19 February 2017

Fret! - Through The Wound The Light Comes In

Ah, Fret!  I would like to start this review with an apology that I did not get around to reviewing the 'Killing Nico' EP which I purchased last year, it is still on the to do list.  But I did enjoy the 'Killing Susan EP' (review cleverly linked here) that the band sent me and it is a glorious release.  Anyway, this album from the North-East version (and I wish I had have come up with this quote) of a depressing Beach Boys was recorded in January this year at a space called The Sound Rooms in Gateshead in January 2017, once again produced by M.P. Wood and it has been released in quick fashion as well on 17th February 2017.  There is a limited run of CD's for this release (purchased) and it is also being released as a digital album as well (which I was able to download from Bandcamp, hence this review).  The cover created by Tom McCarthaigh for this release is fantastically creepy, it could be the cover of a horror album and I would have also have picked it for our Cover Roulette series; but this time, I am picking this up as a fan and it is time to see how it sounds. 

01 - DK

Starting the album with more swagger than a villain in a western, 'DK' is an instrumental post rock number and what a song it is!  This a brilliant number that has frantic drumming, moody slices and an aggressive set of riffs that all combine to give a sonic punch to the chest.  It is best played loud, very loud in fact and within an inch of the speakers’ life’s as it slows down to a brilliant sludge sound at the end of the song.

02 - Freeman

'Freeman' is one of a few tracks that has vocals from Fret!, so whenever they use vocals on any of their releases, it stands out with a vivid fire.  This slow piece is unsettling from the outset, it gives chills as it sounds terrifying and without remorse or patience for anything other than its own sinister intent.  I love the uneasy feeling I get from this song, I love that unnerving set of chords that is being driven over your mind over and over again - what a song!

03 - Attune

A song that I have reviewed before as it was the A-side to 'Cowboy'; This version has a darker edge to the sound whilst the original has a live hall feeling to the sound.  The extra warmth to the sound on this version adds weight to the notes, it gives the song an organic and natural feeling that makes all the difference when it finally drops those large music explosions on to you.  I really like this version of the song, another good recording.

04 - Tired

It is in and out very quickly with this number, but it might not be in the way that you are probably imagining it at this moment.  It is a short punching number that is very measured, very precise in it delivery and it does not come out at a hundred miles an hour as you would think a sub-two-minute song would.  There is a deep rumbling behind the noise of the guitars, the bass keeps both in check and it really could have been expanded, but that is just a personal opinion on that one.

05 - Loop

'Loop' picks up where 'Tired' left off and adds more layers to the noise, this time with added fire from everyone and a feeling that the long coming flood has finally been unleashed onto the listener.  I like it when the band adds those frantic layers to their sound as it makes the hairs on my neck stand on end.  'Loop' is a perfect name as it does loop around you like a solid entity and it sticks in your brain with demonic ease, who said instrumental music was boring......

06 - Judders

Heading down another post-rock sludge route, 'Judders' feels like it is a work in progress.  It is a slow and pounding number that has a great hook in the bass line with some fantastic sections in its short lifespan, but it also feels like it is a few moments too short, as if it is needing just a little bit more time to expand on what could be a fantastic number.  It is good, but I do not think that band are finished here.

07 - Cawlett

The amplifier worship is in full effect on this song, the reverb and rumbling is incredibly low and it feels like it is over in an instant!  Over five minutes and it blows you away from the subtle fade in at the beginning and the drowning out at the end.  The ranting about not being able to purchase shoes for a child, it sounds as if it was recorded with the memories of a past rant and it feels cathartic just to listen to it.  It is another intense number, one which is rewarding after multiple listens.

08 - Hillbilly

After 'Cawlett' we have the explosion that is 'Hillbilly' and it sounds like anarchy in comparison to the amplifier drone of the previous track.  It is another number that is over incredibly quickly, this time it feels like it is full formed and the energy that pulses out of the speaker is just a great wave of fierce noise.

09 - Surf

Ending this release is 'Surf' which was very close to being my song of the album, with a surf rock feeling to the song and it comes at you with a relentless drive behind all the instruments.  It is not short on energy, pace and definitely ends this album on such a high note that it is very easy to reach for the repeat listen straight away - what a song.

This is a great release from Fret! and it is also one that gives me great hope for their future, the recording with M.P. Wood adds so much depth to their sonic attacks that it should be laid down as a weapon of choice in a duel.  There is so much reverb, noise and sound that it ends up acting like a third member to this band, it is a truly wonderful piece of post-rock noise.  I would recommend to you that you head over and purchase the CD version as soon as possible, do not wait for this to be on streaming sites as it is quite possibly one of the best albums to have been released so far this year and we are only two months into the year.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Loop

You can purchase Through The Wound The Light Comes In on the Fret! Bandcamp page here; there is a limited-edition CD which you can pre-order as well.

You can follow the activities of Fret! on Facebook here.

At the time of writing, Through The Wound The Light Comes In is not on any streaming site; but I would recommend you purchase it directly from the band anyway.

The Orwells - Terrible Human Beings

The Orwells, a band who showed a lot of potential and have yet to deliver on that promise.  I first reviewed their first album 'Disgraceland' (review cleverly linked here) and found it to be a little short when it comes to focus and it felt like they were almost there.  I could have just ignored this album to be honest, but when I first watched their live performance I had such high hopes for them.  I am hoping that their sophomore album lives up to that early promise, I truly do.

01 - They Put a Body in The Bayou

Starting the album is 'They Put a Body in The Bayou', a slow and drawn out song.  It has a stoner vibe about it, some feedback in the back ground and it feels as if it is aiming for a sound akin to The Strokes; but with a much better singer and a bit more talent.  It is a little bit drudging and it does not erupt as much as smouldering, so you do have to give it a little bit of work.  But it is still better than a lot of other songs that have recently been released.

02 - Fry

Now there is the band I first heard with, distortion and energy, it is alternative rock without any of the pop trimming and focusing just on the noise.  It is a short, sharp, full of anger and a focus that was missing from 'They Put a Body in The Bayou'.  It does not hang around as it swirling around with a punk sensibility and it is a bit of a mystery why it was not the opening song of the album.

03 - Creatures

The Orwells slow down a few steps with 'Creatures', it is draped in loose guitar work, a loud bass and it feels a little as if it is aiming for something between oozing grunge and turn of the century New York alternative rock.  Once again, it is not an instant hit and it takes a few turns to make sense.  Even then, it is not the best the band have done.

04 - Vacation

'Vacation' is a little too easy on the ears in some ways, there is very little anger or passion about this one to be honest.  It is a little two nice, even with the idea of people being on vacation and masturbating; it feels safe and that is not a desirable place to be for an alternative band.  On to the next song to be honest.

05 - Black Francis

Another song that is the Orwells nod to The Pixies as they say that they have been ripping them off for years (sort of like Nirvana did in the 90's).  It does have more than a passing resemblance to a Boston mob.  But it seems to want to mix all of their styles up into one song, not just focusing on one aspect of the band which makes it feel unfocused and due to the mix up, it ends up sounding like an alternative version of 'Smooth' by Santana.  It is a shame as it has potential, but the end result is just too unfocused.

06 - M.A.D.

'M.A.D.' stands for maybe another day, it could have been the title of the album if we are honest by what has been played so far (and on this song too).  It is another slow alternative rock number is stuck in one gear and it has no real urgency or drive.  It is played well enough, but it is not making any lasting impression at all.  I am gonna keep these short if it keeps up the same vibe.

07 - Buddy

Finally, something that has another bit of something about it!  It is not setting the world on fire, but it is at least a shot of punk adrenaline and noise that had been promised.  Under two minutes, alternative punk riffing and nonsense lyrics - that is definitely more like it.

08 - Hippie Solider

Now for the most part, 'Hippie Solider' is like the vast majority of the album; it is a very slow number that looks like it is doomed to ride the line down to boredom.  But the chorus is a work of genius for this album, it has passion in it, it has an iota of spirit and it sounds as if the guitars have finally been struck with some degree of either anger or aggression.  There is at least a feeling of life to this one, but it is outnumbered by the other songs.

09 - Heavy Head

It is hard going at this point ladies and gentlemen, it feels ready to explode on this number and it sort of dries up a bit.  Slower, moody and with the distortion within kicking distance, it just ends up being a little too slow and behind itself to make it over the line.

10 - Body Reprise

This is a strange interlude, reverb, dubs and out of ear shot screaming - it is really short and to be honest it could have been around for a little as at least it is doing something different.

11 - Ring Pop

More of the same here, it is almost there and then in a pause or a dropped number it sort of fades.  As promised, if there is nothing good to day I will move on.

12 - Last Call (Go Home)

The penultimate track feels drained; the word dreary is featured and I cannot help but feel that it is deliberate.  Played well, short and not doing anything that has not been done before.

13 - Double Feature

The ending track and it is over seven minutes in length, it is a strange way to end the album to be honest.  In terms of this record, it actually has a progression, riff and style that give more than a little bit of interest.  However, it is the wrong length once again, it is almost there and it could have been spectacular.  But it is sadly a case of "would have, could have, should have", by the time it gets to the big ending it does not explode as much as gets slightly louder.  Another song that is almost here.

Overall, this is not a terrible album, it is just uninspiring and it is a million miles away from their earlier promise.  It is lacking in passion, it is well played and that is something I cannot and would not deny; but there is nothing behind this that signals that the creators of the album have any emotional connection to it.  I know that bands can have potential and all that stuff, but sometimes it needs to be changed into the actual goods.  This is not that type of album and sadly I feel, it is also not going to be that sort of band.  I am not looking for an argument with the band or their fans, but this album does not thrive as much as tries not to take up too much space.  Unlike 'Disgraceland' it shorter still on tracks that grab your attention, I truly wish that is not the case for me.  As I said, it is not the worst album ever - it is just dull and there is a sort of tragic feeling to this record just for being so grey.

3 out of ten - It could have been a bit better

Top track - Fry

You can purchase Terrible Human Beings on Amazon here.

You can visit the Orwells website here. 

You can follow the activities of the Orwells on Facebook here. 

You can stream Terrible Human Beings on Spotify here. 

You can stream Terrible Human Beings on Deezer here. 

You can stream Terrible Human Beings on Tidal here. 

Ephemerald - I Bear Fire

Ephemerald are a metal band from the Scandinavian country of Finland, they were formed in 2016 after Joni Snoro from Frosttide had a few songs that he wanted to release as a side project; he asked Vesa Salovaara of Vorna to supply vocals for the songs, but there was a twist in the tale.  In October 2016, Snoro and bass player Lauri Myllylä left Frosttide due to personal differences, Myllylä joined the project and Ephemerald was created as a fully, functioning band in its own right.  Joined by Juho Suomi on drums, the band have just released their first single and it is time to review this.

Well, this is the only track on the release, so it all comes down to one calling card so to speak.  Ephemerald release a melodic metal/folk number here, adding lots of string to a blast beat number, pounding riffs and an Eastern European feel to the riff and to some of the synth work.  It reminds me a lot of Amorphis and Finntroll, both of these bands have gone on to release some top-quality work.  ‘I Bear Fire’ is an interesting number and it does not follow a standard formula too much, for instance it was a relief to not hear the over-operatic vocals in the chorus and it has a distinct guitar style, a great bass performance and it is the first metal song in a while that I have enjoyed beyond just admiring it.

I think that Ephemerald might be onto something here, there is a lot of positives to be taken from this song.  As I mentioned, it has been an awfully long time since I have enjoyed this style of song (probably the last Amorphis album) where there is added drama and traditional folk in the mix.  But Ephemerald has created a fantastic song here, please may we have some more?

4.5 out of five – This is good, well worth checking out

Top track – Well, saying as there is only one – I Bear Fire

You can purchase I Bear Fire on Amazon here.

You can follow the activities on Ephemerald on Facebook here

You can stream I Bear Fire on Spotify here.

You can stream I Bear Fire on Deezer here.

You can stream I Bear Fire on Tidal here.

Ty Segall - Ty Segall (2017)

Ty Segall is an artist, old school to a fault and in love with the past; I mean that in a respectful way, truly I do.  In an age where people are posting every day, online exclusives and asking you to hit every link ever, this man has a very low digital print and his most recent albums are not on streaming services.  There are two Facebook accounts and neither are updated with any great regularity.  His last update on the one I linked at the bottom was added on the night that Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential election.  In that post he talks about being able to talk to neighbours and no matter what we do, that people should still believe in people.  I love that sentiment and it is brilliant that he tries to hold true to what he creates.  This album is produced by Steve Albini and it is recorded with his new live band, The Freedom Band.  It contains a few members of his last touring band, The Muggers and it also adds a few of his regular contributors.    It is quite a quick turnaround from his last record, but I like that sort of style – let us see how the music has turned out…..

01 – Break A Guitar

Starting with an explosive guitar combo that is straight out the garage, ‘Break A Guitar’ is a wam, bam, loud and proud number that is all about making it as a star and playing guitar.  There is nothing else to the number and it does not need anything else to be honest as it is just a fantastic, vibrating number that needs to be played at full volume.  Just the sort of opening that this album required!

02 – Freedom

An acoustic guitar number, but not to worry dear reader as it is a still laced with strong chords, aggressive percussion and a fantastic solo that could lay down an audience in an instant.  It is a protest song, one that has been on repeat for me and it sound glorious; also, it is short, sharp and to the point and that is exactly what you sometimes want.

03 – Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)

Taking the vibe and pattern of ‘Freedom’, ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’ takes those sentiments and extends it on a new path that reminds me of passages from ‘California Hills’ from ‘Emotional Mugger’ as well.  Unlike ‘Freedom’ this number is over ten minutes in length and is allowed to wander off in various directions; this keeps you on your toes as a listener and it sounds fresh on every listen as it mixes a concoction of styles and riffs into an explosive song, one that is aching for a fight in an empty room and will fill the same room once released.

04 – Talkin’

We have a slow country style song on this one, it is a very laid back and it is all about talking behind people’s backs and how it can be perceived and that it is an insight to the person (or person’s themselves) – basically it is a song about gossip.  It is a strange number and it takes a few goes to get into the song itself, but it is worth persisting with as it does reward with multiple spins.

05 – The Only One

Bass heavy and electrifying, ‘The Only One’ has a dirty sound from the very beginning and a drone quality at the same time to the music as it loops around and around without much change.  The vocals are spat out with aggression and passion, adding a punk element to the sound and it gives shivers once the guitar solo happens again.

06 – Thank You Mr K.

I really like this one, it is a fast, bouncing number that has a great hook which spins all sorts of imagery as the music smashes through the speakers.  It is focused and percice in delivery, it has a pause in the middle and it comes back with the sound of glasses smashing and it hooks into the glam rock/garage rock noise that really floats my boat here.

07 – Orange Color Queen

I am using the spelling as Ty Segall himself has titled the song, not the UK way of spelling “colour” – so, grammar gits can take a run & jump.  A song that returns to the acoustic side of the album, this one sort of adds a Kinks element to the album that is not unwelcome.  Written about Ty Segall’s girlfriend, it is a simple affair and it makes a subtle impact on the album; it is not all strange noises, overdubs and to be honest, it works incredibly well.

08 – Papers

Another focused and acoustic driven song, to give a contrast to the garage noise of other numbers; but it is one that still have its own impact and style that shows the artistic side of Ty Segall.  I will admit that it is not my favourite song on the album, but it is still a decent number that has a good chorus and is worth a listen.

09 – Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)

Well, I was not expecting that to be honest.  To be honest, it is about things disappearing over time (mostly hair) so it is probably a song about male-pattern baldness.  But it is done in such a free-form style that it is hard not to be impressed by this number.  It is silly, fun and it has another loud solo – what more could you want from a song?

10 – Untitled

Thirteen seconds and a brief riff – that is it.  Napalm Death, eat your heart out.

It is an interesting album and make no mistakes about it, taking in various elements, styles and infused with a small degree of anarchy and unpredictability as it was not one constant style.  The retro feeling to some of the music is dominant and could have easily strayed and became overbearing; however, it holds it together and keeps everything together.  I am interested as to where you can go from here – I guess anywhere to be honest, just how rock should be.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track – Thank You Mr K.

You can purchase Ty Segall (2017) on Amazon here.

You can visit the Ty Segall website here.

You can visit one of the various Ty Segall Facebook accounts here, but he has stated on a few posts that he rarely uses these accounts.

Ty Segall (2017) is not on any streaming sites, so you will have to purchase this album if you want to hear it.

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