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This issue's selection of tunes. Scroll down, turn it up...

Birdeatsbaby

Birdeatsbaby
The Bullet Within (Dead Round Eyes)

The lavish fold-out packaging of this, Birdeatsbaby's third album, shows all four band members shooting themselves messily through the head, while birds bafflingly emerge from the shower of brains. Well, that's one way to unleash your inner dæmon. All this drops a clue, if a clue is needed, that while Birdeatsbaby aren't exactly a bludgeon riffola rock band, their cabaret-classical-vaudeville-prog musical collision contains plenty of blood, guts, ingeniously constructed dramatics, and unashamed outbreaks of art.

Title-ish track, 'The Bullet' is, in a way, Birdeatsbaby in a nutshell. It's a honky-tonk knees-up, a lavisly orchestrated last-orders singalong that could have been plucked from a rock opera version of My Fair Lady. But just when you think you've got the measure of the song, it drops down to a forbidding bass-pulse, a shimmer of strings and a Russell Mael backing chorus, then hauls itself up into a big showstopper finish - and yes, Birdeatsbaby are definitely in the room.

After all that, the regretful anthem 'Drinking In The Day' practically counts as light relief. But it's a haunted, wistful thing, pianist/vocalist Mishkin Fitzgerald sounding half defiant, half forlorn as nervy strings skitter unsettlingly in the background. 'Enemies Like Me' has a filthy, nail-dragging bass, but just when you think Birdeatsbaby have gone all grindhouse industrial (and why not, they go everywhere else), the song swells into a big production number that counter-intuitively deconstructs itself into a bleak lttle ballad.

Birdeatsbaby don't so much write songs as mini-musicals: even 'Ghosts', on the face of it a spooky little chamber piece, includes menacing drum-flourishes and a glowering bass-thrum. Dynamics, atmospherics, and theatrics are cunningly deployed throughout, and it's all given a big, rich production that puts the listener front-centre of the stalls in Birdeatsbaby's opera house.

The bass is back on 'Tenterhooks', prodding away at the crisp, taut drums, as the song swoops and pirouettes through a veritable storm of progisms, equal parts Cardiacs and Queen. 'The Lighthouse' welds a thumping great rhythm to a whimsical ballad, while 'Silence' - a kind of self-help song, or at least a clingng-on-by-my-fingernails-no-matter-what song, has a rather wonderful church hall piano sound, and one of those classic Birdeatsbaby build-ups as the song suddenly escalates from piano plunk-and-tinkle to a robust stompfest. Who needs bludgeon riffola?

Theatrical it certainly is, but there's a a sparky energy to Birdeatsbaby that comes through even in their most melancholic moments. Listening to The Bullet Within in all its rollercoaster glory is a bit like taking every ride in the funfair at once: the dodgems, the ghost train, the helter-skelter - and the waltzer, naturally.

Birdeatsbaby: Website | Facebook

Find three Birdeatsbaby live reviews here, and photos here.

Find a Birdeatsbaby interview here.

Birdeatsbaby give us some face time on 'Ghosts'. Don't have nightmares.  

 

Arrows Of Love

Arrows Of Love
Everythings Fucked (1-2-3-4)

Well, their punctuation is certainly fucked, that's for sure. But that's Arrows Of Love for you: messy, anarchic, not giving a toss. And yet behind that air of ramshackle rambunctiousness, and their all-guns-blazing grunge-punk rampage, Arrows Of Love are neat, no-shit songwriters, with a tendency to add a little post-punky angularity to their boiling rock soup - and a control of dynamics that might come as a surprise if you've got the band marked down as nothing but a noise unit.

The band showcase all of this rather neatly on 'Honey' - a stop-start distort-o-wall of sound punctuated by spikes of guitar-jangle, a clanking freight train bass, and a two vocals (male, histrionic; female, cool) trading verses. It sounds like they've thrown erverything but the kitchen sink into the song (there are even neat little "Oooohhh-ooooh" backing vocals in there somewhere) but, slightly unbelievably, it all holds together. Elsewhere, 'Prescriptions' is a motormouth blast, while 'Conspiracy Podcast' sildes into view on the back of a classic Arrows Of Love bass-clank (you can't beat the bass-clank - it's all over the album, and it's a fine sound) before resolving itself into a cacophonous rampage. Arrows Of Love are very good at cacophonous rampages, and you'll find a selection of splendid examples on this album.

Standout track is the somewhat counter-intuitive 'The Knife', a dysfunctional relationship distilled down to one song and two neatly counterpointed vocals. A quiet, measured, bleakly wistful intro gives way to a boiling mass of storming guitar and a vocal freak-out - a fine demonstration of Arrows Of Love's winning way with tension and resolution, and the ultimate proof, if proof were needed, that the band are more than just artfully dishevelled noise-rockers.

This lot know what they're doing. They're not as fucked as they'd have us believe, you know.

Arrows Of Love: Website | Facebook

Find three Arrows Of Love live reviews here, and photos here.

Arrows Of Love - 'The Knife'. Live from the cutlery drawer.

 

You The Living

You The Living
Precipice (Self release)

A new single (well, a new track uploaded to Soundcloud, which is as much a single as any other format these days) from after-dark atmospherics providers, You The Living. It's a cinematic slice of other-worldliness, a fine soundtrack for the dystopian cityscape sequence in a sci-fi movie. Yo can almost feel the blue neon rain on your face as the song drifts - delicately, but with a certain tension - towards its conclusion. A trail of drum machine pulses and synthesised handclaps guide the song along before it finally stops dead - again, slightly surprisingly, because you'd expect a long, slow, fade - in a reverb-soaked terminal beat.

It's a good introduction to You The Living's world of ambiences and precisely-structured beats, and not a million miles from Camella Lobo's excursions into similar territory - reviewed below. But there's a certain focused cool to You The Living's mise en scène that marks them out among the shoegaze-noir crowd.

You The Living: Website | Facebook

Find a You The Living interview here, a live review here, and photos here.





Manflu

Manflu
Joys Of Life (Self release)

Since I started up this webzine I've lost count of the number of bands that made it to their debut album only to split up: KASMS, S.C.U.M, An Experiment On A Bird In An Air Pump, The Partly Faithful, Vuvuvultures. They've all put the work in, srcabbled their way up, grabbed attention (not least from me), fought their way to first base, been poised for great things - and then thought, nah, let's not.

Manflu, alas, are the latest addition to this rather disheartening list. This, their long-awaited first album is also the band's abrupt goodbye. As such it stands as a souvenir of the last four years or so (much of which has been chronicled in this very webzine, of course). Manflu gig regulars will be pleased to know that the album contains all the hits and more, all given a warm, full, production that lends songs that we have only known in their rather more crashy-bashy live incarnation an unexpected depth and wide-eyed, wide-screen clarity, even as they twitch and jump and dart about at random angles.

Manflu, of course, are the unlikely progeny of an unholy marriage between prog and punk, plus a few steamy affairs along the way with everything from dubby reggae to Sonic Youthy avant rock. They certainly give the family tree a good shake here: 'Joys Of Life' is a madcap dance, a rhythmic feast, the sound of five mad professors nailing together oddly-shaped bits of who-knows-what in their shed, and unexpectedly creating a work of loopy genius.

'Wizard', equal parts deadpan humour and dead-eyed disdain, is a Beefheartian rough-and-tumble, while the mad clatter of 'James Chance Coronary' that we know from its live incarnation is transformed here into a lush, tough, rolling pulse. 'Holes' lopes along on a bassline like a cat padding around a mattress, Aza Shade's vocals close-up and intimate, the whole thing building to a fairground whirl. It's probably the jauntiest song about prostitution you've ever heard. 'Gaspar Is An Onion'- a cross between a Hillaire Belloc tale and a King Crimson prog-out if ever I heard one - is probably the closest thing here to a conventional rock song, and it still only skirts the outer limits.

'Tek', always a mad clatter live, is becomes a bass-heavy, monsterous groove, a Fritz Lang industrial anthem, percussion darting in and out of the heavy heavy guitar riff. Although I always maintain this is one song that really has to be experienced live, I'm glad Manflu nailed this one down before they headed off to their untimely exit.

Manflu: Website | Facebook

Read the Manflu interview from issue 13 here.

Find five Manflu live reviews here, and photos here.

Manflu perform 'Wizard'. This is where the magic happens.  

 

Cheshire Cat (The Bouncing)

Cheshire Cat (The Bouncing)
Green Grin (Self release)

An EP of demos, apparently, although to my ears all four tracks here seem fully-realised and produced to the hilt. Cheshire Cat (The Bouncing) are a drums 'n' bass duo, but their deliberately limited firepower is deployed with such skill you forget there's only half a band in action. It's a madcap, minimalist Nina Hagen thing, a stripped-down Slits, all vocal whoops and insistent rhythms, here and there treated with lavish amounts of flanging which, at times, lends the tunes an almost psychedelic feel.

'Alchemy' is slow, stark, a little bit Joy Division in a way, although Sabatel, on bass and vocals, deploys an assertive cod-opera delivery that I dare say might get all the neo-folkies interested. I'm not sure if the neo-folkies would dig track two, mind. While 'Mary Had A Lil Lamb' certainly packs a rhythmic punch, its nightmare nursery quality - with Sabatel unleashing several different voices in a demented dialogue with herself - is way off on the band's own loopy limb.

'Have You Ever Tried (To Catch A Kitty?) is just as bonkers as its title suggests (max flanging on this one, too - and some fine tom-tom flurries by The Lady Of Altamont, on drums), while 'Beast' powers along in a manner deceptively like a straightforward rock song. But the key word is 'deceptively'. Cheshire Cat (The Bouncing)'s brilliant strangeness lurks just below the surface, always looking for a way to break through.

Cheshire Cat (The Bouncing): Facebook

 

 

Deadcuts

Deadcuts
Dark Is The Night (Mute Elephant)

Debut album from London's enticingly dishevelled rock 'n' roll street poets - yes, I think we can call Deadcuts 'street poets', can't we? Anyone who titles their album Dark Is The Night rather than The Night Is Dark is definitely going for the poetic angle.

But Deadcuts get away with it, thanks to some swooning, layered, guitars-on-overdrive anthems that position the band somewhere to the left of the Psychedelic Furs - and there's more than a touch of Richard Butler's vocal style in Mark Keds' baleful rasp. 'Tail Of Voodoo' even brings on a touch of Magazine. There's a hint of 'Shot By Both Sides' in that needling, ascending, lead guitar. 'Floods' nudges things in the direction of the Pixies, with its assertive, chiming guitar hook and a co-vocal by Beatrice Brown, very much in the Kim Deal role here.

If all this makes it sound like Deadcuts are a distillation of post-punk guitar band influences - well, yes, in a way they are. The band are exploring territory that has been staked out by many others before them. But Deadcuts do it well - with a frayed-at-the-edges confidence that is all their own, and a swaggering, street-romantic cool that pulls you in to the band's twilight world, even though you can pretty much follow their influences like a trail of string at times.

'Pray For Jail' is Deadcuts at their most raucus and punky-rocky - two minutes-odd of terse, economical, rough-edged rifferama, the band chucking it all in and kicking it all about. But, in some ways, 'Ragged Star' is the best thing here. It's a wistful, heartfelt lament sung by Beatrice Brown to a backing of minimalist atmospheres. It's a song about - and for - the late Steve New, her partner in the left-field art-punks Beastellabeast. Deadcuts are far more of a straight-up rock proposition, but Beatrice fits in well as a foil to the lads' knowing excursions into grubby, street level rock 'n' roll flash, and on 'Ragged Star' she adds a little scoop of soul.

Deadcuts: Facebook

Find three Deadcuts live reviews here, and photos here.

 

 

Ulterior

Ulterior
Aversion (51 Records)

A slightly odd one, this: a compilation of covers and remixes released in Japan on the Tokyo-based 51 Records label. It's all good stuff, but you wonder why Ulterior didn't just licence their second album to 51 Records and have done with it. Come to that, you wonder why Ulterior never really did much with their second album at all - a couple of gigs at the Lexington and Shacklewell Arms, and that was about it for promotion in the UK. They haven't even updated their website - you'll certainly find no mention of this release there. Just as well I'm here, then, innit.

Well, Ulterior might have coasted through the last year or so without much in the way of UK activity, but the rackets in this packet show that they've still got the goods. Rowland S. Howard's 'Autoluminescent' and Bruce Springsteen's 'Statetrooper' have been thoroughly assimilated into Ulterior's world of high technology and low light, and transformed into dystopian, after-dark-in-the-big-city rumbles. Their cover of The Velvet Underground's 'Venus In Furs' - counter-intuitively reconstructed as a pumping slice of industrio-techno - also works rather well, once you get past the initial reaction of "What have they done?" Interesting to compare 'n' contrast, incidentally, with Terminal Gods' far more traditionalist take on the Velvets, reviewed below.

The Manics' 'Faster' passes, appropriately enough, in a hi-speed sprint, while Madonna's 'Justify My Love' - always a bit of a moody one, of course - gets dragged into a k-hole of blurred beats and a half-heard vocal drawl, a dancefloor downer that does its murky business while neatly avoiding the 'novelty cover version' trap.

From that point on, it's remixes all the way - including four (count 'em, four) mixes of 'The Locus Of Control', which, frankly, is about three more than we really need. Best mix of the four is the version by Venice Calypso (aka Sebastian Bartz, if I'm not mistaken), who brings on a 90s Torture Garden techno vibe.

As a keep-the-pot-boiling release, Aversion does the job. But it can't help but draw attention to the fact that Ulterior let the pot go off the boil in the first place. C'mon, gentlemen. Enough with the stop-gaps. Let's have some real action.

Ulterior: Website | Facebook

Read the Ulterior interview from issue 10 here.

Look in the archive for Ulterior live reviews, and photos here.

 

 

Terminal Gods

Terminal Gods
Machine Beat Messiah EP / Cold Life / White Light White Heat (Self releases)

Three hits of new music from the Gods, variously available as cassette, downloads, and online videos. That's what you call covering the waterfront. Taken together, the tracks capture the band veering away from their post-punky, gothic-rocky sound. Now, it sounds like they've been gettin' it together in the country, and they've done gone and got the blues.

The splat and bash of the drum machine is ever-present - no frills, just the backbeat. It's an incongruous racket, slapped up against blues-rock guitars which sound like they've been wrenched from vintage Nazareth albums. Even 'Persona', the one song where the Gods let their inner Sisters Of Mercy have its moment, contrives to sound mid-70s and mid-Atlantic, with its "Be maaah bey-beh" chorus. On 'Resurrection Man' and 'Snakebite Smile' the Gods go country-rock, half way between Gram Parsons and Graham Parker. It's as if the band have been scrolling down a list of genres, selecting influences to try out. I can't wait until they get to trad jazz, or happy hardcore. That's going to be interesting.

Terminal Gods have also discovered the joys of the rousing stadium chorus in an unfeasibly big way. In particular, 'Cold Life', a disconcerting blend of 'Sidewalking' by The Jesus And Mary Chain and 'One Vision' by Queen, almost instantly rises to a crescendo of massed hollering that practically dares you not leap up and punch the air. It's as if the band, scrolling down their influence-list, stopped at Stadium Rock and thought, "Shall we...?"

The 'White Light White Heat' video rather bafflingly includes soundcheck footage - some sort of establishing-our-authenticity thing going on, I guess, although as a veteran of many soundchecks I can tell you that they haven't got any more interesting. The song itself is a presented as a straightforward rock-out, with - yes, here goes - the biiiiiig choooooorous hoooooller (not to mention some "whoa-ho-ho-yeahs" thrown in for good measure). Terminal Gods are certainly at home to Mister Chorus these days, but steady on, lads. Let's not get cheesy about it.

If all this makes Terminal Gods sound like they haven't quite found their own identity yet - well, maybe not. But they're certainly having fun looking.

Terminal Gods: Website | Facebook

Find two Terminal Gods live reviews here, and photos here.


Terminal Gods - 'White Light White Heat'. Live under the streets of Dalston.  

 

Dressmaker

Dressmaker
Glass EP (Self release)

Dressmaker: purveyors of a precision-controlled sonic attack that takes its cue from the relentless rhythmic drive of krautrock, the hammer-and-anvil thunder of Big Black, the Birthday Party at their most gonzoid, A Place To Bury Strangers at their most ferocious - well, you get the picture. This lot are loud, and they come at you like a train.

That said, it's not just noise, noise, noise. Dressmaker might generate an exhilarating blast, but everything is firmly anchored by the band's willingness to respect the gentle art of The Song. The four tracks here are carefully engineered excersises in all-round audio intensity, but lurking underneath are real songs - you know, with hooks and choruses and all that good stuff.

'Glass' itself is almost psychedelic, a fast blast with chiming guitar dancing around the relentless bass. 'The Future' is a surprising cousin to 'Holiday In Cambodia' - there's definitely a touch of East Bay Ray in that guitar. 'We Breathe' shoves the rolling, growling bass well to the fore on a pacey scuzz-rocker. 'Skeleton Girl' is a vertiable pop song - a barrelling, churning, full-on freak-out of a pop song, but a pop song nevertheless.

Dressmaker's pop sensibility might come as a slight surprise to anyone who has only experienced the band's live incarnation, where the rampant racket dominates proceedings much like a bomb dominates its target. But this EP proves there's more to Dressmaker than just decibels.

Dressmaker: Website | Facebook

Read a Dressmaker interview here.

Find three Dressmaker live reviews here, and photos here.



Sex Gang Children
Sex Gang Children
Viva Vigilante (Song & Legend)

If albums were places, Viva Vigilante would be a velvet-draped nightclub, frayed at the edges but still the place to go for some intense and slightly dangerous pleasure...possibly even of the rock 'n' roll variety. There's definitely a feeling of defiant, gleeful hedonism here, a sense that tonight we celebrate high life and low life, glamour and art, and cast a jaundiced glance over the world while we're at it. There's plenty of all of that on Viva Vigilante, delivered with cerebral erudition, an insouciant swagger and plenty of glam-rock guitars.

We might have come a long way from the Sex Gang Children's early 80s rhythm-and-shriek post-punk workouts, but it's a logical progression. The band's aesthetic has matured in a way few of their contemporaries can claim. Most of the surviving bands from the early goth zone are playing the old hits on a nostalgia ticket. Not so the Sex Gang Children.

Harnessing the art cart to the rock 'n' roll horse, Andi Sex Gang and his crew of unassumingly adept musicians (there's no showing off here, but the band has its chops down flat) have hit upon a musical style that nods to its influences but remains, in the end, unique. It's a grandly declamatory glam-vaudeville, containing swooping drama and bristling attitude and moments of detailed subtlety and surges of visceral noise, all kept under precise control - and all featuring Andi Sex Gang's keening wail. There's certainly only one vocalist who sings like that.

Both voice and band are in full effect on the tale - possibly allegorical, possibly just lurid - of 'Hollywood Slim', and the untypically direct 'Religion Free Zone' - "Why not just be you?" demands Andi, while the music churns like a long-lost track from T. Rex's The Slider. 'Death Squad Diva' is a roiling, spiky thing that resolves itself into a classic Andi Sex Gang chorus, while 'Die Traube' - a live fave for a long while now - is a valedictory ballad with a here-I-stand-I-can-do-no-other theme. Easing in, like a slice of ambient cabaret, the song abruptly erupts in a storm of crashing guitar and vocal intensity, where Andi - doubtless with great relish - lets himself off the leash and gives it the full howl-at-the-moon treatment. Yes, here's where the cerebral collides with the visceral, and it's a skilfully orchestrated pile-up.

Sex Gang Children: Website | Facebook

Find a Sex Gang Children live review here, and photos here.



Modern Movement

Various Artists
Modern Movement (aufnhahme + wiedergabe)

A lavish package from Modern Movement, purveyors of art 'n' entertainment to the Berlin underground. This compilation comes encased in an elegant hardback book of Tom Kavanagh's photos of the artists - many of whom you'll recognise from the pages of this very webzine. This is a celebration of Berlin's Links-Kunstfeld: the movers, shakers and noisemakers who keep Berlin interesting.

It must be said that Modern Movement's noisemakers are also on a mission to keep Berlin eighties. If there's a theme to the music on this album, it's left-field, minimalistisch, eighties electro. That seems to be the principal inspiration, main influence, and all-round source material for many of the artists here. The effect, at times, is a bit like listening to one of the cassettes I painstakingly recorded off the John Peel show, circa 1983.

Imagine the teenage me, poised over the pause button, ready to start the tape whenever Peelie played something intriguingly weird. I think I'd certainly roll the tape for Gertrud Stein's 'U-Bahn' - a sequencer disco groove, like a cross between Borghesia and Donna Summer - and for 'Man Vs. Air' by Mary Ocher and Your Government, which sounds like Patti Palladin kicking out the jams. Velvet Condom's 'Rouge City' is a boystown floor-filler, while Petra Flurr is clearly channelling The Normal and DAF in equal proportions on 'Bruder'.

I could do without 'Bigos' by Jemek Jemowit, which sounds like he's trying to cover The Waitresses' 'I Know What Boys Like' on a Speak & Spell, but Reliq's 'Cutthroat' is a genuine tour de force: a slow-burn, slow-build, throbbing pulse of a song which escalates over seven minutes and twenty-odd seconds into an atmospheric, wide-screen, techno-tribal anthem. It sounds far more fully-realised than much of the knowingly naif bedroom electro here, and, significantly, it doesn't owe any particular debt to the decade of ra-ra skirts and the Yamaha DX7.

The overall eighties influence on this compilation sits rather oddly with Modern Movement's apparent view of itself as curator of Berlin's contemporary zeitgeist. It's certainly ironic that twenty-first century Berlin sounds so much like eighties London. In fact, the more poppy end of Modern Movement's spectrum dovetails neatly with the kind of stuff that The Electricity Club - fellow eighties electroheads who opened the style book at party rather than art - are doing in London right now. Perhaps there's a collaboration just waiting to happen. Meanwhile, pause button Peelists will feel entirely at home in Modern Movement's Berlin.

Modern Movement: Website | Facebook



Tropic Of Cancer

Tropic Of Cancer
Restless Idylls (Blackest Ever Black)

How about this for gothic melodrama. The album is called Restless Idylls, the label is called Blackest Ever Black. There certainly seem to be a few hands being stapled to foreheads around here. But although the terminology comes across as almost parodically gothique, Tropic Of Cancer are not yer average goffick rock band. In fact, they're not rock, and not even a band. Tropic Of Cancer is the trading name of Camella Lobo, under which she creates twilight ambiences that pitch up somewhere between HTRK's bleak anti-disco, and a subterranean, slo-mo Cocteau Twins.

It's after-dark atmospherics all the way, then: a thrumming echo chamber of drones and tones and half-heard, murmured vocals, while basslines pad around in the background like cats. Occasionally, a minimalist drum machine thud and tish breaks through the fuzzy reveries - as on 'Court Of Devotion', on which the drum pattern becomes almost hypnotic, relentlessly ticking away while Camella's vocal moons about the twilight landscape in a state of exquisite ennui.

'Children Of A Lesser God' is all cinematic and wafty, with plangent guitar and swooning strings, while 'Move Alone' is driven by a pulse that's almost Suicide-ish - a widespread influence these days, of course, although Camella Lobo employs the rhythm to give shape to a warm, swirling, pool of ambience. That's the key word here, I think - warm. For all Tropic Of Cancer's baleful stares into the heart of darkness, for all the penny dreadful dramatics of the song titles ('Plant Lillies At My Head' - the title of a Victorian pot-boiler, surely?) this is warm music, enveloping, mesmerising, and quietly enticing.

Tropic Of Cancer: Website | Facebook

Find Tropic Of Cancer live review here, and photos here.

Tropic Of Cancer play 'Plant Lillies At My Head' - one of Wilkie Collins' lesser-known works.  

 

The Infinite Three

The Infinite Three
Songs Of the Breather (Self release)

The Infinite Three's music is a bit like scrubbing yourself down with a wire brush. It's all scrape and pinprick, uncomfortable and yet strangely exhilarating at the same time (that could be just me, mind). Nine slices of impeccable and implacable avant-rock here: tight, densely-packed rhythms, guitar, bass and drums acting in such unison it's almost as if they've been choreographed.

'Mother Iron' is one big pell-mell pulse, nimble bassline didging the guitar riffs as they rain down. 'His Body' is a heavy heavy riff-monster, thundering and churning like Sonic Youth and Killing Joke fighting in a sack. 'Sharpy' is a mutant surf-punk workout, the bass growling like a bad mood, guitarist Dan Knowler delivering an offhand, no-fuss vocal - throughout the album he's the detached observer, laconic and deadpan, the antithesis of the standard rock vocalist. But, in the context of The Infinite Three's sturm and drang, where the usual histrionics would be out of place, he fits.

There are instrumentals, too - the infernal machinery of 'Light (Vertigo #2)', punctuated by flurries of drums, as if someone keeps throwing the kit downstairs, and the closing 'False Locust / Locust Police', which wraps things up with a bit of jazzy ambience. And if the words 'jazzy ambience' normally send you running for the hills - wait. Just when you thought it was all going to end respectably, the Locust Police break down the door with a sonic battering ram that makes My Bloody Valentine's 'Holocaust' sound like the twittering of little birds. Avant rock it is, but with plenty of weight behind it - and everything on eleven.


The Infinite Three: Website | Facebook

Find an Infinite Three live review here, and photos here.

 

Noblesse Oblige

Noblesse Oblige
Affair Of The Heart (Repro)

In which Noblesse Oblige - that's arty, tribal, tangental Noblesse Oblige - go off on possibly their most surprising tangent yet. They've made a slinky, groovy, downright commercial electropop album. It's polished, confident, very well dressed - and, somehow, almost unlike Noblesse Oblige.

It's a little disconcerting to find Noblesse Oblige so comprehensively reinvented as sleek, smooth, electro-balladeers. Opening track 'Mata Hari', with its sultry, deadpan vocal, is perhaps the one tune here that hints at the bite the band have brought to their music in the past. Elsewhere, it all gets jaunty, poppy, fluffy, and glossy - all the way to easy-listening.

That's intentional, of course: that's the point. And it must be said that Noblesse Oblige do a very good job of whipping up some electro candyfloss on 'Runaway', and channelling the Eurythmics at their most winsome on 'Burn'. 'Chasing Shadows' is a neat little slice of 80s electro-disco, but it's the sort of thing that Marsheaux would knock out in their lunch break without putting a hair out of place. 'Vagabonde' has potential to get the party started, but I can't help thinking that the likes of Colourbox used to do this stuff 30 years ago with much bigger beats. There's a delicate, dreamy, ballad version of The Eagles' 'Hotel California' which works rather well - but its impact is rather reduced by the fact that it nestles comfortably among so many soft furnishings.

Affair Of The Heart is, I assume, exactly the album Noblesse Oblige wanted to make, and on that level it certainly succeeds. I'm just a little taken aback that they wanted to take things so easy.

Noblesse Oblige: Website | Facebook



Look in the Archive for Noblesse Oblige live reviews. Find photos here.

Noblesse Oblige perform 'Mata Hari'. Life's a riot with spy vs. spy.


For earlier CD/vinyl/download reviews, look in the Archive.

Page credits: Photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.

Words and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.