I feel like I go through the motions every year, repeating the same diatribe, but this time, there is a minor change of circumstances, and even a little bit of excitement. After all, who knows what can happen next in this crazy time we live in? As the site, and ourselves by extension, enter a new decade, one that hopefully that leads to plenty of promise, and one that can only dismay us from the gradual doomsday scenario that the planet seems to be sliding into of late, we glance back one final time into the 2010s (the tenties?) and upon the last year’s worth of music. Compiling this list was somewhat difficult this time around, as I appear to have forgotten more incredible albums than I remember listening to. Even then, to get to the point of narrowing down a contendership of just ten albums, the list was very much disputed the entire time. Alas, the list was finally cemented, and here’s what delights 2019 provided my, and now potentially your, earholes.Continue reading
If you ever had any doubt that the nostalgia trend is absolutely back in full effect, as last decade touched upon lifting so many influences from the 80’s, this decade seemed dead set on reliving the 90’s, that abhorrent haircuts, tasteless clothing, and otherwise obsolete mediums are all the rage once more. Arguably, as much as the 90’s were a confusing and surreal decade in our lifetimes, it was an incredibly underrated decade in musical innovation. Crazily, dance music was scarcely dubbed dance music until the turn of the 90’s, despite music specifically recorded for the intended purpose to dance to existing for generations before that, going under numerous guises and evolutions. And in the grand spirit of that innovation, the very nature of dance music underwent such a radical transformation in that time period, that began with Eurodance and acid house, and ended with trance. Sticking with Eurodance, the treasure trove of that brief spell of musical history, is still unearthing rock solid tracks that the world had forgotten or had no idea existed, which brings us to Leila K’s Electric. A great success in Europe, and greater success in her native Sweden, the Moroccan-born singer and rapper resembled somewhat a solo Salt-n-Pepa for the rave generation, and Electric coursed with the kind of attitude and energy, that made it as inspiring as it was incendiary. Pulse-pounding though it still may be, Electric sounds very much a product of its time, approaching a quarter century in age and dated by its now primitive production package. Enter fellow Swede, and electro-pop anarchist Rein.
Joanna Reinikainen, better known by her stage name, exploded into the public eye in 2016, with her no apologies, take no prisoners fusion of pop, electro-punk, industrial and EBM, teeming with sociopolitical confrontation and fury at global injustices. In such a short space and time, she’s released two EPs, a handful of singles, made additional guest vocal appearances and been nominated for awards in her homeland. She even found the time to refuse to open for Marilyn Manson in that time frame. Her deeply addictive and frenetic assault of musical styles, along with Electric’s clarion call of unity, make her the prime candidate, to revitalise and empathise the vigour of this joyous gem from Scandinavia’s pop vaults. From the inset, there’s certainly plenty that embodies and mirrors the original, from the imposing buzz of the vocoder, the unwavering swagger in every syllable, even down to leaving Leila K’s name in the lyrics untouched, and the lush layering of vocal melodies at the song’s crescendo. The music video even bears a handful of similarities to its predecessor, despite the stark contrast between the cold walls of industry and the bright illuminations against woodland. It’s Rein’s distorted, driving waves of dissonance that ultimately begin to shift towards the version to call her own. The continuous kinetics of the techno arpeggio that the original gently builds itself around, is instead brought into motion by an aggressive pumping bassline, undulating as hard as putting fists to flesh, interspersed with ungodly screeches of synth. The verses of rapid-fire rap possesses so much more bite here, that extra degree of fire tremendous in spurring on listeners to invest in the song’s message. But the entire tone of the song isn’t all certifiably vicious, as Rein still retains the chorus’ soul-packed hook, taking on the delivery herself to demonstrate further dexterity in her already impressive vocal arsenal, alongside the same uplifting pads nestled within from the original, and the bassline dialled down into a throbbing disco-esque rhythm Giorgio Moroder would be proud of.
Everything summates to a pop vessel, masquerading as a industrial strength wrecking ball but with more than an ounce of humanity in its approach, and if this doesn’t serve as the perfect entrance to Rein’s expanding realm of electro-punk antagonism, dive into her earlier work and start taking notes, as this outstandingly talented lady is only going to kick more and more doors down.
Electric is out now available for purchase at all reputable retailers and on all major streaming platforms. All Rein apparel and merchandise can be found on her page here, and keep an eye out for shows hopefully in a country near to you.
You can found out everything forthcoming by Rein here:
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It seems very few people utter a breath about 2016 any more. Probably for good reason, it seemed very much like a culling of revered figures and idols of popular culture, let alone a universal gasp of disbelief at what idiocy we may have unleashed on the world. 2017 isn’t really fairing any marginally better in that department, by a hair strand at best. But whisper it: The music is fantastic. If you want to invest in it of course. Admittedly, this list was compiled at the inset of 2017, but as the halfway stage of this year rapidly approaches, it still holds as an all-star ensemble of killer bands you may have overlooked, some yet to release their brand new material and some you may never have heard of. It seems like a solid enough foundation for this article to still exist, while maintaining some resemblance of relevance. That, and you may be reading this, looking for some new music to listen over the summer. Let’s get started, shall we?
2016, probably not just in my own personal opinion, has been a fantastic year for music releases so far depending on how far you’re willing to commit yourself to the kaleidoscopic universe out there. To name but a few of my favourites would include The Qemists, Youth Code, Autopsy Boys, All Hail The Yeti, Mask of Bees, Lowflyinghawks, Amplifighters and Weekend Nachos, and at this point, some music media outlets would like to take the chance to reflect on what has already come before and sum things up in a handy little list for you. The Soundshark isn’t some music media outlets. What The Soundshark has done has compiled a list of 30 forthcoming releases in 2016, of varying genres, and from mass appeal down to the underground to better illustrate why 2016 will remembered as a truly incredible year of music. There could be your new favourite band waiting here or an album announcement by that band you like you may have missed, who knows?
Let’s begin shall we?
Ironically, it almost seems like 10,000 days since we saw the last Tool album. Well, 10,000 days is the equivalent to 27 and a bit years, so not quite that far yet, but it has at least been a decade since the previous album from the LA masters of progressive metal. And understandably, there’s a lot of hype growing towards it, as on and off progress continues to be made, and has been for at least three years, not owing part to the now resolved lawsuit that had hung heavy over their heads for a lengthy period of time. There’s also an awful lot of impatience. So far, the only trace of new material we’ve had is a two-minute long instrumental jam, tentatively titled Descending, which by the band’s own admission is only a fragment of a song in progress. Yet the memes, anger and remarks persist. So I thought I’d offer an alternative to those dismayed by the lack of answers or have grown tired of waiting, by rounding up eight excellent, lesser known bands to listen to in the mean time whilst the new Tool album materialises:
To follow on from a point made in a previous post on this blog, although there are parts of the industry that are highly successful for women, there are some still in which women still struggle in, or there is a real lack of a presence in. Formerly I talked about rock and metal, now I’m talking about electronic music producers. There are some that have made substantial contributions to electronic music a la Ladytron’s Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo or Freezpop’s Liz Enthusiasm and Marie ‘Christmas DIsco’ Sagan, that’s an indisputable fact. But I’m more referring to solo ventures, fearless females that near single-handedly produce all the content they make. Bjork is a famous example, as is Sister Bliss of Faithless fame, but they seem very far few and between prominence. I already have given notice to organic ambient maestro Hannah Davidson a.k.a. Mrs Jynx from Manchester previously on this blog, but it’s high time I gave plaudits to another. Enter Ambra Red from Sweden. It’s no secret that the European synth-pop scene is one of the strongest in the world, and despite disappearing off of the face of the earth, her collection of singles she produced in the period of time she was active is near an immaculate quality. Purposing producing lavish melodies like an arrow to the heart of popular music, while one foot strays into dancefloor territory and her tongue a sharp enough implement to slash at contemporary culture. Her career lasted an undisclosed amount of time, according to the shreds of evidence surrounding her on the internet, but long enough a timespan to produce 20 songs to be compiled onto what seems to be her only studio album, Electronic Creations For Special People. Many of her songs are impeccably written in the manner of synth-pop’s greatest, and Beauty 606 is personally one of the best the album has to offer. The twist of a radio dial into a punchy disco beat with a low-riding bass line starts the show, with Ambra’s hushed but sensual tones digging at perceived model beauty standards. Her calm, near reaching siren-esque demeanour makes her criticisms even more effective against the vibrant, cheery synths and layers upon layers of intricate percussion driving the track along. Special attention has to be given to the chorus’ inescapable hook line, as it’s one that burrows hard into your brain. Once its there. you’ll have a difficult time being rid of it as you’ll be whistling the melody for a good few days. As I said, an unsung hero of the modern synth-pop scene, with such carefully constructed, clean-sounding production and a midas touch for writing excellent pop songs that not only could seduce the dancefloor republic, but could nestle into any of the playbooks of the best to grace the mainstream with fingers on keyboards.
Having disappeared into the nether for around five years now, social media for her are hard to trace, but she still has a website up with links to where you can listen to and buy her works. So I’d highly recommend using that as your port of call, only because Amazon sold physical copies of her album beyond ridiculously prices.
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The bass often gets relegated to the furthest regions of the musical pecking order, essentially being the reinforcement of a musical siege upon whoever may be listening. That of course is, unless your name is Les Claypool. But there was once a period in time where the bass was integral to the construction and success to a very prominent era of music, one that could be labelled as at risk of extinction in modern music. That era was the rise of disco and the explosion of funk in the 70’s. Of all of the originators, very few are still around, the core principles of funk having long since transitioned and transformed in modern pop music. It’s rare nowadays that you’ll hear out and outright straight up funk with the exception of a certain Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars collaboration and occasionally Red Hot Chili Peppers. Although dormant in indefinite hiatus, the power and energy behind Sweden’s Majestic Mojo certainly gave a new shining hope to the plight of funk music. The bass here was given a starring role in giving the groove, attitude and swagger that funk demanded. Playing what is described as heavy funk or ‘hunk,’ the machismo of the gentlemen from Karlstad was an attraction since 2005 and did spawn one fist-pumping compilation of good-time rock stompers called What A Handsome Face. And immediately from the beginning of Two Legged Freaks, that party spirit is demonstrated with an impressive slap-bass display, driving full steam the groove train into the salutations of trumpets and in-your-face rapping bravado, that cannot fail at putting a smile on your face. Ample spotlight is given to the outstanding bass show here, but the composition of this track at such a pace and at such a short running time all deserves applause. As good an introduction to this band and the thrill-a-minute fairground that funk is capable of, it seems such a shame that their take on a sound in capativity, has faded into near obscurity after toiling for six years. Funk’s not dead, not by a long shot, but if there ever was a fantastic reminder that bands can still perform the musical language in one of its most unrefined incarnations with such charisma and flair, Majestic Mojo deserve be a far, far bigger band than they ever were. Here’s hoping to their return one day.
Sadly having vanished for four years, any independent means of supporting them in musical limbo has disappeared, aside from being available from most respectable music retailers. They’re available on Spotify and Last.fm too if you want to support them that way.
A canopy, according to the Oxford English dictionary, describes a layer or material above our heads, normally suggested as a form of shelter or cover. This actually stems from the Latin word conopeum which means ‘mosquito net over a bed.’ Who says this blog isn’t educational? Any which way you look at it, staring at the word canopy, the image of a Swedish melodic death metal band doesn’t immediately come to mind. But upon listening to the bludgeoning force split between three guitarists, who breathed new life into a dying breed of metal, that vision attaches substantial weight to that single word and a monster of skull-crushing compositions is at your disposal. In tune with the original Gothenburg melo-death trinity of In Flames, At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, the sextet of Canopy bring the multiple guitar harmonies and unmistakable death growls, but with the aid of heavyweight, denser guitars tones that technology couldn’t produce twenty years ago and the creative influences of some of the more experimental names in the metal game a la Opeth and Strapping Young Lad. Their acclaim for easing emotion and atmosphere out of a darker, heavier style of music speaks for itself. Where 2010’s Menhir succeeds is taking that creativity and ramming it into a combustible yet massively textured furnace, burning with the intensity of a forest fire. Speaking of fire, third track in Earth Splits Into Fire prophecies the self-destruction of our planet and our species through a booming death sentence, led in by acoustic plucking with the inevitable pulverisation of three guitars worth of distortion and downtuning and hammerblows of double kick pedals drawing ever closer, before they collide in a detonation of riffs, shredding and blast beats. Canopy blend the old breed with new techniques in such a way it comes across a fresh approach to metal entirely. Between the six combined muscle powers of these gentlemen, there lays a myriad of incredible musical and technical masterworks that have sunk so far under the radar, it seems ironic that they should bear the name Canopy.
Menhir, their most known album can be purchased either via Bandcamp, or via Dissension.se, where as their previous two albums, Will And Perception and Serene Catharsis can only be bought through Dissension.se.
At least some point in your life, you may ask yourself the question: How is it that I’d like to die? No matter what state of mind you are in, it seems to be an intangiable fact that we as the human race, are oft fascinated by the realms of the morbid. After all, life does come to an end at some point. But say if for example, you are in a Swedish metal band from Gothenburg, and your music so happens to be very heavy, addled with enough riffs and raw power to haemorrage a tower block, you may ask yourself: Is death by sludge possible? Deadists would like think so, their waves of black tar swallowing you whole, whilst the crushing weight squeezes the air from your lungs. Meeting somewhere between doom and sludge, none of Time Without Light’s five tracks falls under the five minute mark., giving enough exposure in one sitting to completely pulverise your eardrums into dust. The full-out fuzz assault of Human Stain is a seemingly endless tide of meaty guitar grooves and highly intimidating barking, all the time while drums beat and bloody the faint of heart into a pulp. Deadists may play with an appetite for destruction, that much is clear, but the size and skill of which this fairly original brand of addictive sludge is performed, leaves little doubt that these gentlemen from Gothenburg are a wrecking crew capable of global domination.
Deadists are in a strange state, they haven’t died but are evolving in terms of sound and personnel, of which change hopefully bring new material with it. In any case, 2010’s Time Without Light can be found on their Bandcamp page for an absolute steal.
If somebody said to you the words Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf, what would your immediate reaction to these words be? In the eyes of one Dennis Wedin, half of the brains behind ultraviolent romp Hotline Miami, you get it tattooed on your arm, then you make a music video for it. Of course this is three years or so late to this party, but Dennis Wedin, as well as co-creator of video game Hotline Miami, is also the voice of Fucking Werewolf Asso, the Swedish group that his music video belongs to. Where to start? Imagine an acid trip filled with your favourite 8-bit Nintendo characters at a music festival, and watch them get murdered and disembowelled by demented punk rockers with axes. It happens in the blink of an eye, but if you can bare it, it becomes an entertaining horror show. There is a musicality for writing catchy pop tunes underneath all the bleeps, boops, abrasion and screaming, it just so happens to be so frantic and hell bent on shock factor that it occassionally gets lost in translation. They still go strong to this day, having released a new album this year, but they remain a Marmite experience. I happen to find them deliriously entertaining, others may call it electronic noise torture. Your call.
The tune in question, known as Keep Your Adresse To Yourself ‘Cause We Need Secrets, can be found on 2011’s album Nittiotremo, but is available as a free download on their Bandcamp. All their other recorded material including this year’s Why Do You Love Me Satan? can be found in the same place. And for your enjoyment, the music video is also an interactive game which you can download from here, or you can watch here. It’s a bit special.