelic dream; a world of brittle plastic pieces collapsing into tiny particles at the stroke of it’s opening hit, molten plastic filling your head and suffocating the sensory for its shift. It moves incessantly, pulsating realms of shifting silk textures that paint layers upon one another, seemingly orchestrated to dust away any kind of sonic predictability; bouncing rythmns, rich noise blasting the inside of your head, the free-form jamming with Flea we’ve all learnt so much about in it’s long awaited construction is regulated into an articulate form of deranged, glitchy art rock plucked from the near future. Noise slips over it’s percussion like a thick gleaming syrup, the low ends domineering crux runs its subtle meld of improvisation to the floor, crafting a flexible backdrop to a finespun guitar and electronic marriage. Its methodical dynamics radiating gushings of sloppy post 1978 Man Machine translations before plunging into the tangled grips of an electronic surge where all is utterly crazed and seemingly indirected, the machine has gone mad and its scarily brilliant. Amok is a geniously modest record if at last, the group formula can be considered.
I’m staring down into a great gorge, scattered with fruit piece boulders, tumbling there way into a pool at its base, whirling in curves and splashes, churning the dirt and washing the sides clean, refreshing an ever changing colour display at its flanks, a silk stain left to trail this exquisite mess. Gorgeously heavy and endless, two decades on and Loveless has sprung its predecessor. Blissful expectations for a romantic affair with the strings ability to pull your head into a block of perfect nothingness, weightless sensibility, a mad dream till your blue in the face.