Maresia (The John Colby Sect)
Galicians tend have a fierce independent spirit, and this quartet are no different, singing in their native tongue and not afraid to split their band members between Galicia and London. Theirs is a sound that mixes up the organ-led heavy mood sound of 60s garage with occasional forays into the tropicalist/psychedelic world. They are basically a less hermetically-sealed version of Allah-Las, and with better tans.Pretty much every song here is a hypnotic vision of sun-kissed serenity. From the opening killer jangle of ‘Pequeno Selvagem’, with its exquisite, restrained fuzz guitar solo, to the funky chops of ‘Kala-Mala’ through to the delicate Velvets/Stereolab drone of ‘Ervas’ (with prog-organ-wiggly ending!) - everything they touch works. The tense, shiftless shuffle of ‘Faz-me’Mal’ could even be a hit single, given the right nudge. Maresia’s beguiling charm unfurls a little more on each listen, and it’s just a shame it isn’t a bit longer than ten tracks.
As Tender Prey doesn’t speak Portuguese it’s hard to confirm whether the press release that refers to the inspirations of “magical realism and mid-Twentieth Century Portuguese experimental poetry” is indeed accurate. Still, it beats complaining about your woman, which is the default setting of 98% of garage bands.
For fans of Allah-Las, Mystic Braves and Jacco Gardner, there’s much to rejoice here on this idiosyncratic LP. Sometimes clean and serene is the only way forward.
Maresia is out now
Me. Ow (Dirty Water)
Not even a year has passed since the brash’n’saucy garage-psych quartet who hail from Phoenix [AZ]/Los Angeles [CA] began their recording career. And now here is a full debut LP proper, following their previous two six-track EPs (released as a single album via Dirty Water earlier this year). In this whirlwind of activity it’s pertinent to ask whether two dozen songs in a year of action mean anything substantial could have been produced.
Having spent some time with Me.Ow the answer is a firm ‘hell yes’. Those EPs only showed glimpses of what they are capable of, too often the garage rock simply passable. But their songwriting knob has been turned up to 11, and this LP blew my poor weather-worn English socks right off. Kicking off with recent single ‘The Cat’s Meow’ is one way to show you mean business: it prowls from the speakers like the bastard offspring of every trash band of the past 60 years. Low slung throbbing fuzz bass, ear-splitting drum splashes, thick sludgy guitars and vocals pounding out a circular riff straight from the bowels of Hell. That’s before we even get to the horror organ solo which finishes you off right and proper. One can just imagine Screaming Lord Sutch wishing he had such a backing band back in his heyday.
‘Gonna Make You Love’ is more of a sludge/drone-focused follow-up that harks more to the heavy Black Angels/BJM modern psych sound, and is no less affecting for that. ‘Not My Baby’ shows off their love of ’60s girl group, bouncing along with a breezy vocal and guitar melody in the verses that then gestates into a twisted voodoo chorus. And there’s always a top notch Farfisa passage after the choruses too. ‘Get Messy’ resembles Thee Headcoatees doing the twist with The Cramps egging them on stage left. ‘Strange Days’ carries itself in a decidedly unsettled manner, suggesting The Doors having the worst hyper-trip possible, whilst ‘Don’t Freak Me Out’ is the song to make the guitar fans weep in delight at its punishing garage tornado.
‘The Generator’ is a punk annihilator from the Jon Spencer cannon, with a chorus that oddly echoes ‘Beat Surrender’ by The Jam, but isn’t any poorer for it. ‘I Made A Wish’ will knock seven bells out of every innocent heart from here to Timbuktu. And ‘Caught In The Devil's Game’ was brazenly written to flatter Jack White III, as it could have been lifted straight off Lazaretto. Perhaps that is a bad thing [plagiarists!], but they get away with it so easily, aided and abetted with several dollops of panache. Talent borrows, genius steals - right?
The Darts, to British audiences, have given themselves a mountain to climb with that name, as the 70s/80s doo-woppin’ Darts saw serious top ten action. Still, they probably never made it across to the States, so innocence is bliss. Nicole Laurenne (organ, vocals: formerly of The Love Me Nots, Motobunny, Zero Zero), Rikki Styxx (drums, vocals: The Two Tens, The Dollyrots, Thee Outta Sites), Christina Nunez (bass, vocals: The Love Me Nots, Casual Encounters, The Madcaps) and Michelle Balderrama (guitar, vocals: Brainspoon) are not exactly shy and retiring types, so they can probably rise above any of that nonsense anyhow. The record speaks for itself, and in the long run that is all that matters.
The album finishes with a stuttering take on fellow feline lovers The Trashwomen’s 1994 punk classic ‘Batteries’, which they recorded straight to vinyl on Third Man Records' "Voice-O-Graph" recording booth. Impeccable taste suitably displayed, it is a fitting end to this low-culture/high-reward record that deserves an appreciative widespread audience [like you!].
Me.Ow is out September 30th via Dirty Water on LP, CD and download
BLAST OFF! Festival is happening on November 9th to 12th this year, featuring SBD favourites The Fuzztones and plenty more besides. Here is the lowdown:
"As previous editions, this swingin', stompin' shindig will be hold in the city of Nottingham, slap-bang in the heart of Britain, which means easy access for all you northern, southern, eastern and western garage loving deliquents, plus being dead close to East Midlands Airport for foreign fanatics! Once again we've lined up an amazing selection of international GARAGE, SURF, BEAT and ROCK AND ROLL bands, some you might already know, some you might not have heard - yet!!!
This year we will have a welcome night for you to start getting into festival mood, 2 GREAT allnighters (until 4 and 6am!) and 1 FANTASTIC alldayer, with plenty time to twist&shout on the dance floor! And to TOP-UP all the shebang, we will also have: A monstrous daytime vintage-retro market and a Rock'n'Roll Jumble Sale for you vinyl and vintage freaks!
Insane international and club guests - ALL-FEMALE dee-jays crew that will keep you entertained on the dance floor. Dazzling Go-Go dancers, Off-beat movies and eye-popping visuals and MORE MORE MORE!!!!
And because you might need to shut your eyes and put your bones to rest, You can find cheap hotel deals on our page. Weekend and Day tickets are on sale now, so hurry up and get yours now before it's too late!"
For the full line-up and all the other nitty gritty head over to www.blastoff-festival.co.uk right now
GOLD CLASS ‘Drum’ (Felte)
Here is a fine album that’s completely out of time and place. If Drum has been released on a British label in 2006, in the same maelstrom that propelled Bloc Party, Maximo Park and The Futureheads to fleeting stardom on the back of renewed fascination with Gang Of Four and Joy Division, it would have made a lot of sense. That this metallic throbbing of post-punk sturm und drang has coalesced in 2017 Melbourne is one of life’s quirks.
Formed in 2014, the quartet have expanded on the wiry punk that characterised their debut album It’s You. The primary emotional drive here is the singer/lyricist Adam Curley, who delivers his anguish as directly and nakedly as possible. He’s the sort of chap that writes an ‘artist statement’: “I wanted it to be a record of defiance, a resistance to the idea of scrambling for a place at a table that wasn’t set for you. A sort of a love letter to anyone who not only can’t meet the standard but doesn’t want to”. If you put aside the whiff of earnestness that such moments reveal then this is a tidy album of taut driving basslines and Curley’s booming authentic rage at contemporary aggressive shit-kicking Australian culture. He reminds one of a nonconformist figurehead like Glasvegas’ James Allen, or perhaps fellow Ozzie contrarian Peter Garrett. Or even Morrissey, if he hadn’t been in denial for so long.
The brutal dissemination of his fellow man on the likes of ‘Bully’, with its illusions to childhood beatings, is starkly traumatic. Settle on the fragmentary lyrics for too long and it’s easy to get lost in the dark spaces that flash by. The melancholy dripping from the guitar on ‘Trouble Fun’ can overwhelm when it refracts a certain mood. And let’s face it, not much music in these shiny-happy-Instagram times can genuinely do that. There is fun, of sorts, to be had on occasion, as opener ‘Twist In The Dark’ attests to, or within the “barricades and Ecstasy” of the anthemic-sounding ‘Rose Blind’. The album never really veers musically away from that urgent, naked, minor-key thrashy post-punk rumble that will probably have it dismissed by the mainstream as ‘throwback’. Putting aside your discriminatory barriers though, and opening yourself up enough to let these ten tracks work their magic is a rewarding undertaking.
Curley suggests “maybe I was trying to come to some peace with the past and to stand up and find some agency in the present. I suppose it was the most defiant thing I could think to do”. Agency and defiance are certainly the watchwords of Drum. Who knows, Gold Class might just become the savage messiah's to define our emotionally austere times.
Gold Class dates in Europe:
18/09 Paris, FR @ Le Pop Up du Label
20-23/09 Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival
23/09 Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord
25/09 Brighton UK @ The Joker
26/09 London, UK @ Moth Club
THE LEN PRICE 3
Kentish Longtails (JLM Recordings)
Twelve years in and with five albums under their belts, LP3 undoubtedly remain the best kept secret in showbusiness. This new release name checks a piece of local folklore concerning a curse allegedly placed upon the people of Strood by Thomas Becket which condemned these Medway children to be born with tails. Local history and rock’n’roll together, ladies and gentlemen, is always a winner.
Recording this long-player partly in a shed and garage has certainly helped give it a certain air of joviality. As singer/guitarist Glenn Page maintains, “It was like three lads messing around with a tape recorder in their first band; very relaxed and with a looser vibe”. If you are looking for fierce melodic hooks matched with none-more-English wry social observations then you’re in luck. The crunching guitars and hammerhead rhythms (from Steve Huggins on bass and Neil Fromow on drums) regularly result in a Buzzcocks/Who hybrid sound that’s perfect to shake off the day's frustrations with.
Opener ‘Childish Words’ really goes for the jugular, a no holds barred assault on the decreasingly relevant Medway renaissance man Billy Childish. “Billy told the writer that we play for the cash...You say your motives higher, but I don’t understand/‘Cos you’ve been selling your paintings for fifteen grand”. Ouch. In fact the theme of disappointment with fellow musicians is returned to on Hammond-enhanced ‘Sucking The Life Out Of Me’, the fuzzing thumper ‘Ride On Coat Tails’, and the soft-focus lament ‘Meaningless Mouth’ (the hummable chorus: “everyone’s taking it/knowing you're faking it”). Page has that knack of delivering melodies that sound familiar enough to offer emotional comfort, without ever falling into pastiche.
Elsewhere odes to the minutiae of Medway lives is interspersed with nostalgia for a lost childhood. On the Noel Gallagher-ish ‘Telegraph Hill’ tasteful parping horns add a new dimension to a uncomplicated, singalong love song. You can probably guess what the belting ‘Saturday Morning Film Show’ is about. The savage put-downs on ‘Nothing I Want’ are frankly hilarious and will be all too familiar to any small town dweller surrounded by dead-eyed UKIP voters (like ‘Lisa Baker’, whose “off her face on Diamond White”).
It’s not all bluster buses driving along the roads of Kent though - there’s a couple of slower numbers here that are undeniably affecting. ‘Pocketful of Watches’ is the Jeff Lynne/McCartney-indebted piano waltz to melt the hardest of hearts, and ‘Stop Start Lilly’, with it’s innocent group harmonies, could easily be mistaken for A Quick One out-take (which as compliments go is up there with the best). The finale ‘Man In The Woods’ repeats the previous album's ‘London Institute’ trick of being a warm tribute to the Floyd, and such is the excellence of it this is surely an avenue they should explore much more of in the future.
Being this good into your musical career is rare, and should be inspirational. There’s little doubt it’s their best album to date, in a career of high-points. Maybe the secret about this trio will now finally get out.
Kentish Longtails is out September 22 via JLM Recordings - preorder on CD or vinyl here
Dislocation [Triple Wide]
Thirty-two years after Eternal Hotfire rewired the Scottish rock’n’roll scene with its hot outlaw sound, the Glaswegians are back with their tenth album, and three years on from the well-received Tales Of Endless Bliss. They haven’t ever moved too far away from their trademark sound from the 1980s, and when it sounds this good why would they.
Still there since 1983 are vocalist Michael Rooney and guitarist Tom Rafferty. Frankly it's hard to imagine the band without either of the mainstays, such is the ferocity of their delivery. Rooney is still in fine voice [which cannot be said for many of his contemporaries]. Dislocation delivers many shades of gut-led-rock, where instinct and feverish metallic KO are favoured over finesse. ‘Fever Zone’ and ‘I Got Fever’ open the album in their usual onslaught manner, i.e. a Gun Club-indebted psychobilly garage blues squall.
Rooney goes full Iggy freak-out mode on ‘The Jump From Real To Weird’ and it’s simply exhilarating to hear the whole ensemble manage to hit these heights. There’s a welcome touch of the psychedelic on some of the more mid-paced numbers like ‘The Heebie Walk’, and trumpeter Robert Henderson puts in a soothing guest appearance on the jazzy introduction to ‘East Campbell Street Breakdown’ [which itself is a more than solid rocker that shows their occasional debt to the MC5] and the proggy(!) sound of ‘Tears’. Also more than worthy of a mention is the fraught drama of piano-led ‘Let It Happen’, which pound for pound sits easily alongside the similar sounds of Nick Cave or the Jim Jones Revue, and either of those parties would be very happy to call it their own.
Overall then, impressive stuff. Since their return in 2007 they really have shown no signs of let up with their quality and energy, which is something to admire and celebrate. They are the house band William S. Burroughs would choose. So should you, punks.
Singer Gabriela Giacoman takes time out to give us the latest from the world of French Boutik
SBD: It's been nine months now since the Front Pop album launch at The 100 Club. How has the reaction been to the album?
Gabriela: It’s been incredibly nice. Not only did we sell out all the first pressing, but had great feedback from fans and very enthusiastic reviews, even for the first time in the French press. That sounds strange to say, but things are very closed here and usually there is no point contacting anyone if you do not have a friend or family connection or a fancy label. We’re really pleased: we worked so hard coming up with the compositions and arrangements.
We were proud of our of ‘no filler’-type songs on the EPs before, and didn’t want to break that with a long player. I was singing everything on my bicycle to work and back to make sure the final melody was just right, and sure everyone else was doing similar things on their end for the months leading up to it. We’ve had far more reviews than for the previous records, and seriously not one negative thing cited (so far!).
SBD: The fastest selling CopaseDisques album is a nice achievement. Tell us about the plans for a repress
Gabriela: Yes !! :-) It’s a small label, but they only work with quality groups so that is really nice to hear. We were really so nervous that we would not be able to sell them for the simple fact that an LP is much larger than an EP and as we play abroad quite a bit and have no van space - and weight considerations are very important. But in fact people bought them more, both directly from us and via the label site. I think all the nice reviews helped as must be new people listening to us as well.
Since it sold so quickly and we’d like more people to hear the record on vinyl we decided to do a repress, one slightly different than the first run. It’s red, to match the cover, but without the pull-out poster that was in the original pressing. They have just arrived here too in time for our next UK shows!
SBD: The promo videos to accompany some of the Front Pop songs looked like a lot of fun to do. What can you tell us about making them? Will there be more?
Gabriela: They are mostly from our friend Fred Eagle who had done such a great job on ‘Mieux comme ça’ and others filmed most of them -- at the house (‘Je regarde les Tigres’ - where else can we paste fish all over the wall and chase cats around? - and for our nasty family dinner in “Costume Italien” to go along with the murder theme song. There’s no way we could get away with pushing someone off a metro platform!), at the studio a bit for ‘Les Tigres’, our friend’s bar (for my disaster internet dates on ‘Sur mon écran’ - that one still makes me laugh), and our friend Martin’s shop for the break-in ‘Le Casse’ (which is actually based on a real story of a failed factory break-in). We went all around town to costume shops and now have a nice collection of cat masks and fake beards!
The two more normal ones are ‘Impitoyable’, which I put together from photos Derek D’Souza took at the 100 Club show, they were something like 500 fantastic shots and thought a pity to waste them, especially as putting them to that song seemed to work quite well. The song is also a bit theoretical so an easy one to imagine a silly video for, and one of our favorites on the record, so I was pleased that worked out.
And then our first big production one, for the Françoise Hardy cover ‘Je ne suis là pour personne’. There is a quite famous sailing navigator here in France named Loïck Peyron with whom Fred works and who really likes our music, so Fred asked if he would be interested in being in a video and to our very pleasant surprise he agreed. Fred went down to Loïck’s house in Brittany for a couple of days, directed it, and had some help from real sailing video experts who put it together. Unfortunately Loïck’s very nice Vespa would not start, so no riding around but he looks great and the coast is so beautiful there.
We had already done two really nice clips for the crowdfunding single videos ‘Le Mac’ and ‘Hitch a Ride’, from Florence of the group Sugar & Tiger. She even had her boyfriend and bandmate who is a French punk star, Didier from The Wampas, eating popcorn at the end of ‘Hitch a Ride’, which was a very cool surprise for us.
So that just leaves ‘La chemise déchirée’, ‘l’Expert’, and ‘The Rent’. The first is one of my personal favorites on the record and would love to do it but it’s quite serious about the HR manager from Air France getting his shirt ripped off by workers so hard to figure out what to do, apparently airport security is too tight to try to sneak something in there. Plus Fred is now back in California and Florence has moved to the south of France! Maybe we will figure something else out with photos for those as have a bunch of other nice concert series.
SBD: You seemed to have really made a connection with UK audiences in particular. Any idea why? There can't be many Brits that follow French-singing bands the way they do French Boutik!
Gabriela: Honestly I can’t say for sure but I would guess that the biggest reason is that we’re obviously a mod band and the UK is not only the birthplace of the scene but it still has the biggest in the world. So there are a lot more compatible bands to play with over your way and nights going on, and people seem to “get” the music as something clearly mod-oriented but different than to what they may have heard before. Even journalists that aren’t mods at all will know The Jam and other groups we listen to a lot, that is not the case in France and some other places where we are like outer space aliens and people are confused.
But it’s not just that, because even when we play shows over there that have a more general audience that don’t care about any of that they like us too! I know it’s not just exoticism: as you say there are plenty of other French bands and it doesn’t seem to go over the same way. I guess maybe the English musical influences mixing with not just the language but also French music and culture make it just enough similar to not be too much of a shock, but different enough to be a nice change. I think we would have to ask someone English to explain it really!
SBD: You came to the UK in May for shows, how did they go? Does everyone know the words now, and try and sing along?
Gabriela: They were all fantastic, which is not always the case, usually there is one clear highlight and the others OK, but this time we loved all three nights. The first was in Cambridge for the Alley Club with the Galileo 7 and King Mojo who were quite different to us and both really good so that was fun. And we even got to see a bit of Cambridge the next morning before heading off this time. After that was Albert’s new club in Brixton The Hand in Hand with friends Dr Bird, we love their music and they are good company and Albert’s crowd always so nice, and got to play with Dr Bird the next night again at the Pelton Arms in Greenwich.
And at least a few people travelled to all 3 nights ! And yes, some of the audience were singing along :-) We always put the lyrics on YouTube and they are in the album sleeve too; we figured even non-French speakers would be interested. It is a real pleasure to see that from onstage.
SBD: You helped picked the line-up for the London show on July 14. What can you tell us about who you're playing with, and why anyone should care.
Gabriela: Yes, we can’t wait! From the UK are our friends The Sha La La’s, we have played with them quite a few times over the past few years, and even sat in with them for a few songs in March. Excellent upbeat soul, with a very charismatic singer and original songs. And also Proper, who we have not seen yet and are dying to, the singer Ivano was over in Paris a couple of times so we met and talked about his new band, and got to hear a demo which was great and have heard only good things about their live set. They have a record out now too which we are waiting to receive, hopefully will have at the show.
And also another group from our way, a female duo called The Buns, we had not played with them here but had a look and listen and seems very cool, and their first show in London so I think it will be a great night!
SBD: After this trio of UK gigs what's next for French Boutik?
Gabriela: We get to take a summer break and actual non-band vacation time in August, and then September right back onto shows, at least two in Paris the first couple of weeks in September. The Sha La La’s are coming here to play finally! We don’t know which club yet but will definitely be a fantastic show in Paris 2nd September, lots of UK friends already booking, almost certainly with our friend Popincourt too. And the weekend after our friend Francis from Paris surf group The Wave Chargers is putting on a festival of local bands which should be very fun.
And then...that’s it for now! We are waiting for dates confirmed for autumn in Spain and Russia (we were meant to return to Moscow in late July but can’t now make it), and Brazil and possibly more of South & Central America looking likely for 2018. And of course we’re always thrilled to be back in the UK, so anyone who wants us please get in touch! :-)
French Boutik play The Water Rats in London on July 14, The Ruby Lounge Manchester July 15, and The Wightman Theatre Shrewsbury July 16. Front Pop can be ordered here
Waves Of The New (The John Colby Sect)
Despite a sombre gestation, Costa Rica’s flower punk trio impress on third album
The San José based noise pop trio consists of drummer Fabrizio Durán, guitarist and vocalist Mercedes Oller, and bassist and vocalist Sonya Carmona. This record was recorded, produced and mixed by Jon Greene (Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles, Best Coast) early last year - who then passed away unexpectedly last November.
I’m not sure if this is his final work, but if so can be rightly proud of his achievement. His production is second to none, allowing the melodic subtleties of the songs to shine bright against their residual wall of noise. The indie/garage/slacker pop here is often reminiscent of mid-period BJM or even Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, which on it’s own would put many people off, but every so often their love of classic psychedelia (notably The Seeds) can be heard, and this tension works to the record’s advantage. Lead single ‘Not Enough’ (watch below) illustrates this, it’s slinky chuggin’ riffs being just the right side of hypnotic to warrant repeated plays. ‘Golden Visions’ is, similarly, the sound of a ‘68-vintage, acid-altered garage band taking things to the next level.
There’s plenty more pop archive-raiding elsewhere too. ‘Dream’ divebombs back and forth between two time signatures, recreating some classic My Bloody Valentine dream-pop vibes that make sweaty summer nights that little bit more special. ‘Flower Child’ brings the proper old-school indie noise to the playground, proudly displaying its Jesus & Mary Chain badge (and with the new Sonic Youth LP tucked under its arm). The title track meanwhile, with its ferocious intensity, is good enough to fit on any The Pains of Being Pure at Heart album. I should also mention C86 somewhere too, shouldn’t I? ‘Sun Haze’ is a pure dose of that sound, and just glorious in every way.
If you’re a fan of the bands mentioned in this post then definitely spend some time and money on Waves: there’s plenty to enjoy here. And let’s not forget: a bittersweet triumph is still a triumph.
Waves Of The New is out now on vinyl via John Colby Sect (Spain) and Buen Dia Records (Mexico), plus all download and streaming sites
Haunted Heart (Damaged Goods)
It's a case of if it ain't broken don't fix it as London rock'n'roll duo continue to quietly please third time around.
They say third time's a charm. No one knows why, but they do. Proverbial witterings aside, we're back here with Jack Sandham (guitar slinger, organ grinder, smokin' voice) and Wednesday Lyle (barefoot drums, sultry voice) worshipping at the alter of well-crafted, polite-ish rock'n'roll. They've quietly built up a nice following via previous outings 'Beat Stampede' and 'Skeleton Soul' and they continue to refine their art on this latest LP (notice the two word album title thing? More minimal than Kings Of Leon's five syllables anyhow).
If you like your garage trashy best look away now. This is soulful rock'n'roll that looks to the blues/gospel/Southern 50s/60s version of rock'n'roll served up by heroes like Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, and Dusty Springfield. In that sense they have more in common with the Black Keys and aforementioned KOL than, say, Royal Blood and the White Stripes. Having said that they definitely know how to testify and kick up the dust on a tight-as-a-nut rhythm once they start revving that engine. The title track does just that, and is destined for a modern Hollywood soundtrack somewhere; with it's slightly distorted organ chugs, insistent handclaps and spiky short melodic guitar solo. 'Downlow' pulls off a similar trick, with Lyle's deadpan vocals doing their best to keep up with the high speed train going on beneath.
'Doom Train' has a loose rockabilly/boogie stop-start base that actually touches on The Cramps rough'n'ready psychobilly, though I suspect it's come to them via the influence of voodoo master Jim Jones. But it's on their delicate, Americana moments that Cowbell are most affecting. It's a lost art for modern rockers to deliver genuinely, whiskey-in-chair-at-midnight tender moments. On 'Neon Blue' the slide guitar is thrust centre stage as the dancing partner to Sandham's whispered urban blues tale, and 'Something's Gotta Give' channels Lou Reed on the VU's sparse-sounding third-album with delightful success. Closing track 'No Trouble' is five minutes of authentic southern soul that could have been presented to Solomon Burke for his final album. It's stirring stuff, and deserves a wider audience.
If 'Haunted Heart' falls down anywhere it's that it moves very much in its own comfort zone: it knows what it likes and doesn't deviate from it's prime influences. If you can live with that then you'll be humming this shit 'til the cows come home. And Christ knows in these troubled times you take your comforts where you can.
Haunted Heart is out now on LP, CD and for download via Damaged Goods
Neon Spiral EP (self-released)
The Kettering quartet have just dropped their third EP, and my word it’s a corker. Four tracks that trade heavily in fuzz and drone, it’s a metallic knockout mix of all their primary influences, and a few more beside. They open with ‘War In My Head’, which is all Telescopes/Suicide tendencies and thickset grungey alt-rock dynamics, held together with a hypnotic hi-hat beat and J&MC guitar pulse that keeps your eye on the horizon. It goes through several phases, regularly swaying left and right to display its message - before collapsing on the floor, having given all it could at the altar of degenerate rock’n’roll. Sea-sickness may kick in if you didn’t take your pill beforehand. It’s possibly their best song to date, and should win them plenty of new admirers.
‘Swamp Thing’ lurches into view swiftly, driven on some maniacal Black Sabbath-styled riff and vocal intonation. The Fun House sludge is relentless over six minutes, coming to life in double time for the last ninety seconds where guitarist Tom pulls his best Wayne Kramer riff out the bag. Occasionally singer Dean yelps in a way that recalls John Lydon in his PILed up days (as opposed to his current Brexit-loving daze), and all is briefly right with the world. This sort of warped heaviness could get you locked up in Arkham if you’re not careful, boys.
‘Fudge Mountain’ is period shoegaze drone ala Loop and Spacemen 3, and is neither offensive nor much to shout about - until the fourth minute, when everything drops away and the stellar bass line comes into focus and some light is let in. From there it’s onto the stratosphere (if only the inner version). Closer ‘Microsleep’ is the magnum narcotic opus: jazzy beats underlying an early 90s indebted exterior. Intense and broody (like Smashing Pumpkins), krauty (like Ride), a little self-indulgent (like Pearl Jam), it’s custom-made for the alt-rockers of a certain vintage to lose their shit to. And also perfectly suited to the contemporary psych scene. These lot know what they’re doing at every single minute of this EP. Transfer you attention in their direction swiftly.
Neon Spiral is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. A vinyl version will follow in the next month or so.