Album Reviews

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Damage and Joy

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Artificial Plastic Records

Returning after a nineteen year absence, the Reid brothers, Jim and William, re-emerge with new album ‘Damage and Joy’. With a lot of their old tricks still present in this current set (i.e. fuzzy guitars rubbing shoulders with slower acoustic numbers), ‘Damage and Joy’ gives the impression that the Reid brothers absence has been a mere few months and not the aforementioned lengthy period after 98’s ‘Munki’ album. Therefore, with the wheel failing to be reinvented with The Jesus and Mary Chain’s latest release, ‘Damage and Joy’ is almost an overview of their entire career but one that is told through two wiser (?) and definitely world-weary heads where fuzzy pop numbers replace the wails of feedback of previous JAMC albums. Early indications of where your money should be placed in terms of definite highlights include the reworked ‘All Things Must Pass’, and followed by two glorious duets ‘Song For A Secret’ (featuring Isobel Campbell) and ‘The Two Of Us’. Lighter in noise yet still likely to ruffle a few feathers with various barbs contained in its lyrics, ‘Damage and Joy’ will be familiar to longtime followers of JAMC as well as being an enticing prospect for those less familiar because it’s a solid body of work that offers a lifeline to the JAMC to fully resurrect their career.


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Spirit

Depeche Mode

Columbia

Still on the treadmill, Depeche Mode follow-up 2013’s Delta Machine with their fourteenth studio album under the title ‘Spirit’. With James Ford (Artic Monkeys, Foals) producing, the boys from Basildon continue where they left off with more dark electronic rhythms and a series of lyrics that show they still care. First single ‘Where’s The Revolution?’ provided one such example that is a reaction to the troubled waters we find ourselves swimming in with no apparent opposition on the horizon; something of which is identified by Depeche Mode when singing, “Come on people you’re letting me down.” A deluxe version of the album ‘Spirit’ is also issued alongside the standard format with the difference being a twenty-eight page booklet containing exclusive artwork and photos, in addition to five remixes of tracks worked on by Depeche Mode, Matrixxman and Kurt Uenala. Still producing the goods, Depeche Mode show their relevance in 2017 with the highly recommended ‘Spirit’.

 


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Once I Was A Lion (Single)

Mad Machines

Bandcamp

Falling between pop and a bluesy rock rather than the “Disco and punk” label applied to the latest addition from the Mad Machines stable, ‘Once I Was A Lion’ is an accomplished single with a creative set of lyrics oddly inspired by Disney’s The Lion King and dreamt up by vocalist and guitarist Jordan Lassalle. The aforementioned pop and blues rock influences running through ‘Once I Was A Lion’ are certainly Rolling Stones inspired, especially the harmonised backing vocals that breeze along rather nicely. A fun loving single most definitely, and one that suggests Mad Machines should be shadowed closely regarding their next creative endeavour because ‘Once I Was A Lion’ is a clever and catchy reintroduction from this five-piece band from Toronto Ontario, Canada.


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Bonehead

Rückwater

Secret Entertainment

Rückwater make a return with latest EP ‘Bonehead’. With the band offering a predominantly raw and uncompromising stoner rock sound, coupled with occasional smoother passages that highlight the depth at the heart of this three-piece unit, Rückwater give a thorough account of themselves over the duration of six wild and wonderful tracks. From the distorted few bars of country tinged guitar that opens out into a full-blown affair of stoner rock supported by strong vocals, ‘Once More With Feeling’ is the perfect track to air the grievances felt by Rückwater. From there it’s a melange of garage, punk rock and metal via the frantic twitching of ‘No Gain’, before flipping its mood to the drifting tone and rather excellent ‘Labyrinth’. The universal theme found during ‘Super Frustration’ lives up to its title by offering a short and dramatic kick to the ribs by way of a full throttled assault of drums and guitars. The title track almost follows a similar pattern to ‘Super Frustration’ only the sound is more expansive where freedom is given to the guitars and the vocals more clarity. Rückwater display their experimentation further during final track ‘Flame Doesn’t Cast A Shadow’ that fluctuates between stoner rock and shoegaze and shows them as a band to be truly reckoned with. It’s a full star rating for Rückwater and their latest EP ‘Bonehead’ as the genre of stoner rock doesn’t come more recommended than this.

 


Released 17 February

 

Shipwrecked / Lovers Du

The Tigerlilies

Working Brilliantly

Hot on the heels of Famous Last Words’ (FLW) interview with The Tigerlilies nearing the conclusion of 2016, the four-piece band from Cincinnati, USA, make a swift return in 2017 with a brand new 7″ single by the name of ‘Shipwrecked / Lovers Du’. Despite borrowing a few manoeuvres from the likes of The Buzzcocks, Cheap Trick and The Ramones, The Tigerlilies more than etch their own impression of a post-punk sound via this latest single. Evidence of this can be gleaned from lead track ‘Shipwrecked’ that rolls out a rockin’, thunderous beat mingling post-punk with pop and stomping blasts of glam rock that works stupendously sandwiched all together. The flipside, ‘Lovers Du’, more than matches it’s A-side with its battered edges (musically as well as emotionally) and nervy yet catchy rhythm that infiltrates one’s senses at some considerable knots. Swinging between emotional tensions and riding the waves on a raucous and seriously glorious racket, The Tigerlilies have just got their New Year off to an absolute perfect start. Welcome back guys!


Released 3 February

 

Paranoid (Single)

Cal

Waterfall / BMG

A new project under the guise of Cal for Norwegian singer-songwriter Frida Amundsen who adopts a strong pop stance for current single ‘Paranoid’. With this latest release having been co-written with music maestro Eddy Atlantis in London, Amundsen (aka Cal) views this experience as a chance to show her established following that there is another side to her music and personality. As mentioned, the change in direction is one that adopts more of a commercial pop focus rather than relying on Amundsen’s acoustic background, but don’t let that dissuade you as this is pop music written with intelligence as it reveals the complexities that some relationships can suffer, with Cal giving a convincing performance as the victim at the centre of the ‘paranoia’ in focus. A solid start with this first single for Cal via ‘Paranoid’ that paves the way for a soon-to-be released EP, which should provide even greater evidence of the creative vision for this latest project from Frida Amundsen.


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Other Side of Town (Single)

Gorilla Cult

Untitled

Every now and again an artist sends word to Famous Last Words (FLW) of their latest creative endeavour which, more times than not, often results in a positive experience than a negative one. With not too much information to go on, this time out it’s the turn of, and in their words, “experimental indie band” Gorilla Cult and their current single ‘Other Side of Town’. By relaying what sounds like various debaucheries occurring on the other side of town and where life certainly becomes blurred in terms of what is defined as reality, Gorilla Cult weave a rhythm that is jittery and melodic and punctuated with electronics that are one moment distorted and the next shimmering brightly. Apparently there is more to come in 2017 from this relatively unknown indie band with ‘Other Side of Town’ being the first component of a suggested greater project to come. Watch this space.


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Doomsday EP

Reptilians From Andromeda

Prof Sny Records

A timely release for Istanbul’s Reptilians From Andromeda (RFA) considering the current turn of events in the political spheres of the US and UK, not to mention pretty much everywhere else in the world. The ‘Doomsday’ in question, packaged as track one of four from RFA’s latest EP, is more concerned with informing anyone willing to pay attention that all is not as it may seem, and that maybe you really shouldn’t believe the rhetoric televised almost on a daily basis at present. Such persuasion swings in favour of this garage-punk band from Istanbul as lead vocalist Aybike Çelik Özbey repeatedly cries, “Don’t believe the doomsday” to a fuzzy looped rhythm where the bass is raw and heavy and guitars glide effortlessly. If all this sounds a bit like A Place To Bury Strangers, for example, and nothing wrong with that of course, then following track, ‘Love Bait’, loses any such comparisons with a more straight garage rock and grunge feel that retains a very grubby appearance and all the more charming for doing so. With the EP being issued as a 7″ vinyl via Prof Sny Records, all recording and mixing duties were handled by the Reptilians themselves, only for Fran Ashcroft, formerly of power pop punk band The Monos! to apply mastering at Happy Beat studios (UK). Based on the evidence presented here, there is every reason to believe that RFA will be making further inroads to a wider audience soon, because ‘Doomsday’ EP never remains stagnant in terms of its approach and ideas, therefore giving the impression that there’s greater things to come from this quartet. In the meantime, RFA is definitely pushing all the right buttons as this is an engaging and fascinating ride that is worthy of your attention.


Released Out now

 

The Inception EP

Oddhums

Inverse Records

Stemming from the city of Jaén in Spain where no doubt the climate is far warmer and the general mood of a more upbeat disposition, the newly formed trio Oddhums is certainly at odds (no pun intended) with the location from which they originate. By coming together only last year, Oddhums and their four-track EP ‘The Inception’ diverts immediately from anything that could be suggested as welcoming with their sound entrenched in a shifting combination of stoner-rock, sludge, post-rock, grunge and elements of ambient music. With the EP being recorded and mastered by Kike Gutiérrez at Black Bunker Records Studios, and artwork by Procesonegro Art Studios, Oddhums open their account in an atmospheric haze of guitars that erupts abruptly where sludge and stoner-rock collide and stretch their sounds to incorporate flashes of shoegaze during the opening track ‘Dimgaze’. From there the atmosphere of this EP becomes somewhat claustrophobic during ‘Big Brave’ where vocals are coming from the depths only to be lifted somewhat in clarity with the far more robust ‘Wounds’. Oddhums provide a compelling interpretation of paranoia as ‘Under Siege’ closes ‘The Inception’ EP in magnificent fashion and sets out this three-piece band as one to watch in 2017.


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Eilean: [45]

Various Artists

Eilean Records

Offering its by now familiar array of artists collected from around the globe with each and every artist applying their interpretation of, as well as capturing the sounds that can be heard in the smaller details of everyday living, Eilean Records presents its latest compilation, ‘Eilean: [45]’. Limited to 150 copies and housed in a metal box complete with ruby red woodcut design, the packaging alone is enough to tempt any prospective buyer. The inner contents, however, certainly perform their duties by offering some new and exclusive pieces of sounds and featuring sixteen tracks with, it should be noted in order to pay proper respect here, all of the following artists: Autistici, Chris Dooks, Daniel K. Böhm, Darren McClure, E & I, Florian Von Ameln, Jason van Wyk, Moss Covered Technology, Offthesky, øjeRum, Omrr, Phi Bui, Porya Hatami, Saenïnvey, Speck, Sustainer, Uwe Zahn and Wil Bolton. For closer inspection though, the crystal-clear sounds of øjeRum’s ‘Needle-Shaped’; the fascinating insight of the journey unfolding during Daniel K. Böhm’s ‘All Over Gently’; the ethereal sounds of ‘Solitude By Vision’ performed by Offthesky, to capturing sounds of nature via ‘New Encounters’ by the equally engaging namesake Florian Von Ameln are good enough starting points and a glimpse of the various canvasses of sounds on offer via ‘Eilean: [45]’ to capture the imagination of any listener.

 

 


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Nightbound

KROBAK

Bandcamp

Daylight is just breaking once Ukrainian quartet, KROBAK, get underway with their latest long player ‘Nightbound’. At least that’s the idea given by opening track ‘Stringer Bell’ with its steady progression of shimmering guitars and subtle hints of violins that provides a visual impression of sunlight gradually finding its way through the cracks and crevices of a desolate location somewhere in the wilderness. After such an impressive introduction, the rest of ‘Nightbound’ follows in similar fashion as KROBAK draw on their experience and create a richer post-rock sound than what has gone before, by way of a few new and additional influences such as Swans, King Crimson and The Mars Volta as well as picking up on previous references Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mono and Yndi Halda. No matter the reference points as KROBAK serve up a truly engaging sonic adventure via a total of four tracks that grow from minimal sounding structures to fully fledged workouts such as ‘No Pressure, Choice Is Yours’ and ‘Marching For The Freedom We Have Lost’. KROBAK’s new offering ‘Nightbound’ is an album that you should get to know on a very intimate level as you will be duly rewarded for your time.


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Better Days

Missiles of October

POGO Records

Second album for Missiles of October, who continue with their combined sounds of punk, sludge and stoner rock to serve up a real noise fest with ten new songs making up to one whole titled ‘Better Days’. With the band comprising of members Bob Seytor, Lionel Beyet and Mathias Salas, this trio creates a mighty racket which first track, ‘State of Crisis’, immediately suggests with its pummeling sound of guitars and drums and rasping vocal. Following on, ‘No Brain No Headache’ is dense in sound to begin with, before kicking out, all limbs flailing, during its chorus (of sorts). However, where this song differs is in the vocals, giving the impression of wanting the song’s message to be heard due to far more clarity than what Missiles of October has perhaps dared to give before. The disillusionment with life continues during ‘Satisfaction In Nothing’ that once more contains more clarity in the vocal department, and not without a whiff of Fugazi about it as well. There’s no doubt that many truths regarding everyday mundanity is being communicated here, with song titles providing their own clues (‘Looser Man’, ‘Two Feet In Sludge’, ‘Better Days’, etc.), in addition to the battered and bruised rawness of the music as evidenced by tracks ‘Everyday’ and ‘Problems’. With a limited run of ‘Better Days’ to be issued early next year on yellow vinyl, Missiles of October’s second album can be purchased on all digital formats right now.



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