Album Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers

Review from Ben Forrester

Since reforming in 2010 after a seven year break, Canadian collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor have dived straight back into being an active band and show little signs of slowing down. ‘Luciferian Towers‘ is their third long player since their comeback LP in 2012, sixth in total, and as always has been greeted with much excitement from their extremely loyal fan-base. I must admit, it’s taken me a while to understand why Godspeed have such a huge following, but the more that I study their back catalogue the more I appreciate the huge, sprawling soundscapes that they so expertly craft.

For me, it’s all about the build with Godspeed. I love those huge walls of noise that they so intricately construct and when they reach that explosive climax, when it comes crashing down in a blaze of glory, it is nothing but euphoric. Patience is definitely a virtue when listening to Godspeed and on Luciferian Towers, the payoffs are huge!

Opening track ‘Undoing A Luciferian Towers‘ is a pretty menacing intro, as you are hit with a descending vortex of noise. Trumpets and saxophone howl and squeal around two pummelling drum kits to create this apocalyptic jazz freak-out. But weirdly, there is no feeling of impending doom, it just feels like it’s working out where to go, how to get to the light and it does. Ride cymbals crash in and on the final minute we are absorbed in this bewilderingly beautiful melody. That’s what I get from the record; there is a lot of bleakness to sift through but you are rewarded with moments of pure lushness.

I love how little motifs are brought back throughout the record. The warm swirling melody that completes the opening track is reprised at the end of ‘Fam/ Famine‘, which until that point combines warm swirls of violin with pulsating throbs of sub-bass and string stabs for another beguilingly haunting passage.

Bosses Hang‘ and ‘Anthem For No State‘ take the bulk of the record up but are both split into three parts. Bosses Hang begins with fuzzed up guitars and soaring strings that crash into this mountain scaling post-rock breakdown. It is nothing short of breathtaking. We are next taken into this calm yet psychedelic path before exploding  into a volcano of screeching violins and roaring guitars that takes us to new sonic heights of splendour!

Anthem Of The State is a much more slow burning affair that begins gentle and gracious, but as feedback rolls in for a finale, it brings back the descending vortex we hear at the start of the record. Thunderous drums and wailing guitars bring in a final riff that builds to an extremely dramatic conclusion. It may not be the uplifting ending I was expecting, but it is very powerful and incredibly euphoric!

Although Luciferian Towers is a winding, spiralling piece of music that goes through many twists and turns, it’s probably Godspeed’s most digestible record to date. This is down to the strength of the melodies constructed and without the drone-driven tones of older material, it makes for a stronger flow and, if anything, intensifies the power of its crescendos. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to take in here and this still requires your full attention, but overall ‘Luciferian Towers‘ sees Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most powerful, fearless and beautiful.

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Album Review: Kiran Leonard – Derevaun Seraun

Album Review from Ben Forrester

Kiran Leonard’s musical talents know no bounds. Barely in his 20’s and the Oldham based musician has made two full lengths jam packed with ridiculous musical skill and mindbogglingly cool ideas. On his third album, Kiran has opted out of his former kitchen sink approach and instead strips it right back.

Derevaun Seraun‘ is a half hour piece split in five movements, each inspired by a different piece of literature, and arranged for piano, strings and voice. To say that this is a change of pace for Kiran is an understatement, but with a mind like his there is no doubt that this is going to be another enthralling piece.

Could She Still Draw Back?‘ is a devastatingly beautiful opener, based on a short story about a young girl trapped between the allure of moving to another continent with a newfound lover and the inescapable draw of home. Kiran instantly brings you in with his unique, dynamically driven vocal as he takes on the role of the main character within the story. This is where the whole theatrics of the record really spring to life and you can’t help but be engulfed into each movement.

Because the instrumentation is a lot sparser, the lyrical content is almost deliberately dense and really requires your full attention to follow each tale that is being told. Now, I could be here quite a while if we went through the ideas behind each movement and to be honest, there’s still a lot here I’m figuring out, but that’s what makes this such a compelling listen. Kiran is wanting you to look deeper here.

Living With Your Ailments‘ begins with a breezy, piano driven pomp, completed with uplifting yet delicate string strokes. It’s the first of three longer movements, but it never feels like too much time is spent here, particularly as Kiran delves in mid-track to ask “what does it all mean, why do I keep on living?” It’s moments like this that make the lyrical content so honest and human. It’s easy to get wrapped within the history behind each track, but on its surface this record is about individuality and being in control of yourself. This track especially denotes an essay Kiran read at a young age that talks about taking the cards we are dealt – mortality, nothingness, uncertainty – and doing our best with them, in humor and in optimism and in open-mindedness.

There is much drama to be had here, ‘A Particle Of Flesh Refuses The Consummation of Death‘ is a sprawling 8 minute piece that musically pulls you up close to tell you a tale before it spirals out of control as Kiran nervously proclaims “the world is spinning out of orbit“. Its following movement ‘The Mute Wide Open Eye Of All Things‘ is all thumping piano and string stabs over Kiran’s menacing spoken vocal. Closing track ‘The Cure Of Pneumothorax‘ is a rousing closer that brings back little motifs from the previous movements and ends the record calmly as Kiran gently acknowledges “I see you there”.

Derevaun Seraun is a direct, emotional and passionate record. It displays a whole array of timbres and dynamics, from the grand and theatrical to the understated and beautiful. Kiran Leonard shows the full range of what a piano can do here and challenges the listener to dig deeper and be swallowed into a whole new entity. A truly spell-bounding affair and continual proof that Kiran Leonard is one of the North’s most innovative and accomplished musical talents.

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Exclusive: Listen to ‘Disco’ from Blacklisters upcoming EP on Too Pure Singles Club

(Photo Credit: Mr B)

Have a wash then have a listen” were the instructions given by Leeds mind-melters Blacklisters when they recently gave birth to new single ‘Drag‘. Below you’ll find another new track from Blacklisters, but this time you’ll be wanting a wash afterwards…

‘Disco’ is the second track to be taken from their impending EP through the brillo-pads Too Pure Singles Club. The three-track EP was recorded live and perfectly captures the horrid sounds the quartet can cook up (in a good way).

Available through all good Indies on Friday 29th September, it features the first material written with Steven Hodson – he of USA Nails fame. Hodson joins Blacklisters going into their third album (due for release in 2018) and was on hand at Greenmount Studios where the three-track was recorded.

Wrap your lugholes round the brutal ‘Disco’ below and be sure to pick up a copy of the EP next week!

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Elle Mary & The Bad Men produce exclusive guest mix for DUGA 3

With the third season of DUGA 3 championing Manchester creatives on the DIY scene (having recently featured guest mixes from James Claremont and Worriedaboutsatan), the fifth episode of the season welcomes Manchester based artist Elin Rossiter on board for a super exclusive guest mix!

Vocalist in Elle Mary & The Bad Men and a mainstay in the Manc DIY scene for many years, Elle crafts beautiful, entrancing folk-noir slowcore woe for the heartbroken masses.

Bringing together a thirty minute mix showcasing other female artists that have helped inspire upcoming debut album ‘Constant Unfailing Night‘, Elle had this to say of her mix:

So I’ve made a playlist of female musicians who I feel make fuse folk with other sounds, be it experimental, punk, ambient, noise, creating really beautiful pieces. I’ve ended it on Aretha because I just fuckin love that song.“-

Debut album Constant Unfailing Night is set for release October 20th through Sideways Saloon Records (UK) and A Modest Proposal Records (Italy). Its release coincides with an Italian tour this November, taking in Perugia, Rome, Livorno, Santa Margherita and Lugo di Vicenza.

It’s not just Elle Mary & The Bad Men, mind. Episode five also features a smorgasbord of delectable sounds from all over, with music from the likes of Kagami Smile, DEATH FROM ABOVE, Magic Mountain and heaps more. Listen for yourself – Stream the fifth episode of Season 3 below and keep an eye out for that debut album – head here for more!

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Live Review: The Districts at Gorilla in Manchester 6 September 2017

Review from Jack Brownbill

I am very much a firm believer that it’s important to discover, grow and establish your own music legacy. We will all buy bad albums. We will all know the classics. We will all have guilty pleasures. But that in itself is the reason we love music. For me personally, it’s the journey you take with music.

After hearing a couple of tracks a few years back from The Districts, I was certainly intrigued from the get go. I have impulse buys, and their second album was certainly one. ‘A Flourish and a Spoil’ was bought on a sunny Saturday afternoon from the local vinyl shop in town. Sometimes you buy records on a bit of a whim – nobody wants to buy bad records! But you hope that you haven’t bought a flash in the pan, or a one hit wonder(ish) song has brought their attention to you and you have made a rushed, ill-judged decision.

The same could be applied in my decision to purchase album number two from The Districts. Having heard ‘Heavy Begs’, I was immediately drawn to the band and thought it was a solid start. I am usually a ‘two or three songs need to be heard kind of guy’, before I part with my hard earned cash. Immediately I knew I had made a great decision. The album sounded fresh, yet still enough of that old school indie/grunge sound, which made me enjoy the whole album experience. From then on, my affinity with the band has grown. I took a chance on the album and it paid off, so I feel like it’s an album that can stand proud in my ever growing vinyl collection.

So upon hearing a new album in the works and a little tour with a stop off in my town, I popped on down to Manchester’s Gorilla Bar, for an evening of loud music, courtesy of the lads from Philly.

If there is one word to describe the gig tonight, it’s energy. I could just leave it at that for the review to be honest. Non-stop, frantic, undiluted energy. From the get go it’s manic. Lead singer Rob Grote doesn’t need any time to warm up. He plays the part front-man/part athlete role very well. Playing for his life like it’s his last and he leaves it all on the stage.

With some really well worked tunes on display from new album ‘Popular Manipulations’, this showcases more than ‘just’ another guitar band. Taking songs from across their three albums, the guys have a lot to choose from and the new ones go down well, but surprisingly it’s songs from the first album that really make the crowd move their feet. We are even treated to a few impressions from Rob. Name checking everything from Waitrose to Eddie Stobart in what can only be described as an attempt on an English accent, if Michael Caine was born in Australia and had downed 10 pints. However, the crowd love it (me included).

I think as music fans, we love bands from across the pond to soak up a little of our culture and ways. Albeit it sounds like the guys are stopping off at every service station in the country, we couldn’t be happier at the thought. Rock on M6 Services Marks and Spencer! I think as well, the thought of a little band from the U.S. coming all this way to play to modest crowds and enjoying it for the love of the game, does give me a sense of community and ‘we are all in together’ with the band.

The new stuff goes down well with singalongs to ‘Ordinary Day’ and 6Music favourite ‘If Before I Wake’. However, it’s the songs taken from the first album ‘Telephone’ that really gets the crowd rocking. The only downside I would put out there (and I am being petty here) would be the lack of their beautiful acoustic numbers – ‘6am’ and ‘Suburban Smell’ are just too good to miss off a set and personally, I always liked bands mixing the loud to the smooth.

Having been to Gorilla on a number of occasions, the venue wasn’t full to its capacity, but everyone there was more than treated. The Districts are three albums old and still very young. Having already toured for a number of years (including opening for The Rolling Stones), all this points to the band doing all the right things at the moment.

Having fell out of love with Kings of Leon many years ago, upon hearing the band I instantly thought – these guys could fill that gap. Some good old fashioned American rock, with a bang and a twist for good measure. I think frontman Rob and the backing of the band – who all hold their own – can really make a mark on the industry. They already have. I think the band now need to think how they move from mid table to elite championship competitors. If they do that, then don’t bet against these guys headlining future festivals in years to come.

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Album Review: Sløtface – Try Not To Freak Out

Album Review from Ben Forrester

There has been a lot of talk about Norwegian outfit Sløtface over the past couple of years. Each single and EP release has always been greeted with an enthusiastic buzz amongst the new music crowd, and this year they’ve been working hard to get this buzz growing! They’ve been on some sweet tours and got stuck into the festival circuit, all in preparation for their long awaited debut album release.

What attracts me to Sløtface is the undeniable pop sensibilities that run through their spiky, sprightly indie-rock pomp. Early single ‘Take Me Dancing‘ got me hooked straight away and when I heard recent single ‘Nancy Drew‘, I totally understood the hype and was eager to hear how they’d fare on an album.

Try Not To Freak Out‘ is pretty much exactly what I expected. From the minute the full throttle jump-up rock of ‘Magazine‘ kicks off, it’s a non stop hit fest. Cleverly combining elements of punk, grunge and college-rock into their super excitable pop compositions, the four piece prove their salt as thoughtful songwriters and solid musicians.

Although pretty much every song is a perfectly formed pop tune, there’s loads of really nice little ideas crammed into each tune which elevate them much higher than your average indie band. I’m a huge fan of the guitar work of Tor-Arne, who comes up with some really cracking guitar lines throughout, sometimes busting out a whole bunch of killer ideas in just under 3 minutes. ‘Try‘ and ‘Night Guilt are particular favourites, starting with some guitar-bass interplay in the verses that comes together for a full grooving chorus.

There’s some really wide screen moments on this album; ‘Galaxies‘ cranks up the reverb on the vocals and guitars to an almost arena bothering status, while Nancy Drew finishes on this properly climatic ending of thunderous drums and a soaring guitar wig out. For me, it’s all about the epic ‘Slumber‘ which hits the 5 minute mark; a beautiful, ever building track which comes to a chunky, riff laden conclusion for lump-in-the-throat inducing results.

I really like frontwoman Haley’s voice and she brings a load of really stick-in-your-head vocal melodies to the forefront, but there’s a few lyrics in there which do border on the cringe factor for me. Most of the songs are very much the thoughts of a young person, thinking about friendships, relationships and parties, with plenty of cultural references. Although they’re not for me, they do work well with the punchy instrumentals and I think younger fans will really resonate with the directness of these themes.

In conclusion, Try Not To Freak Out is a really fun debut. The compositions are interesting, the hooks are ridiculously catchy, the production is super pumping and there is just a general sense of excitement that runs through this album that you can’t help but be engulfed by. Stay young, listen to Sløtface.

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: And Yet It Moves

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make. With that in mind, we’re delighted to have the wonderfully intense And Yet It Moves talk us through five releases that shaped their impending debut album!

(Photo Credit: Kyle Howells)

Hello distant world. We are And Yet It Moves. Michael has given us the keys to the chalet for the weekend. Come in and shit anywhere you want. Take your trainers off. Relax. Have a little cognac. A little brie. You look tired, sit down.”

Number 1: Bjork’s album Debut (1993)

Take half a handful of mushrooms. Mix with wine and a large curry. Olives on the side. Bread. Delicious.”

Number 2: The Bee Gees – ‘Nights On Broadway‘ (from their 1975 appearance on The Midnight Special)

“Take two handfuls of mushrooms. Understand the consequences of your actions. Never leave your flank exposed. Pepper to taste.”

Number 3: Matt McGinn – ‘Rich Man’s Paradise

Two gorgeous siberian malamuts for sale. Sister and brother. Listen to the bass. Let it guide you.”

Number 4: Womack & Womack – ‘Teardrops‘ (Conscience, 1988) 

Take a large pinch of mushrooms. Hold your breath for ten seconds. Release. Repeat. Get it on repeat on die.”

Number 5: Miles Davis‘ album Dark Magus (1974)

“Take as much mushrooms as you can get your hands on and furfuxsake don’t fight it. Tension. Gone. Living on plumes. One for the connoisseur among the shit munchers.”

Free Pass To The Future is out August 29th! Pre-order a copy here.

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