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If you have found this blog, it probably means you were searching for something that isn’t in the public eye. My intention is to promote awareness of artists that you would otherwise likely never know existed. If you like what you hear, support the artist by purchasing their music so that they can continue to create, and enjoy the release in the quality they intended.

Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Axis of Metal.

Red Bacteria Vacuum

Posted by T. Bawden Saturday, 27 November 2010 0 comments


Roller Coaster – 3/5
Link

Dolly Dolly, Make a Epoch – 2.5/5
Link

The name may be nonsensical but still it felt oddly alluring, tipping my curiosity enough to delve in a bit further. An all girl trio from Osaka (Japan) playing punk rock – all good so far – and time for my usual initial investigation. Cue the hunt for links on the 'tube, and a few moments of this and I thought I had it all figured out; no nonsense, visceral old school punk rock. Raw, rough and ready to rock; the kind where nobody can really play their instruments, but that becomes little more than a minor inconvenience for the “Sid Vicious Syndrome.”

In comes their debut full-length, Dolly Dolly..., and how far off the mark I was led. The problem of having mediocre musical abilities is if you try to display your prowess, things simply get messy; the guitars hang back and use a relatively clean tone that allows you to hear every painful miss-step that the solid but simple bass lines can't disguise. The guitar solo's distinctly slow down so that a decent melody can be formed, and for all the vocalists abilities in the traditional punk manner, god forbid the times when the pace slows to more of a ballad tone; imagine Dee Dee Ramone covering the Chilli Peppers' “Zephyr Song.” There's certainly an argument to be made for staying within your style here.

As we start to meander into electropop territory it's beginning to look as though there's no silver lining, and then all of a sudden things take a drastic change for the better. Yes, we've now reached their EP released a number of years earlier, with a previous drummer in the line-up, and energy out the wazoo; no more experimental ideas or fiddling with old song structures, just plain old punk energy with plenty of fun thrown into the mix. This, sadly, can also be problematic as it's nothing particularly new, but the riffs are simple and performed well, the instruments are all heard in the end production if perhaps not quite as aggressively performed is clear enough. Good for a quick punk fix, but unless they release a live album there's work to be done. I must admit, after hearing that "Roller Coaster" I'm rather disappointed by the end result.

Catsuomaticdeath – The Age of Exploration

Posted by T. Bawden Sunday, 21 November 2010 0 comments


Catsuomaticdeath – The Age of Exploration - 4/5
Link

The states has made its musical mark over the years with a large variety of influences and styles, but none is perhaps so localised as the grunge sound; dirty and laden with despair, it became nicknamed the sound of Seattle and it would seem that outside of this city, people couldn't quite get the sound right. So what would happen if you didn't just form a grunge band outside of Seattle but on the other side of the world? This is one band that certainly can be said to have a style of their own, matching kimono's with top hats for their live shows and infusing various other influences to the drawling melodies.

Between the slow, grinding, sludge-esque monotony of their epic twelve minute opening track and their noisy southern rock and roll inspiration, despite their Japanese origins this trio wear their influences on their sleeves. With their no frills approach to the production everything is left gloriously raw but apparent in the final composition of the track. Each instrument is given their place; the rhythm carried by the bass is hit home by the show-stopping drumwork, constantly flying at an unpredictable pace and never fearing to mix things up with a fill; the guitars adding a new sense of flavour to the proceedings whether by going into Sonic Youth's' brand of overdriven distortion or a clean twang, leaving the vocals to be little more than the icing on the cake.

Content to perform without, when the vocalist steps up to the plate it again sounds altogether more 'Western' than you'd expect, whether using that drawl typified by the grunge genre or bellowing out with a punk intensity. There's little here that feels particularly original in style, and whilst it does come off as something of an 80s throwback one can hardly find flaw with the performance. For a genre that seems to have died more than a decade ago, these guys don't half sound energetic.

Highlights: Heyday, Wheres my Enemy, Charlie VS Sammy

Tenniscoats – Tan Tan Therapy

Posted by T. Bawden Wednesday, 17 November 2010 0 comments


Tenniscoats – Tan Tan Therapy – 4.5/5
Link

I seem to rarely revisit artists, but this is one of those horrible exceptions. Their 'Totemo Aimasho' did little for me but with their follow up I realised that I'd gotten it all wrong; their intentions never were entirely ambient inspired, even if they utilise some of the same signature effects, but instead only intend to create an atmosphere that's 'light' and 'floaty,' a fact that the simpler instrumentation highlights. Despite this, the husband-and-wife duo only really have one instrument that make a recurrent appearance: the nonsensical vocals of San. The instrumentation is still packed with variety from the ambient backing, the acoustic guitars and a small but notable brass section; the genre still painfully ambiguous, somewhere between ambient, pop, folk, jazz and post-rock perhaps, but really only fitting nothing but its own brand of floaty dreaminess.

The collaborative artist here – known as 'Tape' – and his style of laptop-folk (as bizarre as that sounds) has clearly gone to work in many of the background pieces, creating a rich and vibrant world for them to play around in. Everything feels almost callous, the notes not feeling perfectly regular in the manner they're played but undulating, flowing like an ocean with subtle fluid changes in the speed the instruments are played. It would all sound chaotic if you tried to follow the separate lines of glockenspiel, guitars, marching-band drumming, flutes, and so on, but it's been tweaked and tinkered with to get the balance just right. It never feels obtrusive or over the top; the whole release sounds like the fragile wing of a butterfly; delicate, beautiful and yet childish and playful at the same time, the multiple layers serving only to bring the piece to life.

The instantly recognisable vocals are entirely tonal, many tracks even utilising more of a scat with tones chosen for the way they sound rather than any lyrical requirement. The manner they are left open and on display does nothing to detract from the piece either, enhancing the overall sense of realistic humanity that presents itself through her gentle wailing and softly sung melancholy. The mood shifts between depressive and joyful but it never strays far from this sense of innocence that runs at their core, each track seeming to take its own idea or atmosphere and integrating that with their core philosophy. Whether you're playing on the suburban streets in 'Baibaba Bimba' or watching the autumnal leaves fall in 'One Swan Swim,' this is one release that never fails to evoke my thoughts.

Cyclamen – Senjyu

Posted by T. Bawden Monday, 1 November 2010 0 comments


Cyclamen – Senjyu – 3.5/5
Myspace

As with my last review of this artist, no link is to be given. I've read his thoughts on file sharing and regardless of my own opinion, I'd be an asshole to ignore his. You can stream the entire thing on his myspace page either way, which is linked. Despite eagerly awaiting this release, getting the pre-order and hastily turning the volume up, I quickly realised I had the completely wrong mindset. This feels like a relatively drastic departure from his debut demo cd, even though the entirety is still self-recorded and self-produced by the same guy. It still has much of the same mathcore tendencies but at least as much of the release is now post-rock, used as more than interludes or epic chorus lines between the passages of technicality, with the inevitable occasional djent passage for good measure.

Why he still uses djent I will never quite understand. Playing the same note off-time was never something I saw the attraction in, and “Grand Annihilation” where it gets used with frequency I can see being skipped a lot as a consequence. Despite that, when the guitar work is put into overdrive it's chaotic beyond belief, and yet it never feels unsuited; its not as though it's without a purpose beyond to sound as full of wank as possible. This again feels mirrored in the slower haunting post-rock passages, and even some of the aforementioned djent lines which when not overused can often succeed in creating a build-up to something more, demonstrating a clear flexibility to his abilities. The drum work has also seen a notable improvement – possibly as a result of the new full-time musician contributing – as have the clean vocal lines (excusing one rather eerily high pitched track), but the added clarity the production yields has not been kind to the screams; they feel all the more hoarse and strained, a fact more readily hidden before.

I guess there's no secret in pointing out that it was the track “Never Ending Dream” that first caught my attention, but it was the marriage between the two styles that intrigued me; harrowing as “Envy” and all the dark melancholy that goes with it, twinned with that “Sikth” brand of demonic chaos that doesn't sound like he's being dragged down without a fight, but it is the combination of the two that made it work. Here, they're all too separate; the tracks alternate between ultra-chaos and slow; each track feels as though its all or nothing, and I miss that middle ground.

Highlights: The Seeker, Comfort, Revenge (of the Geeks)

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Guide

Guide to the Ratings
0/5 - This caused me physical pain
1/5 - This is really bloody awful
2/5 - This was below average
3/5 - This was above average
4/5 - This was pretty darn good.
5/5 - I cannot fault this epitome of perfection.

I cant guarantee all reviewers adhere to these guidelines, but work as a general guide.

Author's credit is given on all posts.