Feature

Just Do it Yourself: Understanding the DIY Mentality in Music

The prospect of being frontman for a band that you built from the ground-up on a shoe-string and a vision is either a pipe-dream or a nightmare for most, but for Jeff Hill, playing and managing Machinist! is his chief dedication. He also books shows for his hometown punk scene, fights back against bigots and still finds time to promote his friends' bands on Facebook and send out merch to fans across the States. In an attempt to understand exactly what it means to be 'DIY' in the modern musical world, we got Jeff to tell us.

Review

Low Roar -
0

The digit 0, as a representation of nothing, can be frightening. To have earned nothing or to have nothing left are gut-wrenching notions, all contained within the infinite expanse of that bleak oval. But conceptually, crucially, it is also the starting blocks; the habituated point of return for dusting off and trying again, a reprieve for should you ever blindly jump the gun. It doesn't heal grazed skin nor bruised ego, but that opportunity to start over is a comfort as well as an incentive, and Low Roar seems keen to make that regression; to fall back to point zero with and despite his welts and missteps.

Review

Cymbals Eat Guitars -
LOSE

Sometimes albums can come into your life at a pretty impeccable time. You can argue that it’s due to a mental state that these songs can feel so akin to your current circumstance, but that’s cheating the albums of their greatest assets. Sparing the boring details of “woe-is-me”-isms, let’s just say that sometimes concern and stress can mount up exponentially, creating a fog of confusion that every so often requires a rope to ascend out of. That rope, as it were, tends to be in the form of forced self-assessment and planning; setting a path to trudge down to keep sane. It’s this complex idea that Cymbals Eat Guitars’ LOSE so clearly thrives in by personifying an undecipherable idea with clear purpose and understanding.

Review

Opeth -
Pale Communion

Ah, the dreaded comparison. Nothing misses the point and narrows the mind more than an argument about how a band used to be better, the “ yeah, but compared to..” closing statement that invariably discredits the album at hand as well as faux-validates the opinion because of its loaded proposition. Here’s a good example: Pale Communion sucks compared to Still Life. The problem here does not lie in the analysis or even the sentiment, but it lies in making the comparison in the first place. It judges a record based only on its position on a linear timeline, and not on its considerable merits in a vacuum. To reach this thought-process, I asked myself if the majority of the criticism points levelled at Pale Communion would apply if it wasn’t an Opeth record, and my research has given me little evidence to suggest they would.

Review

Punching Swans -
Mollusc

As rarely as a winter swallow does there come along a record so tender you could carve it with a butter knife. As seldom and swift as a light breeze in an Indian summer, but also as becoming and cherished. Songs can be crafted with the exceptional power of attachment, like dew to a blade of grass, cohabiting forever-etched memories, forming the fabric of eld. And joining the ranks of Presley, Vandross and Gaye are the affectionate aficionados of Punching Swans, endowing lovers the world over with alluring, whisperable bonne bouches like “Follow me, follow me. In the woods and follow me. We're all gonna die.”

Review

Henrietta -
The Trick is Not Minding

Languishing somewhere in the limbo between attaining a logical understanding of human nature and suffering in a binary loop of having no idea, Henrietta are one of those rare sapphires in an otherwise listless coal mine; the type to swing for the fences rather than shuffle quietly behind them in confused uncertainty. The Trick is Not Minding is not just an aural and spiritual touchstone to the likes of Thrice and The Dear Hunter , but it is also an embodiment of the spirit of fighting back. What results is an exhaustive, expressive bevy of coping mechanisms and rhetorical explanations, built as much for personal consumption as they are for the countless empathisers that will pack in to sweaty basement shows to sing these songs in care-fee earnest.

Review

The Gaslight Anthem -
Get Hurt

Since inception, The Gaslight Anthem have been armed with a big-named bevy of influences to shape their punk-tinged Americana, sometimes to the point of parody. It’s never been a huge problem (The ’59 Sound alone boasts some of the best Springsteen-esque jams since, well, Springsteen) but as time marched on the band really hasn’t seemed interested in marching on themselves. Just as their music recalls to their arena-rock roots, so has Fallon’s prose -- stories where jukeboxes and old cars rear their heads far more than any modern set pieces -- and it reflects on the final output as a meshing, complete product. But just as Petty and Springsteen lost their relevance, The Gaslight Anthem’s recollection has too become a little stale as the years have performed their terrible dance.

Feature

An Analysis: Music of No Consequence

One would certainly hope that music - despite being as much of a highlighter of class warfare as it is a sanctuary - can at least be relied on for sincerity. But, all is clearly not what it seems on the surface; there are bands and artists still flagrantly trampling on the ideals of the cultures they claim to be a part of, and Rob Rubsam says enough is enough. Here are his thoughts on music with no consequence, indie rock at its worst and underlying problems.

Review

1000mods -
Vultures

With the calculated flick of a flailing chain, another asshole takes a tumble from his two-wheeler; his leathers skidding across the cold, hard ground in glorious hopelessness as we overtake with a fist raised and a grin earned. Soundgarden is on full blast now – ‘Rusty Cage’ – as we roar through the ravenous pack looking for the next victim. Note the distant sunrise simmering between those cold-stared cacti, illuminating the desert in an awesome autumn glow, watching the ‘90s unfold. 

Interview

Interview: Old Soul

Purveyors of bleak, choke-you-out black metal, Old Soul are the type of band that could soundtrack a violent thunderstorm over an empty ocean. They are monolithic movers of shapes and sounds, yet despite their tongue-in-cheek self-classification as 'dreamo', they avoid genre tropes through the injection of taught technicality and hidden concepts. We caught up with them for a quick chat during the middle of their recent European trip to discuss tour life, the Czech Republic and Deafheaven.

Review

Jan Nemeček -
Fragmented

To call Jan Nemeček ’s latest offering “atmospheric” is to downplay what Fragmented ultimately is: downright ethereal, a roll and echo in the night sky that draws as much from the turning earth beneath your feet as the stars that wheel above. It spreads out as an astral cloud, unfolding inch over inch into shimmering cosmic dust. Focus on a single note and it slips away into a gathering chord, twisting and turning into the swells of melody that draw you further out.

Review

The August -
Lizard King

From insignificant acorns sprout staggering oak trees, and it's one of nature's many spectacular feats that so much biological information can be stored in that tiny little object, gradually able to develop into these mighty, all-seeing, century-spanning behemoths. Imagine that process, though, sped up considerably. Imagine if you plopped an acorn into a small hole in the soil, patted over the dirt and gave it a light sprinkle of water, and just seconds later strong limbs of bark burst forth, a canopy of golden-green leaves elevating you to see what a hundred-year-old oak sees. Lizard King emanates such grandness, with all the foliage of a vast saga condensed into a seed, ready and waiting to rupture once lent its own sunlight and water – the eager ears of an intrepid music explorer.

Review

A Sunny Day in Glasgow -
Sea When Absent

By very definition, the shoegazing genre is that of the introvert; the art of carefully placing a word between trenches of distortion whilst letting the guitars do the emotional lifting. So, when A Sunny Day in Glasgow juxtapose that against a soaring dream-poppy vocal exuberance, we’re really hearing all the hallmarks of a band facing one hell of an identity crisis. Yet somehow – for a band that spans continents – everything on Sea When Absent is on the same page, and the result is a bevy of hard-hitting stories that embraces these differences and excels on both sides of the coin.

Feature

Road Trip with Mechanimal

As the eyes of the world dart across the various nations facing turmoil, largely unnoticed lies the bubbling undercurrent of musical and creative growth, converting the tribulations of societal upheaval into blimps of expression. Leading the pack is the diesel-edged "drone 'n' roll" of Mechanimal , stirring the dreary-eyed of Athens from their nests and propping them up on supports made of deep electronic rumbles. We asked Giannis Papaioannou  to tell us about five tracks that provide similar support for the group on their travels.

Review

Minot -
Equal/Opposite

If Minot had been given an ultimatum – to construct as hefty an instrumental album as is humanly possible or be unceremoniously fed to the hounds – I would not be surprised to learn that they'd since gained control of their captors (and emancipated the hounds). Equal / Opposite is a menacing display of juxtaposition , daunting by way of its might but with the tension alleviated by the bounce in its step. The infiltration of sound is made resolute by its sturdiness, as though every note played and every drum struck is needing to permeate feet-thick concrete walls, yet there's a fun and frantic quality that seeks to downplay the opposing terrors like a presentation-giver imagining his glaring peers stripped down to their whities.

Interview

Noted meet James Joys and Peter Devlin

The collaborative LP Devil, Repent! by James Joys and Peter Devlin is a fascinating one -- at times, difficult to listen to, but ultimately it's a fine electronic translation of human erring and the industrial. It's an ensnaring affair, which is the sort of quality that begs for the upheaval of context and intentions so that we may extract as much from the experience as possible. And both Joys and Devlin have wonderfully indulged us with their perspectives on Ireland and the literary left field.

Review

Braid -
No Coast

In the 16-odd years since Braid invigorated a generation of jaded teenagers with ‘Frame and Canvas’, an LP which regularly creeps-in alongside American Football and EndSerenading on many a ‘pioneering emo records’ Tumblr list, a lot has changed. Main-man Bob Nanna successfully discovered his real birth parents for starters; a union that revealed a rich musical lineage (referenced at the start of the bouncing ‘Light Crisis’), the kind of life-affirming event that you’d love to be able to write about if you’re 20 and trying to write a classic between a day job and a panic attack. To that end, Braid aren’t trying to sound like they’re still in 1993 anymore – these are dudes with mortgages and kids, writing music because it makes sense to them. It’s a grown-up album from grown-ups but addressed to everyone, whether you’re a well-versed veteran of the ‘90s sleeping-on-floors movement or a kid organising DIY basement shows after school. No Coast, in many respects, is the wise old owl. ‘I’ll tell you how it ends’, says secondary vocalist & guitarist Chris Broach dryly on the glorious ‘End End Hollows’.

Feature

One and Done: The Chapman Family - Burn Your Town

One of the most gratifying things as a music fan is to be able to follow a band throughout their career – to witness them progress as musicians and individuals, and to hear such reflected in their songs. Some bands chalk up an impressive number of albums, their fans tirelessly discussing and debating their ranking. Others release records with gaps of three or four years, or out of the blue after a decade-long hiatus. The vast majority, however, are doomed to fade into obscurity, be it due to creative difference, lack of funding or lack of interest. One and Done aims to celebrate those bands who were only ever able to release one album, but did so with such finesse that sequels are craved whilst also, perhaps, being entirely unnecessary.

Review

Tigers Jaw -
Charmer

Tigers Jaw’s Charmer opens with the single most album-defining chorus of the year: “It’s a cruel world, but it’s cool”. Sure, it’s an ambiguous statement where the word choice lends itself far beyond face value so that it can fit into a plethora of situations, but it still instills the very essence of where Tigers Jaw currently find themselves. The album is presented as a collective ‘whatever’ in the face of upheaval, handled in the way that so many like-minded 20-somethings have ‘whatever’d’ before them. They play chill, keeping the world at arms length so it won’t penetrate, consume, and discard. It’s keeping it all in perspective so the minor distractions don't keep your eyes away from an endgame.

Interview

Noted meet Sunwølf

Sunwølf did something quite special with their new album, Beholden To Nothing And No One. Presented in two parts, what's immediately recognisable is the sense of scope with which they work. Their offerings are grand and archaic, a deft exploration of what can be achieved through instrumental music. What in one moment seems an experimental rummage can turn into deliberate, concentrated wonderment, and without the bindings of musical expectation, they're left to amaze us just as the world does -- in unpredictable bursts. Below, we aimed to pick their brains in return for melting ours.

Review

Kishi Bashi -
Lighght

I hate sand.  It’s intrusive and irritating and obnoxious and I hate it.  I’m sitting at the beach with my feet gingerly placed on top of a self-created dune watching my little cousins bathe in the stuff and all I can think of is showering in two weeks when that last grain will finally escape my person.  How is it that the younger we are the more resistant we are to its invasiveness?  We could let it wash over us and cement itself into every crack and crevice without as much as a whimper, yet as we grew up the wiles of what lies within those multitudes became predestined; an arduous journey to cleanse ourselves of its invasion.  So we resist.  

Feature

Road Trip with Sinai Vessel

As Sinai Vessel prepare to once again brave the cathartic, sweaty discomfort of life on tour, ringmaster Caleb Cordes stopped by to talk about five tracks that he personally feels exemplify said lifestyle to a tee. The band's new EP, Profanity, is a thoughtful and genuine collection of tracks that both sag with weariness and shine with glistens of optimism -- here's a chance to get yourselves acquainted before the jump. 

Interview

Noted meet Strand of Oaks

No matter the circumstances, no matter the person and their methods, everybody needs time to heal. We find solace in company and in solitude, we reconsider our direction, we put our headphones on and release ourselves momentarily of burdens and commitments. Tim Showalter 's chosen technique is self-assessment through his music; except with the intent to aid the healing process for as many people as he possibly can. And rather than delicately tend to his wounds with cotton swabs and kisses, on HEAL he took a more heavy-handed approach. “I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst parts. And that’s how I got better.”

Feature

The Revival Trap: Modern Baseball, Off! and Genre Death

The topic of genres stuttering to a grizzly death and their consequent mysterious phoenix-like ability to 'rise from the ashes' with the aid of fresh-faced teenagers copying their influences has been no better documented than in the recent 'emo revival' movement, a misguided flurry of journalism aimed at hyping up a genre that never died in the first place whilst simultaneously breeding that 'you heard it here first' mentality that has plagued artistic development for the last few decades. But with that attention comes healthy skepticism, and the uncovering of something much more sinister - bands that seek to recapture a specific sound whilst missing the purpose of the ethos they claim to represent. It's a dangerous game that has the potential to leave a lasting black mark, because when originality goes, what is left? Rob Rubsam investigates.

Interview

Noted meet Odonis Odonis

Hailing from the Toronto underground, Dean Tzenos and his newly-acquired bandmates are renowned for their involving, energetic live shows and a sound that dances between the jagged edges of arrogant noise-rock and the oft-hidden melodic flashes of industrial. If it sounds unusual, it's because it is; Hard Boiled Soft Boiled is a sonic experiment as much as anything, with a narrative as vivid in timing as it is in theme. We caught up with Dean to disuss the LP, his involvement with Buzz Records and how tight-knit the Toronto DIY scene has become. 

Interview

Noted meet DOOMSQUAD

With their wondrous and eclectic debut LP Kalaboogie, DOOMSQUAD captured both the fluttering of curious birds and the faceless fires of industry in a sound that blended the mercurial with the mysterious. It was an ambitious work of art founded on a set of principles shared by three siblings, and represented an ethos that was as much about their heritage as it was about looking forward. We took the chance to catch up with Jacklyn Blumas to discuss the bands' processes, influences and manifesto. 

Interview

Noted meet Jonathan Boulet

Designated a skate rat, albeit a “precociously inspired” one, Jonathan Boulet has achieved a fair modicum of success as an indie rock musician. However unlikely as it may seem, by 21 he was signed to the major Aussie label Modular – for context, this is the same label who house the likes of stalwarts Tame Impala, Cut Copy and The Avalanches – and found two of his songs getting featured in separate FIFA console games, where they were able to etch their way into the subconscious of millions of players worldwide. It's the career start that many dream of, and we spoke to Jonathan so that we may ascertain the spring of his course.

Interview

Noted meet Foxing

As nuanced and intimate as The Albatross is on first impression, no small amount of mystery remains in repeat listens. Another run through affords the listener time to foc us on the soft noodling of each guitar, the quietly busy rhythmic undercurrent, or to try and piece apart some of the more interpretable lyrics. We took a little time with the band’s vocalist, Conor Murphy , and learned that while Foxing has only just begun to test the waters with their wonderful debut LP ,  t heir writing process and direction are anything but timid.

Interview

Oozing Wound

Oozing Wound are a band that aren't difficult to like. They play music for the same reason we listen to it --  it's fun, engaging, and hopefully unpredictable . It's fair to say that they aren't the most serious guys in the world, but at the same time, they definitely care about their output. In a world where thrash metal has become that dodgy uncle at a party, it's refreshing to see that the carnage from the old metal days -- massive riffs, stupid-BPM blast beats and Swanton Bomb's off stages -- still has a place. Oozing Wound are here to remind you that you're not that fucking important after all. We had a quick chat with them, and this is what we learnt.