Alpha Male Tea Party may compare themselves to “Elton John and sausages.” Their guitarist may possess a predilection towards dressing like a hyper-extended form of James Harries whilst on stage. Sure, their bassist may even don a pair of Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic goggles and dress up like Hulk Hogan when the time is right.
Don’t let any of this fool you. Alpha Male Tea Party are very much the real fucking deal. They combine the scope, intensity and talent of groups like Battles, Oceansize and Blakfish with the dress-sense and mad-cap divinations of Devo. For a genre and scene that can wallow in pretension, AMTP stand out with their surrealist mores; humourous song titles, unsubtle dress sense and a nod to weirder sides of life.
Having previously secured support slots with groups of the calibre of And So I Watch You From Afar, Adebisi Shank and Goonies Never Say Die, the trio have already laid waste to a number of venues in the North West of England and beyond. They also work closely in conjunction with Liverpool-based EDiLS Records, one of the fastest growing labels in the city. In spite of such a sparkling CV, the trio are still looking to broaden horizons; both their own and the audiences’.…
Being touted as the best new band your country has to offer is obviously a hell of a compliment, but for many such accolades can quickly become burdensome. Spare a thought then for the four members of Holy Esque, who along with carrying the hopes of a nation as distinguished as Scotland were having those proclamations thrown at them before they’d released a single recording – a metaphorical musical pressure cooker if ever there was one. It was quite a statement then that the Glaswegians not only matched but eclipsed expectations on this debut EP; a four track tour de force which bore the hallmarks of an outfit well equipped to make an impact in the indie world. Sure, a taste for big riffs, distortion pedals and off-kilter vocals is hardly revelatory, but these songs possessed the poise, swagger and assurance of a group who’d already become masters of their craft, with the propulsive energy of ‘Rose’ and the skyscraping ‘Prophet of Privilege’ in particular sounding virtually stadium-ready. It’ll probably take a few more releases to craft their own distinct identity, but as a means of announcing oneself, Holy Esque takes some beating. – AliW 1993.
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of January 15, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
If you haven’t had the chance yet, feel free to check out the staff’s Best of 2012 feature. You can view it right here.
Antimatter – Fear Of A Unique Identity (Prophecy Productions) A$AP Rocky – LongLiveA$AP (RCA) – Sobhi Youssef
Christopher Owens – Lysandre (Fat Posssum Records)
Criminal Hygiene – CRMNL HYGNE (Small Smile Records)
Erin McKeown – Manifestra (TVP Records)
Half Hearted Hero – Whatever (Animal Style Records)
Holopaw – Academy Songs, Vol.1 (Misra Records)
Jamie Woolford – A Framed Life In Charming Light (Get Well Records)
Lights & Motion – Reanimation (Deep Elm Records)
Midnight Spin – Don’t Let Me Sleep (Midnight Spin)
Mystical Weapons – Mystical Weapons (Chimera Music)
Owel – Owel (Owel)
Pantha Du Prince and The Bell Laboratory – Elements Of Light (Rough Trade US)
The Plot In You – Could You Watch Your Children Burn (Rise Records)
Rescuer – With Time Comes The Comfort (Rise Records)
Sean Lennon – Alter Egos (Chimera Music)
Seth Glier – Things I Should Let You Know (Mpress Records)
Teena Beautiful (UMe)
Yo La Tengo – Fade Out (Matador Records)
Soilwork will be releasing their latest album, The Living Infinite, on February 27 in Asia (via license to Marquee Records), in Europe on March 1, and in North America on March 5 through Nuclear Blast Records. Holy shit, is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a double album and the first single is actually really good. Is there hope for this band? You decide.
The evergreen jazz merchant-cum-voodoo warrior Dr. John is probably the type of person who you could file neatly under ‘Seen It All’. It was perhaps a surprise, even with his long track record, that 2012’s Locked Down LP was as free, easy and palatable as it came to be. Written, recorded and produced heavily in conjunction with Black Keys’ mainman Dan Auerbach, the album is one that sees the 72 year old doctor grab a new lease of life with both hands.
Tracks such as “Revolution” and the record’s eponymous effort show a certain fire; understandable for a New Orleans native who will have looked on in horror as his hometown was almost swept away. However, it’s “Ice Age” that stands out the most. A subtle sense of anger and exasperation pour out of the Dr’s mouth, taking aim at those who like “smoking crack and final blunts” and who “ain’t got a cent”; those who fiddle as Rome burns. Maybe it’s a missive against the parts of New Orleans that have been slow to recover. Perhaps it’s a rant against the wider world. It doesn’t matter, as such themes are very pertinent wherever you are. That’s the saddest thing of all, but if anyone can ease you into the gloom with a message and rhythm, then it’s this guy.
The end of an old year and the start of a new one is perfect for musohacks to fill up space in their dog-eared magazines and laggy websites. December sees retrospectives that tend to be useless insofar as it’s stuff you and they already know. Come the new year, come a new way to fleece your audience; the BBC’s Sound of <year> collection is heavily plagiarised as writer’s pokerface us and say “Hey, we knew about this lot all along!”
What seperates Sputnik Music from the other sites is the technology available to us. For reasons best left unknown, all staff now have access to a computer that pings emails from the future. One future staff member (name not revealed so as to prevent paradox) decided to reveal the big talking points on a year ahead for us, but one already forgotten for them:
Captain Beefheart returns from the grave! Not content with being dead, the man also known as Don Van Vliet found out the other side just wasn’t as cool as he thought it would be. His return was heralded as one of the most shocking of all time, and his move onto the lucrative after-dinner speech circuit propelled him right into the heart of public affairs. It wasn’t to last, however. After attempting to strangle Barack Obama at a $10,000 a head White House dinner, the Captain caught fire and quickly combusted in the Oval Office. His last words? “Ah feel like battery
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of January 8, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
If you haven’t had the chance yet, feel free to check out the staff’s Best of 2012 feature. You can view it right here.
Black Veil Brides – Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones (Universal Republic) – John Hanson Broadcast – Berberian Sound Studio (Warp Records)
Chris Tomlin – Burning Lights (Six Step Records/Sparrow Records)
Conor Maynard – Contrast (EMI)
Download – Furnace Re: Dux (Metropolis Records) Dropkick Murphys – Signed And Sealed In Blood (Born & Bred Records) – Jom
Gameday Regulars – Nobody Likes A Quitter (Veggie Co. Records)
Hollywood Undead – Notes From The Underground (A&M Octone)
Less Than Jake – Greetings & Salutations (Fat Wreck Chords/101 Distribution)
My Chemical Roamnce – Conventional Weapons #4 (Reprise)
Never Shout Never – Indigo (All The Best)
Nolwenn Leroy – Nolwenn (Decca)
The Ongoing Concept – Saloon (The Ongoing Concept)
Overcome – No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. (Facedown Records)
Sinking Ship Symphony – Sinking Ship Symphony (Globe Garage)
Skinny Molly – Haywire Riot (RUF Records)
Snuff – 5-4-3-2-1-Perhaps! (Fat Wreck Chords)
Solange – True (Terrible Records)
Thorcraft Cobra – Count It In (Redeye)
Twenty One Pilots – Vessel (Fueled By Ramen)
Vomito Negro – Fall Of An Empire (Metropolis Records)
Wooden Wand – Blood Oaths Of The New Blues…
I was pumped for this show a good month before it even happened– as soon as it was announced. Few bands have been making as big of waves in the modern emo scene than empire! empire! (I was a lonely estate) and The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, so my excitement was warranted. Teaming up for one show made for the perfect combination, as both bands have a similar style and delivery. It also worked out that empire! empire! is a one man band, thus needing The World is… to fill in for the positions that Kieth Latinen could not possibly play. The result was a seamless transition between the two, and wonderfully played show overall.
Despite the “big” names attached, the real show stealer was a local band called Saintseneca. Hailing from Columbus, the band is a four piece folk group full of mulch-instrumentalists. Without traditional percussion, the bulk of their music is comprised of twangy strings and heartfelt vocals. Each selection was as beautiful and intriguing as the last, with each member swapping out duties ranging from guitar to ukelele. It made for a very dynamic performance, always keeping the crowd on their toes not knowing what to expect next. I had heard of the band, and had even dabbled in a bit of their material. Never did I expect to be so impressed, as they were truly the band of the night. Arrowhead happened to be…
I think it’s about time that I let you all in on a little secret: I’m just a touch older than the average SputnikMusic user. Shock horror, huh? In fact, I may even be old enough to have seen items go out of fashion, only to have them return in popularity years later. Thick-rimmed glasses, new wave music, mini-skirts and vinyl records are all examples of such phenomena, so when The Gaslight Anthem released a single titled “45″, you could say that my interest was aroused… When the old-fashioned quartet went on to title their fourth LP ‘Handwritten’, I was officially an acolyte to the Ministry of The Gaslight Anthem. And yes, I do still hand-write many of my reviews, just like Brian Fallon and the guys would want me to. Here, famed producer Brendan O’Brien assists the New Jersey natives in carving out huge, soaring anthems which lose little of the band’s endearing sincerity. The accomplished musicianship takes in every corner of rock, with Fallon’s vocals continuing to improve as his surprisingly introspective lyrics make the detailed storytelling no less captivating. ‘Handwritten’ may downsize the outfit’s punkier leanings and be too familiar for some, but it is ultimately another assured, consistent and cohesive album from a rock’n’roll band at the top of…
Ever since frontman Ryan Key took the reins with 2001’s One For The Kids, Yellowcard has been an example of what is right with pop-punk – the sunny vibe, the catchy choruses, the heartfelt lyrics, and the ever-so-rare element of consistency. An entire generation has been afforded the opportunity to follow YC’s career like a book, and Southern Air manages to keep stride with an audience that is not only aging, but is also maturing. Here, the energy flows freely and lyrics are chosen carefully. The result is an album that is equally as meaningful as it is infectious, lacing the subtle contributions of Tay Jardine (We Are The In Crowd) and Cassadee Pope (Hey Monday) with off-the-wall drumming and half-minute violin solos to make the most complete sounding album of the band’s career. With Southern Air, Yellowcard has finally managed to merge all of their best qualities into one disc. Bon appetit, pop-punk enthusiasts! -SowingSeason
Breakups are hard, but you wouldn’t know it from Menomena, who followed up a split with founding member Brent Knopf and another in a long line of critically acclaimed albums with Moms, which just might happen…
Failed States is Propagandhi’s bitter album. The Canadian punk rockers have always worn their angry, fist-raising politics on their sleeves – a particularly effective formula when mixed with the band’s more recent thrash-punk inclinations – but this time around it’s accompanied by a rather stark sense of futility. Guided by figures such as Chris Hedges, Failed States lambastes the vapid state of affairs which places more value in material culture, political, and religious talking points over genuine discussion. It isn’t hard to find reason for their cynicism; months ago, the band posted an interview of Hedges conducted by Fox News wannabe, Kevin O’Leary. Rather than engage Hedges in a discussion of the Occupy Movement, O’Leary was content in resorting to ad hominem attacks and semantic traps. It was an embarrassing display from what is supposed to be a serious political talk show, and for a band that’s built their career on promoting political activism and intelligent discussion it has to be a bitter pill to swallow. Consequently, much of the Failed States features diatribes against such stupidity, political apathy, and inaction; where previous albums parried against ideological opponents, this time around Propagandhi lament the seeming lack of engagement outside major social movements such as Occupy, YoSoy132, and 15-M. Propagandhi accentuates this with a ferocious…
This is Moonspell stripped down to their core. There’s no gothic overtones, no keyboard cheese, no female vocals and the vocalist’s deep goth vocals probably make up no more than 30 seconds of the entire album. Instead the band deliver a blackened thrash version of their former selves, full of heavy riffs and death/black growls. Definitely recommended for those into the blackened metal style (notice I didn’t say black metal), even if you’ve hated everything else this band has ever done.
Why is Santa’s sack so big? He only comes once a year.
(Much like my review publishing rate in 2012, evidently.)
I think it goes without saying that my musical authority on this site has the approximate utility value of a glass hammer or a chocolate teapot, but I digress. It’s a bit of fun creating these individual year-end lists and collaborating with the staffers on the site’s year-end Best of 2012 list (maybe I can give some prizes away for guessing the staffers’ Top 5 or Top 10 for those interested — let me know if there’s any interest).
2012 was a really strange year for yours truly, with a lot of good and a lot of not-so-good, but I’m thankful that the year happened and I’m looking forward to 2013.
Before diving into my Top 25 of 2012, I want to encourage you to stream the music enclosed with each release if you haven’t already heard the records here. If what’s here piques your interest, then I hope you seek out the albums and support the artists by purchasing their records via whatever method you choose.
I wish you all good luck and good health this holiday season heading into 2013, and I certainly hope that your College Bowl Pick’Em Confidence picks are faring better than mine are currently (thanks for nothing, Fresno State).
All the best, everybody! But first, five runners-up to precede my Top 25 of 2012 list.
Sleigh Bells always struck me as sort of a gimmick, a one-trick pony on their debut Treats. To be honest, that trick, which makes Nigel Tufnel’s “but these go to eleven” explanation a parody of itself, is still in full effect here—Reign of Terror is loud and brash, letting the guitar slam out chunky, primordial chords with single-minded fervor. Alexis Krauss, however, is the star of Reign of Terror, putting her former teen-pop resume to good use as the shimmery shoegaze counterpoint to Derek Miller’s bludgeoning riffs. For all its volume, Reign of Terror is nuanced and careful in its use of textures and breathy harmonies, less concerned with fist-pumping and headbanging than focusing on the gorgeous tones and dreamlike atmosphere Krauss’ layered vocals achieve. It is a less brutish and far more beautiful Sleigh Bells than I ever expected.
Right off the bat I’ll announce that I didn’t get as much of a kick out of 2012, especially when I put it up for comparison next to 2011. Whereas I had trouble putting together a coherent and definite Top 30 last year, this year a decent amount of 3.5s sneaked into my Top 25 (#17-#24) and, heck, even a 3.0 somehow made it (at #25! Unbelievable travesty!). It’s also worth noting that the quality of the Top 10 was only significantly bolstered within the last three weeks or so, when I simply freaked out at how my playlist was starting to look and started massively consuming the stuff which was appearing on the Staff’s Best Of lists (I have the best writing colleagues in the world).
That being said, I don’t think the low mean score of the final Top 25 is necessarily a reflection of the lack of quality of the music that I listened to this year, but rather a direct consequence of the fact that in a finite amount of listening time granted to me (made even smaller by my full-time employment with an oil and gas company), I chose to actively pursue albums and genres which I had never focused on in the years prior. Heavier music took on a priority, for instance (those of you who know my musical inclinations will note that /m isn’t a term generally associated with yours truly), as did hip hop (/h?!??) and…