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Album Review: TBA

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Album Review: Winnebago Deal - Career Suicide

Their last full-length came out four long years ago, but it’s only really been a couple since Winnebago Deal stopped touring and took a hiatus. Considering how fast music industry tastes have shifted in that short time, and the vast influx of bands flexing uber-aggressive punk guns to supplement their output, it’s going to be quite a struggle for the Oxford duo to make an impact with this new effort. Perhaps, a resort to type might seriously be professional hara-kiri but, judging from this Career Suicide, a fierce slab of stripped-back second wave punk is certainly what they’ve given us.

Yep, this sure is one supersonic speeding slab of pure fury, smeared with the grime of their discontent, and it slays. The two Bens, Perrier and Thomas, start out with ‘Heart Attack In My Head’, a fluxing powerhouse that employs smeared sustain over pummelled repeater snare and broken screams to really ram home their point, rip through another 12 tracks that barely scratch the two-minute mark, and finish with the demon nut-crusher, ‘Can’t See, Don’t Care, Don’t Know’, which Perrier uses as an instrument to scrape clean his vocal chords. There’s no rest for the wicked, they say and, at this rate, their arms will be bloody stumps if they tour long with this doozy in their pocket.

Amongst an album that seems conditioned to congeal itself into one heaving mass, with it’s verse-chorus-verse blueprint being strictly adhered to, picking out highlights is a tough call but I sorta dig the eerie opening build to mayhem and vampiric cajones that ‘I Want Your Blood’ sports even if it does seriously cut the cheese. On the flipside, the 1:09 of ‘Frostbiter’ is particularly obnoxious, the sound almost folding in on itself as Perrier’s guitar and vocals slew around, the dB piling up to a crushing climax, whilst ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ teeters on the edge of punk-pop mediocrity before properly dropping it’s shorts on the chorus. They won’t sell a gazillion copies, the odd brainless idiot will no doubt declare that punk is dead, but the ‘Deal will simply shrug, stick one mighty middle finger in the air, and gig with this hatstand-mad collection of bruisers in every nook and cranny they can find and we’ll all naturally flock forth and hail them kings of all they survey once more.

Also online @ TLOBF =

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Album Review: Quest For Fire - Lights From Paradise

According to singer/guitarist Chad Ross, this latest release is a “heavy meeting of all the music we love … pounding psych straight from the Canadian heart”. Clearly, “all the music they love” is a reference to the players’ wide array of musical backgrounds (Ross and guitarist Andrew Gunn were once part of indie rockers The Deadly Snakes whilst drummer Mike Maxymuik thrashed it up with metalcore’s Cursed); a fact that has shaped the band’s mind-blowingly varied output as they delve into the realms of stoner rock; and a fact that has enabled Toronto’s Quest For Fire to quickly switch from their self-titled debut’s tendency towards the sharply aggressive, raw punk end of stonerdom to where they are now, on Lights From Paradise, ekeing out passively-shifting, immersive psych (an experience tangibly reminiscent of something last felt whilst listening to The Warlocks) that steadily swells and abates. Throw in a guest spot from Sophie Trudeau (Montreal’s Thee Silver Mt. Zion) and her magic fiddle and it’s like being hard-wired into the music; being drip-fed adrenaline in one arm and morphine in the other.

Trudeau simply owns their oozing seven-minute introductory piece, ‘The Greatest Hits By God’, with her bowed notes gently placed above the grungy oomph of the chugged guitar and echoing vocal. ‘Set Out Alone’ and ‘Strange Vacation’ pick up the pace, kicking up the dust of the past with a Cream-esque wall of fuzz sounding off behind the garage blues drive so reminiscent of current bands like Dinosaur Jr and Dead Confederate. QFF’s party trick is their uncanny ability to knit the rough with the smooth, sucking you in for their punched hooks until you simply drop out with them as they ramp up the sustain and ditch the grunt for a smooth, rush of power chords and drifting vocal that doubles the track length. It’s an effortless shift in emotional direction that so few bands have truly mastered. The transmogrification from ‘Strange Vacation’ to ‘Confusion’s Home’ is the finest example of this and will undoubtedly leave you mouth-gaping at their mastery of moodswings.

Then, with a resounding strike on their division bell, they dig you out of your reverie and dump you, blinking like a newborn, in an unceremonious heap. Why they felt the need to suddenly throw obnoxiously clean acoustics, fatuous percussive breaks and glibly overwrought patterns upon their audience is beyond me. Both ‘Psychic Seasons’ and ‘Hinterland Who’s Who’ prove to be both left and right sore thumbs of this sophomore album. That’s not to say they don’t employ fuzz or Ross’ creamy, oscillating vocal; they merely eschew complex structure to simply blast through peaking rises, never clicking or settling until they shoot out the other side and fade to close. It feels like that switch from the relative safety of recorded programmes to the grainy, flickering image and seat-of-the-pants unpredicatiblity of live telly.

The final nine-minute cruise under the hammered rain of cymbal and drum, Pink Floyd-mimicking all the way, proves even ‘Sessions Of Light’ is more than enough to demand a return to the wondrous immersion that the first half of the album soaked itself in. All this is a bit of a shame because it doesn’t follow that a band with a potted history should produce such a potted album, yet ‘Lights From Paradise’ doesn’t deserve such a haphazard phrase being dumped upon it. It contains moments that transcend beauty, an album that delivers more than the sum of its parts. Put bluntly, a vaguely dim ending simply doesn’t dull the lighbulb of genius that precedes it.

Also online @ TLOBF =

Monday, November 15, 2010

Label Profile: Good Fight Music

The track record of Paul Conroy and Carl Stevens is pretty staggering when you consider they were former partners of Ferret (who went on to combine forces with Sony’s RED Distribution and Siege Of Amida Records), Warner Music and ChannelZero. So, in January 2010, when they stepped back into the breach and founded Good Fight Entertainment, an international management company it made a few big ripples in the industry pond. They got RED back on board to help out, divided their company into a music and sports division, and added a new record label, Good Fight Music. It’s the quality material pouring forth from this particular record label that is causing this particular journalist to sit up and take notice.

Of their new endeavour, Carl Severson states, “We’ve built a company that is in a unique position to rise to the challenges of the evolving music industry. We’ve been on the front lines as digital has become the medium of choice for music marketing and commerce, and we’ve grown with it, embraced the opportunities it’s presented. Paul, myself, our staff; we have the resolve to thrive in this climate. Good Fight Entertainment is the culmination of our experiences as artists, band members, managers, musicians and executives. We have the opportunity to work with people who believe in us as much as we believe in them. This is a very exciting time for us.”

So far, the roster is already looking pretty impressive. Rosaline, I Am Abomination, Son Of Aurelius, Disembodied and Madball are a cherry-picked few who have all signed on the dotted line. Their first release was a class act too – Cancer Bats‘ latest album Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones. Having had a chance to review the latest material to emerge, (see below) it has certainly given enough food for thought.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you should be keeping an eye open for:

Band: The Chariot
Album: Long Live
Released: November 2010

Press Release Summary: “With a hard earned and accomplished sales history of over 100,000 units and years of vigorous global touring, The Chariot have entrenched themselves as a standout in the hard and aggressive music movement.”

TLOBF Review: Ultra-rapid, spasmodic changes of attack take you swinging through more obnoxious levels of ear-scouring than you can shake a stick at. From opener ‘Evan Perks’ plaintive repeated howl of “disappointed, I know you are”, through ‘David De La Hoz’ and its multi-faceted tomfoolery (and accompanying haphazard one-take video), to the lacerating smack in the chops that is ‘The King’, The Chariot tread the tightrope of bothersome lunacy and damnable genius. This is destructively cantakerous hardcore music like never before and will leave many in pieces whilst the remainder will be left staring down at their cowering forms with freeze-framed faces, caught in throes of rapture.

Listen here | Watch here

Band: The Contortionist
Album: Exoplanet
Released: October 2010

Press Release Summary: “While hardcore punk may be the sound that rules the day in The Contortionist hometown of Indianapolis, it is the band’s signature brand of forward thinking heavy metal that has made them stick out as hometown favorites”.

TLOBF Review: This is probably the most insanely complex album I think I’ve ever heard. The Contortionist manage to blend bruising post-hardcore and highly complex math-metal with utterly benign passages of rock music. The vocal anomalies (dirty grunts hitting sterile melodies and robotic vocoder narration) match the broken nature of the guitar styles and track structures. ‘Expire’ hangs off crushing deathcore whilst ‘Contact’ unfolds into part-epic rock anthem, part-deconstructed technical metal. And if you thought this was all about creating something insanely aggressive, dig down to the eloquently melodic ‘Axiom’ or part one of the title-track and you’ll be simply blown away by the tenderness on display. With attention spans shortening all the time, The Contortionist may just have created the music of the future.

Listen here | Watch here

Band: Conditions
Album: Fluorescent Youth
Released: September 2010

Press Release Summary: “The songs are steeped in hard rock with an infusion of heartfelt pop. Track after track finds towering hook-laden choruses fit to reign on radio’s airwaves”.

TLOBF Review: This comes across like a dose of Flood Of Red’s epic walls of sound yet rocks with the grim determination of You Me At Six. Finding a middle ground between those two can’t have been easy, yet Conditions find it by combining mewing pop-punk with rabble-rousing hard rock. There are plenty of big hooks but, sadly, little variety in delivery and they do appear to be on a collision course with a million other bands. Thankfully, the emotional damage that bursts forth from ‘Comfort Far Away’ combines with tracks like ‘Keeping Pace With Planes’ and ‘When It Won’t Save You’ to thunder in and prove they have plenty left in the tank to show us. This is no one-trick pony.

Listen here | Watch here

This article also online @ TLOBF =

Thursday, November 4, 2010

EP Review: 65daysofstatic - Heavy Sky

Emerging from the debris of the recording sessions for latest album We Were Exploding Anyway, comes this craftily-compiled EP featuring six brand new tracks (and one new edit), because surely nothing is too good to throw away. The band obviously feel strongly enough about how special these songs are, as they’ve compiled limited edition artwork for the release and are offering two tracks (unavailable elsewhere) to folks who place a pre-order. Another sign of how serious they are about the content comes with the announcement that they’re about to take it out on tour. So it must be all killer and no filler, right?

Well, kicking off with a bit of a duff extra we find that ‘Tiger Girl’, having been cut down from an admittedly lengthy 10:37 to a mean 3:36, has its emotional peaking effect blunted somewhat. Allowing yourself to dwell and soak up the rhythm is often far superior to the short, sharp hit. A bad start then but, thankfully, the remainder of the EP is jam-packed with crackers.

‘The Wrong Shape’ ebbs and flows dynamically and, as such, is somewhat reminiscent to ‘Crash Tactics’. Comparison between the two actually results in this new release sounding just that bit stronger. ‘Pacify’ crawls into view, sounding much like the bone-chilling opening to Baroness’ ‘Rays On Pinion’, like a hundred fingers running their way round a hundred glasses, whilst ‘PX3′ expounds further on that progressive element pulling in a wholesome heartbeat bass to help out the manic piano. ‘Beats Like A Helix’ grabs great fistfuls of computer-generated beeps and throws drum and bass at it, whilst ‘Guitar Cascades’ is a collapsing, submerged, massively cathartic wall of noise. The real find here, though, is ‘Sawtooth Rising’ which is exactly the one missing element from 65DOS’ exploration of dance music that so inspired ‘WWEA’. It’s colourful, rich, buoyantly building, exceptionally brutish and fused with the classic buzzing signature of mind-melting euphoric trance.

So instead of finding six that didn’t deserve to make the cut, ‘Heavy Sky’ marks the brilliant completion of a stunning and, clearly, devotional body of work.

Also online @ TLOBF =

Monday, November 1, 2010

Album Review: Chickenhawk - Modern Bodies

If, like me, you find Chickenhawk to be an oddly familiar moniker, then one flick through wikipedia may prove just why. It's been used as a descriptive slang word, in ornithology to describe not just one, but three species of North American bird, in gay culture to describe an older male who prefers younger male partners, or as a U.S. political term to criticise a bureaucrat who supports military action yet avoids serving himself.

The truth can be traced back to the writer Robert Mason and his experiences in the Vietnam War or, as the band put it, the moment when the man himself told them "in some drunken bathroom incident". Fair enough. It matters little when you actually whack up the volume on Chickenhawk's new album and brace yourself as this spasmodic screamo bull threatens to buck you clean over the fence. Its riotous crowd of chiming piercing harmonics, butch chugs, clattering cymbals and chaotic snare strikes is both maddeningly catchy and utterly overwhelming. The furiously spiking intro of 'The Pin' and its hammered pick-ups is a perfect example of the amount of muddied backwash that leaks into the foreground to create this wall of violence that this genre-hopping quartet are thriving on.

Where their debut album, 'God Helmet', left us namechecking Dillinger Escape Plan and Mr. Bungle, 'Modern Bodies' feels more like a mixture of Ghost Of A Thousand, Cancer Bats and Kong with a big old hit of The Melvins thrown in for good measure - 'My Name Is Egg', for instance, burns with the latter's colossal presence, whilst 'Kerosene' digs its heels into a groove so deep it threatens to break through to the other side. Punk sensibilities power the shit-throwing and gang chant of 'Bottle Rocket', whilst 'The Let Down' draws deep on the stoner pipe until the mind-bending, semi-distant vocals start to vibrato back in on themselves. The vibe is constantly warping, dragging you this way and that, inevitably resulting in a little loss of cohesion - the multi-part 'NASA vs ESA' and 'Son Of Cern' dive a little too deep into cymbal overload and multi-part curiosity.

Interestingly, this band come from Leeds. The same hometown where curiously a band called The Plight hail from. Both formed around the same time, both throw themselves on punishing touring schedules, both have cultured a similar clash of butt-clenchingly brutal first-wave screamo and wildly inventive heavy rock, and, judging by the shining glory of their sophomore albums, both are destined for startlingly bright futures.

Also online @ MTUK =