ALBUM REVIEW: Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today

Protomartyr

Ultimate Success Today

Domino

Once more Protomartyr take the four elements of rock ’n’ roll – guitar bass drums and vocals, and twist, caress and mangle them into a new version of the band’s ever-evolving sound. On their fifth album that sound is more urgent, disillusioned and anxious amid the record’s dystopian assessment of modern America.

There’s a desperate, pleading quality to singer Joe Casey’s words and the band complement and elevate his voice perfectly. With thrilling sonic veracity they lay down high velocity, post-punk textures, with balanced amounts of nuance and noise. 

Jazz legend Jameel Moondoc guests on alto sax as well as other horn and cello players. On ‘June 21’ the female voice of Half Waif is a symbiotic foil to Casey’s wearied mantras as they work up a clanging krautrock noise. ‘Processed By The Boys’ documents the insidious creep of authoritarianism, the brilliant rush of ‘Michigan Hammers’ rails against exploitation for financial gain, while closer ‘Worm In Heaven’ is Casey looking back from the other side, contemplating one’s legacy.

There’s a lot to bum out the listener on this record yet musically it’s full of life and life-affirming creative protest. It’s a band finding new and thrilling ways to channel their music and convey their hopes and fears. It’s a full-blooded state of the nation address from the heart and soul.

Christopher Familton

NEW MUSIC: Midnight Garden

Midnight Garden is Nick Donlin and Zach Vouga, an electronic duo based in San Diego, CA. who have an album called Blue Tomorrows due out on August 12th, 2020.

Sad synth music is the perfect combination to our ears – that mix of synthetic, digital sounds and melancholic human emotion. Midnight Garden mix those ingredients nicely on their single ‘For The Last Time’. It’s a song that rises and falls on heartfelt sighs, tumbling toms and retro 80s synth sounds that never overplay their role in the song.

They’ve also just released a brand new clip for the single ‘Hold Me After’, an emotionally lighter sound but still just as effective with its sonic streak of nostalgia.

ALBUM REVIEW: Khruangbin – Mordechai

Khruangbin

Mordechai

Dead Oceans / Inertia

After a busy few years touring and riding the wave of attention that their last album Con Todo El Mundo brought them, Khruangbin retreated to their Texas studio to begin work on their third album. Earlier this year we got a mixed bag EP with Leon Bridges but that was a stop gap. Mordechai is the band spreading their wings wider and drawing together stronger thematic qualities.

The other noticeable change on Mordechai is that most tracks feature the vocals of bassist Laura Lee Ochoa. Previously they were predominately an instrumental trio but here they’re playing vocally-enriched songs without losing any of that wandering, free-spirited musicality that has defined them. Ochoa’s lyrics are fragmentary in nature, mantra-like and perfectly in keeping with the drift and hypnotism of the music. Thematically, many of the songs deal in the idea of memory – Time (You And I), One To Remember, So We Won’t Forget all deal in the concept of remembering. 

Musically, Ochoa, Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson cast their poly-sonic net even wider. From African and Asian guitar funk to Jamaican dub, cosmic jazz to tropical psychedelia, they pull from all manner of pan-global sounds. It’s still a thrilling concoction that sounds otherworldly, eternally infectious and upbeat in spite of its melancholic soul. 

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Peter Bibby – Whyalla

Great new song from the esteem larrikin-rock exponent Peter Bibby. The verses sound like S.P.U.D/Solid Gold Hell from 90s Auckland. Countered by the sweet chorus, the song goes everywhere else across 6 minutes. Recorded with the band Dog Act.

‘Whyalla’ is simultaneously a love letter and a cursing damnation to regional Australia. Its spoken-word bridge lays down tall tales about some of its most notable legends, while the chorus draws you in like a mozzie to the zapper, only to get promptly shocked once again by the song’s churning riff. “I wrote this song a few years back after my mate Racoo asked me to write a song for an Australian road trip compilation she was putting together.  I don’t think it saw the light of day.  I had a lot of help from Wikipedia,” says Bibby of the track. 

‘Whyalla’ comes from Bibby’s new album Marge, out Fri September 18th via Spinning Top Records.

ALBUM REVIEW: RVG – Feral

RVG

Feral

Our Golden Friend/Fire Records

RVG’s new album finds them presenting a fuller sound with even greater depth and clarity in the guitars and the spotlight still firmly on Romy Vager’s declamatory yelp and melancholic musings.

Quality Of Mercy already had the defining ingredients of the RVG sound – The Smiths-like insistency and nimbleness of the rhythm section, those sparkling, chiming and shimmering guitars and Vager’s voice a commanding strident force out in front. What Feral does do is highlight some sharper songwriting with more space and dynamics, in a wider, more sonically detailed sound courtesy of producer Victor Van Vugt. 

You can particularly hear the sound of The Go-Betweens and Echo & The Bunnymen amid the jangly post-punk and garage rock. It’s simple, melodic indie guitar pop but those guitars sound perfect in the way the notes tumble and cascade from the speakers, all frantically free-falling and forlorn. 

I Used To Love You is a heartbreaking ballad par excellence with its ache and swoon perfectly conveyed, while Photograph sends the listener out on a high. Tentative at first, it builds into a glorious rallying cry. On Feral, Vager’s dissection of how it feels to be sidelined and disenfranchised is treated poetically and ultimately there’s a sense of hope and resilience that rises from the near perfect musical backdrop.

Chris Familton

NEWS: IDLES announce new LP Ultra Mono

IDLES are back with a new album called Ultra Mono that will be released on September 25th, 2020.

Accompanying today’s announcement, the band have shared album highlight and thunderous call-to-action Grounds’ alongside a music video (dir. by Rob French). 

Recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), with Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) providing additional programming, Ultra Mono was sonically constructed to capture the feeling of a hip-hop record. Across all twelve brutally relevant tracks, the band double down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work, with themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity remaining ever-present. Ultra Mono also features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum.

Ultra Mono tracklisting:
1. War
2. Grounds
3. Mr. Motivator
4. Anxiety
5. Kill Them With Kindness
6. Model Village
7. Ne Touche Pas Moi (feat. Jehnny Beth)
8. Carcinogenic 
9. Reigns 
10. The Lover
11. A Hymn
12. Danke

Frontman Joe Talbot says of ‘Grounds’: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief – a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”

NEW MUSIC: Telemachus – I Am Delicious And Cute. So I Will Go Buy Again

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There’s some incredible sound design and programming going on in this track from South London-raised, producer Telemachus. His new album Boring & Weird Historical Music came out on 22nd May via High Focus Records and this is just one example of the splendid way he pulls different genres together while still allowing a glorious vacuum of space to exist around and within his music.

As he himself puts it: ‘the album certainly rewards a thorough and engrossed listen, but equally the general atmosphere is pleasant enough to play for your auntie when she comes for tea.’

Telemachus came up via the UK hip hop scene but was equally attracted to the sounds of grime, jungle, jazz, soundtracks and trip hop. Here he filters and distils them all into one trance-inducing collection of songs that sound both tribal and born from dark urban streets. Sounds hang suspended or cosmically drip from the speakers in a mist of digital drizzle and organic contact points. Jazz guitar and bass riffs pop up like funk meerkats before being subsumed back into the slow swirling miasma.