Written by: The Administrator
And now for something completely different! Today's album (and band) in question covers a unique blend of genres that don't get a whole lot of coverage 'round these parts--or any parts, for that matter, that we slumbering scribes tend to frequent. With that disclaimer in mind: let's dive in.
On their latest effort, Shocking Stories! (And Those Who Dare to Tell Them,) The Northway play a difficult-to-place conglomerate of pop punk, prog, math rock, and perhaps some alt metal, with a few other assorted elements weaving their respective ways into the chaotic fold. There's an alternative rock/metal angst on display, as well as a ska-esque sense of hype. Most notable, however, is the prominent role of the utterly unexpected. Take, for example, early album highlight "Trampolinehead," which blends a straightforward punk riff with a delightful Gentle Giant-by-way-of-Primus level of prog weirdness. There's a jazz lounge solo, a de la Rocha rap-rock moment, and a whole lotta assorted oddities besides. And if you think this is wacky, the excellent "City Trial" takes similarly disparate elements and cranks 'em up to 11. This thing is like the unholy alt-metal lovechild of Haken 's proggy tendencies and, I dunno, the early-aughts swagger of Priestess. And even that only covers a fraction of this track's identity. The entire album exists in a similarly fluid state, and, as a result, it's incredibly fun to experience.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally.
The next guest in line to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Duncan Evans, who creates dark folk/post-punk under his own name, and apocalyptic noise poetry (which we premiered here!) under the Moonlow moniker. He's a producer, an engineer, a writer at Ghost Cult and Alternative Control, and, lest it be forgot, has a twitter you should probably follow. Beyond these current projects, he was previously the guitarist for Forest Of Stars--so, all told, cred certified many times over, amiright? Without further ado: enjoy this retrospective!
Written by: Duncan Evans
This album was my first proper introduction to Nick Cave. It remains an incredibly important piece in the jigsaw of my own development as an artist and as a human being. I also believe it is significant in a wider cultural sense.
Around the mid-2000s, Nick Cave had seemingly grown tired of producing records with the expanded 8-piece lineup of The Bad Seeds: “It felt like every time I took a song into the Bad Seeds, everyone piled in on it. In the Bad Seeds, you play a song, and everyone's grabbing a fuckin' maraca, y'know?" In response, Cave and three Bad Seeds members (Warren Ellis, Martin P. Casey, Jim Sclavunos) formed Grinderman. At the same time, I was growing weary of the virtuoso prog rock I had been listening to. I had listened to a few of Cave’s songs and I had meant to properly explore his work for a while. I remember reading about Grinderman in the music press just before its release, and I thought this was probably as good a place as any to start. I ordered a copy and, strangely, two of them landed on the doormat a week later. Hearing this record on its release in 2007 was something of a Damascene moment for me. It opened up doors which remain unclosed. What follows is an explanation of how this album impacted me so deeply, and why I think it matters in wider terms.
Written by: Vattghern
Haken, oh Haken! Some VIP Tickets, Meet and Greets, lots of merch, and signed vinyl copies later, Haken has not only become a titan of modern prog, but also a friend through thick and thin for me. Despite my love for the Brits, after the release of their last studio album Vector and my corresponding praise for it, the band seemingly vanished from my playlists. Did I outgrow Haken? Did they outgrow me? All these questions crossed my mind when the band announced Vector’s spiritual successor Virus out of the blue and my inner fanboy didn’t move a muscle.
“New Haken single is meh,” I disappointingly declared in the lead up to the release, only to end up hitting play on “Invasion” every time I got a hold of my headphones. So, as it tends to do, the future proofed me wrong and answered my doubts with a big, fat “nah.” And after three midnight sessions of eagerly hitting refresh on Haken’s Spotify, only to find out the album has been delayed again, I finally got ahold of Virus. Since the past had proven that Haken ages like a fine wine for me, I’ve taken my appropriate time with it, which translates to about a week of nonstop listening. My verdict? Virus, while still awaiting the test of time, is not only the perfect second part to Vector, but also some of the band's finest work to date.
Written by: Loveloth
How does a band evoke the feelings of melancholy? The approach varies from genre to genre, but using the minor scale is a definite foundation. After that anything is game, and as a result, any sadboi--like yours truly--has a plethora of options to choose from. The most extreme examples are the DSBM and adjacent black metal genres. There, melancholy manifests through anguish and despair. Tremolo picking, shrieks and blast beats reign as lords, whereas on the opposite side of the spectrum, such as on the notorious pop ballads, we've got clean vocals covered by electronic-based instrumentation with slower paced beats.
I personally don't have any emotional responses when I hear most of that type of stuff due to how they're manufactured and how much they rely on cheap motifs. I realized this when I was a wee lad and as time went on, I searched far and wide for music to comfort, help me contemplate, and of course cope with any hardships I came across. At one point in time, I found myself listening to “Lethean” by Katatonia via a great YouTube recommendation, remember those? I was stunned with its energy and heaviness, and by the time Jonas Renkse's vocals kicked in, I was hooked. To this very day, Dead End Kings remains my favorite album by them and I would honestly put Katatonia right next to Opeth and that dude Devon Townsent as my go-to sadboi band.
Written by: Izzy
Dance Gavin Dance are a band I only discovered in mid 2018, and the album they released that year, Artificial Selection, is; without exaggeration; one of my favourite albums of all time. I rarely talk about Dance Gavin Dance but I genuinely hold them up there with the likes of Deafheaven and Converge in terms of pure quality and how much I listen to them. Despite their long history and numerous lineup changes they have remained one of the most absurdly consistent bands I know, managing to pour out an amazing album every couple years like clockwork.
Now, if I’m not already getting called a poser by elitist metalheads, I’m about to get into hot water with elitist coreheads when I say I much prefer the Tilian era of DGD. I think his incredibly unique voice, coupled along with his spectacular range, has so much chemistry with Will Swan’s iconic guitar playing and Jon Mess’ gruff harshes that it really allowed the band to skyrocket after a small learning bump with Instant Gratification. Despite their guitarist being the namesake for “swancore,” the particular poppy and more clean-sung microgenre born out of post-hardcore and math rock, Tilian Pearson was the missing piece to truly forging the bands current unmistakable and unreplicable sound. Every current member’s talents gel together so perfectly, becoming a powerhouse quintet where I couldn’t imagine a single member being replaced. All this build up over their 15 year career has led us to Mothership, Artificial Selection, and now Afterburner, making up the best trio of albums the band has released to date.
Written by: Scorpi
Let me set the scene. You’re in one of those fancy Venetian longboats. But you’re not in Venice, the budget in my imagination isn’t that large. But you’re on a river nonetheless. And up ahead there are towns & villages that light up the embankment of the river, this is where you’re heading.
The boat jitters forward and starts floating across the river, smooth as silk.
The start of this journey is accompanied by “Rengeteg,” the first track off of Ajna’s debut album of the same name. This leg of the journey is soothing and relaxing. You can hear birds singing, then some chirpy, catchy guitar melodies start playing in your head, along with a catchy drum beat. The boat travels along at a steady pace as you take in the sights. There’s some pretty, forest-like landscapes on the embankment with the setting sun shimmering through the leaves. More pleasant guitar licks are playing in your head, along with some funkier bass lines now but they aren’t front and centre, rather sitting gently underneath the pleasing guitar sounds. The music gets a little livelier every now and then, much like the excitement building within you to get to the first stop on your journey.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!