Teeth of the Sea | Wraith | Album review

Review by: Graeme J Baty

Teeth of the Sea | Wraith

A new Teeth of the Sea album is a tantalising prospect under normal circumstances. This time around they’re pushing their creativity and refusing to be stuck in any pigeonholes with new album ‘Wraith’. Wraith is the follow up to 2015’s Highly Deadly Black Tarantula album, which in itself is a high benchmark, I was curious to find out if they could match that masterpiece or if they’d branch out on a tangent.

Wraith finds Teeth of the Sea exploring brass instrumentation, as briefly flirted with on their previous recordings. This time as a core part of the sound and the compositions are quite remarkable. The muted trumpet on lead track Hiraeth sounds both sleazy and gorgeous, reminiscent of early Tom Waits records. As a result, they manage to sound like a filthy 65daysofstatic. The brass accompanies and often leads the songs, it’s brilliantly done.

Visitor is a densely layered song, building over 8 minutes and sounds reminiscent of their previous record. Track 8 the delightfully titled; ‘Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World’ has this lovely John Carpenter-esque keyboard motif which loops soothingly to a climax and is for me an album highlight. Gladiators Ready, which brings the album to a close is an unexpected oddball Josh Wink party piece. Just when you’re expecting a quiet winddown to the record they hit you with a sucker punch!

Nine songs in 47 minutes. It’s an album of restless talent and creativity. It expands their sound and complements their back catalogue. A delightful album with electronic and industrial aspects it conjures visions of a colossal soundscape, feeling like a soundtrack to an imaginary dystopian movie. Wraith proves a great step forward for the talented trio. It may prove a step too far for some fans of their earlier work, but that’s their loss.

Wraith is out on 22nd February 2019 on Rocket Records. If (like me) you’re a sucker for a nice physical release they have some stunning colour vinyl versions available via their Bandcamp page! Featuring some equally delightful photography/artwork.

Teeth of the Sea | Wraith



Caspar Brötzmann Massaker – The Tribe and Black Axis (2019 re-issues)

Review by: Graeme J Baty

I make an effort to check out everything that comes in, I love hearing new music, even if it’s stuff that I probably won’t like. On some occasions, something comes in and I’m left wondering why the hell have I not heard this before? Those moments are golden! The first two albums by Caspar Brötzmann Massaker arrived and that golden moment happened. This immediately stood out and sounded fantastic to my ears. A few days later I’ve had the albums on repeat for some time.

Southern Lord Recordings are adding to their hugely impressive catalogue with reissues of the first album; The Tribe 1987 and second album Black Axis 1989. Southern Lord seem incapable of releasing a duff record. So I decided to give this a shot. Certainly ahead of their time in the 80s, perhaps the time is finally right for CBM to find a wider audience.

Title track The Tribe brings with it Birthday Party/Grinderman type vibes and some admirably outrageous riffs. Grinderman style noise meets a more restrained and focused Sonic Youth SYR noise. There’s real live performance sound to the mix, played at the appropriate volume it sounds like you’re in the room with the band.

The guitar sound sits quite high up in the mix, eclipsing the vocals. Instrumental but never minimal, the guitar takes the lead role. It shouldn’t work but it does and it does really well on Blechton. Caspar’s vocals channel sounds not to dissimilar to John Cale in tone, delivering simple vocal lines perfectly executed to accompany the music, yet not overshadow it.

Primal chants of Massaker juxtapose the seemingly untamed guitar wail. Clocking in at over 9 minutes, it takes a primitive Krautrock like rhythm and pummels you with it for the entire duration. Unlike the standard Krautrock, it doesn’t subdue or bore you with endless repetition, I find myself on the edge of my seat for the entire song enthralled in the noise. Quite an exciting journey.

Black Axis sees the band move into more avant-garde direction. Songs elongate into Swans like compositions clocking in at up to 16 minutes. Hunter sounds like the sonic equivalent of an anxiety attack with its finger tapping drilling into your skull.

The albums are enthralling and sometimes challenging. The Tribe acts as the perfect soft landing introduction to the music of Caspar. The avant-garde approach ramping up for the follow-up album Black Axis which is a trend that continues into following work. Two remarkable albums from a band that deserve much greater recognition than they have experienced.

The reissues are out now on Southern Lord Recordings.

JON SPENCER | Spencer Sings The Hits | ALBUM REVIEW

JON SPENCER | Spencer Sings The Hits | ALBUM REVIEW

Jon Spencer | Spencer Sings The Hits | Album review

Review by: Graeme J Baty

Jon Spencer | Spencer Sings The Hits | Album review

The Blues Explosion man makes his thrilling solo debut. Spencer Sings the Hits is a good old rock ‘n’ roll record, more of an amalgamation of styles showcased in his other work and bands. It’s got that unmistakable Jon Spencer sound and certainly wouldn’t feel out of place in the JSBX back catalogue.

A big movie soundtrack placement has opened a lot of new ears to the #1 band. I’ve been a fan since I was 16 years old when I first heard the scuzzy slice of perfection that is ‘Wail’, I’m not sure where I heard it, probably on a John Peel show. They may never have hit it huge, too good and too punk to be a commercial act but their output and legacy is a marvellous back catalogue. But it’s great to see them getting some attention and the time is right for this record. A big UK tour with the Melvins will surely help bring the songs to a wider audience.

One of the great things about a Spencer related release is the uncertainty of what you’ll hear. He’s a creative soul who could make banging on cardboard boxes sound utterly amazing, his impeccable showmanship ensures live shows are fantastic and I can proudly say Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is one of the best live bands I have ever seen, the Pixies used to hold that title (in my mind, there’s not an actual award for that I’m afraid). Got that instantly recognisable Spencer guitar tone.

‘Fake’ finds him commenting on the current climate of social media overload and overwhelming negativity of an overly hypercritical Trumpageddon world, that’s slowly crushing everyone. ‘Time 2 Be Bad’ is a standout track for me, with it’s Boss Hog groove and swagger. Spencer shouts “It’s a good time to be bad!”

‘Alien Humidity’ is another album highlight with its punk-blues vibe. The album closes on Cape. It’s a short record at 33 minutes, many albums these days feel bloated and padded to fill the sides but this is how rock ‘n’ roll should be, short, sweet and no bullshit. 12 magnificent songs that are a very welcome addition to my Spencer collection. I firmly believe this album ranks up there with the best of his work.

I really want to see Spencer in a Cape on the upcoming tour. I was already excited to see JS with the Melvins but on hearing this record, having a few days to digest it and replay it multiple times, I think I am now REALLY excited to hear these new songs in a live setting, as he boldly states He Got The Hits!

Spencer Sings The Hits is out on 2nd November 2018 on the perfect home for his music; garage rock haven In The Red Records.

RAT THE MAGNIFICENT | The Body As Pleasure | Album reaction

RAT THE MAGNIFICENT | The Body As Pleasure | Album reaction

Rat the Magnificent | The Body As Pleasure | Album reaction

First in a new series of reviews; I play the debut LP from Rat the Magnificent and give you my off the cuff reaction track by track! I’ve only heard one song (Olon) before venturing into this review and I really liked what I heard. So let’s give it a whirl!

Some background info I’ve been given; “The band is made up of members of Family Manderson, Sunshine Republic, KLLR, Hot Sauce Pony, Modern Men and Brenda. The trio’s cacophony of beguiling yet unnerving fuzz-laced experimental noise rock has earned the group a reputation as a must-see live act, having played with the likes of McLusky, IDLES and Adam Betts. Not least, they have also previously recorded with Steve Albini earning the rare would-be plaudits of “I’d have no problem with you being my house band.” Now with an EP and several singles to their name, Rat The Magnificent are set to release their debut LP, ‘The Body As Pleasure’. A collection of 10-tracks that fully encompass the raw, unhinged energy and dark melodic sensibilities that have garnered them much acclaim in the past.”

1) In The Middle. A single note riff with pleasing slow bend opens the album with a brilliant filthy bass tone providing a solid groove. Okay, already I’m really digging this, this is something special! The vocals fit nicely into the mix, cutting their way through the sludge. Halfway through first track and I’m blown away. This is ace. I was lulled into a false sense of simplicity, they take simple motifs on such an exhilarating intense journey. Superb opener leaving me quite excited to hear the rest I’m resisting going back and playing this song again, I must march on. What a start!

2). Marrtalon hits with a Krautrock doom style groove to it, big fat simple bass. Less is more! I think I could listen to that bass tone all day, so good! A minute and a half into it and big drone chords strike in as the track builds in tension and drama. 

3). Up the Street brings a big old blues riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an Oblivians album!. My head is bobbing along to this one, this is great then along comes a killer grunge-esque anti-guitar solo!

4). Where You Been Approaching the halfway point and this album is still throwing up surprises. Here’s a great little scuzzy mid-paced number. 

5). The For is a massive Curveball! A cheeky unexpected synth opens track 5; Taking the album into breather mode. The track builds into a high drama ballad and a huge wall of sound rattles my speaker monitors with shoegaze guitar. There’s a great use of dynamics on this record, the sound pulling and pummeling me in all directions.

6). The Parlour opens the second half of the album. Bringing in a lush jangly sound, leaving me full of anticipation, where is this going?! A lush fuzzy Arpeggio guitar awaits, which is trippy as hell. “When I am king, I’ll hide the corpses at your door” lyrics gives me a distinct Radiohead feel 

7). Olon brings another deep plodding baseline which hooks you into their world. It’s instantly enjoyable yet shows their unique character in the sound and bluesy undertones and Billy Corgan angst.

8). Ilsflat follows on in the same vein as Olon with a slab of spaced out Lift to Experience blues.

9). The vocals take on an almost Kate Bush tone for The Inevitable. They’ve found their groove for this side of the record, less sprawling and diverse but confident and engaging. 

10). Panarron closes the album. A beautiful and unexpected little piano-based lullaby type piece. Giving big Sparklehose and Tom Waits tinkling vibes.

It’s all over much too soon for my liking. An incredibly diverse record, packed with brilliant ideas and songs. The album was recorded over a 3 year period and it really shows. It’s a marvellous piece of work and that effort truly shines through. It’s a record where I am a bit perplexed and slightly overwhelmed, hence I’ve made lost of comparisons. It’s quite difficult to put into words from just one listen. This record demands to be played multiple times and I fully intend to do so!

For a trio their sound is impeccably balanced, they make the most of the sonic space, everything fits just right, with well-defined bass, solid drums and the vocals fit just right, sounding like a more aggressive but melodic Alec Ounsworth.

I NEED to see these live. The album is a treat for the ears from start to finish. In a sea of indie dredge, it’s refreshing to get something original and important.

Excuse me while I go play this one again! It’s quite the album. 10 songs of brilliance and varying styles. There’s sense of creatively and defiantly refusing to be pigeonholed. It’s a whole album of curveballs, just when you think you’d got them sussed they throw another style in. To put it bluntly, it’s bloody magnificent!