What’s Hot In My House – November 2016

It’s been a busy old month, what with listening to pretty much everything Metallica have ever recorded for a piece I wrote for Already Heard. Then there was the surprisingly awesome, but shamelessly nostalgic, Guns n Roses show, which meant catching up on some old favourites, plus the usual selection of stuff to review and fill the hours of endless bus journeys. Also, with the usual round of end of year lists coming up, I’ve been dedicating a bit of time to checking out some stuff I’d been meaning to listen to. As such, it’s been a metal heavy month, even so, between the big ass riffs and raging solos I have managed to squeeze in some sublime listening. Here’s the smooth grooves that have been dripping honey into my brain of late.

Although It’s been out a while, only now have I got round to checking out ‘Love & Hate’ the absolutely incredible second album from Michael Kiwanuka. Damn, this is a fine record. Beautiful, heartbreaking, emotional and uplifting in equal measure. It makes for a superb take on human nature, echoing with vibes from the sixties and seventies, yet succeeding in sounding contemporary and topical, this is a sublime record that will be very close to the top of my end of year lists.

The cool groove of Warpaint‘s Heads Up has also been on pretty heavy rotation of late. There’s something wonderfully understated about the subtle mix of textures on these laid back deep cuts that keeps me coming back for more. There is a lot of experimentation with beats to compliment the hypnotic qualities of the vocals and instrumentation, all of which kinda defies classification and gives it a refreshing air of individuality. It’s well worth giving this a few plays and immersing yourself in its subtleties.

Another cracking recent release that I had the pleasure of reviewing, is the totally old school thrash of Testament and ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’. Honestly, this is as good as, if not better than, anything they released back in their heyday. It’s by far their most frantically thrashy record and includes some serious hooks that make it instantly catchy. Chuck Billy delivers an absolutely killer vocal performance throughout on track upon track of raging metal. Killer record.

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What’s Hot In My House – October 2016

It’s been slightly weird musicwise of late. I’ve been kinda stuck, well, not exactly stuck, just dominated by Metallica, I guess. It went from revisiting ‘Master of Puppets’ to working my way through the back catalogue. Basically, with the upcoming release of ‘Hardwired…’ I’ve been writing a beginner’s guide for the good people at Already Heard, which involves gargantuan amounts of research, and I’ve also done my own top ten of Metallica covers and a piece on the big four of thrash.

https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/metallica-top-ten-covers/
https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/the-big-four-part-1-thrash/

Metallica aside, I can’t seem to put down the awesome Black Foxxes record and I keep going back to Pixies’ ‘Head Carrier’ too. It’s been like my default record and I am now convinced it’s a cracker. Anyway, what all this has meant is that the rest of my listening time had been restricted to what I have been reviewing, which has actually been of pleasingly good quality, albeit not exactly plum in the middle of my comfort zone. So, here are the mosh pit fillers and sweaty back room bangers that have been vibrating in my cans of late. Check em out.

I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing the reflective break up album ‘You Make Everything Disappear’ by Trade Wind. This is an interesting side project from members of a couple of (post) hardcore groups, Stick to Your Guns and Stray from The Path, on which singer Jesse Barnett bares his tortured soul in emphatic style. It’s a deeply atmospheric record that slips easily between the tender and the vitriolic to a musically exploratory backdrop that includes spacious piano melodies, subtle touches of electronica and hard edged riffs to stunning effect; great record.

Now here’s a record that surprised the shit outta me. Cove are essentially a hard core band, which normally would have me enjoying the odd song, but not really going back for more – it’s the constant angst filled screaming you see, gets on my tits. However, these guys incorporate some serious metal riffing and certainly know how to structure a good tune, which makes for a vibrantly energetic record with plenty of depth. So if you like a bit of barbed wire to your emotion and can take a little hard edged pummelling, this is well worth a look.

At the completely opposite end of the spectrum is the ragged beauty of the warm hug of a record that is The Lion and The Wolf‘s ‘Cardiac Hotel’, reviewed here: https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/the-lion-and-the-wolf-cardiac-hotel-review/
Simply put, this is a gorgeous album that keeps me coming back for more, sure it is wrapped in sadness and some of the tracks are like open wounds, but it also a record that offers comfort and warmth, I cannot recommend it more highly.

What’s Hot In My House – September 2016

There aren’t that many benefits to writing a music blog or contributing to independent music websites; it involves quite a lot of work, you end up listening to a lot of stuff you might not choose to and financial recompense is a non-starter. The words labour of love spring to mind. However, there is the great satisfaction of having an outlet for your opinion (and occasionally gaining some respect for it), it’s kinda cool to be a part of the industry in an albeit minuscule way and, most importantly, you get to hear (and sometimes download) new releases before everyone else. When people ask me if I get paid, I always tell them I get paid in music! Anyway, every now and then, the humble music writer might be privileged enough to get to hear about a particularly cool new talent way before the rest of the public, or, be lucky enough to receive the new release of a genuinely iconic band almost a month before it hits the racks. This might explain one of the big spinners on my digital turntables this month – check it out….

Yes folks, the Pixies are back! Friday the 30th will see their sixth studio album ‘Head Carrier’ unleashed on their expectant public, which is sure to provoke stacks of debate in internet land. Having spent the last couple of weeks playing my advance copy on an almost daily basis for my review for Already Heard, I have a few observations. First up, it’s a grower – don’t expect to be blown away on first listen – give it a chance and it’ll eat into your subconscious. Second, it was never going to be the same cutting edge experimental slop of yester year, that was nearly thirty years ago and they just ain’t that hungry anymore, so tone down your expectations. Finally, they always had an ear for a melody, think ‘Here Comes Your Man’, and this record has a bunch more to get your toes a tappin’, as well as the irresistible ‘Um Chagga Lagga’, which is a fucking tune.

Besides Pixies, I have also been listening the shit out of the Black Foxxes record, the brilliantly titled ‘I’m Not Well’. The British three piece offer up a loud chunk of cathartic indie rock with an enviable sense of melody that is nothing short of awesome. It is sure to be among my records of the year – this is a band that deserves to be massive.

Another recent release that I have been slipping into with frequency on early morning and late night journeys, is the beautifully melancholic folk of Lisa Hannigan. It’s lyrically sharp, wonderfully sung and avoids the whimsically bland trappings many singer songwriters so often succumb to, instead she delivers a contemplative mix of quite lovely tracks that is very easy on the ear.

What’s Hot In My House – August 2016

What a crazy few weeks it’s been, what with the city being painted with that rose coloured tint only the Olympics can provide. Everything went well, Brazil proving itself a superb country to host an event of this magnitude; the streets felt safe, the city well organised and there was an atmosphere of peace and love as a heady mix of nationalities mingled harmoniously at the various sporting and cultural venues. There was palpable disappointment as the IOC’s Thomas Bach declared the games closed.

Musically speaking Brazil showed its chops in diverse style in the opening ceremony, featuring tropicalia stalwarts Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil alongside pop sensation Anitta, besides showcasing contemporary funk, samba, pagode and rap. It was however a classic which reigned supreme as Tom Jobim’s grandson sat at the piano and played a beautifully delicate rendition of ‘A Garota de Ipanema’ as Gisele cat walked across the Maracanã. What with family days out, work commitments and being glued to the TV in between – did you see the Andy Murray gold medal match?! – it’s been a stranger month than usual music wise, yet I have somehow found the time to fill my headspace with another winning selection of classy bangers, check em out.

For a while now I’ve been trying to put together a piece on classic thrash albums, but can’t seem to find the right angle, so have been listening to a lot of old school moshers. So what with the surprise release of new music from Metallica (reviewed here: https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/metallica-hardwired-review/) it seemed only fitting to pay ‘Master of Puppets’ another visit to remind myself why it’s still considered the greatest thing Metallica have ever committed to vinyl. Basically, it’s fucking awesome from beginning to end; it’s about as close as you can get to the perfect (thrash) metal album, Hetfield and co took the genre to a whole new level with the complexity of the compositions, yet despite its intricacies and the length of some of the tracks it remains highly listenable. Genius. Still a classic.

I had the privilege of reviewing the new Dinosaur Jr record for http://www.alreadyheard.com a couple of weeks ago and it was a pleasure to hear that J Mascis et al have still got it. ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ is the sound of a band that has been honed to perfection. There are a host of tracks that neatly encapsulate their alternative rock formula of hard edged riffs, drawled indie pop melodies and shredding solos, besides a few left field numbers where they stretch their creative muscle out of their comfort zone in fine style. Top album, well worth repeated listens.

On a more relaxed vibe, I’ve also been giving a fair few plays to the lovely record from Slow Club, ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Anymore’. The English duo of Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson have come up with a rich slice of laid back folk tinged indie bliss with more than a hint of darkness lurking beneath the surface. It makes for perfect journey home listening to smooth away the rough edges with barbed wire kisses – this one’s a keeper.

What’s Hot In My House – July 2016

I am so damn busy. I mean, stupid busy, like every waking hour seems to be taken up with work or work related activities, which is no bad thing – but as a result my listening habits have been a bit, well, weird, I guess. Obviously there’s the stuff I’ve had to review, which has been OK to excellent, but there’s also been massive amounts of classical. Yes, classical, specifically Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, as it helps me concentrate when I’m translating. All my language functions get taken up by the work so I can’t possibly listen to anything with lyrics as my brain would stall, so it tends to be classical or ambient, classical’s winning that battle right now – getting old I guess! Nevertheless, my writing commitments have had me listening to some rather interesting new(ish) stuff that I find myself migrating back to on my day to day journeying around this fair city. So, here’s what’s been piping intermittently through my barely functioning headphones with the dodgy connection.

I’ve been working on a preview piece for http://www.alreadyheard.com on the upcoming Rebellion festival. It’s a largely punk affair and includes all sorts of acts with weird and wonderful names like Spunk and the Volcanic Eruptions and The Pukes, besides classic acts like Stiff Little Fingers and Buzzcocks. Anyway, excitingly, the great Dead Kennedys front man, political activist, Jello Biafra and his band The Guantanamo School of Medicine are set to hit the UK, so I have been checking out their 2013 album ‘White People and the Damage Done’. To put it bluntly, it’s fucking awesome and I keep going back for more. It’s like listening to the DKs only freshened up for this century – it’s as visceral a slice of politically charged punky hard core as you’re likely to find and Biafra’s distinct voice is as great as ever. Badass.

The debut album from Puddle Splasher, ‘Separate States’ has slowly grown on me. It has a real nineties feel to it, with a kind of Britpop grunginess not far removed from Stereophonics, only with more muscular guitars, better pop sensibilities and…ok they are way fucking better and a damn site cooler than Kelly Jones and co. Interestingly, they seem able to switch between the catchiest of pop melodies and the dirtiest of grunge, which all makes for an enjoyable listen – well worth checking out.

I’ve already talked about Evarose in the pages of Hard Pressed, but I’m finding the catchy grunge pop of these girls from Oxford unputdownable. Basically, every damn song on their album appeals on some level and the amount of earworms burrowing my brain is insane – talk about infectious. Check out their cover of Tatu‘s All the Things She Said.

In my explorations into classical music there is the stunningly beautiful ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ composed by Arvo Pärt, which is of such sublimely compelling beauty that it never fails to move me.

What’s Hot in My House – June

After binging on Iron Maiden in order to give birth to not one, but two monumentally massive mega articles on the metal legends, I actually ended up at a bit of a loss as to what to listen to. For like a minute. There has been a couple of really hot records out recently that I’ve reviewed, like the gorgeous Whitney record, besides a couple of other gems, and there’s been some interesting releases over at Already Heard as well. We’ve also had this bizarre change in the weather here in Brazil, where it has actually been cold. Seriously. I’ve even worn a jacket once or twice. So, naturally the music of choice tends to take a turn for the melancholy – more so than usual – and some old wintery songs get dusted off. Anyway, check out the current selection of hot favourites blasting through my earphones at unfeasibly loud volumes that my phone consistently warns me about.

The first time I played Lonely The Brave‘s Things Will Matter and opening track ‘Wait in the Car’ segued into the massive ‘Black Mire’, I got flushed with goosebumps, like a full body chill; damn when music has the power to move you like that you know it’s something special. The rest of the album is also nothing short of superb and I keep going back for more. I love the fact that LTB didn’t rush this record, nor did they make it overtly commercial, instead you get a band relishing in their own sound and pushing their creative boundaries a little further with some seriously good tunes. Massive band, massive album.

There was quite a lot of fuss about The Hotelier‘s emotionally wrought record ‘Home, Like NoPlace Is There’, and quite a lot of anticipation for it’s follow up, ‘Goodness’, which is all about trying to find the light, and which I personally am enjoying immensely. This is an intelligently crafted album, with deeply reflective lyrics and some wonderfully worked songs that reveal more with every listen. I don’t want to compare them to R.E.M, as that’s kind of limiting and hugely unfair considering the personal nature of their work, but we are in similar territory sonically, albeit with a little more edge to the jangly college radio feel of their guitars. Whatever, it’s pretty damn good and well worth a serious listen.

Which brings me to the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, ‘The Getaway’. The Chilis may have mellowed a little with age, but their inimitable brand of funk rock is no less compelling. There’s a more laid back feel to their sound and with Dangermouse at the production helm there is a marked atmospheric vibe to the songs. Nevertheless, lead off single ‘Dark Necessities’ is blessed with a killer hook, a pulsating bass line and some delicious funky guitar touches; it’s got quality written all over it and sets the tone for the rest of the record. The album is packed with great tunes like ‘We Turn Red’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Blood, Sugar…’, the gorgeous ‘The Longest Wave’, and the quirky reggae funk of ‘Feasting on the Flowers’. Ok, it’s RHCP being RHCP, but they do it so well.

What’s Hot In My House – May

This month I have been largely listening to metal, because there are times when one simply must thrash. Ok, so I’m also researching a top ten thrash albums piece and have just finished reading part 2 of the superb Metallica biography, ‘Into The Black’ by Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood, but whatever, I’ve been doing some serious memory lane metalwise, reliving the halcyon days of my hard rocking youth, besides checking out some new shit. Here’s what else I’ve been binging and purging on during the month of May.

I have been hammering the quality new album from Bay Area thrashers Death Angel. It’s a furiously fast blend of old school rifferama with plenty of modern twists to the arrangements to keep it sounding fresh. ‘Lost’ is one of the most sublime metal tracks I’ve heard in years, while ‘Hatred United, United Hate’ is eyebrow scorching stuff; check them out below…

I’m in the middle of writing a monumental piece on Iron Maiden for http://www.alreadyheard.com, so my Deezer is wall to wall with the metal giants right now. Despite my surprise at how good some of their later releases are, I keep going back to ‘The Number of the Beast’, which totally deserves its exalted place in rock history. There are so many great songs on this album; ’22 Acacia Avenue a personal favourite. “Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number….”

I don’t really have a good reason for this, just that I think it’s a great album, so end up playing it a fair bit; it’s also a bit easier on the ear after all that metal mayhem! Ok, it may not be “cool” to like Lenny Kravitz right now, but fuck it ‘Mama Said’ is a fine album on many levels, taking in rock, pop, jazz, funk and soul in Lenny’s own inimitable style. The big hitters aside, there are some seriously classy moments like the funky Stop Dragging Around’, the soulful blues of ‘When The Morning Turns to Night’ and the jazzy chill of ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’; great record.

What’s Hot In My House – April

The big problem with music is that there’s too damn much of it. I mean, I was just putting a playlist together, so I was going through the gargantuan collection on my phone and I was like: “oooo haven’t heard that for ages; I miss that album; shit, I used to love that” and so on…. Anyway, I was basically left marvelling at what a wonderful thing it is to be so damn spoilt for choice, and everyday there’s more and more of the stuff!

As such, my listening is more often than not dominated by things I’ve been reviewing or researching for whatever reason, and April had been a busy month! I’ve heard a lot of seriously excellent records – the new albums from singer songwriter Kevin Morby and Canadian rockers Greys being particularly outstanding, although it’s the sublime new album from Ben Watt that’s taken up most of my journey’s home. However, as coincidence would have it, over the last couple of weeks I’ve had three EPs, all alternative rock, all female fronted, but all distinctly different, vying for my undivided attention. Check them out…

Haybaby – Blood Harvest EP
This power trio from Brooklyn are an intriguing mix of indie, grunge and sludge punk (whatever that may be) and last year’s ‘Sleepy Kids’ was one of my favourite albums of 2015. So, I was understandably excited to discover they had new music hitting the racks, and after managing to get an advance copy, was not disappointed. In fact, Leslie Hong and company have built on their loose style and added a little more bite on five scathing tunes stacked with cool bass grooves, histrionic guitar lines and massive riffs; not to mention the excellent vocals. Check out the killer ‘Kramer/Dreams’:

False Advertising – Brainless EP
Like Haybaby, False Advertising also released an album towards the end of 2015 and have followed it up with an EP less than six months later. In the case of Jen, Chris and Josh, who describe themselves as “twisted power grunge” and have a more nineties feel to their sound, it was a case of not only maintaining creative momentum but also dealing with some personal issues. As a result, their sound has also toughened up a little more, yet they still mange to include some killer hooks. What you get are five furiously energetic tunes that neatly blend punky grunge rock and angular indie with a touch of pop sensibility – frantic guitars with badass choruses. Here’s a snippet of their live show and the disturbing ‘Alopecia’.

Making Monsters – Bad Blood EP
This record won’t actually be released until the middle of next month, but the Northern Irish quartet are definitely ones to watch – whatever ‘it’ is, they’ve got it and I for one am loving it. Besides being blessed with a heavy alternative sound, bursting with top drawer guitar work and some really well constructed songs, in Emma Gallagher they have an exceptionally good vocalist of quite stunning versatility. This is a band that definitely stand out from the pack and there are plenty of moments on ‘Bad Blood’ that really nail it – watch this band rise.

Ben Watt
Like I said above, Ben’s new album, ‘Fever Dream’ is quite sublime, but I have also been revisiting the previous offering, ‘Hendra’ with some regularity of late. Both records are packed with quality songwriting, where the attention to the tiny details of everyday life manages to paint vivid pictures of loss and regret or love and relationships. The accompaniment from Bernard Butler is nothing short of superb and both albums make for a truly involving listen.

Here are a bunch of links to find out more about everything I’ve been going on about and maybe even purchase some the bands’ music at ridiculously low prices – some of the earlier releases may even be name your price!
http://haybabyband.com/
https://falseadvertising.bandcamp.com/
https://makingmonsters.bandcamp.com/
http://benwatt.com/

What’s Hot In My House – March

Since the release of The Cult‘s largely awesome ‘Hidden City’ I have been streaming the shit out of it, the album having become my default option for pretty much any and every time of day. Even so, there has still been plenty of room for other aural delights, what with the stack of awesome new music http://www.alreadyheard.com have been making me review; twisting my arm until I give in and put fingers to keyboard. Then there’s all the interesting new releases outside of AH’s remit; 2016 shaping up to be a damn fine year for new music. However, given the subject matter of some of my recent posts I’ve also been doing more than a little memory lane, so check out the diverse selection of listening pleasures that have been riding my personal air waves of late….

The Mission
The Mish are a band I tend to listen to fairly regularly anyway, but one of the most recent things that I have written is a look at their 30 year career with a definitive top 10. As such, in the name of research I went trawling through their catalogue, agonising over what to include, so there’s been days when they were the only band ringing in my ears. Here’s a classic performance on British TV:


https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/30-years-of-the-mission/

Aztec Camera
I always had a bit of a soft spot for Roddy Frame when I was a kid, he came up with a handful of really good tunes, which have actually stood the test of time. I was reminded of AC while reading the tome that is ‘How Soon Is Now’, on the mavericks behind 80s indie, and was thus inspired to write about the vibrant Scottish scene which spawned so much of the music that sound tracked the UK during the 1980s, including Aztec Camera. Anyway, I tracked the greatest hits down on Deezer and was pleasantly surprised by the enduring quality of the songs, ‘Working in a Goldmine’ being a personal favourite as its a lesson to any budding songwriter in how to nail a good hook.


https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/postcards-from-glasgow/

Noise – Heck and So Pitted
The DIY ethic around the music business right now and the whole indie punk vibe afforded by the internet is leading to some really exciting new music. Seattle’s So Pitted are a recent discovery, their sound being really quite horribly awesome. They have an air of disquiet about their heavy bruising brand of alternative rock, soaked in flurries of feedback, and their debut album, ‘Neo’, makes for a brilliant but disconcerting listen. https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/so-pitted-neo-review/


On the opposite side of the Atlantic, but equally noisy, are the chaotic Heck. There is something refreshingly free about the wrecking ball sound of debut album ‘Instructions’ and I’ve had it on heavy rotation since giving it a 5/5 over at AH. http://alreadyheard.com/post/140796180606/album-review-heck-instructions

The Cult
Which brings me back to The Cult. I make no secret of the fact that this is my favourite band and have written about them a lot. Most recently I did a retrospective review of their supremely underrated self-titled album, as I believe that there are a number of seriously good tunes getting seriously overlooked. Check out ‘Gone’ here:


https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/the-cult-the-cult/

What’s Hot In My House – February

With Carnaval and the accompanying break – damn the Brazilian government for making us have more time off work – I have had more family time and less music time than usual. Even so, I have managed to squeeze in some quality listening during the hours of endless relaxation and sun soaked ennui, albeit somewhat restricted to stuff I’m writing about for one reason or another. David Bowie has obviously continued to feature quite heavily, ‘Blackstar’ not being an album you can get to the bottom of in a couple of listens, but have also discovered some lovely new music besides revisiting some old favourites. I’m actually putting together a Hard Pressed mixtape/playlist of lesser known artists that I have featured here on the site, so the likes of Luna Sol, Haybaby and Blind Wives have all been getting a spin, along with a remix of Tairrie B. by Nina Mediatrix, who was gracious enough to grant me an interview a couple of weeks back that is well worth a read. Inescapably though, it is stuff I’ve been reviewing, or had thought about reviewing but just couldn’t find the words for, that has been most dominant; so here’s what’s been titillating my eardrums over the last month or so.

MONEY – Suicide Songs
I really wanted to review this stunning album by the British indie trio, but just couldn’t seem to do it justice. It is beautiful, hypnotic, uplifting and melancholic in equal measure and makes for an elegant, yet emotionally brutal record of poetically crafted songs worth languishing in for a while. Treat yourself to some catharsis, you know you need it.

Two songs which featured in stuff I reviewed last month, and were two of the first tracks that I earmarked for Mixtape Vol.1, are ‘Scars’ by Danish power trio Forever Still and the wonderfully titled ‘Placebo Button’ from the Italian grunge rockers Noam Bleen. The former is a powerful blast of fresh sounding heavy rock with an epic emotional chorus and a cracking vocal from front woman Maja Shining. Noam Bleen, meanwhile, offer up an intricate slice of 90s tinged alternative rock that shows off the band’s love of heavy tube distortion, but also finds them exploring their melodic side with a fine instrumental section; promising stuff from both bands.

The Cult – Hidden City
Isn’t it gratifying when your favourite band come back to top form and produce their most interesting record in over twenty years? What a pleasant surprise this album has turned out to be, there are a lot of really good moments and the quality is high throughout. The Cult maintain their signature sound, that tambourine is shaking away beneath the surface, but they also really explore creatively. Sure, Billy Duffy is on fire and there are riffs a plenty, but Ian Astbury also delivers some emotionally raw vocals and the songs are some of the most stylistically diverse of their career. Killer record.