ASIAN DEATH CRUSTACEAN – Baikal
In discussing post-rock releases of 2020, London “ambient-jazz-metal” ensemble Asian Death Crustacean have come forth with what is in my mind, bar none, the best of the best in the form of Baikal.
The record is an awesome six-part saga that brings a hefty amount to the table, initially subtle and straight-forward, before unleashing into the heavier material that generates a sizable, kinetic energy which motivates you to bang your head and stamp your foot.
The elements that work are too many to count; unrelenting complex riffs, rigid, shaking basslines and manic flurries of drumming that, when combined, peak at these almighty high consisting of awesomely full-blown, eardrum-denting waves that are undeniably wicked and balls-to-the-wall.
But it’s not all in-your-face berserk, for over the course of the album, they also shift gears into these effectively milder sequences featuring string-like synths that linger in the air with a dreamlike aura, in time evolving into dark drones that are unsettling but just as mesmirising.
Blending the technical aptitude of The Physics House Band with the immense power of Toska, Baikal is quite the auditory spectacle that certifies the outfit to be more than an act with a blatant, eye-catching name, but a band who sure as hell mean business, conditioned to bring their A-game when called upon.
BE CHARLOTTE – Dreaming With The Lights Off
If you consider yourself a connoisseur of the hottest new music and you haven’t had even a speck of consideration for Dundee pop artist Be Charlotte, then it’s time to change that because, if the last few years weren’t already enough indication, we’re looking at the future of the Scottish industry in her, and her long-awaited debut EP – Dreaming With The Lights Off – is a handy starting point.
She delivers a firm selection of supreme pop anthems that come in various shapes and sizes, the majority of which are loud and proud tracks with an intoxicating vivid vibe that hit a peak in the outstanding choruses that you can’t help but dance to; Lights Off and Burning are good examples of that.
In other instances, such as Do Not Disturb and Brighter Without You, she goes in a more low-key, straight-forward direction with simpler instrumentals and real nice beats on the surface, meaning little distraction from the emotionally-packed, relatable lyrics that are in full view to hear.
Charlotte commands an authority with her amazing vocals, unbottling waves of passion into whatever she sings, being true and sincere as she goes and kicking any dishonesty right out of the door.
And above everything else, the writing is Charlotte’s ultimate strength; whatever it’d be recovering from mental damage, blocking out steered hate, or breaking away from negative folk in order to establish a much happier, more independent life for yourself.
I’ve been chomping at the bit for Charlotte to produce a record for the longest time, and she has delivered in a big way and then some, with Dreaming With The Lights Off undoubtedly going to go down as one of the essential Scottish EP’s of 2020.
Again, if you haven’t got your feet wet with her music already, then I implore you to get acquainted. On top of her fantastic talents, she has went above and beyond to promote better treatment for females in the industry, striving for equality and their voices to be heard.
Charlotte is more than a musician, she’s a leader and a game-changer who is positively turning the tide and evolving the world around her while she herself is destined for greater things; global pandemic and other constant obstacles be damned.
MOYKA – Spaces
Moyka, from mainland Europe’s most musically-bountiful country Norway, was a worthwhile discovery for me in 2019, with her Circles EP cracking last year’s top 100, and I now find myself gushing over her work again, and even more so, in her tremendous follow-up – Spaces.
She has this sensational voice that is fresh, incredibly broad and able to grab your attention within a snap, while her production is fantastic; her music compiling these catchy bopping beats, devilishly wonderful melodies and a far-reaching, ear-melting radiant sound generated throughout.
In particular, Backwards absolutely blew me sideways, being one of the most phenomenal pop singles I’ve tuned into as of late; the chorus at the centre of it being unbelievably infectious and addictive to an indescribable degree.
Also worth noting are the loving, wistful lyrics that define each of the songs, which have little issue making an imprint and leaving you smiling like a fool.
Moyka has upped her game in a massive way with a pitch-perfect record that deserves to be high up on the charts, because she is way too good to be hanging around in the underground leagues.
PAPER MILL – Past The West Way
In the aftermath of the Lower Than Atlantis split, former guitarist Ben Sansom has wasted little time in filing up a new project with Luke Sansom and Matt Rider, and they’ve smashed out the gates in a furious fashion with their debut EP – Past The West Way.
Matt’s dry, raspy vocals really stick out as iffy to begin with, but as they hit the chorus of Bruce, characterised by these blinding ensemble “ooh’s” mixed in, they’re quickly accustomed to and he really knocks it out the park.
Most of the tracks are dynamic and packing quite the whopping energy which satisfies with the thrills, also sporting great guitar work from Ben and surging rhythms led on by Luke.
In the midst of the full-frontal excitement lies some great quality writing that hits in the right spots, with several cases of feeling exactly where they were coming from, and you can especially thank Matt for his commitment on mic duties.
But it gets no better than Lock & Key, which is just so blunt and harrowing; the kind of song that transforms a record from a very good one to something outstanding, staying with you after the initial listen.
The aptly-titled lead single Black Mirror is a forceful cut in its own right, perfectly reflecting the absolute mess that society currently sits in nowadays and the urgent need to change the situation.
Given the talent at the helm here, this should come as no surprise, but Paper Mill’s first outing is a proper belter signalling the arrival of a mighty act with serious potential to break big real quick.
STONED IMMACULATE – Nah.
If you’re paying even the slightest minimum amount of attention to the Scottish scene, you’ll know that punk rock is ripe at the moment, but with so many acts, the majority tend to blend together and get lost in the shuffle. Luckily for Stoned Immaculate, that isn’t the case, as demonstrated per their Nah EP.
From the get-go, they launch into an array of swift livewires like Coming Through and Soap that establish this mad hot energy, with the pulse being driven and maintained by walloping rhythms that are catchy as hell.
Often they will proceed at smooth grooves before unleashing into these wildly infectious, off-the-bloody-chain explosions of noise, especially apparent in L’appel Du Vide. The guitars are on good form, the vocals are superb, donning an abiding crazed edge to them, and the writing is overall solid, with the focal points in that area being Ice Cream and Chin Up.
Nah is a cracker from top to bottom, loaded with plenty of elements across the board that keep it fresh and make it a memorable work worth spinning time and time again.
NEW GHOST – Future Is Dead
When presented with a supergroup compiling some really talented musicians from other well established acts, you’re bound to get something good, and their forthcoming release Future Is Dead is sure good.
The record is made up of three tracks, and it’s clear that the band do everything in their ability to make each stand out on their own individual legs, avoiding as much rehashing of the same elements as possible between them.
Your Reds forms a decent scope and ambience, progressing through these fantastic, technically impressive sections, while Fountain prioritises the very strong singing and writing which are backed by a powerful atmosphere.
And finally, the dynamically rushing Every River continuously ramps up the excitement, flowing in and out of several directions to make for a fresh, varied, knock-your-socks-experience.
New Ghost have come along once again and smashed it out the park with an EP that doesn’t waste a single second, implementing their joint skills and know-hows in each of the loaded and divergent numbers to produce results that effortlessly inspire and satisfy.
AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 3rd JULY!
SANE & LOWPASS LUKE – The Moving EP
A couple of months ago, I was introduced to The Moving EP created by the team of Sane and Lowpass Luke, and I personally found it to be one hell of an excellent work.
The first half is good enough as is, basically a sampler of sorts in terms of what Sane can provide, proving to be broad and assertive in both his lyrics and his delivery, and Luke’s sound has a diversity to it, tending to mix in a chilled tone with a direct edginess.
But it’s the second half that boosts this from something satisfactory to something incredible. Take the song Sometimes for example, where Sane is on absolute fire as he unleashes the umpteen thoughts and moral puzzles swimming through his head.
And it only gets better with the undisputed focal point, Pride Is All, where Sane sits down and spills his guts, expressing all of the care and compassion for who he loves, while being upfront about the regret of his actions.
It takes a man to admit when he has screwed up, and you can only respect that – plus Sophielou deserves loads of credit for her exceptional turn here – and he’s just as open and candid in the emotional spoken-style closer, Hungry.
The Leicester native’s willingness to rip off his outer shell and give us an insight into his struggles is commendable and at times legitimately heart-wrenching, and Lowpass Luke in his own right matches these up efficiently with a range of sounds, each reflecting and connecting with whatever the topic is in the moment.
It doesn’t mean a damn thing if you’re a devoted hip hop listener or a casual passer-by, The Moving EP is an absolutely must, and I’m not reluctant in saying that Sane needs a greater spotlight shone on him.
SEAFERN – Subsidence
As an act with not the hugest of followings, I had no idea what to expect from Seafern diving into their Subsidence EP, but what I got out of it was something not only worthwhile, but purely special.
The songs are pretty stunning, each primarily defined by Felix’s pleasant looping acoustics and Jen’s beautiful voice which alone gets the chills racing through the body.
The whole record is seemingly showered in this faint Celtic-like vibe, much of that owing to the sleek string-based sound sprinkled with nice chords and loose drum beats, and it allows for a gripping atmosphere which is haunting as well as melodic.
There’s a continuous focus on these deep, binding lyrics, and in a few cases, especially the finishing number Jesse, they go in a more infectiously rhythmic direction so engaging that it practically eggs you on to either tap your toe or clap your hands along.
Each tune of the Subsidence EP is great in their own way, and they share this magnetic quality which is hard to exactly nail down, but it’s undoubtedly there and consistent.
Felix, who I’m aware of from his contributions to Music Broth, is a very capable musician, and Jen is a magical singer. The pair are a perfect mesh and, in my opinion, are deserving of so much more exposure.