This week, my Tuesday Ten is a bit later than usual, but still on a Tuesday. It’s all about bands you probably haven’t heard of. Of course, there are some of you that have. Hence the probably. Then again, if you know me well enough, you might well have heard me carp on about a few of these bands at least once.
Still, maybe you might find something new that you like here. If not, maybe I’ll do this with another ten bands sometime. And I’d love to know your suggestions for something I might like (see the end).
Listen to: Gun Lover, Parasite Mine
A Chicago industrial band that have remained a somewhat underground band throughout their career, which has always remained something of a mystery to me. Perhaps it’s the sheer aggression, or the fact that their sound frequently falls between the two stools of industrial and metal. Calling their latest album Psycho the Rapist probably didn’t help, either. Despite the apparent lack of name recognition (at least outside of the US), though, members of the band have been active on a number of other fronts, including the side-project DJ?Acucrack and various production work (not least assisting Cyanotic along the way).
Listen to: Translucent Amber
A band I found by total accident reading Alternative Press many, many years ago (remember that, back when the music press was worth reading?), this was a Detroit-based industrial project that really was something different. This was minimal electro-industrial, that was frequently soundscapes with beats (and samples, lots of samples), cold and very, very dark but surprisingly accessible. But the spectre of label problems – I seem to recall both of the two labels that three of the albums were released on collapsed – pretty much put paid to any chance to wider success. A shame, really – this was extraordinary music. If you ever find the album Author of Pain (it took me seven years to find a “blue” version of it, I had the “red” version with less tracks from the start), pick it up – you won’t be disappointed.
Listen to: Fixer Fixed
Remarkably, this new artist’s debut album is on Spotify, which surprised me a lot. But it’s a good thing, as I can link directly to a track for you to listen to, and right now I can’t recommend this highly enough. More old-school industrial, but with a much cleaner production and a much, much more dense sound than HWF. But in vocal delivery, it’s interestingly not far off, in being rather restrained and low in the mix – in other words, the lyrics aren’t as important as the overall sound. Sample-use and the ultra-dense sound generally is a clear nod to late-80s/early-90s Skinny Puppy, of course, but who in industrial could possibly not claim them as an influence somewhere along the line? Anyway, if you like industrial, and want something that isn’t another indentikit-industek band or whatever, do yourself a favour and listen to this.
Listen to: My Reward
To my shame, actually, this somehow ended up being omitted from both my best tracks of 2009, and worse still, my best albums of 2009. I mentioned it in my roundup of the year, but perhaps I simply hadn’t listened to it enough at that point. I have now, having listened to the whole album countless times, and I’m now of the opinion that until the release of Edge of Dawn’s staggering second album a few months ago, this album had been the best melodic, electronic album released in some years. The songs are frequently lengthy – most of them are five-minutes-plus – but they are such an enthralling listen, not to mention such fantastic songs, that the length of the album is a good thing. It gives you time to lose yourself in it’s beauty.
Listen to: Self-Defence [Steel Alloyed Edit]
Yes, more industrial of the current harking back to those of the present. But frankly, these bands looking even a little bit backwards are making more interesting and thoughtful music than those simply slavishly following current trends. This band had two albums out before I’d even discovered them, thanks to the appearance of the thumping Self-Defence appearing on one of the Endzeit Bunkertracks compilations, proving that once in a while they do showcase a new band actually worth bothering with. This owes more of a debt to FLA, to be honest, but the band don’t let their influences overwhelm an interesting sound (and they weren’t bad live, either, as I recall).
Listen to: Bellbottoms
Blues-rock revivalism from the 90s that recently got a long-overdue reappraisal, as most of his backcatalogue has been re-mastered and re-released. Still the ultimate embodiment of what Jon Spencer did was the three minute wonder of Bellbottoms. There’s not a lot to it. There’s the Elvis-esque drawl, the many repeats of the title, the bass-less groove. Pretty all you need to know about this groovy-as-fuck band in three simple minutes.
Listen to: Who Is Your God
I’ve got to the seventh band in this ten, and not a single one of them is English (or even British). Well, these guys were. Active for just one album, their anthemic industrial rock got them noticed quickly, signed to Chrysalis…and seemingly dropped just as fast. A shame, as they were certainly better than many of the bands Kerrang and others were pushing to the surface at the time. I even saw them hold their own against an extremely partisan Motorhead crowd at Brixton once, too. Marketed at the time as something like a “British Nine Inch Nails” (not for the first or last time this happened, either), they were a little different to that. Entirely unafraid to have monstrous dancefloor industrial tracks next to tender ballads on the album, it was surprisingly diverse but really, really never got the attention it deserved.
Listen to: Lean On Me (Ah-Li-Ayo)
One of the many bands I remember my dad playing an awful lot in the eighties – the album the track I’ve linked to above was first released back in 1986 – I ended up rediscovering it a few years back, to my surprise finding that it had received the remaster/rerelease treatment. And you know what? It’s still bloody marvellous. As was the fashion at the time, it’s left-field pop music with a world music feel, particularly in it’s rhythms and backing vocals, and a number of absolutely extraordinary pop songs – remarkably Lean On Me and For America were both top ten hits in the UK. Even more remarkably, they are now back with their first new album in twenty years. Plenty was released earlier this month, and it’s a little more world-weary, perhaps, but the quality songcraft is still there. And it’s better than Hurts, too.
Heavy, political, LA-based, in the nineties? No, not Rage Against The Machine, but their lesser-known, and much more hardcore, contemporaries SPE. Played occasionally on alternative music shows of the time – needless to say how I ended up picking up their brutal first two albums – they were a rather visceral listen. With everything stripped down as much as possible, and with a very, very dry production, the guitars felt like needles in your ears and the vocals kept jabbing you in the chest. Reputedly absolutely fearsome live, too, I missed their one appearance with Quicksand in London in ’96/’97. If you like your hardcore political, try and find this. Or ask me nicely, as their material has been deleted a long time (and unavailable anywhere online, from what I can tell).
Finally? There isn’t a tenth entry, as I’d love to know about a band you think I might like to hear, and that I’ve not heard of.