Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Blunt, rapey lyrics aren’t usually my thing. I put up with them on this noise-hop trio's latest EP Wriggle (released earlier this year) because the infectiousness made up for it, although I couldn’t help but feel frontman Daveed Diggs was discouragingly dumbing himself down. Where was the vivid and gritty storytelling of previous albums?
It seems Diggs was saving his urban griot talents for this album – a space-themed noise-hop opera that tells the story of a lonely cosmic slave that falls in love with a robot, what seems to me to be a pretty original concept, although it wouldn’t surprise me if an anime has already used this plot (or at the very least a hentai). After a brief fifty-second intro, Diggs immediately breaks into his signature hyperspeed rapping, introducing our space-slave protagonist and his attempts to escape the cargo hold. The usual ‘it’s clipping, bitch!’ catchphrase that kicks off every album is sacrificed to make sure we're invested in the story. It’s a gripping start that sets the more sophisticated tone of the album, Diggs showing off his speed, his precision and lyrical prowess whilst also bringing a new theatrical flair to the table. These theatrics may have been inspired by Diggs’ recent lead role in the Broadway musical Hamilton, which isn’t a musical about Lewis Hamilton or Richard Hamilton or the dude from Apocalype Now as far as I’m aware. In fact, I don’t know anything about Hamilton. I just know that every review of clipping. now needs to give it an obligatory mention, as if we’re all suddenly theatre know-it-alls.
Anyhow, the point of the matter is, this album’s a lot more highbrow than Wriggle, Diggs abandoning the twisted twerk anthems for a sci-fi tale that serves as an allegory for slavery and our relationship with technology. On top of this the group’s sense of catchiness has been foregone in exchange for a more atmospheric approach. Noise-hop without hooks might not sound like something particularly listenable – and indeed I had my doubts during the bleeping backdrop of ‘All Black’. However, whilst tuneless, these instrumentals manage to carry a suspense that compensates for their lack of catchiness. A lot of it feels very cinematic from the siren blasts of ‘Wake Up’ to the bassy action-movie-trailer horns of ‘Break the Glass’. There are elements of a capella gospel, which seem to contribute a natural and earthy vibe to the tracks. And contrastingly there are moments of good old-fashioned harsh noise, just to show clipping. haven’t completely lost touch with their roots.
Overall, it’s a surprisingly cohesive album, and quite an evolution when compared to their noisy debut. clipping. have matured with every LP – Wriggle seemingly thrown in as a red herring. They’ve gone in the polar opposite direction of their often-compared-to contemporaries Death Grips – showing there is a clean and smooth side to noise-hop still to be explored. Who knew noise-hop could be so diverse? At this rate, it’ll be the only genre making up my year-end list.
Friday, 25 November 2016
BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 25/11/2016: Hare Squead, Metallica, Father John Misty and more...
'Herside Story' – Hare Squead
Ever wondered what Irish hip hop sounds like? Just like American hip hop judging from those accents. But that doesn’t make these guys any less real. Their music video, clearly shot in a neighbour’s greenhouse, is charmingly lo-fi. And that tropical-flavoured trap beat combined with their smooth bars and r&b croons has all the warm and feelgood vibes of a summer pool party. ‘For all the love doers in this cold cold season’, as the trio put it.
'Spit Out The Bone' - Metallica
After two hard rock albums, a nu metal album, some over-compression and whatever the hell that Lulu record was, Metallica seem to have finally returned to form with this new ridiculously-fast thrash epic ‘Spit Out The Bone’. The group have a new LP, Hardwired … to Self Destruct, out that I shall be reviewing some time in the near future. Fingers crossed for more furious chugging and guitar duelling.
'Holy Hell' – Father John Misty
The beautifully cynical singer-songwriter serves up his reaction to the new president-elect in the form of a gorgeous piano ballad. It’s lyrics are gloomy, as I’ve come to expect from Father John Misty, although uncharacteristically the artist does try to end things on a positive note: ‘There’s no-one in control/ And it’s our life to choose’
‘Caving In’ - Come Down To Us
There’s some interesting mixing choices being made by this mysterious group describing themselves as ‘ambient gender terrorism’. Why are the drums so buried? Combined with the shiny guitars and dreamy vocal textures it works though. And I’m loving the mushrooms making up the artwork. Was this music made by gnomes and trolls?
'Haze' - Mai Lan
French singer/producer Mai Lin is sporting some serious FKA Twigs vibes here, her vocals dancing over the abstract instrumental backdrop. She recently appeared on that M83 album that I reviewed and loved earlier this year, which you can check out here.
'2000 Miles' - Daniel Nuver
It was all going so well… and then he opened his mouth.
Friday, 18 November 2016
BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 18/11/2016: Willow Smith, The Flaming Lips, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and more...
Everyone’s on drugs this week.
‘November 9th’ – Willow Smith
I had dismissed Will Smith’s offspring as a pair of pretentious fucks, but lately both Willow and Jaden have been pleasantly surprising me with their musical output. Released on the day of the election results, this song sees Whip-My-Hair-star Willow taking on a reassuringly positive stance. ‘Baby girl I know you’re tired/ Don’t let the world put out your fire’, she croons soothingly over lazy guitars. Her message seems to be: ‘it’s not an ideal outcome, but we’ve got to deal with it’. For the sake of Willow’s ego, I won’t dissect it any further.
‘How???’ – The Flaming Lips
After last year’s unprecedented ghastly collaboration with Miley Cyrus, psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips now seem to be thankfully returning to form, as evident from this delectably druggy dirge made up of celestial synths and belching bass. I’m not sure what the blurred buttcracks in the video are about, nor do I understand Wayne’s lyrics about trailer trash and earthworms. Do I want to know?
‘Rattlesnake’ – King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
Fellow psych-rockers King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard hail from Melbourne and have a certain fondness for retro ideas. Centred entirely around one chugging riff, 7-minute epic ‘Rattlesnake’ could be a Deep Purple song, minus the harmonica and weird Arabic trumpet thing. The retro-CGI music video meanwhile plays out like a game of Guitar Hero on bad shrooms.
‘Glide (Favorite Girl)’ - Flamingosis & Ehiorobo
My boy Ehi has teamed up with New Jersey producer Flamingosis and the result is zero-gravity soul-funk smoother than a baby’s bottom. Check out my interview with kooky r&b singer Ehiorobo here.
‘Two Step II’ – Nine of Swords
‘You’re boring! You’re boring! There’s nothing to you!’ These New York hardcore punks won't help your kids to sleep. Their anger is so beautifully raw, you almost want to throw something at the nearest wall. THERE GOES MY LAPTOPPPPPPPPPPPPP
Killer Klown – Kotton Kandy ft. Frankie G
I’m sorry but rapping is definitely NOT your ‘thing’.
Thursday, 17 November 2016
They’re a Ned-Flanders-themed metal band from Phoenix, Arizona.
The band’s five members – Head Ned, Bled Ned, Stead Ned, Red Ned and Thread Ned – all perform in green sweaters and spectacles, taking influence from fashion icon and famed devil-worshipper Ned Flanders of Springfield. Already, they have garnered quite a horde of fans calling themselves ‘neighbourinos’.
Howdilly Doodily is their brand new album sporting track titles such as ‘White Wine Spritzer’, ‘Flanderdoodles’ and ‘Donut Hell’ and lyrically made up of ‘75% Ned quotes and 25% other characters/original’ according to the band’s Wikipedia page. Songs largely consist of frontman Head Ned offering blood-curdling demonic screeches to the accompaniment of crunchy riffs and synth trills (although they could be ray guns?). Listen below and hear for yourself.
All in all, it’s an album for throwing back the purple drapes and screaming out the window to until the police come. Eager to get to know the band more intimately, I got in touch with Head Ned and was able to ask a few questions, the results of which you can read below…
Before Okilly Dokilly what were all you Neds up to?
Head Ned (HN): Nothing special. We spent a lot of time mourning unreturned power tools, perusing left-handed catalogs and occasionally enjoying a plain popsicle.
Your debut album is now out. What was the recording process like?
HN: Recording Howdilly Doodilly was a trip. Writing the songs involved a lot of quote research, which is the best part. We has a lot of fun in the studio. We were in full Ned gear while recording and drank white wine spritzers throughout.
Are those synths or ray guns that I can hear in your music?
HN: Most are synths. One was a ray gun, and I have apologized many times to Bled Ned. His wound is still healing.
Reverend Killjoy is your manager. What’s it like working with him?
HN: Rev is great. We call him night and day for advice and he’s only growing incredibly tired of it.
If Okilly Dokilly was a pizza, what toppings would it have?
HN: Okilly Dokilly is two very opposite things coming together that shouldn’t be together. So, we would be a pizza with pineapple on it.
You’ve already acquired quite a fanbase. What are the neighbourinos like at your live shows?
HN: They are the greatest neighbourinos any Ned could ask for. We’ve had lots of good conversations with fans after shows and it’s more than we could have asked for.
What is your favourite and least favourite music out there right now?
HN: Favorite music is gospel. Least favorite is that terrible ‘nedal’. I’d rather listen to nothing at all.
Have you ever watched an animated TV programme called The Simpsons? I think you guys might like it…
HN: Sounds like a fine television program. If it’s anything like Metalocalypse, we’re in.
What does the future hold for Okilly Dokilly?
HN: We’ll be heading out on tour this March as part of the Mockstrocity tour with Mac Sabbath and Metalachi. Looking at some more tour dates after. Our first goal with Okilly Dokilly was to have a laugh. Naturally, the next goal is world diddly-domination.
Follow Okilly Dokilly at @NedalBand
Monday, 14 November 2016
How did we allow this to happen? No, I don't mean Brexit or Trump or even the new Toblerone. I’m talking about 2016’s biggest atrocity - Corey Feldman’s new album.
We’ve been here before, only last year. A former child-actor-turned-musician, blinded by childhood fame and the belief that they can achieve anything, attempted to create a 90-minute genre-meddling album that amounted to 90 minutes of audial torture. That artist was Miley Cyrus.
‘We be like Miley Cyrus twerking/ you can’t help but watch it’ raps guest star Fred Durst on the 12th track of this new double album from Goonies star Corey Feldman.
Even Fred Durst has noted the comparison. The irony is that Miley Cyrus, as low as she has stooped before, would never lower herself to make an album with Fred Durst on it. Another striking difference – Miley isn’t 45 years old. She has the excuse of youth’s naivety to fall back on. And whilst she’s no Whitney Houston, she can hold a note in tune.
Corey Feldman exists in a separate circle of Hell, one much deeper and more unforgiving. His new album couldn’t be more terrible if it tried. In fact, some of it is so bad that’s its borderline impressive. Take Corey’s singing on EDM party anthem ‘Lovin’ Lies’, so out-of-key that the Auto-tune can’t even hold it together, so out-of-time with the beat you can’t even tell what rhythm he’s trying to achieve. There’s messy dance-funk Kurupt feature ‘Lickety Splickety’, in which Corey’s angry vocals could pass off as a Muppet impersonating Michael Jackson were that the intention. And no review could be complete without mentioning random jazz number ‘We Wanted Change’ in which Corey sounds like a constipated Rod Stewart during the hook, so laughably harsh on the ears I genuinely pulled a muscle in my stomach.
And that’s just the vocal flaws. Instrumentally every criminal idea seems to be pulled out the woodwork too, from gaudy synth leads to cheesy 70s-porno-style funk to cheap nu metal riffs, all so poorly mixed on top of one another you can barely tell what’s going on half the time.
With Corey handling everything from the lyrics to the instruments, I’d like to think no-one else was given a look in during the ten year creation process of this album (that’s right, this shit took a decade to make!), otherwise surely someone would have intervened. However, as is evident from it’s credits including the likes of Snoop Doog and Scott Page and B Howard, other people clearly were around during the creative process of this album. They must have heard some playbacks. Why did nobody say anything to Corey? Why did Kaya Jones not step in during ‘4 Bid In Attraction’ and say ‘Corey, hun, I know you’re trying to sound sexy, but you sound like Freddy Krueger. Maybe you could lay off the rasp a bit’.
Everyone just sat back and let this abomination happen. They withheld the truth from Corey, which is as good as lying. Isn’t that Corey’s number one principle – that he hates liars? Isn’t that the lyrical premises of ‘Bad People’: ‘They’re evil/ deceitful’. Isn’t that the lyrical premises of most of these songs. And yet these bastards still didn't have the courtesy to Corey the truth - that he doesn't have an iota of musical talent - making him believe these songs were actually listenable. They smiled and laughed and nodded supportively as he played back recordings of himself wailing over electronica that wouldn't have even been cool in 1999. Was it all a joke to them – a laugh at Corey’s expense?
Or maybe I've got it all wrong? Maybe they did tell Corey the truth about how dreadful he is, but The Lost Boys actor simply didn’t believe them? Maybe this isn’t the fault of everyone else - Corey is just in denial of how bad he is, passing everyone off who criticises his music as liars, when really he’s lying to himself!
I can’t bring myself to analyse this album any deeper, because - quite frankly – it doesn’t deserve it. I need to remind myself of what good music sounds like again; I’ve spent too long with this record. Listen to something else, quick! Anything is more beautiful than this.
Friday, 11 November 2016
This week I bring you some tracks to listen to whilst you dig out your nuclear bunker as we all prepare for the next four years of global tension followed by Kanye West’s inevitable presidency. THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT!
‘Don’t Move’ – Campbell
Auckland pop artist Campbell comes through with this ethereal number featuring some husky vocals that erupt for a satisfying hook ‘Stop, stand still/Don’t move’. The Kiwi singer travelled all the way to London to record this (that’s commitment). The brooding beat meanwhile comes courtesy of Basement Jaxx producer Simon Ratcliffe.
‘Losing My Mind’ - Sølv
More ethereal pop – this time from a Danish songstress named Sølv (translates as ‘silver’). Frosty synths serve as a background for the artist’s slinky vocals. I only discovered this jewel because it happens to be the next track that automatically plays on Soundcloud after ‘Don’t Move’.
‘Versace on the Floor’ – Bruno Mars
This smooth cheese slice of Boys-II-Men-revivalism is going to have girls (and guys) worldwide dropping their panties. It’s the Bruno Mars I’ve been waiting for. Much better than pop-reggae Today-I-Don’t-Feel-Like-Doing-Anything Bruno Mars. And much better than psychotically infatuated I’d-Catch-A-Grenade-For-You Bruno Mars.
‘2100’ – Run the Jewels ft. Boots
In the light of a certain man coming to power, badass US rap duo Run the Jewels have released this punchy anti-war single. El-P has explained on Twitter: ‘for everyone who is hurting or scared right now. here is a song we wrote months ago. We weren’t planning on releasing it yet but… well it feel right, now’.
‘How Much Time’ – Seprona
Juicy distorted guitars and strident strings make up some of the many layers to this loud and powerful new rock tune from Liverpool lads Seprona. Fervent northern-inflected vocals drive the track along: ‘You seem so drawn to my answer machine’. With a lot of rock bands going overly minimal, Seprona’s maximalist approach is pretty refreshing.
‘Sensual Pansuit Anthem’ – Lena Dunham
This pro-Clinton song is so horribly awkward, it’s no wonder so many people voted Trump. Well done Lena Dunham – we hold you solely responsible.
Thursday, 10 November 2016
Meet The Harry Macintosh Project.
They’re a loopy five-piece rock group terrorising the south of England with their deranged sound.
Citing a diverse array of influences including The Jesus Lizard, Nick Cave, Mogwai and At the Drive-In, the band’s unique style is a Frankenstein’s monster of hardcore punk riffs, proggy disorientating time signatures and theatrical erratic vocals.
Their new weird and wonderful EP T.H.M.P sports curiously titled tracks such as ‘The Astronaut Dies Smiling’ and ‘Hair Dryer Blues’. Songs alternate schizophrenically between calm and batshit insane, soothing passages of post rock erupting into manic wailing and seizure-inducing jagged guitars.
You can hear it all for yourself below on Bandcamp.
Eager to try and understand the group more, to unlock the riddle behind ‘Hairdryer Blues’ and the wacky band name, I interviewed lead singer Tom, the result of which you can read below…
If The Harry Macintosh Project was a pizza what toppings would it have?
T (Tom): Tough question but if we were to create toppings out of our influences, the pizza would consist of a healthy dose of punk peppers, some prog sausage, a dash of post rock hot sauce and, oh I dunno, noise cheese.
Who is Harry Macintosh?
T: Harry Macintosh is a completely made up name. I looked it up shortly after the band formed and I vaguely remember the top result on Google being the website for some amateur scientist in California or something.
|First Google image result of Harry Macintosh|
Your new EP is nuts! Who did the artwork? What’s the creepy jellyfish creature?
T: Glad you like the new EP and thanks for the kind comments! The artwork is by a guy who simply calls himself 'Beeple'. Check out his Facebook page, he's pretty awesome.
Explain the inspiration behind 'Hair Dryer Blues'?
T: Our bassist Thom wrote the lyrics to Hair Dryer Blues. I'd like to think it's about a crippling fear of losing your hair but don't think he'd appreciate me saying that so we'll just leave it there.
What music are you guys listening to right now? Anything fans wouldn’t expect?
T: The five of us have such diverse music tastes that we're always listening to weird and wonderful things. I think Thom (bassist) and Dave (guitarist) have been listening to the new Dillinger Escape Plan album a lot recently. I've been fluctuating between alternative 90's stuff I liked as a kid and newer bands like Wand and Bearded Youth Quest. I can't speak for Jack (vocals) and Griff (drums) but they both have a good ear so I'm sure it's great whatever it is!
You guys name The Mars Volta as an influence. Favourite Mars Volta album?
T: Personally, my favourite Mars Volta album has got to be De-Loused in the Comatorium. That album absolutely blew me away when I first heard it and I don't think they ever really topped it. I'm pretty confident the rest of the guys would agree with that.
My personal fave too! What are Harry Macintosh Project gigs like? Funniest gig story?
T: Our gigs are generally pretty high-energy and quite unpredictable. We played in London on Saturday and for some reason I felt the need to throw my £1,100 Fender Strat across the stage at the end of our set. I still haven't checked to see if I've actually damaged it. So yeah, our gigs can be pretty spontaneous. We often wear ridiculous costumes and make up, and our vocalist Jack has frequently "bared all" as it were ;) Anything can happen depending on how we feel at that moment.
What’s going on in your music video for ‘Mouldy Water’? Is shoving cucumbers through people’s letterboxes a pastime of yours? And have you attempted any other vegetables?
T: Believe it or not, the video for Mouldy Water is inspired by actual events from my childhood. When I was about 12, I got into a huge argument with my step-dad so my idea of revenge was to run around to the local shop, buy a cucumber, run back to my house and squeeze it through the letterbox making a horrible mess. I don't know what I was thinking, looking back I can see how weird that was. We added the mask just for the video, for no reason.
What does the future hold for The Harry Macintosh Project?
T: At the moment, because we all have jobs etc, we don't plan too far ahead so take each month as it comes. Our last show of the year will be on November 18th at the Chelsea Inn, Bristol. This will also be our final show with Griff on drums, however Will Brunsden (formerly of Oblivionized) will be joining us for some dates in January. We're hoping to do another music video and tour the UK next Spring but nothing is set in stone at the moment.
Follow The Harry Macintosh Project at @HARRYMACPROJECT
Monday, 7 November 2016
The first time I drank beer I didn’t like it. Similarly, the first time I heard Danny Brown’s pterodactyl-like squawking I almost did a Van Gogh and hacked my own ear off.
Attitudes change. I now love beer. I DRINK IT EVERY MORNING FOR BREAKFAST. As for Danny Brown, I’ve since come to appreciate his kooky cadence, even looking forward to it whenever I see his name featured as a guest credit on someone else’s album (which impressively seems to be every hip hop album of the last three years).
Of course, his party rap persona was still an obstacle for me. Call me a lyric snob, but songs about twerking and popping pills do nothing for me. Besides, the Detroit rapper felt like he had so much to give on his last joint Old, showing a quirky sense of humour with a track like ‘Gremlins’, and a grittier and darker side with anti-narcotic narrative ‘Wonderbread’ (later totally contradicted by wild drug binge anthem ‘Dip’). Clearly, if I was ever to become a Danny Brown fanboy, the party rap persona would have to go.
Well, it looks like I better purchase myself some floor-length posters of the crazy-haired gap-toothed emcee, as it seems that is exactly what has happened on Atrocity Exhibition.
Danny Brown’s latest magnum opus is certainly not a party album. It’s very much an anti-party album. No, he hasn't found Jesus. Neither has he become a Poet Laureate overnight. Instead, he’s turned his party rap persona into something frightening and discouragingly ugly. ‘White Lines’ is a decadent and dizzying assault of sex and drug abuse that ends with his nose bleeding and heart racing, the closing line being ‘I hope it ain’t about my time to go’. ‘Get Hi’ meanwhile appears to be a weed anthem on the surface, until you realise it’s all being rapped by the devil on his shoulder: ‘ya girl just left you, you just got fired/ ya car acting up, you need new tyres/ ya bills all late, any day ya phone off/ fuck it cop an 8th, let the load off’.
It’s a dark album, but not a gravely solemn one, often revelling in black humour. Helping to reinforce the mood are some equally outlandish and gloomy beats. ‘Downward Spiral’ kicks the record off twanging cowboy guitars reminiscent of the Breaking Bad intro theme and a druggy freeform feel that encapsulates the OD-brinking lyricism. Following are a freak show of instrumentals that are either downright menacing (the Exorcist-like twinkling of posse-cut ‘Really Doe’) or downright bizarre (the gaudy detuned horn attack of ‘Ain’t it Funny’). I could write paragraphs detailing each instrumental’s individual quirks – each one is as standout as the next.
Most of the beats don’t even seem practical for rapping over, which is where Danny further pushes his creativity – he makes them practical. On White Lines, an abstract dirge that I swear samples the Playstation 1 startup sound, Danny ingeniously uses the noodling bleeping over the top to syncopate his flow. Meanwhile on ‘When it Rain’, he speeds up his bars to match the techno-infused madness in the background. He's also able to add further dynamics by ditching his squawking altogether on ‘Tell Me What I Don’t Know’ and ‘From the Ground’, adopting a calm laid back delivery that I at first assumed was a guest.
Taking influence from a J.G. Ballard novel and a Joy Division song, the title itself seems to even be a clear sign of Danny moving up culturally from low-brow to middle-brow. Some fans may not be impressed, seeing more entertainment in his party god act. But for me, this new dark and insecure character is more relatable. None of us can relate to the party god and yet we all want to be one, whereas none of us want to be the self-doubting maniac with dark thoughts and yet all of us can relate to him. Many artists have pointed out this hypocrisy before. However few have painted it so vividly and imaginatively as Danny Brown.
Saturday, 5 November 2016
What kind of punk band collaborates with Chase and Status? Bloody sellouts! What next – trap beats and a Nicki Minaj feature?
Thankfully, much to my relief, the Tunbridge Wells duo’s new album refrains from 808 bangers and pop guests. In fact, if anything, Slaves have excitingly gone more punk – leaving off the Chase and Status collaboration much for the better, and injecting their existing garage rock sound with an extra shot of adrenaline.
The anger has been upped. They sound angrier than a constipated bear with haemorrhoids. Angrier than my ex when she screwed up her eyeliner. Angrier than me when I screw up my eyeliner. The guitars have the rawness of a festival tent and the drums border on distortion, slovenly singer Isaac Holman meanwhile screaming his lungs out on a good portion of the tracks, a step up from the Cockney-inflected yelling of Are You Satisfied?.
Indeed, none of the choruses have the same anthemic quality of a previous hit like ‘Cheer up London’, but there is something newly satisfying about the sheer unrestrained viscera of some of the screeched hooks like ‘spit it ouuuut!’ and ‘Taaaake! Controoool!’.
And there’s even more humour this time around, a bonus to anyone, unless you’re a Vulcan or Madonna. ‘People That You Meet’ shows off Isaac’s comical Ian-Dury-esque storytelling ability, the second verse opening with ‘I walked into a sex shop/ the lady had a beard’, Isaac also staunchly claiming Mike D now works for him later in the track. ‘Fuck the hi-hat’ meanwhile is a forty-five second jam, the theme of which is in the title.
There are even some brief ‘experimentations’ on the record here and there that show that the boys can employ musical prowess when they want to. Featuring aforementioned Mike D, ‘Consumed or Consumed’ sees Isaac rapping alongside the ex-Beastie-Boy over menacing guitars. ‘Steer Clear’ meanwhile is a New Wave flavoured single featuring Baxter Dury (son of a aforementioned Ian Dury).
Of course, it is bluesy, shouty punk where Slaves flourish and some the experimentations, particularly towards the back-end of the album, don’t always pay off. The duo try to wind things down with slow druggy electropop requiem ‘STD’s and PHD’s’, but it just feels like a pandering and directionless snorefest (the incorrect use of apostrophes in the song title also bugs me). Similar is ‘Angelica’, which just sound like Slaves trying to be Jamie T, whist also feeling slightly meandering.
Slowjams aside however, the rest of the album is all highlights. Even if it doesn’t have the same immediacy as its predecessor, the group haven’t become slaves to the music industry, continuing to sound as unpretty and unpolished as ever. Just don’t collaborate with Chase and Status again – you had me worried!
Friday, 4 November 2016
Meet Creature from Dell Pond.
They’re a self-proclaimed ‘supermarket trio’ from Chicago, fronted by a being named Gordon Pond and performing a twisted style of indie rock they dub on Facebook as ‘pondwater’.
Their brand new EP Battered Boyfriend plunges into the topic of domestic abuse, matching tortured lyricism with a tortured guitar sound. Bravely and cathartically drawing from his own personal experience, frontman Gordon vividly paints a picture of life as a victim and the self-deprecating and illogical thoughts that goes through one’s head.
On ‘1811 N Francisco’, stark line ‘I’m calling to tell you that Gordon’s a monster. He’s going to sleep with your wife’ sees him reflecting his partner’s paranoia over beautifully dissonant chords (of which the whole EP is uniquely made up of). ’32 Regis’ meanwhile takes the lyrical content to even darker territory, the line ‘you’ll end up like your dad hanging dead from a pole’ particularly creating a few chills, whilst instrumentally speeding up and slowing down in a bipolar fashion. And then there’s the two slower ‘1406 N Campbell’ tracks that close the record, the latter’s percussion and guitars eerily building up and then dramatically cutting out, Gordon’s final line being ‘the truth will set me free’ leaving you to frighteningly ponder what he might mean by that.
It’s a spooky, tragic, yet positively therapeutic record, Gordon freeing his psyche of its murkiest thoughts not just for himself but for every other victim of domestic abuse to relate to. There’s even a certain, dare I say it, black humour to it in it’s sheer gristly bluntness.
Those wanting to delve deeper into Creature from Dell Pond’s murky depths can read on for an interview with Gordon himself in which the two of us discuss swamps, Rihanna and, of course, pizza…
If Creature from Dell Pond was a pizza what toppings would it have?
G (Gordon): If we were a pizza it would have lots of milk on it and probably some fish tacos. Nick Alvarez (drums) makes us frozen pizzas all the time so I'll see what we can do about recreating this idea.
What’s the story behind the band name?
G: I was born in a pond and I am a creature of habit.
What inspired Battered Boyfriend? How personal are the lyrics?
G: This record was inspired by events that took place in 2015, and the lyrics are autobiographical. One of the main themes is how domestic violence is primarily recognized as male-on-female violence, and that is a huge issue that everyone needs to be aware about. In addition, there is a lot of female-on-male, male-on-male, female-on-female, etc. violence that occurs every day that is mostly not addressed by society, professionals, etc., and it's taboo to talk about it. For anyone experiencing any type of domestic abuse, Violent Partners by Linda Mills is a great resource.
The tracks are all named after addresses? Do these places all carry a significant meaning?
G: Yes. These addresses represent significant locations in my life, in both the events that have taken place at these locations and the people who reside(ed) there.
The melancholy chord choices that you guys use are really unique. Who are your inspirations?
G: Alex jokes that I write songs using only major seventh chords, which is mostly accurate. Nick listens to a lot of jazz, a lot of improvised music, I know he loves U.S. Maple. Alex is very influenced by early American musical theater. I am really into Speak No Evil by Wayne Shorter at the moment. I think we all love the Chicago band Paper Mice.
What new music are you guys listening to right now? Any upcoming bands that people ought to know about?
G: I just bought the new Deerhoof album, The Magic, and wow, it's incredible. I also purchased Malibu by Anderson Paak and I really enjoy that as well. ANTI - Rihanna has been on heavy rotation, too. Oh, and I know Ryan Power has a new record coming out at some point and I'm anticipating that very much.
Funniest gig story?
G: Nick and Alex kicked me out of the band after a show and uploaded a picture of the two of them on our Facebook page saying to never talk to them about Gordon again because he got so drunk. To this day, I'm still not sure if it was a joke or not.
Would you guys ever consider playing live in a swamp?
G: Of course, swamp water is my natural habitat.
What does the future hold for Creature from Dell Pond?
G: A lot of musty meats and assorted fruits.
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Halloween’s over now. We can all look forward to next week’s scary event – Election Day! In the meantime, check out these terrifying tunes
‘Fat Fingers’ – clipping.
What’s so terrifying about this song? Well, it’s about Donald Trump, innit. Listening to some of the not-so-complimentary bars, I have a hunch Daveed Diggs and crew won’t be voting Republican next Tuesday. And even if I do think some of the lyrics goes a bit overboard (he’s a lot of heinous things, but an ‘uncredited rapist’?), the addition of the New Zealand and Canada national anthems are quite a clever touch (basically if Trump wins everyone’s emigrating). Producers Hutson and Snipes meanwhile provide an industrial beat harder than Trump-Wall-concrete. A video of the candidate’s Hollywood star being vandalised accompanies the single.
‘Mouldy Water’ – Harry Macintosh Project
What’s so terrifying about this song? How about the video, which sees the singer donning a creepy mask and trying to shove a cucumber through a letterbox. Hailing from Berkshire and Hampshire, this group of loopy lads are an infusion of crazed vocals and half-proggy/half-punky guitars. Technically this track was released last year (which in blogging terms is well old m8), but I’m plugging it anyway because these dudes deserve the exposure. The band also have a new EP out, which you can stream here.
‘KYMS’ – Mannequin Death Squad
‘No More Interviews’ – Big Sean
What’s so terrifying about this track? The fact that Big Sean’s bars are sounding scarily good (I think I should give up on this Halloween theme…). Peeved at the media always poking away at his personal life (those blasted music journos and music bloggers!), the Detroit emcee delivers this new fiery track urging people to focus on his music and to stop interrogating him with irrelevant questions about his relationship with Kanye and the like. But his jibes don’t stop there – going beyond the media and taking shots at other rappers ‘and I’m just not impressed by all you niggas rapping fast/ who sound like one big asthma attack/ but trash when I’m rapping it back’. Is this a dig at Kendrick?
Grime king Skepta delivers this riot anthem to the accompaniment of some self-produced slimy bass and horror twinkles. The vibe is very similar to his recent single ‘It Ain’t Safe’ (perhaps a bit too similar) but still uniquely Skepta-sounding. Unveiled on October 31st, the track was released alongside a freestyle titled ‘#nosecurity’.
‘Somebody to love’ – Robby the Elf
This isn’t a Queen cover. In fact, what is it? Country? Pop? Is that rapping? Why does he sound a bit like Stephen Hawking?