METZ – METZ II

Excitement used to be the true currency of rock and roll. The raw-boned thrill of music played at volume with nothing held back;  Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Velvet Underground,  the Sex Pistols, Nirvana; musicians who incited a primal, feral response from audiences. We are currently going through a particularly barren spell for Rock music. Some commentators have already pronounced it dead and buried. Others continue to wait, holding the view that these things go in cycles but twenty years have passed since that last truly exciting band to capture the public’s imagination had their day.  Nirvana were that band – since then Rock music has been in free-fall, the bland leading the bland. You don’t have to look very far to get a snapshot of where Rock music is at in 2015. Two of the biggest bands to emerge from this country in the last 10 years – The Script and Kodaline. Melodic, musical, technically accomplished, clean-cut, presentable. Nice. Zippo Rock. Perhaps if we look close enough we can trace the decline of Rock music back to the time when it began to elicit nothing more than a desire to whip out a lighter and hold it high in the air. Canadian trio METZ don’t do Zippo rock. They don’t sound nice or presentable. But they are exciting. In fact, they pack more excitement in the first sixty seconds of opening track ‘Acetate’ than most bands manage in a lifetime. They make a furious, taut and explosive noise that hits you right in the gut. Is it Punk? Perhaps, but there is a little more to them than that. The guitars squall and buzz, with a little hint of early Sonic Youth. The Nirvana comparison is not without some foundation...

Mew: + –

Some twenty one years after they formed in Copenhagen, indie Rock quartet Mew remain one of the music scene’s best kept secrets. Feted in their homeland, they continue to enjoy relatively modest success throughout the rest of Europe and the US despite releasing a string of consistently superb albums since their inception. They do have a fervently devoted cult following and it’s evident why once you get to see this band in the flesh – their live concert in the Academy in Dublin 2009 is still one of the best shows I have seen in the last decade, an ambitious mix of high tech visuals and epically bombastic guitar anthems. They are not a band that play the corporate Rock game, eschewing the easy path to success to follow their own strangely, beautiful star. They have all the tools to be a massive arena rock act, but they are too quirkily cryptic, a little too otherworldly to meet the expectations of the masses. That said, sixth album + – (another one of their eccentricities, the enigmatic album title) edges them a little closer to mass acceptance.  It’s an album that mixes Prog Rock arrangements with their ear for deceptively addictive hooks and melodies to deliver their most mainstream sounding album to date. This is the acceptable face of grandiose Rock; accented power chords, drum fills last heard on a seventies era Yes record and singer Jonas Bjerre’s ethereal falsetto combining to make a deeply unfashionable but wholly satisfying noise. ‘Satellites’ opens the album in panoramic fashion – widescreen synths give way to big hair guitar guitars and we are off and running. Bjerre manages to make the vaguely bitter lyrics sound impossibly sweet. ‘Witness’ keeps things on the up and up, indie guitar rock with that special Mew twist.  ‘The...

Cactus World News: Frank Kearns talks about new album ‘Found’...

Cactus World News emerged in 1984 as the Irish band most likely to follow U2 on the road to international success. They had all the right connections but more importantly, had the songs and the sound that made them ideal candidates for graduating to the major leagues. Debut single ‘The Bridge’ was an impressive opening shot – stirring, anthemic guitar rock and debut album ‘Urban Beaches’ served only to cement the impression that CWN were a band ready to make a big leap forward. Released on MCA Records, the album sold well, but a change in label personnel led to a familiar story – the band didn’t find favour with the new regime and follow up album ‘No Shelter’ sat gathering dust before being released many years after it was recorded. Now, some 25 years after their last release, the band have compiled a collection of rare and unreleased tracks, another chapter to the CWN story that is sure to satisfy their loyal fan base. Guitarist Frank Kearns took the time to talk to us about the band, their history and the upcoming release of ‘Found’ following a pledgemusic campaign.

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love...

Last year’s release of the excellent seven album retrospective ‘Start Together’ signalled the end of a lengthy hiatus for influential Washington punk rock outfit Sleater-Kinney. It also served as a timely reminder of just how vacuous and sterile Rock music has become. Set against many of today’s leading lights on the alternative Rock scene, Sleater-Kinney’s early musical output positively burns with an incandescent vitality and rage. Albums like Call the Doctor (1996) and Dig Me Out (1997) were edgy affairs, bristling with a raw energy that betrayed the bands Washington punk rock roots. They quickly became associated with the riot grlll movement, embracing the left wing, feminist ideology that was at the heart of that scene. While this was, and still is a huge part of the bands identity, it can often overshadow one simple and unassailable truth: Sleater – Kinney are a truly great rock band and eight album No Cities To Love delivers ample evidence that this is still the case, some ten years after the release of their last album. The chemistry between Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss has always been central to their greatness – it is there in abundance on No Cities Left, the muscular riffing and dual, intertwining vocals on tracks like ‘Fangless’ and ‘Surface Envy’, something of a trademark of the band. Weiss contributes handsomely to the bands sound – her lithe, explosive drumming underpinning everything that is great about these songs. ‘ No Cities To Love’ is exuberantly melodic while ‘ A New Wave’ surprises with its almost jaunty chorus. It’s an album that is not as overtly political as some of their earlier releases; with the exception of opening track ‘Price Tag’, Sleater-Kinney steer a less confrontational course, but the lyrics still retain a sharpness, a cutting...

Wilco – Whats Your 20? Essential Tracks 1994 -2014...

A comprehensive, near perfect compilation of some of the best songs from the back catalogue of one of America’s finest bands.

Women’s Christmas – Too Rich For Our Blood...

Mere babies on the Irish music scene, Women’s Christmas impress with debut album Too Rich for Our Blood, a riotous blast of indie guitar noise. Formed in 2013, and comprising of members of Villagers, Jogging and No Monster Club, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is some throwaway side project but on the evidence of this thrillingly fresh debut, this is very much a band in their own right. A song like ‘Chalklines’ is typical of the kind of fare to be expected on this twelve track debut; there are passing nods to the Wedding Present, Wolf Parade and the Replacements but it’s all bundled up in one exuberantly cacophonous package. Women’s Christmas offer further compelling proof that right now, the Irish music scene is as richly diverse and exciting as it has ever been. Well worth your full attention. (3.5 / 5) Too Rich For Our Blood by Women’s Christmas...

The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader...

Since their formation in 2011, English three piece The Wytches have been described as many things. They have been labelled as psych rock, doom surf, goth punk and any other colourful combination of genres you care to splice together. But really, at heart, the Wytches are a proper garage band in the traditional sense. Debut album Annabel Dream Reader reeks of the kind of energy created when a group of teenagers with that newly awakened passion for music get together and cut loose, no holds barred. It is gut instinct rock music, conceived from that initial love affair with loud guitars and visceral noise. Reputedly recorded over just two days on an eight track recorder, it has that raw immediacy that suggests these songs were honed long before the record button was pressed. And it is all the better for it – the Wytches make a hugely impressive racket, a dark and youthful explosion of energy that sustains the thrills right across the thirteen tracks of this infectious debut album. The surf rock comparisons are not without some foundation – it’s there in the Tarantino-esque twang of the lead guitar lines – but this is more Graveyard Girls than California Girls as the Wytches scuzz things up with buckets of distortion and Cobain- like screams. ‘Digsaw’ drops us right into ear bleeding territory, alternating between sinuous guitar lines and blasts of grunge noise. ‘Grave Dweller’ features squealing feedback and an obvious nod to influences like the Pixies and Nirvana, but there is something very English in their sound, with echoes of the dark psychedelia of Syd Barrett on ‘Track 13’ and the rousing ‘Crying Clown’.  ‘Wire Frame Mattress’ is as obliquely sinister as its title suggests while ‘Beehive Clown’ could be the White Stripes...

Catfish And The Bottlemen – The Balcony...

Debut review of a debut album for a promising young writer: Stephen Rubbathan shares his thoughts on The Balcony by Welsh indie outfit Catfish And The Bottlemen.

Dry The River -Alarms in the Heart...

Dry the River deliver an album of impressive, soaring arena rock.

The Antlers – Familiars...

Third album Familiars from Brooklyn-based trio The Antlers lacks doesn’t quite have the same impact as their previous offerings.