Welcome to a new monthly Musos' Guide column, AlgoRhythms, coming to you on the last Friday of the month for the foreseeable future. I always wanted to do a column with this name, and my love for math-rock and terrible puns were the primary reasons. Sadly, I'm not quite as tapped into that genre as I once was, so the column will flow a little more freely in terms of genre, but will be undoubtedly math-tinged.
As our previous mainstay The Weekly Froth! has passed on, in homage to its dated titles I've opted to do the same, but with the number in hexadecimal for that wholly unnecessary numerical twist. Additionally, as they're certainly the band that's had the most influence on my music taste over the years, I've opted to include one Biffy Clyro track per month, with a focus on the bizarre so we can dig out those golden oldies. However, as it's unlikely all those tracks will be (legitimately) available on the internet, I'll just omit the player forever to avoid inconsistency.
But yes, that should be all the waffling and preface text out of the way, so let's get down to the music, shall we?
Biffy of the Month: 'With Aplomb'
Arguably my favourite track by arguably my favourite band, from undeniably my favourite record of theirs, The Vertigo of Bliss. This song is so good I once started a music blog named after it, but in all seriousness it's the sheer confusion of its composition that makes it so beautiful. The music is twisted and progressive, from those trite guitar and string melodies at the opening, to the sweeping drama of its most ferocious moments. Furthermore, the lyrics are apparently absolute nonsense but all the better for it, and whilst Simon Neil's lyricism has never won any accolades, "Kill your bizarre mindset, fuckhead / Soldered to a three-layered concrete brainwave castration" really hits the peak of bewilderment. With liberal doses of bizarre time signatures, this record was a stepping stone on the path to math-rock for high school me, and this song is a perfect place to kick off a new column.
1. tricot - 'Melon Soda'
Accelerating quickly from 2003 to the present day, tricot's aptly titled third record 3 was released on Big Scary Monsters this month, and is a taste of modern Japanese math-rock. With a visually confusing video (it appears to be simultaneously backwards and forwards), preceding single 'Melon Soda' twists and weaves with Ikkyu Nakajima's vocal. Angular bass and guitar melodies dance a merry dance from the outset to an abrupt ending, with the whole track striking a pleasant tone at an enjoyable and leisurely pace.
2. Minus the Bear - 'What About The Boat?'
Staying in 2017 and Minus the Bear have recently released their first record in five years. The preceding record was actually released on Big Scary Monsters, but it was 2002's Highly Refined Pirates that really spoke to me in terms of that math-rock beauty. Taken from VOIDS (released 3rd March by Suicide Squeeze), 'What About The Boat?' is a dreamy number which saunters along for the majority of its duration, before droning into some amount of excitable discord before fading to a close.
3. Tall Ships - 'Petrichor'
Taken from what is definitely my album of the year so far, their second Impressions, Tall Ships' 'Petrichor' is an emotive indie rock anthem. The album overall is filled with tales of loss and woe, and this track is no different with its powerful dynamics and yearning lyrics. Evolving from the quirky math-rock sounds of their EPs, the band now create soaring rock landscapes such as this, which peaks with those chorus guitars and troughs with an endearing closing passage.
4. The Darien Venture - 'Thinks / Thoks'
Speaking of loss, let's take a second to consider the loss of math-pop maestros The Darien Venture. Taken from their final mini-album / EP A Kite, A Key and A Storm, 'Thinks / Thoks' lays on the math-rock intricacy from the outset, and providing that in conjunction with some hair-raising vocal harmonies is the flavour that this band did best, and it's a shame they're gone. However, that whole release is available on a "name your price" basis, which means £0 if you want, get on it.
5. Now, Now - 'SGL'
On the flip side of bands that are never coming back is Now, Now who just unveiled new track 'SGL' (I believe it stands for "shotgun lover"), their first since 2012's album Threads. That record was the one that turned me onto the band, and it's enticing and emotive mix of guitars and electronic elements instantly won we over. 'SGL' is very much in the same vein, with the strummed chord opening to the synth-tinges, but it's therefore equally enjoyable, even if they did shed a member along the way.
6. Envy On The Coast - 'Virginia Girls'
To finish on another band back from the depths, Envy on the Coast recently announced a new EP Rituals ahead of some reunion shows. 'Virginia Girls' from that release channels the same rock swagger as 2010's Lowcountry and less of the indie leanings of Lucy Gray which came before. Instruments harness that attitude and the band's renewed confidence on this track, and it's an interesting teaser for the revival of the outfit, who have coincidentally also lost some members since we last saw them.
That's all for this month's musical offloading, but check back on 30th June for some more math-laced musical musings. In the meantime, if you happen to have any musical or journalistic suggestions for the future of AlgoRhythms, please shoot them my way, probably best to go through Twitter (@kj_mccormick) for that.