Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Khost - Waking Indigo

Article by KevW

From what we can gather, Austin group The Khost have existed in one form or another for a while, as have the three songs on their 'Waking Indigo EP', but they decided to record them again with their current line-up and put them out earlier this year. You'd have to say they're fairly accurate when describing their music as "melodic, chant-driven post-rock with a dash of math-rock". 'Feathers' certainly fits the bill in that respect, with slightly noodly guitars melded with the dynamics of post-rock, and they take this ambiance even further with the seven-minute epic 'Golden Bodies'.

Lead-track 'Parallelogram' is more subtle than 'Feathers' and more instant than 'Golden Bodies', but it is an atmospheric piece. Chimes of guitar steadily build as the beat jumps in to accompany them, and then a drifting vocal talks of summertime is a dreamy way that could be considered at the ethereal end of dreampop. Math-rock guitars do make a fluttering appearance but are largely there to add to the texture of the song rather than take the lead. It's a hazy and soothing tune that's great for cosying up to as we bring the year to an end.

The Khost's website

Buy: 'Waking Indigo'.

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Johan Finnerman - I Wish You Knew Better/Giving In

Article by KevW

Swedish artist Johan Finnerman has recently released the double A-side single 'I Wish You Knew Better'/'Giving In', and these songs show a clear pop sensibility that wants to try and crack the mainstream while retaining both credibility and standards. These are both commercial tracks, but Finnerman doesn't let them become overly slick or engineered to jump on any passing musical bandwagons. So we have electro-pop with an indie edge that could curry favour with fans of both genres. It could be argued that he'd stand a better chance of making it if he decided to dive headfirst into one or the other, but for the time being, it's best to let him develop his sound and see where it takes him.

Pop fans will likely veer towards 'I Wish You Knew Better' which is a little bit more sugary, but doesn't totally turn to slush. It's a well made song with emotion and clear production that lends itself to coverage in more mainstream media. It may be personal preference, but 'Giving In' is probably the strongest of the two, possessing a bit more punch and energy. It could be argued that this shows his more "indie" side, but it's still very much a pop song that would easily fit daytime play on national radio. It's obvious that Johan Finnerman has some strong tunes, and there are several possibilities for him. This single is something of a fork in the road, so whether he pursues a quest to become a pop star or keeps things more alternative will be interesting to see.

Johan Finnerman's website

Buy: 'I Wish You Knew Better'/'Giving In'

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Terminé - Sideways EP

Article by KevW

Here's a list of what we know about Terminé: they're from Finland, there's two of them (songwriter Ben Andreas and established DJ/producer Anton Sonin) and 'Sideways' is their debut EP. They don't seem overly proficient in self-publicity and social media posting, which is to their credit. So it's purely and simply the music doing the talking on this one. The EP consists of three original songs and then two remixes, along with an extended version of the title-track. 'Sideways' is quite an accomplished piece of alternative electro-pop that gradually adds layers to back the soft vocal, utilising synths and drum machines but also guitar, crossing it over into the realms of indie just a touch. It's certainly not a niche song and could get the wider audience it deserves.

The other tracks follow suit and are each strong enough to have taken the lead. 'Turn Off The Lights' is possibly even better in fact, swirling some dreampop into the mix, upping the tempo a notch and becoming quite grandiose. They dig a bit deeper into the world of house music with 'Satellites' but still retain that crossover appeal. 'Sideways' is taken onto the dance floor by Roisto, and then Atoll Tone gives 'Turn Off The Lights' a pounding, weighty beat and a dash of psychedelic trance. As good as these versions are, it's really the original songs that are worth checking out the most, because Terminé have found themselves not only a very good and universal sound, but the quality of songcraft to go with it.

Terminé's website

Buy: 'Sideways EP'

The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook

Unholy UFO! - Long Lived The Patriarchy

Article by KevW

We've got lo-fi, we've even got no-fi, but then we've also got Unholy UFO! where it seems that zero consideration for fidelity of any kind is given. I'd feel a bit cruel saying this (despite the fact that it's actually kind of a compliment) were it not for the fact that Robert Craven himself says he has "no mercy when it comes to fidelity or instrumentation". So that does mean that 'Long Lived The Patriarchy' sounds quite like how demos used to sound before people had easy access to better recording methods. Dolly Parton once said "it costs a lot of money to look this cheap", and similarly, it took Unholy UFO! six months to record something that seems so rough and (un)ready.

All of this may give the impression that this album is a shambles, but that's not the case. Yes, it is falling apart at the seams, the drumming is often out of time, mixing appears to be an alien concept and the arrangements are... not really arranged, but the focus on melody and wordplay does pay off. Among the ramshackle likes of 'Now You Enter' (which you'll probably need to turn up to hear) and 'Polygon Telepathy' (which can barely be considered a song) are some more coherent moments. That's not to say there's no beauty or worth to the more ragged tunes though, and anyone who's a fan of Syd Barrett's solo work (particularly the outtakes) or early Gorky's Zygotic Mynci will find charm amongst the rubble.

'The Woman In The Other Room' actually feels quite poignant; 'Cosmic Visions' nearly forms itself into a psychedelic fuzz-rock tune; 'Men Upstairs' is an lovable clatter; 'Everyday' has some great lyrics ("everyday I drive in the left lane of life...") and verges on being a fully-fledged, regular DIY indie song before gradually disintegrating. There are plenty of times that 'Long Lived The Patriarchy' shines despite its unorthodox craftsmanship. The organ and piercing guitar on 'Secret' for example, or the way 'Back To The Academy' twists the college-rock blueprint, and the wistful and delicate 'Disatisfied' as a whole. This is a record that will divide opinion, there's no way it could not, but as the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure". A fitting description for this wonderful mess. 

Unholy UFO!'s website

Buy: 'Long Lived The Patriarchy'.

The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook

Dongmyo Police Box - Dreams

Article by KevW

One of the first things I noticed when listening to South Korean band Dongmyo Police Box was what a great grasp of the English language they had. Not so much in term of lyrics (plenty of people are fluent in more than one language) but in the fact that there's not even a hint of an accent; the voice sounds incredibly western. Checking their bio, Dongmyo Police Box actually contain members from Canada and England as well as South Korea, with their singer's name being Steve David. So it sounds as though this is a coming together of musical minds from right across the globe.

Second album 'Dreams' (so called because every track represents the dream of a better future) takes in post-punk and indie-rock that's nicely made and packs a punch. This sound is perhaps summed up by the title-track, although they're hardly the first to sing about "the daily grind" and not letting "the man" bring you down, but it has the energy and steely determination to pull it off. Sonically comparable is 'The Ruse' which is perhaps a better song and shows how tight the band are. 'Fight or Die' belongs in the same bracket and even introduces a pinch of ska, while 'Nations' brings in a glam stomp, a prowling riff and a big chorus. Social and political commentary are running themes lyrically, perhaps not more so than the anti-nuclear, anti-war and anti-poverty sentiments of 'Musudan Missiles'.

It's when Dongmyo Police Box ease back a touch that we get the best results, as with the spangly guitar, harmonies and more atmospheric 'Vices', although it's hardly ambient and is still very much a rock song, but they allow themselves space and time to experiment a little more. 'ONS' (which stands for One Night Stand) is something of a standout with a more expansive feel, a nice fluidity and neat guitar, again not following a set of rules which affirms the fact that Dongmyo Police Box are at their best when they let the leash off and roam free. A further highlight comes with the more majestic 'Safe Hands' which feels slightly cinematic. They lay into the American dream on 'Hello Yankee', which is once more a decent song, but feels a little forced compared to those freer tracks, and the bluesy 'Little House' wraps thing up nicely. 'Dreams' is a solid album for sure, but you get the sense that these guys have a bit more in their locker yet. It'll be interesting to see where they take things next.

Dongmyo Police Box's website

Buy: 'Dreams'.

The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook

Get Me Free #137: She Makes War - I Am

Article by KevW

There's an awful lot of nostalgia around in music at the moment, perhaps in reaction to the fact that it's become more accessible and in some ways less humanised because that you can listen to pretty much anything you want without owning or even paying for it. Bands have been touring their most famous albums on the anniversaries of their releases and re-releasing them as deluxe editions, seemingly just to make a bit of money. Bristol's She Makes War has taken a different approach for the fifth anniversary of her debut album 'Disarm' though.

With the EP 'Disarm: 15', she's chosen songs from that release and reworked them to demonstrate how her music has evolved since then and where it might be going next. So in a way, you could say it's showing how these tracks would sound had the album been written this year. Laura Kidd (for it is her making the War) reiterates that key influences are Elliott Smith (more on the emotional side with the lyrics) and Cat Power amongst others. 'I Am' contains elements of both and a few others such as bands like Belly and Pixies, and is indebted to '90s alt-rock in its dynamic and scuzzy sound. It's crisp and fresh version, and fans will only have to wait until early 2016 for her new album 'Direction Of Travel'.

She Makes War's website

Buy: 'Disarm:15'

The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Enlarge Your Monster - Facing

Article by Tony Young

Enlarge Your Monster isn't messing around when it comes to their self-titled debut. An excellent collection of dark and brooding riffs, the France-based group should prove to make headway with their brand of stoner sludge if they keep it up. A taste of EYM's southern rock and blues influences are made readily apparent and the heavily affected vocals sit just above the ruckus to tempt you closer into their lair. Phillip Badey's vocals croon somewhere between Elvis and Danzig. Although the drums could benefit from a more roomy sounding, natural take, it's a minor complaint for an album that has so much going for it.

Their standout track, 'My Friend', arrives on the scene with a lit cigarette in hand and broken-in leather jacket. It gets you riled up and your head banging with the same conviction and gusto of a Volbeat performance. Before you know it, EYM's already driven off on a chopper into the night never to be seen again. Definitely a must hear for any hard rock fan.

Enlarge Your Monster's website

Buy: 'Facing'

The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook

Dödens Dal - På Natten, Ovan Molnen

Article by Tony Young

From what I've gathered, 2015 seems to have been a rough year for most people. With the recent verdict in the Tamir Rice case in the United States, and the death of rock n' roll legend, Lemmy Kilminster, there's certainly been the fair share of events to prompt one's grieving. It seems appropriate then, coming across the Swedish electronic duo Dödens Dal's 'På Natten, Ovan Molnen' at the close of 2015.

'På Natten, Ovan Molnen' is the third album in Dödens Dal's trilogy dealing with grief. As the electronic group explains: "Back in the days people built cathedrals with their bare hands to deal with death, the least we could do was to make a album trilogy".

With its namesake translating to 'At Night, Above the Clouds', the highly compressed soundscape finds a bit of trouble gaining momentum or finding a place to go. It presents itself for what it is, in particular with its flat and highly textural artwork. It's melodic and enveloping, but ultimately Dödens Dal gets stuck in a rut as they trudge along in their lamentation.

That's not to say 'På Natten, Ovan Molnen' doesn't have anything to offer. 
The single, 'Det Som Följer', would appeal to anyone looking for a follow track in their playlist to Massive Attack's 'Mezzinine' or darker Miami Vice theme. The variety of electronic instrumentation offers any listener a world to contemplate, and perhaps even a friendlier step into ambient music for the post-rock fan in search of a new venture.

Dödens Dal's website

Buy: 'På Natten, Ovan Molnen'

The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook

The Top 20 Tracks Of 2015

Article by KevW

You've checked out our Top 20 Albums Of 2015, yeah? Well now it's time for individual tracks. The original shortlist for this stood at 67 songs, and that was just the shortlist. After many plays and tough decisions, a top 40 was created. Then it was decided that a top 20 would work best, so much culling of amazing tunes took place and a limit to two tracks per artist was made, because some people were being selfish and taking up five places just because they had so many flipping good tunes. So here's The Sound Of Confusion's top 20 songs of 2015, and the Obligatory Record Of The Year. On another day the order might be different, but all of these are deserving of a place. If your favourite didn't make it, then rest assured, it was definitely number 21.

If you want to stream the list in one go, scroll down to the player at the bottom of the page. And make sure you turn it up loud...

20) Sun Machine - The Loudest Of Them

Sun Machine's website

Buy: 'The Loudest of Them'

19) The Radio Dept. - This Repeated Sodomy

The Radio Dept.'s website

Buy: 'This Repeated Sodomy'

18) The Dreaming Spires - All Kinds Of People

The Dreaming Spires' website

Buy: 'All Kinds of People'

17) Grass House - Unknown In The Scene

Grass House's website

16) Ten Fé - Make Me Better

Ten Fé's website

Buy: 'Make Me Better'

15) Diagrams - General Relativity

Diagrams' website

Buy: 'General Relativity'

14) Hazel English - Fix

Hazel English's website

13) Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation - Take Me Beyond

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation's website

Buy: 'Take Me Beyond (Edit)'

12) MIA and Tuesday - Wall Of Sound

MIA And TUESDAY's website

Buy: 'Wall Of Sound'

11) Keep Shelly In Athens - Now I'm Ready (featuring Ocean Hope)

Keep Shelly In Athens' website

Buy: 'Now I'm Ready'

10) The Go! Team - Blowtorch

The Go! Team's website

Buy: 'Blowtorch'

9) Daisy Victoria - Pain Of Dancers

Daisy Victoria's website

Buy: 'Pain of Dancers'

8) MIA and TUESDAY - Transparent Disguise

MIA and TUESDAY's website

Buy: 'Transparent Disguise'

7) Under Electric Light - Pieces Of Me

Under Electric Light's website

Buy: 'Pieces Of Me'

6) The Creeping Ivies - Forever Leather

The Creeping Ivies' website

Buy: 'Forever Leather'.

5) Presents For Sally - Wisawaytoday

Presents For Sally's website

Buy: 'Wishawaytoday'

4) Lilies On Mars - Dancing Star

Lilies On Mars' website

Buy: 'Dancing Star'

3) The Go! Team - The Scene Between

The Go! Team's website

Buy: 'The Scene Between'

2) Girl One & The Grease Guns - The Shatterproof Man

Girl One & The Grease Guns' website

Buy: 'The Shatterproof Man'


Mercury Rev - Queen Of Swans

With the recent resurgence of the dreampop genre, Mercury Rev returned with their first album in seven years to show the pretenders how it's really done. The resulting album, 'The Light In You', was a different kind of dreampop, free of the usual tricks and effects, swapping pedals and distorted guitars for lush arrangements and excellently-crafted songs which created a magical fantasy world that totally absorbs you. Exemplifying this vision is the stately, soaring 'Queen Of Swans' which is full of cinematic beauty and awe-inspiring majesty that really raises the bar.

Mercury Rev's website

Buy: 'Queen Of Swans'

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