Looking forward to some heavy post-punk guitars from Drenge this week, alongside a new album from Sleaford Mods and a bit of techno from Modeselektor, among others. I’ll pick out the best to review during the week and report back.
Electro-pop featuring strongly again this week, with Ladytron and Methyl Ethel producing some impressive stuff. Those with a predisposition to punk-pop should check out Lazybones while hip-hop fans will enjoy Czarface meets Ghostface. However trip-hop shoegaze epic Fifteen from SPC ECO wins out. Sample playlist below, though the album of the week isn’t on Spotify yet.
SPC ECO – Fifteen
A beautiful blend of shoegaze and trip-hop from former Curve member Dean Garcia and his daughter.
The phrase art-rock normally fills me with fear, but I was pleasantly surprised by the third album from Australian band Methyl Ethel. Triage, is by no means a perfect album, but there was enough in there to keep you wanting more.
Highlights for me were probably opener Ruiner, which seems to have been influenced by Florence + The Machine and ticks along nicely in a way that unwittingly draws you in, while Trip the Mains is full on 80s guitar and synth-fest that develops well despite some slightly off-putting discordant notes.
Top track I think is Hip Horror, which features a great uptempo groove, accompanied by a very addictive piano line.
There are some other decent works on here, including the organ and funky bass of Scream Whole and the Pretenders-infused Real Tight, but there are also some tunes that really don’t take you anywhere and potentially have you reaching for the skip button.
I’ve actually downgraded this album’s rating slightly during it’s second listen for the review, mainly due to the inconsistencies across it. Still worth a listen though.
Borrowing heavily from new wave, 80s synth and a touch of 90s rave, Ladytron return after more than seven years with an incessantly catchy collection of electro-pop tunes that have that special something about them – in most places.
The self-titled Ladytron album takes a little time to hit its stride with Until the Fire enjoyable enough but failing to develop as much as you might anticipate. Conversely single from last year The Island, featuring huge 80s-style synths, manages to build just at the right moment to avoid you losing interest in the track.
Things get significantly better after this point with Tower of Glass, a catchy head-nodder with some intricate organ work and the vocals of lead vocalist Helen Marnie standing out in particular.
The upward trend continues with Far From Home, which starts off a little Human League but that addictive synth track and pop beat end up taking you somewhere else entirely.
Highlight of the album for me was Deadzone, which employs some great vocal structures and layers of atmospherics against an uptempo beat, building to a delicious crescendo.
At 13 tracks and 53 minutes long, this album isn’t exactly of epic length, but it did feel that the last few tracks could have been trimmed and you would not have noticed the difference. Had the album stopped with the moreish You’ve Changed everybody would be left very happy. As it is Horrorscope, The Mountain and Tomorrow is Another Day have some noticeable moments but feel a little laboured.
Bar that, this is a fabulous album and well worth listening to the first 10 tracks at least.
Former Curve member Dean Garcia has been ratcheting out a new album with daughter Rose Berlin pretty much every year since SPC ECO formed in 2009. This is my first encounter with them and not a moment too soon.
Fifteen manages to combine shoegaze and trip-hop to create an experience of an album that deserves to be listened to in a single sitting without distractions to feel the full effect.
From opener Fading Out Of Time to epic closer Little Ones Out Of Time Mix, you are taken on a dream-like journey. The use of muffled drum lines and bass, the processed angelic vocals of Berlin, and the feedback – oh the feedback – give you the effect of having taken something seriously strong before bedtime.
The influences of 90’s trip-hop are clear to see. Massive Attack is clearly in their record collection, while Berlin’s vocal style bears an uncanny resemblance to Portishead’s Beth Gibbons.
There’s shoegaze to be found beyond the simple feedback, with some nice buzzy guitars in The Heart and Soul and standout track Breathing.
There are also some more oppressive songs, which at times can make you feel like you’re being smothered with a pillow. Fortunately, Berlin’s vocals keep it from becoming too overbearing.
From a critical perspective, this is a long album and many of the songs, as you progress, struggle to differentiate themselves. But as an overall experience it washes over you and takes you to another place.
Find a quiet spot, stick on the best headphones you can find, and let this cracker of a record take you far, far, away.
Brighton three-piece power-pop punk project Lazybones have put together a hugely enjoyable four-track romp of an EP that will have your head nodding. There’s not much in the way of depth and complexity in Bang! Bang! but with a bass this dirty and songs so catchy, who really cares.
Fashion Victim kicks us off, making full use of vocalist Candi Underwood’s lung capacity as she belts out a tirade against conformity and clothing choices. As I mentioned, we’re not going too deep here, but it does contain the line ‘You wear your Metallica T, but where’s you Kill ‘Em All‘ CD?’, so all is forgiven.
Next up is Heart Beats Like a Drum, which sees dirty, heavy bass employed to create a feeling akin to early hypnotic Queens Of The Stone Age tracks. My favourite track on the EP
We then enter strange territory with what appears to be an ode to jeans with Denim. Odd, but otherwise this is a bouncy number that keeps the record ticking along nicely and sees some of the organ work enter the spotlight.
Closer All My Friends Are Dead sounds like it might be a pretty serious number, but no such worries as we move between some staccato riffs, 60s influenced organ and a full on rock-out chorus.
Hopefully Bang! Bang! is a sign of things to come and Lazybones will managed to pull together a full album of fun garage pop rock anthems like these.