Releases

Older write-ups of releases.

The Fuzz: 100 Demons (2005)

This is an older review, rescued from the internet ether. I wrote it for a site I was involved with at the time, and I’m prompted to put it online as I’ve just listened to the band’s album and it still holds up OK if you’re keen on the whole garage-rock kinda thing. Excuse the writing: a lot has changed in 12 years – including lead singer Abbe May, who’s now out of the garage and into the spotlight. 

d74a214_4563After two well-received EPs, Perth quintet The Fuzz has upped the volume (and the dirt level) with their debut album, 100 Demons. What results is an album that’s got the sound of hunger nailed. With young bands, this keenness, this eagerness to rock isn’t unusual, but what marks this bunch of noiseniks out is the strength of vocalist Abbe May’s cords. They’re phenomenal, and bring to mind some kind of scientific experiment wherein Bon Scott and Adalita from Magic Dirt are somehow combined to create the Ultimate Rock Throat.

She’s that good. (more…)

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Peter Fenton: In The Lovers Arms (2004)

This is an older interview of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

Originally published September 2004.

R-5554611-1457749426-1151.jpeg[1]There’s a line in Peter Fenton’s debut solo album, In The Lovers Arms that accurately encapsulates its author’s thoughts on songwriting. On opener ‘The Song People’, appears the refrain

Song… Song… Song…
It’s where you’ve been

It’s also pretty apt for where the artist is at in his life. Song is, in some ways, a transcript, a record of where you’ve been. And for Fenton, it’s been quite a journey. In The Lovers Arms is the end result of recent ruminations on life, love and solitude, and it’s a welcome release.
The album is the singer’s first solo release since Crow – the best fucked-off-with-life band of dark-eyed troubadours since Nick Cave stopped writing Latin on his chest and decided to keep his suit-jackets on – imploded after the release of Play With Love in 1998. Since that time, he’s begun a career as an actor, and this album marks his return to the world of recording, after a period of disenchantment with the industry at large.

There’s two things to note about this return, too. Firstly, it’s a concept album. Secondly, it’s a product that makes the waiting worthwhile. (more…)

New The Revenant (soundtrack) review

My review of the Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto and Bryce Dessner soundtrack for The Revenant has been posted over at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.

For the most part, there’s a kind of ascetic, restrained feeling, a mirror to the film’s harsh, cold setting. There’s hints of single-fiddle folk-tunes, dragged out to contemplative, almost-stopped lengths, but there’s more fulsome moments, too. The ‘Killing Hawk’ cue mines the emotive vein popularised by Arvo Part – indeed, some of the string prods are reminiscent of that composer’s Te Deum, isolated moments of touched-nerve consideration, heard through reverberation.

You can read the rest here, if you’d like.

West 78: American Girl (2002)

FILL ME IN MANThis is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

I’d like to apologise in advance for this review. I am sure that no matter how much I plunge through the dictionary, and no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to find words succinct enough to communicate to you exactly how awful, how dog-humpingly insipid American Girl is. (more…)

Mark Lanegan Band: Bubblegum (2004)

Click to visit his homepage.This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. Again, it’s a long ‘un. A decade ago I obviously wasn’t into precision. 

Until now, most people who’ve been aware of Mark Lanegan’s solo career have been die-hard fans. His solo work – a brace of pared-back albums that provide distinctly uneasy listening – is more noted for its barely-restrained menace, rather than the volume-heavy terror of the singer’s turns with Screaming Trees or Queens Of The Stone Age. His work over albums like Field Songs and The Winding Sheet contained a starker, (more…)

Jamie Hutchings: The Golden Coach (2002)

Click to buy on Bandcamp.This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

Bluebottle Kiss have, over the course of the past ten or so years, become stalwarts of the Oz indie rock scene. The Golden Coach is the first solo album from BBK mainman and prime mover Jamie Hutchings, and as such is a more restrained affair than his other works — certainly, it’s a little less histrionic than audiences have come to expect from the purveyor of intelligent chug-rock, though there’s still some floppy-haired pain to be found here, writ large. (more…)

Oxbow: An Evil Heat (2002)

Oxbow: An Evil HeatThis is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

Once in a while, a record comes along that makes you question the sanity of the people who made it — or a CD makes you feel that there’s something, at a basic level, terribly wrong. An Evil Heat is one of those recordings. Try taking the big guitar sound that was found on some Rage Against The Machine tracks, and giving it to the Birthday Party. Pour them full of crack and paranoia, and then make Nick Cave slur more, utilising a vocal technique that varies between the squalling of newborns, the ranting of mental patients released into the community, and demon wails.

Like The Jesus Lizard after a stay in prison, Oxbow‘s music is dangerous, in-your-face and utterly compelling. Their live act is described as “live cock fun”, which is pretty much what you get here: demonic cock-rockin’ riffs, corralled by someone who sounds like he’s working through some serious problems. It’s truly oceanic. (more…)

Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen: Journey Through the Land of Shadows (2005)

Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen: Journey Through the Land of ShadowsThis is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

Additional note: Jesus, is this a long review. There’s some video throughout to ensure you don’t die before reaching the end. 

Since forming in 2000, Mikelangelo And The Black Sea Gentlemen have been gathering accolades for their superlative, part fairy-tale, part cabaret, part cautionary huckstering live performance. Playing a number of festivals worldwide – including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – they’ve honed their approach and reeled in punters with an ear for the more curiously strait-laced (in a completely Victorian, bodices-and-waistcoats kind of way) side of the gypsy-folk spectrum. (more…)

Alan Moore and Tim Perkins: Angel Passage (2002)

Alan Moore and Tim Perkins: Angel Passage (re:)This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

Angel Passage is an odd disc. It’s a studio reworking of a performance Moore and Perkins presented as part of the Tygers of Wrath concert, presented at the end of Tate Britain’s William Blake exhibition. And as such, it sits in no-man’s land; it’s not a run-of-the-mill spoken-word album, nor is it a cast-recording album. It’s a weird hybrid, like reading Moore’s meditation on Blake’s life while ghostly music that’s not quite separate floats through the air. Occasionally, it’s problematic — I just want to hear what he’s saying, dammit — but for the most part, it adds a well-judged air of mystery. (more…)

Nerve Net Noise: Meteor Circuit (2002)

This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

No two ways about it, you’re either going to love Meteor Circuit or think it’s the most annoying con-job going in electronica. Nerve Net Noise, a Japanese duo, take homemade oscillators and basically let them play themselves. They claim to be going for the middle ground between planned and unplanned, suggesting that there’s a kind of life created here. Then again, their liner notes also make links between the creation of the world and their music, in a display of whimsy that elsewhere would annoy, but here appears to fit entirely with the project: machines playing themselves, humans acting merely as scribes. (more…)