I swear to you this time, I’ve been a bit more honest with the title and stuck to it for the article. There’s not a whole lot I need to say here, because the title says it all for me; another collection of bands/artists/whatever that I really enjoy myself and feel are worth a little bit of time in your ear canals. Whether they’re new, up and coming, unknown, underground, old, defunct or obvious doesn’t matter here, I’m just sharing.
Give ‘em a listen. There’s a chance you’ll want to keep listening. And remember to check out our first 5 Things You Should Be Listening To Right Now before reading.
In the aftermath of the breakup of experimental hardcore/post-hardcore band Mahumodo, back in 2003, founding member Mehdi Safa and drummer Tom Harriman weren’t going to let that stop them. So pinching the title of one Mahumodo EP (Shels) and the * from another (*Waves), the pair started piecing together their next project, one called *shels. If you hadn’t worked that out already.
With this new project the pair have expanded on their previous band’s experimental side and instigated an open door policy to the bands line up. In doing so they have created an ambitious and vast soundscape that they work within, and have during their time had work alongside them a number of players from some of the more important bands in the British underground music scene.
This has resulted in two EPs and two seminal albums that encapsulate almost orchestral film score arrangements of the post-rock, progressive and metal genres. Their sophomore album Plains of the Purple Buffalo is an instant classic.
God Is An Astronaut
“Everything is true. God’s an astronaut. Oz is over the rainbow, and Midian is where the monsters live.”
So goes the quote from Clive Barker’s ‘90s fantasy horror film Nightbreed, and so from it comes the name for this music collective. Whilst they might not have a lot in common with the hidden mutant community of that film, they do however have a lot in common with the small part they pilfered, because God Is An Astronaut certainly sound like their name.
Dealing in their own special brand of instrumental space rock that takes in the expansive melodies of post-rock and the hypnotic rhythms of electronica and krautrock, their songs are certainly akin to floating somewhere between Heaven and the stratosphere. In their tenth year there’s a back catalogue worth exploring, spacesuit or not.
hip hop/alternative rap
One of the several internal partnerships that work within the confines of the Odd Future collective, MellowHype is the teaming of rapper Hodgy Beats and producer (occasional rapper) Left Brain. Outside OFWGKTA they’ve released two studio albums under modus operandi MellowHype, the first YelloWhite came in 2010 and met kind of muted critical response garnering average to positive reviews.
However, later that year they quickly followed it up with their second album BlackenedWhite which met a much better response, getting consistently positive reviews across the board, enough to get a re-release last year. This year will see them release Numbers, their third album and given the quality on display with their sophomore and even Hodgy Beats brilliant Untitled EP you can expect big things from both it and them, considered to be the most accessible output of OF’s sideprojects.
On top of that there’s the teaming up with fellow OFer, regular MellowHype guest spotter and extensive weed smoker Domo Genesis due a release this year as MellowHigh, prolific ain’t the word.
underground rap/hip hop
Sporting a bigger name than your own body of work is either hype or testament to that body of work attached to your name. In the case of A$AP Rocky it’s the latter. Having dropped his debut mixtape last year in the form of LiveLoveA$AP, he was soon met with critical acclaim and a spread of his reputation like wildfire.
Riding in on the wave created by that mixtape, this year sees him release his debut album proper in the form of LongLiveA$AP alongside a collaborative album with ASAP Mob. Given the impact that mixtape had last year, two releases this year should see him blown fully overground, no doubt ringing the right producers again to underpin his druggy drawl with thick intoxicated beats and drawn out dazed synths.
noise punk/noise rock/noise noise
There’s noise rock, and then there’s just plain noise. White Suns fall into the latter category. Now, to many that may sound like an insult, however in this case, and to White Suns, it certainly isn’t. Case in point being with a lot noise rock or noise punk bands as noisy as things get, there is still a basis or a structure spawned from that original genre; rock/punk/etc. White Suns though are not using their instruments to play riffs or traditionally melodies or even notes really.
No, what they are instead using their instruments, and I’d have to imagine an artillery of effects pedals, for is acting as catalysts for the endless array of textures and sounds that can sonically be made with them, no matter how harsh they may be. So instead of ‘songs’ what you get is a volatile, visceral, intense, abrasive, pleasurably painful orchestration of feedback, drones, fuzz, distortion, piercing pitches and rumbling lows, all punctuated by frenetic drums and screamed vocals.
For a three piece, based around guitars and drums, it’s almost astonishing the noises they’re capable of making.
progressive house/experimental techno/ambient
Were you to take the ‘what could have been’ of dubstep before excessive wubs and focus on drops took place, run it by progressive house, some 2 step, a little bit of garage, Detroit techno, ambient and a multitude of other things splashed here and there. The final outcome might be something like Actress.
Alias of producer Darren Cunningham, Actress has been putting out material for a couple of years now including debut album Hazyville, sophomore effort Splazsh and this year’s third in line R.I.P. In that time he has taken a variety of elements, styles and sounds of electronic and dance genres and combined in a way not aimed at filling floors.
Instead he has focussed in on creating textures, atmospheres and rhythms that don’t rise and fall and in some ways don’t seem to know themselves; instead expanding and evolving as they go. Taking popular genres extrovert tendencies and making them introverted and contemplative.
Ok. I’ll admit it, I’m a big enough man to do so. I lied. Again. I know. You’re disappointed. Hear me out though, because I haven’t lied to everyone, just you. This next one is just between me and you, consider it a bonus because I like you so much. This isn’t for those other guys and girls, just you. It’s a special gift, with love, from me, to you.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce my departure from Gallows. It seems that Gallows have hit a crossroads in our writing process and unfortunately myself and the rest of the boys have different ideas regarding the sound of Gallows going forward. Gallows have decided they are going to continue on without me and I wish the boys the best of luck for the future.”
That’s how Frank Carter announced his departure from Gallows and, what was assumed, his departure from music. He’d threatened it a couple of times previously, heading into full time tattooing in the like and with Gallows dropped 18 months after their £1,000,000 signing alongside tensions in the band between band and Frank. It seemed like Frank had, had his day.
However, that very same month a teaser track was let out (turning out to just be the band’s live intro music) that got tongues a wagging and fingers typing. Prior to his last ever performance with Gallows, already underway was the next band; a partnership with Jim Carroll called Pure Love.
The pair, it seemed, had both had quite enough of playing hardcore (Jim being formely of The Hope Conspiracy and Suicide File, alongside being associated with a multitude of other acts). This was confirmed by some bitter comments from the remaining Gallows members implying he had wanted to make the band sound like Queens of the Stone Age and go pop.
In the following months there was a lot of talk what Pure Love would be about and what it would sound like, but that was it, bar tiny hints at in soundbites there was nothing; no tracks, no videos, no leaks, no live shows, nothing. In the age where nothing is secret for much longer than it is conceived, Pure Love remained impressively a mystery.
That was, until this year. With this year came the real interviews with the pair, revealing the influences, the back story, the friendship and the musical partnership. So too came the Valentine’s Day gig, a month off for a lucky and industry insiders. No material from previous bands, just Pure Love, and it was a success. Though still nothing for the masses until that is, Bury My Bones.
Somewhere between The Gaslight Anthem, The Clash and The Darkness, it’s opening lyrics immediately clear up how Pure Love came about. Surprised? What will the album have in store?