Album Release Rundown – Pijn & Conjurer, Oh Sees, Blanck Mass, Oso Oso and Cultdreams

August is without a doubt the busiest album release month of the year and 2019 is no different, maybe even more so than before. This week we have five releases on review – to be honest, it could have been more, but we’ve decided to pick the best releases due out this week (August 16th). I can honestly say that all of these releases are coming out on some of the hardest working labels around, so please be sure to support the artist by picking up a copy online or at your local record shop.

Pijn & Conjurer – ‘Curse These Metal Hands’ (Holy Roar)

Last year saw Pijn and Conjurer become two of the UK’s most exciting alternative metal acts. Their excellence was duly noted by the organisers of ArcTanGent festival, who commissioned them to perform a collaborative set at last year’s festival. As well as being asked back to ATG this year, the fruits of their labour have finally been committed to tape. As expected, this is the most perfect hybrid of what these bands do best. It’s got the furious, heavy AF riffage of Conjurer mixed with the spine tingling atmosphere of Pijn. But what we ultimately get is a group of friends having fun – from Thin Lizzy inspired solos, Queen style frills and the uplifting stomp of Baroness (you’ve all seen the memes by now).

It’s still dark and heavy, but it’s really cool to see these bands bring in new shades of colour with some really uplifting moments; ‘High Spirits‘ is a completely joyous and fist pumping opener. Pijn guitarist Joe has done an amazing job with the production, lifting up these massive, euphoric riffs whilst also making exciting sonic shifts to reinforce the progressive nature of both bands. I love the big natural drum sound captured here, which gives the ending of ‘The Pall‘ a BIG percussive bite, while ‘Endeavour‘ begins on angelic, choir like harmonies before descending into hell with ferocious distorted growls. We knew that this meeting of minds was always going to come out on top, but it’s the depth and care that’s gone into ‘Curse These Metal Hands‘ that elevates it into one of the best heavy records you’ll hear this year!

Oh Sees – ‘Face Stabber’ (Castle Face)

Another year, another Oh Sees LP. Y’all know the drill. John Dwyer and his merry men are back to put a spring in our step with their 22nd full length! Following on from the jazz prog vibes of last years ‘Smote Reverser‘, ‘Face Stabber’ is a mixed bag of styles and sounds but as always is bound together by fearless musicianship. We are tossed around from 2 minute garage punk work outs to stretched out, psychedelic passages, including maybe one of the bands longest tracks on 21 minute jazz odyssey closer ‘Henchlock‘.

I know that the band love a wig-out and there are plenty of fans that will be well into these moments, but for me this lot really slay when they’re keeping it sharp and to the point. ‘Gholü‘ and ‘Heart Worm‘ are fast and furious, with fuzzy as fuck guitars and the forever raging three man rhythm section going hammer and tongues underneath Dwyers distinctive vocal cackle. I also need to point out the vintage groove of recent single ‘Poisoned Stones‘, which might be one of my favourite Oh Sees tunes ever! When they put a bit more restraint on their songwriting they just seem unstoppable to me, in fact in places I am reminded of the energy that ‘A Weird Exits‘ brought to the table and made me listen up in the first place.

It might not be their most consistent release, with a few skippable tracks for me, however when it rips, it really rips and it’s great to see them getting back in our faces more and riffing the fuck out!

Blanck Mass – ‘Animated Violence Mild’ (Sacred Bones)

Benjamin Powers has created the most explosive and apocalyptic soundtrack of the decade with his Blanck Mass project. His fourth full length continues where the blistering ‘World Eater‘ left off, keeping the beats heavy but the melodies catchy. If anything, the beats are even busier and more pummelling than before, while the melodies can flicker between euphoric euro rave and sugary sweet k-pop. This is of course all blended with cutting synths, distorted keyboards and over driven death metal vocals just to fuck your head up even more; the final seconds of ‘Death Drop‘ are particularly brutal.

Although melodically this is the catchiest Blanck Mass release to date, this is also his most forward thinking and I love how everything blends so well together. It’s not only very consistent as a piece of work but extremely cohesive too. It’s a challenging sound, but there’s so many uplifting ear worms throughout this that almost throw you off guard; the beat and bass line of ‘No Dice‘ are so chunky but then you’ve got this super sweet synth line sprinkled over the top that will refuse to leave your head. The balance of heavy and infectious is perfect here, it may take a moment to get your head around everything, but I would advise you just let it absorb your mind and send you on a freaky but beautiful trip.

Oso Oso – ‘Basking In The Glow’ (Triple Crown)

I remember hearing Oso Oso’s second LP ‘The Yunahon Mixtape‘ late 2017 and falling head over heels with its earnest college rock sound. After a banging two track single last summer, Long Beach resident Jade Lilitri returns with his third full length. ‘Basking In The Glow‘ is another absolutely belting collection of punk-pop tinged emo, but this time he’s really taken the ‘album’ concept into consideration. In my mind it takes a classic album format, opening on a scene setting, acoustic driven intro that leads into a run of sunshine pop bangers. ‘One Sick Plan‘ hits the mid album acoustic ballad mark but in a much more intimate and lo-fi manner, moving back into punk-pop smasher territory before ‘Charlie’ closes out one of Oso Oso’s most moving and expansive tracks to date.

I’ve always been a fan of albums that have a clear beginning, middle and end and this works so well in delivering Jade’s tightest and most focused record. Everything has been taken up a notch; I mean it still stays in the pensive yet catchy emo pop category, but melodically this is sharper and shinier sonically. I hope this is the moment that the rest of the world cottons on to the brilliance of this songwriter and how god damn good his songs are.

Cultdreams – ‘Things That Hurt’ (Big Scary Monsters)

Late last year, UK emo darlings Kamikaze Girls changed their name to the well suited title of Cultdreams. Here we stand in 2019 and the two piece are ready to unveil the much anticipated follow up to 2017 debut ‘Seafoam‘. In classic sophomore style, Cultdreams return with an album that retains all the elements that made their debut so grand, but naturally they have created an even bolder statement in every way. Musically, this still sees them blend shoegaze, grunge and punk in an eloquent fashion, but this is a much more assured step up. The post-rock inspired dynamics of ‘Born An Underdog‘ makes for a super strong opener, the chorus of ‘We Never Rest‘ is heart racingly beautiful and the urgent, passionate grunge rush of ‘Not My Generation‘ all help lift the band to new sonic heights.

Lyrically, we see guitarist and vocalist Lucinda go deeper than before with some of her most personal thoughts spilled out. Previously, Lucinda has spoken very honestly about her mental health but here she tackles the very tough subject of loss which makes for some extremely heart wrenching moments, especially on the poignant ‘Flowers On Their Graves‘. ‘Things That Hurt‘ is a brave and beautiful album from a band that keep getting more confident and fearless with each new release.

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EP Review: Die! Die! Die! – O

Post-punk veterans Die! Die! Die! are just about to put out their tenth record, an EP called ‘O‘. By my count, the band have released about eighty or so songs over their fifteen or so year music career, and there’s not a bad song in the lot.

If you’re a Die! Die! Die! fan from years ago, ‘O’ will take you back. If you’re a new fan then this is a good entry point to their back catalogue, all of which is good and rewards multiple listens.

The band’s first and self-titled EP, released about fifteen years ago, was confrontational right out the gate, like, say, Christian Fitness or early Shellac. There were subtle hints of melody, buried under a Husker Du-style aggressive wall of sound guitar. These qualities continued on their next couple of releases, but the vocal melodies and hooks became slowly more prominent. On their second and third LPs, ‘Promises, Promises’ and ‘Form’, the band introduced more elements of power pop – think about the best of Bob Mould’s recent work – followed quickly by shoe gaze guitar elements akin to My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. The drumming added to both the power pop and shoegaze sounds by a combination of the shimmering high hat of Tommy Ramone and the rapid-fire snare of Grant Hart. Meanwhile as the guitar became more texture-oriented, the bass became both more percussive and more melodic.

On the band’s fourth LP, the phenomenal ‘Harmony’, the band continued to work in a shoegaze-pop direction yet at the same time its earliest noise rock qualities came back. (The blistering ‘Erase Waves’, for instance, would have been at home on the first record.) Some songs had both elements together in the same composition. The combination strangely worked, and if there was any justice in the world, ‘Harmony‘ would have sold a billion copies.

Die! Die! Die! seemed to have gone on something of a hiatus after ‘Harmony‘, and their longtime bass player Lachlan Anderson left the band. Drummer Michael Prain and guitarist and vocalist Andrew Wilson went on to put out multiple additional records with different bassists, all of which are good. I’m quite partial to their 2017 full-length ‘Charm. Offensive‘. It’s a genuinely pretty record with unconventional song structures and – pardon the mixed metaphor – oceans of that wall of sound guitar.

Over Die! Die! Die!’s past releases there were never any sharp, sudden departures but the band continued to experiment and innovate with each record. This may make their newest record ‘O something of a surprise to long-time fans, in that it’s a return to earlier form. That’s appropriate, I suppose, because Anderson has returned to the band as well.

If it’s a stereotype that bands mellow with age, leaning more toward acoustic guitar and slower songs, Die! Die! Die! have gone the opposite direction, putting out their harshest and most aggressive sounding release in years. The guitar remains huge and sometimes texture-focused, but the shoegaze elements are largely absent this time around. Instead the band are back to the clattering, urgent, stop-start-stop sound of their early days, sounding as fierce as ever.

O‘ is energizing music, auditory caffeine, a stimulant with a hint of a bitter taste cut by minimal sweetener. Two of the songs are titled ‘Casualties of Decades’ and ‘What We Choose to Remember’, which made me think about my 30s. There aren’t a lot of hooks here; the band focus instead on controlled dissonance and high-energy rhythms. If you know their other work (and if you don’t, you should get to know it – treat yourself!), you know they can play melodic and pretty hooks. They’ve chosen to do something else here, and the result of that choice is very effective. If you like post-punk, ‘O‘ will get you moving around, energised and renewed. With any luck, Die! Die! Die! will make another ten records and eighty more songs.

Andrew Wilson answers our nonsense questions here!

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Do Not Miss – ArcTanGent 2019 Top Tips

Can you feel it? It’s that week of ArcTanGent tremor that runs through those in the know. The genre-shirking festival all the way over there in Bristol is highly regarded for those who love their alternative music and is, quire rightly, critically acclaimed and award winning. 75% of tickets have already been sold for this years festival (their seventh edition), potentially making this their busiest year to date!

Chances are, if you’re a regular Birthday Cake For Breakfast subscriber, you’ll know we go mad on ArcTanGent every year around this time – You may even be a regular attendee yourself! For those unfamiliar or if you’re just in need of a steer, we’ve picked out some unmissable moments forecast throughout the forthcoming festival for you to keep an eye on.

Dan Wild-Beesley celebrations

(Photo Credit: snaprockandpop)

In terms of memorable ArcTanGent moments over the years, a number of unforgettable performances can be attributed to Dan Wild-Beesley in one form or another. From last year’s triumphant GUG showing to their Alpha Male Tea Party mash-ups over the years and the very first ArcTanGent outing for festival favourites Cleft back in 2013!

Following the incredibly tragic passing of Dan late last year, ArcTanGent 2019 will see a celebration of life in the form of a tribute showcase featuring Alpha Male Tea Party and friends. Surprises and special appearances galore, you’d be daft to miss ‘The Beft‘!

Elsewhere, Nordic Giants have arranged a special dedication to Dan – A ripped up and stapled back together rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ that they’ll somehow work into their Thursday afternoon set!

The Elephant In The Bar Room

Lovingly named after the shouty Cleft smash that got right under the skin of all ArcTanGent attendees, this latest addition to the festival will see an entirely new stage featuring stripped-back acoustic sets to piano-jazz and everything in between. Certainly worth a punt, we recommend attending to catch the likes of A-Tota-So, No Violet and Pave!

Horrifying noise for breakfast

We still to this day talk favourably about the mind-melting wake-up we received from USA Nails a few years back at ArcTanGent – A set that genuinely had people have to leave the tent as it was too much for them…

This year sees early sets from the likes of Cocaine Piss, Big Lad, Cattle and The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, with ringing ears on the menu for afters.

Danceable double action

Last year at ArcTanGent, one of our definitive highlights came via Belgium based duo LA Jungle bringing danceable daftness, a pair we lovingly called “a not at all mainstream Death From Above”. This year we predict a similar math-rock dance-a-thon from Aiming For Enrike, another double act who were a major highlight at the wunderbar StrangeForms Festival in Leeds earlier this year.

Being mega-lashed in a field and seeing Battles (hopefully) play ‘Atlas

(Photo Credit: Chris Shonting)

A song that has forever been in my brainbox since I heard a strand of it many years ago, it’ll be a hypnotising affair when Battles take to the Arc Stage on Friday night. They’ve got a new album in the works too, so expect to hear some choice cuts from ‘Juice B Crypts‘!

Discovering a new favourite

(Photo Credit: Puzzleman Leung)

As is often the case at ArcTanGent, you will likely wind up discovering a new favourite in the fields. For us last year it was the aforementioned LA Jungle and their fellow Belgians The Guru Guru. Having become acquainted with the festival playlist this year, we’re expecting to become loved up over the likes of Elephant Gym, Ogives Big Band, Oxygen Thief and DJ Perro!

BLAKFISH taking up the secret spot on Saturday afternoon

Because it’s going to happen, eh? It could be worse…

Tickets are still going for this year’s ArcTanGent Festival – For all the information you might require, you should head here!

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Album Review: Press Club – Wasted Energy

Press Club’s debut ‘Late Teens’ was slow to arrive on UK Spotify: it came out in March 2018 but only appeared on Spotify here in January. As a result, when I came to it in June 2019, I was sure of two things: that I was listening to an album from this year, and that I was listening to the best album of 2019. Achieving the seemingly miraculous feat of sounding both ready for stadiums and as intimate as a small local gig, ‘Late Teens’ captures the same exhilaration as seeing an opening act you’ve never heard of and finding out that they’re amazing.

If ‘Late Teens’ is the sound of the support band with nothing to lose giving it their all, ‘Wasted Energy’ – coming just 18 months after their debut – is the sound of a band growing in confidence as headliners. ‘Wasted Energy’ isn’t much different to ‘Late Teens’, but it’s more certain, more direct and more relatable.

Blurb for Press Club suggests that they formed with an intention of being ‘outside influence’. Despite the impossibility of that statement, their immediate influences are hard to parse. They certainly don’t have much obviously in common with fellow Melbourne acts like Courtney Barnett’s deadpan streams of consciousness or Camp Cope’s circular folk-descendent all-verse storytelling. They sound like they have probably heard a lot of Epitaph Records bands, most notably The Distillers, and they like a big chorus or at least a strong refrain. (The band made individual mixtapes a few months ago but, other than Husker Du and maybe Sonic Youth, there are no further clues to their sound other than that their music taste is really good.)

Broadly, their sound is fast, tight and urgent. Their favourite trick is to start off in fifth gear and suddenly change direction, playing something that almost sounds like a different song in the same key. They overuse this trick on the single ‘Get Better’, where it changes directions three times in just 2:46, but it is used to thrilling, dramatic effect on opener ‘Separate Houses’ and standout ‘Chosen Ones’. On ‘Wasted Energy’ we see a few new tricks too: single ‘Thinking About You’, with its tumbling drums and reverb-all-round sound, could have been on Metric’sFantasies’; ‘Obsessing’ builds out of Eno/Lanois ambient noise; the thrashy ‘Behave’ ends on a shredding solo as if Dave Mustaine had popped into the studio.

The ruby in the crown, though, is Natalie Foster, the singer. ‘Late Teens’ captured a live energy but the consequence was that Foster’s lyrics especially were not always easy to pick out. Here, a cleaner vocal production makes crucial lyrics glitter like diamonds. ‘Separate Houses’ opens with “Am I letting you down a little more than you’d like?” and ends by repeatedly affirming “I keep on pretending that I am getting better” – one of the most devastating lyrics of the year and it’s on the opening track. The first listen to the closer ‘Twenty-Three’ throws up the lyric “I can feel your breath/and your arm around me/you said ‘my best friend, he died at 23’” and the album’s concluding line “I can’t see what’s right in front of me”, but further listens hint that it’s about someone spiking the narrator’s drink. And then there’s ‘Chosen Ones’, whence the album title, where the narrator realises that the song’s subject is a waste of time but can’t definitively move on despite the wasted time and wasted energy. The lyrical hooks draw you in initially, but later and closer listens are rewarded with the emotional resonance of Foster’s lyrics and her passionate, husky delivery.

Press Club are touring the UK in late August, where they should impress audiences who enjoy, say, London happysad quartet Fresh or Pity Me’s peerless power pop party Martha. Catch them this time around so you can say you were there before the third album propels them to the stadiums these songs belong in.

(Photo Credit: Ian Laidlaw)

JT Wilson’s novel ‘Impossible Animals’ is out now.

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Exclusive: Melt yourself with ‘Battery Acid’ – The new single from Heavy Salad!

Let your freak flag fly with Heavy Salad! A trio we’re very much buzzing off, the band formed in the autumn of 2018 “United by a love of heavy cosmic music, mind bending horror stories, psychedelia and off kilter pop songs“.

The trio have dipped their collective toes into genre-hopping outfits previously (drummer Allan Hutchison in Manchester Psych legends Lord Mongo, bassist Lee Mann in notorious mega-group The Moonlandingz) and vibe off all manner of influences – from surf-rock to free jazz, overdriven pop and experimental rock.

Hypnotic new single ‘Battery Acid‘ was produced by Christophe at Oxygene Studio in Salford, with mastering sorted by professional button presser/knob twitcher Dean Honer (he of The Moonlandingz, Eccentronic Research Council) at Bowling Green Studio in Sheffield.

Battery Acid‘ is out now on Mal Loco Records and its video – chock full of Aliens, FBI agents and cult followers – had a worldwide premiere up the road at Fab Cafe in Manchester last week. We’re chuffed now to have the premiere of the World Wide Web version below – Peep your eyes on this!

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Hey, have you heard about…Pizzagirl

(Photo Credit: Neelam Khan Vela)

Here we go again – Manchester taste-making label Heist or Hit bringing out mega pop hits. The outfit behind much beloved and missed Liverpudlian duo Her’s have just recently announced a new album from Pizzagirl – The moniker of Liverpool’s Liam Brown.

Similar to label-mate Guest Singer, the new Pizzagirl single ‘ball’s gonna keep on rollin‘ is the exact type of pop we vibe off – moody, heavy on the synth, sounds like it was released in 1984 (or is it 1979?), is all about dreams of stardom and features a catchy chorus that just won’t quit. The closing 30 seconds is pure pop magic, musically reminiscent of something you might hear from Go West’s self-titled debut.

The second single from his forthcoming debut album ‘first timer’, it follows on from previous single ‘body biology‘ – more of a sped-up fun-time like your early, joyous Darwin Deez. In similar fashion to our favourite Aussie Alex Cameron, one assumes there’s an element of piss-take involved here, but baby – that’s fine with us.

first timer‘ is out this October through Heist or Hit – Grab your sen a copy here and listen to ‘ball’s gonna keep on rollin’ below.

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a/s/l: Die! Die! Die!

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: Andrew Wilson, guitarist and shouter in New Zealand post-punk power trio Die! Die! Die!

(Photo Credit: Joseph Leary)

a/s/l?
35 / Male/ Tamaki Makaurau Aotearoa New Zealand.

Have you ever seen a dead body?
Yes.

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
Gil.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
A bananalands Black flag T shirt.

What did your last text message say?
Kia ora Bro let me know when you’re here.

What’s the last song you listened to?
‘Closed Captioned‘ – Fugazi.

How did you meet the people in your band?
The music department at High school for Mikey, A basement show in Sydney for Lachlan.

What’s the first record you bought?
Coolio – ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, Oasis – ‘(Whats the Story) Morning Glory’

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

When was the last time you cried?
This morning.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
Yes.

Best Physical Feature?
errrrrrr.

Worst physical feature?
errrrrrrrrrr.

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

Do you have any pets?
2 cats.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
Yes many.

What did you do for your last birthday?
Had dinner with my closest friends.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
I am a patient boy.

Do you have a crush on someone?
Always.

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

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
I am happy here and now.

How do you want to die?
Suddenly.

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
Whatever.

What are you craving right now?
Nothing.

Have you ever been on a horse?
Yes.

What did you dream about last night?
Not sure!

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
Definitely. Fuck that guy.

Do you like Chinese food?
YES.

Have you ever been on TV?
In the UK? Yes.

Ever meet someone famous?
Yes.

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

Die! Die! Die! have got a NEW EP out next week! ‘O‘ sees the return of bassist Lachlan Anderson following an eight year hiatus and with a supremely limited vinyl run, it sold out within 24 hours! You can see the words ‘Sold Out’ here, where you’ll also be able to hear the full EP on August 16th!

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