So Last Year, At Bandcamp...[BC1235]
30 April, 2013
Three threads weave this cluster of diverse artists together: 1) they're all available on Bandcamp, 2) the feature albums were all released in the summer of '12, and 3) each band has only released the slim handful of tracks that this article reviews. Sheer coincidence, I swear. I just picked these fellows out because they were all obscure and brilliant.
Brutes – Flesh-rending noise. Screeching, grating guitars, paired with thick drums and a disturbingly distorted voice that resembles nothing human. Yes, it’s loud. Yes, it’s disorienting. Yes, it’s frickin’ almighty. On their Punishment EP, the opener “This is Good For You” rips your eardrums immediately with Brutes’ distinctively harsh guitars; the massive “Mandible Claw” opens first with a dramatic intro (featuring some distant metallic clanking – a warning alarm) before blasting into a ravaging groove. MMM.
For an all-out assault against your sanity, however, seek out the free download for the “Orders/Valley Pigs” single. Even more aggressive than Punishment, these two tracks alone could decimate entire armies with its relentless battery of anarchy.
Finally, if you haven’t been slaughtered yet, then the “Dead Weight” single should be the finishing blow. It’s free, and it’s one concise minute of glorious obliteration.
Brutes offer all this aural destruction for zilch on their Bandcamp page, although you can (and should!) drop ‘em a few quid for Punishment.
EDIT: The aforementioned Bandcamp page no longer exists. Shame. Well, if you'd like your ears lopped off, drop me a line and I'll send you some Brutes.
Faerground Accidents – An eclectic group that merges the fey eroticism of Pulp with the solid chops of a machismo rock band. They’re a five-piece out of Manchester, and at the moment they’ve only one 4-track EP from last to their name, Strange Ways – but, oh, what an EP.
The opener, “Hormones”, is their calling card, with its angular riff and the oh-so-Cocker-esque vocals crooning that existential question, “Am I just a bunch of hormones?” Edge into the second track, however, and the beastly duo of drummer and axe man really grind into high gear behind the frontman’s most disturbing tale of “violence and boredom” in “Woeful Small Town”. And have I mentioned their wicked warped synths?
Side B tones it down a notch, but only in tempo. Take the twisted ballad “Alicia” - underneath its superb, fluid riffing and silky vocals lies a chilling tale of sexual assault (“I’ll make this a night I’ll never forget”). And then there’s the wonderful closer “Please Stay”, featuring the most breathtaking vocals on the album alongside a thick dollop of electric fuzz.
Yes, it’s a short record – just over 20 minutes, to be exact – but in that space, Faerground Accidents have managed to forge a distinctive style that’s both enigmatic and direct. And, quite frankly, that I can’t get enough of! You can buy Strange Ways on Faerground Accident's Bandcamp page as a digital download for £3, OR you can buy a lovely CD with crimson red smoochers stenciled on for £4 (plus shipping and handling, of course).
EDIT: Actually, those CDs are all sold out now. Either that, or the band gave up on selling 'em. A damn shame, if the latter.
Balancer – I promised to feature more Twitter followers, so here we have this Boston-based, vibrant band that has captivated me with sound and vision on their latest release (i.e dropped last year), House In The Clouds. Lush, lush, stuff: bright, very Phoenix-esque vocals, clean guitar lines, bouncing analog synths, all properly introduced in the lovely opener “Wouldn’t It Be Nice (To Stay Outside)”. Come the second track, and Balancer’s uncanny feel for strong hooks and slick drumming begin to shine through. And let’s not overlook that fantastic guitar duet towards the end…!
Ohhh, but the true beauty of this album – the sort that its heavenly cover portrays – shimmers on the second half. Behold “Coconut Skin” with its sparkling piano, cymbal finesse, and guitars playing like flickers of light as the vocalist belts his heart out. Or the lyrical genius of “Zombie Apocalypse Manual: Chapter 1” (and that wonderfully lilting chorus, “Just get them in the heaaaaaaad!”). It is, quite honestly, the most glorious track about zombies that I’ve ever heard – the sort that earnestly portrays the sorrow, anxiety, and immensity of surviving among the undead.
The album ends brilliantly, too, with the elegant and minimal “In The Highlands”. Driven by the drummer’s refined cymbal work and stuttered beat, and underscored by subtle organ chords, the track builds slowly into a stirring crescendo as multiple voices join for the chorus.
Ay, folks. I was mightily surprised by House in the Clouds, and I strongly urge you to give this one a spin. Order it on Balancer’s Bandcamp page – you COULD pay whatever you desire for the digital download, but why on earth would you do so when you can purchase the CD and a gorgeous, gorgeous poster of the album's cover art for 8 bucks? Jump on it, folks! I will, come my next paycheck.