Although now defunct because of domestic violence, Riverdales was a side-project of punk legends Screeching Weasel, blending the garage roots of the punk of past with the dementia-inducing vibe of psychobilly and a little of that ol’ good time rock ‘n’ roll. Time Chaser, effectively true to its name sake, harks back to that jukebox diner period, complete with embroidered infectious patches onto the classic denim of swinging grooves and soulful serenades, something that their final album Tarantula is filled to the brim with.
Landmine Marathon will have a place in my heart as possibly one of my favourite band names ever. But Arizona’s death/grind hybrid certainly live up to their bloodthirsty namesake. In the first track from fourth album Gallows, there’s blastbeats a plenty and a perfect blend of technical playing and sizeable riffage, stuck in somewhat of a split personality disorder overseen by the towering screams of (now former vocalist) Grace Perry. Three Snake Leaves shares somewhat in common of what I’d imagine clinging onto a bull in a room full of meat hooks would feel like: crazy, frantic and life-threatening, but through all the adrenalin and inevitable agony, a fun concept.
Barcelonian post-rock outfit Exxasens are yet another strong collective of purely instrumental, but tremendously skilled craftsmen that deserve their spot in the European scene. Baikonur, from third album Eleven Miles, hovers between space and Earth, as a bird in flight over a blood-red sunset would. Guitars growl, trills resonate beautifully, drums sound stripped down, creating that live illusion but the best feature is the piano through out that adds that extra emotional depth to an already stellar sonic landscape. Their skill lies in their subtlety, which makes their music seem so much more human than a lot of all-guns-blazing post-rock bands, paint a mental picture of everyday natural phenomena and Exxasens will create a soundtrack for it.
Imagine a trio of Norwegian siblings, one an engineer and the other two are twin sisters but also singers, and they decided to make Massive Attack: The Musical. That is basically the best way to describe the absolutely fascinating foray that Tactile Gemma have produced. It has the luscious, murky atmospheres and gritty beats circa 1998, but they distinguish themselves in their obsession of dark fantasy storytelling and the endearing theatricality that shines through as their self-titled and only effort progresses.The ambience, fantastic vocal performances and delicate pacing make this all part of a well-calculated and deeply involving gothic fairytale.
Michigan’s Laurel Halo possibly makes some of the most unsettling pop songs I have ever heard. Carcass from her debut album Quarantine is one such example, with synths dripping with sheer menace and an air of the supernatural, percussion bounces from many surfaces, almost tribal like in its personality and her voice manipulated into a shrill, terrifying banshee is likely to haunt you forever. Despite this, I always come back to it like a glutton for punishment because she has an undeniable talent for making memorable electronic music, no matter how mainstream, dream-like, avant-garde or experimental it is.
France’s Deathspell Omega make black metal, but not quite as you know it. Despite making a lot of music about a certain dark deity, *cough* SATAN *cough*, the frequent pace changes between blastbeats and guttural vocals, mesmerising guitar melodies and some minor ambient touches all keep it enthralling. Black metal isn’t really my thing, but Abscission, and Paracletus, the song’s bearer, have required several listens to capture all of its captivating glory. It’s not brutal nor boring, but an interesting diversion in a genre I previously had no interest in.
This is quite likely to be the shortest song I will ever post on this blog, but then it seems that a lot of great hardcore acts know how to condense their best material, I mean really condense into just a few seconds. Illnois’ Weekend Nachos (which despite having the band name least associated with the kind of music they make) excel at this and within all 27 seconds of Dubviolence, throw intense screaming, blastbeats and frightening lead guitars into a frenzied red mist that would cause laboratory mice to explode upon listening. Vehement and violent, second album Worthless is seriously not for those of a nervous disposition.
The formerly from Brighton glitch-hop collective known as Zen Death Squad have been somewhat experimental of late with their production time. In their trilogy of three free songs, Oni Valley is the second, blending both ground-shaking guitar and vibrant keytars into an undoubtedly harder dubstep style beat. While they are taking months at a time to produce these tracks, the quality is fantastic and makes for a great addition to their already diverse repetoire of slow moving party grooves, which are also well worth investigating.
Hopefully these guys won’t need too much more exposure, London’s Vuvuvultures are already well on their way to making a massive impact, having performed on this year’s main stage at Hard Rock Calling. Taken from their debut Push/Pull which has only been out a month or so, Steel Bones is fuelled ever so gorgeously by the soulful vocals of Harmony Boucher, whilst a heavy bass foundation and unsettling synth chimes nestle in the background, drive into the abrasive guitar-powered chorus, which will drill itself firmly into your head all day. One thing is for sure, Vuvuvultures are weaponised and it won’t be long before they become synonymised with true success.
I had to put the awesome talents of Bulgaria’s Joanna Syze on here eventually not just because Rodina is such a perfect song, but because she has been terribly ill for a long period of time and more electronic music enthusiasts need to be aware of her sheer brilliance. Taken from the self-titled album, Rodina is a journey through an Eastern European village which slowly escalates into a much deeper spiritual drumstep track. On an emotional level, this track has few comparisons, phenomenal is really the only word to describe it. The ambience, pacing, synths, vocals, everything is absolutely spot on, it is practically faultless. Please get well soon Joanna, the world should really hear the gift you have.