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Archive for June, 2009

KONG – Snake Magnet (CD/DVD, Brew Records/White Drugs)

Posted: June 30th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

So, those kerrazy sick rock fucks KONG are back with a full-length debut album. Featuring the previous singles Blood of a Dove and Leather Penny, if you’ve already heard them you’ll know what to expect: twisted, brutal early-’90s Chicago-style punk rock with a Manchester accent. There’s no denying that the twin influences of The Jesus Lizard and Shellac reign high in their list of favourite bands, but Kong revel in showing their full range of sick spastic chops¬† over the space of these 45-odd minutes.

Getting both the old a-side single tracks out of the way in reverse order, Kong immediately stop mucking about and start ripping any idea of a definition of a standard verse-chorus-verse song format with third track ‘Wet Your Knives’, primarily by aping the rhythmic interplay/pissing about that Shellac occasionally enjoy employing on occasion, with the bass and guitars playing in different meters, before evolving into a fully-fledged recognisable ‘song’ for a bit, only to then integrate the earlier rhythmic workout into the song proper.

‘Gwant’ follows, and is a special pleasure – especially the final minute or so, which is mostly just an incomprehensible phrase spat out time and time and again whilst the same riff hammers out as accompaniment. Unfortunately, this then segues into the album’s weakest track ‘Good Graphics’, which is obviously designed to give a break from the ‘standard’ rock songs by offering some pseudo-jammed drums and bass workout alongside manipulation of keyboards/electronics, but it’s pretty boring to be honest. Still, it probably beats having an acoustic track. Just.

The second half of the album kicks off with ‘Nih’, which doesn’t feature any knights, but does feature some good ol’ kick-ass riffing and shouting based around the classic diminished-third power chord (check ‘Black Sabbath‘ by Black Sabbath if you havent’ a clue what I’m talking about). ‘Sport’ continues in a similar vein, though features some guitar chords that made me wish they were going to break into This Heat’s ‘Makeshift Swahili‘ (one of the greatest, most upsetting songs ever written). Unfortunately they don’t, which is a damn shame, but the rest of Kong’s song is suitably brutal and intense anyway. Old b-side ‘Hint of a Rennit Innit’ follows, which you probably won’t recall was described as “exploring some atonal scale runs and off-kilter rhythmic changes” when I reviewed it last year. It still does, and is probably really fucking annoying if you’re not in the mood.¬† By this point, if Kong have completely got you in the mood, you might as well give up, because this song, possibly more than any other, revels in its complete and utter BASTARDNESS.

Two long songs run out the album: ‘Count To Nine’ starts with some distorted old recording of some people pissing about before kicking in with yet another rockin’ riff that Duane Denison would be proud of, before the whole thing becomes so slathered in distortion that everything just seems to get broken up and descend into feedback and random drum patters. It’s almost proudly shambolic and illustrates quite how effectively Kong can veer between tight technical workouts and total chaos within a few seconds. This segues into closer ‘K(l)ong’, which immediates winds everything down to a quiet guitar riff that repeats itself interminably against some restrained percussion for over 5 minutes with very little variation before everything suddenly kicks in for the last 3 minutes and Kong make one final attempt at ripping your head off. Yes, it’s like a low-rent mostly instrumental version of Shellac’s notorious marathon ‘Didn’t We Deserve a Look at You the Way You Really Are‘, but at least it’s got a slightly better payoff. Nasty.

A DVD featuring one hour of documented madness and a bunch of coverage of live shows will accompany the music CD of the album, but I can’t tell you anything about this because I haven’t seen it. With 3 hours of extra footage/music though, it seems like a bargain is to be had.

“Snake Magnet” will be released on Monday 13th July 2009.

Kong at Myspace

Preorder the album

Brew Records / White Drugs

Forthcoming live dates to promote said album:

15th Jul 2009 Mad Ferret Preston
16 Jul 2009 The Ruby Lounge Manchester
17 Jul 2009 Buffalo Bar Cardiff
18 Jul 2009 The Macbeth (Hoxton) London
19 Jul 2009 Freebutt Brighton
22 Jul 2009 The Flapper Birmingham
23 Jul 2009 Chameleon Cafe Bar Nottingham
24 Jul 2009 Brudenell Social Club Leeds
25 Jul 2009 The Tunnels Aberdeen
26 Jul 2009 Nice and Sleazy Glasgow
5 Sep 2009 Off The Cuff Festival Birmingham
10 Sep 2009 Artrocker New Blood tour! Fistful of Fandango NEW BLOOD ROOM @ 229 London
11 Sep 2009 Artrocker New Blood tour! Fistful NEW BLOOD Tour @ The Cavern Exeter

Joe Gideon & The Shark – check ’em out

Posted: June 21st, 2009, by Simon Minter

Over the course of today’s listening I’ve had the debut album by Joe Gideon & The Shark, Harum Scarum, on quite a few times. It’s scratching an itch I didn’t know needed scratching, by fulfilling my desires for a band that sounds like a combination of Nick Cave, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Sonic Youth. Or a beat poet freestyling over PJ Harvey’s music. Or something. Anyway: buy the album. It’s a goodun.

Here’s a rather cool video for ‘DOL’ from the album:

Here’s a Myspace page. Joe Gideon used to be in Bikini Atoll, which cannot be a bad thing.

CHEVAL SOMBRE – Cheval Sombre (CD, Double Feature CD-DBL-0003)

Posted: June 20th, 2009, by Simon Minter

It’s going to be difficult not to mention the influence of Sonic Boom on this album. There’s a clear line that can be traced from Spacemen 3’s more somnambulant and hazy output, through the electronic recreations of psychedelic states of Spectrum and Experimental Audio Research, to arrive at a collection of songs here that uncannily refers to and builds on the feelings of drug-damaged bliss that Sonic Boom has been wandering through for years. Indeed, the Rugbyite ex-Spaceman himself has his fingers entwined with those of Cheval Sombre here – playing organ and ‘effects’ and contributing his formidable production skills to create a crystal-clear sound where every guitar twang and electronic throb has its own space to exist.
Cheval Sombre seem to have friends in high places. There’s not only the Sonic Boom connection, but also the guest musicianship of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips – aka Luna, and the man who started Galaxie 500 – on several tracks. Double Feature, who released the album, is the label of Wareham and Phillips. So there it is; a close-knit unit of musicians with a pretty impressive heritage.
The question is, does it work? Is this album the beautiful, lost offspring of a union between Spacemen 3, Spectrum, Galaxie 500 and Luna? To some extent, yes it is. The whole album exists at a slow pace, with blissfully soft guitar strum floating gracefully above an almost constant hum of electronic tones, and long arcs of feedback forming a sitar-like background to much of the work. At times – ‘Troubled Mind’ and Doors cover ‘Hyacinth House’ for example – the drone core to the music is lost, giving the music a lift into the stratosphere to add a further layer of dreaminess. There’s a careful maintaining of ‘feel’ at play here; the result, as a whole, is as if the band are collectively winding down after a previous heavy night. With a vocal style very much like the small, reedy, blues tones used by Spacemen 3, there is sometimes a fear that the music is so light that it might fall apart. It just about holds it together, capturing the listener in the eye of a very gentle storm, but it might be good to hear some of the chaos that surely existed before this type of bliss can have been attained. That was always one of the attractions of Spacemen 3 – their ability to dive headlong into mayhem – and so perhaps Cheval Sombre could expand their sound into these more heady areas. As it is though, I’m satisfied enough to drift away for a while with this album.

Cheval Sombre live in New York:

Cheval Sombre at Myspace
Double Feature at Myspace

Nature – Nature (CD, self released)

Posted: June 19th, 2009, by Justin Snow

This Pittsburgh duo played a noise show in Boston back in April and while they’re not anything like what I would call “noise” they’re still pretty intense and after they destroyed onstage, I had to pick up the only recording they had for sale, this short self released (possibly tour only?) CD.

Nature is mostly a guitar/drums band, although the guitarist has a plethora of electronic shit to mess around with and the drummer (at least live) does some sort of processing of the percussion. The drummer also sings into a giant pair of headphones, that reminds me of the vocals from Lightning Bolt or the occasional Neptune song where the drummer sings.

But Nature is so much better than the dime-a-dozen bass/drums duos. They’re a bit more metal and really into the groove. Lots of repetition that oozes the stoner doom vibe without being too cliche or ridiculous. But they do share some similarities with their duo brethren with some noise punk infiltrating the songs every now and then. When you take all of that and add in a dose of fuzzy industrial pounding and a blast of chaos, you got yourself an awesome record.

However, you might be thinking that you’re way past the whole drum/whatever duo. That is SO 5 years ago. But you know what? I’m totally OK with Nature doing this. Mostly because they’re so fucking great at it but also because they started doing it about 7+ years ago. Then they took a 6 year hiatus before coming back to it. That means 1) they’re not some new imitation band and 2) they’re enthusiastic and sincere about it. So any haters can just take hike.


Email Fail

Posted: June 17th, 2009, by Marceline Smith


There are at least five big problems with this email – see if you can spot them (click to see it full size). I’m partcularly glad they like the product range here at XXXXXX.

BTW, I am having my annual broken internets month, but hope to be back soon with some proper content. No doubt I shall have to update the FAQs as well.

Q: What are your advertising rates? Would you like to do a banner swap/become an affiliate?


Merchandise – Lies Like These

Posted: June 7th, 2009, by Simon Minter

I’ve spoken favourably of Merchandise on these internet pages before, so here’s a fun, cute video they’ve just put out there to go with their ‘Lies Like These’ ditty. Nice.