Hidden Gems – 4 albums I’ve enjoyed this year that weren’t released in 2015

Six in 2013, five in 2014 and now four in 2015? Actually there is loads more, Todd Terje (It’s Album Time), Bluetip (Polymer), Jeroan Drive (The Stone Remains In Silence), Riddle of Steel (Python), Span (Mass Distraction) and anything by Karma To Burn because they rule hard. Have a look.

Crows-an-Wra – Kalopsia (2014)crows-an-wra-cover

Straight out of Cornwall, Crows-an-Wra are content to strip apart your notion of what hardcore should be and burn it in a massive skip. Not so much as blurring boundaries as dismantling them, this take on the ever-dividing genre combines moments of raw, feral intensity, mood-swinging emotional frailty and as a progressive space-rock fluster. Emotions are taunt and ripple of Perseus; the guitars envelop with an almost sultry, post-rock buzz, the weaves in and out; whilst the coarse part-sung-part-spoken word vocals are tense and demanding. This is held tight in this gloom-laden spaced-out hum.

Vibrant Colours is more of a mic-swinging, force of destruction; all chiming, tappy-math-rock guitar lines, erratic time changes and wild, twisted energy. Heavy Heads (i) substitutes the raucous chaos for a more melodic route, with (sometimes) vocalist Elizabeth adding her dulcet tones to some acoustic guitar as opposed to her counterpart Porter, who takes a back seat. It brings to mind the calm serenity of Your from The Chariot’s One Wing, more so because of the sudden tone shift and it’s sublime. Blossom (ii) thrusts headlong into that disjointed an angular post-hardcore with both Porter and Elizabeth trading off vocal-couplets with each other, like Johnny and Jordan from The Blood Brothers. Not sure what else to say about this, only that’s it’s name your price on bandcamp and if you’re after some shuddering, prog-hardcore urgency with a twist, you can’t go wrong with Kalopsia.

Single Mothers – Negative Qualities (2014)singlemomscover

The cover of Single Mothers‘ album Negative Qualities, features several dudes beating the crap out of each other with sticks, surrounded by broken bottles, items of clothing and hatred. It sums up the album really, furious, pessimistic punk rock battering past in 24 minutes of pure bile. “I overdosed on self-destruction” roars vocalist Drew Thomson (not this one) on opening track Overdose, which batters past with the same kind of self-awareness and furious punk attitude of The Bronx. Fitting then that Joby J Ford (guitarist of the LA mob) produced most of the tracks on Negative Qualities. That raw, feral ‘fuck you’ quality is the life blood of Single Mothers and their clashing, discordant sound. As is Thomson’s ranting vocals – the guy barely lets up, spouting lines and lines of personal and passionate rhetoric for all to hear.

The grunge-shift of Feel Shame, is an obvious highlight – the raw, ragged vocal screams, whining 90s-guitar screeches all coated in an overall melancholy flavour of feeling like existence is futile and short-lived. Ketamine could have probably fallen off the first Bronx record (apparently all the songs on this were about drugs) and is a savage, honest and disconcerting. By the time the welcomed post-hardcore slam of Money hits home, you’re ready for it – huge crunching guitars, a dream-like alt-rock chorus; it’s like a harder-edged The Hold Steady as Thomson begs you to take his hard-earned dollars “I guess I don’t really need it anyway” he mumbles. You need Single Mothers though – tremendous fun.

Indian Handcrafts – Civil Disobedience for Losers (2012)indianhandcraftscivil

Just two people make up Indian Handcrafts – Brandyn James Aikins and Daniel Brandon Allen. Together, they hammer out some seriously sick jams. Just looking at the cover of their album, Civil Disobedience for Losers should give you that impression though. A ruined van, pimped out with fins and a dreamcatcher sitting deserted on some barren planet? Hello. Opening track Bruce Lee is a storming revolt of churning, boiling stoner-rock’n roll destruction and wavering vocal howls.  The jaunty sea-shanty chorus on Red Action brings to mind Status Quo for melody, but submerges their riffs and chords in a world of sleaze and depravity.

There’s a real space-rock element to Starcraft – the squealing passages of noise in the song’s final minute, the echoing, other-world dual-vocal screeches and the Wizard Rifle-groove this has is seriously infectious and rips hard. The psychedelic barrage of the excellently named Terminal Horse barely has time for breath, chattering past at such a frantic and turbulent rate. The ultimate speed-metal high-five of awesomeness. The closing track Lion At The Door is a heavy dirge of sludge-coated riffs, crunching drum patterns and wrought shrieking noise and it’s brutally heavy and imposing. A wonderful and bizarre find. Check it out below.

Invasion – The Master Alchemist (2009)invasion-the-master-alchemist

You’re not expecting this. Whether deliberate or not (it must be) the production on The Master Alchemist by Invasion, hisses and fuzzes like angry wasps battering around inside a metal bin. Featuring Chan Brown (vocalist of soul-rock-9-piece Do Me Bad Things), guitarist Marek Steven and drummer Zel Kaute, Invasion sound like a basement show you’ve blindly wandered into in some drunken haze, only to find out some kind of ritual is going on; flames licking the walls, sacrificial knives are plentiful as are robes, face masks and cryptic symbols. So a bit like that scene halfway through End of Days then.

The guitar tone fuzzes and hisses with scrappy, raw energy, flitting between the low-end car-racing hum of early Fu Manchu and a detuned, scrawl of garage metal joy. The drumming is a technical-punk racket, heavily relying on the cowbell (the jaunty hip-shake of Spells of Deception) and blisteringly fast on the riff-monster that is Alchemy. That’s not forgetting Brown’s vocals, which fit so perfectly with this no-frills take on the genre, hitting some spectacular high-notes, flitting between the croon of Aretha Franklin and she roars with a fiery and soulful elegance. You kind of want to jump around to this – lose your shit completely under the trashing drum beats, deliriously chaotic riffs and those vocal hooks, especially on the punk-metal menace of Moongazer.

Even the album cover looks like some kind of amalgamation between Nebula and Mayhem having a battle for supremacy in space.

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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