Another month already – and time for my usual monthly rundown of the best tracks of the month. As is usual, this will be the last monthly rundown of the year – December will see my end of year roundups.
Track of the Month:
Her last album made it into my albums of last year, and at this rate the new one will be doing the same this time around. Her vocal style alone would stand her out from the crowd – a voice capable of both hitting astonishing heights and sounding frankly fucking terrifying – but the musical arrangements that surround it lift things even further. A meshing of electronics and classical elements, in the main, and on this track (the lead single for the new album) it is a pulsing, quasi-industrial rhythm that is finally let rip at the close, but all the way along, sounds huge. Played even at medium volume it simply dominates the room and draws you in ever closer.
The Invisible Plan
The Invisible Plan EP
The welcome return of kidneythieves last year was one of the more pleasant musical surprises of 2010, and following their long absence, it is great to see that only a year or so later they have returned with a new EP of material. And even better is that it is pretty heavy stuff, too, especially the cracking title track – possibly better than the whole last album. A stuttering, staggering track that bursts through to full throttle for the chorus. A new album in 2012, too, by the looks of things. No complaints here…
One of the most thrilling debuts in ages in 2009, the new stuff is keeping up the quality level, it would appear. And this first taste of the forthcoming album, to me at least, is just as anthemic as Dominos, but hopefully might not soundtrack quite as many things on TV… So if you liked The Big Pink the first time around, this is more of the same. Mid-paced electronics and beats underpin a rolling melody and another corker of a chorus. Now, this time, I really should see them live.
Common Burn/Lay Myself Down
Common Burn/Lay Myself Down
The ultimate nineties torch act return with new material, fifteen years since their last album, and it could perhaps be said that in their world, no time has passed whatsoever. There is no concession to musical fashions since, no remixes, indeed the only sign that it is 2011 and not 1996 is that the two new tracks have been released digitally. Hope Sandoval’s gorgeous, lazy-sounding voice is present and correct, as is the bluesy backing of David Roback. So it is two more lush songs to add to the Mazzy Star canon, here is hoping that long-promised album finally arrives soon.
It is *always* fantastic when a previously overlooked band that you love come back with an awesome album, and this is exactly what has happened here. The roaring, metallic juggernaut that is Will Haven have returned again apparently unscathed from previous line-up changes, reunited with original vocalist Grady Avenell, and all of the elements that made this band so intriguing in the first place are still here. Snarling, raging metallic fury, the bellowed vocals, and most importantly a sense of melody and songcraft within the maelstrom – and this track, the first track proper on the album, is an absolute brute of a track. I’m absolutely stoked about seeing them live in a few weeks – for the first time in about eleven or twelve years – and this one should slay.
It seems at the moment that all the buzz about Black Metal is coming from the US – for me a location that has only produced one or two really good BM bands over the years (which includes Nachtmystium, at least). Well, here is another – yet another band that I perhaps had overlooked in the past, and as is often the case I finally got nudged into listening to them by someone else linking to them. This new album is seriously good, too. And a bit different in the lyrical outlook, too. Seemingly looking to the natural world for inspiration, it is perhaps a relief to hear a BM album that isn’t obsessed with religion in one way or another. This doesn’t make it any less good, though – it tears out of the speakers at you, and this track is perhaps the most straight-up BM on the album – a dry, crackling storm of blastbeats, twisted, tormented vocals and jagged riffs.
Post-Rock, Post-Metal, who cares? This Post- business has been around for long enough now for it to have splintered off in a number of directions, and interestingly (for me, anyway), most of these differing directions have remained of note. Russian Circles clearly exist at the heavier end of the spectrum, so I’ve found – thanks to for reminding me that they exist and that I really should listen to them. So where better to start with their new album. Forty-or-so minutes (and six songs) of rough-edged movements, as opposed to songs. This opener is a great way to draw you in – a dark, grinding piece that subtly brings in samples and electronics to widen the palette. Not a million miles away from Neurosis, as it happens, without the heavy-as-fuck vocals over the top.
Myopic (feat. Caustic)
The latest artist to make the breakthrough from small noise to big label is Scott Fox, aka iVardensphere – who has produced two exceptional albums of tribal-tinged industrial up to now, and who I heard for the first time at Kinetik earlier in the year (and picked up both albums then). What has been of note is his ability to release both thoughtful, measured work and banging club tracks, and be equally adept at both. So there has been a fair amount of interest in this forthcoming album, especially as there are a fair number of guests. I’ve heard samples of bits and pieces of the new album (the track featuring This Morn’ Omina in particular sounds like it is going to be spectacular), but this is the first one where I’ve heard all of it – and it is fantastic. This definitely fits in the banging club track category, and is lifted higher by the unhinged vocal performance of Matt Fanale (aka Caustic). A meeting of minds that works very well indeed.
We had no idea who this was when we first saw it on MTV, but I was hooked from the start. A sparse, tribal rhythm dominates the track, with a resigned vocal seemingly reluctant to take centre stage. But what is also of note here is the striking video – apparently the artist is rather better known as a video director, so this should perhaps make sense. But as a whole they come together to offer one of the more, well, different singles in a while – admittedly not hard in a year where mainstream music has been, frankly, fucking awful.
This month’s “why didn’t I hear this before?”
2 3 Clear
How To Do Battle
While I’ve listened on-and-off to Senser’s now age-old debut Stacked Up for a long time, I can’t say that I’ve listened to a great deal of their material since they returned as the original lineup. Having now heard this monster of a track, perhaps I have been missing out. Despite being two years old, this track now has a video and at least from my perspective, it has done the job. Every bit as political, biting and rocking as their old material, this is a whip-smart piece of ageless rap-metal that deserves to drag a new generation of fans in and fast.