Album Review: Conjurer – Páthos

I have a very distinct memory of when Conjurer released their debut album. I mean, it was only four years ago, but I remember the buzz that surrounded ‘Mire’ and what an exciting time it felt for the UK scene at the time. I then spent most of that year seeing the alt-metal quartet at any given opportunity and subsequently getting my face melted clean off. Fair fucks to them they toured the arse off of that record, but it seemed that the underground metal community was not done with spreading the word, which lead to the band touring all over the world in support of the record.

Why was it so good you ask? Well, it’s clear to me that Conjurer are a band of music fans and having dedicated their lives to heavy music, they wrote an album that tapped into all that is great with metal music, coupled with genuinely solid musicianship and edge-of-your-seat songwriting.

Now they’ve signed to legendary label Nuclear Blast, all eyes are seemingly on the band to deliver another immaculate set. I’ll admit, my expectations were high, but it’s because I feel that the four years of experience that Conjurer have gained as a unit and as people was only going to strengthen their vision for album two. My assumptions were correct as ‘Páthos’ goes harder and dives deeper.


The fact that ‘It Dwells’ opens the album with clean, melodic rhythmic guitar strums indicates the dynamic expansion Conjurer have undertaken for this record. In fact, I would say that hanging out with post-metal mavericks Pijn has certainly rubbed off on them, with a lot of stripped back, reverb soaked sections creeping in across the track list.

It’s all about impact here and by pushing the dynamics of their arrangements, Conjurer deliver some crushing moments. The intro to ‘Those Years, Condemned’ settles into an atmospheric groove with lilting guitar harmonies awash in the background, but you know you’re about to get hit with a sludged out riff, with vocalist Dan summoning the demon within with his gut wrenching bellow. But it’s not just massive riffs that deliver the heft.

All You Will Remember’ packs real emotional clout, concluding with a spoken word piece that reflects on Dan’s late grandmother’s battle with dementia. “I don’t know who you are or who I am to you” is a devastating line that adds fragility and vulnerability into this richly emotive record.

Páthos’ is a complex beast and one that I’m still unravelling now, but what hits you immediately is the power of the writing, playing and production. It sounds massive, the playing is unbelievably tight and it’s full of little details. It still holds the sludge metal prowess of its predecessor, but the songs feel smarter this time round, with Conjurer navigating new ways to be heavy. In short, this is a superbly executed progression from an extremely talented band.

CJ

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Listening Post – July 2022

Duncan-Wright

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Duncan Wright)

Every month we put together this wee playlist of 20 of our favourite tracks from the past 30+ days and we’re always stoked for people to get involved with what we’ve been listening to. This month in particular is a real doozy, let me tell you. Oh boy.

From 70s German synth-punk to Mancunian weirdo-rock, big booming disco beats to heart-swelling nostalgic pop and heaps more.

Tell your mates, tell your Mum (phone your Mum), and get it liked and shared. Yee-Haw!

Deliluh – Body and Soul
(Fault Lines)

Another belter from forward-thinking Canadian duo Deliluh, now based in Europe, who excel in building tension throughout their latest record, ‘Fault Lines‘ (reviewed here). Lead single ‘Body and Soul‘ is a brain-melter – all encompassing, the vocal of Kyle Knapp captivating against the frantic instrumental and punctuating thuds.

DAF – Der Räuber Und Der Prinz
(Alles Ist Gut)

This is absolutely the ticket. A hypnotic and unnerving wonky opening makes way for head-fuck whispering amongst the various whistles, clinks, clanks and bell clangs. From on the pulse 70s outfit D.A.F. (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft), it’s clear to hear just how influential the German duo were.

Stella Donnelly – Lungs
(Flood)

-seen in a crowd they create an optical illusion, but on its own it’s this singular piece of art.” So says Aussie artist Stella Donnelly of her forthcoming album ‘Flood‘, its 11 tracks reflecting the story behind the album art of Banded Stilts, a native bird of Australia. Lead single ‘Lungs‘ follows 2019 album ‘Beware of the Dogs‘ and features more in the way of Donnelly’s heavenly vocal and wicked songwriting.

Die! Die! Die! – Never Tire Looking At The Sun
(This Is Not An Island Anymore)

Ripper territory from New Zealand lot Die! Die! Die! from their latest album ‘This Is Not An Island Anymore‘, out earlier this year. Three minutes of ear assault, ‘Never Tire Looking At The Sun‘ barely lets up as the trio hit out full pelt, adding a wigging out Tenor Sax into the mix for a proper noisy attack.

Cumgirl8 – Dumb Bitch

New out this year from the winners of the coveted Birthday Cake For Breakfast band name of 2022, ‘Dumb Bitch‘ is a hypnotising, dancey punk banger from a quartet of New Yorkers who clearly don’t give two fucks. Part of the Suicide Squeeze ‘Pinks & Purples Digital Singles Series‘.

On the name, the band call it like they see it – from their Bandcamp: “As soon as cumgirl8 began exploring the artistic possibilities of fusing the URL world with in-the-flesh performances, the assholes had to come in and ban them from social media platforms because of their name. Puritans, TERFS, and homophobes always find a way to impose their bullshit on the gender outlaws and sexual provocateurs of our times. Well, cumgirl8 has had enough of the archaic mores and narrow-minded values.

PE

P.E. – Blue Nude (Reclined)
(The Leather Lemon)

I still have fond memories of a winter evening in January 2019 watching PILL in the basement of The Peer Hat. The New Yorkers split not long after, with some of its numbers moving on to form new outfit P.E. From their second album, ‘The Leather Lemon‘, out this year on Wharf Cat Records, the groove-tastic ‘Blue Nude (Reclined)‘ is a total trip, lit up with bursts of brass and the engrossing vocal of Veronica Torres. Elsewhere on the album, you’ll even find a guest appearance from New York royalty, Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts!

Preoccupations – Ricochet
(Arrangements)

I think it’s fair to say they’re back! Sadly not a cover of the brilliant album track of the same name from David Bowie’sLet’s Dance‘, instead the new one from Preoccupations is an urgent earworm reminiscent of their 2016 self-titled full length. Hard not to hang on every impassioned word of vocalist Matt Flegel.

Gruff Rhys – Seeking New Gods
(Seeking New Gods)

A swish number from cult Welsh artist Gruff Rhys, the title track from the rather wonderful 2021 full length ‘Seeking New Gods‘ (reviewed here). An absolute heart-stopper and the very essence of warmth in a track, from a record inspired by the Paektu Mountain, which allowed Gruff to mythologize his own sonic mountain to clamber up.

Wombo – Backflip
(Fairy Rust)

A return to the blog from Kentucky trio Wombo, ‘Backflip‘ goes here there and everywhere, with a Cate Le Bon-ish vocal against a raging math meets post-punk meets psychedelic vibe. From a forthcoming new album influenced by fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, naturally.

Empath – Elvis Comeback Special
(Visitor)

Favourite Youtube clip? Elvis on his last legs, letting it all hang out and absolutely ripping it up in Rapid City, South Dakota (yee-haw!) Shoehorning it in (allow it), have you heard this one from Philly quartet Empath? A proper fuzzy, heart-swelling joyous pop song!

EE

Everything Everything – CUT UP!
(Raw Data Feel)

Big fight feel in the chorus of this as vocalist Jon Higgs reels off a list of all those who told him what would happen if he clicks/is ‘CUT UP!’ From the meat head to Kevin to the ‘Pizza Boy‘, just ludicrously good stuff from Everything Everything, taken from their terrific new record ‘Raw Data Feel‘ (reviewed here).

Sweet Baboo – Hopeless

It’s been a good few years since we last heard from Sweet Baboo in a solo capacity (5 years by all accounts!) Like putting on a favourite shirt you found in the back of the closet, it’s a joy to have him back. A real swell lounge affair, with that heart-melting vocal we’ve come to love from the Welsh troubadour, it comes inspired by the likes of Stereolab, Tropicália and Paul Simon and is hopefully an indicator of more new music to come.

OSEES – Perm Act
(A Foul Form)

More new music from OSEES, taken from their forthcoming ode to gnarly punk bands of old. Latest single ‘Perm Act’ sees vocalist JPD stretching out that goblin voice of his, whilst the double drumming of Paul Quattrone and Dan Rincon steals the show.

GRAVE GOODS – COME
(TUESDAY. NOTHING EXISTS.)

Featuring the combined efforts of current and former members of PINS, Girls Names and September Girls, the new one from box fresh outfit GRAVE GOODS is a proper bit of kit. Revved up gnarly noise, destined for a moody, dimly lit basement venue.

GRAVE GOODS talked us through their new single just the other day, which you can read about here.

Narrow Head – T.W.I.N.

Late last year we were lucky enough to catch Narrow Head in a support slot up the road at YES in Manchester, where they blew the headliners out of the water. Their first release via tastemakers Church Road Records, ‘T.W.I.N.‘ is a Deftones-esque ripper that signals good things to come!

DU

Du Blonde – Live Wire

Kicking off a series of forthcoming demos, unreleased tracks, instrumentals, experiments and more – released outside of studio albums – London based artist Du Blonde has just dropped this 100 second rocker. Coming fresh off 2021 full length ‘HOMECOMING‘, it’s the classic bright music / sad lyrics scenario, the theme of the anthemic ‘Live Wire‘ being to hide away and “lay in the basement alone“.

The Birthmarks – Royal Youns
(Slowly)

Bloody lot of talent coming out of Manchester you know! Not content with putting out the much loved ‘Nude With Demon‘ this year (as The Web of Lies), Irma Vep teams up with players from the likes of Aldous RH, Sex Hands and Lovvers for this ace bit of unhinged weirdo rock, channelling the likes of DRINKS and Terry under the collective moniker of The Birthmarks. Well good.

Kiwi Jr. – Unspeakable Things
(Chopper)

On their 2021 album ‘Cooler Returns‘, we suggested Kiwi Jr combined the sounds of Dylan, The Byrds and Jonathan Richman with the vibe of a Wes Anderson flick. The recently announced ‘Chopper‘ (out August on Sub Pop) seems to have more of a romantic, longing feel to it, though new single ‘Unspeakable Things‘ (supposedly written whilst watching “prestige tv drama” ‘Justified‘), still shows they’ve got that sun-soaked, anthemic style in the bag.

Warmduscher – Twitchin’ In The Kitchen
(At The Hotspot)

It’s not something I’m normally arsed about, but I’ve found myself devouring Glastonbury highlights this year, lapping up everything from Confidence Man to Black Midi to Roisin Murphy. Notorious disco daddies Warmduscher were a vibe all of their own, bringing early morning sleaze to a sunny afternoon in the field, with the raucous ‘Twitchin’ In The Kitchen‘ particularly capturing our attention. So much so we had to include it here!

Cassels – Charlie Goes Skiing
(A Gut Feeling)

Chipping Norton’s finest Cassels returned earlier this year with the nails ‘A Gut Feeling‘, an album we suggested istheir best record by a country mile.Charlie Goes Skiing‘ is a noisy ripper make no mistake, the sibling duo proper putting in a shift, taking it to explosive, ear-destroying heights.

Earlier this year, the pair talked us through the track ‘Your Humble Narrator‘, which you can read about here!

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This One Song… GRAVE GOODS on COME

Tell you what – we love hearing from artists when things go right. We equally love hearing from artists when things go dreadfully wrong. A song that was a piece of piss, written in 20 minutes? Or years in the making and a bastard to write?

Whether it’s a song that came together through great duress or one that was smashed out in a short amount of time, we’re getting the lowdown from some of our favourites on the one song that they can’t stop thinking about – in their own words.

GRAVE GOODS – featuring current and former members of PINS, Girls Names and September Girls – have just announced their debut album ‘TUESDAY. NOTHING EXISTS.‘ (out 9th September via TULLE). Vocalist and guitarist Lois Macdonald talks us through their new single ‘COME‘. Take it away, Lois

GG

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Elle Brotherhood)

The very first time Sarah and I got together to write music, we were excited to make something completely different from what we had done before. We had loads of energy and loads of frustration to get out, and ‘COME’ was born from that. It was the first song we wrote. I remember that we wanted it to feel tense all the way through, to capture that frustration and I played the guitar in a percussive way to express that.

Once we had got the feel right the lyrics came quite naturally, a call for revolution, to come together to change the things you don’t feel in control of. Once we had written it we would play it again and again, and it felt good because it was so furious and primal.

When we had our first practice we were feeling so pumped we booked ourself a gig at a house party for the night after. We performed Come in it’s first iteration, along with a few other songs written over that 24 hours. When Phil joined they got it straight away, and completed our sound perfectly.

I let my imagination free with the video for COME. I had this vision of pleasure demons that came to earth to encourage you to do all the things you want, to be present in your own life and take charge of your destiny. I started to make outfits for each with their own personalities, and their own stories, that all come together to start the pleasure revolution. The performers all brought the characters to life better than I could have hoped, and I loved my first go at directing and seeing it all come together. It was an emotional day on set for me!

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Live Review: Confidence Man at Delamere Forest 16 June 2022

It’s not everyday that there’s a gig on my doorstep. Instead of the 60 minutes to Manchester I take regularly, I hop on the train for not even 10 minutes to reach tonight’s venue. Tonight Matthew, I’m at Delamere Forest.

Noel Gallagher (that’s Liam’s Brother), is headlining tonight as part of the Forest live series, but I’m actually here to suss out support act Confidence Man. An unlikely billing maybe, but I actually found out that the Aussie outfit met NG while out partying in Melbourne. Needless to say, they hit it off and were invited to support Noel on his UK summer dates.

My first experience of Confidence Man was only a few weeks ago, watching an energy fuelled performance on Later With Jools Holland. A few spins of their ace new record ‘Tilt’ later and I was eager to catch them in the flesh. As soon as half of the band walk on dressed as shadow people, with huge black lace veils covering their whole body, I could already tell this mixed crowd of Cheshire folk weren’t sure what was going on….

When dual vocalists Janet Planet and Sugar Bones walk on wearing massive blazers puppeting their shoulders to the house grooves of ‘Toyboy’, there is more confusion. I, on the other hand, am in bliss. That only escalates further across the set, as we enter the wonderfully camp, party universe of Confidence Man. There’s four costume changes, light up bras, lots of shirts being ripped off and fuck loads of choreography. Musically, they sport a strong 90s dance vibe, blending funky house melodies, electro bass lines and some super catchy pop hooks.

There’s so much going on throughout the set and it’s fair to say that it’s certainly a feast for the eyes. Sugar pulls out cans of beer and bottles of champagne and subsequently pours them all over himself, seductively slicking his hair back, more than once. Janet on the other hand dances as if her life depends on it, especially on the euphoric chorus of ‘Feels Like A Different Thing’. The shadow people on the other hand do a great job in slowly warming up the crowd, pumping their fists in the air and building up their electro pop hooks as the other two run off for a costume change.

As the set progresses, I can see the crowd getting very much into the swing of things. By the time the band come to the closer, summer smash ‘Holiday’, hands are in the air. I even spot a few Dad’s dancing! With Janet politely thanking us and Sugar telling us that we’re all sexy, they run off stage, still brimming with energy. To be honest, I’m ready for more.

It’s really cool to see a support band put in so much thought and effort into the show. It’s one of those sets that genuinely had me wondering what was going to happen next. And that’s something I’ve not felt watching a live band in a long time. Confidence Man threw all the right shapes tonight and ended up being one of the best things I’ve seen in ages!

Tilt

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Release Rundown – Foals and TV Priest

Photo credit Hollie Fernando

Words: Ben Forrester (Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando)

Foals – Life Is Yours
(Warner)

Foals

The last time we heard from Foals, they gave us not one but two albums in the form of two part epic ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’. Having been a fan of the Oxford outfit from day dot, I thought that the project held some of the most energising and exciting material I’d heard from them in a while. But, I have to admit, despite the strength of the songs, I have felt that Foals have been throwing a bit too much at the wall with the last few albums and not quite matching the coherent flow and sonic elegance of their first two albums. I’m pleased to say however that on seventh album ‘Life Is Yours’, the now three piece have honed in and stuck to one sound to deliver their most cohesive set since ’Total Life Forever’.

With the album written during the lock-down winter of last year, the band longed to be back in the thick of it, travelling the world and seeing seas of people sweat and dance all over each other. Remaining hopeful, the trio began assembling this gleaming set of summer pop smashers. This is an album that demands to be cut to a montage of people jumping in the sea, dancing around fires, sipping margaritas, swaying at festivals; basically all the stuff we’ve dreamt about for the last two years.

As the title suggests, this is about fresh perspectives and moving gallantly forward. But of course, there’s a lot of thought and introspection to be had whilst reaching these conclusions. ‘2AM’ longs for love and fears loneliness, while ‘Wake Me Up’ is a clear depiction of lock-down life, brimming with a sense of desperation to be back out in the wild. With its predecessor looking into the destruction humans have caused on the planet and ourselves, this looks more at how we can help each other, with the right amount of thought and compassion.

This is definitely a go big or go home kind of record. It’s packed with planet sized hooks, sky scraping melodies and glittering production, backed with balearic rhythms and snappy guitar lines that this lot are so well known for. Though I still think that ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt1’ might retain some of later day Foals’ better songs, I cannot deny the sheer euphoria and coherency that shimmers throughout ‘Life Is Yours’. With a slinky disco pop makeover, Foals have dreamt big and come out swinging on an album that is sure to keep them firmly in the big leagues and possibly take them higher.

TV Priest – My Other People
(Sub Pop)

TV

Having been responsible for one of my favourite debuts of last year, I was positively chuffed to hear that London formed quartet TV Priest had album two in the bag. To me, ‘Uppers’ was smarter than your average post-punk record, with interesting production, politically charged lyrics and a swagger that gave me confidence whenever in its presence. ‘My Other People’ very much builds on the foundations set on the debut, but as all good sophomore records do, takes it to the next level.

Firstly, I feel that TV Priest have a distinctive sound. I always thought that the bass sounded like its strings were going to snap, but then I found out that it’s actually just a really down tuned guitar with a sprinkle of fuzz on it. And it sounds mega. That definitely provides the foundation to the band’s sound – add in driving drums, effect heavy / razor sharp guitar licks and frontman Charlie’s soulful snarl and you have a band putting their own individual slant on the current post-punk crop.

Not only do TV Priest keep up what made their debut so good, but here the songs are even better! ‘Bury Me In My Shoes‘ and ‘I Have Learnt Nothing‘ boast two of their biggest hooks to date, delivered with a punk-rock bite, whilst ‘It Was Beautiful‘ marries knife edge indie rock with gorgeous shoegaze swirls. ‘Limehouse Cut‘ strips things right back and is in fact one of a few beautifully crafted, almost acoustically driven numbers that offers a more vulnerable side to the band, with ‘The Happiest Place On Earth‘ acting as the album’s tender and sincere centrepiece.

I got the bigger picture that ‘Uppers‘ was going for, but I really like this more introspective, personal feel that the lyrics and vocal exude here. That half asleep / half spat out vocal frontman Charlie goes for is so captivating and he has one of those voices that you really want to listen to and hang off his every word. ‘My Other People‘ dances to the beat of its own drum and you can tell that every note has been thought about. Dynamically, musically and sonically, everything hits harder and TV Priest show that they have clear staying power that transcends the current scene they come from. Basically, I really fucking like this band and I think everyone else should too.

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Live Review: Parquet Courts at The Albert Hall in Manchester 12 June 2022

Over the life of Birthday Cake For Breakfast, there’s been a handful of live shows that have been burned into the memory. USA Nails at ArcTanGent Festival, PAWS at The Castle, Hot Snakes at Gorilla and Viagra Boys at the Eagle Inn, to name a few. Then there was the packed out Parquet Courts show at Gorilla back in 2016, a whirlwind performance which set us on a course of mild obsession for the quartet of New Yorkers. Consider us tickled pink then to have the band back in Manchester this week just gone, off the back of releasing their latest album, ‘Sympathy for Life‘.

Opening it up on a new one (‘Application/Apparatus‘), it’s all about building up anticipation, a big long intro setting out their stall for the rest of the evening. More slow burn, as it gets towards its end, guitarist and vocalist Andrew Savage proper stabs at his guitar as Austin Brown wigs out on the keys, making for a striking opener. Whilst we’re waiting to be served, a lad at the bar quite rightly sings the praises of bassist Sean Yeaton (a man of class, who’s wearing what looks to be a Part Chimp shirt!)

Criminally, the spectacular organ behind the stage is covered up with a big white backdrop, but this does add a cool visual to the show when it’s eventually lit up with the shadows of the band projected, soon brightened further with stylistic coloured spotlights.

Human Performance‘, title track from their 2016 release, receives a big crowd response, so much so that one of the many whoppers dotted throughout the audience barges his way through the crowd to get stuck in. Meanwhile, a woman tips most of a pint over some poor lads head as she dances away unaware… There’s lots more where that came from, with pint pots being chucked about the crowd all night, but what else is new? From the same album, ‘Dust gets all hypnotic, with its gnarly, heavy ending bleeding superbly into a proper revved up ‘Almost Had to Start A Fight/In and Out of Patience‘, one of the many highlights from 2018 smash ‘Wide Awake!

On the title track from ‘Wide Awake!‘, Brown recreates the Mardi Gras vibe of their big single, taking on the role of bandleader and getting the crowd whipped up, cutting shapes, blowing on a whistle and absolutely yelling the title out as he takes the microphone off its stand and goes freestyle. Yeaton does his trademark hair flip left to right as he shakes his head to the beat, whilst the crowd terrace chant the riff. At its end, as they gear up for the next number, a few doobie-doos between Brown and Yeaton escalate into a clap along from the crowd as the band rip into another quick verse of ‘Wide Awake’ to really put a pin in it.

With ‘Sympathy for Life‘ still fresh, it’s understandable that it’s the focus of the night. Unfortunately, the newer stuff sadly feels a bit flat and knocks the wind out of the crowd on occasion. It’s not bad, mind, rather they go on lengthy explorations which take us right out of it, longing for a full-pelt song or three. Honourable mention however does go to the funky ‘Zoom Out’ and the raging ‘Walking at a Downtown Pace‘, the drums of Max Savage sounding like a bomb going off with every hit on the latter, as the pit bounces away.

There’s a big band-on-tour vibe when Savage sways back and forth with a towel on his head as the others build up another new one, ‘Plant Life‘. Whilst it does feature some sweet melodica action, later during a drum solo, Savage sits down and takes it all in, the whole thing dragging on a bit.

‘Light Up Gold’ picks the pace back up thankfully, as Yeaton sticks his tongue out like a happy dog, back to shaking his head left and right, sending sweat flying as the crowd wake up. He’s howling like a wolf on ‘Homo Sapien’, which is another trip from their new album, and the momentum is back – only to be swiftly cut off by the sleepy haze of ‘Mardi Gras Beads‘.

Having had no one move a muscle on stage to play the encore game, Savage softly announces into the microphone “This is the encore.Yeaton lets Manchester know how much the band have enjoyed themselves and that they’ll be making a return, signing off with “… you’ve got my number, just text!” A disco ball hanging from the ceiling lights up the room beautifully in true last song fashion on ‘Pulcinella‘, a real steady piece, very much in the wheelhouse of Savage’s solo album ‘Thawing Dawn’. Before they depart, Yeaton blows out a kiss and they’re off.

A bit of a mixed bag in the end, it would’ve been preferred if the lengthier workouts had been condensed to squeeze in a few more from their back catalogue. Whilst they know how to hit all the right spots when required, unfortunately their triumphant return to Manchester felt lacking and was ultimately a bit flat, likely not one that will be remembered.

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Live Review: Deliluh at The White Hotel in Salford 10 June 2022

Having had to endure overhearing the most mind-numbing business call on the tram into town (complete with Train Guy titters that would make Bob Mortimer blush), I was craving a big fat pint and something noisy as I walked over to The White Hotel in Salford on Friday night. More than happy to offer up the latter was Northwich based one-man-band Cold Comfort.

There you go!” He announced after tweaking his set-up of twin microphones, pedals and a laptop. Off like a rocket on ‘Not Ideal‘ – opener from the forthcoming ‘Smash Hit EP‘ – blood curdling yells were hurled into the two microphones, waking the room up. The gnarliest of riffs and a nice pair of Umbro shorts go together like a dream on ‘I Shot The Messenger‘ and though it doesn’t show, we’re told he’s not done this in a few months. “So If I fall over… it’s problem time.

You can be replaced my friend…” He warned his laptop after it tried to queue a song early, soon blasting into the anthemic noise-punk stylings of ‘Suck My Blood (Please Don’t)‘, flying off the stage and living his hardcore frontman fantasies, thumping his chest as the walls rumbled under the noise.

The Italian/Swedish/Greek combo of Annalisa Iembo and Stella Mathioudakis had heads bobbing for their partnership, Jerome, getting everyone stuck into their repetitive dark electronics, occasionally drifting into Tekken 2-like territory with soundscapes that built and built and built.

Similar in number and style to the headliners, the two members of Jerome were down on the floor with a table of equipment set up, one on either side as they fiddled with wires, pedals and all sorts, with one occasionally singing/speaking in a constant, almost dreamlike stream of consciousness whilst visuals projected behind to allow one to lose themselves in the room-filling noise. A proper 90s Nine Inch Nails vibe came with the closer and at its end, they were greeted with much applause as the pair both grinned and thanked everyone for coming out.

Nearly a year on from their intimate affair at The Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter with Mandy, Indiana – our first proper show once restrictions were lifted – Deliluh marked their return with the release of new album ‘Fault Lines‘, their first as a duo. The bump in room size meant with The White Hotel, the pair had lots more room to breath and do their thing, though setup wise it wasn’t too dissimilar to before. The show itself was equally similar, carrying with it an experimental feel.

Julius Pedersen opened things up with the long table of equipment before him, loads of cables, inputs and all manner of noise-making goodies. Kyle Knapp took the microphone and quietly sang, real hushed, making for an engrossing intro. So hushed in fact that you could hear the click of each pedal, before Knapp took a seat and got to work on a lap steel guitar.

Having now had it released as a single, it was cool to hear ‘Body and Soul‘ fully formed. Crushing, hypnotic and immersive all at once, a screech of feedback rang out as Knapp aimed his guitar towards his amp. As it faded out, there’s no applause, rather anticipation from the room as everyone held on for the next one to kick in. Knapp soon took to the crowd with the microphone, walking amongst the punters, less Cold Comfort before him, more like he’s the only one in the room, talking into a Dictaphone (“Oh Diane, I almost forgot. Got to find out what kind of trees these are…”)

Pedersen observed his kit whilst all this was going on, before unleashing a horrid/immense burst of electronic noise on ‘Syndicate II‘. Knapp matched this, letting rip on the slide guitar with what sounded not too dissimilar to a wailing Van Halen like solo in the process, his fingers moving rapid like it was too hot to touch. He had his own table of odds and sods, balancing the slide on his knee and stretching out an arm to adjust levels on his pedals and such – very relatable, like when I’ve got the dog on my lap but am reaching out for the remote…

The little guitar part on ‘X-Neighbourhood‘ is a trip live – a dedication to the bit as Pedersen has to walk round to where Knapp was sat and hold on for a good few minutes before actually playing it. Absolutely worth it. Out came the saxophone from Knapp for the cherry on top as he hit the spot just right, the sound of it wailing away long after it’s been put away. Sensing the chance, the crowd went nuts at its conclusion, but were swiftly cut off with ‘Amulet‘, which gets heads going and bodies shuffling around down the front for their Trent Reznor style head-wrecker.

Just as he had done last year, during the all consuming drone of the closer, Knapp nipped off stage before the end, leaving Pedersen to continue on for a further few minutes, bringing it all to an end. Everyone in the room stayed put, commenting over post-show pints just how much they’d rated it whilst Deliluh mingled, feeling very much part of The White Hotel furniture. Once every 10 months is it? We’ll see you next April.

d.bleachers

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Release Rundown – Deliluh, HOLY SCUM and The Utopia Strong

Deliluh – Fault Lines
(Tin Angel)

FL

We were big into the 2019 LP ‘Beneath The Floors’ from Canadian formed outfit Deliluh. For me, it had the perfect blend of jangle-pop guitars, post-punk urgency and Slint-esque ambition. Since then, the band have slimmed down to a two piece, moved to Europe and released a two track single last year that offered something quite different from the album that came before it. Accurately described to me by our faithful Ed as a slice of early Nine Inch Nails style industrial electronica, I was very intrigued to see where Deliluh would take us next.

It’s clear from the start that third album, ‘Fault Lines’, is a more cinematic affair, with opener ‘Memorial’ setting the scene with a spoken work piece set over flickering, reversed sonics. ‘Body And Soul’ keeps this up with a gothic backdrop of thudding percussion and beguiling electronics. But, listen in and there’s definitely a guitar line that drifts into the chorus. A sign that Deliluh haven’t gone completely electronic? Correct.

Credence (Ash In The Winds Of Reason)’ comes in with the same expansive guitar alt rock that we loved on their previous release and goes off into a six minute epic with a full band locking into a jangly groove. It’s from this point that Deliluh create a two pronged attack of a record, blending their new found industrial goth sound with the more full band, post-rock inspired dynamism of earlier material.

For the most part, ‘Fault Lines’ leans towards this new sound but it never feels out of place when a full band track comes in, as it comes delivered with the same amount of space, atmosphere and drive to the more electronically driven tracks. You can tell that Deliluh have put a lot of thought into the making of this record and it’s got that skies-the-limit attitude that all records should carry. Listening back, ‘Beneath The Floors’ does give hints into the band’s clear admiration of soundscapes, but there is still a strong element of unpredictably to ‘Fault Lines’ that makes it a very captivating listen.

HOLY SCUM – Strange Desires
(Rocket)

HS

The first of two collaborative efforts in the rundown this week, both put out by the excellent Rocket Recordings! HOLY SCUM (great name) was formed a few years back in Manchester and was essentially an excuse for a few friends to meet up, have a few beers and jam out some riffs. Consisting of members from GNOD, Shuck and Action Beat, the band sent over their jams to Mike Mare from experimental Hip Hop legends Dälek and it was then that the project turned into a whole new beast. When Mike asked if it was OK if he could fuck with what he’d been sent, the rest of band insisted he really fuck it up. The result is the nightmarish noise of debut album ’Strange Desires’.

Though you can hear the distant clatter of drums and rumbling bass on tracks like ‘Room Of Cruelty’ and ‘Drowned By Silence’, this is taken over by guttural, distorted vocals and layers upon layers of heavily treated synths. ‘Everybody Takes You Just Take More’ and ‘A World About To Die’ brings the full band element more into focus and it’s very easy to be hypnotised by the grooves, while screeching guitars and reverberant textures swirl around it.

This record is definitely not for the fainthearted and is an extremely visceral and intense affair, but if like me you really dig that really maxed out, almost psychedelic noise-rock sound, then you’ll definitely appreciate some of the shapes HOLY SCUM throw at you.

I will admit, there are a few moments where it gets almost a bit too extreme on the noise front for me, but what I will say is that this is definitely not for the sake of it and you can really hear the level of craft and sonic sculpting that has gone into ’Strange Desires’. It’s an album that requires patience – I was fucking terrified on first listen – but as it soaks in, it’s hard not to be engulfed by the sheer power and ferocity of this record.

The Utopia Strong – International Treasure
(Rocket)

US

Another intriguing meeting of minds, again lovingly put out by Rocket. This is the second full length from The Utopia Strong, which is a collaboration between friends Kavus Torabi, Mike York and Steve Davis (yes, the Snooker legend). Forming in 2018, the trio have since released their well received debut LP, playing extensively around the UK as a band and as DJ’s, while Kavus and Steve also wrote and published a book together. It’s very clear that the chemistry and creativity is flowing thick within The Utopia Strong camp, which naturally informs this beautifully crafted new release.

Continuing the synth wave textures and ambient swirls of its predecessor, ‘International Treasure’ swims deeper into a sea of transcendence with a further push into both kraut groove and psychedelic experimentation. From the modular driven build of opener ‘Trident of Fire’, there is this really interesting mix of sounds, some that will wash over you, while others will make you sit up and lean in. ‘Revelations’ is a particularly fantastic juxtaposition on these two opposing layers, starting off with calming, almost post-rock inspired delayed guitars before moving into this dark, twisting passage of piercing synths and creeping percussion. It’s tense but thrilling stuff.

International Treasure‘ is full of moments where you may be swept off your feet with a beautiful, soothing tone, but are then soon turned on your head as it morphs into something you’d initially not expected. It’s a testament to the chemistry within the band, as all three players instinctively move together as one, starting in one place and working together to move gallantly into the unknown.

Even some of the more intense moments offer such space and elegance, the title track especially had me enraptured by its all encompassing soundscape. For that to be followed up by the uplifting, bustling electronica of ‘Castalia’ is such a thing of beauty; the way this whole album is crafted is so captivating and has you gripped throughout. Gorgeous, intense and transcendent, The Utopia Strong have it all on this triumphant return.

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a/s/l: OLDBOY

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Remember when Myspace was a thing? Remember those time-wasting, laborious quizzes that everyone used to love so much? Birthday Cake For Breakfast is bringing them back! 

Every couple of weeks, an unsuspecting band will be subject to the same old questions about dead bodies, Hitler, crying and crushes.  

This Week: Off the back of releasing their debut album ‘Bloody’Chris Summers of Southern trio OLDBOY answers a series of inane questions!

a/s/l?
49 / MALE / BYFLEET.

Have you ever seen a dead body?
YES.

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
APU.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
SUPREME.

What did your last text message say?
DONE!

What’s the last song you listened to?
MF DOOM ‘KOOKIES’.

How did you meet the people in your band?
A COMBO OF SHAM 69 AND HAIRDRESSING.

What’s the first record you bought?
DURAN DURAN ‘RIO.

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
PURPLE RAIN.

When was the last time you cried?
ABOUT 2 MONTHS AGO.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
YES.

Best Physical Feature?
CALF MUSCLES.

Worst physical feature?
TEETH.

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?
EARS.

Do you have any pets?
YES – TWO DOGS (RALPH AND JUNO) AND A CAT (ZULU).

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
YES – FELL OFF A DARK STAGE AND CRACKED ALL MY TEETH AT A BOREDOMS SHOW IN BRUSSELS.

What did you do for your last birthday?
NOT MUCH AT ALL.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
LUNCH / DINNER.

Do you have a crush on someone?
YES. CAN’T SAY WHO THOUGH.

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
BESTIVAL.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
TO THE VIKINGS!

How do you want to die?
IN MY SLEEP.

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
ANCHOVIES.

What are you craving right now?
A CIGARETTE.

Have you ever been on a horse?
YES. SCARY.

What did you dream about last night?
TAKING MCA’S PLACE IN THE BEASTIE BOYS AND BEING TOTALLY SHIT.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
YESSIR.

Do you like Chinese food?
IF THE MOOD TAKES ME THEN YES.

Have you ever been on TV?
KIND OF.

Ever meet someone famous?
YES. NOT ALOUD TO NAME THEM THOUGH…

What do you want to be when you grow up?
SLIMMER.

Bloody is out NOW via Agitated Records!

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Hey, have you heard about…Coded Marking

As you can imagine, running a website that largely focuses on gig reviews took somewhat of a hit during the past two years. With the big bad pandemic grounding everyone to within four walls and subsequent restriction tightening knocking the wind out of everyone’s sails, enthusiasm took a right dip too.

Once upon a time, we travelled to Leeds at least once a month for a live show (three times in a week on one occasion, when we were feeling particularly spicy), but travel up Yorkshire way has sadly dried up of late.

We’ve always had a soft spot for Leeds though and luckily for us, there seems to have always been a ‘Generation Game’ style conveyor belt of top quality artists throughout the city, with new outfits cropping up seemingly every week.

Enter Coded Marking – formed in 2021, with their numbers having played in Super Luxury, Cattle, Bearfoot Beware and Hamer. Influenced by the likes of Killing Joke, PIL and Neu, theirs is the sort of moody post-punk/synth-punk that tickles our fancy and gets right under your skin, tailor made for hypnotising likeminded individuals in dark basement rooms.

The trio have already notched up some choice support slots alongside the likes of Snapped Ankles, Spectres and Flat Worms. With a full-length LP on the way this year, for now you can hear their debut three track EP on Bandcamp – at the time of writing, there’s one limited edition cassette up for grabs too!


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Live Review: Flat Worms at YES in Manchester 2 June 2022

Can one devote a review to just a drummer? On Thursday night at YES in Manchester, it was hard to take an eye off Flat Worms sticksman Justin Sullivan and the power behind his hitting. Even when not drumming, he was bobbing away, wild eyed and ready to wig out, commanding attention through his playing in each song.

Before becoming transfixed by all that though, we were taken in by local lot Wax Head – near deafiening from outside, even more so coming in through the door. Both barrels delivered from a quartet of wee young guys, they absolutely smashed their way through the support slot.

Ripping from start to finish, the drummer (who looked to be directing traffic for everyone on stage) was going hell for leather. At one stage, he looked to the bassist mid-whack and proceeded to go even harder. That’s youth for you… Captured in blinding strobes flashing on stage, a new one written mere days ago was pure fuzz and very much like what we were expecting from the headliners, leading us (and I assume everyone else in the room) to look them up post show.

From Los Angeles, California, Flat Worms took off like a rocket with ‘The Aughts‘ on their arrival and what a treat it was to have them back cooking up a storm in the pink room at YES (having previously knocked our socks off back in 2019).

As is so often his wont, bassist Tim Hellman was knocking about on stage in bare feet – a brave act considering he apparently dropped some equipment on his foot the day prior during a BBC 6 Music session with Marc Riley! Fingers appeared to be in working nick, mind, and the OSEES regular still held it down all night.

Back on drummer Sullivan, he was pushed right up front with Hellman and vocalist/guitarist Will Ivy, sounding gigantic and hitting with such force as the cymbals gave a proper CRASH with every number. Strobes again flashed as the trio ripped into ‘Motorbike‘ from their anthemic debut album, the guitar of Ivy squealing away. On ‘Pearl‘, the bass chug of Hellman rattled the ribs as he sang upwards into a microphone just a little bit out of reach. Sullivan mouthed every word and it soon became apparent just how hard he was walloping the kit, as his grey shirt became darker and darker throughout the evening.

…A hell of a way from LA…” Suggested Ivy at one point, later acknowledging ahead of ‘Plaster Casts‘ that it feels like years since the release of their last album ‘Antarctica‘ (released in April 2020, during those heady lockdown days…) Eagle-eared listeners may very well have heard a few new ones (at least they sounded new!), which sounded both gnarly and promising.

After a wee bit of an unexpected argy bargy down the front – which the band quickly put a stop to from on stage – someone got turfed out by security during ‘The Guest‘, the pink room becoming a film set as Flat Worms played on and the bad guy was ejected.

Equally unexpected was their reasonably sudden departure (time flies, eh?) Following Hellman announcing something incomprehensible into the microphone, Ivy announced there were just two more. As the guitar was raised high on ‘Market Forces‘, a punter turned to face the rest of the crowd and sang the words out loud with a pointed finger. After finishing, another fan down the front raised his Flat Worms shirt high for all to see, enough to get him a handshake from the band before they chipped off.

Back on for flashing pink lights, a brief encore came via the massive ‘Accelerated‘ and fan favourite ‘Red Hot Sand‘, the rumbling of the latter filling the room, building anticipation as the guitar rang out before Ivy became all hair, wigging out on the guitar. Before we know it they’re off the stage and I’m on the tram home, caught in a daze and eager for our next visit from Flat Worms.

Anyway, about that drummer…

FW

Will Ivy of Flat Worms talks us through ‘Into The Iris‘ (from ‘Live In Los Angeles’)

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Live Review: Puppy and Inhuman Nature at The Deaf Institute in Manchester 26 May 2022

I don’t wanna bore you with my life story, but having relocated to the countryside a few years back, I tend to only hit the city if it’s for a totally must see show. And tonight is certainly that, with a showcase of how unbelievable the UK’s underground rock scene really is.

After hoofing down some pizza, I am pleased as punch to make it in time for the start of this two pronged attack of a rock show. London based trio Puppy headline in support of their ace new record ‘Pure Evil’ (this run of dates superbly titled ‘Tour Evil’) and opening up tonight are fellow Londoners, Inhuman Nature. As soon as I enter The Deaf Institute, my face is already being melted.

Inhuman Nature display all the best bits of metal; whammy bar guitar solos, hardcore breakdowns, thrashy grooves and a fuck tonne of gnarly riffage. I was really stoked on their latest release, brutal three track EP ‘Under The Boot’, so I’m particularly gassed to hear tracks like ‘Ride The Apocalypse‘, which more than lives up to its gnarly title. Naturally the metal loving crowd tonight are picking up what Inhuman Nature are throwing down, leading the whole room to head bang, many fist punching the air (mine went up as soon as that first solo came in). It’s a solid set of well played heavy metal which makes me beeline for the merch desk at the end of the show to pick up a predictably sick shirt.

Onto Puppy. Fair play to the dudes, they’ve not even played a note and their stage set up is looking rad, with a massive back drop filling the stage plus two fire cannons (well, lights that give that effect). Following a ‘War Of the Worlds‘ intro, the three piece rip into cuts from across their back catalogue. Not only do we get a good chunk of material from both albums, the band also throw in a bunch of stuff from earlier EPs, much to the delight of the fans up front and centre.

It’s really cool to see the progression of the band’s sound across the set, from the classic metal tones of debut ‘The Goat’ to the 90s tinged alt rock euphoria of ‘Pure Evil’. New album tracks such as ‘The Kiss’, ‘…And Watched It Glow’ and ‘Glacial’ get every head banging in unison, while earlier tracks such as ‘Black Hole’ and ‘World Stands Still’ receive big singalongs (the latter in particular sounding absolutely massive).

It’s gotta be handed to Puppy, they tick all the boxes tonight. For a three-piece they sound properly huge (don’t get me started on the pit fuelling riff of closer ‘Entombed’), which is only propelled by these brilliant songs. Throw in some light-hearted audience participation and sincere in-between chat and you get an extremely strong live show from a band that are more than ready to take on the big stages.

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