Review: Fight by Sœur

Fight by SœurWhen we first heard “Track Back”, from the Bristol trio Sœur, we were intrigued at how different their sound is, at least compared to our expectations. They’re loud, but not really; but there isn’t much breathing space, either. It’s relentless, but very subtly. Their new EP Fight runs at sixteen minutes, which means you still can’t quite get the full extent of the band’s sound, but already you’re playing at two faces: the dueling nature of “Track Back” and “Fight”, again courtesy of co-vocalists Anya Pulver and Tina Maynard pretty much playing tug-of-war with each other, and the relatively more contemplative nature of “Quiet It” and “Whole Me”. A part of me thinks the EP somewhat fails to capture the magic of that first track we heard, but as a taster, it’s tantalizing. I just know there is more out there, and who knows what we might have if they have a bigger canvas to play with? [NB]3/5

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Review: Bought to Rot by Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers

Bought to Rot by Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring MothersIt’s an interesting junction for Laura Jane Grace. Years after she publicly announced she was transitioning, she became one of the early proponents of this conversation about trans people in this society, juggling many projects about it while still acting as frontwoman for Against Me! As such there really hasn’t been a record where Laura Jane is just Laura Jane, which brings us to her side project. Bought to Rot lacks the urgency her records with Against Me! have – it’s not as politically charged, nor is it informed by her getting to grips with her gender – but it does have her wit. That quality’s best captured by “I Hate Chicago”, a track which initially sticks out because of how mean it potentially is, until it swerves into different territory with a single line: “this is actually just another divorce song.” There’s lots of breathing space in Bought to Rot, which lends the record a welcoming feel, although you can’t help but think there’s got to be more than this. The album feels tentative, like it’s holding back. This is Laura Jane Grace; I’ve heard better. But then this is a new project, and this all needs some time to feel its way through. Surprisingly, I have high hopes. And at least this is still a fun listen. [NB]3/5

Review: Simulation Theory by Muse

Simulation Theory by MuseMuse have certainly not been a conventional band, but it says something that, after their last three records being increasingly bombastic concept pieces, them reverting to something more conventional for their latest release leaves a sigh of relief. But then, Simulation Theory demonstrates just how much the trio have painted themselves into a corner. Yes, there’s still a loose theme of technological dystopia running through this album, but this time they decided to produce the record as a collection of individual songs rather than as a whole album. That’s led to some radio-friendly pieces, and the songs still have a punch to them. But maybe we’ve gotten too used to their recent recipe that this “original recipe” Muse leaves us wanting. This album clearly riffs on the 80s, and particularly the 80s vision of dystopia – all neon glitter and a bit of boom – and while it’s all a nice change of pace, it’s something we’ve heard from a lot of other bands before. Am I (gasp) expecting Muse to be more ridiculous and over-the-top on this record? Maybe. Is Simulation Theory a disappointment? Not either. But, you know, there’s this sense of adventure that’s missing. [NB]3/5

Things without words #30: Now we know the reason behind the melting

 

“Flash Frame” by Kaos Protokoll | Earlier this year I wrote about Swiss jazz band Kaos Protokoll, and went on about how it feels like I’m melting when I listened to them. Well, there’s more of that now, with the release of new album Everyone Nowhere tomorrow. “New Chapter”, the previous track we’ve written about, is there, but the shareable now is opening track “Flash Frame”, which puts the record – described as “a scathing assessment of where we ended up, not only as a culture, but also as a species” – in perspective. It still melts, sure, but there’s this build-up in this track that swells, and swells – but then it makes sense when you listen to the record in whole, where the melting isn’t so much reminiscent of the heat but now an indictment into how, um, spineless we can be. But then, I can be weird when interpreting Swiss post-jazz bands. It reads like a high school report, but by the end of the record you know where Kaos Protokoll stands, or at least you have an idea. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“They don’t care who’s innocent.”

“Why Don’t You Kill Us All?” by GDJYB | Despite the fact that I have posters of Clockenflap on this blog’s header I haven’t really thought of writing about the acts that visit Hong Kong this time of the year for the annual music festival. Except for this year, because (1) I was just in Hong Kong, and I will be back next week; and (2) I have been reading about this band more than the other HK bands on the line-up this year in the lead-up. Or perhaps it’s because I’m very sure I’ve read about four-piece GDJYB from somewhere before. (I think it’s you, Bandwagon.) Anyway, I’ve rediscovered the group while flicking through the Cathay Pacific inflight magazine last week (speaking of, have you seen Emmy the Great’s essay featuring yours truly?) where they talked about why their (surprisingly contemplative) songs are in a slower tempo than their usual descriptors imply: “Living in this rushed city can be tough.” True. I mean, I’ve known this for a while, having visited the city five times in the past five years, but it only hit home last week, when Shalla and I tried to eat at a noodle shop and felt we were being really slow as a woman took just 15 minutes to finish her bowl. But then, I was enjoying the beef offal… [NB]