Randolph & Mortimer

History has gone to show it is infamous for remembering and celebrating the individuals and the cults of personality that have walked among us at one time or another. I’m sure that you really don’t need me to go above and beyond to name a few here, you could all name a handful of people off the bat. Their influence and importance of course relies entirely on you as a person, which is perhaps why I’d say it’s unfair to suggest that one person is of far greater importance than another. It’s all subjective. On the other hand, history has shown that it can be just as good celebrating couples and pairs. You may be a little harder pressed to name some off the bat, but I can give you a few of varying life paths. Bonnie and Clyde, Torville and Dean, Brad and Angelina, Elvis and Costello, Jack and Jill… You get the idea. The point is they’re all remembered for something, no matter their significance to you as a person. You’re aware of them regardless. At first glance of the pairing of Randolph and Mortimer, you could assume they operate as a construction firm, (like Gibbs and Dandy if you hail from the UK) or the surnames of serial killers, or war criminals. The truth kind of combines the two in some capacity. Dependent on how you label bankers and politicians.

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The name actually derives from the film Trading Places, where two stock brokers, going by the names of Randolph and Mortimer switch places with two gentlemen in less fortunate social and financial circumstances, as an experiment to experience life on the other side. Which in today’s political climate we seem to be calling for a lot, to the governments and fat cats who more likely have never struggled in everyday social and financial situations. It certainly makes that name far more poignant. The Sheffield three-piece (yes, despite going under the moniker of a duo) practice a manifesto of condemnation and repulsion, punctuated by a series of electronically driven, industrial rallying movements. Powered by the analogue synths and percussive might of the 80’s, it only makes sense that visuals match the sonics, with wireframe silhouettes and what resembles Thatcherite Britain providing the backdrop for the ire unfolding. Most recent single Citizens isn’t so much a feast for the disenchanted, more a capitalist brainwashing broadcast if such an occurrence were to play out. Brought to a marching pace by booming snare hits and dampened synth arpeggios, the beat very much tribalistic in tempo and timbre, the checklist for what constitutes a valid member of society is rolled out, as well as quasi-motivational slogans in how to do so. A heavily distorted voice calls out in the distance, reaching indecipherable levels but certainly adds a touch of unease and morality to this otherwise calming instructional narrative. Later, a ferocious sawtooth synth wave cuts through the rhythm, near stopping it in its tracks, while a brighter counterpart, still as abrasive as its bass-heavy contemporary, layers atop before bringing the beat back and ushering in a new breed of arpeggios to meld with the originals. In the end, all of the individual synth lines piece together and play out increasingly chaotic percussion, to one last eerie inquisitive dialogue against a wall of noise. This is best experienced as an audio-visual sensation to truly get the best feel for the message Randolph and Mortimer wish to convey, but the music itself is just as an exciting head-trip in its own right. Though the political agenda is unmistakeable, these guys are producing stellar industrial in the veins of the old blood and will most likely not remain an underground sensation for much longer. History has every right to remember the constructs of these gentlemen.

 

 

Citizens has yet to see a release date, but no doubt will have a digital release at some stage in the near future. In the mean time, their $ocial £utures €P and single Enjoy More are available from their Bandcamp page, in addition to other singles and numerous remixes of theirs that can be found on most respectable music retailers.They are also playing the Saturday line-up on the main stage of Resistanz Festival 2016, but look out for a gig near you soon.

Go give them a great big high five:

https://www.facebook.com/randolphandMortimer/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/RandyandMort

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Screech Bats

There was something inherently right ironically when Refused released The Shape Of Punk To Come: punk rock over the years seems to have morphed predominantly into the hardcore we are all familiar with and ten a penny’s worth emblazoned on the cover of Kerrang. Don’t get me wrong, I love Refused and there are some excellent hardcore bands out there if you’re willing to do a little digging. My point is, hardcore tends be the norm if you’re looking for something that even remotely resembles punk nowadays. I can hear people crying pop-punk in the distance, but let’s just be serious a moment. Hardcore it seems presents itself as an outlet for a melting pot of rage and testosterone, and it can all come across as a bit violent at times. Creating a riot for catharsis’ sake I guess I can understand the appeal of, but not when I’m getting roundhouse kicked in the face by some topless prick in the mosh pit. I can’t speak for myself because I wasn’t present in the 70’s and had no idea of riot grrrl at least until my teens, but do you remember when punk wasn’t so macho, or dare I say it, a lot more fun? Screech Bats seem to certainly think about that time. I mean, their band logo is a dinosaur with pigtails eating an ice-cream for Christ sakes. You could certainly whisper riot grrrl under your breath as so much as look at them, but out of everything that seems to be rising from the dead right now, the presence of more all-female punk bands is more than OK with me. And these girls kick ass.

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Credit: Derek Bremner Photography

On first listen, their sound comes across as an unmistakably more British interpretation of The Distillers, but gradually you taste the flavours of punk, grunge and good ol’ fashioned rock and roll with the lightest hit of pop sensibilities, all emerging from a punchy concoction. Their work ethic is certainly something to be celebrated too. They haven’t been on the face of the Earth a year yet and already they’re racking the gigs up and have their first EP out in the world. Under cover of darkness, they released a track off the self-titled aforementioned EP a month or so ago, called Pathologigirl and based on the strength of this track alone, Screech Bats are shaping up to be a very special band. From the moment the pistol trigger is pulled, you’re treated to quick, chainsaw-on-fire sounding chords, harmonised by jagged guitar and gritty bass, brought to life by an animated drum performance. From the double bass kicks and brief drum rolls, you get the feel for Bad Religion over Sex Pistols, but the pace and technique remains timeless in any sense. Vocals skate alongside, telling a tale about the bane of any girl, or child for that matter growing up: playground bullying, and judging on the choice of words used, there’s a lot of bad blood and disdain here, and you can certainly feel it drip from every scathing syllable. A lovely little guitar lick, showcasing some of that grunge and rock and roll influence, propels you into the chorus, which has all the traits of a great punk anthem: memorability, gang chants, an opportunity for massive audience participation and rock solid musicianship, all swashed with the confidence, attitude and swagger that punk breeds. It also has a cracking guitar solo too near the song’s close and ends in white hot riff worship, which I think we’ll see a little more from in the future. All in all, this is a rousing and incredibly exciting sub-three minute burst of unity through fury, exactly the foundations punk was built upon before it started taking steroids. Who needs Bad Religion when you have this hard-working quartet of ladies practically sitting on your doorstep? They’ll probably kick the door down too. Inspiring listening.

 

The self-titled EP is available to purchase from their online store for an absolute steal, while I’m led to believe a download purchase is currently in the works too. Meanwhile, they’re touring anywhere and everywhere, so go see them at the date nearest you. I promise you won’t regret it.

While you do all that, go give them your support and send love in their direction here:

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Tiny Giant

So the saying goes that you’re never supposed to meet your heroes. Why that is the actual case or anyone presumes they will only disappoint you, seems rather far-fetched if you ask me. Then again, I’ve done a pretty good job of not really meeting any of my heroes thus far. Probably because half of them are dead. The other half I think I’d require some of sort fate-like chance encounter to even get near. Perhaps somewhat because I can come across as shy and undeniably awkward. Musicians certainly seem to have that effect on me. Due to the sheer number of bands and musicians I actually like, I could say that I have a lot of heroes I haven’t met. I only ended up meeting The Qemists because I can jump high in crowded spaces and James Rushent from Does It Offend You Yeah? because my friends pushed me over towards where he was standing. Just to give you an indicator. But what about the opposite effect? What about when your heroes accidentally end up meeting you? I can safely say overwhelming happiness and the odd inhuman sounding noise were protocol on that day. So goes how the tale of this Tiny Giant piece came into being.

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The brainchild of former Pure Reason Revolution vocalist and current touring guitarist for Charlie XCX, Chloe Alper, and drummer, sound engineer, producer and all-round musical maestro Mat Collis, Tiny Giant’s call-to-arms is a clash between often soothing hypnotic ambience and ground-pounding instrumental punches. In short, like those floating dreams you have, only with the gods themselves hurling boulders in your direction at the same time. Most recent single Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real certainly implies as such, building momentum with a minute and a half’s worth of ethereal string-tinged cloud-gazing. Through out, glimmers and teases of an angelic refrain, invoking the spirit of Seventh Tree-era Goldfrapp, call out in the distance, showcasing one such area of the impressive vocal dexterity of Chloe if unfamiliar with her previous work. Ambience is left to form its own spellbinding drone, a little on the Eno side of affairs, leading into a moment’s cold chill of guitar right before a gigantic shift in tone. That cold chill remains a constant presence but ends up near muted, as the size and volume of cannon-force bass overlays and overpowers the previous serene setting, leaving drums that can match the ferocity and brute strength of the sound, and the soulful sirenesque demeanour of Chloe’s vocals for company. Whether the vocals sit in hushed climates, or revel in the carnage between guitar and drums, there’s no denying they are an object of versatile beauty and a phenomenal centrepiece to a truly involving composition. One titanic Tom Morello-inspired groove and final chorus later, and you’re left with a lot to digest. Tiny Giant are offering a unique take on a quiet-loud dynamic shift, forcibly smashing together dream-pop and progressive rock into an intriguing and strangely alluring sonic sculpture. The sheer potential and unpredictability of this combination, let alone the incredible talents of both musicians involved, can only ensure that Tiny Giant sit firmly on the horizon as one of the most creative and exciting projects to watch out for this year.

There is yet to be a release date for either of the two tracks, Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real and Heavy Love, which can be found on Chloe’s Soundcloud page, but there is a full-length album believed to be in progress, with a presumed 2016 release date pencilled in. Keep an eye on it. Only good can come of this.

In the mean time, you can give them a virtual hug right here:

https://www.facebook.com/TinyGiantmusic/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/chloealper
https://twitter.com/deadlydrummer

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High-Functioning Flesh

It seems a complete mystery to me over how the phrase high-functioning is always perceived, or used in negative connotations. You would think that you were able to describe so many more items or activities in society as high-functioning in the way they are able to perform or fulfil that purpose to an exceptional degree. That tends not to be the case. While you could say that autism and Asperger’s could be fulfilling their role as a disability with flying colours, in making people’s considerably harder for them in a social and personal capacity, understandably we take that as an unfortunate and often horrific set of circumstances. Sadly, it is still often stigmatised, purely by those who don’t understand or are afraid of things not of the norm. But they are all human beings at the end of the day. They all have the same right to life as you, me or anyone else. They simply have to live life in a different or more difficult manner. Genetics is a strange thing. Which maybe makes the task of decoding what High-Functioning Flesh means all the more trickier. Is it labelling people who are capable of extraordinary prowess? Or is it that our own skin or being within ourselves, is a social disability or disease we all struggle with without realising? This is all speculative of course, but judging by their title of Human Remains, forthcoming from their second album, there’s an inkling or two you can take from it. Amongst the wave of troupes reinstating the old blood of industrial’s heyday, this duo from Los Angeles melds a warm, squelchy sequence of keys against the cold mechanical precision of programmed beats, whilst they dictate through the discourse of harmonised aggression. Defiantly old-school in practice, they take the scathing disenchantment of punk’s youth, piece it together with sheet metal from industrial’s proposed collapse of society, and drop a tab of techno to bring it to life, but not overclocking the construct. Human Remains sounds slightly more refined from a production standpoint compared to their previous works, smoother-sounding audio flowing from the keys at the inset, as a bouncy bass hookline interspersed with brighter stabs of synth create an optimistic tone in the track. The continual looping and manipulation of a voice recording and eventual introduction of tightly compressed percussion through out the first minute carry on this ideal, right up until the vocals break through. Then all projected optimism is stripped clean away, given the ghoulish subject matter of the lyrics. It feels like a battle between the expanding vibrant glow, characteristic to the building layers of analogue synths, and the harsh monotone truth of the spoken word, acting as the shroud of darkness, effectively warped by the phasing and pitch-shifting placed upon it. How this transforms the mood from a beautifully blended, 80’s nuanced discotheque floorfiller into a greyed cold wave manifestation of dread and sociopathy, is astonishing and more than a little uncomfortable. But my presumption is that what makes High-Functioning Flesh all the more of a spectacle. Their music is more than just a renaissance period for electronic musicians. It’s a wake-up call. Rather than seamlessly weaving the timeless ambience of three decades past with a fierce beat, they’re taking paranoia, fear and loathing and turning them into a occasionally understated, brutal sensory attack to shatter the illusion of day-by-day modern life. From what I’ve seen and heard, these guys are one of the most cleverly calculated punk bands in the business right now.

Human Remains will be released as a single on 26th February (also my birthday) and is taken from their yet to be titled second album forthcoming on Dais Records. Whilst you keep a look out for that, you’ll be pleased to know they are prolific, with their previous EP and demo available from their own Bandcamp page and first album Definite Structures is available from Dais Records own store. Most respectable music retailers still apply.

Go tell them how their music makes you feel:

https://www.facebook.com/HxFxFx/?fref=ts
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Iron Jawed Guru

 

I don’t know how often boxing or boxing terminology crosses over into music, or at least has a hand in naming bands, but it seems kinda few and far between. To my knowledge anyway. Perhaps most famously an example being the outstanding Glassjaw, whose output helped define the landscape for post-hardcore and its endless ilk today. I’m sure there’s half a dozen bands or so that are called Southpaw too, one of which I know are pretty good. Any more for any more? I got the Prize Fighter Inferno, The Boxer Rebellion and Title Fight (well, can be applied to boxing), but I think that’s all I came up with after some serious thought. I’ve never heard of an iron jawed guru though, unless that refers specifically to one of the greatest of all time, like a Floyd Mayweather or a Muhammed Ali or something. Part of me wishes it was something to do with having a mechanically reconstructed deity, but that’s my imagination going walkabouts. Onto the topic at hand though, Iron Jawed Guru is actually the namesake of a West Virginia based instrumental hard rock duo, whose primary objective is to conceive the most electrifying musical stampedes imaginable, solely based on just a guitar and drums. Last year saw the birth of the Caldera EP, a six-song sledgehammer that introduced those who tuned in to a cavalcade of white-hot riffs and a gallant drum performance, with enough speed and force to blast your stomach out through your spinal column. Their first full-length album Mata Hari continues that trend, remaining as unrelenting, never taking its foot off the accelerator for a second. While only seven songs in length, the rapid fire bursts of stellar hard rock action are an absolutely storming affair, with undeniably the most fun reaching the album’s climax Vesuvius. It seems they left the longest track until last to illustrate the best of their impressive toolset. Vesuvius opens like walking calmly into a saloon, seeing through the viewpoint of vigilante justice, sizing up every antagonist in the vicinity while keeping hands close to guns. The guitar and drums are an excitingly tense interplay, keeping a fine balance of riffs and groove in an almost Western blues-inspired tone, if such a thing exists. Confidence and charisma simply oozes out of their musicianship, two men possessed and intent on making all hell break loose and having the balls to butt heads with the Devil as he emerges. But much like the volcano itself, the pressure builds up too much and it begins to trickle over with the pace increase, before spurting white hot magma in every conceivable direction. If this was that Western saloon shoot out, justice by the bullet load would be unfolding as the lone gunslinger lets the occupants taste three inches of lead, from each furious guitar lick and snare bash. And there’s a lot of them in the space of the final minute. All in all, it’s a terrific thrill ride that showcases the talents of two incredible musicians, who are aiming for that lucrative title fight and have all the credentials and necessary ability to be a dominant force, and hoist that belt high above their heads.

Mata Hari is out now on Grimoire Records, which can be obtained on a digital and physical capacity from their Bandcamp page, and I highly recommend doing so. Otherwise, Caldera can be bought from their own Bandcamp page and also well worth your investment. You can find their music in most respectable music retailers too if you wish to do so that way.

Go buy them the equivalent of a social media drink:

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

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L’aléatoire

I have never claimed to be a journalist of any description, even if I am covering new and up-coming bands, or writing music-based reviews and such. But then again, I’ve never considered myself a detective, but I do a lot of research into subject matters I have a large interest in. Like you’re supposed to do for a degree, but you don’t get awarded a degree for being a detective in media studies. I think it’d be a better title personally. I bring this up because for a new and emerging band, I could gather all the necessary information I desire to write an informed piece by asking for a press release, like a journalist would. But instead, I am belaying that in favour of doing my own research and bringing you my findings via this piece I present to you right now, perhaps in the spirit of playing detective. It makes far more sense in the context of L’aléatoire, despite collaborating together for three years, have only starting making music together in the last year or so. Very little information about them is publicly available right now, so this is what I can tell you from research. L’aléatoire, French for random or uncertain depending on conversational use, are a two-man electro-metal project residing in London, whom appear to have an interest in occult imagery, judging by a hooded youth as a centaur I came across, but seem have taken their image in a new direction more towards that of 19th century illustrations of sharp objects and tools, which coupled with their technologically enhanced style of music, actually makes for a far more fearsome identity. Their debut single The Untreated has only been in the public domain over 24 hours at the time of writing, so it retains all the satisfaction of finding literal brand new music. And when I talk about satisfying, it certainly satisfies an itch or two. Our introduction to this song almost feels like it begins in a medical facility, the quickness and tension in those opening synth notes bringing an immediate sense of peril or threat, like being under the knife if it were. The programming brings rapid cymbal taps into the mix and a deep, warm, throbbing synth joins in underneath, starting to piece together a fuller atmosphere as unease starts to set in. Kicks and snares are next to enter, as does the occasional sample of a sitar, which actually fits into the jigsaw incredibly well, adding a slight unique, exotic twist to an otherwise cold overtone. Right up until that saw-sharp guitar tone cuts through the electronics like a… well, you know. The beat starts to form around this guitar interjection, as do the synths and ambience, morphing into a far more dangerous beast than you could have anticipated. The encounter is brief however, falling just under the three minute mark and even though the composition isn’t entirely complex, it remains absolutely gripping, purely through surgically precise production. It certainly sits as an intriguing teaser if anything, and judging by their prowess to produce live industrial mixes, there is a huge amount of promise and possibility to come soon. Illustrations aside, they have all the tools they need to make it happen.

The Untreated is available for a free download here, ahead of a debut EP release, scheduled for sometime in Spring. They’ve just released a video for the track which can be found right here on YouTube, but you can enjoy their industrial live mix right here in the mean time on their Soundcloud if this has tickled your fancy.

They’ve just started making moves with their social media, so go give them your support to get the machine up-and-running:

https://www.facebook.com/laleatoiremusic/?fref=ts
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Who Is Louis

I’ve often looked at band names and wondering if there is a market for bands whose names are questions. In a romantic sense, a fictional band in my favourite film ever is called Where’s Fluffy? A band I wish existed due to how obsessed I actually am with that film, so I could find out how awesome their music is/was. They wrote a song called Black Carnage. Do the math. On the other hand, and on a point I may expand upon at a later date, when you name your band something along the lines of Sarah Where Is My Tea or Did You Mean Australia?… yeah, those bands have broken up now. One of my favourite bands ever are Does It Offend You, Yeah?, responsible for one of my favourite albums ever, but sadly they too will be calling it a day this year. Maybe it’s just the irony of having their band name as a question that gets far too much for them. Pure speculation there. So just who exactly is Who Is Louis? And can people count on them to break this unfortunate curse? The answer seems more positive. Who Is Louis are a Danish electronic-pop troupe with a delicately sassy female vocalist and an ear for hypnotic rhythms and chilling, euphoric atmosphere. Singles of theirs currently float around on the internet if you go in pursuit of them, but they’re looking to the immediate future and to the imminent release of their debut album, which has seen more than its fair share of adversity to reach the surface. They have every right to be excited for the future. First single Fancy Me is a shape-shifting head phase of a track, skilfully blending pseudo-EDM hooks with the cool breeze of mellowed guitar ambience. I’m not intentionally writing a drinks commercial here, but it is like asking for a refreshing cocktail and piling on the ice. Synth with an analogue touch, backs the echoes of a femme fatale in the making, all paced by the gentle plucking of bass underneath to lead the track in. Icy, reverb-soaked synth stabs later replace the moderately warmer pads, like ghosts leaving the body of their hosts and give an air of tension and build-up to proceedings. The drums certainly imply as such too. But what happens as you expect the first club hit of 2016 to drop in, is something far more breathtaking. A wave of guitar brushes past, while its synth counterpart elevates the mood to being within a distant but fond, happy memory. Wandering through a realm of the serene if it were. It certainly livens up the track, as synths become far more grander and confident in their presentation in what follows and drums get rowdier, but just enough without becoming overpowering. Vocals are given more freedom and the stabs from before are allowed back into the mix as an extra hook into the skin, to ensure you don’t forget this track in a hurry. It all culminates in a luscious, surprisingly complex and layered, atmospheric pop showcase that displays the talent of three hungry and compelling musicians. So just who are Who Is Louis? A name you need to be paying attention to. The potential for a tantalising world woven together with an inventive twist on electronic pop music is only moments away.

Who Is Louis’ debut album is expected to be released sometime in January/February 2016, with Fancy Me being officially available at the end of this month. In the mean time, occupy yourself with their Alive EP which can be found on most respectable music retailers. It’s full of good music.

Tell them their music is wonderful by going here:

https://www.facebook.com/GretaLouis/?fref=ts
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Kris Keyser

In how I’ve ended up writing this blog post, this has been a real different experience in terms of anything I write about. Probably about as vague as a sentence as I’ve ever put to document on my site, but hear me out. I mean this in two senses. The first is my working environment at the time of writing. Something that has blossomed and grown significantly mainly from the confines of my own bedroom, has been bought back to its very humble beginnings at my university’s library. Origins colliding with the future if it were. Leading to the second sense I’m talking about: culture clash. My main passions in life revolve entirely around music and video games and the fusion of the two resulted in the birth of chiptune, a genre of which I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve invested very little time in, since its inception in what seems like a lifetime ago. College honestly feels like it was that long ago to me. A lot has changed in that time. So like a proverbial mole, I’m burying deeper into the mass of soundcard-generated marvels ripped from the arcades of 1985. One of the stand out maestros on my traversal is New York’s Kris Keyser, a gentleman whom when not composing rousing 8-bit symphonies of destruction, has his digits on electronic festivals, software and unsurprisingly soundtracks. The thing that strikes me most about his music is just how endlessly energetic it is, a sugar rush of chirps and bleeps all pieced together in a revolving corridor of vibrant tints and hues. The best example of this that lurches forth from Keyser’s 2013 self-titled EP, his most recent output committed to digital distribution is Batsly Labs. While giving an honourable nod to Only, a soundscape invoking a giant mechanoid’s final stand against the oncoming onslaught of missiles aimed at the Earth, it’s the happy-go-lucky retro rampage of what can be described as Godzilla taking a leisurely stroll through a densely populated city, that implants its colourful melodies most memorably. You start with low-pitched bloops and warm pitch-bends of single notes, building up the tension much like opening credits of a side-scrolling fistfight, before you drop your change into the coin-op slot and childhood innocence all comes flooding back, punctuated by a pulsing bass drum and bright computerised chirps. Quite the wall of distortion is interwoven between the lovingly recreated melody, emphasising that inner degree of fury that compliments the cheerful demeanour so well, as a result of corrupted audio or carefully engineered detail I’m not entirely sure. But the experience is paced just as well as any arcade narrative has ever been. As any enjoyable but brief romp, the journey translates through different landscapes and climates, changing tempo to match that progression to the next stage, all leading to that satisfying ending and calmly winding down to the credits. The real childlike delight of revisiting the past to bring music into the present day, especially how I resonate with video games making up a huge portion of my childhood to bring pleasure to my aural channels as I write this, is a truly underrated art form, and one that feels like I’ve really under-appreciated. Kris Keyser sits as a shining jewel amongst a treasure chest of sterling producers making a charming collection of tunes, harking back to that time of purity and artistic integrity in your craft.

Anything that Kris Keyser has ever created can be located on his Bandcamp page on a pay-whatever-you-feel basis, though I do heartily encourage a small fee for his work definitely. Otherwise, his music can be purchased from most respectable music retailers. Else wise, anything and everything you could want to know about the guy can be found on his personal website.

Go hug him on social media:

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https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

 

The Maras

So the saying goes that there’s supposed to be no one you can rely on more in this world than your family. Some actually find resentment for their own family enough, pouring venom into the statement that you can’t choose your family, twisting the most important support network to you as a person, into nothing but bitter disdain. It must therefore be a fascinating statistic for the amount of families that are able to completely co-exist and co-operate without a hitch amongst one another. Music definitely is an adhesive that bonds people and their interests together, and family is no exception to this rule. After all, it works for King of Leon and they’re all cousins. It did work for the siblings of The Knife, before by their own admission, the creation of music and performing stopped being fun. It does however currently work for brothers Matt and Eric Mara whom after toiling and honing their floorfilling, pop-infected grunge bursts for five years, are finally releasing their works into the wider waking world. The unsuspectingly titled The Maras Go To The Mall! is their first long-player after a steady release of EPs earlier this year, squeezing the trigger hard for a myriad of aggressively charged bullets to the skull of modern rock. While you can claim that a lot of The Maras’ output revels in the sounds of the past, the breadth of those sounds and pure passion for music of decades gone has rejuvenated that spirit and goes as far to even sound brand new again, testament to their brilliance for writing hooks. Certainly from day one of hearing Ray’s Gun, that bass melody has been nothing but persistent in worming into my ear drums and burrowing deep into the pools of wax that lay within. But such is their talent that in just under two and a half minutes, they can pull off a near-perfect grunge-pit punch-up. Think the Pixies in a disco mood and you’re about there. Sound production has weaponised the drum beats so it carries across as a steady stream of bludgeoning projectiles, while the bassline calmly injects itself into your aural channel. Reminiscent of its era, monotone vocals seeped in reverb soon join the fray, still keeping a composed demeanour to the track. Vocals then take an anguished turn for the chorus and its contagious repetition, again keeping the instrumentation in a slightly numbed state, leaving just enough room to tease some tension for good measure. The mesmerising melody picks back up to start the cycle once more, coming back to that outrageously infectious chorus hook before jolting synth stabs take over and the bass slows the pace to a crawl and concludes. This is just one aspect of The Maras’ songwriting capabilities. Songs such as Church of Mad and Red Hair have far more fleshed out synth elements, and Texas Blood Thirst takes their angst to a far higher level. Ray’s Gun balances these both with just simplicity in structure and a killer series of hooks, and really that’s what The Maras excel at, writing bite-size tracks that have absorbed everything good from their respective 80’s record collections and translating it into a formula that hits your memory as hard as it does your eardrums. A true treasure awaiting discovery. Maybe that’s what the real value of family is..

The Maras Go The Mall!, single Muddy Susan and EP Welcome To Wax Beach are all available from their Bandcamp page for a very reasonable fee. Physical copies of The Maras Go The Mall were recently made available too on Bandcamp, so I’d recommend investing in a copy of that. The album is a real sleeper hit waiting to happen, that’s for damn sure.

Write them a love note of some description:

https://www.facebook.com/Themarasbrothers/?ref=hl
https://twitter.com/TheMarasBand

I am also welcoming of love notes too, but that’s entirely your choice:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

 

Fawnchopper

The spirit of independence is a fickle concept, especially if we’re talking in the music industry or from the perspective of a music discovery blog. The commonplace definition we use for an independent band is a band trying to make a living from the music they create, without major financial backing from a record company or label. Some bands cut steps further than this by producing, mixing and mastering their own content or manufacturing and distributing the albums themselves, sometimes often to reduce the cost or because they have the necessary skills to do it themselves. You could therefore claim that these extra steps could in fact symbolise a greater level of independence, ruling out an extra set of middle men to pay in order to spread their music as far and wide as possible. This philosophy could be stretched into its own debate, but I’m going to keep it at this level of simplicity of the purpose of the article. You see, I share the same level of independence with Canada’s Fawnchopper. I settle on working for myself, having found these guys through my own means, albeit through the medium of Bandcamp. Where Fawnchopper are technically signed to independent imprint Filth Regime Records, in reality, they are essentially on their own to preach the progressive annihilation that their debut album Kind Of Red imbues. Though for dividing such a task between just three individuals, the sheer sonic force from these gentlemen creates an ungodly amount of noise in the best way imaginable. Picture Mastodon and Godflesh starting a riot in the middle of an abandoned factory, nestled in a swampy heartland and you’re pretty close metaphorically. Lead single Kill This Melody is the perfect exposé for this vision, sludgy ripples quickly formulating from heavily distorted guitar and relentless skin bashing at the inset. Not initially dangerous, but you get a glimpse of depravity from a female moan shortly afterwards, right before the hammer comes down on proceedings. A pair of prominent barks narrate a tale of unrequited longing and torment in the eyes of an unseen protagonist, all the while guitar and bass bleeding their own fuzz-sodden dialogue into the volatile mixture. Drums are beaten hard enough to induce blunt force trauma and there’s a sinister-sounding ambient undertow present throughout this primal carnage that pumps far more darkness into the heart of the music. Of which the overdrive kicks in around the two-minute mark, switching to instrumental, pure mechanised brutality, a realm beyond unsettling to say the least and it only gathers strength the further the track progresses. A form of order is briefly restored in the refrain of ‘Kill this melody’ but it increasingly becomes more hostile and violent before exponential static build-up kills the song dead in its tracks, perhaps a somewhat ironic sentiment. With a name like Fawnchopper, you don’t come expecting a picnic in the woods. This is an industrial-strength, sludge nightmare, but if you can sift through the jet-black chasm presented before you, you are rewarded with one hell of a listening experience. Maybe their independence wasn’t so much of a bad thing, especially when you have the freedom to create an admittedly testing album for the faint-hearted, but an album that nonetheless sheds light on a highly skilled, but defiantly darker level of songwriting, among the best released this year.

To truly appreciate this for yourselves, Fawnchopper not only have Kind Of Red in full on their Bandcamp page, but are giving it to you for absolutely nothing, which I implore you to accept with open arms. If you are the giving kind though, you can also pay for a digital download from most respected music retailers, which I would also highly recommend. And if you enjoyed this melody, then there’s a video to accompany it, which is not entirely safe for work.

Go say things to them:

https://www.facebook.com/fawnchopperband/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/Fawnchopper

And if you would really like to, you can go say things to me too, I won’t be mad if you don’t:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark