ARTIST: Snakes Don't Belong In Alaska
RELEASE: Mountain Rituals
RELEASE DATE: 7th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sky Lantern Records / Infinity Mirror Records
Finding a foothold in todays burgeoning psych rock circuit and then building on said foothold is something that very few bands can rationally seem to figure out. It's a veritable sonic minefield out there vehemently strewn with the broken shells of those bands who have tried and failed miserably due to a lack of positive sonic evolution. There are however, very slim margins of error to work around. A lot of juggling needs to happen to twist a collective sound into something completely new whilst trying to stay relevant and true to core beliefs. This modern scene (and what every band needs to survive in it) changes from week to week so you really need to have something different in your sonic arsenal to make you stand out from it's overpopulated crowd. Newcastle based experimental psych aficionados 'Snakes Don't Belong In Alaska' have achieved just that. After a fairly intense live regime allowing to them to make a name for themselves by hosting numerous international touring acts and putting out some limited but highly sought after self-releases under their own 'Infinity Mirror' imprint the band have unleashed their first widely available record in the guise of 'Mountain Rituals'. This album is infectious, it's a serious step up in terms of performance, aforementioned sonic evolution & overall song writing. It also destroys any preconceived ideas that we had about what this trio could conjure up musically. The album is thirty seven minutes ling and contains two massive tracks filled with immense passages of intensely experimental sonic exploration that skips menacingly through swathes of pummelling reverberation, howling vocalisations, heavy psych & droning kosmische. It's available to buy/download right now both digitally & on limited edition cassette with artwork by Isla Marie Haddow via snakesdontbeonginalaska.bandcamp.com
Mountain Rituals by Snakes Don't Belong In Alaska
Track one, 'Mountain Void' enters earshot by winding up its coiled innards and slowly building sonic momentum. It's held fast in acres of reverberation as a swirling lead guitar line undulates through plodding bass frequencies and sparse but metronomic percussive hits. The track builds menacingly and at times it whips itself into a frenzy of layered production trickery and wah wah led theatrics before unleashing a powerful psych induced blast of hypnotically charged sonic waves that pulse and envelope the senses, pulling the listener with them as they tumble into the dark rippling abyss and on out into the unknown. Wailing lead lines lick and torment the piece to within an inch of it's life as the band play out twenty one minutes plus of sublime psychedelic instrumentation peppered at times with awe inspiring moments of droning stoner & kosmische delight that lead us brilliantly into its frantically turbulent finale. Up next, the intimidating 'Mountain Mirror' creeps through layers of droning atmosphere as it's effected fret noise melds with hovering reverberations and the twang of resonating guitars. Howling vocalisations skulk into audible range mimicking the bend of guitar strings. Pulsating percussion shakes and shudders on a predestined track like some unseen stalking beast as those bass frequencies pulse and hover in close contact. 'Mountain Mirror' easily funnels you into its repetitive inner core as it ambles through massive waves of spacious reverb and expansive ambient hued psychedelic flavours, before sonically assaulting you with dark humming bass lines, tormenting guitar progressions and haunting shamanic like vocalisations that collectively drag the listener through trademark heavy stoner vibes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
by Primal Music
There is a subtle air of the nostalgic swirling around within the meandering jangle led frequencies on Newcastle based 'Seeing Hands' latest single 'It's True' that only lends to the current musings within the underground music blogging world that this band lean effortlessly to the past whilst injecting a new twist into the dream-pop/jangle-pop genres of music. In our opinion (however good that is) their immense sound is full of melody, catchy hooks, is vocally impressive and absolutely drenched in layered reverberation to the point of languishing somewhere in-between hazy shoegaze and dreamy frequency fed dream-pop! Closest comparisons today as far as we're concerned would be the sublime Melbourne based 'Bloodhounds On My Trail'. Whatever way you look at it, these guys are rather impressive!
'It's True' is available through all of the usual music streaming outlets.
Newcastle based dream-gazing debutants 'Dose' have unleashed their brand new track entitled 'Bloom' to the masses via bandcamp. Formed in 2015, the band are made up of Sean Turland, Ewan Barr, Matthew Collerton, Ellie Mullarkey & Sam Campbell and collectively they create a maelstrom of immense resonating noise thats filled with hints of shoegaze, ambient dream-pop and driving post-punk.
'Bloom' jangles as it floats into earshot on a massive wave of layered reverberating guitars, purposefully meandering in a beautifully intense ambient state until eventually we're hit by a wall of driving percussion, throbbing baselines and soaring guitars. Vocally sublime, 'Bloom' has an impressive driving post-punk edge that is deftly underpinned by hazily intense shoegaze vibes and stunningly brilliant dream-pop highs. We're definitely keeping a well trained eye on these guys going forward.
ARTIST: New Horror
RELEASE: Fruitless Search
RELEASE DATE: 27th August 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Soft Verse
Dirty, wild, echoing and beautiful… These are all words one would use to describe the EP Fruitless Search by lo-fi post-punk band New Horror. Their sound is one of untamed uniqueness, nestled somewhere near the punk-violence/garage sound of a band like 'Pigeon Religion' and the warped but dazzlingly emotive riffs of a band like 'Codeine' (but louder). Indeed, Fruitless Search will not be everybody’s cup of tea but, perhaps, this is an indication of the kind of alternative brilliance that can be heard on this EP. Slowcore, garage rock, noise, lo-fi, post-punk, dream rock and alternative rock are just SOME of the genres that get tossed around, from song to song and sound to sound. Funnily enough, most will mute the noise frequency of the band, complain about how distanced the vocals are or beg to know why the guitars are so *expletive word* loud; But honestly these songs and sounds are refreshing… In a technological age where everybody thinks their sound and image are their own, a band like this don’t even try to mount the task of being ‘original’, rather they stick to what they know, churn out rattling song after song after song and defy genres in the process.
Fruitless Search by New Horror
The ghostly, dark and garage infused post-punk song ‘Like a Child’ opens the EP with the bands noise-riddled guitars and drumming reminiscent of classic 80’s style post-punk. The vocals echo heavily in the distance; they sit at such a volume that many can hardly hear them amidst the churning fuzz of the guitar. But before you jump to the conclusion that it’s just a pile of wild fuzz proclaimed to be ‘noise music’ the band showcase their song writing abilities to the absolute maximum when they include an emotive guitar riff over the top of the aforementioned noise. This allows the song to rise from pure noise rock into the realms of dense lo-fi post-punk, with touches of the French orientated Coldwave and other dream rock elements thrown in for good measure. Up next, 'In The Night' growls into earshot with driving guitars, throbbing bass and a repetitious drum pattern before ‘Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart’ ambles into frame featuring what sounds like an authentic eighties drum machine keeping the tempo high and fast, as the band show off a more alternative rock related sound. The song still yields post-punk elements underneath the wall of noise and guitars; rising higher than previous tracks, the vocals on ‘Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart’ sound more accessible, albeit still in a deeply alternative way.
While these two fantastically well-written songs sound as though the band have put their best foot forward first, this is all thrown out the window when ‘Through You’ begins to play. An absolutely brilliant, first class, downtrodden song of shoegaze proportions, the noisy but dreamy ‘Through You’ showcases an almost slowcore style of sound that the band present to the listener, wrapped in a second hand, dirty, style of wrapping paper. ‘Through You’ runs for six minutes and is built around the slow but intelligent drums that keep the tempo rolling and dreamy; over the top sit the bands noisy and humming guitars… But the added feature that ties the whole song together majestically is a dark and loud synth which sounds like the good-looking cousin of a train engine. Praise should also be given wholly to the fantastic bass riff that’s featured on ‘Through You’, which at times may be hard to hear, but is in fact the musical backbone of the song. Together the instruments manage to bring across a totally wild but completely exalted piece of music; fantastic.
‘White Walls’, a type of interlude, follows on and features a nice, toned down and less noise based sound. The song actually features acoustic guitar, strummed along to a dreamy bass tone and backed eerily with noise-filtered but distanced guitar and a bright soundscape. As the song picks and strums away, it leads into the bands ultimate beast; a ten minute epic called ‘Mirror’. ‘Mirror’ is a monstrous track of immensely beautiful sounds, all melded together and once again stationed around the reverb and hard sound of drums in the background that, beside the occasional fill, maintains the same pounding rhythm for the whole song. The song, in all its musical layering, is actually perhaps more upbeat than most others on the EP. What begins as the bands core (guitars, bass, drums, voice and a few other bits and pieces) playing along eventually exceeds into many sounds, instruments and soundscapes, flooding the listeners ears. ‘Mirror’ is hard to define and outline, but it stands as a brilliant piece of music recorded and presented by a group of song writing virtuosos. Much like all diverse and epic songs, I can’t really do ‘Mirror’ any justice with simple, bland and rhetorical words. You might have to just listen to it.
And there it is, Fruitless Search, an EP heavy and soft, deep but surfaced and loud but almost always beautiful. The production and mixing reflects the sounds that are evident on the release; scratchy and loud, but maintained and done so with a degree of professionalism that appears too simple to be successful. With this very thought in mind, the entire EP, the entire aesthetic of the group may be completely evident on the EPs cover; featuring a bland, awkward photograph of somebody simply standing there. This photo defies the songs that feature no real conceptual basis (in a good way) and the entire sound of the band; simple but deeply brilliant. As mentioned before the song writing is of a majestic and utterly talented quality, as are the performances and the additional sounds and synths that feature throughout.
Fruitless Search is kind of a reinforcement of the idea that there are still warriors out there producing almost completely original music; borrowed and influenced by others but always reshaped and restyled to be their own. And what, I quietly hear you ask, is that supposed to mean? All I’m saying is that many bands throw albums and EP's out, tell you how amazingly original they are and how they smell like critical acclaim when in actual fact they are bland, boring, un-educated and incorrectly referential to the music they supposedly play and are influenced by. Here, with Fruitless Search, the concept of originality in non-professional bands appears and reminds us all what can be achieved when you are actually talented. So I suppose you should probably listen to this EP… As I stated before though, this may not be for everybody, and not everybody may understand it or even try to understand it… And if you don’t, please feel free to *expletive word* off and listen to some self-proclaimed geniuses generic music. This EP is for those who appreciate song writing, context and quality of performance and sound.
Fruitless Search is available to buy/download right now on various formats from softverse.bigcartel.com & newhorror.bandcamp.com respectively.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.