Album Review: The Last Dinosaur – Wholeness

Posted on 02 Nov 2020 at 8:08am

Slightly ahead of the curve when released in its exploration of the complex relationships between creativity, art and mental health, The Last Dinosaur’s 2017 album The Nothing was a labour of more than love for its creator Jamie Cameron, as he confronted the traumatic personal legacies of both a friend’s sudden death and his parents’ unhappy divorce.

What should however have been a cathartic unburdening proved merely to be a plateau; Cameron soldiered on, but laden still with masses of emotional backwash, beginning even to doubt the validity of his work despite the blanket praise it had received, and considering seriously a withdrawal from music completely.

At twenty-six-minutes long, Wholeness doesn’t signal much beyond a toe being dipped into the icy, sometimes hellish waters of a new decade, but working with his usual collaborators – Rachel Lanskey (viola), Luke Hayden (piano) and Lewis Daniel (woodwind and brass) – Cameron still shyly offers up fragments of what’s made his work so cherished in certain quarters.

Review: Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror EP

Posted on 30 Oct 2020 at 8:59am

It could be argued that Bring Me The Horizon have forever been shedding skins regardless of the continuously tightening grip the current pandemic has on the live part of the global music industry.

The Sheffield quintet’s sixth and last album, ‘amo’, proved to be one of the most decisive forward steps on this relentless journey, one on which they’ve consciously abandoned their screamo/metalcore beginnings and alienated plenty of long-term fans in the process.

Now is still now, of course; instead of creating a new album the band have announced they’ll release four EPs instead, dropping new music – whatever it sounds like – when they want. It’s a needed release valve.

Live Review: The Lathums at Blackpool Tower

Posted on 29 Oct 2020 at 10:21am

Pity all the ‘Ones To Watch For 2020′. In 2019 they would have built up a solid foundation of fans and critics, with everything in place for a sustained attack on the first year of the new decade.

Tours, festivals, new music would all have been locked in the diary, as well as all the other elements of a promotional campaign. But fears were raised early on in the lockdown that for anyone beneath the tier of Academy level (namely playing venues of 500 upwards), it was to be instead an uncertain future.

The Lathums fall into this criteria, although not by much, such is the momentum they have. This is speculation, but it’s not hard to envision the four-piece from Wigan as favourites during the festival season, and hype around their new Ghost EP would have been formidable. Not that they are doing badly; this livestream performance was watched by over 2000 people, and many more will catch it at a later date.

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Album Review: This Is The Kit – Off Off On

Posted on 29 Oct 2020 at 8:59am

Recently, a national news outlet ran a piece on how folk music has regained its footing at grassroots level after being hijacked by waistcoated impostors such as Mumford & Sons for profit. Folk is, they were attempting to point out, just as linked to communities and the people in them as any movement begun on any street.

This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables appeared in the piece, having been bracketed in amongst a cluster of acts who’ve kept the movement’s hearth lit whilst the Trustafarians made it briefly accessible to festival audiences. Off Off On is (in the least possessive sense) her band’s fifth album and one that deals with very modern issues as opposed to the blunted blandishments of the recent past.

Album Review: CamelPhat – Dark Matter

Posted on 28 Oct 2020 at 9:08am

It was never taken for granted that this album would be released.

Having been working together since 2004 (after DJing under several other names prior to then), Dave Whelan and Mike Di Scala released a string of singles before settling on the name CamelPhat in 2010.

The duo continued to release tracks on an as-and-when basis until their breakthrough hit Cola in 2017. Ever since, they have followed a career path broadly trailblazed by Disclosure, which will culminate in large shows in Glasgow, London and their native Liverpool next year (fingers crossed).

It’s a darker, more minimalist sound than has become CamelPhat’s signature, brought into sharp focus across the twenty-one tracks chosen to make up their debut album. Unfortunately, as an approach its limitations are laid bare when spread so thin: for every bona fide classic, there’s an inferior companion piece.

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Album Review: Chubby And The Gang – Speed Kills

Posted on 26 Oct 2020 at 11:02am

For a genre so simple (a guitar, three chords and the truth, to quote Harlan Howard), punk music has a lot of variations.

Green Day offered up ‘pop-punk’ as a title for their snotty efforts (pilfering from the Ramones whilst doing so), Oi! eventually gave way to ‘hardcore punk’ as practiced by Black Flag, and it’s best not to pull on the thread of conversation that is ‘post-punk’.

London’s Chubby And The Gang have gone back to the start, when punk in Britain evolved from what was dubbed ‘pub-rock’, as pioneered by Dr. John. On the re-released Speed Kills, they channel the early greats, with a Beano-style cover harking back to the scene’s bratty roots. Infused with youthful energy, it’s a candidate for debut album of the year.

Album Review: Autechre – SIGN

Posted on 23 Oct 2020 at 7:55am

Sean Booth and Rob Brown make their highly codified music as Autechre inside a virtual Frankenstein’s monster of software tools they call ‘the system’.

Now almost a decade old, it was originally designed out of necessity due to them no longer both living in the north west of England – as of 2020 though it’s the sort of virtual facility you imagine many would consider to be the ultimate production bunker.

In their rare interviews, Booth and Brown talk more like software engineers, a cap which seems most fitting because ever since they emerged in the early 90s as part of the post-club electronica boom, their works have iteratively become less melodic and more an exercise for the purist. That is, until now.

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Album Review: Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders

Posted on 21 Oct 2020 at 8:02am

When applied musically, the term ambient has (similarly to metal) ceased to have any real meaning after being used as a catch-all across hundreds of genres, niches and micro-scenes.

Mary Lattimore is an L.A.-based harpist who creates soundscapes which for some are to be enjoyed as vessels in which to escape reality, Silver Ladders following 2018’s Hundreds Of Days. Lattimore usually works alone at home, but this time there was other latent magic at work. After being introduced to Slowdive’s Neil Halstead by a mutual friend, the two hit it off to such an extent that she asked him to produce her next record.

Halstead agreed, and the two took up residency in his Cornish studio, working together in a part of Britain where it’s sometimes easy to feel displacement from the vagaries of modern life.

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Album Review: Future Islands – As Long As You Are

Posted on 19 Oct 2020 at 8:21am

It’s not uncommon for artists to gently criticize their past work when promoting a new release, but less so is it to create a single moment in your history which almost comes to define you live on television.

On their seventh album, Future Islands are finding a way to come to terms with both.

Firstly, let’s get it out of the way: Letterman. Singer Samuel T. Herring’s performance as your shredding uncle after a little too much booze remains landmark TV, although the singer freely admits that it was driven by a case of conscious spontaneity rather than getting lost in the moment. Whatever he knew about what he was doing that night though, he certainly had no idea the resulting hangover would last for so long.

Secondly, As Long As You Are sees the Baltimorean-via-the-world quartet now back in their more natural, hazier dream-pop environment after their less assured previous outing The Far Field, Herring unafraid to bluntly confess about it that the recording process was a rush job with one eye on a prominent slot at 2017’s Coachella Festival.

Despite the global disruption however, he’s found great personal happiness in a new relationship; much of the coming to terms with finding another human to complete you, rather than to power struggle with, is contained here in songs of veiled candor.

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Album Review: Metz – Atlas Vending

Posted on 15 Oct 2020 at 8:39am

Metz have always been a bomb, but never one that went off.

The Canadian trio have spent more than a decade now exploring the post-hardcore landscape, their eponymous debut album reaching the public as far back as 2012, but vocalist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies have, as the press release for Atlas Vending acerbically notes, never allowed themselves to be, ‘Trapped within a format typically suspended in youth’.

Instead, Edkins is talking up their fourth album as their most creative, least definitive yet: ‘We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward’, he says, brandishing a record which gleefully swings from extreme to sublime and back again in a new/old Metz-like way.

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