Album Review – Disappears – ‘Irreal’

151351

 

Sadly, Pitchfork have already beaten me to finding the phrase that completely sums up Disappears’ 5th album; ‘deliberately exhausting’. Their last album ‘Era’ had a smattering of melody, the odd mid-song time change… but ‘Irreal’ (out now on Kranky) is three quarters of an hour of some of the most brutal, droning music that I’ve come across in some time.

Having heard a 2-minute snippet of ‘Another Thought’, I felt compelled to try out the LP to see if it went anywhere different than their previous outing. Well to an extent it does, but it reins in any hope of an actual tune in place of consistent, thumping percussion and Brian Case’s monotone delivery. But here’s the thing, despite it being an exhausting listen, it’s not exactly an unpleasant one.

I generally have a problem with songs between five and seven minutes in length in that I think they’re either going to outstay their welcome, or they’re simply not going to be long enough to qualify as an epic. Three quarters of the songs on this record fall into this category but it’s hard to imagine them any differently. Pulsating beats act as an intro to many of the songs on offer here before Case’s vocal further steadies the tempo, only moving away from his monotone hum temporarily to release a whelp which seems to surprise him as much as it does the listener.

If you can get through listening to this album all the way through for the first time, do persevere with it. What seems to be hard work during the first run through ultimately pays its way with repeated listens and you’ll start to notice that this album has been brilliantly put together. Just one song out of place may have made this record simply unlistenable, but there is something about the rhythms and crescendos that happen when they do that make it something a little more interesting. Demanding sure, but interesting.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

‘Irreal’ by Disappears was released on 23rd February 2015 through Kranky.

Reviews and News etc pt.1

“I love her, I’m hoping that I never recover,
’cause she’s good for me, and it would really make me happy,
To never let her slip away.”

– Andrew Gold

That’s my slightly distorted view of this website. I enjoy doing it, writing it and listening to the music that is featured on it but by jimminy it’s hard work finding the time in which to keep it up to date. I’d be most surprised if anyone took the time of day to check in anymore, but then that’s my own silly fault.

Since I last actually posted anything (in November, since when I’ve done a Christmas, bought 20-odd new records, moved house and booked tickets to some exciting gigs), I’ve let things slip here at benlikesmusic.com so I’ve rounded up some of the new and not so new albums that I have purchased and given you my thoughts on some of them…

SLEATER-KINNEY 
No Cities To Love ****

The hiatus is over and thanks to a bonus 7″ single which accompanied the re-releases box set, the rumours of new material (and a tour) were thankfully true. ‘Bury Our Friends’ made for a welcome return with heavy rotation on BBC 6 Music and the 9 tracks which accompany it on their first full length record in over nine years (mostly) fail to disappoint.  Not as heavy as ‘The Woods’ and not as crap as ‘One Beat’, ‘No Cities To Love’ finds itself sonically sandwiched in between their two most accomplished albums; 1999’s ‘The Hot Rock’ and 2000’s ‘All Hands On The Bad One’.  Corin Tucker’s vocal gymnastics are still present, but there appears to be a little more room for Carrie Brownstein to chip in more often. The title track is the stand-out in an album that doesn’t stick around very long; 10 tracks and a little over half an hour is plenty long enough for the trio to make you realise that the music world is better off with them being around. Despite a mediocre ending in the form of ‘Fade’ (with a riff seemingly stolen from G’n’R’s ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’) it’s still chock-full of what you’d expect.

THE NOTWIST
Messier Objects ***

I reviewed this for Buzz in 80 words and was quite thankful for the fact because there’s not an awful lot more you can say about it. Sixteen short instrumentals and one great big 13 minute one is what you get; The fact that every song sounds similar is oddly both a plus and a minus. Once you think “hang on… this one has gone on for a bit”, you’re on track eight, but this can only mean that everything is blending together quite seamlessly. It’s background noise, but honest-to-goodness German electro background noise.

THE POLICE
Synchronicity ***

Yes, it’s 32 years old, but I’ve been on a bit of a Police tip in recent months so re-bought their final album as it’s not one I’ve really delved into that much over the years (aside from the bizarre wedding favourite ‘Every Breath You Take’ of course). It’s that song that sent this album into 10 million homes around the world, but the rest of the album also has it’s stadium moments, as well as some really weird shit (Andy Summers was let loose for ‘Mother’ for some reason). Synchronicities I & II are the most interesting of songs on the album whereas the closing trio basically pave the way for Sting’s solo career, especially ‘Tea In The Sahara'; another popular song which tells of the fate of three women who croak it in the desert.

SHAMIR
On The Regular (single) ****

Playful young scamp, is Shamir. Like many thousands of others who wanted to make it known on the video’s YouTube comments, my initial thought when I first heard it on the radio was that Shamir was a lady. But he’s not. He’s a man. A man with a wild dress sense and the ability to rap, sing and star in entertaining videos. The song is excellent; music to wake up to (if you’re particularly good in the mornings and enjoy a little dance in the shower like I do), and at three minutes exactly, never outstays it’s welcome. Buy the explicit version if you fancy it – it’s more fun to listen to with all the swears; even if you can’t really take him seriously when he tries to square up to his contemporaries.

More coming soon, including Trwbador, Hail Mary Mallon and Fugazi.

 

Big Tea Records’ Alternative Advent Calendar

silver

Homemade record labels are great things and Big Tea Records are donning their Santa suits in order to bring you a little pre-Christmas cheer in the form of three digital only singles by the artists on their roster. The Winter Trio collection features brand new music from Dead Wolf Club, Silver Arm and Elastic Sleep and will be released, one per week from next Monday, 17th November.

Silver Arm’s explosive ‘Scatterbrainzz’ is first up and you can listen to that right now – it’s getting its first radio play on Amazing Radio tomorrow and will no doubt be doing the rounds elsewhere very soon. You can listen to it here;

Following that on November 24th comes the pick of the bunch (for me at least; Elastic Sleep’s ‘Slip’ is shoegaze bliss at its finest but with a slightly punchier edge than on the previous EP release.

Once you’ve opened the door and eaten the cheap chocolate out of your advent calendar on the 1st December, pop along to Big Tea to download your copy of Dead Wolf Club’s ‘Guerrero’ to complete your set.

Previews, posters and popcorn (not popcorn) are all in the pipeline so keep an eye out on Big Tea Records’ site for more info!

Long Songs

About six weeks ago, after listening to the wonder that is They Might Be Giants’ ‘Fingertips’ (essentially a series of twenty one songs ranging from 4 seconds to a minute and a half in length), I thought it might be a great idea to list a whole bunch of other short songs that still warrant recognition. So, I made the list, asked a bunch of friends on Facebook for their thoughts and despite a big reaction, the post kind of fizzled out. I guess if you look through this blog you see massive gaps in time – that’s just how it works I’m afraid.

Anyway, for anyone that can be bothered, this is the top 10 list I was going to talk about and link to etc…

PAUL MCCARTNEY – Ram On (Reprise) (55s)
NUMBER ONE CUP – ‘Til Tuesday (52s)
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS – Minimum Wage (46s)
LAWNMOWER DETH – Drunk In Charge Of An Ugly Face (33s)
GUIDED BY VOICES – Cigarette Tricks (19s)
BRAKES – Hi How Are You? (38s)
BRITISH SEA POWER – Men Together Today (42s)
DEUS – Shake Your Hip (42s)
EL GUAPO – Super/Stition (50s)
DELICATESSEN – Appeased (54s)

But I’m not going to bother with that now – let’s take a look at some epics instead. Here are a few of my top looooong songs;

MIKE OLDFIELD – Tubular Bells pt.ii (23m21s)

I’ve no doubt talked about the influence that Tubular Bells had on me as a nipper elsewhere on this blog, and incessantly down the pub too. The whole record is a joy and despite Oldfield constantly trying to update it ever since – usually to horrifying effect – the original is still by far and away the best. Side B just about wins it by a nose thanks to the bizarre vocal half way through and the fact that it closes with the Sailor’s Hornpipe. There’s a photo of me somewhere with a massive pair of 1970s cans on my head, listening intently. Probably in the attic. Along with the cans.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (Live) (22m31s)

Given a somewhat muted release in 2004, this version adds approximately 34 new dimensions to the original that was released several years before. Opening with a loop from a Bill Hicks stand-up routine it continues with a rollocking version of the original. But rather than fade at the end of the song, we’re treated to nigh on 13 minutes of blissful techno from the more than capable hands of Cian Ciaran (who has since proved himself to be more than a songwriting match for frontman Gruff Rhys). The song then does in fact fade out with the ‘you know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else’ refrain, but even that takes 7 minutes. Definitely a highlight of an incredibly impressive back-catalogue.

GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR – Mladic (20m00s)

Pure class. One of the tunes of the decade. Once play is pressed, it is impossible to stop listening. The album possibly still maintains the number one position on the Music Geek Monthly table two years since its release, and rightly so. The final three minutes (not trying to make you skip or anything) is some seriously crescendo building genius. Sadly, I’ve only managed to see G!YBE twice; the latest being 6 years prior to them starting to perform it live.

PROLAPSE – Flex (15m07s)

This one is a bit of a cheat because the recorded version of the song isn’t all that great, frankly. Anyone lucky enough to have seen them perform it live however, as I tried to do as often as possible in the mid-late 1990s, will probably inform you that it was the highlight of their set and that they indeed blew any bands they were playing with right off the stage; no matter who they were. I miss Prolapse.

LOW – Born By The Wires (13m27s)

As bleak as they come; definitely not one to listen to if your dog has run away or if you feel aggrieved at something that happened at a recent family gathering. Fragile vocals drift over Low’s trademark slow, brooding instrumentation for the first half of the song before it takes a turn for the haunting. A series of single, strummed guitar/bass dischords is pretty much all you’re getting for the final 7 minutes. The best song to close a horror film you’re unlikely to find.

So, there you go. That’s five of them; there are loads more but there’s over an hour and a half’s worth of listening right there. I’ll no doubt revisit this whole subject again, especially as I didn’t include any Underworld or Tortoise songs.

Or Panda Bear.

Or Jon Hopkins.

Dead Medicine

Red_Medicine_2,5cmYes, yes, I’ve said it once before, with last year’s quitting ending up being nothing more than a three month hiatus, but I am winding down Red Medicine – from a promotions perspective at least. A few of you know this already but the financial toll is proving to be a little too much, and something that is meant to be an enjoyable hobby is turning into me having to start shopping at Lidl.

That simply isn’t on.

I’ve undergone a couple of changes in my personal life in recent months (not in the same way the Frank Warren has) and have found my disposable income much less disposable than before. There is a lot of competition between promoters in Cardiff – all of it friendly – but as much as I’d like to be able to keep up with your Jealous Lovers Clubs and Holy Boredoms, I certainly have the inclination, but sadly not the time.

I will, however, be still very involved in the music scene in South Wales and beyond. Once my upcoming gigs are done and dusted, I am looking to enter the world of artist management instead; I already have a few interested parties so we’ll see what comes of that. I will also continue to do little bits and bobs for Buzz magazine and of course, keep this little site up and running with gig and album reviews and whatnot.

Red Medicine will be going out with a bang, what with a stage at this year’s HUB Festival and visits to Cardiff from Sleaford Mods and That Fucking Tank all ready to go.

So it just leaves me to thank all of the bands that have played under the RM umbrella, the sound engineers that have made them sound as perfect as possible and all the venues and their staff for being helpful/tolerant as applicable. But of course, chiefly yourselves.

Here’s the roll of honour – with clickable links where I could find them, which took me effing ages.

Thank you.

ARTISTS

4th Street Traffic

Aled Rheon

Alex Dingley Band

Andrew Paul Regan

Androo Gwynn

Ardie Collins

Badlands (nope, sorry. can’t find anything)

Benjamin Mason

Ceri James & Johnny Boy James

Charles Howl

Death Pedals

DeLooze (actually no, you weren’t very nice)

Ellie Makes Music (first ever performer for RM!)

Eska

Eve Goodman (feat Dominic Griffin)

Falling Stacks

Fjords

Francesca’s Word Salad

Ghost Carriage Phantoms

Gindrinker

Gwenno

Heavy Petting Zoo

Hotel Wrecking City Traders

Iepi

Jemma Roper

Kizzy Crawford

Laurence Made Me Cry

Let’s Wrestle

Life In Cold Climates

Local Sports Team

My Name Is Ian

Nine Plan Failed

Oh Peas!

R. Seiliog

Repo Man

Rhodri Brooks

Right Hand Left Hand (you also get Ratatosk depending on the click)

Rough Music (may be defunct)

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding

She Makes War

Sleaford Mods

Spectres

Sweet Benfica

Swift Arvel

Tender Prey

That Fucking Tank

The Gentle Good

The Jelas

The Lovely Wars

The Luka State

The Manatees

The Milk Race

The Sick Livers (Tidy)

The St Pierre Snake Invasion

Them Dead Beats

They Told Me You Were Dead

Totem Terrors

Y Pencadlys

SOUND ENGINEERS

Heddwyn James Davies

Joe Marvelly

Ed Truckell

(And several more… sorry)

POSTER ARTISTS

Carlos Aranda & Jone Iturria

Jessica Barnett

Adam Chard

Tom Collins

Matt Jarrett

Daniel Lazenby

VENUES

GwdiHw Café Bar, Cardiff

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Undertone, Cardiff

Le Pub, Newport

The Moon Club, Cardiff

Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Buffalo, Cardiff

Spillers Records, Cardiff

Indie Ambient Angular Post-Rock blog