Archive for October, 2009

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NME: BATS live review

October 16, 2009

This ran in NME last week – the issue with Kurt Cobain on the front, though granted that doesn’t narrow it down all that much! He’s probably been on there 10 times more since he died than when he was alive. Anyway, here’s the review…

BATS live
Photo from a different gig taken by Nay McArdle (I think) and nicked from the band’s MySpace.

BATS
LAVERY’S, BELFAST, 25/09/09

“BATS will destroy you!” they roar on opener ‘Death To Kent Hovind’, skewering the US creationist of the title with a short, sharp shock of bug-eyed righteousness. Then comes bespectacled Rupert Morris’ sneering pay-off: “The facts will destroy you.” The five Dubliners are science geeks and deliver explosive treatises on physics, genetics and superstition. Dry? Not a bit – it’s all declaimed over thrashy dance-punk, Converge-style hardcore and enough cowbell to keep Christopher Walken happy for months. Dance? Headbang? Do both and hope your spine stays aligned.

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iheartau.com: Fuck Buttons album review

October 14, 2009

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

This should really have gone in the last issue of the mag but it took me ages to get round to it, mainly because I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle it, but also because I had a bit of Fuck Buttons writing fatigue from doing the feature. Anyway, it’s done now and in much longer form that the mag would have taken. Hopefully it does the job. Click here to read the review.

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AU59: Mary Anne Hobbs compilation review

October 13, 2009

Mary anne hobbs - wild angels

VARIOUS ARTISTS
MARY ANNE HOBBS PRESENTS WILD ANGELS
PLANET MU

For those anyone not able or inclined to listen to Mary Anne Hobbs’ radio show every week, her Planet Mu compilations are fast becoming indispensable. Third time round, Hobbs’ picks have shifted slightly from dubstep-dominated Warrior Dubz and Evangeline to reflect more of the broad palette of experimental electronica, with five exclusives among its 18 tracks. In a slightly obtuse move, it opens with the hazy drone of Mark Pritchard’s ‘?’, before settling into a diet of skewed hip-hop (Hudson Mohawke, Mike Slott, Rustie, Nosaj Thing, Architeq, Teebs), mixed with work from the boundaries of dubstep (the techno-inflected Hyetal; Gemmy and Brackles with their bright neon synths), and some stuff that’s completely uncategorisable, such as Mono/Poly’s hyperactive ‘Red And Yellow Toys’, Irish act Legion Of Two’s dark and heavy ‘And Now We Wait’ or Darkstar’s haunting reworking of ‘Videotape’ by Radiohead. As ever, Hobbs shows that her ear is among the best in the business, and anyone with the slightest interest in the more esoteric end of electronic music will find more than the odd track to fall for here. Highly recommended.

8/10

DOWNLOAD: HYETAL – ‘WE SHOULD LIGHT A FIRE’, HUDSON MOHAWKE – ‘SPOTTED’, DARKSTAR – ‘VIDEOTAPE’.
FOR FANS OF: BASS-HEAVY ELECTRONICA.

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AU59: Vitalic album review

October 13, 2009

Vitalic flashmob

VITALIC
FLASHMOB
PIAS

Four years is a long time in dance music. When Vitalic’s magnificent OK Cowboy came out in 2005, its hedonistic electro drew breathless comparison to fellow Frenchmen Daft Punk, but in the silence that has followed (except for an under-the-radar live album), Pascal Arbez has found his thunder well and truly stolen by Justice, Simian Mobile Disco et al. Then again, it’s not like he’d burst from nowhere anyway – that first album featured tracks dating back to 2001 – and so the slow follow-up is hardly surprising. As to whether it’s worth the wait? Er, not really.

What OK Cowboy did perfectly was to blend all-out dancefloor H-bombs like ‘La Rock 01’ and ‘My Friend Dario’ with some eerie, almost Kraftwerk-esque atmospherics and a real sense of cohesion. On Flashmob, though, you can tell that the last few years’ developments have given Arbez pause for thought, and there are too many trashy, disposable bangers like ‘Chicken Lady’ and the frankly irritating title track. Arbez is still capable of wheeling out the heavy artillery to jaw-dropping effect – to wit the jet-engine roar of ‘Terminateur Benelux’ and the euphoric ‘Second Lives’ – while ‘Poison Lips’ introduces a hint of shimmering disco to proceedings, but this follow-up is not in the same class as the debut.

7/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘POISON LIPS’, ‘TERMINATEUR BENELUX’, ‘YOUR DISCO SONG’.
FOR FANS OF: JUSTICE, SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO, CRYSTAL CASTLES.

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AU59: Mariachi El Bronx album review

October 13, 2009

mariachi el bronx

MARIACHI EL BRONX
EL BRONX
WICHITA

Nope, this is not a wind-up, and nor is it a joke on the part of its creators. In the last couple of years, LA hardcore fiends The Bronx have taken to donning traditional Mexican regalia and performing as a mariachi band, and this album is the result of that love affair. Growing up in largely Hispanic neighbourhoods, the band members have been immersed in the style their whole lives, and the album even features Vincent Hidalgo, childhood friend of frontman Matt Caughthran and the son of Los Lobos star David Hidalgo. So, you know they are for real.

As for the music, you’ll forgive us if we’re short on reference points, mariachi being something of an AU blind spot, but the album has much to recommend it. Speaking to AU last year, guitarist Joby Ford proclaimed it “the most beautiful music we’ve ever created” and he’s not wrong. It’s lovingly produced and played with real joy and verve, while the songwriting is strong – full of romance and intrigue – and Caughthran’s throaty croon is a revelation. You have to wonder who it is for, but record sales clearly aren’t the point – El Bronx’s audience may be mainly made up of slightly bemused hardcore punk fans, but the fun that the band obviously had in creating it is probably its own reward.

7/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘SLEEPWALKING’, ‘SILVER OR LEAD’, ‘CLOWN POWDER’.
FOR FANS OF: THE BRONX, ER… MARIACHI MUSIC.

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AU59: BATS album review

October 12, 2009

Print

BATS
RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW
RICHTER COLLECTIVE

BATS flew their Dublin belfry to Salem, Massachusetts to record this torrid clusterbomb of a debut album, and though it would be trite to draw too many conclusions from the place it was recorded, staying at the site of those infamous witch trials can’t have lightened the mood very much. These BATS attack without mercy, their three-guitar attack leading the charge, ably supported by the deranged vocals of Rupert Morris and a rhythm section that’s the very epitome of tight. And shall we mention that it was produced by Kurt Ballou of metalcore legends Converge? This record is not to be fucked with.

All that said, though, Red In Tooth And Claw isn’t as all-out scary as you might imagine. The band’s spastic sound owes as much to the dance-punk of Gang Of Four and latter-day standard bearers like The Rapture as it does to the hardcore and metal traditions, while lyrically, you’re never quite sure how serious Morris is being with his many odes to scientific endeavour. His stated aim is to turn people onto the joy of science, and with an arsenal of sonic bullets like opener ‘Higgs Boson Particle’, he just might manage it. The album reaches its apex with the ass-shaking, dance-metal mayhem of ‘Credulous, Credulous’ and ‘Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date’, as well as the questing ‘Star Wormwood’, which displays a lightness of touch that, if we’re honest, is lacking for much of the rest of the album, the exhausting ‘Lord Blakeney’s Arm’ being a particular culprit. A lie-down is recommended for afterwards, then, but this is a formidable debut.

8/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘CREDULOUS, CREDULOUS’, ‘HIGGS BOSON PARTICLE’, ‘STAR WORMWOOD’.
FOR FANS OF: CHROME HOOF, ASIWYFA, CONVERGE.

(Buy the album from the label right here)

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AU59: Oneida live review

October 12, 2009

oneida

ONEIDA
BLACK BOX, BELFAST

Oneida are on their 10th studio album, and it’s a triple, so only a fool would have come to the Black Box expecting anything close to restraint or concision. And, true enough, after a cursory greeting of “We’re Oneida, see ya round,” the Brooklyn band (normally a quartet, but swollen to five tonight) launch into an opening instrumental of patience-trying proportions. The band are well known for their love of monotony and repetition, but only when you experience a track that takes several minutes to meet its first sonic shift do you really understand the extent of that fixation. In the end, the subtle, drummer-led alterations every few minutes drag you along just as you’re starting to become infuriated, but its near-20 minutes of head-down, linear power come across more clever-clever than anything else; a band staring its audience out – literally, in the case of the keyboardist.

In truth, it’s a slightly disappointing evening. The sound doesn’t help, the band’s crisp Krautrock jams getting lost in the echoey room, and because of that it’s hard to be too critical, but even aside from that, there’s a lack of nuance that renders the whole experience exhausting. Nearly every song blasts into view at high speed and keeps on accelerating, and while the drumming especially is a marvel, it starts to feel like aural – and physical – punishment. But then, in a moment of pure serendipity, they introduce ‘Up With People’ – the best track from 2006’s Happy New Year album – and it becomes the perfect closer, its neoprene-tight groove as irresistible live as on record, provoking dancefloor joy among those left at the end. It’s fair reward for sticking with an occasionally trying show.

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