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Zero Dawn EP

Obscure

Obscure Music

A band that falls under the metal, stoner rock and sludge rock categories but crossing the border of indie due to this being a self-released effort (hence our label), Zero Dawn hail from Finland and bring three new tracks to the world labelled under the heading ‘Zero Dawn’. Having set up their stall in 2015, Obscure has gathered enough musical nous to produce a sound that reveals much expertise and undoubted quality. Such experience shines through in abundance during latest EP ‘Zero Dawn’. From the scattergun rhythm of the record’s title track and P. Veteli’s slightly gruff and passionate vocals keeping pace, the rest of the contents of ‘Zero Dawn’ follow in similar footsteps. It’s probably a fair assessment to suggest that the following ‘Low Low Down’ and ‘River’ actually surpass the EP’s opening song in terms of quality, with the former track remaining at a steady beat yet managing to really get under your senses with its steely guitar sound and ditto the vocals once more, whereas the concluding ‘River’ offers a faster tempo yet no more compelling than its preceding number such are the strengths of both tracks. Overall, ‘Zero Dawn’ provides enough evidence to suggest that Obscure has plenty of ideas in their musical locker to pave the way for a full-length album if the desire is there.


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Evocation (Single)

Up River

Holy Roar Records

Seemingly coming out of nowhere is the brand new single from post-hardcore outfit, Up River. With a mini-tour of the UK fast approaching, Up River unleashes an absolute powerhouse of a single in the form of ‘Evocation’. The latest release from the Brighton-based band certainly lives up to their press billing that suggests their “music has grown more despondent, desperate and dragged down with emotional weight.” ‘Evocation’ gives way to such thoughts as it’s a two minute blast of thrashing guitars and vocals that are stripped bare, alluding to the aforementioned desperate feelings, as the song rallies its final few drops of energy before collapsing under the emotional weight felt. It’s compelling stuff and the sort of track that every so often has a habit of shaking up the system, for all the right reasons, to serve as a reminder that we should never just settle for mediocrity. As far as surprise packages go, this is one of the very best!


Released 2 February

 

Scale Of Blindness

Benjamin Finger

Eilean Records

Limited to 150 copies is the new album from Benjamin Finger ‘Scale Of Blindness’. The album marks a second outing on Eilean Records for the Norwegian composer, electronic music producer, DJ, photographer and film-maker after the critically well received ‘Pleasurably Lost’ in 2015. With eight tracks mapping out the landscape of ‘Scale Of Blindness’, Benjamin Finger wastes no time in terms of decoding the ideas entrenched inside his mind and crafting these into ambient sounds. What transpires is a gritty and grainy beginning, where lights fizz and stutter and illuminate the surroundings for the briefest of periods as life in general gives way to a feeling of rolling continuously in a dark vacuous space, which is the impression given by openers ‘Halogen Flux’ and ‘Anxiety Blues’. With mere snippets of samples and sounds used, which are then looped into greater reels of sounds, the effects utilised work tremendously during ‘If Memory Preserves’, which offers a brooding tone full of electronic keys humming and tinkling intensely as well as drifting into mere wisps of noise adding to the mystery of the monologue taking place of what sounds like an inquest of one particular tragic incident in the US. The fascination continues with ‘Vagabond Void’ as it emerges into the light, electronics blinking, before breaking and splintering and seeing its particles drift into, and along the fragmented signals emanating from ‘Fragrant Darkness’. It would appear that Benjamin Finger has worked tirelessly to create a wonderful and truly captivating experience that illustrates feelings of loneliness and isolation encompassed by latest album ‘Scale Of Blindness’ that so often throws up shining beacons of light in the bleakest of spaces (‘Vanishing Faces’, ‘Falling Asleep’), to more abrasive creations (‘Fragrant Darkness’) that sound cut adrift and completely lost in the dark void suggested. It’s a masterwork, and it’s called ‘Scale Of Blindness’.


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Doubt Mines EP

Terrible Love

Big Scary Monsters

There seems no cure for the emotions expressed here. Cracked love, open wounds and downright despair is what you’re likely to get when it comes to the latest release from post-hardcore outfit Terrible Love. The gap experienced from 2015’s ‘Change Nothing’ EP and latest release, ‘Doubt Mines’, was down to reasons concerning shifts in personnel, a period of writer’s block, to everyday concerns of working overtime due to busy schedules, but thankfully the five-piece band from London managed to overcome all such obstacles in order to deliver this rather fine release. The delay in terms of reaching this stage was clearly worth it once ‘Doubt Mines’ unravels its contents and displays subtle differences that reveal genuine signs of development from what was a magnificent effort in ‘Change Nothing’. The differences lie in the splashes of melody that can be heard throughout opener ‘First Flowers’, and the generally more considered approach of ‘Separate Graves’ that really take this band to another level without losing any of the previous tension and angst which has so far shaped their career. Add to that vocals that are stripped bare and raw and full of honest confessions, then Terrible Love remain a rare breed of band who are vital in these troubled times.


Released 2 February

 

Baksida På Operaen (Single)

Stian Fjelldal

Didelidoo

Norwegian artist Stian Fjelldal enters the New Year with the release of ‘Baksida På Operaen’, which is the third single to be taken from his album ‘Idioten’. With very little info on the desk regarding Fjelldal and his musical content, only lengthens the mystery and one worth pursuing in the course of finding more answers. Unfortunately, the quest for answers continues to remain a mystery, in addition to any queries relating to the rear entrance of the opera house remaining equally mysterious, only to say that the ode penned to this particular landmark in the centre of Norway’s capital suggests an unbridled talent, and one skilfully plying his trade via a mixture of hushed vocals that verge on spoken word whilst mild electronica swirls all around. It makes for compelling listening, especially given the added teaspoonful of eccentricity that brings to mind Scotland’s Mull Historical Society. No matter the shortage of answers because the only answer you’ll get once hearing ‘Baksida På Operaen’ is to buy this magnificent single in droves!


Released Out now

 

London Is Trouble (Single)

Sol Heilo

Propeller Recordings

London can be an overrated commodity, just as other cities around the world can provide the same or similar experiences. Such feelings are expressed by Sol Heilo and latest single ‘London Is Trouble’, which is a rather beautiful and intimate acoustic folk song, and one written after the realisation of many years of life on the road with main focus Katzenjammer that the early promise of rock ‘n’ roll was becoming something of a chore rather than to be celebrated. Closer attention to detail reveals a solo singer baring her soul and missing certain aspects of her life back home, the snow for example, and thus channelling her grievances through this latest single: “I remember I was in the bar and had just bought myself a new guitar – a 1961 Gibson LG-0 – almost to fill my soul with something. It’s about how gray [sic] and dull London can be when you have no joy in your heart, and the ever-fleeting glow of late nights and early mornings.” With ‘London Is Trouble’ being the third single to be lifted from last year’s album ‘Skinhorse Playground’, any joy that is left to be found can certainly be had via ‘London Is Trouble’ and the impressive manner in which this intimate tale is told to anyone willing to listen. Top marks all round.


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When A Kiss Becomes A Habit (Single)

Thea & The Wild

Propeller Recordings

Channelling an 80s vibe with latest single ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’ is Norwegian Thea & The Wild. With the single serving as a precursor to the soon-to-be-released LP ‘Ikaros’, Thea & The Wild builds a song that is filled with deep layers including use of strings, electronics and driving percussion and lyrics purporting to the problems experienced by long-term relationships. When reflecting upon latest single ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’, Thea & The Wild (aka Glenton Raknes) had this to say: “‘’When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’ was written at the beginning of a relationship – I was too caught up in my own head to be present, and instead was just worrying that it might all go away. It’s about that point when a relationship just flows and there’s no romance or excitement anymore.” There’s certainly enough excitement to contend with when it comes to the detailed layers of experimental pop that is ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’, and one that bodes well for the imminent release of second album ‘Ikaros’ on Propeller Recordings.


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The Long Harvest

Creek Road Eleven

Z-Trading

Without realising it at the time, this project had been a long time coming for lead singer and guitarist Toni Ruuska. What started in 2013 has since evolved into the five-piece band Creek Road Eleven and their debut album ‘The Long Harvest’. Despite the lengthy timeframe used in order to arrive at the stage where the band now find themselves, much attention to detail and a full and comprehensive search was conducted in order to recruit the right individuals to bring home, or more to the point create a genuine southern American country sound. Such attention to the finer details has certainly paid off as Creek Road Eleven deliver a ten-track album packed with rollin’ country rock tunes, and often with a blues edge that justifies their own description of “Southern-spiced country rock” yet makes it all the more remarkable considering their northern location! Closer inspection of ‘The Long Harvest’ reveals an album that is providing a sense of storytelling that affects the majority of us from every day tales concerning the boredom of work and those Monday mornings (‘Bad Monday’), to misfortunes in love and relationships as well. The latter aspect concerning relationships arrives during several numbers, but not without a touch of humour via the lyrics, and found during such loose workouts as the excellent ‘Under The Full Moon’ and equally good, yet jaunty in rhythm ‘Don’t Call Back’. But if it’s escape you’re looking for regarding the mundanities of life, then the “pick me up” greeting of bluesy country rock, ‘Long Straight Highway’ with its talk of long open highways and musically providing a real sense of any such freedoms, then Creek Road Eleven and their album ‘The Long Harvest’ are likely to be the perfect companions for any such journey right now.


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Ljerke

Ljerke

Eilean Records

With this being a joint release on two fronts, ‘Ljerke’ is the latest album from Eilean Records. Firstly, the ensemble that is Ljerke consists of various musicians from the Netherlands (Romke Kleefstra, Jan Kleefstra, Sytze Pruiksma) and Norway (Alexander Rishaug, Hilde Marie Holsen, Michael Duch), in addition to video artists Marco Douma (NL) and Haraldur Karlsson (Iceland). Secondly, ‘Ljerke’ is released as a double edition consisting of CD and DVD. In order to capture the live feel of this project, ‘Ljerke’ took its inspiration from the Frisian landscape and therefore evolved into a live improvisation including music, poetry and film in the same context of former projects such as Seeljocht (Piiptsjilling) and Skeylja (The Alvaret Ensemble). Considering this is a debut album from the collection that is Ljerke, and therefore setting forth the difficult task of combining many competing ideas to compile one final result, the end results hint at no such complications. What the listener gets is the bear spine of sounds that filter in and out of earshot during the opening  ‘Muurv’, and then proceeds along a fuller set of notes during ‘Tsjilland’ with a compelling use of trumpet, before plummeting some way into a cavern of darkness that is ‘Waarbekkasin’, which doesn’t make for easy listening. By combining numerous ideas from the high number of personnel that is Ljerke, the album of the same name is faultless in its overall execution, yet it’s the very sounds captured and created that leaves one trawling through a range of emotions and therefore sets up ‘Ljerke’ as an album that is far from easy consumption.

 


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Wolf (Single)

DYLYN

HOME Music Co.

Ahead of her debut EP release scheduled for next month, Canadian artist DYLYN has issued the single ‘Wolf’ that is an honest confession of the ups and downs that relationships can bring. More specifically, the new single is a direct reflection of the feelings DYLYN is currently undergoing “post-breakup” in relation to the male species. Tough love? You bet. With a genuine 80s feel coursing through the centre of this new record via moody sounding synths, ‘Wolf’ is not without current reference points regarding its overall sound as it melds the “old with the new” where a strong backbeat of punk garage-styled drums and, more specifically, impressive vocals cross the border and back again that is one moment 80’s pop starlet, and the next a far darker proposition more suited to indie spokesperson. It’s an engaging single and one that adds to the anticipation already felt regarding DYLYN’s forthcoming EP.


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One Beer Left

Dusty Dave & The Heart Attacks

Rhythm Bomb

Having released their debut single back in 2014, The Heart Attacks scramble their creative ideas together once more to deliver a full-length album by the name of ‘One Beer Left’. In order to get the job done however, a new vocalist was recruited to their ranks by the name of Dusty Dave who applies a rather distinctive touch when it comes to the vocal department. With The Heart Attacks comprising of Lucky Steve (guitar), Dynamite White (blues harp), Rockin’ Bende (drums) and Ray Black (bass), who also served as producer for the record, Dusty Dave is in fine company as all concerned produce a mixture of predominantly raw blues songs. Such descriptions of the band’s sound  are noticeable from the opening blast of harmonica that introduces ‘Candyman Boogie’, and then followed by the rattlin’ rockin’ blues of ‘Ride & Roll’ and solid pace of ‘Good Rockin’ Rhythm’. ‘One Beer Left’ is not all about foot to the floor blues belters though, because there are slower tempos such as ‘Tough Enough’, with Dusty Dave’s vocal sounding more modern and revealing a different side to his vocal capabilities, to the catchy rhythm and reflective vocal of ‘Come Inside’, before ending up at the bottom of the blues barrel, emotionally, with two dark and gritty compositions namely ‘Champion Of The Blues’ and the album’s title track. There is a genuine feel of the entire band ploughing their way through a live set considering the flowing nature of each and every song, which was achieved due to the band performing together in the same room and with the recording being tracked live (Listen to ‘Worried Mind’, for example, which really projects the sentiments of its title). They may only have ‘One Beer Left’, but judging by the passion and musicianship at the centre of this record, Dusty Dave & The Heart Attacks certainly give a good account of themselves via their current record.


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Cheap Old Wine And Whiskey

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A full pot of drinking songs straight from the juke joints of America’s past where blues and rhythm and blues provided the backing track to the joys and pleasures that alcohol could bring, but also its use as a means to combat the ‘blues’ felt when relationship heartbreak came calling. With twenty-eight songs varying between moods and styles and given by artists ranging from Lightnin Hopkins, Rufus Gore, Jimmy Liggins, Dave Bartholomew and Jimmy Rogers to name but a small selection, the quality is set to high when it comes to the collection that is ‘Cheap Old Wine And Whiskey’. Whether it’s a pared back guitar affair via Lightnin Hopkins ‘Drinkin’ Woman’ or a more up-tempo singalong with Johnny Davis and ‘I’m A Wine Drinker’ with its more than happy approach to drink your quota if you’re not feeling up to it, this long player has pretty much got the lot. Take for example the swinging rhythm and stunning vocal pipes of Al Jackson during ‘Let’s Drink Some Whiskey’, to the rendition of Stick McGhee classic (and rockabilly favourite) ‘Drinkin’ Wine’ superbly handled by Larry Dale, before taking further twists and turns via two wonderful ramshackle blues numbers ‘Sloppy Drunk’ (Jimmy Rodgers) and careering off the road ‘Drunk Drivers Comin’ (Richard Bros.). If you need further convincing that you’re in need of some fine company to help lift the spirits and ease the blues, then the punchy sax intro of ‘Wine Wine Wine’ and compelling vocals of Calvin Boze (‘Looped’) should have your limbs shaking in no time. With ‘Cheap Old Wine And Whiskey’ being a combination of the vinyl series ‘Too Much Booze’ and ‘Bad Hangover’, there really is no other option than to take up this addictive habit of blues and rhythm and blues as there are no hangovers to be had here!



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