Lots of people have said that 2011 was a vintage year for loud music, and though my instinct is to burn down anything resembling a positive sentiment before it has chance to take root, I am, sadly, forced to agree. It turns out there was loads of great stuff to go at last year, tons of astonishing and unexpected reviews I could have done.
I just couldn’t be arsed.
But if I could be arsed… how different it might have been. I could have been the king of music writing by now, the undisputed champion of irrelevant opinion-pushing, with a black eye and a neat belt to prove it. To be honest, I’ve done myself, and the world, a favour.
Instead, here’s some lazy, out-of-date trash:
Tank 86 – Rise
(Rising Magma Records)
This sounds like the best album Capricorns never got round to making, despite bringing a slightly sharper, more metallic edge to the increasingly crowded instrumental riff rock buffet. The sound is about dual-leads, a voluptuous bottom end, atmospheric breaks, and mid-paced grooves with plenty of double-kick accents. It is thick, precise and satisfying.
Saint Piran sends several long down-tempo leads winding through a series of deceptively simple percussive hooks that each feel like six of the best delivered with a rasp. Gottes Krieger breaks out thrashing, but quickly gives way to a medium pace groove you can’t help but love, salted with a bit of funky tambourine. And Axe contains one of my favourite tom runs (at 1m30s, elaborate triplet fans) of 2011, and possibly of ever.
It does rather cleave to the old ‘fast bit/slow bit/fast bit’ paradigm of heavy metal dynamics, but to be honest, it works, because the songs are good. So fuck off.
It’s every drug band cliché in one neat package. A.T.O.M. (‘Atmospheric Tribal Oriental Meditation’) is one of those recordings that takes a mood, writes a riff about it, then shows you what it’s done, in exhaustive detail, for up to 16 continuous minutes. In all, it’s longer than many albums.
It continually builds itself up, out of obvious hippie tropes like panflutes and didgeridoos, but brings with it a strong sense of groove and a deep, deep sound that is actually very flattering for an indie band.
You want to be embarrassed when Shiva THC pop ups, complete with boiling bong sound effect, layered with shimmering sitars. But the riffs that are eventually exhaled to drift about on the air are both moreish, heavy and groovy. Both of those three things. And the title track has got more in common with Massive Attack than the stoned doom otherwise present.
Meanwhile, Lysergic General and Collapse have an Electric Wizard feel to them; a glacial pace, dirty tones, vocals mixed off into the aether somewhere, straddling a whisper, a groan and a roar. But somehow this grabs me more intimately than that band ever did. If your idea of supper is a cheese and salad cream sandwich at 4am, then this is what you listen to.
It’s a neat little EP, and available free. Definitely worth a glance.
Here’s a weird record to try and evaluate in limited space; one track comprising 50 different riffs in 40 minutes. It sounds about exactly as good as that implies. In many parts, it’s a weird rollercoaster epic, skipping between hard rock ideas with much grace, barely touching the ground beneath it, like one of them parkour idiots.
Other times, it sounds more like what I suspect this album really is; a mash of bits they couldn’t be arsed to develop into proper songs. Either way, you have to admire them for putting it on sale for actual money.
Overall, it holds the attention with ease, and that’s an accomplishment, really. It’s difficult to trace a line of evolution through the work, because it just does this, and then that, and then the other thing, and then there’s the Pink Floyd bit, before the inevitable, outrageous, rock ‘n’ roll coda.
But if you like bluesy guitars doing 70s stuff, chased by hammond organs, and with loads of soloing, then The Local Fuzz is a proposition you’d be silly to turn your back on.
Right, that’ll do. There’s more to talk about, but you’re bored now, I can tell. It’s okay. I’ve warmed you some milk and pre-softened a rusk. Shh, shh. Here’s the nipple. Don’t bite. Good boy. There’s a good boy.
Or is it…?