Sunday, 31 January 2016

Leach - Leach

Long-time readers of this blog and listeners to my Dandelion Radio show may well remember my fondness for a Minneapolis band called Ugly Motors, who took a standard garage format and imbued it with something very different with the result that they sounded very little like anyone else.

Wade, bassist with Ugly Motors, got in touch to tell me about a new band he's in called Leach, and I'm very glad he did.  Their self-titled EP showcases a group in some ways very different from UM, but in some ways quite similar.  There's a formula here, and a healthy desire to fuck with it, that's entirely in keeping with that earlier band's approach; except the formula's different and at times Leach fuck with it to within an inch of its life.

Opener 'The High Cost of Low Wages', for instance, is a high-octane screamer, fuelled by the larynx of the brilliantly named Jumpin' James Jordan.  Musically, though, there's a quiet sophistication that play beneath the sub-hardcore façade.  Such low-key experimentalism reveals itself steadily over the EP, in the frantic tempo changes of '#2', for instance, or 'Family Vacation', where a stunted, brooding opening ill-prepares you for the explosion of sound, quasi-militaristic snare work and raging guitars that occurs mid-track, before we're back again, grinding to a slow-churning close.

Don't get me wrong: whatever sophistication or experimentation is present within Leach is of a subdued kind, offering thrilling variations on a format that's never allowed to become sterile or predictable.  There's a love for the format evident too, however, which is at least as important in making this release such a joy to listen to.

The EP's available for free here.  I suggest you get it.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Nine Tons - No Frills

You may remember Duncan Lovatt from the early Ten Benson.  Now he's the guitarist and vocalist with Nine Tons, alongside Yin Mo (guitar), Dylan Wake (bass) and Mark Cliff (drums).  If you liked that early TB stuff, you'll find many of its more treasured elements here, and a lot more besides.
Nine Tons gave us a preview of their No Frills debut album in the autumn with the distinctly hummable 'Every Song I Know'.  It worked a treat as a taster but didn't get anywhere near to hinting at the depth of this collection.  Opener 'Listen' offers sub-Lydon accusatory snarls atop  an uncompromising barrage of guitars: you probably can hum it, but it'll probably give you a sore throat.  The tempo doesn't drop for 'Serpent Motors', but it slides effortlessly into a compelling, anthemic country chug from somewhere else entirely.

'The Boar' is a cracking slow burner, a prowling stunner that thrills while dripping its guts all over the recording.  You feel its pain but want more, much more, and it gives.    I'll be playing 'Bullpup' in my February Dandelion Radio show - another wonkily hummable gem that you think has ended the album before an unnamed instrumental 'ghost track' drifts in at the end to offer a further reminder of how much this album enjoys messing with your preconceptions.
All of which hopefully tells you much about the irascible charm of this collection.  Its full frontal attack never wavers, while a rambunctious spirit of unpretentious enjoyment and underlying contempt for musical boundaries hold sway throughout the whole thing.  It's an absolute joy from start to finish and already one of the best things you're going to hear in 2016. Get it here

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Schizo Fun Addict/The Bordellos - KASSETTE (Small Bear)

Before I start you'd better know that the limited edition cassette version of this release has already sold out.  You can still download it from the Small Bear bandcamp site, however, and, even shorn of its deeply attractive packaging, it's one hell of great fantastic release.
It's a split, of course, but a split with a difference: rather than sharing space of the length of a standard album (if that means anything these days), you get a complete album-length 'side' from each band.  As both of the bands are wonderful, that means a two for the price of one deal of some considerable quality. 
The two bands concerned offer pretty distinctive sounds: this is not one of those split releases that offers you two bands that appear to be aiming to sound like each other.  The Bordellos (who you may have heard a damn fine session from in my Dandelion Radio show last year) offer some of the best things their endearingly ragged guitar sound has ever conjured up, including 'Temperature Drop', which made the Festive Fifty in 2013, and the laid-back stab to the brain that is 'Hit It', which appeared on the EP sampler release for this album last year and which I play in my Dandelion Radio show this month.
I play a track from the SFA side too - 'Make A Stand', an intoxicating, woozy slab of off-kilter sub-psychedelic magnificence.  The contrast between the two bands' styles makes it an easy and almost natural thing to flip from one album to the next to get two opposing slices of what makes great music so great both between and through the ear lobes.
As you may have guessed, I like it.  If you needed an additional reason to grab a copy yourself (which you shouldn't) every penny generated goes to Save The Children.  Get a copy from the Small Bear bandcamp site here. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Hinds - Leave Me Alone (Lucky Number)

I'm as guilty as anyone for overusing the phrase 'keenly anticipated' when it comes to receiving albums from my favourite bands but, in the case of Hinds' debut, it's an appropriate cliche.
Hinds were a two-piece from Madrid known as Deers when they first came to our attention back in 2014.  Their single 'Bamboo' made the Dandelion Radio festive fifty of that year.  Since then, their infectiously shambolic indie pop has won many more admirers and they've changed their name and expanded to a four-piece.
'Bamboo' features as one of twelve songs on a debut album that we hoped might see the light of day last year but are more than happy to welcome into the world now in order to light up the dark, if suspiciously warm, early weeks of 2016.  Given the expectation surrounding the release, some disappointment might have been understandable.  Could a band with such a great line in one-off off-kilter tunes really stretch their appeal over twelve tracks?  We needn't have worred. Leave Me Alone comfortably delivers on the promise of those early singles while revealing perhaps surprising depth and variety in places.
Of course you'll know some of this already, if you've been paying attention.  Along with 'Bamboo', the album also includes the delightful 'Castigados en El Granero', from their 'Barn' single, which arrived back in November 2014, while two tunes came out as preview singles late last year, the somewhat less frenetic 'Garden' and the effervescent 'San Diego'.
I'm playing the latter in my Dandelion show this month.  It's a classic example of how this band's infectious enthusiasm adds a sparkling edge to everything they touch and one of the things that makes the album such a delight.   Perhaps unexpectedly, it's not the only thing, however.  There's a curious reflectiveness in many of the album's other highlights - in 'Fat Calmed Kiddos', for instance, or 'Chili Town' - something entirely absent from those early releases which adds unexpected depth to their sound. 
Expecting a riotously unhinged party of an album, I was taken back by this originally but such tunes add much to the album's lustre and I realise, gratifyingly, that there's more to Hinds than had originally met my eye and a lot in the tank for future musical adventures.  I say bring it on.  But, for now, Leave Me Alone will be more than enough.
Get it on LP or CD here