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Archive for September, 2009

LYDIA LUNCH – Big Sexy Noise (LP, Sartorial Records)

Posted: September 12th, 2009, by JGRAM

It is always a relief to discover that a legend of the scene still “has it.”  Split over a sexy side and a noisy side Lydia Lunch once unveils yet another set of vocal styling.  Spread over six songs this beautiful piece of twelve inch vinyl is a nasty and distinct return to form.  With James Johnston and Terry Edwards on board there is little chance of this sounding bad.

Proceedings open up with “Another Man Comin’ (While The Bed Is Still Warm)” and the greatest song Royal Trux never recorded.  Herein Lunch is almost rapping as she sounds more like a hip witch than ever and dirty with it.  The collision is heavy bass, dark Hammond and jagged guitar stabs make for a funky soup .

Soon saxophones are added to mix as a nightmare smoky lounge scenario broaches proceedings all in a Bad Seeds setting.  By the time the Sexy Side comes to a close the saxophones sound as if they are initiating some kind of rabid violent act of female empowerment.

The Noisy Side lives up to its billing providing a more dynamic threesome starting with the aural drowning that is “Baby-Faced Killer”.  The sentiments do not improve any as a distortion heavy cover of Lou Reed’s “Kill Your Sons” attempts to melt my stereo.  Soon the reality of proceedings hits that the quality of the music is far outweighing the standard of the words being spoken.  Regardless of this fact it still falls/comes together as positive but hostile musical act.

It is now Sunday night and I am still writing this fucking review long after I have purchased it.  In the distance some bozo is playing “Radio Gaga” by Queen at some ridiculous volume and it is making me sick.  With view to drowning it out and representing on my own behalf I am playing this at a creasing volume and plainly it just work.  Now I await the feeling of a boot being thrown through my open window as the person that just turned off his Queen record retaliates.  Oh course that person needs to finish borking their partner first.

Thesaurus moment: decadent.

Lydia Lunch

Sartorial Records

JOHN MULHEARN – “The Extraordinary Little Cough” (CD, self-released)

Posted: September 6th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

Right. How the hell do I go about describing this? John Mulhearn is a Scottish musician, brought up touring around the highland games circuit as a solo piper of traditional folk music. He is also extremely interested in electronic and experimental music and has crafted an album combing these interests. Yes, that’s right, this is an album of experimental and electronic adaptation of traditional bagpipe music (with one exception).

What? Why are you running away?! This is ace, honest.

No seriously, it really is very good indeed. John has spent vast tracts of time to craft interesting textures and timbres as settings for traditional melodies, mucking around with their arrangements and styles to create an experimental electronic music album that manages to break new ground by looking at its distant past. There are bagpipes on here, but you’d barely notice them for the digital shudders, samples, MIDI pipes and horns.

All tracks are arranged, recorded, performed, mixed and produced by Mr Mulhearn, but he has numerous collaborators assisting with snare drums, french horns and other of their ilk. Undoubted highlights on this record come from the piobaireachd (go look it up) vocal contributions of Allan MacDonald on “Lament for Own Roe O’Niall” and “The Desperate Battle of the Birds”, the latter featuring some tenebrous horn drones, gorgeous plucked acoustic guitar and lilted (yes, lilted) pipes. It’s absolutely gorgeous and probably the best cut of the 9 tracks on offer here.

I was lucky enough to visit the Outer Hebrides this summer as part of a pilgrimage to some of the most desolate and beautiful countryside these isles have to offer, and every time I chanced upon an all-too-rare place to refuel with nutrition or culture they were playing fucking Runrig on the stereo. I should have brought a dozen copies of this with me and shoved them in the faces of everyone I encountered. This is true traditional music: embracing the present and looking to the future.

John Mulhearn at Myspace

CHICKENHAWK – A. Or Not? (CD single, Brew Records)

Posted: September 6th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

You gotta respect a band named after the heart-searing autobiography of a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot. I assume that’s what they’re named after anyway, as any self-respecting band should be. Unless they’re Fucky Disease. Or Bathtub Shitter. I digress.

Chickenhawk are now 4 chaps, having been just 3 for their releases since their formation four years ago. Another Leeds band seemingly destined for great things, they specialise in making a terrific riff-tastic racket that now sounds nicely filled out with another guitar added to the mix. Another band who have the chops and aren’t afraid to show it, their songs veer all over the place between rhythms, tempos and timbres, generally with a lot of shouting and hollering over the top. I haven’t got a clue what they’re singing about on any of the 3 songs on offer here, but who cares?

First up is “I hate this, so you like it?”, 5 minutes of frantic rock madness that starts with some manic guitar shredding before evolving into a series of riffs and passages so complex that no man would dare write them down. Actually, it’s almost dancey during the verses, but the choruses do the half-time breakdown like all your favourite classic hardcore tracks. It’s a shame that the middle-eight suddenly devolves into that incredibly boring ner-ner, ner-ner, ner-ner, ner-ner cliche riff that all boring rock bands resort to when they can’t think of anything more interesting to do, because everything else adds up to a pretty sweet track.

Middle track “Son of Cern” has a similar mix of prog-tastic chops and changes, all the while retaining a totally rockin’ vibe throughout. I wonder if all Chickenhawk start going a bit batshit during the middle eight so that  any discernable song structure goes out of the window, as this one does stuff similar to the first one. It’s still great though, with some usefully horrible FX’d guitar “solos” thrown in for good measure.

Last track “NASA vs ESA”, seemingly about dreaming about being an astronaut but not knowing which space agency to go for, finishes up proceeds with some more dance-friendly riff-frenzies that veer about all over the shop in a very exciting manner indeed. Drumming in this band must be exhausting with all the rolls and cymbal work involve, let alone memorising all the changes, stops, starts and whatnot. Impressive stuff.

I’m told that Chickenhawk will be touring and playing one-off gigs all over the country between now and the end of the year and I’d definitely recommend checking them out if they’re playing anywhere near you – check out their October tourdates on their Myspace page below.

The ‘A. Or Not?’ EP is released on Wednesday 9th September 2009! Chickenhawk: Decent chops. Total rock mayhem. Oh, and here’s a zombie-themed music video for your delectation: