Tuesday Ten: 280: Tracks of the Month (January 2017)

We’re into a new year, I’ve already got started with other posts, so here we go with the first new tracks post of 2017.

Playlists:
Spotify
YouTube

As is often the case, December into January is a veritable flood of new music, as many artists either release new albums or tease tracks from forthcoming new albums. There are examples of both here, and they include both artists new and old – eleven great songs and, er, one not so good (but worthy of note). A whole slew of other tracks have been held over, and next month the round-up may well include twenty songs.


Track of the Month

This Morn’ Omina
Maenad (ccf)
Kundalini Rising

Watch on YouTube

This Morn’ Omina return, with their first new album since the astonishing L’Unification Des Forces Opposantes (one of the few albums ever to get 10/10 on amodelofcontrol.com, and thus unsurprisingly #1 on 2011: Albums), having moved from ant-zen to Dependent in the meantime. An act that long since nailed their style – a techno-tribal crossover, full of religious and devotional samples and themes that often take listeners and dancefloors to higher planes – and it seems from this first taste of the forthcoming album that nothing has been broken while moving labels and constructing a new album.

As is usual for a “single” release from Mika Godrijk and company, this track is the shorter, DJ-friendly [ccf] variant, and it is a corker. Thundering drums pound out the rhythm, howls of voices punctuate the rhythms and call in moments of calm, and as a taster of what’s to come, I’m now on the edge of my seat for the rest of it.


Uniform
The Light At The End (Cause)
Wake In Fright

I mentioned Uniform before Christmas, covering a recent single, but this new album tops that by some margin. Eight songs of thrashing industrial brutality, with a fuzzy, bass-heavy production that only makes the sound more jagged. This is music of fury, hate and despair, that of a duo that is well and truly had enough of the current world and have chosen to register their disgust through music. Nowhere is this clearer than in The Light At The End (Cause), that alternates between thrash-metal pace and death industrial crawl, with vocals snarled and howled, and piercing squalls of feedback cutting through the murk.


the xx
Performance
I See You

I was a big fan of the extraordinary debut by the xx, an album that seemed structured to sound like you were intruding on the thoughts and pillow talk of two lovers late at night, while the second album tried to repeat the track but something was missing, somewhere. So colour me surprised to find that their latest, third album sees them reinvigorated and taking some risks with an established sound. There is an obvious sign of Jamie XX’s own solo work bleeding into the band’s sound – a more upbeat, clubland feel is in evidence on some songs – but elsewhere there is a strengthening of what they already do so well. The best moment here is one of the latter songs – Performance is a star vehicle for Romy Madley Croft’s delicate vocals, where amid a sparse backing of synths and weeping strings, she questions how much of a fa├žade she must keep up, and the result is a song of quite astonishing intimacy.


Empathy Test
By My Side

A band who are finally getting wide recognition across “our” scene and other related scenes, too – and on this site, where last single Demons was #2 in Tracks: 2016 – return with their latest single, as a precursor to their debut album that comes at last in May. This is another slice of atmospheric, romantic synthpop that rides along with a soaring chorus and intelligent lyrics – not to mention the first use of “recidivist” in a song that I can recall. Anyway, I reiterate my previous comments about this band – they are destined for great things, and support Mesh once again on their upcoming tour dates.


Desperate Journalist
Resolution
Grow Up

Another band destined for great things – although a bit further along the line toward achieving them, perhaps, with the amount of press coverage they’ve had in recent times in particular – are London’s Desperate Journalist. Their second album Grow Up is released in late March, and this is the second excellent single from it, full of driving basslines, chiming guitars and otherworldly vocals from Jo Bevan, who seems to effortlessly reach ranges that other vocalists simply can’t come near. She adds a dramatic flourish to so many of the band’s songs, and this is one of their best yet.


Code Orange
Forever
Forever

I’ve not really kept up with recent developments in hardcore, and Code Orange are yet another reminder of perhaps why I should. Youth Code have recently toured with them, and there are obvious thematic links. Code Orange are unafraid to use electronics and samples, but they are a subtle underpinning of a bludgeoning, metallic-hardcore sound that, as the title track proves, doesn’t have to be paced at a million miles an hour to be heavy as shit. It does what it needs to – cliff-sized riffs, thundering breakdowns, screamed vocals – and like most of the songs on the album, only lasts as long as it needs. There are few odysseys into experimentation here, just top-quality beatdowns. They come to the UK next month supporting Gojira, too.


Cocksure
Heretic Hypocrite

Released right at the end of last year, just in time for a hometown show in Chicago, came this first new track from Cocksure in a year or so. The work of Jason Novak and Chris Connelly has seen a marked change over their two albums so far (as they used strictly original kit for the first album, as noted in the 2015 interview with amodelofcontrol.com), and this fantastic new track sees them building on Corporate_Sting. There aren’t a great deal of lyrics, but those that there are see Connelly expand on the titular theme – however the groove is the king here. A sinuous swirl of synths wrap around a thumping beat-led groove, and I can only hope that this is the taster for a third album during 2017.


OHM
Uppercut

Perhaps understandly, there is an awful lot of anger in music from the US at the moment, with events both before and after Trump’s election victory seemingly inspiring a whole lot of music (there was an avalanche of new songs released, many of them as one-offs, around the day of Trump’s inauguration in particular). One that came early in January was this new track from Craig Huxtable and Chris Peterson’s project OHM, which sees a thumping, electronic backbone provide a platform for Huxtable’s furious rant at the religious right in the US. It is a great song, too, and this is another artist where I’m really hoping for a new album sometime soon.


Arcade Fire
I Give You Power (feat. Mavis Staples)

One of those one-offs came from Arcade Fire (who are finishing up their new album for 2017 release at the moment, it is understood), this was explicitly released as a fundraiser for the ACLU (who, incidentally, raised xx (LINK) in just one weekend recently as a direct result of protests against Trump’s immigration policies). It is perhaps a more electronic-soul based song than Arcade Fire have ever attempted before, but still keeps to the roof-raising, heartwarming positivity that this band have kept as a thread that runs through everything that they do. Needless to say, too, Mavis Staples adds her barnstorming vocal power to elevate this song to another level.


Pharmakon
Transmission
Contact

Margaret Chardiet returns for another aural assault under her Pharmakon moniker, and let’s be very clear here – this will be hard work for most, and many will turn off by one minute in. But if you can take the intensity – and the juddering buzzsaw that underpins most of the track – this is enthralling, harsh electronics. Rather than an outright howl, too, Chardiet has done a cool echo effect with her voice that makes the vocals difficult to understand but scary as shit. She plays London in April (and her live shows are even more intense than her music).


Dead Animal Assembly Plant
Rise With Me
OFH: Prime Cuts

One of the intriguing offshoots from the apparent Nu-Metal revival of recent years is that like the first time around, it has also brought all kinds of odd bands at the fringes back to attention too. One of those bands is Pacific North West-based band Dead Animal Assembly Plant, who I mentioned briefly last year and deserve another mention thanks to their snarling new single. Very much in the realm of the earlier period of American Head Charge (when they were properly unhinged), it has a pristine, clear production that makes every drum beat sound like a gunshot, and the guitars sound like chainsaws. But crucially, it has a huge, anthemic sound of the style that saw Marilyn Manson take over the world two decades back. This is awesome stuff, and just the kind of nasty, reactionary music this grim world needs and deserves right now.


Depeche Mode
Where’s The Revolution
Spirit

Where’s the fire? Where’s the power? Where’s the energy? Where’s the Depeche Mode I used to love? Where’s the interesting samples? Where’s a song I can remember? Where’s a song that isn’t so dreary? Where’s the band that still give a shit?

The new album is called Spirit, which judging on this song, is something of an oxymoron.

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