This post was held over from yesterday, as /amodelofcontrol.com observed #theshowmustbepaused (and made a few small contributions to help to try and make a better future).
The world might be going to hell in about a million different ways, but I’m still writing. It is my outlet right now, a way of getting a ton of thoughts out of my head, and stopping me from going mad with boredom (and likely annoying the hell out of my wife, too). It has also got me listening to vastly more new music than I have in a while, and even then I’m still not keeping up with the flood of promo e-mails I get.
/Tuesday Ten/411/Tracks of the Month/May-20
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2020
An unexpected quirk of this week’s /Tracks of the Month, in these times, is that – as far as I can tell, anyway – every single artist featured is either an artist self-releasing their material, or on a genuinely independent label, something I’m not sure that I’ve achieved in one of these monthly posts in some considerable time. Where possible and available, playable versions of the tracks have been embedded from Bandcamp (who are waiving their fees again this Friday).
This is one of the reasons why I’m continuing with my posts, including these /Tracks of the Month posts. Indeed, perhaps these are more important than ever. We need to find ways to help artists out while they aren’t touring, be that by sharing new music, buying new music, even streaming new music. So consider this part of my own assistance for the greater good. As many of you may have noticed, I’m uninterested in sticking to particular styles of music. My tastes in music don’t fit into one particular box, and thus what I write about here won’t be confined as such either.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Track of the Month
/All I Asked For (Was To End It All)
A name I’d seen mentioned around over the past year or so, it took me a while to finally take up the various recommendations from friends, and listen to A.A. Williams. As is often the case, my response was “what took me so long?”. Her bleak, stark songs certainly seem to benefit from a solo setting, as some extraordinary “Songs from Isolation” videos have proved during the lockdown (particularly an astonishing take on a Deftones favourite), but even with a full band around her, there is a deep sense of loneliness and despair to her songs. And yes, I know there has been another single since this one (the excellent Melt), but this song stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it, and you should go and listen to this five minutes of utter, desperate beauty right now.
London-based industrial pioneers Portion Control have returned with their first album in eight years – and selling downloads of it from their own website, at unexpectedly low rates, even for WAV files – and their power is undimmed. Lead single – and title track – Head Buried is a characteristic PorCon song. A steady, thunderingly heavy rhythm provides the undertow for Dean Piavani’s sneering, jabbing vocals, and it is a neat introduction to an album that sees more experimentation than you might expect for a group that has now been going for 41 years.
The angry-sounding punk of IDLES has turned out to be the work of a uniquely uplifting band, a band that wants to do better and be better, and do a lot of work encouraging their fans and other people to do the same. So it is perhaps no surprise to find that their new single, released during the Lockdown, is a positive, fun three-minute blast. As usual, Joe Talbot mixes in random pop-culture references with serious messages, but the chorus makes this clear – seize the day, do something. The video, too – with footage from fans doing workouts – is a whole lot more fun than the never-ending stream of adverts from companies that “care”. IDLES: Britain’s most vital band right now?
I can’t say I was ever expecting to get the first interview since the (equally-unexpected) reformation of Consolidated, but that’s what happened on /Talk Show Host/063. Their first track since their return pretty much does what I expected, and is just as furious as I thought it might be. A rolling, industrial-hip-hop groove provides the basis for a lengthy rant on the issues of today – and in many, depressing respects, it is an indictment of the modern age that literally none of this has been addressed. I await more new material with interest.
The well-regarded Manchester collective Drøne has released an excellent compilation recently (with all proceeds going to local NHS charities and foodbanks in their area), which would be reason enough to pick it up, were the music on not so damned good. While the company I work for is based just south of Manchester, as I work from home I’m rarely up north (especially these days!), and the usual mid-week travel means that I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting one of Drøne’s nights thus far, but this compilation confirms that I really need to. There’s a lot of artists on it new to me, but the stand-out track to my mind is this track. Monstrously heavy kick-drums underpin a riot of acid lines that begs to be played loud. Really loud.
More goth/post-punk? There’s been a lot of good stuff about in recent months, and this Italian band are the latest to come to my attention. The opening track to their latest release is a glowering beast of a dancefloor track, with a bassline that shrouds the rest of the track in shivering darkness, and at points, a punchy drum pattern fights its way into the clear air for a few seconds to great effect. The rake-thin vocals work well with the sound generally, too, especially for the snappy chorus. Another track that I want to hear loud, in a smoke-filled club. Remember them?
This unexpected collaboration between Chelsea Wolfe and Jess Gowrie is an intriguing one. One that takes in the styles of both, but across just eighteen minutes and eight tracks, varies hugely in style, but leans particularly on no-wave rock and dark, dark folk. For me, too, it’s a much more satisfying listen than some of Wolfe’s more recent work in particular, which after a few listens I’ve found rather unengaging, certainly compared to the stark intensity of her earlier releases. This track, though, is the pick of the short release. A rolling, dark power fizzes through this song, as it the guitars chug and Wolfe’s wails and howls her vocals through the dusty world that the song seems to kick up.
/Everybody Leaves A Mark
The first new song in a little while from Beth Rettig’s new projec Where We Sleep is perhaps her best song yet under the name. It is a bleak, pared-back song, that seems to perfectly reflect the mood of the times. There is sombre sense of loss made plain here, something that she occasionally hinted at in Blindness songs, but never as clearly as this – and it becomes one of the few songs I’ve heard during this lockdown that actually gets across the genuine fear of isolation and loneliness that some are experiencing. These are tough times, and while music isn’t going to solve the problems we face, it can help us deal in some ways, and this song does exactly that.
/Ghosts of the Earth
GoFight is a project that has long stuck to its guns – anti-war, sex-positive, and generally Progressive in outlook. All the while, continuing to make excellent, sleek industrial dance music. The latest single from the upcoming new album is their best song in a while, too, a powerful, groovy track that looks at the idea of a dystopian future where progress is on the backs of the workers. Frankly, right now, it’s looking like contemporary comment, mind, but this is an excellent song that also has a beautiful, smart video, too.
I’m a sucker for well-produced electro-industrial, and Australian artist Caustic Grip is a relatively new artist that has been raising eyebrows for the punchy music released so far – but this new mini-album is a step above what has come before. Particularly the brief, rippling power of The Destroyer, a track based upon synth programming that is easily the equal of classic 242 and FLA that it harks back to. Everything about this track bristles with menace and delivers exactly what I’d want to hear with a band name like this. Recommended.
The person behind Skinjob has been a fixture of the UK industrial scene for a good many years, and when this was released recently, I was surprised to realise that it is no less than nine years since their debut album Selfish Discipline – and no less than fourteen years since the original demo (I still have both). The new album is an interesting one, an almost retro-futurism abounds with sleek, slick synths and pounding beats, and a distinct feeling that this is taking up the baton from the futurepop era. This is no bad thing, mind, as these are very good songs, and Perfect Blame in particular, with the subtle backing vocals adding another dimension, is an excellent song that will doubtless make it into future DJ sets.
/Through The Dark, Love
Not your expected career trajectory, I’ll give her that – one-time bassist and music press pin-up of hotly-tipped Irish indie band, returns with an avant-noise-folk album recorded during her recent pregnancy. This is a pitch-dark album, working with producer Lasse Marhaug, and swarms of noise and static permeate songs to different degrees, with Woods’ voice and delicate guitar and/or piano in hushed tones, too. It feels like an album laced with dread and terror, perhaps of her own future once she brought her child into the world, perhaps wider (and well-founded) concerns – and this elegant, brittle song in particular feels like the calm before the storm. But this also feels like an album where we have to unpick the details ourselves, finding the signals within the noise here, and it is well worth your time.