31 August 2016

Melvins - Basses Loaded


The Melvins should not really need an introduction, but the briefest of outlines - formed in 1983, The Melvins have been causing chaos with the world, my mind and generally everyone who listens to any of their albums.  With somewhat of an open door policy to band members (even on the same album), the band have never really had a steady line up, to be honest they have never really had a steady style of albums either with each release being different to the next.  You can never accuse them of being boring, keeping it safe or even being dull and stuck in a rut.  On this album, there are ten different musicians performing at different point, with special attention being given to the bass guitar on the album as they go through them like a teenage goes through a paper hanky box during a long and lonesome night.  This was released in June 2016 through the mighty Ipecac Records and I have been sitting on it for a while now, just waiting for the right time to review it; the time (as they say) is now and let us see how this album has turned out....

The first track is called "The Decay of Lying" which features King Buzzo (who will feature on every track), Dale Crover (on drums) and Steven McDonald from Off! & Redd Kross.  This is a slow, sludge, doom number which is the perfect song to start the album; doom & sludge tends to focus on the bass, it is the biggest presence on the song and it rumbles like an earthquake.  The song is a six minute plus epic, one that stays with you long after it has finished.  "Choco Plumbing" is next which once again has Dale Crover on drums, but he and King Buzzo are joined by Jared Warren & Coady Willis on bass & drums respectively.  The Big Business/Melvins men do not really need any introduction and they fit seamlessly back into the band and it make me yearn for another album from this version of the band.  It is a powerhouse of a song, mixing the general Melvins noise with something extra that only tends to appear when these men are in the same room with their last full release coming in the form of 'The Bulls & The Bees EP'.  This song just has a groove that sticks in your mind and will not let go, it is definitely one of the best songs on this album and one that makes me want more for this version of The Melvins.  The next song is Beer Hippie which see Dale Crover move over to the bass guitar and has Mike Dillard on drums (who was the original drummer of the Melvins), this song was originally released on the 'Beer Hippy EP' (all of the songs are included on this album).  It is a heavy song, back on the sludge trip with a vengeance and it sounds as if they are dropping bombs all over the place, it moves with such an assured and slow pace that you are hypnotized and you do not want to get out of the way of the music landslide that is coming towards you.  Fourth track "I Want to Tell You" (a cover of the Beatles song from the album 'Revolver') changes the mood once more and the music feels as if it could have come from a Monkees record, with Dale Crover back on drums and Mr Steven McDonald back on bass.  Now the Monkees remark is not an insult, it is actually a compliment (the Monkees at one point are alleged to have a bigger than The Beatles in the USA) as they have made a song that sounds so innocent, with a joyful step in the mix (even though it is steeped in Alternative Metal) that it could not fail to bring a ray of sunshine to the world.  Every time it is on, I start grinning from ear to ear and it just makes the world a better place for existing. 

The fifth track is called "Captain Come Down" is the next song, joining Sir Buzzo & Crover on bass is Jeff Pinkus from the Alternative Metal band Butthole Surfers who appeared on the Melvins album 'Hold It In' (our review cleverly linked here).  It was a union that produced a fantastic album as they were joined by fellow Butthole Surfer Paul Leary, this song harks back to an early sound of the Melvins, bass heavy, tone like tomb and it sounds heavy as fuck.  I mean this is a song that sounds much better loud, we are talking teeth rattling level and it is furious, feral and it does not sound as if it could ever be tamed.  "Hideous Woman" is back to the Buzzo/Crover/McDonald combo, with a sharp, tight and punk sound added to their particular brand of cool-aid and it sounds mighty.  It is a little loose in some places and this added to the mystic of the band as they might sound as if it might fall apart, but you know for sure that it is a tight as a miser's wallet and it will be as hard a diamond.  It is probably my least favourite on here, but it is still a good song - when your least favourite is a good song, you know you are on to a winner.  The next song "Shaving Cream" (a cover of a comedy song) see Mr Crover back on the bass and Mike Dillard back on the drums, with a song that is so silly and offensive that it cannot help but make you smile like a village idiot.  They are all fucked up with a tribal beat, an oompah section and a wicked sense of humour that makes this band such an interest creature.  Sometimes you need something like this in the mix to lighten the mood, wonderfully silly.  The eighth song is called "Planet Destructo" which feature Trevor Dunn from Mr. Bungle on bass with Messrs Buzzo & Crover, which completely changes the tone once again with a little bit of double bass coming into the album.  Starting as an almost classic rock song (almost), it sounds like it was going to just drift by me and it would have been ok as not every track can be a winner.  But then they do the normal Melvins thing, they did the unexpected and I am always wondered why I am surprised when they do this.  They change it into a little blues/jazz number near the end, very loose and focusing once more on the bass as he is allowed to go free and explorer the environment; it is this section that is most interesting as the band just follow wherever the bass is heading and it is a glorious noise.  I think this one would be my surprise of the album and it is glorious.

"War Pussy" is another Buzzo/Crover/McDonald number which has a steady alternative rock/80's rock sound, it is probably the weakest of the songs by this version of the band yet it does have a certain charm about it.  It is a strange number which keeps the energy going in the right direction and the band sounds tight as a nut on here.  A decent, if unspectacular number on this one.  The tenth track on this album features Krist Novoselic of Flipper/Nirvana/Sweet 75 fame on bass & accordion with King Buzzo and Dale Crover, the track is called "Maybe I Am Amused" and it is (to say the least) the strangest song on the album and that is after "Shaving Cream".  The accordion gives it an odd feeling from the start, but not an unpleasant one.  It has an old school rock-a-billy feeling to the music, it is one that hooks into your brain and refuses to leave (or pay rent either) as it smashes its way through your soul and takes root.  The penultimate two songs of this album are played by the combo of King Buzzo, Dale Crover and Mike Dillard and the first of the two tracks is called "Phyllis Dillard".  This one is a slow sludge number, one which actually has a little bit of a Kiss vibe to the pace of the song as it feels like it the classic rock end of the band has been added to the mix.  It is a hard song that has a lot of feedback as well, but at the heart is an honest rock number and it is one of the best of the album.  Ending the album is "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" (which is a popular song in North America for baseball fans) which starts with a slow synth section that sounds as if it could have been played at a baseball game, then the band join in singing about going to the game.  As a man who has never seen a baseball game (never really caught on in the UK, if I ever go to America I promise to see one), it is not a sentiment I understand.  But I understand the music here, it is a strange version and it makes so much sense being at the end of the album - a strange number to end a Melvins album, business as usual.

This is a fun release, special guests (or future/past members - who knows with these guys), twelve songs which never follow the same pattern and a smile that does not leave your face for love or money.  It is a good compilation of two EP's, a song from a split release and some other numbers.  Because the best percentage of these numbers are available on other formats, it lost half a mark but that is only because I am looking for a fault where there is none.  It is a good album and one that I would return to again and again.  Is it a new 'Houdini'?  I will be honest that it good, but not that good - however, there are a lot more Melvins albums to go through and they going to probably release another few in the next year or so.  But I recommend this one just for the fact it has made me smile like a Cheshire cat, more Melvins please....


8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track -Choco Plumbing

You can purchase Basses Loaded on Amazon here.

You can visit the Melvins website here.

You can purchase Basses Loaded from the Melvins section of the Ipecac Records Bandcamp Page here.

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

You can stream Basses Loaded on Spotify here

You can stream Basses Loaded on Deezer here.

You can stream Basses Loaded on Tidal here.

30 August 2016

Shivers Addiction - Choose Your Prison


Shivers Addiction are an Italian band from Saronno, Lombardy, they were formed in 2004 and have released one EP, a homemade album and now they have released 'Choose Your Prison'.  They consist of Marco Cantoi on vocals, Marco Panizzo & Gino Peroraro on guitars, Fabio Cova on bass and Angelo De Polignol on drums.  The cover is an angel in prison, locked up and pondering his choices.  Now I have not heard of these guys before their submission, but let us find out what they are all about....

Starting the album is "Eternal Damnation" which is a classic rock number, nothing too fancy with a good pace, a fine solo and with good vocal performance as well.  It is an interesting number, not doing anything that I have not heard before, but not doing anything wrong either and it is a steady, well performed number.  "We Live On a Lie" is next and it takes the game up a notch, this one sounds as if it was written in the 1980's and was a lost track to the 1980's Vampire film 'The Lost Boys'.  It has more solo's than any song outside of Tool requires, a vintage riff that is just keeps on giving and whilst it is not total my thing, it is one damn fine rock song!  "The King & The Guillotine" is the third track of the album, a dramatic track that slows the mood down as the band tell the story about an execution and the final moments on earth for a king.  A slower number, aiming for a macabre dance and not quite make it for me, it has another cracking solo, but little else on the song works for me. 

"La Mort Qui Danse" acts as a brief instrumental that leads into "Money Makes the Difference", which comes across as a mixture of 'Master of Puppets' era Metallica, Savatage and Judas Priest.  It picks up the bass with a steady mixture of trash and classic rock that will appeal to a lot of old school metal fans, it is one of the best songs on offer on this album with a classic riff, steady bass pulse and pounding drums.  "Freedom" is the sixth track on the album, it is a confused beast which is bother slow and fast at the same time.  It is heading for Iron Maiden territory on this one, then it has a grunge riff that would not be out of place on an Alice In Chains record.  It is a decent song, nothing that is blowing my mind if I am honest here, it is a well performed song and the band have nail the song, but it does not quite spark with me - not for me, but not bad either.  "Where Is My Future" is an enigma to me, it keeps changing what it is with ease; one minute prog, one-minute metal, no minute grunge and all without a heartbeat of hesitation.  This song has another sweet solo and it will be going down a storm when they play it live. 

The next song on the album is "Painted Arrow" which starts with the sound of a battle, cries of war and goes for an epic feeling.  It has some good moments, the acoustic parts are interesting, it continues the endless supplies of soloing and another solid performance from Shivers Addiction.  I like the way it sounds, maybe it could have lost a beat or two, but there is more than enough on here to keep the listener engaged and interested.  The next song is "Against We Stand" which I cannot quite make up my mind about.  It has all the standard stuff which has been the calling card for this album; a solo that would put most bands to shame, strong vocals, good drums and bass and a competent performance.  However, the song just drifts past me and I know there is a hook in here that will make their fans excited.  Maybe it is just not for me, but it is also not a song that I can say is a bad number as it clearly has something going on.  I just wish I could make up my mind on it....  Ending the album is a song called "Death Has Nothing to Teach" and starts with an acoustic guitar performance that is very interesting indeed, it soon gives way to another classic rock song that is from another decade and the performance is once again very good.  Nothing too specular on here for me, but nothing that is bad on this one either once again and ends the album on a positive note.

Sometimes you just want a good and honest, basic metal album; it doesn't have to have all the flames exploding all of the time and it does not have to be the fastest album either.  It is not a safe option, but it is a dependable album that hits all the required spots - 'Choose Your Prison' is one of those type of albums, for me it is a well performed record that hits the spot, but it is not exactly the type of album I would normally go for.  But it is good at what it does, it is a solid record that I know will be greatly received by others and does have some good moments and more solos than is really necessary for one album.  If you like your classic rock/metal to has a retro feeling, this could be the album for you. 

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out.

Top track - Money Makes The Difference

You can purchase Choose Your Prison on Amazon here.


You can visit the Shivers Addiction website here.

You can follow the activities of Shivers Addiction on Facebook here.

You can stream Choose Your Prison on Spotify here.

You can stream Choose Your Prison on Deezer here.

You can stream Choose Your Prison on Tidal here.

Anohni - Hopelessness



Anohni - Hopelessness

Released 6th May 2016
Produced by Anohni, Hudson Mohawke, Oneohtrix Point never and Paul Corley.
Described as Electronic experimental synthpop.

This album is a sugar coated Trojan horse (Guardian 2016).

This website's (https://anohni.bandcamp.com/track/i-dont-love-you-anymore) description is perfectly succinct: 'ANOHNI has collaborated with Oneohtrix Point Never & Hudson Mohawke on the artist's latest work. The album HOPELESSNESS is a dance record with soulful vocals and lyrics addressing surveillance, drone warfare, and ecocide. A departure from the singer’s symphonic work, the album seeks to disrupt assumptions about popular music through the collision of electronic sound and highly politicized lyrics.' 

Anohni and fellow producers have created an angry, bitter, pessimistic and forceful inexorable album. 
Anohni is eloquent and highly articulate in all interviews regarding the album. This is not an angle for her, the uniqueness of pop and politics isn't particularly the way it's sold either-whether this is deliberate or not I am unsure.
The subjects raised are close to the artist's heart and the seething anger and fathomless depths of sorrow seep through with the lyrics, the music and Anhoni's vocal performance.

On stage the albums tracks are performed in a strong theatrical manner. Anohni is almost a shadow whilst a large screen behind her and the musicians show a figure head for each track. 

The album has had critical success, nominated for sheer powerful creativity and connections, lyrics and overall message, in the usually pretty bland world of pop.

You can imagine it as she is dressed in her dark garb with her black hair and sombre look, the angry seething dark political commentary, that Anohni would be in a punk or black metal band, or at least prog rock or gothic/industrial or even indie. But no-its crisp clear pop electronica. "...with teeth". And it works.

I am sceptical of anyone who thinks they will make a difference by recording music with angry political lyrics. However, as I researched this blog by reading and watching various interviews and reviews over Anhoni's careers-and about this Album-I understand now why Anohni states she feels she needs to be accountable for her own non reaction to the world's tragedies. And I wouldn't want to get into a written or verbal sparring match over this, as Anohni presents as very intelligent, knowledgeable, eloquent, articulate, forceful, and inexorable in her views. There's no way with my scant knowledge of global events that I'd even come close to discussing this with her on anything like an equal platform. 

But it makes me a little concerned for her frame of mind that she appears (in print and works at least) to see only the negative. There is absolutely no mention of anything positive, anything hopeful. And I think that's the key, if you are looking for hate and anger and limitless, cruelty and suffering, pollution and extinction, you will find it because tragically it's there. But if you also look for those who care for others, work to reduce the impact on the environment, develop new resources, rescue those in need, if you look for those moments of kindness and sacrifice you will find them. There is hope. 
Track Listing (Wikipedia)


1.
§  Anohni
§   
4:10
2.
"4 Degrees"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Birchard
3:51
3.
"Watch Me"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Birchard
3:26
4.
"Execution"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Birchard
3:38
5.
"I Don't Love You Anymore"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Lopatin
5:00
6.
"Obama"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Lopatin
4:11
7.
"Violent Men"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Lopatin
2:10
8.
"Why Did You Separate Me from the Earth?"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Birchard
3:36
9.
"Crisis"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Lopatin
§   
§  Birchard
4:42
10.
"Hopelessness"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Lopatin
3:54
11.
"Marrow"  
§  Anohni
§   
§  Birchard
3:01
Total length:

Overall: Anohni has a wonderful voice-very feminine but deep and dark -it's breathy and unique. It's rich and I love it.
Her vocals glide over familiar pop territory, and, just before I get bored-there’s gritty dirty scratching noise and a thumping vibrating beat rumbles in and it's saved from the mundane-it is elevated. If you listen to the lyrics, the politically seething furious opinions and it's raging in a cage but it's also pretty funky. It's an insidious seeping riot it's a jazz pop rebellion/march/protest-against a pretty fucked up political economical and environmental climate.

Separate tracks: 
1. Drone bomb me: accompanied by an amplified gritty emotional video staring the beautiful Naomi Campbell who looks beautiful even when crying pretty realistically -the musky velvety voice crystallises- a love song to death. It's about the wish of a person whose family has been killed by a drone bomb in an appalling fucking war-the poor person is desperate for death. Survivors guilt, real desperation.  Typically for Anohni and in line with the title of the album-there's no hope to the end of this-we don't find out if the girl lives. 

2. 4 Degrees: The theme appears to be climate change.  The general rise in temperature - disappointment at the lack of action by those who promised better. There's some lovely rather hefty drums and low rumbling brass-the music is industrial Pop-I've heard nothing like it before. Although admittedly this isn't my usual go to genre. The track is dirty and tribal and drum and base, and her jazz voice ripples over this. The ending is gently plucked synthetic and string sounds. It's a punchy track with spikes. 

3. Watch Me. Straight in with the repeated phrases expected perhaps of a generic pop song. But then it gets Anhoni’s the subjects are as dear and gritty-dirty and disturbing as the deep dirty gritty beats. The patriarchal state-the monitoring/surveillance of the population. It ends suddenly with simple electronic beats fading away.

4.Execution. a very upbeat tinkle beginning with the insidious sounding lower beat in the background. Like the distraction -the concerts/sports/huge events-a population with their eyes fixed to a screen while there's torture and executions. It's a confused sounding track-there's layering and quite punchy lyrics with layering of the messages the melodies -and perhaps this is deliberate. The minor note that it goes into towards the end brings the feeling of unease that has been building throughout the song to the fore. Clever. 

5. I don't love you anymore. It's a beautiful sound-the background melancholy music works. Almost a hymn-the electronic keyboard sounds like an organ in a church. It's a lament. But her voice is so gentle, it's a silky feather caress across a scar. 

6.Obama. Anohni is cross at Obama. She feels there was no follow up of Obamas pre-election promises. This is one of the least accessible song musically and vocally. It's a singing shout and there's no sign of the gentle feminine here, there's some heavy deep vocal deep breaths to support the projection. It's a chant and a lament. The build to the music backed chant is effective and easier to listen to-seems more musical with the heavily layered build. Without that and the repeated effect it's more a performance at a poetry slam.

7. Violent Men. This is bizarre and follows the overtly angry track. The effects are gritty like static feedback and an eastern influence in samples. It's confused sounding and almost nauseating. It's choppy and short-staccato.  There's nothing of the smooth rippling melodious tracks of the previous tracks. 

8. Why did you separate me from the earth. Beautiful this one-lovely composition of melodies and vocals. The choppy lyrics are now accompanied by the layers of electronica which make it palatable. Just before your comfortable it sinks into sub-woofer type static sounds and Anohni voice and builds up to an emotion entreaty.

9. Crisis. A simple start a mixture of this electronic medium with politics. It's a gentle track the music and slow beat with none of the earlier grittiness-is a shocking contrast to the lyrics. It's almost like a love song but instead deals with awful topics and presents them to you in a way in which you can't help but listen -there's no anger-it brings you closer to the issues seen on the news-which seem distanced from our lives in the west. It makes the listener think about how it would be if their families had been killed tortured or beheaded. There's is a notable hitch in her voice-the emotion bare.

10. Hopelessness: the music on this is very much in the background here. It’s the usual synthetic rubbish pop dance rubbish I’ve come to expect from anything that isn’t a live band, but there are sound effects layering- reminiscent of industrial destruction, and reinforces in a way the message of humanity being a virus on the earth 'I've been taking more than I deserve, giving nothing in return' it's clever-it's dark and her voice grips me-even though the music is secondary. In the live version the crowds cheer and shout and it's as if they are just watching a show and not the intelligent commentary and protest it is.
About 2 minutes 30 in there is an unusual 70's style A Capella which builds to spiky notes over a thumping tribal sounding base beat. Ends suddenly.  

11. Marrow. Infections and cancers are the topic. Although the track is dark-the subject matter undeniably so, the vocals are high and breezy and the track is short but not sweet. 

Score: 9 out of 10
Favourite Track: Done Bomb me. I know this is perhaps the obvious choice-but it's 1st for a reason. 

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