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reviews albums BABYMETAL *****

and bassist Frankie Poullain are back in the game, and at last it’s the closest material we’ve had to Permission To Land in years. Rousing vocals, powerchords, guitar-tapping solos – the works. Hints of blues run through Roaring Waters, futuristic metal riffs underpin Mighty Wings and Mudslide and Hammer & Tongs also stand out in typical Darkness fashion. OS

Babymetal (earMUSIC)


Oh come on, we all know this was either going to get one star or five, and if you’ve heard them you know damn well which one you’d give it, if only for its infectious insanity. Someone showed me this band’s live video of Gimme Chocolate!! a while back, which led to a few replays and shares with others after trying to explain their bizarre fusion of Fear Factory and Psy. Only in Japan… but now thankfully everywhere else. RH

Dysnomia (Erased Tapes)

CINERAMA **** Valentina (Scopitones) This is a reimagining of the 2012 album of the same name by Cinerama vocalist David Gedge’s other band, The Wedding Present. It’s an interesting idea that somehow really works. The songs sound very different here: instead of guitar-heavy indie they now range from lounge stylings to shimmering pop with elaborate string arrangements. All of which could come off as mere easy listening, but the melodies shine through and Gedge’s deadpan vocal delivery and down-to-earth lyrics stop it from being sugary. EG

DANNY & THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD *** What Kind Of Love (Loose) Danny Wilson and his London based alt-country outfit return with a charming, effectively written collection of songs that propel you headlong into holiday season. An exploration of love in all its forms, the fifth album from the troupe overflows with joyful melodies and uplifting Americana, providing a breezy, feelgood experience for the listener. Taken individually, you probably wouldn’t call any of the tracks a classic, but as a whole they form a more than acceptable accompaniment to any summer evening. GT

THE DARKNESS **** Last Of Our Kind (Canary Dwarf) Introducing album number four from the glam-rock outfit. Granted, you’re probably trying to rack your brains about album number two and three, but the Hawkins brothers

Formed in Brookyln a few years ago, Dawn of Midi are jazz musicians that play acoustic instruments in a totally unique way. On debut album Dysnomia, the group have elected to largely forgo melody, with the band instead focusing on constantly evolving polyrhythms that weave in and out of sync with each other in a mesmerising fashion. The intertwining rhythms send you into a trancelike state, but the real rewards on this album come when all three musicians align together and click into time. CW

FIST CITY ***** Everything Is A Mess (Transgressive) This is a very accessible and immediately memorable sophomore album from the Canadian indie-punk four piece. Melodic songs, with excellent off-kilter clipped vocals, are backed by sometimes jangly, sometimes fast and spiky guitars and hypnotic rhythms; the combination is just perfect for rocking out to and will make you want to do just that. The songs meld with dreamy/spacey rumbling instrumental interludes to add interest and what you get is an accomplished, well-rounded record made to last. EG

GRAVEYARD JOHNNYS ***** Dead Transmission (Bomber Music) Since 2008, Chepstow’s Graveyard Johnnys have peddled an eclectic mix of rockabilly punk with an occasional pinch of folk. Think Gaslight Anthem mixed with a primitive Beach Boys sound – if you listen carefully enough, you might even pick up a Sex Pistols vibe. Frantic and energetic sound until midway through, the album briefly gets a bit acoustic and folky only to build up again and end with the passionate Little Witch. If I could give it six I would. DC

GAMES REVIEWS DOES NOT COMMUTE **** Mediocre It’s a race against not only time, but also yourself. As you help to drive all sorts of odd character around the streets, every turn you play is added to the next – meaning more and more cars come into play. The steering is a bit clumsy, but with a soothing jazz tune in the background, every turn gets funnier as well as more challenging. HP

COW EVOLUTION ** Tapps The point of this game is to keep pairing up cows to create new hybrid cows. The higher the level the cow is, the more money you earn from their poop. The game is boring, but you’ll keep pairing cows, just because you want to know what the next cow looks like. It only takes one time to become addicted – don’t do it! HP


HUDSON MOHAWKE **** Lantern (Warp) Following 2014’s excellent single Chimes, Hudson Mohawke’s second album Lanterns has a hard act to follow. Although the start is patchy – no-one would blame you for skipping the likes of Very First Breath or Warriors – Lanterns improves considerably. Standout tracks include the titular song and Deepspace, both of which I’m sure we will see become cornerstones of his sets this summer. Also of note is Indian Steps, which explores HudMo's romantic side via the vocals of Antony And The Johnsons’ frontman Antony Hegarty. AC

JENNY HVAL **** Apocalypse, Girl (Sacred Bones) Jenny Hval’s first two albums were thoroughly engaging, arresting records that fully utilised her incredibly versatile vocal talents. Apocalypse, Girl is no different. From the very first words, “Think big girl / Like a king,” Hval sets out her mission statement, and she sticks to it. An swirl of noise swerves under the album’s best asset, her voice, which can go from a sinister drawl to a full throated shriek. This winning combination makes for an always unpredictable whirlwind of an album. CW

KATHRYN WILLIAMS **** Hypoxia (One Little Indian) Williams takes a further step into double figures with album releases and is still evolving, this time abetted by Ed Harcourt’s production. These nine songs are inspired by a project to commemorate 50 years of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Mirrors is slinky and duplicitous, Beating Heart is gorgeous and {Battleships}, with its spooky scifi ambience, evinces Williams’ own skill with a couplet: “You read me the poem you wrote and it stuck like sick in my throat”. Hypoxia is the musical equivalent of a page turner. CS

KEN MODE **** Success (Season Of Mist) Success is a very relative term for KEN Mode who’ve been together since 1999, plugging away and never seeming to get the recognition they deserve. There’s an Unsane meets Jesus Lizard vibe to this album, with absolutely filthy basslines, atonal guitars and a solid backbeat. This is ugly music made with a dry sense of humour and a nihilistic attitude. Steve Albini was at the engineering helm for this, and captures their raw sound and gets the whole beautiful mess on tape perfectly. GM

LEFTFIELD **** Alternative Light Source (Infectious) The progressive house and hook-up trailblazers finally release a third LP, a mere 20 years after their debut. Now led only by Barnes, Leftfield still excel in menacing tub thumpers. TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe guests on the searing acid riff of Bad Radio, Universal Everything futureproofs Vangelis’ Blade Runner theme and Shaker Obsession jacks up the LFO into overdrive. Head And Shoulders, with Sleaford Mods' Jason Williamson, is a bit Marmite and Polica’s Channy is twisted beyond recognition, in a good way, on the burbling Little Fish. CS

MAJOR LAZER ** Peace Is The Mission (Because) Diplo enlists a platoon of guests on the Major’s third outing but the cartoon currently in production is proof he’s become a 2D parody of his former self. Opener Be Together

would be palatable if it was a Paloma Faith single; Blaze Up The Fire would have been good for The Prodigy more than two decades ago. Too Original is closer to the prime dancehall anarchy of the debut Major Lazer album with Switch and Light It Up would be passable with more autoerotica and less autotune. CS

NILS FRAHM *** Music For The Motion Picture Victoria (Erased Tapes) Nils Frahm is the name on the CD (or download or whatever), but this soundtrack begins instead with the thumping brilliance of German minimal techno auteur DJ Koze. All knotted vocals and descending buzzsaw basslines, it soon relinquishes the floor to Nils – whose gently soothing piano and amabient strings lull you into a grey haze of pleasantness. Ultimately, though, you might find yourself wishing for a few more Koze bangers. AJ

PARADISE LOST **** The Plague Within (Century Media) Around since 1988, Paradise Lost continue to find a balance between consistently good output and pleasing the underground doom movement. They are also very good live. This is album number 14, and is a return to their late-80s roots in terms of sound and content matter, including their death metal influences on the likes of Flesh From Bone. As always the cover design is also worth a mention, this time credited to Polish artist Zbigniew M. Bielak. RH

SAUNA YOUTH **** Distractions (Upset The Rhythm) Sauna Youth are a supremely interesting band: punk in provenance, but buzzing with ideas that protrude awkwardly from any attempt at classification. Distractions is full of weird electronic noises that fizz and hum around straight-up, Dr Feelgood-style, staccato riffs, overlaid with multilayered vocals. Future Tense is Distractions in microcosm, stomping in on a rock‘n’roll-monster-riff, developing psychedelic tendencies, digging its hooks in, then collapsing in a heap – all inside two minutes 30. A truly innovative approach to a classic sound. HR

SECKOU KEITA **** 22 Strings (Arc Music International) This charismatic Senegalese musician is renowned for a myriad of fruitful collaborations including, most recently, Welsh harpist Catrin Finch. Here, however, we hear Keita predominantly alone with his distinctive West African kora. A solo instrumental repertoire is usually a difficult domain, yet his compositional intuition and cultural awareness makes this recording a thing of beauty. His few vocal contributions also add a potent soulful dynamic to an otherwise alluringly tranquil album. CPI

VARIOUS *** Remembering Mountains (Tompkins Square) There’s a halfway interesting backstory to this compilation, which features 11 solo artists – all female, nearly all American – honouring the legacy of 1960s coffeehouse folkie Karen Dalton. Known for interpreting other people’s songs over writing her own, she however had a clutch of hitherto unseen lyrics, which have been gifted to judiciously chosen musicians for quasi-cover purposes. Many sound like descendants of Dalton and deliver music to match – Sharon Van Etten, Larkin Grimm – but electronic artists Laurel Halo and Julia Holter manage to be bold and anti-traditionalist. NG

Profile for Buzz Magazine

Buzz June 2015 - the Green Issue  

With the start of the summer Buzz goes all green. We have a interviews with allotmenteer Terry Walton, outdoor eating aficionado Genevieve T...

Buzz June 2015 - the Green Issue  

With the start of the summer Buzz goes all green. We have a interviews with allotmenteer Terry Walton, outdoor eating aficionado Genevieve T...


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