Browsing: Music

Image Credit: Martin Schumann (CC BY-SA 4.0) It is now a popular rock legend that “not many people heard The Velvet Underground, everyone who did formed a band”, with the now-iconic New York garage rockers’ rough, unkempt experimentation directly influencing much of the next 50 years’ most enduring music. What is rarer however is bands who attempt to modernise much of this band’s most bizarre tendencies, something Dutch band Lewsberg have attempted to do on both their self-titled debut and new album, In This House. Opener ‘Left Turn’ greets the listener with the repetitive grind of dissonant guitar chords alongside…

Feminism and rock music have often had a somewhat fractured relationship. The often barely hidden misogyny found in everything from the blues that inspired rock to a huge range and history and worryingly persistent issues  of sexual harassment at concerts has hardly made this disparate set of scenes particularly inviting for women. Punk however is a notable exception. Whilst of course the crude sexism of much of rock can still be found in artists like The Stranglers, punk has more often than not been a riposte to rather than a promoter of misogyny. This began arguably with one of the…

Wasted Shirt Cover Art by Susan Sage Combining two of the most visceral and bizarre artists of the 2010’s, Wasted Shirt is a collaboration between prolific garage and psychedelic rock artist Ty Segall and Brian Chippendale, the drummer in the brutal and complex noise-rock band that is Lightning Bolt. Listening to the two singles released prior to Fungus II’s release, I could have been forgiven for thinking that this was largely an add-on to Lightning Bolt’s most recent album Sonic Citadel. Double the Dream and album opener, All is Lost, share the same dense production and fast yet sludgy bass…

Something that should probably be reflected upon during a time of crisis around the coronavirus and increasing authoritarianism across the world is how it will impact music. Much of the most profound music has come during times of huge strife, allowing artists to create music with a huge emotional resonance. Probably the most notable modern day example of this would be the case of Russian feminist punks Pussy Riot, whose unauthorised public performances of songs railing against Vladimir Putin, homophobia, sexism and the Russian Orthodox Church eventually saw two of their members imprisoned for 21 months for “hooliganism motivated by…

One artist I personally hadn’t heard prior to the last month was Alexander Tucker. As a member of the electronic collective Grumbling Fur, Tucker has spent the last decade mixing electronic and acoustic sounds and his 11th album does certainly sound accomplished in this regard at least.  Guild of the Asbestos Weaver is a droning, relentless take on synth-pop, held together by Tucker’s beautifully sombre vocal style. This really isn’t better summed up than by the opener, and only single, Energy Alphas. You are immediately greeted with a thick synth bassline and Tucker’s increasingly urgent vocals pushing the song on.…

For many of 20th Century music’s earliest forms, integration into the modern music scene hasn’t been too difficult. Classical music still rings through the ears of many movie goers, with pieces from Hans Zimmer or Alan Silvestri still captivating, alongside more modern innovators like the minimalists such as Phillip Glass or John Cage. The blues still has millions of listeners, whether in the streamlined yet hugely popular albums of someone like John Mayer or Joe Bonamassa, or in the bluesy alternative rock sound of the White Stripes. This influence, even arguably through the integration of soul and R&B into popular…

When discussing those who sat on the fringes of rock, Iggy Pop has few equals. From the rampant, drug-infested chaos of his band, The Stooges, to the sobering darkness of debut solo album The Idiot, Pop is among the most unique and inventive musicians of the 1970’s. His last solo album Post Pop Depression, a collaboration with Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, showed an artist capable of blending effectively into the modern alternative rock scene as well. Free is another intriguing step for Pop, enlisting the help of ambient artist Sarah Noveller…

All Mirrors is the fourth album by American singer and songwriter Angel Olsen, and it is important to note that this album is not just Olsen. For this record, she recruits the help of a small orchestra, with instruments like violins, cellos, violas and trombones to help give her backing throughout the record. The opening track ‘Lark’ is a spectacular opener, using the orchestra and Olsen’s voice to build suspense until the track reaches a spectacular climax. There is nothing about this record that feels rushed, and no song feels like it’s simply been added to help extend the run…

After a career straddling the Britpop and Psychedelic Revival movements with his band Super Furry Animals, North Wales local Gruff Rhys has continued to delve into a huge range of different sounds and cultures, culminating with the curation of the Bethesda-based Ara Deg festival in support of his new album, Pang! Whilst I personally only attended the final night of a 4-day festival that also included art pop singer Aldous Harding and electronic experimenters Bitw along with art exhibitions and more, the final night at Neuadd Ogwen seemed to be the perfect summary of an event that really only an…

Within the popular music of the 1980’s, Prince arguably had no challenger in the United States. Able to combine an immediately loveable style with sharp song writing, as well as creating prominent singles for albums like 1999 or Purple Rain Prince wrote a huge range of significant hits for other pop musicians. The latest in a huge unseen back-catalogue that is being posthumously released by Warner Brothers Records; Originals is a compilation of original versions of songs he gave to other musicians. The first thing to really mention about Originals is that it isn’t just a set of demos or…

June marked the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic debuts of all time. Atmospheric, solemn and tortured, Unknown Pleasures may not have seen chart success upon its release but is now remembered as one of the most influential and impactful releases from the explosion of punk and the subsequent post-punk movement that sprouted from the initial wave, inspiring artists from contemporaries such as The Cure to later artists like Radiohead or Bloc Party. The Manchester band’s debut has such a legacy most notably in my view for the desolate and reverberant production from Martin Hannett, with even the…

Even within a fairly diverse and eclectic alternative scene of the 1990s in Britain, Stereolab stood out. Mixing a love for the raw and uncompromising attitude of The Velvet Underground with the melody of French pop in their early recordings, within a decade they had blossomed into a band capable of making deceptively complex, vibrant pop. Pretty much the only constants in their career were the sweet bilingual vocals and political lyrics of Laetitia Sadier alongside the guitarwork of Tim Gane, but they had a distinctive yet constantly progressing brand of music because of this. Their comeback tour, coming to…

This Is Not A Safe Place – Ride As a band managing to blend a noisy, wall of sound approach to rock music alongside pop melodies, Ride were a band beloved during their short heyday in the 1990’s and welcomed after their comeback album Weather Diaries in 2017. This Is Not a Safe Place is their second album since their return, and is by no means a poor relation to their more acclaimed previous material, in fact featuring some superb alternative rock. Opener R.I.D.E is one of the most unique songs on this album, with a synthetic vocal and one…

At most festivals, that inceptive splosh of rain is an unwelcome incidence. Contrarily, at Green Man, a curtain of drizzle before those majestically noble Brecon Beacons is gorgeously aesthetic. Admittedly, this wonderous spectacle didn’t abate the merciless deluge. But it did distract me from my damp socks. Following recent years of relative radiance, the festival’s 17th outing was probably due some weather worthy of watery wellies and muddy macs. Though, no matter the volatility of the British skies, you’ll never be short of warmth at Green Man. It’s exuded by all who loyally flock to dwell in the verdant valleys…

The annual UniBrass contest returns to Bangor University on 8th February 2020, marking 10 years for one of the largest Brass Band contests in the UK. University brass bands from around the country will be welcomed to Bangor to compete across two sections; the Trophy and the Shield. Full details about the contest and the venues will be announced in due course. The UniBrass Organising Committee are hoping to make UniBrass 2020 “the biggest contest yet.” The contest began in 2010 at Lancaster University. It was also held at the University of Warwick in 2014, and in Yorkshire for two…

One of Ireland’s finest acts “Villagers” kick started their tour of the UK in Bangor’s very own Pontio, supported by the ethereal musical artistry of Leila Moss. They began their set with “Again” from the RTÉ Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the year 2018 nominee “The Art of Pretending to Swim”. Otherworldly electronics delicately paired with folk-like sounds from brass instruments and acoustic guitars were a breath of fresh air. Moody lighting and dry ice made the whole experience seem celestial. Frontman Conor O’Brien brought a level of intimacy between himself and the crowd with his performance of “Hot…

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