The Soundshark’s Top 10 Favourite Live Performances of 2016

So this is a first for the site, as somebody sworn to never do live concert reviews, a run-down of ten stand out live acts that I’ve seen over the course of 2016. And I’ve seen a lot of them. It’s pretty self-explanatory really, only I’m not exactly reviewing them, just highlighting why they made this list. This isn’t limited to headline acts by the way. The only exception that I have made is to try and limit festival appearances, as there were numerous bands seen in the space of a day at some festivals that could’ve made up lists of their own. And I have had to discount one entry that should be on this list, that of being The Offspring and Bad Religion at Hammersmith Apollo. The reason being counting individual performances, both were absolutely superb on the night, more than satisfying the inner 13 year-old in me and being hard torn to pick a favourite, just makes it easier to disallow it altogether. Sorry, no joint entries for this one. Without any further ado, here’s who played stellar live shows in 2016:

10. Raveyards @ Camden Underworld (supporting Perturbator w/ Dan Terminus) – 08/06/16

12804643_1016508708395095_3482944023534541373_n

Credit: Eva Vlonk Photography

Bands like Raveyards perfectly demonstrate why you should always try and check out the support bands for a live show. Knowing nothing of them, walking into Underworld with half of the stage consumed by mesh netting, projection screens and one of the most elaborate live musical setups I’ve ever seen was an eyebrow-raiser. Every component of an electronic music performance was in their control and performed in real time, with their expansive shadowy atmospherics and gigantic beats, matched with a kaleidoscope of visuals made for a spell-binding spectacle. Spectators seemed happy to have the space back afterwards, but Raveyards’ attention to detail alone has to garner recognition.

http://www.facebook.com/raveyards
http://www.twitter.com/raveyards
http://www.soundcloud.com/raveyards

9. Allusondrugs @ The Black Heart, Camden (w/ Fizzy Blood, This Years Ghost and Snakes) – 03/08/16

15697980_1277911078938463_4020435175655518742_n

Always a band on the cusp of greatness, the Yorkshire grunge revivalists played a packed Black Heart and showed everybody why they are one of the most talked about live acts going in the UK right now. Switching between slower psychedelic pinches and frenzied fuzz slammers, all delivered with their inescapable talent for writing infectious hooks, I went into this show, having had some personal bad news that day and left with joy and an affirmation of life once more afterwards. They near had to be dragged off stage after a storming 45 minute performance, but such is their allure and brilliance of their music.

http://www.facebook.com/allusondrugs
http://www.twitter.com/allusondrugs
http://www.allusondrugs.com/

8. Youth Code @ Electrowerkz, Islington (w/ Shallow Sanction and Evestus) – 14/10/16

12744592_922323664512501_309100715434444853_n

Credit: Nick Fancher Photography

If there ever was a band that embodied controlled chaos, then Youth Code is that band. Marking their debut in the capital city with their revisionist approach to industrial and EBM, there is no wasted movement from beginning to end of their set, both Sara and Ryan screaming and launching themselves across the stage in a frenetic display. Despite a breadth of luscious synth arpeggios and skull-rattling drum machines, it’s their sprinkle of hardcore, that makes every word screamed at you personal and elevates Youth Code’s all-out sensory assault to an absorbing war dance you never want to end. Can you say: the next Ministry?

http://www.facebook.com/youthcodeforever
http://www.twitter.com/youth_code
youthcode.bandcamp.com

7. Jean-Michel Jarre @ The O2 Arena, London – 07/10/16

15541426_10154860328214096_1904846774355496925_n

It kinda goes without saying, that when you go to see a concert from somebody widely regarded as the Godfather of Electronic Music, as a pioneer whose forays into music and technology span 40 years and a former world record holder for the largest outdoor concert ever, you’re in for a spectacle. And having missed the chance six years previously to see him, he did not disappoint. Ever the showman, touring through his greatest hits and his frankly superb Electronica project, his inspiring ability to flawlessly recreate every nuance of his work, live, to a visual extravaganza that evolves much like his compositions can only cement his legacy as one of the most influential figures in modern music.

http://www.facebook.com/jeanmicheljarre
http://www.twitter.com/jeanmicheljarre
http://www.jeanmicheljarre.com

6. Petrol Bastard @ Resistanz Festival (Corporation, Sheffield) – 25/03/16

13226666_985399441515582_5943253979273572365_n

I do wonder how many people have said at a Petrol Bastard show, that the duo played their dream set list. I certainly can. Opening up Resistanz Festival in Sheffield’s Corporation was a 45 minute performance piece about masturbation, drinking and violence set to an unrelenting techno, gabba and drum and bass soundtrack… and it was some of the most fun I’d had all year. Forcing crowd participation with a tide of inflatable penises and unforgettable slogans, and with a little help from Johnny Ultraviolence, this crude, colourful riot was impossible to ignore and left many smiling from ear to ear. Plus how many gigs let your girlfriend try to sexually assault one of the band members with an inflatable penis?

http://www.facebook.com/petrolbastard
petrolbastard.bandcamp.com

5. Monster Zoku Onsomb @ Boomtown Fair, Winchester – 12/08/16

13407221_1328567600488839_7299162998133087485_n

Out of the inconceivable number of bands and pass times at Boomtown Fair, these guys could’ve been easy to miss on one of the smallest stages around. But once in range, you couldn’t escape from them and those onlookers in attendance never wanted this madness to end. A troupe of Australian musicians specialising in belting rave tunes, spanning a whirlwind of tempos, spliced together with B-movie references galore and occasional 60’s surf guitar, happily run amok in their 45 minutes on stage. Choreographed dance routines, inviting an adult baby on stage and what may have been a declaration about being in Eurovision 2017 only added to their unique brand of electronic dance carnage.

http://www.facebook.com/mzofanpage
monsterzokuonsomb.bandcamp.com
http://www.monsterzoku.com

4. Toska @ The Boileroom, Guildford (EP Launch Show w/ Eschar, The Deadlights and Steal Rockets) – 27/02/16

12931260_1722848487994080_7593471186799085395_n

Possibly the only headline band I have ever seen without knowing a single thing about, was also one of the most astounding. Made up of three quarters of melodic hard rock starlets Dorje, Toska sacrifice none of that intensity and churn out wave after wave of instrumental metal bliss, hurled at such force you’d think there was an earthquake. The energy they emitted could’ve powered large city blocks and their respective talents are hypnotizing to observe; simply everything about their performance was immense in stature, given their debut recorded release. They made crafting invigorating, progressive music seem so effortless and it was an absolute pleasure to watch them at work.

http://www.facebook.com/officialtoska
officialtoska.bandcamp.com

3. Lionize @ Desertfest London (Camden Underworld) – 29/04/16

1908110_10153447256498841_4072620368469431087_n

In what is somewhat a recurring theme on this list, I went to watch Lionize, only knowing that they were Clutch’s in-house band and left absolutely speechless. Imagine if James Brown had fronted a balls-to-the-wall rock band and invited Bob Marley along as a touring member and that merely scratches the surface of what these gentlemen can do on stage. Ferociously charismatic and passionate beyond all belief, Lionize toured a myriad of genres and had tremendous fun doing it, all with every attendee transfixed at this true powerhouse of a performance. I’m surprised the Underworld didn’t burst having to contend with holding these guys back, one of the most impressive modern rock bands alive today.

http://www.facebook.com/LIONIZEMUSIC
http://www.twitter.com/LionizeMusic
http://www.soundcloud.com/lionizemusic
http://www.lionizemusic.com

2. Kowloon Walled City @ Camden Underworld (co-headliners w/ Minsk, also w/ Bossk and Wren) – 03/09/16

14333702_10154637624698846_2452250406152751022_n

Credit: Maria Louceiro

Credit where credit is due, Bossk were also spectacular on this night, but for a band that had never stepped foot in the UK before and had come to the end of a near two-month tour of Europe, emotions were always going to be high for these guys. Kowloon Walled City’s use of conveying so much intensity and feeling into their tone, while being pulverising in the same capacity, makes every note gripping to behold and very, very few bands can even touch them in making sludge sound so breathtaking. Spanning seven songs across 45 minutes, this set made a titanic statement as why Kowloon Walled City could be considered one of the best bands on the planet.

http://www.facebook.com/kowloonwalledcity
http://www.twitter.com/kowloonwalled
kowloonwalledcity.bandcamp.com
http://www.inthewalledcity.com

1. Placebo @ Wembley Arena, London (w/ Minor Victories) – 15/12/16

14102727_10154458030601255_5982175860484831382_n

What more can be said about Placebo? Never has a band resonated with me emotionally and spiritually as Placebo has and likely I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Hell, I wouldn’t have a degree for starters. But there could be no more fitting show for them to play in their hometown on the 20th year of their inception. The atmosphere was electric and applause rapturous as the band strode through a terrific career-spanning set, that touched many through melancholy but lifted everyone through liveliness. Lyrically they have few peers and musically, their grunge-embezzled attack sounds as fresh as it did in June of 1996. Arguably, one of the UK’s greatest cultural phenomenons.

http://www.facebook.com/officialplacebo
http://www.twitter.com/placeboworld
http://www.placeboworld.co.uk

I hope you enjoyed my selection, and if you agree with these choices, or enjoy the writing that’s on this site, then you can show your appreciation through a like, a follow or subscribe to the site using the link below:

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

 

Advertisements

The Soundshark Artist of the Year 2016 – Mr.Kitty

While this is the very first of the end of year posts for this site and officially the first time anything like this has been on the site before, it gives me great pleasure and happiness to write a piece, giving a greater emphasis on an artist that has been a constant for me this year. Limitations bore me and if locking a piece like this solely to any artist’s accomplishments in one year, it doesn’t grant the necessary freedom to write something engaging enough. For me anyway. So take this as a love letter to the one artist or group of artists whose music I have cherished through thick and thin this year, and I would like to dedicate this year’s piece to self-proclaimed ‘suicidal synth-pop’ artist Forrest Avery LeMaire a.k.a. Mr.Kitty.

If you want to talk about 2016 for Mr.Kitty, then it hasn’t been as active as past years. Despite playing numerous shows over in the States, we were expecting what was to be Mr.Kitty’s sixth album in as many years to be released in October, making him certifiably in the conversation as one of synth-pop’s hardest working artists around. Sadly but understandably, the album was put on hold until next year as health concerns became a priority into the latter half of the year. But that does not speak for the quality of the music that Mr.Kitty has produced over his six-year plus lifespan as a recording artist. Far from it.

10915231_782892825093648_8704063085057317392_n

Credit: Doug Schwarz Photography

Channeling the mechanical heart of classic 80’s electronica and the drum machines of the great original goth movement, into chilling dreamscapes and darkened dancefloors, narrated by the oft distorted and reverb-drenched lullabies and shrieks of Forrest; the output of Mr.Kitty is an emotional outpouring of a vulnerable soul against an array of unforgettable analogue synth dialects. His first four albums form part of a quadrilogy of works known as the Dark Youth collection, spanning both light and darkness which broadcasts and touches upon many subject matters in that time frame, moving and macabre. It also serves as the perfect window or measuring post to show how much Mr.Kitty has grown and matured as an artist. But every release is its own separate universe, with its own atmosphere and a complete anthology of melodic masterpieces.

Arguably the greatest of his works is Dark Youth’s final installment Time, which although is one of the darker albums of that collection, is uncompromising in its vision, truly emanating the rawest feelings of every song, no matter how black its subject matter. How so many of these songs contain the musings of a mind much darker than you can imagine, but are entangled in some of the most memorable synth-pop written this decade is a true wonder and testament to Mr.Kitty’s abilities as a songwriter, let alone a fascinating juxtaposition. Although we have had snippets of a new album this year, how Forrest has tirelessly spun such outstanding retro-contemporary electronic webs together year after year is commendable. Each one is more enchanting and enrapturing than the next, and I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that everything that Mr.Kitty has created is consistently among the best music I have heard all year.

So if Mr.Kitty does get to read this, thank you for your music, and a Happy New Year, with love and kind regards,

The Soundshark xox

Five Essential Mr.Kitty tracks:





The vast majority of everything Mr.Kitty has ever produced can be found on his Bandcamp page, and if it can’t be found there, then it can be found on his Soundcloud page instead. Though unconfirmed, a 2017 release window is pencilled in for A.I., to be Mr.Kitty’s next album of which this site will take great interest in. You can shop here if you are in need of any t-shirts or the likes in the near future.

And finally, you can find all news and the means to give him a virtual hug right here:

http://www.facebook.com/mrkittydm
http://www.twitter.com/mrkittydm

And if you wish to give me a virtual hug at all for whatever reason, then you can do so at these social media channels, or by subscribing to the site using the link below:

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

 

 

Secret Tsunami Club – Episode #13

So folks, it has been six months since I last endeavoured in radio, but at long last, I bring you the next instalment of the Secret Tsunami Club and the first podcast as an independently produced project. Quality may not be the best right now, but it can and will only improve over time. Hopefully it is of a standard you can enjoy.


Tracklist:

Black Vulpine – Twisted Knife
The Vibraphonic Orkestra – A Vibraphonic Introduction
The Impalers – Metro Azul
Geistfight – True Warriors
Release The Bats – Hornets In A Matchbox
Death Valley Sleepers – Your Face In The Skies
Seasloth – Marshmallon
Ten Tombs – Honestly
Ketch Hatbour Wolves – Queen City Believes You
In Case Of Fire – Do What I Say
Vektrill – I’ll Never Die
Elephantis – Stronghold
Octopede – The Gush
The Gentle Art Of Cooking People – King Tukan II
Cavern – Ithican
Atomis – Maelstrom
Bullet Height – Hold Together
Kurt Dirt – Pleasure Machine
Iltoro – High Fly
sØ؆ – ÐΔRKES† HØUR
Glass Cobra – Up
Furious Freaks – No Indeed
Youth Code – Doghead
Dirk Geiger – 24 Hours Without Interruption

If you enjoyed this, then you can keep up to date with the latest Secret Tsunami Club happenings via Facebook or Twitter, and you can never miss an episode by subscribing to the site on the link down below:

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

30 Hotly Anticipated Releases Still To Come In 2016 You Should Get Excited About

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?

Continue reading

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
https://twitter.com/VideoMadeFlesh

And if you wish to tell me how this article made you feel, via a like, a follow, a subscription or some nice words, you can do so here:

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

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

And you’re more than welcome to do the same for me if you so wish, be it a like, follow or subscription:

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