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Alternative Three - June #1

  • Written by  Steven Dinnie
  • Media

Scientists have determined that the Earth’s surface will not be able to support human life much longer, due to pollution and overpopulation. In 1957, Dr Carl Garstein proposed three alternative solutions. The first was a drastic reduction of the human population on Earth. The second, the construction of vast underground shelters. Alternative three?

This column is dedicated in full to Peter Kemp, who sadly passed away on the 20th of May. We were all grateful to receive his honesty and insight of criticism, his beautiful passion for music and his boundless energy which several times revitalised me after one too many tedious and terrible records. Whenever a creative dies, I redouble my gladness that they don’t take their work with them. I’m sure there’s plentiful coffee and cigarettes where you are now Peter. Send word.

A compilation album, of 75 stonking modern rock tracks much loved by Peter has been put together to help causes close to his heart. It’s a fiver, and you’re making the world better, and you’re getting a ten-cent tour of the last few years of rock and roll. Dig in.

Well rubble me like a fifth century stone Buddha; when I started this column I figured there’d be no more than three album's worth of great alternative music coming out every month, and though I’ve consistently broken that rule, this month the album releases have been on steroids. There are oodles of great tracks to stream and enjoy from pretty much every corner of the musical kingdom. Seventies style pre-hip hop throwback? We got ‘em. Bizarre Russian string quartet? Check. The usual grab bag of hardcore, death, black and thrash metal from around the world? Bonged out riffs? If you like sounds, spring 2014 has been a great time; old friends, new friends, and new friends to the world. So affix some sturdy headgear and prepare to have your mind blown.

If you want some stoned-out riffs heavier than the Stonehenge triptychs then I’ve got a couple of great bands for you. Pleasant Valley drop Spiritus for free through their Bandcamp. While it might not revolutionise your life, drop it into a barbeque playlist or a roadtrip soundtrack this summer and you’ll have friends saying “who is this, it’s goood”. Speedy stoner grooves of the sort Kyuss might have made on a Sunday morning. I don’t always listen to Fu Manchu but when I do, my neighbours do as well. The electric gnat buzz guitar is back for the grooviest, if not the heaviest band, in the world. Surfing summer drums and cool desert winters bounce around in their first album in five years; Gigantoid is streaming on soundcloud right the eff now, and you should be drinking it in; also featuring the best album artwork for years. Short sharp shocks to be had with covers now, Heliotropes use their well-honed ghostly poppy doom to resurrect dreams of Nine Inch Nails with ‘March Of The Pigs’, (why are they not the most popular band in NYC?) while a night in a haunted beach hut caused Brown Out to dangerously metamorphose into Brown Sabbath, with the aid of Black Angels front man Alex Maas in sterling form to deliver a soon-to-be-legendary coffin-dusty molasses-smooth version of ‘Hand Of Doom’. Fans of The Heavy Company and Man’s Gin that we’ve previously featured will be overjoyed that more Psilocybin country music is out, from Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music is spectacularly good, and you’ll realise how acidic and trippy that electric country guitar sound really is. Anyone with the stones to open a track with the line “woke up today, decided to kill my ego/it never done me no good no how” deserves serious attention. Double doom from Poland, from their own Pentagram, the unimaginatively titled but hyperskilled Dopelord with Black Arts, Riff Worship & Weed Cult. Album art reminiscent of Baroness and grooves reminiscent of Electric Wizard, especially in barnstorming ‘Preacher Electrick’. Albums of this sort are only as good as their riffs, so Dopelord get a big thumbs up. Sunnata, and their debut Climbing The Colossus are a different beast, violent and aggressive and present, much more reminiscent of Suma or A Very Old Ghost Behind The Farm. Speaking of Spanish peddlers of stoner-cum-sludge-cum-doom-cum-thrash-black metal, they’ve got a new record out! Called La Came Crude and consisting of two impenetrable tracks fifteen and thirty minutes long respectively. It’s free to listen on their Bandcamp, see what you can make of it. I only just noticed that the wintery vibes, paper sets, K-J-Pop cutesiness and crushing riffage of Canada’s singular and bizarre Yamantaka//Sonic Titan’s second album, UZU is available on Bandcamp, enjoy. One quarter of eight-piece scuzz ‘rocktopus’ Hey Colossus becomes two thirds of new grimy pub-rock outfit Henry Blacker, their debut, Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings is great greasy fun, for fans of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell and other such testosterone-boosting guitar-driven nonsense. Bongripper are back with a new track from their upcoming album - ‘Endless’ is now on soundcloud from the upcoming album Miserable and it’s sounding Sleepy sweet with trademark black tar riffs. Oh and you’ve all heard the new Swans yeah? Good.

I’ve never recommended much classical because I’m a twentysomething media prick and classical music is all so much white noise, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least give the time of day to String Quartet by Vyacheslav Guyvoronsky. The heights and drops reached across the elongated songs are really quite wonderful. Perhaps light the fireplace and dig into that T.S. Elliot you bought to impress a girl that one time. Suitably classed-up, you’d do well to dip into the psychedelic Hawkwindyness of NOPE’s Walker, forty-sum minutes of blissful slow-paced drifting psych, because The Cosmic Dead haven’t brought out an album this month. Apollo Brown’s Thirty Eight streams out of a thousand cramped and sweltering Detroit tenements, ringing down the fire escapes and across the bonnets of the dealers’ cars. It rings in the wet washing, in the dark of the night and the new light of the morning. It’s calm and collected and feels like a kind of revolution. Immerse yourself in it like a warm bath or a people’s protest. For years Agalloch were the go-to band whenever anyone insisted heavy metal was ‘just nosie’; 2011’s Marrow Of The Spirit was something of a watershed moment, and I’ve even done academic presentations about the record, its perfectly balanced use of light and dark were a revelation, and now their new record The Serpent And The Sphere is out and it’s… not as good as Marrow, but what is? It feels less immediately weighty and the production makes everything feel more syrupy and less significant. Looking for some glacial funereal doom to take away that pesky cheerful feeling and feel like you’re a planet sinking into lava? Try Crashing Diseases And Incurable Airplanes by the very protesty-sounding USA Out Of Vietnam; electric, visceral, vital, important, and crushing; a must! Lastly dip into the world of William Ryan Fitch’s Leave Me Like You Found Me, serpentine laid-back psyche-prog-dronisms recall John McLaughlin’s pre-Mahavishnu Orchestra post-Black Sabbath Devotion LP (which if you haven’t heard you should definitely catch up with).

If you need workout music, you could do worse than Thisclose, who have just dropped One Foot In The Grave; uniquely unhinged British hardcore, if you’re at all a fan, you should check them out. If that’s yer bag, totally free is Teef’s Demo, slightly less manic, but only slightly. Indications are good that the pummelling death metal coming out of Cannabis Corpse is continuing on their new album, with the release of ‘Zero Weed Tolerance’. Some Glasgow-based weirdness from Thin Privilege, who continue the tradition of nutbar bands from Scotland’s second city with their assured and controlled debut full of noisy and bizarre rock and roll. The side benefit of Doom being back together is that they’re releasing onto bandcamp all their side-cuts from the good ole’ days; one of which is the Doomed Again record, which is their 38 Counts Of Battery, a bunch of side-stuff and unreleased stuff and compilation tracks for completionists and Doom fans, which you should all be. Their proper return, Corrupt Fucking System is also still there. That Agalloch record a bit too civilised and pretentious for modern black metal fans? Seek out Cultfinder, who have no pretentions at all, just riffs. You could also finish your month raw and sweaty with Trap Them’s 45rpm-played at 33 single ‘Salted Crypts’; they’ve been a force in extreme metal as long as I’ve been writing about it and are still one of the most imaginative and exciting acts around, this new single is different and satisfying. Severed fingers crossed for the album.

Explosively good month though it’s been, what did I miss? There must be something? Why not tell me in comments or on twitter like you always bloody do. Most of the releases mentioned above can be checked out beneath these words.

Act now and you too could regret following me on twitter @stevendinnie

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