Noise Annoys: Mudhoney, Junk Drawer, Strange New Places and Queen Bonobo
Words on new music from Mudhoney, Junk Drawer, Strange New Places and Queen Bonobo...
IT'S new release round-up time again here at Noise Annoys towers, this week featuring a mix of old favourites and new discoveries running the gamut from jazz to grunge.
:: Mudhoney – Morning In America EP (Sub Pop)
First up, we have the latest offering from Seattle-bred superstars Mudhoney, following lukewarm on the heels of their excellent 2018 LP, Digital Garbage, and featuring a selection of tunes recorded during the album sessions which didn't make the cut for the final record.
Morning In America's title is an ironic nod to the Reagan-era which spawned these veteran muddy funsters and indeed their country's current Trump-led slide into chaos and strife, which Hilary Clinton summed up as akin to "midnight in America" back in 2016.
Appropriately enough, lumbering lead track Vortex of Lies finds singer Mark Arm taking sneering aim at Trump and co's 'post truth' approach to governance, urging listeners to "kick them square in their tubular balls", while title track's slowly unspooling existentialist fuzz lament finds him howling "what have I become?" while portraying America as a self-loathing bum clinging desperately to past glories as it stares bleary-eyed into an increasingly uncertain future – the sound of tomorrow hitting today, essentially.
Hot-stepping punk blues boogie Creeps Are Everywhere is a more general lament keyed by the icky revelations of our #MeToo era, while Snake Oil Charmer's neo-Stoogian stomp delivers a wah-wah addled warning about blustering figureheads promising the world with empty words. Who on Earth could they be referring to?
Presumably, it's a pop at the same straw haired, orange-hued, Twitter-obsessed charlatan targeted on One Bad Actor (an alternative version of a tune which appeared on last year's split 7-inch with the mighty Hot Snakes) – there's an instantly infectious three-note garage rock riff and some wild soloing from Mudhoney's lead guitarist Steve Turner to savour on this one.
The EP is rounded out by a fun and faithful English language cover of Swedish proto-punks The Leather Nun's Ensam I Natt (which translates as 'I'm Lonely', I think) which appeared on a limited tour 7-inch released last year, plus a slightly noisier alternative take on social media-sniping Digital Garbage stand-out Kill Yourself Live, retitled Kill Yourself Live Again in the finest Mudhoney tradition.
It all flows together rather nicely for a collection of off-cuts and makes for an appealing bite-sized serving of Mudhoney goodness, especially in its Loser Edition silver coloured vinyl form, which comes neatly wrapped in cool monochromatic TV test pattern/flag artwork.
Pick it up now at your friendly local record shop or direct from the source at Mudhoneyonline.com.
:: Junk Drawer – Ego Death in Akron, Ohio (self-released)
Have you sampled this new slowcore banger from Ireland's premier slackrock revivalists yet? If not, or if you have and you liked what you heard, be advised that the Drawer have just unveiled a promo clip to accompany this woozy seven-minute masterpiece of increasingly frayed guitar abuse that's best described as a psychedelic cinematic nightmare.
Tune in to the new vid via Clashmusic.com (other music webmags are available) and brace your self for a complete loss of subjective self-identity with doomy indie rock accompaniment. Remember kids, just say no and try to avoid cheese before bed.
Ego Death in Akron, Ohio should feature on the Belfast band's forthcoming debut album – which some critics may already be describing as 'hugely anticipated' and 'potentially life-changing' – due out in January 2020, and is sure to be adopted by Tourism Ohio for their next campaign targeted at attracting indie rock tourist dollars any day now.
:: Strange New Places – Uncomfortable EP (Third Bar)
I saw this Belfast-based quintet in action for the first time supporting the mighty Queen Zee at the Start Together birthday show and they impressed me enough to want to catch the launch show for this, their debut EP, at Oh Yeah a few weeks ago where they blasted through a well-received set for a packed out room of friends, family and peers.
Uncomfortable offers an appetising four song taster of Strange New Places' melodic, bombastic indie pop with lyrical subject matter fuelled by youthful romantic crises, gender dysphoric angst and your basic existential doubt.
For me, the stand-out track is its final song, Trombone, on which bandleader Ash Jones's emotive Brian Molko-esque vocals surf stylishly atop waves of increasingly urgent indie rock guitaring guaranteed to make David Gedge's chest swell with pride right up until he discovers they've (probably) never even heard of him.
Check that and the rest of the EP out now on Spotify et al and befriend the band at FB.com/pg/strangenewplaces to keep up to date with their plans for world domination, which include a live appearance supporting Snow Patrol at The Ulster Hall on November 11 during the NI Music Prize show, by which point they might well have won that Oh Yeah Contender award they're currently in the running for.
:: Queen Bonobo – Light Shadow Boom Boom; (self-released)
Finally, are you in the mood for something jazzy, folky and soulful to soothe your weary being? Look no further than the debut album by Queen Bonobo, a musically nimble ensemble led by fearsomely talented US-import Maya Goldblum.
Now, I know there are some folks out there who recoil at the mere mention of the 'J word', but even skeptics will surely be won over by the arresting album opening salvo of The Lord Does What He Wants and Vintage Gouda, both of which err on the side of simple, acoustic guitar-based folk pop and allow the Goldblum to show off her powerful, playfully beguiling vocals.
There's more of this good stuff in the form of the reflective Watching Over You and wistful album closer Noise, while elsewhere the playfully funky Honey, sparse percussion-led outing Boom Boom and the sultry sly groove of the album's hip-hop informed stand-out moment MFGB (Mother F***ing Game Bitches, in case you were wondering) let the singer and her band spread their wings in a highly enjoyable manner.
On the subject of 'spreading wings', Goldblum advises that she's already moved on from the recently released Light Shadow Boom Boom;.
"My album is a younger chapter of my music compared to the live improvised jazz/folk EP that I am about to record," she tells me.
"My music has evolved immensely over the last couple years living here and playing with musicians such as Neil Burns [piano] and Jack Charles Kelly [double bass]. Basically, the jazz and music community have had a a huge impact on where my music is heading."
If you like the sound of that, be sure to get along to Queen Bonobo's upcoming live shows at Connolly's of Leap in West Cork on October 4 and/or Bennigans in Derry on October 11 (with special guest Stephan Whiteman) – and be advised that the latter will be your last chance to catch Goldblum and co in action before she heads back to the US for a while.
Get up to speed at Queenbonobo.bandcamp.com