Nearing the end of the year – short reviews only now. Peace out.
You’re in California, you skateboard, you like punk so you’ve probably heard of FIDLAR. Or, if you’re me (trapped in England and would need extensive medical bills if I tried skateboarding again) you probably listened to Cocaine on GTA V and thought you were a badass. Second album from ‘Freeze Igloos, Don’t Lasers Arrest Reptiles’ and no real signs of maturing, which is excellent in every sense. Like Brawlers, this is sunshine punk rock fed through broken amps and rusty guitar strings, held together with melody, energy, gaffer tape and stage dives. There’s a real ramshackle feel on Too, particularly the surf-grunge of Why Generation, which channels slacker-rock apathy and 90s-indie guitar pop down nostalgia lane and it sounds simply sublime, especially with a cold beer in hand.
There’s a real retro feel that runs through Too – not just in Why Generation, but on opening track, 40 oz On Repeat (and if you’ve seen the brilliant video you’ll know why) ridiculous, big opening riffs, poseur-rap-rock vocals, cries of being the kind of person who “drinks too much“, is misunderstood and would prefer to get baked whilst on minimum wage. Punks is a splatter-bark of lurching, horny aggression and squealing guitars, which sits weirdly comfortably with the “aaahh-ah-ah” backing vocal-drenched good feels of the delightful West Coast, which is an injection of warm summer-pop-rock delight. Sober brilliantly and deliberately sounds like the lyrics were taken from the cutting room floor of an episode of Clueless, (“I’m a fucking princess too!“) mashed into some mangled-stop-start punk rock glitch-ridden noise. The likes of the joyful bass-bounce of Drone, the melancholy of the Americana-twang of Overdose and the moody fuzz drug-haze of Hey Johnny add even more layers to FIDLAR’s twitching, ever-changing sound.
I’ve listened to Too far too much recently. Heh. Solid album, great dudes, wake, bake and skate. Buy it here.
“I bin online since 2006, my login is ‘Jason wants to know why he can’t fuckin’ log in, Keith‘…“ spits Jason Williamson, frontman and constantly outraged mouthpiece of Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods. Regretting not seeing these in a tiny venue when I had the chance, especially after seeing their hilarious/Slaves-baiting/intense Glastonbury set online (seriously, check it out if you haven’t). Backed by Andrew Fearn’s minimalist, electronic-beats and production, Sleaford Mods are an itch you struggle to scratch, but when you finally contort your limbs into the correct position it’s bliss. Well, not bliss as such – it’s more like hearing how fucking terrible the world is, while the demo from a casio keyboard bleats away in the background. So, similar thing really.
Subjects covered in Key Markets include: an alien brood slowly beginning an invasion (Tarantula Deadly Cargo), the “fine-cheese making tool” from Blur (Rupert Trousers) and not being Snake Plissken (Cunt Make It Up). Bitterness leaks from Key Markets in waves; Fearn’s bass-driven beats and samples add that touch of optimism to back Williamson’s rapid-fire delivery, which is an absolute torrent of stating just how much this country is in tatters. The drum-heavy punk stomp of the bristling No One’s Bothered sneers and berates even though Williamson admits “you’re trapped, me too.” Bronx In A Six is 3 and a half minutes of pure hate; the repetitive robotic beat from Fearn and Williamson’s roar of “you’re a lucky little tit cake, die, die, die!” says it all. The raging rant of the weirdly-funky In Quiet Streets slams Miliband (“hit with the ugly stick“), states how we’re putting our souls in nursery, and generally builds in frustration in all its indignant and ranting intensity. Face To Faces is a callback to one of their early tracks (Jobseeker) via the statement “free money mate, just fill in the form and if you can’t, I can help you…” and is perhaps one of the most spiteful and credulous tracks, on Key Markets. Steadily building from trying to get a job, to how fucking meaningless it all is, to terrible skunk, whether we should give Nick Clegg another chance and why not even bumbling Boris is safe (especially if he’s on his bike).
Probably the most real and impassioned record you’ll hear all year, to be honest. Discontent with the state of this country, Sleaford Mods probably aren’t bothered with you, but they “like the smell of mist on curbs near the beer garden at night” so that’s something at least. Buy Key Markets now, you tool.
Heads well above the parapet of whatever that awful term ‘screamo’ has now become, California’s Loma Prieta drench their strangulated and barbed sound in something more than just breakdowns and the sound of Jabba’s little mate whistling obscenities at you. You want intensity, laced with creeping dread? You’ve pulled up at the right deserted and menacing looking gas station my friend. Just 10 tracks make up Self Portrait – any more and you’d be tipped over the edge. Loma Prieta’s hardcore is vicious, scathing and submerged in love, survival and is oddly quite jarringly positive in places (with violent mood swings to occasional dark places) both lyrically and musically.
On opening track Love, the screams of “I think I’m the sun, I’m radiant, protect your eyes…” are fiercely frantic, intense and openly honest about the whole concept. There’s an almost Converge-like turbulence to Black Square, the swirling, gnashing guitars chew a harsh and ragged hole, whilst the distorted, rasping vocals dip into Jacob Bannon-territory, drenched in an unholy fuzz. Net Gain bruises past, bristling with spiky, hardcore energy, whilst More Perfect tricks you into it’s melodic-dark-punk rock opening, before the cracks begin to show and it breaks down in a flurry of chaotic, The Chariot-style raw-rock, ending in a moody, post-metal shift of peace. There’s an almost gothic-desolation to the industrial pound of Merciless – the guitars ring out a chilling, caustic wail over this charred, wall of brash and spirited energy.
Lots to glean from this record and from Loma Prieta – they radiate such a fierce and ardent sound, which makes them a captivating listening experience. Download Self Portrait and prepare your nerves.