Track of The Week: Crap Crab – Death Crab For Cutie

Well, this is a first for me and this blog. The track of this week has never before been released upon the general public, or anywhere, even. So… I guess this kinda makes this a world exclusive first reveal from an album yet to be released. No pressure then.

That said, I am incredibly happy to be able to showcase one track from a forthcoming album, from a band at a local level that deserve a larger following for their unusual but ultimately endearing sound. And obsession with crabs. Music definitely needs more crabs. Which follows along the lines of what attracted me to these gentlemen in the first place: What constitutes as an actual crap crab, and what exactly does that mean in terms of musical pedigree? Well, the four-piece hailing from Hitchin in the UK play a mixture of self-dubbed post roller-disco and instrumental party jams since their humble beginnings at the tail end of 2011. Through sporadic shows, trickling of recorded material and constant murmurs around the crustacean race, their four years as a musical outlet has culminated in the advent of their first long-player: The appropriately titled Volume 1. Likely being one of the only recipients outside of the band to have heard the album in full, courtesy of the band themselves, I can safely say that the album is a mirror image of their quirky but very likeable personalities. Though balancing more on the side of the instrumental party jam state of affairs, the jerky but intricate rhythms of indie and math rock butt heads and absolutely litter Volume 1’s running time, but each track bar the keyboard-commanded interludes, does take on a personality of its own, much like an incarnation of a musical crab-like Mr. Benn, changing outfits or disguises depending on the cue cards. In fact, the happy-go-lucky nature and optimism radiated from the combination of instruments essentially gives an air of the cartoon-esque to their music, fitting this comparison perfectly.

One of my personal highlights on the album of which there are many, including the song titles (Breaking Crab anyone?), may just have to go to Death Crab For Cutie, also hands down my favourite song title. Though I mentioned the instrumental party jam label earlier, this track states a better case for a short heist film soundtrack. The beginning introduced by bold interplay from the two guitars and bass, almost acts as a dialogue, leading into the intricacies of sneaking around and breaking into a bank vault. There’s a sense of pride and power made in this early statement, that Crap Crab are excellent in portraying in their music. The diagetics of each riff or tremolo could symbolise an action of the break-in and tasks of opening the vault. Drums do a spectacular job, no tom, snare or cymbal is wasted in strengthening and building that complexion of a tense, risk-filled atmosphere. Near the end however, the pace changes to a strut of confidence, or that the thieves have been caught, with the guitar sounding more than a little awkward, if intentional or not. Boy you can hip-shake to that groove though. That said, not all of Crap Crab’s guitar work focuses on tight rhythms and grooves, they can throw the hammer down with some force, evident at given moments, both guitars at their most aggravated three minutes in. What it boils down to is how much fun can you have in four and a half minutes. And that really is what Crap Crab is about, a deliriously entertaining voyage of melodies, hooks and grooves, filled with clever little touches that trap you in its vice-like grip and won’t release you until start dancing. Compelling, creative and charismatic.

Many thanks again to Crap Crab for entrusting me with their album that has been a long time in the works. Their next gig will be at Club 85 in their home town of Hitchin on the 12th September. Volume 1 has a proposed release date of this autumn, available from their Bandcamp page in digital and physical format. Some odd songs of theirs can be found on Bandcamp and on their Soundcloud with a couple of free jams to download from there. And of course, go like them on Facebook, because social media is fun and whatever.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/CRAP-CRAB/333505753343356?fref=ts

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The Lost Skulls

What would you do if you found a lost skull? I guess circumstances would entirely depends on how you came across it. Excavated out of a centuries old archaeological dig? Into the museum you go. Playing video games? Keep it in your back pocket or shoot at it if it attacks you a la Doom. Wanting to give your home a creepy but distinguished look? Damien Hurst would like a word, probably for copyright reasons. Falling out of decomposing bodies because they’ve had their flesh melted clean off from overexposure to ass-kicking hard rock powerhouses? This one’s a little less likely, but it may possibly explain how Quebec’s rowdy five-piece came to be, the psychokinetic energy of a shockingly heavy hard rock band imbued into reanimating their bodies into the formidable band they became. Became because they broke up last year, either from waning energy to fuel their spirits, leaving their bodies to rest or too great an energy, they decided to divide and conquer. Whichever story suits you best really.The discerning fact is this however, The Lost Skulls have an attitude and a remarkably heavy tone that is lacking in a lot of hard rock outfits nowadays. They play hard and fast in the manner of a volcanic eruption, molten rocks showering and slamming anything in their path into dust from a beefy dual guitar gauntlet. The size of the earth-rattling bass and drums underneath only exacerbates the furious temperament further, keeping that intensity and that fire from the skies coming continuously. Plus, who doesn’t have a little time to trash talk while pandemonium is unfolding beneath them? The title track of their Dirty Nasty R’N’R EP certainly does all of the above and more, taking on all competition while hurling magma in every conceivable direction with the force of being hit by a high-performance sports car. While only lasting in their original forms for three years before spreading their scorching wings to plains new, the potential seen here is staggering enough to be unearthed a few years from now, and be displayed on its own merits as a frighteningly fearsome treasure for those who wish to seek it. The Lost Skulls may now actually be lost as a band, but their spirits still indeed live on in their music, past, present and future whatever may come.

Dirty Nasty R’N’R is sadly what seems to be the only recorded output available from The Lost Skulls, but they very kindly have the EP as a free download on their Bandcamp page, or you can also kindly pay for it if you so wish too.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lost-Skulls/188739837865773?fref=ts

High Rise

Some imagery just sticks around you for literally as long as you can remember. I’ve grown up in what’s claimed to be one of the worst places to live in this country nowadays, a place I myself have dubbed as ‘an angry, concrete tramp,’ purely based on the deteriorating collage of grey everywhere and the hotbed of hatred that could threaten to boil over at any moment. While the town is in a chrysalis of modernisation as of late, I stick by what I say and I will take my words and vision to the grave with me. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in moderate comfort my entire life, whereas they’ve been so many more who have been confined to poverty in tower blocks, an image far too common on Luton’s landscape. But where tower blocks have been around me my entire life, a similar sentiment can be said of melodic hardcore five-piece High Rise. Not only can a high rise also be called a tower block, but having been around for five years, I also feel like they’ve been around a lot longer in my life. Although their gestation to this point in time has experienced some turbulence, their life experiences have translated into adrenalin-pumping and mechanically fine-tuned anthems for the voices of disenfranchised youth. Too heavy a tone for hardcore, but with a fighting spirit large enough to hang with the metal crowd, these boys are the perfect balance for whatever you need from modern guitar music. Their Tides Will Take You EP is only four songs deep, with one short acoustic focused interlude that showcases some of the best of the clean vocals, and two of them do stray past the five minute mark but stay constantly enthralling throughout. It is their current calling card Memories however that sits atop the crown of this well constructed wrecking machine. Rocketing out of the gates, the giant bite from dual guitars with some impressively infectious melodies, a damn powerful low end beneath it, completely unstoppable drums and an inspiring vocal performance, unite to tear the house to shreds in a blistering assault on your senses. It’s just the total package. Moods elevate sky high through the tempo shifts, the faster gear shift to begin the riot to the slower melodies to give a platform to the shining vocal delivery, all down to the solo guitar into complete havok and a breakdown that will leave nothing but a smile and a bruise on your face. Memories is aptly titled really, as much like what I’ve grown up with in my lifetime, their characteristics and immediate impact on arrival are impossible to dismay you from the feeling that High Rise, are a band that are here to stay, and their prominence is going to keep growing and growing. Long may it continue.

These gentlemen are very kindly offering a free downloadable copy of their Tides Will Take You EP for free on their Bandcamp page, or if you would like a physical copy and t-shirt of theirs, head to their website, where and or either will cost a small fee. These are some of the most hard-working and committed gentlemen I’ve ever met, so they completely deserve your hard earned money. They also have a large string of live dates until the end of this year, and are teasing something to be announced very shortly. New song? New EP? Debut album? Rub your hands with anticipation regardless.

https://www.facebook.com/highrisebandOfficial?fref=ts

Ice Cream Cathedral

It’s very rare that band names completely nail the sound of the music they make. After all, one of the best practices is to make a band name that entices a potential audience in, but still reflect in some respect the vision of the sounds they make, that will last their lifespan. Some bands do it spectacularly, some bands do it to create a sense of mystery around them, some bands do it mostly to catch your attention, while others… simply don’t try. I’m not going to go into semantics here, as there are plenty of cases for all of these camps, some which may form the basis of an article for the future even, but for now we turn our attention to the antics of Danish synthpop outfit Ice Cream Cathedral and what lurks beneath their exciting moniker. You can picture it. A pristine monument of textures and swirls, chilled and tranquil yet with a grandiose presence that takes your breath away. While this is merely a fantasy, the reality is none too different. Formed in Copenhagen in 2011, the dream state of luscious, sweet but not saccharine pop movements has taken hold of those willing to succumb to the sheer beauty of this music created.  Part of the charm lies in the timelessness of the instrumentation, the satisfying plonks, clicks, warm throbs and bass from analogue synthesisers, married with a simple but quietened drums and a soulful 60’s vocal delivery, all unite to form an abstract, space-travelling gem from yesteryear, yet taken from five minutes in the past. Amber Sail, taken from 2013’s The Drowsy Kingdom, taps into this golden formula, a sunshine glazed stroll of jaunty but bright keyboards and smoky ambience, with the echoes of female dulcet tones front and center, guiding a settling path through the near five minute journey. A moment of time is given to showcase each layer of synthesiser and programming, building up a carousel of colours, revolving before your very eyes before letting the vocals take reign once more. The marvel of the ice cream cathedral visual has taken a change recently as most recent album Sudden Anatomy from last year is a darker, icier endeavour, but The Drowsy Kingdom is undeniably the dawn to Sudden Anatomy’s dusk. The points still stands however, that this collective from Denmark are crystallising a blissful realm of pop music, and adorning it into a spectacle that remains cold to the touch, but utterly delicious to consume.

The back catalogue of Ice Cream Cathedral remains torn between their own Bandcamp page and Riot Factory Records’ Bandcamp page, all you should know is if you enjoyed this, it’s all available for a very reasonable fee.

https://www.facebook.com/icecreamcathedral?fref=ts

Stinking Lizaveta

I don’t know about you but I have a friend called Lizaveta, well Elizaveta, known as Lisa for short hand. All I can and will tell you about her is that she didn’t stink, not by a long shot, although her room predominantly did. It wasn’t a horrific smell, just the constant burning of incense blending with the other smells of a dwelling containing four other mostly housebound students. There is purpose to this anecdote, as the phrase Stinking Lizaveta is actually lifted from Russian novel The Brothers Karamazov of which my friend will most likely be familiar with because she is also Russian. But not only does she share her name with a character from a Russian philosophical novel from the 1800’s, she also shares it with a highly unique instrumental hard rock trio from Philadelphia. Not only does the band have a career spanning over twenty years, but their approach to instrumentation makes their soundscapes an unmissable tour de force, blending a myriad and menagerie of genres from far and wide. In their own words, they describe their music as ‘doom jazz,’ not the first time the phrase has been coined, but the proclaimed label does have an air of truth to it. The free-forming and switching of tempos resembles that of jazz in its heyday, with the surprising size of strength behind the guitar in slower, concentrated jams certainly invoking a hazier doom spirit. But that’s where that label doesn’t begin to cover the vast spectrum of playing ability that Stinking Lizaveta are capable of morphing in their own eclectic manner. The highly cinematic Sacrifice And Bliss album from 2009, takes cues from Eastern Europe, noise rock, psychedelia, math, 70’s prog, funk, the blues and even modern metal in places, molding it all into a complex sculpture of tremendous artistic ability. Every song is its own tale with trial and tribulations. The title track for instance, shows that blues influence taking on an almost Spaghetti-Western persona, the sun rising on the backdrop of softer strums and more melodic notes, before drums work their way into the fabric, the constant crashing of cymbals giving power to an unseen protagonist, that once pace picks up, kicks into action. After a barrage of notes and drums, urgent and suggesting imminent threat, old school prog rock virtuoso soloing quickly comes into play, injecting an optimism and triumph into the proceedings as the protagonist has conquered all ahead of them. There is not really enough in just four and a half minutes to give you a full taste of how incredible these three musicians are. Steve Albini, Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch can’t be wrong to work with them. Although their name may not give much away, one thing you can be certain of is, if they had to stink, you can bet their stink would be an aroma of otherworldly proportions.

All of Stinking Lizaveta’s back catalogue can be found through most respectable music retailers, in physical or occasionally digital formats. In the meantime, if you enjoyed this title track, the entire album is available to listen to here.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stinking-Lizaveta/107546525942176

The Hex

Witchcraft, or at least modern witchcraft tends to be more of a spiritual sensation, the roots of it lying in earth medicines and botany, as opposed to having supernatural powers. Well, at least the real life incarnation of it was. The amount of flying women on broomsticks at least proven outside of Harry Potter I believe lies at exactly zero. If anybody has or can, then I apologise and kudos to you. The practice of cursing or hexing somebody however does still exist and can be more predominant in folk communities and shamanistic societies. What that actually means depends entirely on your definition of faith and whether you choose to believe in such practices. Personally, a hex I’d certainly choose to believe in if staring face-to-face with it, would be that of self-proclaimed arctic hardcore delinquents The Hex. Emerging from Trondheim, Norway, The Hex are a sextet billowing with the ferocity of the post-hardcore crowd, so hard in cases you can hear the dead soul of At The Drive-In gushing from their vocalist. That’s no backhanded compliment, The Hex are a formidable cavalcade of riffs, vigour and tight melodies that you can bathe in as much as be beaten to death by it. The addition of an extra percussionist, who serves as a synth player also adds a richer flavour into the mix of the riotous, buccaneering guitar piledriver, especially with the extra toms during breakdowns and shakers fleshing out the sound. This Is How Razors Dance (Rage United) from fittingly-titled 2013 album Bringing Guns To A Knife Fight is actually far more progressive and turbulent than you anticipate, opening with an all bets off bare knuckle fist-fight, that builds towards a surprisingly emotionally intense climax, similar of that to a bullfight. The altitude of energy spent never really dips as there’s always something constantly keeping the blood pumping in the collective heartbeat. While The Hex are lacking in the spiritual realm that they birth their name from, there’s a whole lot more made up for to be feared yet impressed by. Compiling the yelling that could tear neck muscles, intricate yet punishing guitars, bone-shaking bass and percussion with a cavern-like depth of ability and wonder, The Hex are not so much a spell, but a force of nature that has very little hope of being stopped once momentum is in its favour.

The Hex’s two albums, Bringing Guns To A Knife Fight and 2009’s Tyrannosaurus Hex can be bought from The Hex’s webstore, or from most respectable music retailers. Trust me, they’re there. Word also is they’re working on a new studio album right now, so any money towards that can only help right?

https://www.facebook.com/thehexrus?ref=profile