Monday, 10 September 2012

New Music Roundup

This is a city blog that I wrote for DIY with my city blogger hat on - but as it's a bit too general it ended up not getting used. It's got loads of new (and a lot of free) music in it, so if you want to check out some new music, read right on. So, without further ado then....!

Hello again. In this instalment of the city blog I was rather hoping to have brought you front-line reports from 2000 Trees and Tramlines in Sheffield, along with some choice local gig action, but in the end an unexpected hospital visit kind of fucked that plan all to hell. Instead therefore, you get a run-down of great free music that I crawled through Bandcamp to find while I was off work recovering. Hooray!

First though, it's time for a bit of gushing praise: two demos sent in after my last column have been firmly on repeat – the first, by Tall for Jockeys is publicly available free from Bandcamp. It's called 'Get Japan on the Phone' and is like an awesome, angry, super-raw Reuben all up in your face. ( There's plenty of subtle hints at inner depth but ultimately it's a rocking, hollering slab of unpretentious brilliance. Second is Embers, who have this whole kind of industrial-post-rock-lo-fi thing going on that's a lot harder to describe. It is, to use an NME word, 'anthemic'; however, unlike the calculated edges of boring hype music like Wu Lyf, Embers' edges are real, born of shitty home recordings that capture so much attitude and menace I almost don't want to hear the result of them in a proper studio (this from somebody who distrusts the lo-fi movement and thinks that all drums should be legally required to be recorded by Chris Sheldon).

A band that don't suffer from under- or over- production on the other hand are Glasgow's Crusades, whose new EP is going to melt faces when it hits in September; for now get free track 'Pseudo Andro' free from their Bandcamp and get blown away like the guy from the Maxell ad by their ATDI-meets-Dillinger Escape Plan insanity. Insanity, I tell you!

Now, on to the free stuff. A band I really have been frankly rude in overlooking until this point is Alpha Male Tea Party, who deal in the kind of mathy heaviness that a good portion of Yourcodenameis:milo fans are probably still craving to claw themselves back from cold turkey. If you count yourselves among that – let's be honest – elite team, then get their album 'AMTP' from their Bandcamp for free or a delicious physical copy.

While Giants Sleep are a Swedish rock band with post-rock elements that have honed their craft down to snappy alt-rock songs that are practically lethal on their second EP, 'You Are A Landscape'. With hints of everything from The Verve to At the Drive-In, it's a pretty eclectic offering, and it's proven very hard to topple from top of my playing pile this month. That the opening track is the weakest speaks volumes for a release with such a great opener, but it really does progressively improve – by finisher 'Titans' you'll be standing on the sofa hollering the chorus too. Their first EP is also free, and while it may not be quite as accomplished it's an interesting post-hardcore affair that signposts the steps the band were yet to make with their newest material.

For those of a djenty persuasion, I recently came across this utter gem – Aion by Lithium Dawn. Though it's surely got to be at least a runner up for worst album artwork ever, the music will absolutely blow you away – doubly so since I guarantee the album art will set your expectations real fucking low. Part in that school of melodic atmospheric rock that includes Perfect Circle, Failure, Far and Ashes Divide, part firmly in the progressive metal territory of Tool or djent of Periphery, it's a thrillingly-executed modern metal album with such consistent quality that there's not a dull moment on it. Quite probably one of the albums of the year – it's that good.

Not really a new band, but Australia's brilliant post-rockers Sleepmakeswaves – currently on tour with Karnivool, have put up the majority of their back catalogue up on Bandcamp for free. If you've not already heard them, they're probably best for fans of This Will Destroy You, Oceansize and Hammock. Check it out here.

Masaka are a band from Canada, and they sound sort of like veteran grunge bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur's first album, with added fuzz. Strictly if you're into 'Siamese Dream' era Smashing Pumpkins and that whole attendant scene, but a lot of fun nevertheless.

Best song title this month goes to the track 'Dinner and a Movie on a Post-Apocalyptic Earth: 12 Bottle Caps, Successfully Repopulating the Human Race: Priceless' by Californian math band The Speed of Sound in Seawater, who according to their bio are “BFFs” - cool. Coincidentally, you can get this weird math-rock ballad here.

Penultimate thing: October's Carefully Planned festival has announced its line-up, and it is shockingly good. Aside from AMTP there are a ludicrously huge number of great mathy and progressivey post-rock bands playing, so check out the event listing on Songkick here. (

Finally, a brief hype alert: after seeing them live twice (with Yeti Lane in June and Plank! last week), it appears that Leeds' Hookworms are as good as the hype. That is all.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Rival Schools

United By Fate


I'll admit, I'm pretty late to the whole Rival Schools party; in hindsight it seems almost like sacrilige that a band so close to the bands I like the most should have so wholly and totally missed my attention, but ho hum, there it is. Anyway, a lot of words have presumably been penned about this record at one point or another, and I have no desire to add a huge number more to them. What I will say is that if you're into any number of vaguely interesting or experimental bands that namecheck post-hardcore bands from the late 90s, you'll probably love Rival Schools. Except of course you already know this; it's only me that's late to the party.

So, Travel by Telephone, the opener is a brilliant trainwreck of rock attitude and pop melodies, a theme that extends to oft-checked highlight High Acetate. Used for Glue is very much at the other end of the Rival Schools spectrum; heavy and emphatic, it's probably the sort of track that inspired so many emo bands to list them as a reference (and probably help towards me not checking them out at the time). That said though, I actually kind of prefer that full-tilt sound. Tracks like Good Things may have a seductive groove and an attractive post-grunge single chorus, but in truth when I want that I'll go to Silverchair instead, thanks.

Right then, Rival Schools. Get a copy, introduce yourself to the four named tracks above and then delve deeper if you like; I'll post a review of their long-awaited follow-up Pedals on here soon.