When you’ve realised the weekend has flitted past you faster than you could ever have imagined and you can’t face the reality that there are 5 more long, drawn-out days until the next one, what you need is right here. The Pit will give you hope that despite that boring crappy jobs, there is some enjoyment out there. So get reading and get listening to what’s been recommended. On with the show…
Jane Hawkes’ stereo has been making friends with the soundwaves of these chosen few:
AKRON/FAMILY – Meek Warrior
(Young God Records)
If you are a fan of the stranger, slightly unhinged side of psychedelic indie such as The Polyphonic Spree and Broken Social Scene then Akron/Family are going to be right up your street. If you are not then be warned, Meek Warrior is some strange shit. Sounding like it’s influenced by a hundred different bands from The Velvet Underground to Pink Floyd with a little Bob Dylan thrown in for good measure, it’s a remarkable and artistically compelling listen and with the ever growing mountain of run of the mill indie-fads churning out the same old shit, that in itself makes Meek Warrior definitely worth a go. It’s possible however that on hearing the album in its entirety, you will sit and wonder whether what you just heard was unintentionally fantastic and a result of pure accident or whether it was simply a conscious endeavour stabbing at unique aspirations. Whatever, every now and then a little mystery is a good thing.
MASTODON – Capillarian Crest
Melodic, determined and rampant, Atlanta’s finest explode back on to the scene with an absolute ballbreaker of a single. Released on the back of well received appearances at the Carling Reading and Leeds Festival over the bank holiday weekend Capillarian Crest is taken from new album Blood Mountain which incidentally is their Warner Bros debut. Mixing the established Mastodon prog sound with more advanced sounds whilst still remaining tightly bound to their metal flagpole creates an insubordinately hair raising four and a half minutes. Not for the faint of heart.
THE WILDHEARTS – Geordie In Wonderland
The Wildhearts are one of those rare, energizing bands with an original sound executed to perfection. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing the boys live, you’ll know that the afore mentioned statement is right on the money. Now you can re-live the whole live experience once again and marvel at just how bloody good The Wildhearts are regardless of all the problems they have encountered both as a band and in their own lives. Taken from a performance at Scarborough Castle on September 17th 2005 it’s an invigorating run through all their hits. ‘Greetings From Shitsville’, ‘TV Tan’ and fan favourtite ’29 x The Pain‘ all make an appearance and remind you how decadent, sleazy, debauched rock n roll should be played. Stick this on loud and have yourselves a ball.
LESS THAN JAKE – The Rest Of My Life/Don’t Fall Asleep On The Subway
As the last festivals of the summer pass by in a combination of cloud and rain (if you live up north anyway), Less Than Jake are the ones to come to the rescue to cheer us all up with two songs from their ‘In With The Out Crowd’ album plus an unreleased B-side. Singing about the last days of summertime in ‘Don’t Fall Asleep On The Subway’, its all very apt and ensues to be a soundtrack to hazy memories of some groovy festival moments even through all the shit weather. ‘The Rest Of My Life’ is perhaps one of the most radio-friendly Less Than Jake tracks to appear in recent years and could actually be mistaken for Good Charlotte/Blink 182/All American Rejects schtick. But don’t let that put you off, that aside it’s an infectious, uplifting slice of pop punk which will warm your cockles even on the cloudiest of days.
YEAH YEAH YEAHS – Cheated Hearts.
Karen O and her mob are seen to be the essence of cool by thousands of teens, why is anyone’s guess as it feels like an age since they produced anything that rocked like 2002’s self titled. Although 2006’s ‘Show Your Bones’ catapulted them into mainstream, the calibre of songs seem to lack the scuzz and grit of earlier stuff. Cheated Hearts is a prime example; enervating, contrived and damn right odious with wails of “I think I’m bigger than the sound” it seems the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have disappeared right up their own arseholes. Now that kids, is not cool.
Dee Massey has had the following soundtrack on as she cleans up after her new kitten time and time again:
ENTER SHIKARI – Mothership
Take some trance, euro pop synthesizers, some bleeps, adds a healthy does of screamo and kick ass guitars, and the result is a St Albans based four piece, Enter Shikari. Debut download only release ‘Mothership‘ takes you by the throat within seconds, screeching vocals tearing out at you over techno beats, guitars rip into you – it’s both innovative and addictive. Recorded by Justin Lockey (Yourcodenameis:milo) and mixed by Pedro Ferreira (Therapy?) the result is something that’s sparks the imagination, a full throttle glimpse at what these guys can produce. The UK’s indie scene seems to be forever churning out new Libertines-esque acts, so it’s a breathe of fresh air to see the post hardcore/screamo scene is still as vibrant as ever. Enter Shikari have captured the essence of a live show in these few minutes, it’s a shot of adrenaline to the heart – and show great promise of things to come.
THE AUTOMATIC – Recover
The Automatic have captured a sound that is uniquely theirs, you’d never mistake an Automatic track for anyone else. The rasping vocals from Pennie backup the strong levels from frontman Rob, and the bouncing bassline and upbeat guitar sounds, are now familiar, after a summer of ‘ It is a Monster…?‘ being yelled across many a festival. Recover will get you nodding, it’s easy on the ear, and has all the right ingredients – but it’s a little too samey as the last two singles. In producing a signature sound the band seem to be sticking to it, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with it, how long before the audiences get bored with another identikit single?
TO MY BOY – I Am Xray
After listening to To My Boy’s debut single, you need to lie down in a darkened room with a couple of nurofen. Robotic vocals over hypnotic disco techno beats, recorded in bedroom sessions wind themselves around you until you’re submerged in neon flashes. This electronic fever is surprisingly addictive, and with Hot Chip paving the way for techno geeks into the mainstream, this glorious introduction to this band is a real treat for the ears. Being a self proclaimed technophobe, it’s exciting to come across a dance act who’ve combined the best of guitar, dance beats, drum machines, pro tools malarkey and the like, and come out with something that really shines through.
THE RAPTURE – Get Myself Into It
I can’t help but think of UB40 for some reason when listening to The Rapture’s first single of their forthcoming album. It’s a commercial, radio friendly ray of sunshine from the dance rockers. They seemed to have gone down a more pop route, with Luke Jenner’s vocals surrounded by a dance beat, sax and a disco throbbing bassline, that’ll find new fans for them, but could alienate others. There’s more than a passing nod to Bloc Party, and it’s no surprise to see that Paul Epworth was on the desk. All in all, this introduction to their forthcoming album ‘Pieces of People We Love’ is funky and shimmering, a laid back summer evening tune, but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea…
THE CRIMEA – Baby Boom
The Crimea have been simmering underneath the radar for a few months, relentlessly touring and working on the new album – but with the release of the atmospheric, multi facetted Baby Boom, they have the weapon with which to really crack into the mainstream. Baby Boom, a mainstay of their stunning live shows, sets your senses alight with twinkling keyboards, soothing bass and wailing, almost crying, guitars combining with Dave MacManus’s edgy and breaking vocals. The lyrics are both comical and tragic ‘we’re just a bunch of buffalos, getting slaughtered’ is closely followed by the wonderfully comic chorus lines of ‘You can call me Fred Flintstone, Tarzan King of The Jungle..’. It’s an inspirational wide sound, every piece of the jigsaw fitting together for a track that is both melancholic but strangely uplifting, a dark sky lit by sparkling stars. The Crimea are one of the hardest working bands out there, and well deserving of success. Baby Boom is a great showcase for them and it’s little wonder it’s been Track of The Week on Radio One – and with their slot at V Festival, here’s hoping they’ve won over the crowds.
PANIC! AT THE DISCO – Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
Once again the Las Vegas scenesters Panic! At The Disco belie their age with a fantastically punchy track that most of us can relate to in one way or another. Ever been screwed over – this is the cathartic little offering for you then. Pinning you to your chair ‘Lying the most Fun..’ is another fast paced, catchy hook laden punky little ditty, the upbeat chorus balancing out the vitriol filled lyrics.
If you still think Panic are just another emo boy band, this is the track to change your mind. “I’ve got more wit, a better kiss, a hotter touch, a better fuck, than any boy you’ll ever meet’ Brandon Urie spits out in his now familiar breathy vocals.
But this is no pity party, Urie isn’t about to go cutting up his wrists over this girl, there’s a eerie calmness to the proceedings, a quiet angry resilience balanced by flourishes of guitars, ‘Is it still me who makes you sweat? Am I who you think of in bed? When the lights are dim and your hands are shaking as you’re sliding off your dress? Then think of what you did and how I hope to God he was worth it’.
This is yet another stand alone single taken from their now platinum album, ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’, and there are plenty more would-be single bursting to be released. With storming tracks like this, its clear that Panic At The Disco are eons ahead of the curve, and with 5 MTV Music Video Award nominations up their sleeve, they’re becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Cathy Reay has been rocking back and forth in an unlit room to these maniacal sounds:
BABYSHAMBLES: BACK TO THE BUS – What Goes On Tour Stays On Tour!
The musical content often overlooked in favour of Pete Doherty’s latest drugged-up, foulmouthed, who’s-that-girl-on-his-arm? nightly shenanigans, it’s easy to forget that Babyshambles are more than just part of the 00’s new wave of shaggy indie bands.
In this release, the group take us through an express train of what they claim to be their ‘on the road’ soundtrack. Featuring classic influences like The Clash, Johnny Thunders, Belle and Sebastian, the Stone Roses and Burt Jansch, amongst others, the songs handpicked cleverly depict a lot of what we imagine Babyshambles’ day-to-day life to be like. The Clash’s ‘Jail Guitar Doors’ is probably the most appropriate- “Let me tell you ’bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine/A little more every day/Holding for a friend til the band do well”- Christ, it’s like it was written purely about Doherty.
Surprisingly the band hasn’t picked the standout tracks from each artist, moreso the ones that relate to the work and life of Babyshambles. Although great that they’ve done that, it does mean that The Cazals, Littlan’s and Esther Phillips are portrayed in a much weaker light than they deserve- and considering that the people that buy this probably won’t know of any of the artists minus The Clash, it’s probably not the greatest selling point for the rest of the record.
Finished version includes an exclusive acoustic track from the shambolic fivesome and backstage video footage.
THE ROGER SISTERS – Why Won’t You
Cited as having a much more complex sound than that of their primary influences (B-52’s and The Cure), The Rogers Sisters are actually not The Puppini Sisters with a different name (as one might assume), but actually another pretty damn dreary indie band. Oh joy! The swing, swerve and swagger parade kicks a tin trashcan about for a little while before we’re exposed to just exactly what it is that they feel sets them apart from their contemporaries – an iPod (whoops, we mean deeply intricate, layered sonic Zeppelin-style waves). Electro snoozefest heading your way.
‘Why Won’t You’ has received rave reviews across the board despite it’s simple three chord design and lack of any direction worth pursuing. Recently it’s become questionable as to whether NME journos actually use their ears to listen to the music they rave about. They told us The Rogers Sisters would make us want to “party hard!” but all we want to do is turn this shit off so that this pseudo-guitar rock band don’t tarnish the image of our idols any further.
OK GO – Here It Goes Again
Superceded by one of the quirkiest music videos to explode Youtube’s trafficking numbers (1.5 million downloads within 24 hours, to be exact), Ok Go are releasing their second single from mediocre hit sophomore album ‘Oh No’. The video concept for ‘Here It Goes Again’ is simple; it features a rather amateur recording of the band performing an elaborate dance routine on treadmills. Perhaps the metaphorical context is written in the machinery used, the odd foursome obviously wanting to convey the monotony of whatever their song blathers on about.
Unfortunately for them, the track itself is quite mundane and repetitive-a few chords, some upfront chanting and the usual brash guitar work and occasional thump of the kick drum- although over so quickly that you barely have time or patience to notice. But somehow the fact that the video is so weird and the band is so garish makes their music more worthy of a smile. And if you can’t smile at the hilarity of their freaky moves in the video, you’re probably better off reading Aiden reviews anyway…
Alex Gosman has been recovering from Reading Festival flu with this musical equivalent of chicken soup:
THE DRAFT – In A Million Pieces
Given that The Draft are made up of three former members of Hot Water Music (plus a new guitarist), it’s no surprise that ‘In A Million Pieces’ is often reminiscent of the much-missed post-hardcore legends. However, whilst singer/guitarist Chris Wollard’s ragged tones remain familiar, The Draft are musically a folk-tinged and (gasp!) more polished affair. Quite simply, this is a record bursting with great tunes; proudly anthemic songs that could sound great on the radio, but retain a raw edge and variety that HWM fans are sure to love. You’ll be singing along to ‘Lo Zee Rose’, ‘Alive Or Dead’ and ‘Wired’ before you know it.
GALLOWS – Orchestra Of Wolves
(In At The Deep End)
On the evidence of their debut album, you wouldn’t want to meet Gallows late at night in a dark alley. ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ is a brilliantly twisted hybrid of hardcore energy, metallic bludgeon and all-out noise warfare, topped off with vocalist Frank Carter’s deranged howl. The band overcame countless mishaps to make this album; and this is reflected in every track, with the likes of ‘Abandon Ship’ and ‘Six Years’ infused with a sense of urgency and malevolent rage. All you oh-so-trendy metalcore types take note: bands like Gallows will eventually destroy you. One of the best debuts of 2006, no less.
LAMB OF GOD – Sacrament
Arguably one of the finest American metal bands of recent times, ‘Sacrament’ could well see Lamb Of God replicating their homeland success worldwide. This is the band’s most coherent and savagely confident work to date; a feast of thunderously heavy Pantera-esque grooves offset by razor-sharp guitar work, with bonafide anthems of aggression in songs like ‘Foot To The Throat’ and recent single ‘Redneck’. There’s also a devilish sense of humour at work here: “The only catchy hook I’ve got/Is the one in my bleeding gut!” roars frontman Randy Blythe on ‘Forgotten (Lost Angels)‘. Pure American metal doesn’t get much better than this.
SET YOUR GOALS – Mutiny!
Allegedly named after the debut album from NYC hardcore crew CIV, Set Your Goals feature two vocalists and deal in a melodic but robust brand of hardcore punk. Sounding not unlike New Found Glory might if they’d been brought up listening to Gorilla Biscuits and drinking their own body weight in Red Bull, ‘Mutiny!’ is relentlessly upbeat, with catchy tunes and shout-along choruses in abundance. Sure, it’s a little cheesy and over-polished in places, but that title-track riff alone is almost guaranteed to make you bounce. So turn this one up loud, and embrace the positivity.
YOU, ME AND THE ATOM BOMB – Shake Up
The Sussex/Hampshire area of the south coast has become somthing of a breeding ground for DIY punk/hardcore scenes in recent times, and Portsmouth trio You, Me And The Atom Bomb are a ‘shore’ bet for success (sorry, I couldn’t resist it). Seriously, though…this band play speedy, melodic hardcore with a raw edge, in the vein of bands like Avail and Hot Water Music, and they do it very well. Songs like ‘Proud To Say’ and ‘No Surprises’ are rough diamonds that will work their way into your brain within a couple of listens, and there’s no let up in passion or energy throughout the record. They’re probably playing near you soon, so go and sea them…
Ryan Bird has been backing Oxford United’s promotion push with this catalogue of thrash goodness:
SLAYER – Reign In Blood (1986)
While Metallica were raising the stakes in thrash technicality and Dave Mustaine prepared to unleash Megadeth on a global scale, it was this now classic cut that would steal the show in 1986. Short, sharp and furious in its delivery, it succeeded in producing a longer lasting impression in just 29 minutes than many could ever have thought possible.
SLAYER – South Of Heaven (1988)
The follow-up to ‘Reign In Blood’ may have seen Slayer take their foot off the gas where sheer pace alone was concerned, but there was enough groove-laden heaviness and deeply sinister poetry packed into its ten tracks to ensure that they lost none of their now unstoppable momentum.
SLAYER – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)
Just 12 months after release, drummer Dave Lombardo would leave the band for the next ten years, opting to spend more time with his wife than touring the globe. While cracks were beginning to show behind the scenes, ‘Seasons…’ remained a typically relentless affair, rightfully earning its spot in the band’s definitive ‘Big 3’.
SLAYER – God Hates Us All (2001)
Undoubtedly their best and most snarling effort in over a decade, it also arrived with typical Slayer-like controversy. In a cruel twist of fate, label chief and production guru Rick Rubin had the album’s release pushed back several months in July of 2001, with a revised date of September 11th taking its place.
SLAYER – Christ Illusion (2006)
With Lombardo behind the kit once more and Rubin taking a back seat from production duties, Slayer return in August sounding bigger and badder than ever. If ever there were an album worthy of occupying the slot directly below that of the Reign/South/Seasons pyramid, this would undoubtedly be it.