Thursday, 5 May 2016

Pity Sex - White Hot Moon

White Hot Moon is the second album from Michigan based emo indie rockers Pity Sex and follow up to their much celebrated debut LP 2013’s Feast Of Love.  Whilst the band have only been in existence since 2011 in those five years they have amassed a pretty strong cult following, their unique brand of fuzzy guitar emo also winning plaudits for its mellow shoegaze feel. 
When it comes to forward development White Hot Moon doesn’t exactly contain any major surprises, if you loved Feast Of Love there is just as much of the same magic to keep you happy.  Just like before vocal duties are split between Brennan Greaves’ lethargic defeated drawls and Britty Drakes’ more clear and angelic harmonies whilst recurrent lyrical themes of relationship woes and heartache tug insistently at the heart strings. The biggest notable difference is the bands slackening of pace in terms of music, whilst they’ve never been a band solely focused on punchy tunes the album seems more mellow as a whole than its predecessor which had in places was slightly reminiscent of J Mascis in its faster moments.  Giving more time to the distortion drenched guitars to unfurl the songs in a more sedate manner allows the dual vocals come to the forefront of the record which is in no way a bad thing.  Regardless of this tempo shift the album still moves at a pace that never strays too close to boring, it’s mellow yet melodic structure making it a catchy and infectious listen you are likely to return to just as regularly as the band’s debut. Whilst some may criticise the lack of notable progression in the band’s sound what they do they do well. Highlight’s include the lead single What Might Soothe You with its hazy guitar and its cool inertia and the more stark and fragile Plum which sees Britty Drake deliver the albums most memorable moment.

Overall White Hot Moon is a solid second album from Ann Arbor’s finest. Whilst it may not be the revelatory re-invention some people were clamouring for it easily stands toe to toe with the bands earlier work in terms of catchiness and appeal. Available in a number of interesting vinyl variants through Run For Cover records or on cd or download White Hot Moon is the perfect companion for all your highs and lows this summer. 



Thursday, 4 February 2016

De Rosa - Weem

One of Chemikal Underground’s most under-rated and under exposed acts was De Rosa, a five piece hailing from Lanarkshire, Scotland. In their lifespan they managed to release two commercial albums, 2006’s Mend and 2009’s Prevention before disbanding and joining the ever growing ranks of innovative indie bands crushed by the weight of the falling record industry.  Since disbanding in 2009 very little was heard of the band except lead singer Martin John Henry who set to work establishing himself as a solo artist with 2011’s The Other Half Of Everything, but in 2012 the band revealed they had reunited. Four years and a few scattered live appearances later and De Rosa have finally gotten round to releasing their third album; Weem, on Mogwai owned record label Rock Action Records.
For the uninitiated the music of De Rosa is a heady mixture of indie folk with a touch of post-rock grandeur. Whilst the band’s first album Mend was more of a punchy guitar driven album, 2009’s Prevention was the start of the bands movement into this more polished and diverse sound, which in part is what made the bands break up so lamentable. Weem is a continuation of this more refined aesthetic and every part of Weem is teeming with subtle graceful flourishes. The guitars range from melodious electric reverb to the delicate acoustic at a pace that feels organic and consistent whilst Martin John Henry’s trademark Scottish brogue completes the bands unique and instantly recognisable sound.  Sporadically keyboards, pianos and glockenspiels make themselves known which reinforces the albums diversity of sound and attention to detail. All of this combines with Henry’s penchant for traversing what feels like quite dark territory in his lyrics. The overall effect is something singularly magical, a record of such fine detail it stands as a stark reminder as to why De Rosa were so dearly missed in their absence.  Devotees of the band will recognise some of the songs on offer here as songs originally released as part of the digital only series Appendices which saw the band release one song a month in 2008 for free download. These songs however have been lovingly re-recorded in somewhat altered forms here to prevent them seem too much like money for old rope, and to be honest even in their original forms these songs stood out as some of the bands most catchy material at the time so tracks like The Sea Cup and Prelude To Entropic Doom were always truly worthy of a commercial release. Meanwhile newer compositions such as lead single and opener Spectres and album closer The Mute are so hypnotically catchy it is hard not to see them joining the bands ever swelling ranks of canon compositions.  

From start to finish Weem matches up to the promise De Rosa alluded to before their premature break up with Prevention. With seldom a dull moment on it the whole album marks a most triumphant return for a group who have certainly been too long away. Available on CD or vinyl through Rock Action Records I strongly advise you to give it a spin.

Daughter - Not To Disappear

One album in recent years that totally hit me right in the ribs was London based indie-folk trio Daughter’s 2013 debut album If You Leave. It was an album of stark emotion and easily one of my favourite albums of the year and one I still revisit regularly, it’s fragile balance between folksy minimalism and glacial post rock sensibilities only making the pervasive atmosphere of melancholy more succinct. Not To Disappear is the bands eagerly awaited sophomore album. 
Much like the band’s debut Not To Disappear is built on a foundation of beautifully simple arrangements, at the core of which sits Elena Tonra’s spectacularly affecting vocals, the key difference between this album and the band’s first lies in the gradual shift away from their folk roots in favour of a more electronic sound. In places the album is peppered with synthetic beats and whilst the overall ethos remains ice cold and sombre several tracks feel noticeably faster. These shifts add a spot of welcome variation to proceedings. The other more familiar aspects of the band’s sound remain intact, reverb laden guitars and soft but measured percussion instilling the album with the bands indelible mark. Lyrically things remain focused on heartbreak and confusion of interpersonal relations but in a couple of places things take an even more harrowing turn as Tonra expounds on the dementia and loss by instalments. For many people this will be a painful listen because it is clear from the honesty of the song writing this is not a subject that is being explored to mawkishly jerk tears from the listener but is in fact coming from a place of real experience. Whilst the album may seem fairly monotonous in its procession of the melancholy and sombre the whole album fits together perfectly and just like its predecessor is a singularly affecting listen, perfect for those late night contemplative moods. Highlights include the heart-breaking lead single Doing The Right Thing which expounds on the ceaseless barbarity of dementia and the fragility of memory and No Care with its more driven energy which sees the band flirt with uncharted territory.

Overall Not To Disappear is a brilliant follow up from a band who still show as much. Available now on CD or Vinyl from 4AD I would highly recommend you check it out.

Trials Of Early Man - Attachments

Attachments is the debut album of post-hardcore quartet Trials Of Early Man, made up of musicians who’ve all been in the DIY hardcore/punk game long enough to be deservedly described as veterans. The band itself boasts members from Caretaker, Action & Action, Circusact, The Correct Arc and The Good Wife and with such varied areas of expertise you could be forgiven for not knowing what to expect from such a hybrid.
What you actually get from this Frankenstein’s monster of a band however is some brilliantly focused and hook laden post hardcore. The sort of post hardcore that takes much of its inspiration from the more left field punk pioneers like Fugazi and Hot Snakes, without seeming derivative. The guitar work throughout the album sways from the frantic to the serene at the drop of the hat, revealing intricate layers of melody that suggest a touch of nineties emo is also hidden somewhere in the bands fabric. The vocals and rhythm section are just as fluid in their approach to the bands whimsical tempo shifts, working just as well when things slow down. It is these constant fluctuations in pace that make the whole album such an engrossing listen from start to finish. In parts the album is very reminiscent of bands like Spy Versus Spy or even Million Dead, especially when it comes to the band’s ear for a catchy harmony.  In the end what you get with Attachments is something new, exciting and vital in its energy that simultaneously feels instantly familiar. Highlights come thick and fast so it seems almost redundant to pick just one, that being said Pierced With Arrows chaos is particularly infectious.

Overall Attachments is a brilliant debut that harks back to the golden years of post-hardcore whilst bringing plenty originality to the table. Catchy in the extreme, heavy but easily accessible. A true triumph. Available to stream through all the usual avenues or purchasable as a download direct from the band I highly recommend you give it a go.


Diminishing returns

After moving my blog to the less formal world of Tumblr I have decided to utilise both sites simultaneously. It will be pretty much the same content across both sites so there's very little point following both but hopefully this will help boost bands exposure (after all it's all about them).

I will be bringing over everything from January later today and will endeavour to keep both sites running consistently. Minor changes to layouts will probably also be on their way.