Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fanboy Rant: British Sea Power

British Sea Power has always stood out from their early ‘00s British contemporaries. For a start they probably don’t like football and instead of finding them in the corner of a pub, you’re more than likely prone to find them milling around a library. In fact, their vibe isn’t too dissimilar to the Manic Street Preachers in comparison with say, Oasis and Blur back in the ‘90s. It's no coincidince that BSP and the Manics have toured together in the past.

After The Beta Band called it day, it was worrying as to who would carry the “modern day British guitar band” torch. BSP has always been one step ahead of your NME rock type bands (need I mention names?). They are hardly sole bearers, though. In a similar realm it would be disingenuous to leave Clinic out of the fold. They, too, have consistently rendered modest left of centre indie rock (in its truest sense) with aplomb. More on Clinic another time (sidenote, however: their new album drops in October).

BSP’s latest little “project” exemplifies the fact that – quite frankly – they’re awesome. It could even be regarded a neo-In The Fish Tank, of sorts. I’m talking about the six EPs they’ve produced in as many months at the front end of 2012. Each month, a new BSP EP. Simple, yeah? Coinciding with BSP’s you beaut idea was a six month residency at a club in Brighton, which they dubbed “Krankenhaus”; a night where the band knocked out the sets of the respective EPs. Work ethic personified, I say.
 As for the six EPs; sure, there’s some filler throughout. But on the flip side there’s also material that easily stacks up to their best work; you know, the subtle chord progressions that make your heart skip a beat; or the blissful octave changes that do their best to ruin you? (Yan and Hamilton have always oozed that particular quality). The BSP faithful will know what I’m talking about here. The band has always possessed an ability to produce these moments; that’s what makes them so great.
Standouts? BSP come into their own during the back end of the series, in my opinion. EPs Four and Five are probably my favourites, while Six may be a grower. ‘Facts Not Right’ and ‘Fingertips’ – both off tehe fourth – could easily have been standout tracks on ‘Valhalla Dancehall’. That’s not to say the latter was a write off; anything but. ‘Wishful Thinking’ – off the fifth – is the catchiest of all the songs BSP has delivered over this series of releases. ‘’Thinking’ is definite single material, should any of these songs appear on later releases (which I hope is not the case). This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as standouts go. Grab the six releases and make your own judgement.
In summary; it feels as if BSP continue to grow as a collective. This alone is a fascinating conclusion, considering the length of time they’ve been together, not to mention the declining status of most of their contemporaries.
In a climate where file sharing outweighs all, artists are continually forced to look outside the box in an effort to present their art. British Sea Power has succeeded this time around. In doing so, they’ve given us a nice little reminder; they’ve got plenty left in the creative tank. That in itself is welcoming news.
To check out this series visit British Sea Power's website here.
 By Simon K.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

R.I.P.: Hydra Head Records

Aaron Turner, owner of the revered Hydra Head Records Label (and also a member of the once venerable Isis, along with current projects, Old Man Gloom, Jodis, Grey Machine, and Mamiffer et al) announced earlier this week that the label will be closing its doors before the year's out.

Hydra Head has been the home of progressive metal and hardcore for close to 20 years. A stable presenting artists such as Pelican, Jesu, Harvey Milk and Cave In just to name a few, it can't be denied that it's been the bastion as far a progressive music is concerned.

For a full statement regarding Turner's decision, visit Hydra Head's blog here.

There's a slew of great music on offer at the label's website. Vinyl, CDs, t-shirts, accessories, etc. To help the label pay of its debts, please visit their Webstore and get yourself a fist full of greatness (I've already maxed the credit card out!).  Every bit will help, so spend what you can!

By Simon K.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Recommendation - Eleventh Dream Day

The one thing I wanted to do with this blog is tip the proverbial hat to artists who fail(ed) – with no fault of their own – to gain the recognition they deserve(d). In the previous months I’ve touched on artists such as Seelfeel, Bethany Curve, and more recently, the mighty Rodan.
Being a nice spring Sunday, I thought I’d check out what was cracking over at Drowned in Sound where the Community section located on the homepage struck a chord with me, or more precisely, the contents of it. “Eleventh Dream Day – Any Fans?” Without revealing too much of an Australian idiom, fuckin’ oath I am!

Needless to say, Eleventh Dream Day was also on this long list of bands I wanted to pay homage to. However it appears I’ve had my thunder stolen on this occasion. Truth be told, I never had the thunder to begin with. We move on...

Back to DiS...I click and enter into this thread and there’s six posts from as many users, all of which are waxing religious fervour about Chicago’s most underrated rock ‘n’ roll collective. I’m so glad my friend, Andriejus (who in turn introduced me to the ‘Dream Day several moons ago), and I are not the only ones who adore this band.
Anyway, cutting a long story short, I wanted to write a bit of a spiel as to why these guys shred like lords in every way, shape, and form. Someone’s beaten me to the punch; so much so that I couldn’t really put it better myself. Check out Adequacy for a guide to the discography of Eleventh Dream Day, as well as insight from bands members, Rick Rizzo and Douglas McCombs (also of Tortoise fame).

Given its time of publication (2003) there’s a few EDD releases missing, post article, of course (my recommendation would last year’s sensational Riot Now! after you’re done with this bunch). Still, there’s more than enough to sink your fangs into. What are you waiting for? Skip along and don't cruel yourself a second longer. Thank me later.

Adequacy article courtesy of Adrian P a.k.a. "doauk" of the DiS Community.

By Simon K.