New: Spoilers – Try Try Try

I never really cover overseas artists, because…well, what’s the point? ‘Strayan music is better than anything any other country has tried to dredge up from their creatively barren landscapes. We made Mad Fucking Max and a Vegemite filled-chocolate! Of course we’re better than everyone else!

But occasionally, there are bands out there that make a case to look further than our pastures. Spoilers are such a band, who berate their guitars the way a terrible mother treats a misbehaving child at the mall. Loud, distorted and wailing, Spoilers go for the jugular, equal parts anthemic and furrowed. Borrowing from the anthemic parts of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., you wouldn’t be surprised to see Spoilers joining the headlining status of fellow English countrymen Drenge.

Advertisements

Album Review: HTRK-Psychic 9-5 Club

HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock-I made the mistake of pronouncing the letters for about six months before a friend with really good taste corrected me) have had a rough time. There’s no joke to be made here, because their story is really sad. Initially a three-piece, they were reduced to a duo in the making of their (excellent) sophomore record ‘Work (work, work)’, when bandmate Sean Stewart committed suicide. But the remaining members of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang carried on, and are a continued and formidable presence of weird, pulsating and thinking music.

Now, I get that almost every album review is going to put up something about Stewart’s death, but in this case, I only mention it because I see that this has, most likely, inspired them to move into realms they might never have felt comfortable exploring. The result of 2011’s super dark and gruelling ‘Work (work, work)’ was an obvious testament to the will and passion of Standish and Yang, and its impression remains lasting. But after three years, the question a few will ask themselves is if HTRK remain relevant.

Oh. Oh yes, they totally do. There is still a drive and distinctive quality to HTRK that does not exist in any other band right now. But rather than the overtly brooding nature of 2011’s effort, ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’ injects a more fluid, flushed and light work. It doesn’t crush with intensity, but it whispers with a deadly passion nonetheless. Gone are the heavy clicks and bass thumps, to be replaced by shuffling electronica, and subtly whirring synths that move in and out of the music with the caress of a mother ninja.

Seriously, every song on this album is a work of total beauty, majesty and poise colliding together in a super-soft explosion. Standish’s vocals smother like never before, and the instrumental work is flawless. Totally. Flawless. The opener of ‘Give It Up’ encases this, where a gothic shimmer pervades, and introduces the audience to the newer HTRK. It has a very similar pace and quiet intensity to artists like New Look, or Fever Ray. It shows that you don’t have to scream and shout to immediately capture the attention.

This continues throughout the album, each song slightly building the swaying tower. ‘Feels Like Love’ glitches away like old school Jon Hopkins, ‘Wet Dream’ succumbs to a squelchy, whistling haze, and ‘Chinatown Style’ makes itself so quiet, it’s like you have to bend down into your speakers just to catch the brief glances of beauty that’s flurrying away inside the song. These songs are like tiny sprites running around inside the reflections of glass, small and fast, almost naked to the eye, and only those that pay attention are rewarded.

There never should have been any fear that HTRK wouldn’t deliver. Standish and Yang are competent musicians, and they would always lay something down worth paying attention over. But ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’ is a haunting, ethereal piece that smoothly wraps itself around your brain and ensnares you with the addiction for as many repeat listens as your body can handle.

 

HTRK are playing at the Civic Underground on 10 May. I would highly recommend attending.

New: Grass House-And Now For The Wild

Nick Cave meets Clint Eastwood in the dust-blown mountain range of a song from the London four-piece Grass House. The morbid vocals sing a solemn song, like being at Johnny Cash’s funeral, and the shuttering percussion creates a ghostly effect that would make Stagger Lee shit himself. The repeated outro of ‘And now for the wild!’ seems to hold an unknown potency, like walking into a room full of radiation and not figuring it out until it’s too late, 1970’s B-Grade Horror Movie style. Brilliant song.

Video: Filthy Boy-Waiting On the Doorstep

Strange but alluring sounds from this London based band. Filthy Boy have the whole narrative song structure down pat, with lovely Franz Ferdinand-y vocals wafting through. However, they have replaced the bombastic sound of their Scottish superheroes, in preference of utilising a sleaze unseen since the average 8th grade Physical Education teacher. There’s a great marriage of cobblestone baritone and jangly guitar that makes this song ascend past the heights of your usual Arctic Monkeys copycat, and there is a definitive nod of approval for the song’s tale of introducing a ladyfriend to a mate in ass-less chaps.

New: Jon Hopkins-Breathe This Air feat. Purity Ring

Terrifically amazing new song from legendary English post-dubstep producer Jon Hopkins, in tow with Canadian darlings Purity Ring. ‘Breathe This Air’ is icy cold to the touch, shattering its whole torso on the listener multiple times. Think of a really small Abominable Snowman, light as a feather, body slamming you over and over again. I’m aware that Abominable Snowmen are traditionally gigantic, ferocious creatures, but therein lies the skill of Jon Hopkins. The dude knows how to control sound, to create lush patterns that at the same time feel as though their minimalistic. Megan James’ vocals are simply to die for-as in, seppuku is in order after hearing her singing, because it’s doubtful you’ll ever hear something as beautiful again. Listening to this song is like hearing Portishead for the first time-simply breathtaking.

 

Jon Hopkins is playing Oxford Art Factory on the 14th of December, so if you’re into ethereal mind-blowing stuff, you might want to think about heading along to that.

New: Veronica Falls-Broken Toy

‘Broken Toy’ is more fun than riding a water slide with a purple elephant that is incapable of not bearing a grin. Veronica Falls is a sick band from London town, but you wouldn’t think about it from the summery, sun-burst sound that the band have got down to an art. On their new track ‘Broken Toy’, slack strumming gives way a echoed chorus of total beauty. Looking forward to seeing this band and their amazing sunshine pop at Good God on October 30th!

Video: SPLASHH-Feels Like You

Looks like Tame Impala really stirred some shit. Now all the fucking pysch bands are coming out of the woodwork, and it could not have come at a better time. I don’t know why, but SPLASHH are just too cool, and give off some really friendly vibes that suck you in like octopus tentacles. Maybe it’s the extra H, maybe it’s the warped, distorted guitar wah-wah. Who knows? (it’s probably the pink elephant skateboarding in the video) But their shoegaze-y pysch is putting them at the front of London’s burgeoning new pysch scene.