Monthly Archives: March 2015

New Track: Communions, Out Of My World

Communions, “Out Of My World” (Tough Love)

We here at thegrindinghalt previously sang the praises of Copenhagen’s Communions and their progression from insular post-punk to a larger, cinemascope take on ‘80s indie.  This new single is their most wide-eyed yet.

The title gives one a pretty good idea of what to expect.  I’ve no idea how old the members are, but this is the sound of crushing (noun and verb) love, in a way felt during a certain period of one’s life. Martin Rehof’s despaired vocalizing of lines like “you’re the queen of your scene/and I’m just watching through a screen” and “no boy or girl/has made me feel the same” runs thick with the salt water taffy (melo)drama of unrequited love/lust.  The largeness of the arrangement almost consumes the vocals, reflecting the wistful beauty of the strongest of emotions being left unspoken, or restrained within the four corners of one’s mind (or room); a love note labored over, but never sent.

The production is filled with ‘80s touchstones – from the shotgun reverb on the drums to the synthesized sheen over the guitars – and calls to mind everything from mid to late period The Smiths and The Cure, New Order at their more romantic, even OMD in their pomp.

An alternate Ducky’s theme from Pretty In Pink? Perhaps – maybe this one would’ve worked.

Taken from new, self titled EP, due June 1 in Europe and June 2 in the U.S. on Tough Love and in Japan on Big Love.

New Track: Makthaverskan, Witness

Makthaverskan, “Witness” (Luxury Gbg, 3/3/2015)

New single from this Gothenburg, Sweden-based group, whose excellent album from last year, II, provided a lesson in loud, strident, angst-ridden post-punk.

The band recently unveiled new tour single, “Witness” (backed by an instrumental, jazz noir take on II track, “No Mercy”).  While certainly not short on the kind of raw emotion which permeated II, this track feels less like a screamed series of diary entries.  The band goes long on the Siouxsie and the Banshees-inspired aspects of their sound – the song could almost pass for a lost b-side from the Hyaena sessions – and it totally works.  Swirling guitars and tribal, kinetic percussion are whipped into a frenzy by the matured (but not blunted) vocals of singer Maja Milner, a force of nature in the vein Mme. Sioux herself.

Check out the band on their Facebook page, and be sure to go see them as they tour in the US for the first time – some dates were changed due to visa issues, so be sure to check their page for the most recent itinerary.

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: Novella


Novella EP (Italian Beach Babes)

“The Things You Do”, “Land Gone”, “Sentences” (Synderlyn)

A novella is a literary form characterized more by what it isn’t than what it is; longer and more complex than a short story, but shorter and perhaps less complex than a novel (and great for book reports! – if memory serves).  Famous examples include:  The Little Prince, Metamorphosis, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Animal Farm and A Clockwork Orange.

Novella is also a London-based five piece, with a penchant for both hazy, psychedelic and more dreamy, shoegaze inspired atmospherics What does the band have in common with the written work?  Probably not much but, according to Wikipedia, the word ‘novella’ is the feminine form of the Italian word ‘novello’, meaning ‘new’ and I recently heard the band for the first time – compelling connection, no?  In this interview (on the always great The Line of Best Fit), the band picked the name at random because it sounded both feminine and like a medication, so we’re all grasping here… on to the review, then.

The tracks on their debut, self-titled EP come enveloped in a Velvet-y cloak of droney reverb and distortion, shot through with sudden bursts of energy – particularly on songs like “He’s My Morning” – and overlaid with detached, laconic vocals of singer Hollie Warren.  On newer tracks, from their forthcoming debut full length, “Land” – out May 12 on Synderlyn Records – the production feels lighter, while retaining the psychedelic vibe.  Stand out tracks like “Land Gone” open brightly – the swirling rush of guitars (phasers and flangers!) and delicate harmonies invoking Lush and Döppelganger-era Curve, as well as newer bands like Toy, the last 30 seconds featuring a muscular, crash cymbal heavy rock out.  “Sentences”, another highlight, unfurls, at around the 1:30 mark, into a blissfully gorgeous kaleidoscopic soundscape.

Check out Novella on their Facebook page and website

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: Sheer Mag

7” (Wilsuns RC)

“Button Up” (Katorga Works)

Sheer Mag are a Philadelphia-based outfit with an obvious love of ‘70s rawk.  Many reviewers have pointed to the obvious indebtedness to blues/hard “classic” rock stalwarts like Thin Lizzy (hell, the band’s logo on their Bandcamp page even looks like a cross between those of Lizzy, Van Halen and, um, early Voivod) and their take on muscular, blues-y riffage.  I can’t help but hearing tuneage that would’ve fit nicely with a lot of the 70s output of labels like Stiff Records.

That is, gloriously throwback rock and roll; a messier version of the slick sound of ‘70s FM rock radio.  Bands indebted to a leaner, simpler, catchier vision of blues rock; more T. Rex stomp than Led Zeppelin pomp.  There’s more than a hint of the fuzzed-out power pop of a Wreckless Eric or The Only Ones on songs like “Hot Lovin’” and “What You Want” from their debut 7” (even the song titles are as ‘70s as bellbottoms and shagwagons, no?).  Singer Christina Hallady’s pipes sound like they’re fittin’ to burst under the weight of all that fuzz, as she channels the fiery throatiness of the likes of Joan Jett.  On new track, “Button Up” (from an upcoming 7” to be released on Katorga Works), the band sound (a bit) less charmingly messy, but more anthemic.  Building from a straight-up Chuck Berry as channeled by Angus Young riff, the song uses an overlay of surprisingly shimmery guitar to accent the proceedings.

This shit is fun – get out your hair brush and sing along, then get out of the house and check them out on tour.

New Track: Pile, The World Is Your Motel

Pile, “The World Is Your Motel” (Exploding In Sound)

This little tornado blows through your farm in less time than it takes to scream “Auntie Em!”, so I’m gonna give it a short and sweet write-up.  The track bucks and kicks amidst Fugazi-style stop/start pacing and stabbing guitar work, while singer Rick Maguire starts off sounding like Black Francis channeling Lee Ving and ends sounding a bit like Mark E. Smith.  Great stuff.

There; you can come out of the cellar now…

From the album, You’re Better Than This, out now on Exploding in Sound (US) and Fierce Panda (UK).  Also available on their Bandcamp page.  Go forth and purchase.

New Track: Ezra Furman, Restless Year

Ezra Furman – “Restless Year” (Bella Union)

The title says it all, really – this song bounces around breathlessly from style to style like that guy trying to bust out of the comic book at the end of that A-ha video:  a 70s cheese ooh-la melody, a bass line that sounds like a spazzy version of the same from a Three Dog Night “classic”, a frenetic bridge that starts off sorta sounding like The The’s “Infected” played on pots and pans and closes with Ezra shrieking over power chords of “death” being his “Tom Sawyer”.  He’s like the guy who gets distracted in the middle of telling a story to start another one – and you go with it.  Ezra Furman’s back, with his Boyfriends – hooray!

From his as yet untitled new album, due this summer on Bella Union.

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: Landshapes

Two new tracks, representing my first exposure to this London-based four piece. Both are taken from sophomore album, Heyoon, to be released by the consistently great Bella Union label.

The first, “Moongee” is trippy, moody, and vaguely psychedelic.  A turn down down a dark, cobblestoned street, lamp posts encircled in fog, the moon creating a corona of misty, distorted light, stalked by a churning rhythm underpinning a swirly interplay between tense guitar work and detached vocals.  Reminds a bit of Mezzanine-era Massive Attack.

The newest, “Stay”, is less languid – all stabby, post-punk guitar shredding and insistent drum/bass work.  Think everything from the Banshees, up to Savages and Wytches, with more than a bit of the low end thump of early Bunnymen and even Interpol.  Music to pogo to, ‘neath the strobes; sweaty, propulsive stuff. Check the video, directed by David Graham.

For a band that, I believe (at least in it’s current iteration), has only been around for 3 years or so, they have a very strong dynamic.  Lead guitarist Jemma Freeman is a revelation; she has the ability to command through both the front and back of the mix.  Vocalist Luisa Gerstein carries a bit of a Joni Mitchell-like vibe with her phrasing and intonation, while the rhythm section of Dan Blackett (drums) and Heloise Tunstall-Behrens (bass) keep it tight.

Their artist bio page on the Bella Union site ends with a suggestion – “climb inside and explore” – I second that emotion.

Heyoon debuts May 4.  Check them out on their Facebook page.