Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Open Your Heart

Artist: The Men
Album: Open Your Heart
Release Date: 5/3/2012

The Men show a less abrasive but just as thrillingly diverse side on album No.3

It's a shame The Men didn't release their second album "Leave Home" earlier than November last year. If they had done, its brilliantly abrasive mash of punk, noise- rock, indie and shoegaze could have set a noisy precedent for guitar music in 2011. Don't fret though, because "Open Your Heart", the band's third LP, should set a precedent for guitar music in 2012, and a mighty fine one at that.

The intensity and volume is somewhat turned down here, but that only adds to the more controlled aspect of "Open Your Heart". Like "Leave Home" it jumps all over the place stylistically, but also like "Leave Home" that's what makes it such a thrill. Opener "Turn It Around" is a raucous, blues- inflected punk rattle that's simple but hard- hitting. "Country Folk" sees intertwined guitars drenched in reverb and twang in a Southern- fried 5- minute instrumental. Best of all though is penultimate track "Presence", a brooding, droney and fuzzy 7- minute noise- rock epic with eerily monotonous vocals and layers of distortion a la Liars. They've saved one of the best hooks on the album 'til last too on closer "Ex- Dreams", a relentless but controlled punk blast.

"Open Your Heart" is an energetic slab of rock brilliance which ventures into many sonic pastures. Although most of the ideas here have been tried and tried again by others, the fact that The Men manage to put a consistently refreshing spin on them is testament to the band's talent. Almost instinctively "Open Your Heart" should be added to the list of great guitar music thus far in 2012.

Download: 1) Presence, 2) Ex- Dreams, 3) Please Don't Go Away
For Fans Of: Milk Music, The Hold Steady, Liars


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sentenced To Life

Artist: Black Breath
Album: Sentenced To Life
Release Date: 27/3/2012

An absolutely thrilling ride into oblivion

Black Breath's second album "Sentenced To Life", with it's fusion of crusty, dirgy hardcore and blackened thrash is likely to prove the ideal term- magnet for the metal sub- genre elitist. All that aside, the point here is to focus on what "Sentenced To Life" really is; a rather brilliant ride into sonic obliteration, unrelenting in its intensity, brutality and full- throttle abrasiveness. Unlikely to ever be considered a genre- fusing classic, but wonderfully thrilling all the same.

Download: Feast Of The Damned
For Fans Of: Entombed, Slayer, Nails


Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Bulls & The Bees

Artist: Melvins
Album: The Bulls & The Bees EP
Release Date: 13/3/2012

Doom rocking legends with a more refined but just as vital free EP

As of next year, Melvins will officially be 30 years old as a band. Whether you've acknowledged their existence or not over the years, they've always been such a constant that the initial reaction that greeted the news that they would be releasing a free EP, "The Bulls & The Bees" via the metal sect of online magazine Scion A/V was relief more than anything else. They seem like an endless entity, and bless our souls, releases such as "The Bulls & The Bees" prove they don't plan on going anywhere any time soon.

Call them formulaic if you like... The production here is probably the most refined the band have ever endorsed in. The intensity of Melvins' weird factor has also been toned down a few notches, meaning it's the most "experimental" moments here that hit home least hard of all. But let's not forget Melvins' most pulverising trait, which has undeniably been pushed to the forefront here... THE FUCKING RIFFS MAN!

"The War On Wisdom" starts off with pounding, tribal and ends on the rapturously thunderous climax of the monstrous riffcarried throughout. "We Are Doomed" begins with the signature sinister doomy- ness, before taking a surprisingky optmistic turn with some Beach Bys- esque vocal harmonies and a thrilling 7 minute rock wonder.

It's no masterpiece, but as soon as you saw the words "free EP" I'm sure you weren't expecting the new "Houdini". But "The Bulls & The Bees" is still thrilling and gargantuan when it wants to be. At least they're still here and have given us a surefire sign of at least good things to come.

Download: 1) We Are Doomed, 2) The War On Wisdom, 3) National Hamster
For Fans Of: Mastodon, The Jesus Lizard


Saturday, 24 March 2012


Artist: Burial
Album: Kindred EP
Release Date: 15/2/2012

The master of sonic urban exploration reels in the beauty on new EP

Very few have ever been as good at transfering the coldness, darkness and miasma of underworld London to sound as Burial. His brilliant song- craftsmanship and undeniably sensitive, first- hand reaction to the environment around him have given him the materials needed to wield some of the most endearingly dark and paranoid but elegant pieces ever to grace a dance floor.

On his latest release, the three track EP "Kindred", none of that is in jeopardy. Most noticeable here though is that, although Burial has always had a twisted eye for beauty in darkness, it's much more grandiose. There's still the grime, the sweat, the frightening paranoia, but evolving around it is the beautiful sonic elegance Burial has previously hinted at but never unveiled on such a grand scale. "Loner" is perhaps the least minimal thing he's ever released. It marries a dark but infectious undertow with gorgeous stabs of reverberating, euphoria- endorsing synths. The vocal sample and production in general is echoing and cavernous, giving the track an unmeasured sense of distance and depth.

"Ashtray Wasp" evolves three times, from soulful slow- jam garage to chilling, dark minimalism before ending on a warm piano melody, all the while carried throughout by a persistantly organic feel.

The fact that every track here breaches the 7 minute mark is a fundamental godsend to the success of "Kindred". The songs now have more space to manouver, evolve and shift, as well as keeping in tow that sense of elequence and fluidity. In essence then, it's your typical Burial release; Atmospheric, confounding, and truly masterful.

Dowload: All of it
For Fans Of: Floating Points, Four Tet


Thursday, 22 March 2012

4eva N A Day

Artist: Big K.R.I.T.
Album: 4eva N A Day
Release Date: 1/2/2012

A dose of personal story- telling and slight flavour from Mississippi rapper

Just like Outcast before they disappeared off the face of the earth sometime in 2006, 26- year- old Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. is attempting to pour some newly personalised flavour into Southern hip hop. Whilst the beats and production here are pretty consistently underwhelming and uninteresting, there's a certain endearing quality to K.R.I.T.'s story telling, and when his passion combines with his flow, as on the gorgeous "Yesterday" and closer "Alarm", K.R.I.T. goes a long way in justifying the blog hype.

Download: Yesterday
For Fans Of: Outcast, Big Boi, Nas


Monday, 19 March 2012

Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II

Artist: Earth
Album: Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II
Release Date: 6/2/2012

A predictable but fairly epic sequel to last year's "Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light" chapter

Converging sonically on a rigidly instrumental platform, the second installment of Earth's "Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light" series proves that Earth can still pull some mesmering moves out of what is, on paper, a relatively limited sound. The hypnotic, intertwined fretwork on "His Teeth Did Brightly Shine" is duly refreshing, whilst 13- minute epic "Multiplicity Of Doors", with its dark and doom- laden guitar melody and mournful violin never sees a lapse in its emotion. A fairly predictable but consecutively atmospheric release.

Download: His Teeth Did Brightly Shine
For Fans Of: Barn Owl, Om, Sunn 0)))


Sunday, 18 March 2012

New Sounds: Melvins Release Free Digital EP

Everybody stop what you're doing now and head over to, because something monumental has happened. Legendary Freak- sludge metal mongers Melvins have released a free 5- track EP by the name of "The Bull & The Bees" via the online magazine's Scion A/V metal section, and guess what... It's an absolute beast. The EP encompasses pretty much everything we've come to expect from the band, only this time in a more simplistic but just as crushingly heavy, interesting style. Monstrous riffs, impeccably tight drumming and layers of intense, eerie weirdness... Spread across these five tracks it's all here in abundance. Expect a proper review of this thing soon, but until then, I seriously recommend you get it via the link below. You'll be missing out on what is likely to be one of the best free releases of this year if you don't.

Grab a free download of "Scion A/V Presents: Melvins- The Bull And The Bees EP" here:!collection/917/Melvins---The-Bulls--The-Bees

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Toward The Low Sun

Artist: Dirty Three
Album: Toward The Low Sun
Release Date: February 2012

A pastoral exercise in virtuosity on 8th album from Ellis & Co.

You could say that Warren Ellis is the world's most understated purveyor of apocolyptica in music. His legendary work in Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds along with his stunning soundtrack (made collaboratively with long- time brother in filth Nick Cave) to 2009's epic "The Road" have both proven that the master arranger has the capacity to both haunt and enlighten the listener.

It should come as no surprise then, given the man's past, that "Furnace Skies", the opener to Dirty Three's 8th release "Toward The Low Sun" has an apocolyptic heave about it. An intense and bubbling undercurrent is accompanied by clanging, dislocated guitar chords and chaotic drums and crashing cymbals, all of which chime with the fuzzy, doom- laden keyboard that enters the forray half way through.

From here on in however, "Toward The Low Sun" becomes the soundtrack to a seemingly tranquil and bountiful existence after the storm has passed. "Moon On The Land" is a pastoral, elegant piece, its soft acoustic riff presided over by Ellis' stripped back but equally as profound violin playing. "Rising Below" starts off from humble, rhythmic beginnings and builds into an electrifying but joyous- sounding mesh, whilst "That Was Was" is the album's epic, slow- burning gonzo rocker on which you could be forgiven for thinking that Ellis' violin was an electric guitar.

Whether it sounds deliberately disjointed or magnificently crafted, the musicianship on "Toward The Low Sun" is remarkable. On almost every number, the three instruments that make up the songs chime seamlessly, almost instinctively. It makes for elegant, charismatic listening.

Download: 1) Moon On The Land, 2) Ashen Snow, 3) That Was Was
For Fans Of: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Low


New Sounds: Woods

"Wind Was The Wine" is the first track to surface online from lo- fi quartet Woods' upcoming split full- length with Amps For Christ, which is due out in April. I've never been particularly excited by this band's output, but on the strength of "Wind Was The Wine", a beautifully acidic little ditty, that may be set to change. Squelching atmospherics, effect- laden guitars and an acoustic backbone show that the band aren't really pushing any new territory for themselves with their sound, which still owes vast and obvious respect to the '70s Laurel Canyon sound, but this time it's prettier and just BETTER.

Grab a free download of "Wind Was The Wine" from RCRD LBL below:

New Sounds: Jonathon Boulet

Picking up the middle ground between The Mae Shi and Austrailian psych rockers My Disco, Jonathan Boulet come rumbling into action with this fiery chant- a- long "Trounce". Relentlessly pounding and intircate tribal drums are interrupted by sudden, heavy stabs of distortion before ending on a grinding racket of fuzz. This is probably the most exciting thing I've heard all week, and these guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on in the near future, especially as their second album "We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart" is out in June of this year.

Swap an email address for a free download of "Trounce" by following the link below:

New Sounds: Suckers

Suckers are due to release their new album "Candy Salad" in April, and if lead- off song "Turn On The Sunshine" is anything to go by we're in for another lovely bout of joyous, lo- fi pop. "Turn On The Sunshine" has a certain cutesy appeal, but not in a particularly sickening way. A Cure/ Smiths- esque guitar melody and a jangly, sprightly piano lead the melody, whilst lyrics of love are made artily poetic by what are quite probably euphemisms, for example "I'd like to spend some more time inside your gold mine." It's not particularly interesting, but the ridiculously happy melody will no doubt ensure that "Turn On The Sunshine" will be the soundtrack to your sunny days in early spring.

Grab a free download of "Turn On The Sunshine" from RCRD LBL here:

New Sounds: David Banner

As hip- hop seems to be becoming much more intensely personal via artists like Big K.R.I.T. and Kendrick Lamar, it presents a nice passage in which David Banner's new song "Believe" seems very relevant. Featuring the aforementioned Big K.R.I.T., lyrically "Believe" deals with themes of love, relationship problems and the hardships and temptations that cross you whilst being away from your partner touring. It's not usually the kind of hip- hop I enjoy, but the beat, even with the ridiculously high- pitched vocal samples, is infectious, and the flow of both the rappers here is undeniably brilliant.

Grab a free download of "Believe" from RCRD LBL here:

Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Album: Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
Release Date: 5/3/2012

The return of the synths marks the return of some glorious silliness

Purists rejoice! The synths are back! Thus is the most common phrase to hear in reference to The Magnetic Fields' latest "Love At The Bottom Of The Sea." After years of acoustic daydreaming and ukelele- toting dilly- dallying, despite being reminiscent of the band's first few albums, "Love At The Bottom Of The Sea" largely sounds like a breath of fresh air.

Opener "God Wants Us To Wait" comprises of guitar chords drenched in reverb and layers of synth that swoon in and out and a funky undertow of electro bleepery. It's a fine returnining statement that should have most die- hards boogy- ing like nobody's business. The array of characters presented here is also occasionally fascinating, from the psychopathic urge for revenge on "Your Girlfriend's Face" to the hilariously odd gender- bender "Andrew In Drag" (sample lyric: "The only girl I've ever loved is Andrew in drag"). Best of all though is "Infatuation (With Your Gyration)" which encompasses woozy Human League- esque '80s synth worship in the verses and harmonious chants of nonsense in the chorus.

It's not as thrilling as you might hope a throwback to the old glory days from these guys might be, but when they're charms surface their charisma is both silly and sharply witty. It's in those instances that you're reminded just how much fun this band can be.

Download: 1) Infatuation (With Your Gyration), 2) God Wants Us To Wait, 3) Quick!
For Fans Of: Of Montreal, Adam Green


Put Your Back N2 It

Artist: Perfume Genius
Album: Put Your Back N2 It
Release Date: 20/2/2012

A near- perfect diary of misery

Sadness is an emotion that almost everybody deals with differently. Some people will turn angry. Others will fall into depression. Some will sit in their rooms listening to Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" and let the desperately lonely atmospheres soak up their tears. Perhaps the most upsetting instances of sadness however are when people have to cope with it on their own, shut away from the rest of the world, enclosed in soulful darkness. From the sound of Perfume Genius' (aka Mike Hadreas) second album "Put Your Back N2 It", he knows all about the pains of suffering alone.

"Put Your Back N2 It" is a tragic journal of times of love, loss and internal misery. It sees Hadreas encircle himself in all his most brutally honest thoughts and encapsulate himself in a suffocating world of sadness, which in turn makes the record an endlessly uncomfortable and harrowing listen. At the beginning of opener "AWOL Marine" Hadreas utters a a deep breath, as if not even he is prepared for what he is about to endorse in. The song progresses forward with an affecting melody fronted by Hadreas' skillful piano playing and ends on brooding atmospherics. "Normal Song" revolves around a beautifully simple acoustic guitar riff and finds Hadreas at his most consoling as he sings "No violence/ No matter how bad/ Will darken the heart." On "17" Hadreas sounds like he's holding back tears, his mellow piano melody supported by rising but ghostly and cold orchestral movements. "Take Me Home" features doo- wop- esque vocal harmonies in the background and a tinny, foggy production hanging over the pounding drums.

One of the most beautiful factors that goes into the fractured gorgeousness of "Put Your Back N2 It" is the music itself. Sometimes fulfilling and full of texture, other times barely there it never ceases to hold a diverse and always mournful backdrop to Hadreas' emotional lead melodies. "All Waters" is carried by a deeply moving and intense orchestral section as Hadreas' vocals resound sadly in the cavernous soundscape as he sings of how he'll wait forever to be able to hold the person he loves once again.

At the more lyrical spectrum of the album, "Hood" is absolutely devastating. It deals with doing something so bad that if your lover ever found out you'd done it they'd leave you in an instant. "You would never call me baby if you knew the truth" opens up Hadreas before going on to admit "Under this hood that you kiss/ I tick like a bomb."

"Put Your Back N2 It" is relentlessly intoxicating but almost always musically stunning. Aside from the heart- wrenching lyrics, the music here is just as profound and atmospheric, all adding to the intensity of the thing. Hadreas may need some serious love and support, and hopefully he'll get it. But at the same time, fingers crossed that it doesn't prevent him from churning out affecting works of wonder such as this.

Download: 1) Hood, 2) Normal Song, 3) All Waters, 4) 17
For Fans Of: Antony & The Johnsons, Youth Lagoon, The Antlers


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Opinion: The Shape Of Men To Come

Try as we might to change perceptions, masculinity will always be depicted by the fundamental flaws of mankind

"Masculinity is in crisis!" A phrase offered all too often by critical social theorists. As to the answer to the debate of whether it actually is or isn't however, the most likely correct conclusion is that it depends on the way that you percieve what masculinity is. If you look at it from the viewpoint of the seemingly inherently robotic "man", the near- perfect depiction of the male stereotype, then no it isn't. If however your own mind calls for a complete shift in the male mentality and almost entirely in the way that the stereotypical man thinks, then yes it is.

Let me explain...

The stereotypical man is a brash, often bullish but at the same time heroic figure. At his most idealistically beautiful, the stereotypical man is strong, loving, caring and always able to defend his sweetheart if ever the occurance should arise. At his most ugly, the stereotypical man is sexist, oafish and violent. Any male reading this shouldn't have any problems identifying just what sect they belong to. For the stereotypical man, there is no shame is bearing the aforementioned traits, and in fact it is often these characteristics that make him proud and and concious of the identity that he feels he has to fulfil. But why do men feel the need to fit such an image? Why do they feel such an attraction to the ugly side of masculinity? The answer, of course, is pressure; pressure from society, history and a stereotypical view that is largely yet to be proven wrong.

Ever since the Romans and probably a long time before, the subjugation of women has been a favoured hobby of men. It's almost certain that the most primal forms of the male being enacted a certain dominance of women, but the Romans are perhaps the most earliest well- documented example of the theoretical idea of women as second class citizens. During the Victorian age, almost 2000 years later, when social class was the domineering factor in life, women were still expected to understand their place, namely that they could have social standing and democratic power, but the man would always have more, and his judgement would always overrule that of his spouse. As much as men like myself would like to distance ourselves from such a poor show, unfortunately it's remnants are all around us. Sexism is still rife, across all sectors of working and domestic life. Young men of my own age still think in terms of "lad points", which are usually depicted by how many one night stands you've had, or how many girls you've snogged at a party, got a hand- job from and then never spoken to again. Unfortunately, it's unlikely such attitudes will ever change, and that is largely down to the fundamental, flawed precedent set down for men today by men of the past. As men have always enacted dominance over women (both sexually and mentally), the stereotypical man of today feels he must endorse that same mentality for fear of being not being dubbed a "real man."

Similar examples can be found in the 21st century's culture of violence. The mentality that "violence solves everything" is still a common nugget of the male's brain. For example, gang wars are often started upon the death of a member of one gang, to which the apparently victimised gang retaliates by proving an equally animalistic streak by then going and killing a member of the initial offending group. And Lo and behold, track back through several thousand years of history and you'll find most disputes were solved in a similar fashion. That's not a justification, just surefire proof that no matter how much a man can change his own ideas and idiosyncracies, the primal, fundamental instincts of mankind still force their way into 21st century life.

On the grounds of this argument, a conspirital, theoretical extremist may suggest that after so many thousands of years of the same mentality and actions, men have abided by sociological "musts" impressed on their minds and perhaps even passed down through the centuries like some genetical inheritance purely reserved for men. What's more likely is that there has never been a strong or large enough force to attempt to dispense of such mentalities. The most mournful thing is that it'll never change. There will always be sexists. There will always be gangs. Mankind has become so wrapped up in its own stereotype that those who believe in that stereotype will always be a majority. The only hope that reminds for the JUST man is to ignore any preconceptions, and to make sure that that mentality is dispelled from his mind forever.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

New Sounds: Free Energy

Do you ever get those songs that by all rights you should really, really hate, but the song is so infectious that it's just impossible to ignore that little part of your brain that just ticks with it? Free Energy's new song "Electric Fever" is one such song. An unashamed throwback to '70s pop- rock, the cheese and pop factors really are whacked up to fulfil their maximum sound here. That ridiculously simple but catchy riff that's a rip off of nearly every riff from that said time period, the cowbell- based percussive drums and THAT huge chorus... All of this prooves Free Energy are well- versed in past rock 'n' roll and pop and bring it together to form anthems like "Electric Fever" that, although are fundamentally flawed, will never cease to make you smile. And it's not unfair to suggest that that kind of thing is what we need at the moment.

Grab a free download of "Electric Fever" from RCRD LBL here:

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

New Sounds: Dope Body

Baltimore quartet Dope Body are to release their sophomore album "Natural History" on May 22nd, and on the strength of "Lazy Slave", the first song to be released from the record, it looks set to be one of the year's most exciting releases. Taking the post- hardcore fuckery of Fugazi and Bitch Magnet and running it through the sludge of Alice In Chains, it starts off as a fusion of a fuzzy and distorted bass line, pounding beat and sex- panther- funk- esque guitar effects, before evolving into a sludge- funk anthem straight from generation X. As it progresses it features whirring and high- brow tremolo picking, and ends on a mighty racket of profoundly wailing guitars and wild, bestial yelps from frontman Andrew Laumann. Intense, electrifying stuff.

Grab a free download of "Lazy Slave" from RCRD LBL here:

New Sounds: La Vice

It's never usually advisable for a new band to try their hands at a sound generally considered to be out- dated for over at least 5 years, but kudos to LA trio La Vice for trying to make it sound fresh on "It's A Nice Day To Die". Their Libertines/ Strokes indie- punk is raucaus and energetic, and yes, it sounds like it would be mental live. But what it falls well short of being is exciting, despite its consistently upbeat nature. The screaming of the the title lyrics and the incorporation of the indie- disco sound certainly don't help to make it sound any more fresh either. But nonetheless, have a listen to the thing and if you like it, you can grab a free download of it at RCRD LBL linked below.

New Sounds: Bear In Heaven

Bear In Heaven have returned with "Sinful Nature", the first track from their upcoming new record "I Love You, It's Cool" and it sounds like they're heralding the arrival of summer several months early. The song is surrounded by a persistently lush haze, whilst reverberating, fuzzy and shimmering layers of synth are built around it. Sculptured next to it in duel- euphoric fashion is a clear- cut, sky- kissing guitar line, which only contributes to that atmosphere often matched to sitting out in your garden on a warm summer evening watching the sun set over the rooftops of the houses in your estate. "I Love You, it's Cool" is out on April 3rd.

Grab a free download of "Sinful Nature" from RCRD LBL here:


Artist: Napalm Death
Album: Utilitarian
Release Date: 24/2/12

Birmingham grindcore pioneers' first album in 3 years is another brutal and brilliant slab of noise... But then what did you expect?

Utilitarianism- the ethical theory that the proper course of action is that which achieves the "overall happiness." After 15 albums over the course of 30 years of brutal sonic terror, you can probably stab a fairly good guess at what makes Barney Greenway & Co. happy, as well as their fans. Whilst explaining the appeal of Napalm Death has never and probably will never be an easy task, for those who get it, and given the band's exceedingly consistent back catalogue, hopes will be high for "Utilitarian." As with any Napalm Death Album, it won't reach maximum listening pleasure for the vast majority of overground music fans, but it never ceases to be a thrilling, absolutely pulverising ride through 16 tracks of blinding aural abuse for the devoted.

Although Greenway & Co. are generally renowned for their rigorous but always explosive use of roughly the same death metal- meets- punk formula, there are signs of experimentation here right from the word "go." Opener "Circumspect" comprises of bone- chilling '80s synths and crushing slabs of downtuned dirge. "Errors In The Signals" flits between furiously fast and intricate picking before becoming a full on death metal assault, with Barney Greenway and guitarist Mitch Harris' increasingly harsh vocals seemingly competing to see who can dissolve the listener's eardrum first. "Everyday Pox" has an apocolyptic quality to its melody, whilst a tortured and screeching saxophone presides over the top, signifying another shift into experimental territory.

There's plenty of room for groove and musical sophistication here as well. "The Wolf I Feed" possesses one of the most infectious and stomping grooves on the album in the verses, and is the first example of the band employing clean vocals, even if they are drenched in a cavernous, unnerving haze. "Quarantined" begins as a brutally thrilling punisher with a furious riff and equally as intense drumming, before endorsing in a surprisingly melodic chord sequence in the chorus. "Fall On Their Swords" brings satanic, terrifically dark choir- of- death vocal harmonies to bear, as does "Blank Look About Face", which evolves from an off- kilter march into a destructive punk powerhouse. "Collision Course" has a punk rush and rhythm to it, as well as another one of the record's more infectious moments. And it wouldn't be Napalm Death if they didn't go out on a terrific, destructive groove as they do on closer "A Gag Reflex."

Akin to any Napalm Death album, "Utilitarian" is an absolute endurance test. It meticulously suppresses the eardrums into submission and continuously questions the listener's capacity for sonic abuse. As the debate continues as to whether Napalm Death will ever make a bad record, "Utilitarian" most definitely works in favour of the opposing argument.

Download: 1) Quarantined, 2) Errors In The Signals, 3) Collision Course, 4) A Gag Reflex
For Fans Of: Brutal Truth, Carcass, Death


Thursday, 8 March 2012

New Sounds: Zomby

Notoriously elusive internet- baiting dubstep prince Zomby has today unveiled two previously unreleased tracks for free download via his twitter. His anonymity and silence leaves us to ponder whether these songs are old or new, but personally, I hope they're new, as it would mark a new and undeniably brilliant change in direction. The songs, titled "Untitled 777" and "Darkness 93" are both exercises in dark, rattling and twisted jungle, both fast- paced and deep- rumbling, both mysterious and intriguing. Apparently they feature on "a rare Zomby jungle DAT tape" from 1993, but who knows... The man's unpredictability means that these songs could be the last he ever releases. But if that was the case, it would be a wonderful way to go.

Download "Untitled 777" and "Darkness 93" by following the links posted by The Quietus here:

A Eulogy For The Damned

Artist: Orange Goblin
Album: A Eulogy For The Damned
Release Date: 13/2/2012

London doom veterans return with a thunderous but much cleaner sound

Back in 2007 when Orange Goblin released their doomy opus "Healing Through Fire", frontman Ben Ward reportedly proudly announced that it was "their best body of work to date." A fantastic piece of work, at the time it seemed difficult to disagree with him. With a five year gap between then and "A Eulogy For The Damned" one would expect said album to be an unquestionnable challenge to that statement. Whilst "A Eulogy For The Damned" falls short of that admittedly ridiculously high water mark, it's certainly not the record to make Orange Goblin doom metal's answer to The Stone Roses.

Possessing a more straight- up metal sound and much more refined production, "A Eulogy For The Damned" doesn't possess the same rough and raw sound of it's predecessors, but that does little to detract from some of the more thunderous, crushing and thrilling moments on here. "Red Tide Rising" is a full- throttle assault, full of crashing cymbals and punishing drums as well as a riff that can happily count itself amongst the best the band have ever written. "Acid Trial" revolves around a glistening riff comprising of Iron Maiden- esque picking and rhythmic pounding before becoming a flurry of twanging thunder. "Death Of Aquarius" is memorably darker, a distorted dirge smothering the intro chords before the abrasive and unsettling main riff sets in.

Although noticeably inconsistent, at its best "A Eulogy For The Damned" more or less keeps all the glorious traits of Orange Goblin in tact. Pulverising riffs and drums find their way to the forefront in thrilling style, and there are grooves here to make even the most metal amongst you moving. It's worth the pennies, as always.

Download: 1) Red Tide Rising, 2) Death Of Aquarius, 3) The Fog
For Fans Of: Alabama Thunderpussy, Black Sabbath, Mastodon


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Sorrow And Extinction

Artist: Pallbearer
Album: Sorrow And Extinction
Release Date: 21/2/2012

An impressive and atmospheric debut from the Arkansas doom metallers

In this day and age of a very fickle music industry, few albums do what their title suggests, but in calling their debut "Sorrow And Extinction" Arkansas doom- metal newcomers Pallbearer have summed up their music pretty accurately. A slow- burning soundtrack to post- apocolyptic desolation, "Sorrow And Extinction" marries the dirge of downtuned, crushingly heavy sludge with an epic yet mournful sense of melody, a marriage that they consistenly carry throughout. With every song surpassing the 8- minute mark, patience is certainly needed, but there is atmosphere in abundance here.

Download: An Offering Of Grief
For Fans Of: Lord Vicar, St. Vitus, Yob


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

New Sounds: Turing Machine

On the 8th of May math- rock trio Turing Machine will be releasing their first album in 8 years, "What Is The Meaning Of What?". They've unveiled the first new track from the album, the pulsating "Slave To The Algarithm", which is somewhat of a docile electro beast. Tight and percussive drums carry the rhythm throughout, accompanied by funky electro bleepery, eerily screaching guitar chords and a persistent bassline that sounds like a more robotic distant cousin of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."

Grab a free download of "Slave To The Algorithm" here:

Saturday, 3 March 2012


Artist: John Talabot
Album: Fin
Release Date: 27/1/2012

The best soundtrack to dancing like your life depends on it in 2012 so far

On his debut full- length "Fin", Barcelona producer John Talabot gives his take on Balearic house many and often brilliant guises. Opener "Depak Ine" builds and becomes more and more epically groovy and intricate as it progresses. Elsewhere "Fin" traverses from the dark, sparse but nearly always sexy ("So Will be Now") to early '90s- era tropical euphoria ("When The Past Was Present"). Sensual and diverse, in "Fin" dance music in 2012 has found itself an early gem.

Download: Depak Ine
For Fans Of: Caribou, Nicolas Jaar, Delorean


Friday, 2 March 2012

New Sounds: THEEsatisfaction

Any fan of Shabazz Palaces' wonderful "Black Up" album from last year will certainly know who THEEsatisfaction are, having guested on the aforementioned "Black Up" and supported the Seattle rap duo in the UK late last year. The duo are a hip- hop/ neo- soul act from Washington who could count themselves the second hip hop project ever to be signed by Sub Pop last year. Their debut album "awE Natural" will be released later this month, and recently, two new songs appeared online, and both are very much worth your attention.

The first, "Enchantruss", is both haunting and dark, eerie and enchanting. It comprises of the duo's heavenly voices and undoubtably brilliant rapping ability towards the end of the song, but is accompanied for its' entirety by an unnerving and bewitching circle of "hmms" from the members and a dark, rumbling synth undercurrent, giving it a more paranoid if still pretty feel.

The Second is "QueenS", and for my money is the best thing I've heard by the band to date. Slinky, sexy, groovy, it has an undeniably gorgeous melody, and the girls' harmonies and intertwinning vocals have arguably never sounded so good together on record before. Their singing ability is pushed to the fore, exposing their obviously very real and natural talent. It's sensual, seductive and calmingly beautiful, and pretty much ticks all the boxes for how neo- soul should sound in 2012.

Grab a free download of both "Enchantruss" and "QueenS" from The Needle Drop here:

New Sounds: More New Death Grips

"Blackjack" is the second song to surface online from Death Grips' upcoming second release "The Money Store." Whereas "Get Got", which I posted yesterday, seemed to signal that Death Grips were taking a slightly more calm and controlled route this time around, "Blackjack" very much reminds me of the band's older output on "Exmilitary." It's got the same kind of stone- cold, rock- hard aggressive beat that the vast majority of the songs on their debut did, and MC Ride is back to his old formula of yelling his twat off again, only this time his vocals are drenched in fractured and unnerving reverb effects. I'm not such a fan of this one, but fans of "Exmilitary" will almost certainly love it.

You can download "Blackjack" from the band's soundcloud here:

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Portico Quartet

Artist: Portico Quartet
Album: Portico Quartet
Release Date: 30/1/2012

A moving and in places astoundingly affecting third album from the London electro- jazz ensemble

At the end of Sebastien Faulks' harrowing 1993 First World War classic "Birdsong" chief character Stephen Wraysford emerges from an underground bunker in a trench to find himself alone in a vast expanse of a desolate field torn apart and stripped bare by bomb shelling and warfare. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what feelings Wrayford would have felt had that been a true circumstance in his case, but it's safe to say that Portico Quartet's self- titled third album would have been a fitting soundtrack to such a moment.

Almost every single song, nay, every single sound, move, key change or note on this record is emotive and seems to conjure up some sort of atmosphere deep within the soul. "Spinner" is particularly beautiful. It's lead by a piercing and sorrowful saxophone over the background of a rhythmic and paranoid sounding bassline and electronic bleeps that filter in and out minimalistically. "Export For Hot Climates", although only just over a minute long, sounds desperately sad, a cold and glacial piano melody sounding tragically lonely as though the light of life itself is slowly slipping away. "4096 Colours" is comprised of barely- there squelching synths and a lonely, echoing saxophone lead line that atmospherically firmly places you in the shoes of Wraysfield at the end of "Birdsong" and shoves desolation down your throat in the most beautiful of manners.

Despite being occasionally inconsistent, "Portico Quartet" is a brooding, affecting and mesmerising piece of work. The way it's crafted and put together ensures that an experience and connection is felt with an enormous range of different notes and sounds played and made on the record, and the melodies themselves are memorably sad but beautiful. "Portico Quartet" is the best soundtrack to emptiness that you're likely to hear all year.

Download: 1) Spinner, 2) 4096 Colours, 3) Export For Hot Climates
For Fans Of: Polar Bear, James Blake, Miles Davis


The Something Rain

Artist: Tindersticks
Album: The Something Rain
Release Date: 20/2/2012

Underground heroes' 9th is full to the brim with depth and lush texture

Since the early '90s Tindersticks' concoction of indie, soul, jazz and rock has seen them become somewhat darlings of the underground UK scene. 9th album "The Something Rain" is full of depth and texture, layers swelling on almost every track to create a finely crafted sound. Most notable of all is the beautiful "A Night So Still" which remains tense and pensive whilst being sparkleingly pretty and brooding as it continues. The more exposed moments here border on dull, but for the most part Tindersticks wholeheartedly prove their cult credentials.

Download: A Night So Still
For Fans Of: Roxy Music, The Blue Nile


New Sounds: Death Grips

Nobody split the opinion of music fans and critics from all sectors of the blogosphere straight down the middle last year quite like Death Grips did. A seemingly bizarre collaboration between MC Ride and drummer Zach Hill of Hella fame amongst others, their brutal, abrasive and experimental mish mash of hip hop, electronica, rock and metal proved to be the most marmite- like concoction of the year. Nobody seemed to be unsure of what they thought of the band's debut free mixtape "Exmilitary"; people either loved it or hated it.

... Apart from me. I listened to the record. I revisited it time and time and time again. Sometimes I would listen to it and love it... Sometimes I would hate it. It's probably the only record that I've ever listened to compulsively for two weeks and not been able to make my mind up about it. But after hearing this new track from Death Grips, I'm pretty confident that when their next free mixtape, "The Money Store", comes out on April 24th, I'll have a much more permanent opinion on the group.

"Get Got", the first song to appear online for the aforementioned upcoming album, sees a slightly different, if not just as experimental and out- there side to Death Grips. Gone are the raw, overly aggressive and brutally delivered yells of MC Ride, and they are replaced by a down- tuned, low and slurring baritone that seems smoother and more moderate. The high voltage nature of the MC's delivery on the debut is substituted for something that may be more palitable for people who both loved and hated the debut. As for the beat, it's just as bizarre as before, and sounds almost sample based, as was much of their debut. In terms of it's quality though, it's brilliant. It contains hyperactive bleepery and a pounding beat, and has a rather accessible melody, unlike the vast majority of their debut.

Whether you were a fan of "Exmilitary" or not, this is worth checking out. Fans of that record will almost certainly be excited by it, and people who hated the debut will probably find it much more likeable than their previous experience with the group. I for one cannot wait to hear "The Money Store" off of the back of the strength of this song.

Grab a free download of "Get Got" from Soundcloud linked below:

New Sounds: Royal Headache

Royal Headache are an Austrailian four piece from West Sydney. Here's a track that I came by just today and fell in love almost instantly. It's called "Girls", and perhaps one of the most fun songs I've heard in a long time, from a style of music that rarely excites me any more. It's full of Jangly, upbeat and insanely catchy riffs that are balanced out by the lo- lo- lo- fi production, giving the track a very raw feel, almost as though it was recorded in a Sydney basement at 4am when all the bands' members were on the biggest sugar rushes of their lives (which, to be fair, it probably was). It's reminiscent of the more sugary pop- rocky era of The Replacements or early Cloud Nothings work mixed with that of a slightly less meaty Misfits. It's fast, it's energetic and gloriously anthemic, all of which make the free download linked below a must hear.

The self titled album initially came out in Austrailia last year, but is due for a release date in the US (not sure about the UK) on May 8th.

Grab "Girls" from The Needle Drop here:


Artist: Field Music
Album: Plumb
Release Date: 13/2/2012

The Brewis brothers reside within a balance between old and new on album number 4

With fellow Sunderland townsmen being the likes of Maximo Park and The Futureheads, Peter and David Brewis, the mastermind sibling partnership behind Field Music, are probably the only band from Sunderland that have made more than two albums and not fallen by the wayside of smarmy indie favour. And there's a good enough explanation for that- Despite always seemingly dwelling in their parents' record collections from the '70s and '80s, musically anyway, they have always found new ways of harmonising the old with pushing new boundaries, something double- disc 2010 comeback "Field Music (Measure)" proved in abundance.

On 4th album "Plumb", that marriage of new and old is perhaps more prevalent than it's ever been. The band's musical style firmly imposes upon itself the continuation of well- worn comparisons like Genesis, XTC and ELO, but spurred on by the turbulence in the current political climate, it often unveils furious and sarcy ventures into such rhetoric and modernity. Musically however, it more or less stays in hark to its old influences and heroes.

There's a wealth of classical experimentation here making it more akin to the second disc of "... (Measure)" than anything else the band have done. "Start The Day Right" opens up awash with a melodious violin section and twinkling, sparkling keyboards. "Sorry Again, Mate" is lead into the charge by a collaborative string and brass section, turning it into an ELO- esque bout of pop eccentricity that the aforementioned band could probably claim copyright for. Where "Plumb" really picks up though is when the Brewis Brothers slide back into the realm of intricate musical mastery and experimentation, which has always been their joint defining feature.

"A New Town" is a twisting, groovy and angular XTC- esque white- boy funk shuffle that sees the brothers address a troubled relationship in contrary jovial style as they sing "A new town is not enough." "Choosing Sides" is the album's opus, featuringly seemingly all lengths of the siblings' creativity. It starts off with a duel melody of squelching synths and horns, before becoming an angular bop reminiscent of Grizzly Bear at their most electrifying, and ending on a funkadelic rattle. At the same time it manages to express anger at the current consumerist society in Britain, as Brewis sings "My Generation is opting out of choosing sides." "Who'll Pay The Bills?" is another off- kilter, funky pop tune that points the finger accusingly and is fuelled by anti- strike rhetoric as the lyrics ponder sarcastically "Who'll pay the bills when we give ourselves a break?".

Rarely does "Plumb" feel as powerful or as grandly stated as "Field Music (Measure)", and in terms of that it may be a bit of a disappointment. Nevertheless, it's a fully enjoyable exercise in diversity, musical intelligence and anger, and certainly doesn't doubt the Brewis' ability to churn out an album that will keep them relevant for a while to come yet.

Download: 1) Choosing Sides, 2) A New Town, 3) Who'll Pay The Bills?
For Fans Of: ELO, Genesis, XTC