SMS #4 | Between The Earth And The Trees

MERRICK

MERRICK’S TUSKBetween The Earth And The Trees

The British underground is ripe with a scene that encompasses a range of genres, and post-hardcore is a key example. Naturally, so many quality bands across the nation fall under the category but very few have pulled off a fresh take on the sound, and the Elephant Man-inspired guys in Merrick’s Tusk have succeeded in doing just that.

After finalising the finest possible line-up and boasting a pair of celebrated EPs to their name already, the Nottingham quartet have gone all in to produce a master work with their highly awaited debut full-length album – Between The Earth And The Trees.

They make an immediate impact within the opening moments of the forceful Reform, and from there, they ride that red-hot wave with the foot kept firmly on the gas right through to the finish line, with little in the way of negative elements.

We get a variety of tasty, high-octane tracks to get listeners riled up and in a buzz with a stimulating energy ignited by cracking riffs and thumping rhythms bolstered by sturdy bass threads and emphatic drum shots; top highlights in that regard including Blueprint, At Your Best, and the expertly positioned back-to-back pairing of Turn Out The Lights and Hold The Wave.

But not only do we get that alongside some memorable, fervent choruses, but we are also treated to some excellent writing that is both creative and compelling, leaving a powerhouse impression in its wake when delivered through the intensely poignant vocals, with only just some of the noteworthy choices being the likes of The Ache, Persist and Never Enough.

Resolutely grabbing our attention on the first listen and cementing our appreciation on the second, Between The Earth And The Trees is a simply incredible record, and the more we experience it, the more we continue to pick out the little details which add to a whole, tightly-produced package with a tonne of effort behind it all that confirms Merrick’s Tusk are in fact the real deal.

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skauss

SKAUSSWhoami

Little is known about the electronic artist named Skauss. We do know this, though: he’s holed up somewhere in London, he dons a fancy mask, and he recently put out his debut album – Whoami – which in turn has led to the fact that he’s damn good at what he does.

From bell to bell, he offers us a line of tracks with such a diversity between them, with two or more rarely sounding alike, although they tend to utilise similar qualities which help define each of them.

For example, Father, Free At Last and the title number take advantage of some fine harmonies to help accentuate the ambience and breathe added life to them. The likes of Lie, Rule The Skies and Worning have a smooth, chilled out looseness to them that make for pleasant lo-fi listening, whereas Forever Young and Alive are pretty catchy, enjoyable bangers.

Killer Crow is probably the most addictive of the lot, rocking a pumping beat and a featuring a brief, blistering furry, but the stand out piece has to be Sad Disco, which combines all the aforementioned aspects to make for the record’s essential anthem that ticks every box to an outstanding degree.

If it wasn’t obvious enough already, the variety is ripe here, with songs for all kinds of moods and all kinds of scenarios, but regardless of the situation, they all share a common high standard that is conspicuous throughout.

Whoami is a must-have album for electronic enthusiasts, who will not find it hard at all to get hooked by Skauss’ supreme-level work here.

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jo mango

JO MANGO & FRIENDSSystem Hold

Music is such a broad form of art that can be applied to a sheer variety of media, but it has to be said, being utilised as a soundtrack for a criminologist’s book is an intriguing first for us.

But that’s exactly what happened when the distinguished Professor Fergus McNeil asked that of Glasgow musician Jo Mango for his latest work, so teaming up with her band of fellow musicians, the final outcome of that is the System Hold EP.

Kicking it off is Depth, which is defined by a delicately haunting atmosphere, and at the forefront is Jo’s enchanting voice, who uses it well to pull in the listener and envelop them within the subject matters that the lyrics touch upon. On that note, the writing is quite interesting, as it focuses on the effects of supervision within the justice system, and through these tunes, those of us uninformed on the topic can get an education of sorts on such situations.

Next up is the chief single Weight, which is more vibrant and melodic in style, mainly during the chorus, but still takes time to immerse in softer sequences. Tightness returns to a low-key format which begins on a gentle note and gradually grows into something even more hypnotic and almost incomprehensive, but in a good way, and following suit to finish it off is Suspension, trickled with glitchy electronic bites that form a simple yet divine beat.

Created on the heels of a compelling basis, this is a splendid little record from Jo Mango and company with a cool experimental essence to it that makes it just as absorbing as it is informative.

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yuccaking

YUCCA KINGPopcorn, But Also House Fire

When in the midst of a scene as bloated and extensive as that of New York’s, it goes without saying that striving to stand out from the crowd is a tough challenge, but Yucca King have done so for us, as demonstrated in their sophomore record – Popcorn, But Also House Fire.

They succeed on two fronts. The first is in the general sound itself, which is mightily infectious. The riffs are quite stylish, the work on the bass guitar is particularly juicy with funky tones belted out, left right and centre, and that is complimented nicely by the tight drumming.

Greg is remarkable on the mic, as he has this quirkiness in his demeanour, yet is still able to air the seriousness of the themes that the group delve into, which is the other area that is tackled very well. The writing is simply outstanding, easily among the best we’ve encountered in recent memory, covering a range of topics that will hit close to home for many, from mental health to current social matters.

Given our own personal events that we’ve endured, we can vouch that the opener Panic Attack #2 is proficiently handled in putting you into the shoes of somebody suffering such an ordeal, Don’t Wanna Be Alone is a great reflection of what it’s like to be stuck under the weight of depression, and the politically-charged World Keep Turning rages with an intensely passionate vehemence behind it.

The songs keep you locked in this unsettled mood where you are forced to confront the concerns that they shine the spotlight on, and the closing title number makes for an insecure ending that finishes things off on a fittingly ambiguous note.

Yucca King’s second album has taken us aback, coming equipped with a batch of tracks that are not only entertainingly catchy on the surface, but are incredibly striking from a lyrical standpoint, in the process making a staggering impact that won’t have us forgetting this anytime soon.

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goatboy

THE GOATBOYLong Live The Goatboy

Last year, we came across the humble Perth grunge rock quartet The Goatboy and their debut EP – It’s Not Regret, It’s Worse Than That. We found it to be awfully good, and now they are back for seconds with the follow-up – Long Live The Goatboy.

Spread out between the numbers is this stirring intensity that is constantly in-your-face and keeping a hold of your attention, only getting better as they move along; Julie Anne and The Drumchapel Turnaround especially packing a stiff punch with their punky undercurrents.

The vocals are in fine raw form, the dual guitars and stamping rhythm sections create a dynamic energy, and the choruses are often top notch.

The four accomplish here exactly what we expect from a sequel: outdo their previous effort. Long Live The Goatboy is a great record featuring a cracking set of tracks that never get old, no matter how many times we indulge in them, and also prove that these guys might have even better potential than we originally thought.

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