Grinderman

Grinderman
Mute Records

Mental breakdowns and crises can occur at any point in an existing person’s lifetime, most commonly when confronted with the concepts of existence, or indeed a limited time in which one can be alive and exist. Shit, I’m constantly surprised that we’re not in a constant state of anxiety-ridden madness, I know I’m flirting with the idea just writing about it. And listening to the latest disc of fuzz-fuelled fantasy and anti-serious garage rock from Nick Cave’s Grinderman project almost tempted me to indulge in a balls-out illicit affair with insanity.

That is not to say that Grinderman is Cave’s outlet to just lose his shit; though shoving on some Roman garb and thrusting lasers at the earth while a wolf circles a girl in a bathtub would almost have you thinking otherwise. And I’m certainly not going green-text imply that The Bad Seeds isn’t the music he truly wants to make. What Grinderman 2 is, is an informed soundtrack of celebration for the natural impulses that linger in our sub-conscious that make us occasionally want to thrust lasers from our dick while wearing armour and shout ‘HERE COME THE WOLFMAN’ while walking into a cinema. It’s the reason why we celebrate Halloween.

Musically, it’s bitter, gorgeous and somehow more sonically expansive then the first collection of impromptu sleazy, visceral rock. Cave’s absurdist saturation of sexual, violent, hilarious lyrics penetrate harder than ever as he scowls on Worm Tamer, ‘My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster, two great big humps and then I cum’ while the perpetual bass fuzz makes you want to just get up and throw shit. One can only imagine how fun the Grinderman recording sessions are as they surf through high and low culture on an impossibly badass selection of bluesy riffs and guitar noise that can only be made by the monster that lives in the garages of tacky US horror flicks.

So dive in and embrace the wonderful breakdowns that are imminent when listening to one of the most raw albums you’ll hear in 2010. And if you thought your big husband would protect you, YOU WERE WRONG.

The Wolfman

Grinderman – Heathen Child by Crossfire Music

No Age

Everything In Between
Sub-Pop

Three albums into a short yet critically lauded career, at this stage No Age would probably be forgiven a mis-step. With two great albums already under their belts the band have quickly become one of Sub Pop’s most prized assets, and the addition of Everything in Between to their discography will do this status no harm.

Unlike the band’s previous albums, Everything in Between wastes no time in getting straight into it. The usual ambient and feedback interludes are saved for the second half of the record, as we are greeted by straight up garage rock tracks, laced with more melody than ever before. The band have lost none of the warm and comforting fuzz that they’re known for, but there’s an added sheen to the production of songs like ‘Glitter’ that feels like a step forward for the band. This progression is so slight that they could never be accused of attempting to sound more radio friendly, and when they want to, as on ‘Fever Dreaming’, they still channel raw punk influences.

What makes No Age such an interesting recorded band, though, is their ability to switch it up and produce moments of shimmering instrumental beauty. The first sign of this falls seven tracks in, as shoegazy interlude ‘Katerpillar’ breaks up the record’s two halves. From here the record becomes more varied, as a trio of slow burners ‘Sorts’, ‘Dusted’ and ‘Positive Amputation’ add gorgeous texture to the record. It’s the band’s ability to switch effortlessly between the two that makes them so special, as the album finishes on the poppy duet ‘Chem Trails’.

Where exactly Everything in Between ranks next to Nouns and Weirdo Rippers remains to be seen, but it already feels like a record that could be lived in for a long time to come. In a year where indie rock has at times looked so short of ideas, No Age remain one of the genre’s bright sparks.

Sleekly Lion

Enter The Void

In an age in which filmmakers come equipped with an abundance of influences and progressively more obscure concepts, it’s all the more rare to come across something so obviously audacious that at the core, is tremendously, mind-crushingly simple. Indeed, the simplest stories take the longest to perfect, and this one in particular took almost twenty years. In Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void, not only are we presented with a film that is his most fully realised piece of work yet, perhaps even his magnum opus, but we have a film that when stripped of all its technical innovation, idiosyncratic auteurship and typical french extremity, is really just a film about circles.

Specifically, the circle of life. But in the never-ending shot (excluding blinking and various other proverbial trips into the limbo-like void there are no cuts so prepare to feel very anxious watching this) that positions us deep inside Oscar’s head (less a conventional protaganist, more a temporary perspective for our own consciousness), the audience are continuously reminded of the circles that dictate our entire life. Whether it be the parallels between sucking on the end of a cigarette and sucking your mother’s tit after birth or the similarities between the record spinning round playing filtered disco beats in The Void and our own heartbeat, Noe reveals one by one, the meaningless struggles we make in life in an attempt to feel comfortable. And it’s all achieved in one DMT-induced visual trip through the internal vision of a dead drug dealer (played by the faceless Nathaniel Brown) trying to make sense of his past and look over sister (Paz De La Huerta) as she attempts to deal with her brother’s death by doing lots of sexy things in a vibrant and sleazy Tokyo club district.

So narrative wise it is a simple, yet wholly original story about the human struggle through a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope. There’s lots of sex, drugs and pounding, pounding techno music. Wonderful stuff so far, right? Yes yes yes, but its originality is owed in no small part to Gaspar’s meticulous need for sensory stimulation. Had this film been released before the technology existed to allow Noe’s camera to float across an entire city as Oscar’s ghost – presumably still tripping balls – is barging through concrete walls, then the narrative would have fell short of everything time has permitted the sensory-stimulating director to achieve. What that is, is the closest visual representation to what actually goes on inside our heads that has ever been given a worldwide cinema release.

It begins, after the amazing title sequence, with a never-ending psychedelic trip and once that has trapped you it will not let go of your senses for the remaining two hours. The sounds are immersive and haunting (thank you Thomas Bangalter, elected overlord of noise), the visuals are glowing and composed to the most precise detail, and in doing so, we finally have a piece of cinema that can accurately boast that the audience shares a connection with the lead character. You become him, his life flashing before his eyes is your life, that car crash is your own repressed memory, and it hits you just as hard. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

And even by internet generation standards, there are some seriously provoking and controversial things on show here, but isn’t that the sort of things that fills our own minds on an every day basis? You will not find another film as honest and revealing about humanity’s existential peculiarity than Enter The Void. If you’re offended then drop that cigarette, stop thinking about breasts and remember, it’s just a film about circles. Circles that we all ride on, and a superb insight into that special, fascinating one that never, ever ends.

Stanley

The most recent work-friendly trailer can be seen above. But for a real taste of what to expect, watch the brand new Love Hotel trailer below. It’s one whole minute of awesome that should definitely not be watched at work or in front of parents, unless that’s your thing, I guess.

ENTER THE VOID – Love Hotel teaser from Enter The Void on Vimeo.

La Dispute & Touché Amoré

Searching For A Pulse / The Worth Of The World
No Sleep Records

Two of the pre-eminent members in burgeoning Post-Hardcore scene ‘The Wave’, La Dispute and Touché Amoré release this brand new split 7”inch Searching For a Pulse / The Worth of the World. This pairing of some of punk’s most exciting young blood means expectations are set high, but the two bands meet them convincingly.

Touché Amoré kick off the split with I’ll Get My Just Deserve, which is boosted by the contributions of La Dispute’s distinctive vocalist Jordan Treynor. The ascending guitar melody injects the track with a great sense of urgency, which is just as well, as like most of Touché Amoré’s material the song is over in a flash. But it’s the vocal interplay between the two singers that is most impressive about the record’s first half, and although very brief, hints at the further potential of this collaboration.

La Dispute offer the weightier half of the release, which picks up where their immense 2008 debut left off. How I Feel is the heavier of the two tracks, working around up-tempo guitar riffs before breaking down into an epic shouting contest between the two vocalists. The 7”inch is rounded off by the slower paced Why It Scares Me, the record’s calmest offering which puts emphasis on Treynor’s lyrical sprawl. Whether or not you like La Dispute, or indeed this record, will ultimately hinge on what you make of Treynor’s melodramatic vocal style.

Personally I like a little melodrama in my hardcore, and few do it better than both La Dispute and Touché Amoré. As expected, then, this split is one of the year’s standout punk releases and promises much for the next full lengths from both bands.

Sleekly Lion

Skream

Outside The Box
Tempa

myspace.com/skreamuk

So much has been written about Skream in the past couple of years that it’s hard to type words that don’t re-hash a multitude of already worn metaphors and showering of praise. However, the Croydonite producer who has spearheaded the rise of dubstep into the mainstream thanks in no small part to his remix of La Roux and subsequent release as part of Magnetic Man, deserves all the accolades he gets.

His second album, Outside The Box, holds a variety of styles and shows that he’s willing to go beyond what’s expected of him and branches away from dubstep, brushing with bass-heavy hip hop on 8 Bit Baby featuring Living Legends’ Murs. There are 2-step vibes on one of the stand-out tracks of the album How Real featuring the vocal talents of Freckles and even shades of Jungle on dance-floor banger Listenin’ To The Records On My Wall which is sure to be a set-smasher for a very long time to come.

Being able to mix the minimal style that made his In For The Kill remix so potent as he does on the tracks Finally [which features the red-headed Brixtonite] and I Love The Way in with the straight-up wobbling volume of Wibbler shows his dexterity and prowess around all things beat-led. Finishing the album with a track entitled The Epic Last Song could have been a good way to shoot himself in the foot, but the jump-up nature of it ensures that Outside The Box finishes on a huge high.

It’s not a perfect album, there are a few lapses, but even when a tune isn’t as great as those that surround it, the production skills of Skream are still to be marveled at. Who knows what’s next for him, but right now, this record is sure to get toungues wagging and feet pounding.

Abjekt

Sonisphere Festival – Live

Knebworth House
30th July – 1st August
Photos from P.G. Brunelli

Sonisphere is a young festival. Despite 2010 only being the second year it’s been in existence, organizers Kilimanjaro seem to have crafted a well-organised, enjoyable environment with an abundance of varied yet complementary acts. We certainly saw a rather strange mix of bands and this is probably the only review you’ll read that only takes in one main stage band.

Now extended to two and a half days, the first night involved us checking out new British talent March of The Raptors on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. Their gnarly metal-tinged hardcore went down well with the amassed crowd and, though the sound was slightly scrappy, the weekend was off to a good start! Throw in an intense wave of instrumental madness from 65 Days of Static at the Bohemia Stage and some epic power ballads in the Strongbow Bowtime bar later in the evening and we were definitely feeling like we were onto a winner.

We’ll be honest. We didn’t get off to the earliest of starts on Saturday (or Sunday, but we’ll get to that). However, Little Fish provided a great kickstart with frontwoman JuJu’s Patti Smith-esque demeanour winning the band a whole host of new fans at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. Good Charlotte were next on the agenda. Yes, you may laugh, but even though we knew they were likely to be fun, they actually sounded damn good too. Songs like ‘Girls And Boys’ and ‘The River’ (dedicated to The Rev of Avenged Sevenfold) are undeniable hits and when the band played a cover of Blink 182’s ‘Dammit’, it definitely sounded better than the original. Plus they get props for mentioning that they’ll be watching Gallows later.

Gallows are just standardly brilliant. No matter how many times you think you’ve seen them do it all before, it’s always entertaining. A circle pit round the outside of the tent they’re playing, a crowdsurfing Frank Carter, a crowdsurfing dude in a wheelchair and guest vocals from Eva Rolo Tomassi, Good Charlotte et al. What more could you want? I think I’m going to expect a crowdsurfing horse next time. Later in the evening, Polar Bear Club play to a considerably less-packed tent. But they don’t care, they’re just happy to be there! Lesser bands would struggle to rise to the occasion when faced with a sparse crowd but everyone assembled is loving it and the band are no exception. Ace punk rock played with heart. We tried to get to Therapy? later but we failed. The tent was overflowing with people intent on catching their heroes. Apparently there was a powercut though. Bummer. After that, it all goes a bit hazy…

Sunday starts off with the realization that we’re going to miss Henry Rollins do his thing. 11am? I don’t think so. We’re sad to miss out but sleep is necessary. We walk on site rather later in the day to the sounds of Slayer. Bring Me The Horizon play a frenzied set, rattling off their vicious quasi-anthems to an intent crowd. A barrage of crowdsurfers bring the carnage and guitarist Jona climbs way up to the top of the stage rigging mid-song, making it look easy and coming across like Spidey himself. We have to rush off towards the end but we later discovered that Oli Sykes’ dad even made an appearance. Bizarre. But very awesome. Hopefully they silenced a few haters with that incendiary performance.

Unfortunately, I only get to hear Placebo from a distance but by all accounts they play a stunning set, including an amazing Nirvana cover. Converge is next on our list and due to extreme exhaustion, we take it all in from our seat on a nice patch of grass in the corner of the tent. Still, brutal as fuck. Funeral For A Friend headline the same tent with an emotional set that marks guitarist Darran’s last show with the band. There are also plenty of guest appearances with Charlie Simpson and Oli Sykes (who apparently stepped in for a passed-out Matt once when he was just a fan in the crowd years ago) taking to the mic at various points of the set. It’s singalong central and there are definitely a few eyes welling up. A fitting send-off! Later on we get dragged to Tek-One at the Strongbow bar and really don’t want to be convinced but we kind of are. Woah that dude can drum. Wobwobwob, indeed.

You should probably book your tickets for next year.

Winey G

Baker – Szafranski Bad Guys 8″

Baker have never portrayed themselves as clean-cut, nor do they succumb to trends as transparently as handfuls of other companies. While edits are appearing like wildfire implying that skateboarding is still experiencing a comedown from the overdose of HDMA (ever wondered why all that shit is in slow-motion?), Baker haven’t strayed from lo-fi lurker footage at parties and an IMPACT typeface. To put this in perspective, Impact is the font used on all those lolcat macros that dominated the internet for a while. Hardly Brooklyn-based fixie-riding designers flicking imported Lucky Strike ash on their Polaroid collection and doing polejams to Belle and Sebastian is it?

What it is, is fucking rad. Drew is called The Boss for a reason, and that reason is because he runs a tight ship that regularly throws out shitty (read: awesome) footage and crude (read: awesome) decks for beat-up sketchy (read: awesome) riders. I had the pleasure of riding Braydon Szafranski’sBad Guys’ deck this week and had a baller time doing so. The deck is a garish orange and the graphic is a flick lighter beaming away at you like only a waking baking and shaking hotel room trashing skateboarder can. A Baker design through and through that fits in perfectly with a brand that shoots their team portraits in a liquor store.

The board is an 8” so my clumsy feet aren’t at risk of flopping around like they tend to. There’s deep pockets of potential pop, the concave is shapely and while I’m not nailing full-cab flips down big stairs like Braydon let me just say that bitches don’t know about my slappy noseslides. Bangers bangers bangers.

Stanley

Etnies – 405 Tee

If just one look at this tee doesn’t make your mind scream ‘THAT… is the best t-shirt I’ve seen in my entire life’ then I don’t think I can trust you. It’s not often that a photograph can capture something so perfect that no response can be accused of being hyperbole but here is an example. Printed on this Etnies t-shirt is that shot of a skater bombing down the Interstate 405 flippin’ off the commuting collective that emerged on Go Skateboarding Day in 2008, and it is nothing short of the best thing ever. Don’t try to analyse it. Whatever you do, don’t put yourselves in the mind of any of the drivers either because that makes you a cock. This, whether you love it or hate it, is skateboarding defined: being free, being against the grain and just not giving a damn about anyone else.

Aside from being able to replace any bad things in your life with feelings of AWESOME, this t shirt is a regular fitting tee and comes in either black or white which is enough to satisfy anyone’s taste in what you like to cover your nips with I’m sure. Get it, or just look at it, whatever, just let it make you feel good.

Stanley