Dischord releases most of its catalogue on Bandcamp.

July 27th, 2016 by David Gerard
Punk

It’s the happening thing. Doesn’t appear to be everything they’ve ever released, but it’s a pretty fair chunk of it for you to try before you buy and give them your money. Stereogum recommends a pile of their personal favourites.

Industrial singles: Mesh, Liquid Newt (2016).

July 26th, 2016 by David Gerard
Industrial

A couple from the poppier end.

mesh kill your darlingsMESH: “Kill Your Darlings” (Dependent) – I still have “Just Leave Us Alone” from 2013’s Automation Baby on loop: trancy EBM angst pop (my word Mesh do the angst, and always have) with 32-bar verses; the rightful soundtrack to teenage heartbreak. So “Kill Your Darlings” isn’t as good as that, but then what is. Triplets, shout-along chorus, I bounced in my seat to it. A tight and effective single with all darlings duly disposed of. A good start for the forthcoming album.

liquid newt walk with scarsLIQUID NEWT WITH FRANK M. SPINATH: “Walk With Scars” (Dependent) – yes, they’re called “Liquid Newt”. Sounds like people heavily into beats trying to be a bit more atmospheric. The song feels a bit understated for a single — it’s a grower — but this is just really nice.

Dependent Records seem to be progressively putting selections from their catalogue up on Bandcamp, presenting new and unparalleled opportunities to bung them a few quid. Mostly quite cheap too.

Movie links: The death of the VCR; new ways for 3D to suck; why men aren’t funny.

July 25th, 2016 by David Gerard
Film

Links: cultural markets in late capitalism, Patricia Morrison, the 1938 synthesizer.

July 24th, 2016 by David Gerard
Writing

More eyegouging eastern European rap video for your delectation.

July 23rd, 2016 by David Gerard
Drugs

After yesterday’s wonder of the pop video maker’s art, we have a couple more. Here’s Russian rap act Little Big, whose dick is very very big.

And here’s Little Big working with Tommy Cash from yesterday. Of course Estonians and Russians working together are going to rap in English.

HT donjuan-auxenfers and aberrant-eyes, the latter of whom also found this apparent video rendition of a Chuck Tingle book cover.

The worst video you will see today: “Winaloto” by Tommy Cash.

July 22nd, 2016 by David Gerard
Drugs

Estonian rap. The genre is “trap-pop”, apparently. The video itself is probably not worksafe, though technically within YouTube rules. 2:10 is the high point, for some value of.

“I repeat my earlier question: who decided it was time to start re-creating Chuck Tingle covers in a moving-image medium?” — aberranteyes

Strap On Halo: Altar of Interim EP, Prayers for the Living CD (2016).

July 21st, 2016 by David Gerard
Goth

Strap On Halo are a goth rock band from the goth scene. This is unfortunate, insofar as not even current goths are interested in current goth music — it’s a subculture of new clothes and old music.

strap on halo - altar of interimAs a musical form, goth stopped developing in the late ’80s and new bands past 1990 are a niche interest of a niche interest, judged on how well they recreate the old sound; what little evolution occurs and what little breaks through to the wider world comes from its nonidentical conjoined twin subculture industrial bothering the minor charts. Though even that’s been in a loop the past fifteen or so years. Metal keeps crossing back and forth with goth rock too, but that crossover works out … variably, because anything plus metal equals metal.

strap on halo - prayers for the livingThat said, they’re good enough at this that you won’t be wasting your time paying them attention. They know what they want to do and apply themselves to it with a much wider range than you’re probably thinking of from that description. “Perish” is a bouncy A-side, Layla Reyna’s voice (which doesn’t immediately invite comparisons to historical goth rock stars … though if I had to pick one, I’d pick Anja Huwe of Xmal) carries the band very effectively. The guitar work invites rather more comparisons, but carries them off. They don’t use unprocessed Roland sounds for drums. This is good independent music worth paying attention to. Though if they want said attention they probably need to hit the metallers harder than they’d like. Prayers for the Living and Altar of Interim; they also have some demos and a nice seasonal number.

Industrial reviews: Shiny Darkness, Psychicold, Alexander Fetuekow/2AF (2016).

July 19th, 2016 by David Gerard
Industrial

Shiny Darkness - You Can Travel The WorldSHINY DARKNESS: “You Can Travel The World/Dirty Morning” — shouty Ultra-ish Depeche Mode. Reasonably executed. Above video: “Dirty Morning”.


Psychicold - RebirthPSYCHICOLD: Rebirth — sp00ky goth EBM with nice sounds and a decent beat. Takes clichéd elements and mostly does pretty good things with them. I particularly liked “Electroshock”, “Rebirth” and “Tant de Peines”. Warrants repeat listens.


2FA -  Before AdventALEXANDER FETUEKOW a.k.a. 2AF: Before Advent: Landmark Zero: The Best 2008-2013 — really very good homemade instrumental futurepop EBM informed by a whole lotta techno from the last twenty years. Its only problem is that it’s pretty clearly the sort of “instrumental” that’s “I can’t find a singer.” But he shouldn’t have trouble with this quality of tracks. Also check Landmark I: The Best 2013-2015.

The guy who called his band Suicide dies of old age.

July 18th, 2016 by David Gerard
Punk

Alan Vega has died at 78.

(78, not 68. He lied about his birth date for decades. The ten-year discrepancy was quite the topic on the Wikipedia talk page back in the day.)

First time I heard Suicide was on 6NR Late Nite in the early ‘80s. 10pm-1am weeknights, that show was. I of course listened religiously, and never mind chronic tiredness at school the following morning.

They played “Frankie Teardrop” very last thing. 1am, in the dark, over the AM airwaves. Scared the shit out of young me.

This is the official clip, which I didn’t know existed until I found it on YouTube just now. If you’ve never heard it before, play it in the dark last thing at night tonight for Alan.

“we’re all Frankies we’re all lying in Hell”

Useful signage for the turntable.

July 17th, 2016 by David Gerard
Record


don't touch the vinyl, you prick

Origin unknown. Also in large for suitably pixelated printing.

Viv Albertine corrects British Library exhibition on punk.

July 16th, 2016 by David Gerard
Punk

Why does the history of punk rock seem so relentlessly white and male, when that’s nothing like how it happened? Well, you know why. And so does Viv Albertine of the Slits, who showed up to talk at British Library exhibition Punk 76-78 last night and had to apply corrections to their glib erasure of people like her from the history she was literally there to talk about.

vlv albertine corrects glib punk blurb

See also a nice piece on why the relentlessly white histories of punk are also trivially false.

65daysofstatic: No Man’s Sky (2016).

July 15th, 2016 by Lev Lafayette
Record

65daysofstaticAveraging one studio album every three years, the classic math rockers, 65daysofstatic are right on time with their latest release, the official soundtrack to the video game No Man’s Sky. The multiplayer game itself is quite a fascinating and much anticipated production which, apart for being a thematically rich survival game of exploration, survival, trading, and (of course) combat. Diversity in the setting is generated from procedural generation for a massive open universe.

Comparisons between this album and their 2011 soundtrack of Silent Running is inevitable and accurate. This is mainly not like their early complex guitar-driven sounds, such as The Fall of Math, but with some notable exceptions. Following the game’s design, the soundtrack itself uses generated music. Unlike that one would expect from generation, there is significant variation, with many tracks including a fair amount of classic 65dos feedback and white noise.

The opening track, ‘Monolith’, is a new turn for the band with a significantly darker and more industrial sound to what is normally provided, a style which is somewhat repeated in an initially slower tempo and a keyboard overlay with ‘Red Parallax’ before traditional guitars and drum make their powerful discordant attack. The highlight of album however is most certainly, ‘Asimov’ which starts off initially lighter, then faster, then into lots of feedback, then into a powerful dirge, and the final track ‘End of the World Sun’, which is an extremely energetic piece that sounds very much like the old 65dos. They contrast with ‘Heliosphere’, which despite a quirky beginning, is a little too organised for 65dos, and ‘Hypersleep’ which is a heavy keyboard piece that doesn’t really develop.

The ten tracks of Music for An Infite Universe are complemented with a six-track second album Soundscapes. There are all longer and combined experimental pieces. The dominant adjective is ‘otherwordly’, a style especially relevant in the first two tracks, ‘NMS_exterior1Atmos1/ False Suns’, and ‘Tomorrow / Lull / Celestial Feedback’; these are largely deeply brooding sounds. However one track (‘Departure / Shortwave / Noisetest’) although starting with excellent heavy confused discordant sounds, falls into some weird, experimental bleeps and farts in the latter part, reminscent of the worst of 1980s electronic bands.

This album constitues an interesting foray and technical development for 65dos and it certainly has several instances of tracks that are powerful or highly evocative of the science-fiction settings for which it has been developed. Likewise however, it is also designed as a game soundtrack, when means that a great deal is a type of aural wallpaper – very good aural paper, one hastens to add, but aural wallpaper nonetheless. It is restless and relentless, correctly described the album’s promoters as “what does forever sound like?” The attempt is bold, and perhaps it does not completely succeed, but it certainly is an thorough attempt within the new musical genre and technology.

Industrial reviews: Psy’Aviah, Gamma 10, L.O.T.I.O.N.

July 14th, 2016 by David Gerard
Industrial

Psy-Aviah - Seven SorrowsPSY’AVIAH: Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars (Alfa Matrix) — EBM with a good pop sensibility and various guest vocalists. Psy’Aviah have never quite grabbed me previously, but this new album caught my attention. Heavier on the pop angst than the dancefloor thumping; some tip over into slight cheese, but not fatally. The video above is “Frozen”, and here’s a track by track interview.


Gamma 10 - Listen To MeGAMMA 10: Listen To Me — instrumental EBM with samples. Does a pretty good and interesting job, actually. There’s way too much synth instrumental that’s clearly such only because they didn’t have a singer; this does rather better than that. He’s got a few more albums of this stuff too.


L.O.T.I.O.N - Digital Control and Man's ObsolescenceL.O.T.I.O.N.: Digital Control And Man’s Obsolescence (La Vida Es Un Mus Discos) — one from last year. I am only putting up with these Cookie Monster vocals because donjuan-auxenfers rates it. Aaaand it’s pretty good even given the vocal effect (I think it’s an effect). Like if hardcore punk had gone industrial at the end of the ’80s rather than industrial going metal — a trick I don’t recall hearing done quite this way before. (I mean, Atari Teenage Riot and much of the late ’90s, but this is much punkier.) They describe themselves as Nitzer Ebb meets G.I.S.M., which sounds about right. Or maybe FLA, but today I suspect you could play me anything and I’d say it was Canadians from the ’90s.

Suggest a new theme for Rocknerd!

July 14th, 2016 by David Gerard
Rocknerd

Rocknerd uses Kubrick, the most tediously basic WordPress theme that was all the rage in 2008. It’s possible we could do with an update.

So! I would welcome your valued suggestions on how to make the site look more like an interesting and perspicacious music magazine. Free themes by preference, we’re not big on budget resources around here …

Industry links: YouTube, RIAA mathematics, Jay-Z’s Tidal.

July 13th, 2016 by David Gerard
Industry

Reviews: nTTx, Foot Spa, Kites With Lights, Stars Crusaders, Kepler.

July 12th, 2016 by David Gerard
Indie

nTTx ObjectivenTTx: Objective (WTII) — I don’t want to sound like I have stereotypes about ’90s Canadian industrial, but nTTx sure do. That said, they render it pretty darn well, curving back to where EBM does become FLA. The above video is “Bastion”, from this album. They also do a Michael Jackson cover that works alarmingly well.


foot spa - demosFOOT SPA: Demos — the sort of mopey post-punk that isn’t even properly goth. Comparisons to Chameleons, Interpol (particularly the vocal) or Editors are probably facile but not inaccurate. Does it well, though. Rewards repeat listens. There’s nothing you can’t do with a good bass line.


Kites With Lights - Feeling BetterKITES WITH LIGHTS: “Feeling Better” — had me well-disposed toward it by catching my ear in the first five seconds. It’s a really nice Pet Shop Boys crib (specifically the chords from “Being Boring”) and very likable. This is apparently a preview of a forthcoming EP; there’s a previous single “Motor Car” and album On the Edges that are also worth checking. They have a keen grasp of how to repay their listeners’ attention and you should watch for more.


Stars Crusader - Under AttackSTARS CRUSADERS: “Under Attack” (WTII) — pretty good EBM synthpop with a decent song. Could do with a better vocal melody and goes on a bit. Sounds great though. They have several others that are worth checking if you like this.


Kepler - French ToastKEPLER: “French Toast” — of course, you can just use Bandcamp as hosting for your home demo. This is a really nice piece of indie guitar jangle pop whose tweeness is endearing rather than irritating. Makes some simple chord preogressions work really well. Give it a listen.

A nice interview with Alan Rankine of the Associates.

July 10th, 2016 by David Gerard
Pop

I named my old fanzine Party Fears after the hit single by the Associates, so I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Here’s a really nice interview with Alan Rankine, the musician member of the duo, going through the saga of their meteoric rise and fall — three hit singles in 1982, promptly imploding and vanishing from the face of the earth, Billy Mackenzie keeping the name going for some solo albums before moving to his own. (The only good Billy solo-era album was the “Associates” Perhaps, and Alan’s solo album was terrible.) All the records are available in various combinations of reissues, and Rankine and Michael Dempsey are preparing another round.

Links: Opinionated record nerds on Ringo Starr, Frank Zappa and Record Store Day.

July 9th, 2016 by David Gerard
Writing

Links: The lows and highs of the history of disco.

July 8th, 2016 by David Gerard
Techno

The cookie monster vocal explained.

July 7th, 2016 by David Gerard
Metal

Will York, in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, helpfully explains for us the cookie monster vocal in death metal. “It’s a mixture of several factors: habit, time-honored tradition, unoriginality, and necessity, in varying degrees.” And anyway, it’s at least as iconic as the heavy metal ümläüt.

(Worse when it starts spreading. Recent industrial is loaded with the thing, to the point where that’s a sure-fire way to fail the Rocknerd review pile. In that case it’s probably Suicide Commando‘s fault, though they actually do it with an effects unit.)

Hey, sign up for the emails!

July 6th, 2016 by David Gerard
Rocknerd

See that box at right of the front page saying “Subscribe to Rocknerd via email”? It does what it says. Sign up and you’ll never miss a post. Good, huh.

Reviews: Növö, Stop The Wheel, Binaural Silence (2016).

July 6th, 2016 by David Gerard
Indie

The new release pile on Bandcamp is more work than it looks.

Stop The Wheel - Too Old For This ShitSTOP THE WHEEL: Too Old For This Shit (Little Gem) — Guitar and vocal ensemble with heartfelt singalongs: “R&B played at a campfire,” as they put it. This is a seriously good one; expect to hear it around. The video above is for the first track, “Shape Up”.

Novo - The ShortwavesNÖVÖ: The Shortwaves (Alfa Matrix) — An audio painting of the late 1980s: the cold war, radio samples, analogue synth sounds, untrustworthy and limited information, paranoia. And shortwave radio being a thing in actual use. Not a lot of it’s actually very catchy, but it does capture the feeling nicely. Back when this was the world, and capturing it was hard.

Binaural Silence -  VortexBINAURAL SILENCE: Vortex — the dystopian techno-pop end of industrial. This was edgy in the nineties. Cliche-heavy (the second track is called “$0LDI€R$LAV€$”), but decent melodies, clear instrumentation and doesn’t use a death-metal growl for a vocal (in the style where that’s a huge plus point; the guy’s voice is actually not bad). Stick to the first track, “A Song For Lovers”, and the last, “A Lethal Dose of Nationanihilism”.

An ’80s Australian indie rock band you should have heard of: the Arctic Circles.

July 5th, 2016 by David Gerard
Indie

Australian ‘80s indie rock band the Arctic Circles never made a huge impact and remain mired in obscurity, but their two records (the single “Angel” in 1985, the mini-LP Time in 1987 featuring “Wasp”) were well-received, did okay on an indie level and you couldn’t get away from them on public radio. The style is the ‘60s garage punk stuff popular in Australia at the time. Still sounds pretty fresh in 2016.

(There are at least two other bands of this name. This is the right one.)

The audio linked here is from Final Audio Blast, the swan song compilation LP put out by the label they were on, Mr Spaceman. They’re about the best of it.

They also had three tracks on Cooking With George Mark Too (a compilation that made its few good bands sound bad and that nobody appears to have bothered ripping) and did a 7″ in 2015, which I haven’t heard.

“They’re explaining how a record sounds better when Tiesto plays it.”

July 4th, 2016 by David Gerard
Techno

Beware the dangers of trance and the cult of the DJ. Don’t fall for … the trance cracker. An informative tract that you can give your friends copies of!

The Trance Cracker cover

Originally put up in 2004, now in the Internet Archive. There’s also a larger printable version.

I quite like trance myself

Alixandrea Corvyn makes her deserved bid for fame.

July 3rd, 2016 by David Gerard
Goth

This is Alixandrea Corvyn, of Last July and Rhombus and various previous bands. It’s a cover of “White Rabbit”, but with this grasp of imagery she’s on the right track. This video is just made to be cut up into stills and GIFs and reassembled into viral Tumblr posts.

Bonus: how this happened.

Synth Britannia: the synthpop surge in ’70s Britain.

July 2nd, 2016 by David Gerard
Pop

A wonderful 2010 documentary from BBC Four, covering the late ’70s synthesizer bands. Interviews with the (original) Human League, Depeche Mode, Orchestral Manoeuvres, Vince Clarke, Gary Numan, New Order and the Pet Shop Boys.

YouTube copies keep getting takedowns from Warner Music, so if all else fails there’s this copy of a broadcast with Spanish subtitles.

If you’re in the UK, a 60-minute compilation Synth Britannia at the BBC is on iPlayer for the next twenty-three days. Switch on the subtitles for the lyrics.

A random riff generator, on the Web.

July 1st, 2016 by David Gerard
Musician

Quite a lot of music software comes with a random riff generator. This stuff isn’t hard. But now it’s convenient as well: DJenerator Random Metal Riff Generator by Ross McMillan. Be sure to click “Settings” (it’s a dropdown) and have a good play with it. You can also get the source code. Some people are already working on a techno version.

Links: Nirvana, fanzines, music as violence.

June 30th, 2016 by David Gerard
Punk

Bandcamp synthpop: Tentacles, Mimus, Bestman (2016).

June 29th, 2016 by David Gerard
Indie

Scooped from the new releases pile on Bandcamp, where independent music seems to happen these days. Go on, spend five quid.

 

tentacles arcadeTENTACLES: Arcade EP — Throwing all the electronics they can grab into the stew to do the ’90s right this time. Catchy, decent well-structured pieces that don’t overstay their welcome, good taste in instrument samples, actual rhythm and funkiness. None of this is hugely flashy, but it’s done well. It’s supposed to be about video games, but thankfully you can just think of it as the space disco it is. They’ve also put up all the stems.

mimus midnightMIMUS: Midnight EP — Synth indie pop with female vocals, some guitar and a couple of really nice songs. And a couple that are good but rather odder. This is a nice first release and I want to hear more.


bestman big skyBESTMAN: Big Sky EP — Authentically reconstructed ’80s new wave, American style. Syndrum fills and all. The songs have all the right parts but aren’t as compelling as they need to be yet. But if you told me this was on Burning The Ground I’d believe it.

Severed Heads, Boxcar, Single Gun Theory and the Volition Records package tour.

June 28th, 2016 by David Gerard
Industrial

Severed Heads’ actual hit single, “Dead Eyes Opened 1994”, in which ‘80s industrial — from the days when you had to get out the bloody soldering iron and build your bloody equipment — is whipped up into a ‘90s techno splurge. At least it was an actual nearly-member of the band (Robert Racic) doing the whipping.

(yes, another heavy on the strobe)

Note that the graphics are from assorted custom-built stuff and not just rendered on an Amiga. Severed Heads pioneered the Amiga-look industrial video, before they even had Amigas. (Way before.)

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