In what has been a truly frightening month on a global scale, February has seen some wonderful releases, particularly heavy on the album side. Here are 6 releases we’ve heard and enjoyed this month that might bring some joy to your ears.
The Guilty Pleasures – Komplot
The Guilty Pleasures are a duo from Toulouse, France with the rather unconventional setup of guitar, moog, drum machine and vocals. They are a punk band in the truest sense of the word, playing non-conventional venues like barns and squats. Emily and Angshu create an exciting brand of lo-fi post-punk that sits nicely beside fellow duos The Moldy Peaches, The Lovely Eggs and Royal Trux.
They also undoubtedly share a sense of humour with these bands.
There are songs on their new album ‘Komplot’ about not being able to sleep due to hearing your neighbours having sex (Neighbours) and smoking drugs in a gas station toilet (FMR access). The buzzy Moog basslines make these songs instant bangers while the almost surfy, gothic guitars add a needly edge and some great counter melodies, displayed with aplomb on the spooky instrumental “Sad man”.
The heart of the band is all in the dual vocals. The sense of joyful abandon and the sillyness on display on songs like “Who is Patricia Wolf?” recall the brazen tongue in cheek humour of Barry. There’s hardly any let up to the fun on this record. The only major curveball is perhaps the 7 minute closer “Spook School”, a ghostly, instrumental surf-disco instrumental. In a way, however, that’s still entirely fitting!
Komplot might be the most fun album we’ll hear all year.
You may enjoy this if you like: The Moldy Peaches, Royal Trux, Man Or Astroman
‘Komplot’ is out now via Dushtu Records
The Web Of Lies – Nude With Demon
The Web Of Lies is a new Glasgow based supergroup with Edwin Stevens (Irma Vep/The Birthmarks/Robert Sotelo) and Neil Robinson (Buffet Lunch) at the helm. The band consists of members of many other BTTB favourites including Irma Vep, The Birthmarks, Vital Idles, Nape Neck, Astral Social Club and Y LEGS. All bands and artists worth checking out in their own right. There are undeniable elements of these bands scattered throughout this. Marrying elements of post punk, post rock and a large dose of psychedelic rock, this is a gnarled collection of lo-fi scuzz.
This is undeniably recognisable as an Edwin Stevens project
Various moments draw elements of Irma Vep’s fuzzed out space rock jams and The Birthmarks’ woozy retro rock. Opener “Receiver” is a chugging 60s garage rock oddity that morphs into an unhinged jam. Set to a constant beat and chord structure, the guitars flail with abandon in the second half. There’s a darkness that runs throughout ’Nude With Demon’.
“The Wasp” has an aggression that recalls Sweet Williams (incidentally this album was produced by Thomas House of Sweet Williams) while “RnR Resurrection” sits somewhere in the space between The Velvet Undreground and Sonic Youth. The guitar freakout in the closing stages is quite spectacular. There are bizarre Beatles vibes to “Best Friend” perhaps owing to the backing vocals having more than a hint of “Tax Man” to them while instrumentally it’s more akin again to The Velvet Underground at their most artsy.
What sets this record is apart is the vocal performances throughout. They add a great deal of interest and variety. At different points they call on the talents of Jess Higgins (Vital Idles), Kathryn Gray (Nape Neck), Dylan Hughes (The Birthmarks) as well as Stevens himself.
Like fellow wonderful Glasgow supergroup Nightshift, The Web Of Lies songs consist of sprawling jams that take time to stretch out. None more so than the brilliant side two opener “Yeah Yeah Yeah”. The beautiful lo-fi buzz of “The Golden Road” and “Redeemer” are full od retro rock joy. “Ender”, on the other hand, closes things out in a more understated and subtly dissonant style.
‘Nude With Demon’ is, simply put, a sublime, magnificent record.
You may enjoy this if you like Irma Vep, The Birthmarks, Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, The Velvet Underground
‘Nude with Demon’ is out now via Wrong Speed Records.
Shybits – Body Lotion
We’ve been tracking Berlin based Shybits for a while now. We were big fans of singer/guitarist Liam Bradbury’s excellent former band Dog Legs. This truly international three piece are completed by the surname omitting Piero on bass and Meg on drums. They create the kind of indie rock that makes you want to get up, dance and sing your head off. Their debut album ‘Body Lotion’ is a joy from the start.
“Bitumen Dreams” is a sub-3 minute blast of distorted indie power pop that would appeal to fans of The Breeders and Weezer (when they were good). The group vocals are a fun touch that makes this band feel like a gang. They jangle delightfully through “Self Control” and the twisting “Be Sarcastic” with a glee that marries the simplicity of early Strokes with a Los Campesinos giddyness but sounds like neither.
A lot of the current crop of powerpop indie is let down by overly earnest vocalists but Shybits are truly blessed in this department.
Their sense of melody married with Teenage Fanclub-esque harmonies are a joy on tracks like “As Seen On MTV”. Their knack for a catchy chorus is quite stunning too. The chorus of “Sunshine” is like a huge blast of colour exploding in your face. The basslines on the album are consistently brilliant. There’s a McCartney-esque fiddlyness to them, packing in a huge amount of melody rather than just rooting the songs. “Neighbours” is a great example of this.
It also recalls one time Beatles copyists Of Montreal to some extent. The formula doesn’t really change a great deal throughout the album and nor should it. Shybits have come fully formed and play to their strengths.“I Got A Feeling” is melodically stunning with great use of quiet/loud dynamics. Perhaps the closest thing to a diversion is the closing title track. It drops the pace, opens on an electronic drum beat and builds its layers a little more gradually. Perhaps akin to bands like Parsnip.
With songs rarely breaching the 3 minute mark ‘Body Lotion’ is a snack sized album that packs in so much pristine pop goodness you may want to play it on repeat.
You may enjoy this if you like: The Breeders, Teenage Fanclub, Of Montreal
‘Body Lotion’ is out now via Duchess Records
Savage Mansion – Golden Mountain Here I Come
Craig Angus has managed to be productive since the early coronavirus pandemic release ‘Weird Country‘. He’s taken part in online gigs and got back on the road with the full band in recent times. In that time he and his cohorts also assembled a new 10 track album entitled “Golden Mountain Here I Come”. It’s immediately clear that the band have mostly moved past the fried folk rock of their previous album. In a way they’ve somewhat returned to their roots.
However, there’s an added sheen to this far more upbeat collection which brings in some new elements.
The hipshaking beat, indie handclaps and Kaputt-esque brass of “Life More Abundant” is a pleasant surprise, while they go full Parquet Courts (without the shouting) on the fantastic single “Football Weather”. The wonderful brass flourishes return on “Plans” which again has more than a hint of Parquet Courts to it. The guitar interplay between verses is playful and marries so well with the lolloping bassline. It’s so well executed.
There are hints of Weird Country to the crooked folk rock “There’s No Love” with it’s gorgeous slide guitar and added lyrical referencing of Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation). They come buzzing back to life on the super catchy and chant heavy “The Custom” with its pumped up drum beat and fuzzy bassline. Angus takes a spoken word approach to the verses, the lead guitar ripping out of the mix on its own. It’s utterly brilliant.
“Tricks” has a touch of The Fall to its repetitive verse hooks and lo-fi keyboards, while the handclaps of “Jesus Is Pale” give it an almost glam stomp. It doesn’t go too far into this realm. Angus’s dry delivery pulls it away from the need for the band to don silver trousers.Angus is known to be a fan of Stephen Malkmus and “Black Cat” bears some resemblance to Malkmus’s beautiful “Mama”. The simple chorus of “no no no” and the counter melodies that accompany it are gorgeous.
“Good morning from the physical world”
sings Angus on the closer “On Golden Mountain”. Perhaps a nod to having spent a large portion of the last two years locked away living an online existence. There are beautiful touches of slide guitar (or perhaps lap steel) that give a Wilco-esque quality to this meandering, slow burning hymn.
As with Pavement’s ‘Brighten The Corners’ or dEUS’s ‘The Ideal Crash’ Savage Mansion have found the happy medium between maturity and their rowdy side to produce their most well rounded collection yet.
You may enjoy this if you like: Parquet Courts, Pavement, Life Drawings, Art Brut
‘Golden Mountain Here I Come’ is out now via Lost Map
Mid-Air Thief – Gongjoong Doduk
‘Gongjoong Doduk’ (which translates to Mid-Air Thief) is the pre-cursor to the mysterious artist’s lauded 2018 cult classic ‘Crumbling’.
‘Crumbling’ was a phenomenon that spread through word of mouth. Initially a Bandcamp only release (other than a very limited physical release for a Korean record fair) there was, and still is, very limited information in the public domain regarding the artist. Eventually the album was picked up by Top Shelf Records and given a physical re-release and, once again, this is where Mid-Air Thief finds himself. This will be given a new physical release in April.
Gongjoong Doduk very much hints at what was to follow. The gorgeous dreamy melodies, glitchy electronics and gently warped found sound samples are all there and would no doubt appeal to fans of chillwave/folktronica artists like Panda Bear and The Books.
As with ‘Crumbling’ the devil is in the detail.
The twinkling pianos, junk percussion and crooked lo-fi samples of “White Room” combine to subtly stunning effect.There are hints of Shugo Tokumaru to the playful guitar intricacy of ‘Seismic’, with added Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies. ‘Parasol’ introduces a guest vocalist that we might assume is Summer Soul (although I could be wrong) who would later collaborate on ‘Crumbling’.
The recording quality is generally more lo-fi than on Mid-Air Thief’s better known album but this adds moments of satisfying ugliness alongside the beautiful moments of songs like “Woo” that are no doubt inspired by Brian Wilson’s songwriting approach on ’Smile’. Small sections flow together to create a beautiful melodic tapestry.
A 2016 interview about this album was particularly revealing with the artist sighting the influence of Wilson, his namesake Gary and R Stevie Moore.
Whilst this debut album is naturally less subtle than ‘Crumbling’ this allows for some stunning moments of clarity.
The tonal singing and heavy distorted bassline of “Swamp”, for example, are sensational. “Moons” is melodically bizarre, extremely texturally dense and utterly warped. There is also added grit to songs like “The Knot” which shifts from the usual gorgeous vocal harmonies into atonal chanting.
It’s now been four strange years since ‘Crumbling’. Given this artist is so mysterious perhaps this re-release is a sign that something new may also be around the corner. We can only hope.
You may enjoy this if you like: Panda Bear, The Books, Animal Collective, Radiohead
‘Gongjoong Doduk’ is re-released 1st April via Top Shelf Records
TRAPS/Sander Cohen – Bro Splits
Bro Splits is a split EP released by the ever noisey Halfmeltedbrain Records with two insanely loud Kent based noiserock bands; TRAPS and Sander Cohen.
TRAPS take side A and what’s abundantly clear is that they sit on the more progressive side of this scene.
They marry post-hardcore vocals that recall bands like Charlottefield at their most aggressive with the pummelling intensity of Lightning Bolt. The drums are relentless, riffs come thick and fast through forests of gnarly fuzz. This is the sort of music that could only be released on a label called Halfmeltedbrain. It utterly fulfills the brief. The live show will no doubt be quite something.
So what of Sander Cohen?
Well they’re less riffy, more abrasive and just as intense. Each song on their side begins with a spoken word sample that serves as a foil for the aggression that follows. That is aside from the creepy Butthole Surfers-esque “Analinguistic Therapy”. The drums are super technical, a la The Dillinger Escape Plan, and they serve up a huge helping of dischordance, stop-start rhythms and thick grotesque feedback. There’s a post-hardcore edge to the vocal delivery and a thick foreboding atmosphere throughout.
A brutal and menacing split release.
You may enjoy this if you like: Lightning Bolt, Hella, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan
‘Bro Splits’ is out now via Halfmeltedbrain Records
So those were 6 releases that thrilled us in February. Let us know on our social media what you’ve been listening to!