Thursday, 23 January 2014

Gotta Get Mad - Virgins O.R. Pigeons

Duelling keyboards and dancefloor friendly beats? Check. Steady, low toned singing about an assortment of dark and moody topics? Check. The occasional sci-fi sound effect and old movie soundbites? Check. Bit of distort on the vocals and rhythm guitars every now and again? Curious logo and latest cyberfashionwear? Check. Yup, it’s an EMB album. Not quite sure what else to say on this one.

It’s not that Virgins O.R. Pigeons have made a bad album, as it is perfectly listenable and does a good job of what it’s doing, it’s just that it’s not very memorable nor is it really doing anything that exciting with the genre. A couple of tracks have some distinction to them, specifically Born In Sin with its horror styling and Bordello with a nice slice of power-synth, but the rest of it has a lot of ‘sound-a-like’ to them which gets me wanting to cut out the middle-man and put on the stuff the track in question is reminding me of (mostly Apoptygma Berzerk and Grendel, with a touch of FrontLine Assembly and VNV Nation from time to time) . If it was on a compilation CD you wouldn’t be hitting skip and if it came on in a club when you were already up you would stay, but it is unlikely that it would stick in your mind or make you want to find out more. Which is annoying, as there is clearly a skilled band here that could push things and make something good, potentially even great, if only they wouldn't stick to the middle ground and go over tried & tested approaches.

Contains no traces of David Bowie

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Terrible Problem - Petrol Bastard

May 2013: the first Crystal Meth factory is found in Yorkshire. November 2013: Petrol Bastard release Terrible Problem. Coincidence? Possibly, but this techno-punk has to be fuelled by something and you don’t get this kind of swearing juvenilia without taking something a bit stronger than Horlicks. Sounding as dangerous as The Prodigy wish they could be, and throwing a nod to The Macc Lads with their incivility, this is a car-crash showroom of heavy beats, distorted loops, and loud angry shouting about whatever it is they are saying under their over-driven vocals. The beats and energy keep it on track as party music, with some very danceable elements, but the heaviness ensures it’s not something that will get casually thrown on the stereo.

The subject matter is filthy, rusted degeneracy: the track titles of “I spent my rent money on tentacle”, “If you die in Batley do you die in real life?”, and “The 90’s were shit (I shate on a Gameboy)” tells you everything you need to know. It’s not funny enough to make you laugh (except possibly in shock) but its amusing and real enough to get a wry smile out of you. The stylisation and lack of compromise means that when it fails (specifically the track “Fiat Multipla”) it gets annoying very quickly, however the low points are few and far between. The mashing off drum and bass, breakbeats, dubstep elements and noise also makes it not the easiest of listens as at points it sounds like they are trying to do everything all at once. Then again they appear to be aiming for disorientation and confrontation in their sound so it is highly effective on that front.

Mostly you're going to experience a lot of noise and fury and filth. Either you're going to find it caving its way into your heart, with you coming back for more, or it's going to piss you off and you'll never want to hear it again. Either way you will have a definite reaction to it and that is exactly what the band is after.

No David Bowies were harmed in the production of this album.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Underdog - Heathen BABY

It's a brave band that have the opening lyric of "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough", but Heathen BABY manage to justify it through the course of this five song EP with quite a sexy swagger. This is very much a collection of 90's style groove industrial rock, all guitars and loops and big, solid drumming. Not that it sounds dated as the sound is very much 'of the now', just that it has touches of Revolting Cocks, Thrill Kill Kult, and the odd bit of Nine Inch Nails if they ever decided to get into the whole tribal drumming thing.

Stand out tracks are Dance Floor Shit, which has a hook a mile long and should get the dancefloor packed, and Remedy, which is is a sinister little psychodrama of a number that will bring back all kinds of childhood horrors to your mind.

The only thing that might be slightly off putting to some is that their Facebook 'About' bio is clearly batshit crazy, but if you can let that slide then you should be in for a treat. I know I'll be adding them to my DJ list and I look forward to seeing them impress me live.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A little bit of Pop! for the new year.

There is nothing wrong with a bit of Pop music every now and again, no matter what anyone might say. It is always going to be populist, and as such it will always be either cynically designed attempt at mass appeal or a lighter / more accessible version of whatever genre it is coming from. But that doesn't mean it can't have good lyrics (often very universally meaningful) , that it can't have a good tune (to get big it needs to have decent hook), or can't just be enjoyable (they have to be likable to get big). So whilst most of the charts is filled with boybands (as their fans buy the most singles) or cheesy reworks (because people like a good 'of-its-time' ear-worm) you often get a couple of gems, like these two:

It's big, it's bouncy, and it has an uplifting sentiment. Maybe not profound but certainly well meaning and if this came on near the end of a party you would need to be dead not to want to join in on it.

It's got fat soul horns, a nice bit of disco backing, and a certain majesty that comes from a decent backing line of singers. The breakdown is also a killer, especially with the bonus hidden wubs that give it a modernity you wouldn't really expect.

So two great examples of the genre that give you some faith to keep your ears open from time to time. Hopefully it will also do something to counter Blurred Lines being the #1 single of the year, but even then the tune itself wasn't that bad (even if Robin Thicke is a misogynistic prick).