Friday, 20 April 2012

Recommended by Ross #2: The Bloodening

That band from Leeds who sing about punching stuff, some miserable guys with beards and a drinking problem, a shitload of noise by two people who wear sunglasses all the time, some dudes who have issues with law enforcement and some bastards of the medium variety. 

Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love

The Leeds party train that is Pulled Apart By Horses have always been a favourite of mine; especially when I saw vocalist Tom Hudson, shirtless, mid-song, vomiting quite violently near his guitar pedals during their performance at Sonisphere last year. ‘Tough Love’ wasn’t as immediate as their debut; probably because I hadn’t heard rough-bastard versions of the songs years beforehand. It took a while for me to appreciate it, but perseverance pays off in this case.
There’s a proper gnarly edge to all these songs. It’s rough and gristly, built around this taunting bass grind and Hudson’s spitting delivery. ‘Wolf Hand’ mixes this dark, menacing guitar tone with spiky punk rock vitriol, while ‘Shake Off The Curse’ is that maximum dirt-bass and ballsy swagger of Bill Paxton in ANY movie that Bill Paxton plays a complete jerk. They’ve also been listening to southern rock, ala Every Time I Die – ‘Wildfire, Smoke and Doom’ has that arrogant strut about it, as well as this snappy, breathless yowl. ‘V.E.N.O.M’ sounds like a Yorkshire-version of The Blood Brothers – testicle-retracting screams, sawing guitars and that disjointed post-hardcore roar. It’s also a great way to start the album – it launches into this quite vicious tirade and keeps up the poison-edged spite throughout. It’s all massively tongue in cheek, because after all, it wouldn’t be Pulled Apart By Horses without the stupid puns, caustic delivery and being dumb.

The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past

Rock Sound magazine have got a lot to answer for. In a good way, mind. Although, my bank account would argue but it can’t, because it doesn’t have a voice, nor the ability for rational thought. Never heard a note of The Menzingers beforehand, but after hearing the wonderfully morose ‘Gates’ on Rock Sound 159; they suddenly burst on to my radar. It has that bitter edge about it, mixed with a slight tongue-in-cheek humour and sarcastic bile.
I Can’t Seem To Tell’ features the line “remember the days when I had a conscience? Yeah me neither” – the delivery is so disregarding, so cancelling out it feels like you’ve just been cut down. There are some great lyrics in this though – well, if you’re a fan of pessimistic jabs at your soul. “I’m pretty sure this corner of the world is the loneliest corner in the whole world” sings Tom or Greg (I have no idea) on ‘Sun Hotel’ – a track that sounds like it was cut from the last Crazy Arm album for being too fun/depressing at the same time.
Casey’ is a tuneful, post-hardcore song to drink heavily to, but you know, roar from the rooftops, especially for the shredded vocal delivery on the word “CAAAYYSSEEEE” – got to love that. ‘Burn After Writing’ is solid, gravely pop-punk, packed with bounce and rare optimism.
Even if you’re not a fan of punk, or cynical post-hardcore, ‘On The Impossible Past’ is worth your time, even if it’s just for ‘Gates’ or ‘Sun Hotel’ – top album, top band.

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

Reign of Terror’ by Sleigh Bells isn’t something I’d usually listen to, but good old itunes and their free downloads provided me with ‘Comeback Kid’ a track I can pretty much say, I bloody love. It’s perhaps the only track on here you could dance to as well; the beats fall right, like a pop-version of Alec Empire’s digital hardcore, whilst Alexis Krauss’s alluring voice purrs over the twinkling bells, and shrieking feedback.
Based on the strength of this one song, I gave ‘Reign of Terror’ a punt and good job too. ‘True Shred Guitar’ is a great first track – loud, stupid and intimidating like all good openers should be. Vocalist Alexis Krauss winding up the fake crowd, before it launches into heavy electronic drum blasts, Derek Miller’s strangulated guitar, which all swirl around her echoing, rap-vocal taunt cries of M-16s and six strings.

Crush’ has that sweet-sounding edge; Krauss constantly sounds out of breath, but incredibly sultry (when she’s not not doing the shouty, Bring It On-style cheerleader taunt) whilst the handclaps and solid beats rain down over Miller’s guitar wails. ‘Demons’ is again, more posturing, hip-hop-type beats, that shredding wall of noise (seriously, this is a loud album). ‘Road To Hell’ is smothered in Krauss’s echoing, husky drawl while the drum machine slows down to batter out a fairly, dream-like, breathless pop-rock bounce.
On the strength of ‘Reign of Terror’ I bought ‘Treats’, their first album, which is also pretty great, if a little rougher round the edges.

Cop Problem – Cop Problem

Man, listening to Cop Problem gets you pumped, Arnold style. I heard about this band when I was sent their EP for my listening pleasure by the METAL website I’ve regularly contributed towards for a number of years. It’s great, like, really great. Think skate punk, played faster than you can possibly imagine, whilst a female singer bellows over this breakneck racket. For a 3-song EP, there’s a surprising amount of depth on this. Opener, ‘Monuments’ is all double-bass drum beats, an unhinged urgency to batter the shit out of everything. There’s some proper scorn in the delivery as well; the vocals have that sneer about them, without sounding weak or cheesy.
Along For The Ride’ has a Guttermouth guitar tone, but if they were a sick-hardcore band and not a bunch of punk rock imbeciles. It’s skate punk fed through a shredder of metallic air-punching and fist-flails. Contemporaries I guess would be Trash Talk; the same blunt, no-mercy assault and the knowling feeling you’re leaving this party with at least a busted nose and a black eye; perhaps your Madball t-shirt encrusted in blood.  ‘Blinded By Power’ is the best track here though; it’s also the longest, clocking in at 4.46, it still manages to thunder past with that embittered hardcore edge.

You Slut! – Medium Bastard

This rocks the bastard house, seriously. Instrumental rock with big balls – none of that quiet shit; hails from Nottingham and Derby way, You Slut! just magnify and explode their ramshackle beast of a sound into your face. Discovered through a Rock Sound CD, ‘Magnifierer’ morphs and twists like an Adebisi Shank track that’s been hacked to pieces. The bass is so jagged and crunchy, whilst the guitars twitch and jerk like a room full of ADHD sufferers. It’s a spasmodic attack of meandering splatters of technicolour mayhem and something that sounds oddly like the Jaws soundtrack.
Fifzteen’ is a fairly tappy, affair – more in line with a This Town Needs Guns style noodling and a build of complex, twisting layers. ‘Elton Chong’ is a bonkers kaleidoscope of energy, whilst ‘Shopping Placenta’ is all 90s alt-rock meets metal, see-sawing riffage, interjected with more splashes of progressive splatters of twiddling genius.
Shellsock’ is a meandering, summery affair; intertwined guitars that circulate and overlap each other in this cosmic haze, before grinding down to a deep, bass-heavy roar.
There’s something quite energising and optimistic about You Slut! Their instrumental racket shifts in style and tone so much, yet it always feels decidedly affirming and positive. It will leave you grinning at it’s absurdity and wanting to throw shapes to their twisting commotion.