Black Moth – The Killing Jar
If the idea of an unholy union of early Hole and Kyuss gets you wriggling in your seat a bit, you’re going to love Black Moth. Apparently a while back they abandoned their garage roots and surrendered themselves to the riff, which seems to be paying off. Singer Harriet brings a bit of drama and a distinctly early 90s grunge / punk vocal style to the songs, but the music is flat out Sabbath / Stooges riffing – no frills but lots of fuzz. It’s not a wildly varied album – the default setting is “heavy as fuck” – but it’s loud and brutal and in your face, which works for me.
Susanna – Wild Dog (Rune Grammofon)
While she’s pretty damn massive at home in Norway, if Susanna is known here at all, it’s probably for her gorgeous, minimal covers of tunes like Jolene with her Magical Orchestra. This is her third solo album and it’s a damn fine collection of haunted, melancholy piano ballad originals, with enough instrumental and production flourishes to make it stand out. The excellent Wild Horse Wild Dog veers into noisier territory with some Crazy Horse guitar but for the most part the mood is distinctly desolate and heartbroken. I’d love to not resort to a Kate Bush comparison but it is valid – something in the arrangements and multi-tracked voices betrays a definite influence – but this is stirring stuff.
I’d normally run a mile from anything vaguely bossa nova, especially with Rhumbas in the name, but Real Fantasy is actually pretty lovely. The piano is wonderful, the percussion suitably shuffling, and mainman Simon Taylor’s voice has a warm, miserabilist quality that offsets all that sunny Latin smoothness. Robert Wyatt comes to mind, and Real Fantasy wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the legendary Pillows & Prayer compilations, which is one hell of a compliment. An unexpected treat.
Luckily, Invoke don’t sound anything like the various comparisons on their Soundcloud page. Red Hot Chili Peppers? Sheesh… Instead, Misfortune is a pretty good spin on baggy-esque indie with some surfy guitar throw into the mix – think early Charlatans go Malibu. A bit heavy on the bass but it’s nice to hear some indie with relatively fresh ideas.
Randy & The Handstand Band
A promisingly crunchy intro had me hoping this wasn’t going to be the generic indie schmindie I expected, but Demon In Disguise played a classic bait & switch and before long it was pure ‘Arctic Monkeys tribute band’ hell. Randy and his band are clearly doing okay without my approval, but there’s really nothing here to set any pulses racing.
Ms Green clearly has talent in spades – she’s classically trained and you can tell. All dramatic piano flourishes and lengthy instrumental passages, Ah Good The Sea inevitably calls to mind Tori Amos and Amanda Palmer at her most overwrought. Green’s voice almost veers into that slightly nasal Liz Green territory but just about gets away with it. Satisfyingly intense.
I clearly missed the memo telling us it was time to remove Prog from our collective cultural shit list, and the north east in particular seems to have taken irritating time signatures under its sparkly cape. Zadok can obviously play, but no amount of claiming to be ‘proggrungefolk’ can excuse those fiddly little guitar fills and Steve Howe solos. At 2.45, Unit Of Judo at least has brevity on its side, but seriously kids – Say No To Yes!
The Casual Terrorist
While Mr Casual Terrorist – CJ Reay to his mum – clearly sees himself as part of the anti-folk scene, You Should Probably Stick To What You Know Best sounds more like an unplugged session by an American indie band – mid-period Lemonheads, say – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s an occasional sparkle in his acoustic guitar style and his lyrics are decent enough but it all sounds a little weary. He’s clearly upset about a lot of things but it would be more useful to swap the weariness for some righteous anger if he really wants to stir things up.
I get the feeling that Gina Strings could be a lot of fun live – a drag disco diva giving it loads over a piano house riff. Unfortunately that really doesn’t translate in the studio. Everything sounds a little cheap, a little ‘will this preset do?’, and sadly Ms Strings’ vocals really aren’t up to much.
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