By Steven Dinnie
July 29, 2013
Scientists have determined that the Earth’s surface will not be able to support human life much longer, due to pollution and overpopulation. In 1957, Dr Carl Garstein proposed three alternative solutions. The first was a drastic reduction of the human population on Earth. The second, the construction of vast underground shelters. Alternative three?
Congratulations to Andy Murray, you are the best at hitting balls in this particular way this year. Congratulations also to me, for graduating university. Yes, after what seems like a million years of (academic and extra-curricular) all-nighters, cadging cigarettes and liquid lunches I’m now a fully-qualified journo/writing/media prick. Well done, myself. Of course, I’m still mentally subnormal and dropping three records on you like the equivalent of aid packages. None of the complaints about last month’s deluge stood up in court, so it’s the same plan as last time. Something my bumbling ass missed, something that just came out/is about to come out and something looming on the horizon like that delayed possession conviction.
O’ course the big thing I missed was the under-the-wire launch of Jex Thoth’s second record. The Jex Thoth debut was a magnificent cocktail of Thorr’s Hammer by way of Culpeper’s Orchard; oldee-worldee fairy songs played with pure Sabbath conviction. The new record is more of the same, but more refined and smoother, emphasising melody and music and stepping back from slow bludgeoning. Unlike the latest (shit) Kylesa record which tripped up and swallowed half its teeth by playing to the melody in the music; Jex Thoth succeed with Blood Moon Rise because the strength of that debut was always in the melody and the sweetness of Jex’s (real name Jessica Thoth) voice against the troll-like grumbling of the down tuned riffs. It’s a mixed album which exists more as a series of moments than a coherent whole, and doesn’t best the debut or the excellent early EPs. There are only a couple of tracks that really bowl it out of the park for me (‘The Places You Walk’and ‘Keep Your Weeds’, since you asked) but it’s agreeable stuff from a reliably great band who just finished a Euro tour. It’s available through the usual suspects.
Recommended last month and now here, Deap Vally killed it at Glastonbury (if only they could have killed someone it would have been a less tedious weekend) and their début album is suitably bad-ass. The same down-tuned Kalashnikov-simple riffs pounded out on the trailing singles fill up Sisterionix with righteous energy. The album falls down when the politics descend to reverse slut shaming (‘Creeplife’) and baffling balladry (closer ‘Six Feet Under’ is a quarter runtime fun-vacuum). Deap Vally are at their strongest when their throaty rock recalls the Pleasure Seekers and their politics are as exposed as they are. When it is angular and brief, Walk of Shame and Bad for My Body in particular, the album approaches post-punk levels of perfection, recalling Wire’s more contemplative moments from Pink Flag. In these flurries of fuzzed-up Queens of the Stone Age guitar, tribal drumming and ecstatic bra-burning chest-beating Deap Vally approach something resembling aesthetic perfection. Their structure is perfectly simplistic, to the point that any additional elements would clutter the blink-and-you-miss-‘em songs and any fewer elements would leave them feeling minimalistic. Gonna Make My Own Money is as close to a statement of intent as Deap Vally get. If their message of female empowerment were to be distilled into “girls can do it as well as boys” then this superb record is evidence enough by itself. Can be got through the usual suspects as well.
Nothing on the horizon is looking better than Man’s Gin’s second effort, Rebellion Hymns, which can be ordered through Profound Lore. The follow up to the underground velvetiness of Smiling Dogs is claimed as ‘more adventurous’ which worries me slightly. The ‘other band’ of Eric Wunder, one half of gonzo black metal genius Cobalt; Man’s Gin’s debut was the bluest blues on offer. In songs like the piano-riff simplicity of Solid Gold Telephone (if you haven’t heard it, fix that) Man’s Gin demonstrated a complete understanding of blues music. The key motion in blues is not just “my dog got run over” but that all these individual tragedies not only form a skin of personal disaster, but are inseparably linked to the fundamental lie of American life. Like Fitzgerald or Wunder’s clear inspiration Hunter Thompson, both Cobalt (lyrically) and Man’s Gin explore this notion that the whole deal in American life is rigged. That the ‘American dream’ is a fabrication and the glass ceilings separating different strata of American life are much harder to shatter than the myth of America insists. There is an acute sense throughout Man’s Gin’s debut that an entire generation has been failed because they have been lied to. Spectacular stuff and if their second is half as good as the 2010 debut, it’ll be a 2013 must-buy.
Act now, and you too can regret following me on twitter @stevendinnie