JIM GUTHRIE NOW, MORE THAN EVER

JIM GUTHRIE
NOW, MORE THAN EVER

Three Gut

Jim Guthrie spins out warm and wistful folk that has received so many fantastic reviews I can’t quite figure out why I’m not moved. Lyrically, it doesn’t strike me as anything close to a Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel or Joni Mitchell. Musically, it doesn’t impress me more than, say, a mediocre Belle & Sebastian song. For contemporary storytellers, I’ll leave Badly Drawn Boy or Springsteen’s Nebraska within arm’s reach.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, September 2004, Issue 189.

Terrorfakt - Cold Steel World

TERRORFAKT
COLD STEEL WORLD

Metropolis
4/5

If you’re not familiar with them already, then now is a good time to discover the caustic rhythms and dance-club war-zone created by Terrorfakt. With only the second release, Cold Steel World, they have raised the bar for acts to follow. Simple yet powerful rhythms compose each of the ear-blistering 17 tracks. Terrorfakt is the creation of Hellraver, New York City’s most notorious industrial/EBM/rhythm noise DJ. It’s fascinating to hear what someone who has DJ-ed a wide variety of music for over a decade can come up with. The harmony between album title, cover art and the actual sound structures douses the senses with illustrious beauty of scrapyards and industrial wreckage. In late 2002, Terrorfakt became a household name after remixing P.A.L.’s already popular track “Gelobnis.” With constant static bursts and crunchy loops, Terrorfakt put out music that is impossible to ignore. There isn’t a song that I don’t like here, but some favorites include “No Frequency,” “Steamliner,” and “Hate Like This.” If Tetsuo III were to happen, it would be my advice for director Shinya Tsukamoto to commission Terrorfakt to produce the soundtrack. If you haven’t heard Terrorfakt or seen them live, you are missing out on a cold steel world of bliss.

 

This review originally appeared in Modus Operandi, October 2004, Issue 190

 Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible album

Manic Street Preachers
The Holy Bible 10th Anniversary Edition

Epic

Generally speaking, the body tends to wash ashore, the mystery fades and eventually everyone forgets that there was a story associated with a particular piece of art. In the case of the Manic’s The Holy Bible, the folklore of Richie Edwards and his untraceable disappearance lives on. This would prove to be the last evidence of Richie’s bitter brilliance and regardless of what might have come before, it was here that he proved to be one of the most dangerously intelligent musicians the UK had seen since The Clash were taking Broadway. Only this time, America didn’t bat an eye because Kurt Cobain was dead and nothing else in the foreseeable future mattered beyond that. Not that I can set myself up as an example; I didn’t find them until Richie was far gone into the night and the band was back standing tall riding the slightly more optimistic, somewhat watered-down path. Still, none of this matters if the music isn’t any good. Thankfully, it is. Not nearly as loud as you might expect, although a far cry from their hits that would follow (the album was overlooked for the “best of” compilation Forever Delayed save for the stormer “Faster”). Instead of sheer noise, the edge comes in the dissonant lyrics and the crumbling exterior. They were after all poised to implode from the very beginning; self-destructive, self-consumed, warped and gritty Britpop at its heartiest. Here in its 10th Anniversary form, we find the classic album (both the UK release and the alternate American mix) remastered with bonus BBC sessions and live versions along with a DVD capturing the band in a full masterstroke of arrogant swagger. Rock n’ roll should always be this good. As for Richie, I like to think he escaped to where Kurt was trying to get to.
This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, March 2005, Issue 195.

The Perishers Let There Be MorningThe Perishers
Let There Be Morning

Nettwerk

 

The Perishers come sauntering in with a long list of hopefuls who would, if given the chance, knock that bloody crown off of Coldplay’s collective head. They’re stretching out for Radiohead’s The Bends but grasping something with a bit more sugar, not nearly the substance or the undeniable breathe taking moment. No “Iron Lung” or “Fake Plastic Trees” to sway the spotlight from the stage to the dark corners where art, as it were, is. They’re good, not a disappointment I suppose. I’d actually love to see them dominate top 40 radio—it would be a vast improvement. It just wouldn’t be nearly as seductive as A Rush of Blood or O.K. Computer.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, May 2005, Issue 197.
Angels & Ghosts

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers
Angels & Ghosts

Columbia
Street: 10.26.15
Dave Gahan & Soulsavers = Bad Seeds – Nick Cave + Spiritualized

Rich Machin and Ian Glover—better known as the production duo Soulsavers—employed a variety of vocalists and guest musicians on their early albums, including the likes of Mark Lanegan, Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) and Richard Hawley, before teaming with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan for their fourth album, 2012’s The Light the Dead See. Three years later, Angels & Ghosts casts Gahan firmly in the spotlight with Soulsavers in the supporting slot. Angels & Ghosts embraces the sparse arrangements of Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine but differs in that it abandons electronics almost entirely in favor of a guitar- and organ-heavy sound. This should give distance between Angels & Ghosts from Depeche Mode, but ultimately, many of the songs on the album sound like the material that Martin Gore and Gahan have been producing since the Songs of Faith and Devotion album where religious themes and hypnotic guitar riffs became more prevalent. Even the backing vocals are delivered as if Gore was in the studio directing the choir. Only the lead single, “All of this and Nothing,” would feel out of place on a Depeche Mode release; it is also the album’s strongest track. Ultimately, Angels & Ghosts is more of a curiosity than it is required listening. –ryanmichaelpainter

THE GREAT DEPRESSION UNCONSCIOUS PILOT

THE GREAT DEPRESSION
UNCONSCIOUS PILOT

Princess

As the name of the band might suggest, The Great Depression, this lot create music with a predominantly mellow and melancholy tone. Not to say that there isn’t some lovely drum work to keep things from bottoming out and the occasional piano bit to swing away from the cascading guitars. Yet, surprisingly enough, it is the light pop moment á là Belle and Sebastian in “The Sargasso Sea” that they show their best side. Pity there couldn’t be more bittersweet pop songs. Perhaps then we could wake this pilot up.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, September 2004, Issue 189.

The Violettes - Self-Titled

THE VIOLETTES
THE VIOLETTES

www.theviolettes.com

From the opening rolling cascades of sound of “Blue Hearted Fool,” it is quite clear that The Violettes are a shoegaze delight with fantastic production that allows for the chaos of sound to swell without giving the songs a cheap wash of undefined sound. That is, until the groove kicks in on “Heavenly White Roses,” and then here comes the sitar and suddenly you realize this is not your typical rock throwback to the early 90s. Sarah Khan’s vocals range from hints of All About Eve, My Bloody Valentine and Curve to a breathy Tori Amos without ever sounding forced or heavy-handed. The music is at times a sonic blast of guitar and pounding drums; sometimes it sways along in pop bliss and at other times, it’s an exotic landscape of scintillating friction. Put together, The Violettes offer one of the most impressive debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, December 2004, Issue 192.

 

 

The Angels of Light Other People

The Angels of Light
Other People

Young God

Michael Gira (Swans) returns with an album that is familiar while remaining a departure from what you might expect: Other People. Gone are the grandiose epics and hypnotic peaks replaced by a starkness that finally allows a glimpse of the brilliance without the antics getting in the way. It is as if Johnny Cash recorded one last record about sex, death and God and left it to find its own way into the world. Acoustic guitar balanced out by strings and organs without the safety net of drums gives the album a warmth that suddenly seems missing from the darker but similar Murder Ballads of Nick Cave. Perhaps it is Gira’s most approachable work, but don’t let that deter you; just when you get comfortable, something dissonant gargles from below.
This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, March 2005, Issue 195.

The Upwelling Self-TitledThe Upwelling
Self-Titled

TheUpwelling

 

The Upwelling are the first unsigned band to get Virgin Megatore’s “Virgin Recommends” sticker stuck to their CD, and while it isn’t hard to see why Virgin would endorse them with a sound that lands right between Jimmy Eat World and next week’s British soft-pop contender I don’t know that I ‘m ready to crown them the king of anything just yet. The songs on this 5 track EP are nice, they sore, they have a little rock in them and they have a mood that sometimes crosses Catherine Wheel with Elbow or Coldplay, but there just isn’t the payoff. Without a doubt they deserve to be signed, but one would hope that the security of a label would allow them to loosen up and experiment a bit more.

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, May 2005, Issue 197.

phonoPhono
The Changeover

10 Degree Productions
Street: 2006
Phono = NIN + VNV Nation

Joe Ashton terrorizes electronic music with a focus bent on rhythm. Were you to spread the parts out, name checking the various influences that are prevalent on The Changeover you’d find just about every industrial/EBM clich,  minus Skinny Puppy’s vocoder. Violence, sex and despair dominate the lyrics in a chant, spitfire anthem that occasionally breaks the mold by showing more than a monotone range. You’d also find a sense of vulnerability that echoes Trent Reznor’s more intimate moments, the occasional orchestral underscore that nods to Apoptygma Bezerk’s 7 while the plundering of beats points towards Photek’s drum and bass days (or NIN’s “Perect Drug” if you rather); all suggesting if you’re going to use your influences you might as well emulate the best around. Phono has done just that, which in the big picture is pretty impressive, very listenable and far better than the majority of electronic releases these days.