Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#554: Big Ups - Before A Million Universes

Taking its name from a famous Walt Whitman quote, Before a Million Universes is a record built around a deft dichotomy of Fugazi-esque intricacy and unrelenting hardcore aggression. A follow-up to 2014’s 18 Hours of Static, it not only picks up where that album left off, but expands on its already far-from-rudimentary foundations.

#553: Cosmosis Festival 2016, Manchester

There’s an unmistakable and, dare I even say, delicious sense of irony that surrounds this year’s Cosmosis Festival. Where last year’s event relished in the counter-cultural confines of Antwerp Mansion, this year the festival has moved the four miles across the city to the corporate and somewhat vacuous surroundings of Victoria Warehouse, an event space and hotel in Salford Quays. Such an upscaling of venue comes with a downside however. While this year has surely attracted bigger artists, and as a result a bigger crowd, the festival seems to have not just lost any of its DIY charm and any counter-culture credentials, but obliterated them entirely.

Monday, 7 March 2016

#552: Miike Snow - III

It’s been nearly four years since transatlantic trio Miike Snow last put out an album, leading some to assume the project was on the back-burner whilst members focused on solo material and production duties elsewhere. As such, a busy schedule meant ‘III’ was recorded sporadically over a two year period in various, often separate, cities.

This review was originally written for DIY. Click here to read in full.

#551: Holy Esque - At Hopes Ravines (DIY)

It’s often said that music is the product of its surroundings. As far as Glasgow’s Holy Esque are concerned, nothing’s truer. Reflecting both the stark brutalism of the city’s architecture and the imposing countryside of Lanarkshire itself, the band’s debut is a deft dichotomy of uncompromising walls of noise and sweeping sonic vistas.

#550: Introducing...Eliza Shaddad

With an artistic streak running deep through her family’s heritage, it’s unsurprising that Eliza Shaddad’s take on pop music is a far cry from the mainstream. A modern descendant of a rich line of poets and painters, including James Paterson, one of the subversive Glasgow Boys, Shaddad’s music is absolutely the product of her lineage.

#549: The Joy Formidable, The Deaf Institute, Manchester

Perching somewhat precariously on the crowded balcony of Manchester’s Deaf Institute, it’s evident just how far reaching the appeal of The Joy Formidable is; a crowd of varying ages and backgrounds linked by a common appreciation. Tonight marks not only the first night of the band’s small venue tour, but also their first show of the year. And from the teasing, looped intro of The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade, you can tell they’re in high spirits. And well they might be. It’s been almost exactly three years since the band were last in Manchester, and when Ritzy and co finally take to the Deaf’s tiny stage, the crowd bristles with anticipation.

#548: Introducing...Coates

Though recognised as a full band, it’s singer a chief songwriter Oliver Coates that lends the band his name. And well he might. Having spent five years honing his craft as a solo musician, eventually exhausting his local scenes and taking to the rest of the country, to go under another name would be counter-productive.

#547: Basement - Promise Everything

Though the UK emo scene has enjoyed a proliferation of sorts since, when Ipswich's Basement announced they were calling it a day in 2012 the news was received with heavy hearts. Fortunately however, bands rarely split up forever these days, and while it might be easy to view such such reformations with scepticism (The Libertines anyone?) Basement weren't exactly in a position to cash in by doing so.

#546: Holy Esque - At Hope's Ravine (CLASH Magazine)

Built around Holy Esque's already-established dichotomy of darkness versus light, 'At Hope's Ravine' is a thunderous record of almost-monolithic ambitions, its grandeur matched only by the scope of the concepts it wrestles with. Reflecting the industry of the band's native Glasgow, as well as the formidable Lanarkshire countryside, the interest in dichotomy runs deeper than thematics; bleeding in to both the instrumentation and the composition imposing walls of noise are juxtaposed effortlessly against huge swathes of open space.

#545: Love Buzzard - Antifistamines

Though it's often the case for a band to release an album before they're ready, it's taken three years for Leeds' Love Buzzard to finally unleash their debut. Often such a time frame yields a refined end product, but it's difficult to use such a word anywhere near 'Antifistimines'. That doesn't mean to say it's a bad record. Quite the opposite. It is however, a record of staggering rawness, breakneck pacing and an almost gleeful disregard for convention. As such, those three years haven't been spent refining their sound, as much as they have contorting it in to something quite the opposite.