Album Review: Enter Shikari - The Spark

Enter Shikari The Spark Album Art

It's no secret that I'm a big Enter Shikari fan. I'm pretty sure I've banged on about them in this blog almost as much as another band. So when I heard the news that the lads from St Albans had been working on a sound much different from their previous output, I was on edge.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it... right?

Well not quite. The thing about one liners like that is, there's so many of them. So many, that more often than not, there's one to fit almost every opposing viewpoint.

For example, "nothing ventured, nothing gained" or "fortune favours the brave". Not only are these sayings just as legitimate as the first, these ones are used by the army, so win by decision.

So you can shove "If it ain't broke don't fix it". In the words of post rock Irish heroes And So I Watch You From Afar, if it ain't broke, break it.

As it turns out, I needn't have worried. The Spark is great.

It is however different, and whilst I hesitate to say (like some) that they've gone pop, they have definitely mixed up things in terms of song writing and production. But in return, it's produced a rich tapestry of results.

From the opening salvo of The Sights, the distortion is turned down and Rory C's guitars are given a cleaner tone, the emphasis more on the chord progression rather than on the choice of fuzz pedal he's decided to treat us to this time round. It's also clear that melody was very high on the list of priorities for this album, which brings us to the second track.



Live Outside is up there as one of the best songs this band has ever done. That chorus. The beauty of it is they know it's good, so they just keep playing it over and over. I remember an interview with White Lies a while back when they were releasing their single Bigger Than Us, they said that the chorus was so big, they felt it would be a waste not to include it four times. Enter Shikari obviously had a similar epiphany with this tune, and I'm glad they did.

And it's not long before we get our next hit of pure uncut melody, courtesy of Airfield. A delicate piano number which eventually builds into an anthem so massive I'm not sure there's a venue big enough to hold it. It's also home to one of the albums best lyrical performances, delivered beautifully by Rou Reynolds.

"When the winds against you, remember this insight, that's the optimal condition for birds to take flight."

There's plenty of head banging moments on the album as well, Take My Country Back is a furious blast of post-brexit aggression whilst the grime inspired Rabble Rouser is a track that only Enter Shikari could make. Brilliantly bonkers.



Elsewhere Shinrin-yoku morphs from tropical house, to breakbeat, to thumping rock all in the space of four-ish minutes, whilst the synth-laden Undercover Agents is a brave step into the linear for a band famous for their mad scientist approach to song writing. It has the courage of it's convictions to stay the course in terms of atmosphere, whilst also managing to creep in a number of interesting left turns to ensure it isn't your stand "pop tune".

The album concludes with the jaunty Revolt of the Atoms which comes out of nowhere to deliver a knees up sci-fi ho down, before finale An Ode to Lost Jigsaw Pieces gets us all emotional sending us off in a hail of brass and white noise.

It's a real journey listening to The Spark. The album is a mish-mash of Shikari's patented abrasive rock stylings with some added alternative pop moments sprinkled across its run time like a welcome parmesan.

You won't find songs like this from any other band, Enter Shikari have a certain formula to how they do things. When word came from some that this album was more "poppy" than the last, it was almost a redundant statement because this band operate on a different level.

Softer melodies and extended ideas are present, but in a format which will have rock and pop fans alike appreciating the craft behind these nine tracks. Besides, in the grand scheme of things does it really matter if a band goes slightly of course? After all in the words of Mr Reynolds himself "we are the dust on the stain glass windows, trying to comprehend the cathedral".


New Music: Husky Loops - Fading Out

Husky Loops New Single


Need something good to listen to this Sunday evening? Try on Husky Loops new EP for size. It's entitled EP2 (which is a bit suspect but go with it) and features a few blinding tracks, in particular the menacingly groove laced single Fading Out.

Husky Loops are a band who have made their name on bending genre boundaries, and their new EP strikes a perfect balance between the unhinged nature of their live shows and the meticulous detail that goes into every one of their studio recordings. Far-out apocalyptic arrangements collide with oddball pop structures as the group continues to define and accomplish their incredible musical vision.
Singer Danio explains the thoughts behind the new single...

"Fading Out' is about leaving home. It’s open to interpretation, like most of our lyrics, but the song was inspired by both break ups and Mediterranean migrants. Musically it was really influenced by hip hop, I was listening to a lot of Pusha T and Jeru the Damaja and it’s all about rhythm."



The band are also about to tour the shit out of the UK! They're supporting Placebo on their upcoming tour as well as playing shows with Superfood & Tigerclub, which will then be followed by a full headline tour across the UK in November. Blimey.

You have no reason not to see these boys if they're playing that many shows, so what are you waiting for? Check them out and support a great upcoming band!

Husky Loops EP2 is available to buy/stream NOW!

Album Review: Death From Above - Outrage! Is Now

Death From Above 1979 Outrage Is Now

One of the joys about running a blog with no expectation of monetary reward in return, is that you can post things when you want. For example, instead of writing a review about an album within the first 24 hours of release, and basing all your opinions on the first few listens, you can take your time and really live with a record before putting pen to paper (or keyboard to word processor).

The positives about this are obvious: you can actually give an honest, fully informed account of the record in question. With that said, Death From Above's latest album Outrage! Is Now is one of the best of the year.



Having rejoined the alternate rock roster back in 2014 with the release of The Physical World, the death disco duo from Toronto have been some what quiet for the past 12 months, and with the gap between their first and second records being 10 years, no one was really sure when we were going to hear some new music from them.

So when Freeze Me was dropped suddenly with a full album trailed to follow just three weeks later, many a rock fan couldn't quite believe their luck. And what a way to introduce a record! Freeze Me begins with an EDM laced synth hook before exploding into a crescendo of drum and bass aggression. It also features a breakdown which will have long term fans salivating at the prospect of experiencing it live.



Whilst Freeze Me assured that new soundscapes would indeed appear on the album, it also gave a nod  to some of the old school DFA1979 flare which had us fall in love with the band originally back in 2004. Opener Nomad does what many a track on this album does, deliver a blend of both vintage and fresh DFA1979 goodness.

A guaranteed mosh pit starter, it manages to be both crushingly heavy and anthemic at the same time. An arena rock belter, and not a "WOAH OH-OH" in sight.

Elsewhere, the We Will Rock You drum beat of Never Swim Alone drives a jagged alt-rock jam punctuated wth lyrics yearning for another wave of resistance to arrive from youth culture. "There's gotta be another one coming, another generation, ready for the revolution, or a change of station".

Title track Outrage! Is Now bemoans the prominence of outrage culture in todays society, with the help of some Kraftwerk-esque synth and off kilter percussion, whilst Moonlight delivers some deliciously distorted chaos which culminates in an industrial scratch interlude, one which Trent Reznor would surely be proud of.

It's the pop melodies which really propel this album into the stratosphere however, and they are no more prominent than in the ear worm All I C Is U And Me, an indie dance-floor filler that should be the first name on the team sheet when it comes to selecting songs to perform live.

And if that wasn't enough melody for you, the album closes with the tour de force that is Holy Books, a track bemoaning the lack of hooks in ancient texts all the whilst delivering one hell of a hook itself. A full frontal attack, it gives the listener a pretty piano respite before launching into one final flurry until signing off for good.



This s an album I have kept coming back to over and over. It's pretty much wall to wall quality, and even if you're not feeling a particular song, it doesn't matter because there's another banger just around the corner.

Sebastien and Jesse are returning to the UK in March in Support of At The Drive-In, a great bill i'm sure you'll agree...but after witnessing the strength of this record, one can't help but feel that perhaps Death From Above should be main eventing.

Tracklist

1. Nomad
2. Freeze Me
3. Caught Up
4. Outrage! Is Now
5. Never Swim Alone
6. Moonlight
7. Statues
8. All I C is U and Me
9. NVR 4EVR
10. Holy Books
Introducing: The Guts

The Guts - Slippery Disco

When you describe yourselves as a "five gut mathcore jump scare scream team" you set yourself up to make quite an impression. Five piece The Guts know this, but are fully aware that they have the ability to attack the senses with an, at times, dis-orientating brand of aggressive tech-hardcore.

Having released their debut EP Birth back in 2016, the band have since been honing their craft up and down the country, growing a reputation as a fierce live act and impressing audiences and the likes of Small Pond recordings, who have featured artists such as And So I Watch You From Afar and the Dillinger Escape Plan.



In anticipation of their sophmore EP, the band were kind enough to answer the now infamous introducing questionnaire. They reveal a love of post hardcore, supersymmetry and the large hadron collider as well as...er, freeview adult entertainment!

You can read the answers in full below.

1. What is your favourite album and why?


Ben-Gut: Fake History by LetLive brought that epic af old school post-hardcore vibe (early Underoath / Glassjaw / early Fightstar etc) right outta 2005 and into the current scene, but like it was still super fresh, even original feeling, and without getting rid of any heaviness or huge breakdown-isms.

2. What is your least favourite album and why?

Dan-Gut: Metallica's St. Anger. I hate this album so much I wrote an entire hate piece about it for a magazine I briefly wrote for. Trash snare. Garbage lyrics. Don't get me started...

3. If you had to describe your music in three words, what would they be?

Ben-Gut: Deep dirty cuts.

4. What made you start making music?

Connor-Gut: It's somewhat the greatest of vices; the sheer output of animosity and pure adrenaline amalgamates into something truly unique.

That and the sexy boys and girls you pull on the regs.


5. Favourite swear word?

Weez-Gut: It's a toss-off between the old classics - fuck and cunt. Fuck can be used for as a noun, a verb, an adjective... Its diversity is a credit to the English language. And cunt because vaginas lol

6. If you could create a band from musicians (excluding yourselves) living or dead, who would you choose?

Connor-Gut: I've always thought if Metallica and Fetty Wap were to write an album, it would be the greatest thing to ever exist. An absolute pinnacle of musical genius.

7. Obvious musical skills aside, do any of you have any secret talents?

Dan-Gut:
In all seriousness I was at CERN for a brief period researching Supersymmetry at the Large Hadron Colider.

8. What is your favourite childhood TV show?

Joe-Gut: Favourite childhood tv show was babestation, I just found the many shades of orange the ladies came in very stimulating and always enjoyed imagining what kind of philosophies they were discussing with the person on the other end of the phone. 

9. Aside from music, what profession would you like to attempt and why?

Weez-Gut: Stuntwoman, shark-tamer or piranha-juggler. Something badass

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Joe-Gut: When I arrive at the pearly gates I want to hear God tell me that I'm a good lad and for him to ruffle my hair. Also that all the silicon stuffed babes from babestation are waiting to talk to me on the phone, thus answering the question that has dogged me my whole life.
The Guts are set to release their second EP entitled Flesh on the 1st October.



New Music: And So I Watch You From Afar - A Slow Unfolding of Wings

ASIWYFA - A Slow Unfolding of Wings

Who fancies a bit of Northern Irish post rock? A tantalising proposition I'm sure you'll agree. Lucky for you And So I Watch You From Afar have decided to grace us with news about their new record and have dropped a brand new track for us all to enjoy.

The quartet have announced that their fifth record will be entitled The Endless Shimmering, and according to the band the recording process was something of journey for the group.

We laid everything bare and put everything we had into the songs,” bassist Johnathan Adger says. “And we hope people can feel that and use that without us having to be to overt in how we present it. The album was charged with a lot of what we were all going through as individuals, but we wanted to allow it to become people's soundtrack to whatever they need in their life at this moment.”

The band have released their first single from the album, entitled A Slow Unfolding of Wings, which is punctuated with trademark balls to the wall riffs and beautiful soundscapes which have won this band acclaim far and wide.

You can watch the accompanying video for the track below.



The Endless Shimmering is due out on 20th October 2017 and will be released via Sargent House. The guys are also touring the UK & Ireland at the end of the year. I'll be at the Koko gig, so buy a ticket and come join me rocking out!

Tour Dates

NOV 23 London, UK // Koko
NOV 24 Manchester, UK // Academy 2
NOV 25 Glasgow, UK // Oran Mor
NOV 26 Bristol, UK // Thekla
DEC 28 Dublin, Ireland // Academy
DEC 29 Castlebar Co Mayo, Ireland // Garbo’s
DEC 30 Cork, Ireland // Cypress Avenue
DEC 31 Galway, Ireland // Roisin Dubh


Five Massive Comebacks in 2017

QOTSA Villains Artwork

Making music is a cyclical process. Make a song, record it, sell it, play it live and repeat. That's usually how it goes anyway, and the time scales of that process can differ immensely. Some bands are happy to spend years away from the limelight, locked away in their musical caves, intensely preparing for the start of the musical rollercoaster (or carousel) all over again.

2017 has seen a number of great acts return to the spotlight with amazing new tunes. I've been pretty lax on shouting about these tracks on here, and that really bugged me. So to remedy that, I've decided to do a round up of some of the best comebacks I've witnessed this year.

Starting with...

Queens Of The Stone Age - The Evil Has Landed



New album entitled Villains, is (at time of writing) just over a week away. It's been produced by Mark Ronson and first single The Way You Used To Do had an almost swing/ big band vibe, think ol blue eyes sporting a leather jacket. The Evil Has Landed is a six minute monster of a track, which swirls around in a myriad of riffs and solos before exploding into an Eagles of Death Metal-esque orgy of fuzz.

I cannot wait for this album. PR's send me a link.

Enter Shikari - Live Outside



This band, man. They really are something special, you know? After indulging in fan service with their recent anniversary tour in support of first album Take to the Skies, Enter Shikari are ready to crack on re-defining what it is to be in this band and introduce themselves to a new audience, perhaps unfamiliar with their heavier hi-jinx.

Live Outside is a straight up electro rock banger with a chorus that will burrow into your brain for days. Front man Rou Reynolds commented that for their new album The Spark, the band decided to not worry about how HEAVY a track was going to be and instead focus on the songwriting process, and really think about what approach would benefit the song as a whole.

It's an interesting change of pace, and you can guarantee the Enter Shikari of three years ago would have shoved a breakdown slap bang in the middle of Live Outside. But you know what? It doesn't need it, it's fucking great how it is.

Death From Above 1979 - Never Swim Alone



Death From Above 1979 are criminally under rated in the UK. Hopefully that will all change after new album Outrage! Is Now drops. We've so far heard two tracks from that forthcoming record, and they're both show stoppers.

Latest track Never Swim Alone is as simple as it is effective. It's just over two minutes long and...well quite frankly it leaves you begging for more. Hit repeat enough time and you may find it transforms into a rock n roll mantra. And with a meditation technique that strong, enlightenment is almost guaranteed.

Arcade Fire - Creature Comfort



From a two piece to a band with a seemingly endless number of members to choose from. Creature Comfort is a dark synth led track with lyrics about struggled teenagers and the quandaries of modern life.

Sounds good, right? Well trust me, it's a blast. With vocalists sparring throughout, the epic synthesizers and hypnotising drums it's a style that suits this band down to the ground. And guess what,  it sounds even better live.

Say what you want about the new album as a whole (I've read criticism but haven't stuck the whole thing on yet) this track is a diamond and should be added to your playlist immediately.

Don Broco - Technology



Plucky Brit rockers Don Broco appear to be consistently delivering rock bangers as if it were the easiest thing in the world currently. After previous track Pretty, caught everyones attention with it's devastating riff and terrifying video, the band have just released Technology, and it shreds.

It's the same formula as their last single release, killer track + great video = winner!

With a third album on the way, and enough hit songs in the bank to make any rock act envious, Don Broco could be on the cusp of achieving mainstream adoration, the likes of which they absolutely deserve.

Keep at it lads, just don't drop Thug Workout from the set.


For Your Viewing Entertainment #11: Gallows - Relentless Lives Of The Artists

Gallows Relentless Lives of the Artists

I love Gallows. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that band were the punk rock ethos anthropomorphised into a five piece. Whether they were having the times of their lives, or destroying themselves on ill advised tours, they were never afraid to tell things exactly as they were.

"Lives of the artists" was a feature length documentary produced by Relentless energy drinks, which consisted of different musical performers showcasing how they dealt with the realities of life on the road. One of the artists involved in the film was Gallows, and their segment displayed exactly why the original line up soon parted ways after the making of this film.

This documentary focused on the harsher realities of being Gallows. Filmed during the Grey Britain era, during a mammoth stint on the infamous Warped Tour, the footage features three live cuts taken from their performances,  scenes of violence between singer Frank Carter and the crowd, and one on one interviews with the band in which they all look half dead.

It's a stark look at what happens to artists when they leave it all on the stage night after night. This band cared about what they did. They stood for something and eventually the burden of sharing that message to the masses took its toll.

The video is split into three parts below and lasts around 25 minutes in total. It is well worth your time, if just for the live performances alone.

Tracklist

Gold Dust
Leeches
Misery

Part One



Part Two



Part Three