Nope – Walker

May 25, 2014

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I’m excited to be hearing new music from Nope. Featuring members of other highly regarded band in the Leeds/Bradford area, Nope are a somewhat supergroup of riffs and repetition.

The basic formula for the band is Neu meets guitar crunch. There’s a beautifully meditative, hypnotic motorik drum beat that feels like a freight train, running throughout the entire album. Then on top of that there’s some mean as hell, super muscular riffs that, at times, feel like they’ve come straight from the mind of Buzz Osbourne. Exceptionally well realised and despite my basic description, still has so much depth in the 40 minute running time.

Building on sounds explored on their previous album (2012’s Revision), this is another perfect slice of a post hardcore/kraut/psych rock genre amalgamation. There’s an exciting headspace which this album invites you to become part of. The repetition draws you in, leaves you lost in the infinite wisdom and lets you bask in the glory of riff worship. of course there’s a wealth of opportunity for intense head nodding and leg shaking which is surely the tell tale sign of an infectious racket. As usual, this comes strongly recommended. It’s due out 9th June via both Obscene Baby Auction & The Audacious Art Experiment. Until then, you can stream the whole thing on Bandcamp.

If you’re from Newcastle, you can catch them playing at The Star and Shadow on 15th June playing with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs.
Facebook event here.

 

 

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More superbly heavy hardcore has landed in my lap and I’m happy for it. New split 7″ on SuperFi records with both Sky:Lark! and Meadows bringing the riffs. Sky:Lark! start proceedings with a fast, heavy racket that sits right in the grey territory between post hardcore, hardcore and a bunch of other similar genres. Classifications aside, I’m more than happy to let this blast in my ears and block out any and all feelings of calm. It has just the right amount of neck breaking, muscular guitar abuse and vocalised anger to feel utterly cathartic. Meadows side starts off in a similar vein but soon grinds to a slower, heavier pace. They are channelling stoner rock straight into your brain. There’s a perfect balance between slow, heavy guitars and a super fast crunch. It just changes all of a sudden. One minute we’re listening to some intense hardcore and the next it’s slow motion head nodding while having the hair blown off your face by an intense blast of air from the speakers in front of you. Makes me want to hunt out those old Karp records. The split is out now on SuperFi records and you can hear the full things on band camp. If you like your music loud and unadulterated then you need this in your life.

More info over at SuperFi.

Mononoké-Tom Finigan EP

April 2, 2014

Mononoke cover

Sometimes it’s nice to revisit the past. To hear those sounds that have such a vivid association with certain points in your life and take you back to that atmosphere. It’s as much about the music as it is about how it made you feel. After giving the instrumental post hardcore genre some distance, Mononoké have allowed me to go back to it with fresh ears. It’s like rediscovering music all over again.

This EP recalls the instrumental post hardcore/math rock sound that the likes of Don Cabbalero championed. Jittery guitar notes, complex, off kilter drum beats and powerful, crunchy riffs are your points of reference here. Yes, it’s derivative and yes, we’ve heard this done quite a lot before, but I’m struggling to remember a band in recent years that has done it quite so well as to feel completely fresh. Razor sharp music all the way through. Hats off to the band here though. A sound that has a multi textural composition has the risk of feeling encumbered, but Mononoké manage to play this to their advantage as it feels almost breezy while still having such depth to the music. I’d like to listen to it again and again. I want to see these play live in the smallest possible setting at the high possible volume. I’d urge you to do the same.

Tom Finigan EP is out on 21st April 2014 as a CD & download, self released by the band.
Check out a trailer for the EP below.

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Unwave – Exhale EP

November 20, 2013

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The debut EP, Exhale, from Leeds band Unwave is a beautiful slice of well executed post hardcore. Perfect for sitting at home, alone, head nodding and tapping your foot music. I’d imagine it’d also be good in a small, sweaty live setting butI haven’t experienced that so can’t comment. You know what too expect when you get the infamous post (hardcore/rock/noise/math/whatever) tag slapped on it. Angular guitars, fast bits, slow bits and an all round sense of crunchiness. Guitar riffs thick enough you need a knife to slice through them. Muscular as fuck. Wear your influences on your sleeve and do them justice. Cannot fault this one bit.

The EP is up for pay what you want on their bandcamp. As always, pay for music. If you don’t then it’ll disappear eventually.

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Is this the first official release from Tusk Festival 2012? I think it is and it’s a corker. Local legends The Unit Ama’s set from the aforementioned weirdo weekender has been made available as a 12″ disc of wax through the Tusk label.

If you remember their debut album from way back in 2005, you’ll remember that it sounded like the beefier side of ‘math rock’, drawing comparisons to bands like Shellac and Bitch Magnet, with a free improvisation twist added in for good measure. After that, other than a few sporadic live appearances, they disappeared.

They’ve made a welcome return though and The Mason’s Mallet shows us why. It’s like they never left us. I was there to witness the set first hand and it’s the perfect blend of thick, crunchy guitars, improvised guitar fiddling and over the top theatrics that make them such a memorable and loved band. Sycamore is one of those noise rock greats, complete with a really meaty riff and throat straining vocals, which soon descends into their signature free improv stylings, stripping the entire thing back to its bare bones. ‘Sable’ has a similar structure but still manages to sound like it’s coming from a completely different angle. Slow, head noddingly intense guitar manages to warp and mangle its way into a freestyle bass plucking and loose drumming frenzy. Set closer, The Collector is an amalgamation of all things Ama. Over the top theatrics come into play as they ask for cheers from the crowd, playing to their expectations, an array of quirky instruments are brought out and hand claps make a welcome appearance. The band manage to show us that while they’re seriously trying to deconstruct the rock music they start out playing, they still have a sense of humour while doing so, something that tends to be a rarity of late.

The Mason’s Mallet is out now on Tusk.

You can stream the first half of the record over at the Tusk Festival bandcamp too.

Nope – Revision

April 29, 2012

The band Nope first came to my attention through their association with instrumental rock legends That Fucking Tank. That being because Andy Abbot is the guitarist in both bands. Therefore, my opinions of Nope cant help but be influenced by and compared to my opinions and experience of That Fucking Tank. Each have their similarities, but each also have their blindingly obvious differences. In basic terms, they’re both largely instrumental and feature great, complex guitar work. Other than that, they’re an entirely different beast.

I was recently introduced to the debut album, Revision, by Leeds/Bradford based band Nope and decided to share some thoughts on it. From the outlook, it has a fairly obvious but unique tone to it. It could lazily, and wrongly, be labelled as Krautrock but that’s sort of understandable. It has similarities and contains some of the Krautrock staples, but I think it’s better to say that it’s INFLUENCED by Krautrock. Fairly long winded yet always fresh. The lengthy guitar riffs never seem to let up, even in songs stretching past the 7 minute mark. While they are based upon repetitive structures, it’s the small details that really give it depth. It definitely has that improvised feel to it. It’s done so well though that it always feels coherent.

The long, driving guitar lines are that of dreams. When you listen you just want to sit back and air guitar to it. Or at least that’s how it made me feel the first time I heard it. Add to that the never ending beat of drums and frequent outbursts of effect laden, half spoken verses it really makes for a great album. I particularly like opening track ‘Black Mask’ which I feel could be an ‘alt disco’ anthem. I think the true masterpiece here is album closer ‘Crooked Staff’. Sitting at just over 18 minutes, this mammoth of a track is brilliant. Starting with the unmistakeable drone of guitar feedback, plenty of cymbals and a few drums, it soon meanders into a wonderfully creative psych rock jam. It seems as if though all of the different ideas the band have shine through on this track. It explores every different angle of the music and really is a pleasure to listen to. In fact, the whole album is. But you can judge that for yourself.

The album is due out on June 1st 2012, released through Obscene Baby Auction & The Audacious Art Experiment. It’s definitely a date to pencil in your diary. Get some industrial, krautrock influenced, psychedelic rock into your life now.

www.obscenebabyauction.co.uk
www.theaudaciousartexperiment.com

B>E>A>K seem to be making quite a name for themselves. Having stayed under the radar for quite some time, they have only just really started to break out of their shell (pardon the awful pun). They’ve had a substantial amount of praise as both a live act and for their recorded output, and rightly so.

After a short run of releases entitled ‘ The Life of Birds ‘, we are greeted with the newest installment…The White Edition. In a similar vein to its predecessors, it features two freshly recorded tracks on CD which, if my memory serves me right, was a limited edition release for Record Store Day 2012. The EP opens up with fast paced instrumental rock anthem ‘Kehaar’. It’s the standard B>E>A>K formula here: non stop drum rhythm, punchy bass, sharp, angular guitars and prominent trumpet. The riffs have that ‘crunch’ to them that only this bunch of birds seem to be able to produce. It’s a staple of their songs and it works so well. Sitting listening to it in my bedroom I can’t help but dance to myself. That’s what they do though, they are the North Easts very own post hardcore dance band.

The second track, ‘Stairway to Hendon’ has to be one of my favorites so far. Fast angular guitars lead the track through it’s relatively short running time. Even though it only just pushes the two minute mark, it manages to have the ambition of something a lot longer. Somehow feeling out of controlled and unhinged but at the same time perfectly coordinated. It’s fast loose instrumental rock played at its finest. It’s a track that has been a live favourite of mine for some time and I’m glad I can finally listen to it from the comfort of my own home. As a band known for their live performances, they manage to successfully capture all of the energy and feeling and put it onto a record. That being said though, they are always going to be a band that have to be seen live to be fully appreciated. No matter how good their recordings are, they’re still never going to fully encapsulate the live experience.

It’s due out on 27th April 2012 and will be available for free download from their Bandcamp page.

Until then, check out the video of the ‘A side’ Kehaar.

This Aint Vegas

April 13, 2012

Over the years, the North East music scene has produced a wealth of talent. On one hand, you have the alternative ‘indie rock’ bands Maxïmo Park and The Futureheads, on the other you have Sting.What I’m trying to say is that there has been a plethora of musicians, spanning the whole sound spectrum, some of which have gained critical success, some of who haven’t and some who weren’t even looking for it. Hidden in between this mass of names and genres is a band called This Aint Vegas. I have to say, without a doubt, that they are one of the best bands to ever come out of the North East.

Now this is a band who stayed clear of the ‘mainstream’ but still managed to have a fairly sizable, underground following. I myself was one of those people. Soon developing an obsession with the band I tried to make it to as many shows as possible. Even though I was only 16 at the time I managed to sneak my way into various over 18s venues to see the band play (and drink a few beers while I was at it). I think it was the first ‘local’ band that I ever really had much respect for. They really did open my eyes to the world of ‘alternative’ music.

Their sound was raw yet distinctive. While they took a lot of inspiration from early post hardcore forefathers Fugazi, they managed to make music that didn’t seem like a direct copy but rather a fresh reinterpretation of the music we’d heard before. The sharp, angular guitar work mixed in seamlessly with the Northern accent heavy vocals to give a truly distinctive sound. They were an inspirational band, not only to me but to most people still playing music in the North East today.

Sadly though, like all good things, it had to come to an end. Through their time as a band they released two albums, three singles and a split single featuring a Devo cover. While the albums and final single are still readily available over the internet, their early, very limited, vinyl only releases were more of a task to track down. Now though, they have kindly put their whole discography up and Bandcamp for our perusal. These are songs I’ve been spending years searching for with no luck. Songs that I’d only ever heard live. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to be hearing these tracks again. It’s revived my love for the band. I’m hoping that it might also get some more people listening to them. So for this reason, I had to share it.

 

Seriously, listen to it all. Absorb it. Love it.

 

A selection of This Aint Vegas now play in the ornithological rock band B>E>A>K who are also pretty ace.

Check them out on Bandcamp