Noise Annoys: new music from Atomic Drag, Leveland, Slomatics and Power of Dreams
:: Atomic Drag – Atomic Drag EP (self-released)
BALLYMONEY-bred Dangerfields survivor Lee Batboy, aka 'the artist previously known as Lee Sub60', is back making music with his new surf-rock project Atomic Drag. I'm certainly partial to a little reverb-drenched instrumental rock of a summer's evening, and the Atomic Drag EP is the best local serving of such I've enjoyed since the last Los Reyes release, which was a long time ago now.
Lee gives us four quality garage/surf rocking tracks guaranteed to have you hanging-ten off the nearest curb whilst shrieking "cowbunga dude" like a totally gnarly ripper despite being miles from the nearest beach.
Opener, Satan Built My Hotrod – a title I was amazed to discover has only been used one other time, by a bunch of TAD-loving Euro grungers called, I kid thee not, 'Assrockers', since Gibby Haynes and Ministry gave us their mighty indie disco destroyer Jesus Built My Hotrod – features atmospheric horror flick samples in its creepy, Farfisa-flecked surfstrumental rocker, before Ghost Ship Ahoy! invites us to 'surf Twin Peaks' with a brooding Black Lodge hula/dirge enlivened by some wild organ/theremin antics
Atomic Undead delivers textbook-perfect beach grunge grinderama direct to your buzzing eardrums before the EP signs off in style with Cecilia Ann, a nicely amped-up cover of the opener from Bossanova, the under-rated Pixies album that's the second-best bit of their canon after the mighty (and decidedly non-surfy) Surfer Rosa, in my estimation.
Uncle Black Francis even makes a sample-based cameo here: he can be heard extolling the virtues of "surf stuff" during this energetic take on his band's version of the Surftones' original.
Catch Atomic Drag's very own wave of mutilation now at Atomicdrag.bandcamp.com.
:: Leveland – River (single, Super Native Records)
OISÍN Ó Scolaí returns with a new single from the upcoming debut album by his latest musical project Leveland.
You might remember River getting a mention as one of the strongest tracks on the Vessels LP (due out in September) back when I reviewed its excellent lead single National Treasure.
The prediction then was that River, a slack beats 'n' shimmery guitars/synths-powered introspective indie/pop banger packed with infectious melody and a chorus hookier than Del Boy Trotter himself, would be Leveland's "first bona fide 'hit'" – I stand by that assessment, but maybe don't rush to bet your mortgage on it topping the pops.
"The song is an amalgamation of several notions from whatever I was reading during a long and arduous lockdown, from alien encounters to the healing properties of the River Jordan," says Oisín of the new tune, on which he's once again capably backed by bassist Chris Doherty and drummer Stephen 'Leaky' Leacock.
Find it at Leveland.bandcamp.com.
:: Embarcadero – Left To Prove (single, self-released)
EMBARCADERO, aka Sonja Sleator (vocals) and Daniel Lynch (guitar) are also back in action with the latest tune to drop as part of their ongoing slow drip release of their self-titled debut EP.
Following on from the catchy crunch of Chasing You Around, dynamic dreampop moment Tele Flop and moody indie rock moment Down, their slinky newie Left To Prove is a prowling/growling heartache anthem and yet another example of Belfast duo's winning way with melodic/melancholic alt-rock-flavoured songwriting based around Sonja's emotive, easy-on-the-ear vocals.
Wrap your ears around their story so far at Embarcadero.bandcamp.com and mark up your diary to reflect that the full Embarcadero EP is due out on September 3.
:: Slomatics & Yanomamo – Griefhound / Dig Two Graves (split single, Iommium Records)
IT'S gloriously slow, it's bowel-quakingly loud: it's the new Slomatics single, Griefhound. Out soon on limited 7-inch vinyl, this lumbering crusher originally came out on 2007's Kalceanna LP and time has not withered its powers of sonic destruction: in fact, this Rocky O'Reilly produced re-recording is like a triple-distilled version which pushes Marty's portentous bellowing to the fore while also further seasoning Chris and Dave's molasses-thick guitar rumble.
Say the band: "Griefhound was originally recorded at a time when most of our songs seemed to have a dystopian negativity – I think we were reading a lot of Philip K Dick at the time. We like to think our music now is more uplifting, but given the past 18 months we felt a return to dystopian dirge may be appropriate."
I can't disagree with that, and since you also get the throat-stripping, head-nodding sludger Dig Two Graves from Aussie bludgeoners Yanomamo on the flip, you'd best crank your speakers and set a collision course for Slomatics.bandcamp.com to get your pre-orders in now.
:: Power of Dreams – Auslander (album, self-released)
TWENTY-seven years since their final album Become Yourself, Dublin's Power of Dreams are back with a brand new collection of tunes.
Having originally turned heads with the hooks and melodies-crammed heartache 'n' hope-fuelled indiepop jangle of their stellar 1990 debut LP Immigrants, Emigrants and Me, by the time of their 1994 swansong, frontman and chief songwriter Craig Walker (then still barely in his mid-20s) was bitterly warning listeners about how "the Irish burn their own" and damning racist hatemongers who "see the world through evil eyes, spreading hate and telling lies" over his band's noisy yet carefully honed alt-rock, which drew tastefully upon the best indie, alternative, grunge and crossover sounds of the time.
Those expecting a belated sequel to Immigrants – or even the criminally under-heard Become, for that matter – are in for a shock. Almost 30 years on from the latter, the malcontented musical stomping of these once angry young men has largely given way to older-but-not-always-wiser world-weary toe-tapping.
However, it's still a good listen.
Auslander is performed by 3/4 of the OG POD personnel in singer/guitarist Craig, his kid brother drummer Keith and guitarist Ian Olney. Having collaborated digitally during last year on writing and recording, the album was assembled by Craig and producer/bassist Erik Alcock (Pink, Eminem) in Berlin where the POD leader has been based for a number of years now, working on projects like Craig Walker + The Cold (another collaboration with Alcock) and his team-up with former Nouvelle Vague singer Phoebee Kildeer, Them There.
Craig remains a gifted singer and songwriter and has come up with some excellent tunes for this record, including the title tune's stirring, stripped back rumination on the fraught experience of asylum seekers in his adopted home city, album opener Do It's infectious combo of acoustic pop and melodic music biz melancholia and You Haven't Really Lived's droll, shoegazey ode to true love and rock 'n' roll survival, featuring the classic couplet "you haven't really lived until you've sung The Drugs Don't Work to a room full of addicts / you haven't really lived until you've loved someone else for who they are".
Hurricane's gently psychedelic synth-augmented kiss-off to an unnamed energy vampire and poignant emigrant anthem Across The Shannon are also highlights, as is America's groovy, exasperated ode to 'the great Satan': perhaps the most 'Power of Dreams' sounding moment of the entire LP, this one picks up where POD's previous sly ruminations on the US, Never Been To Texas and American Dream, left off, forming a fine belated conclusion to the band's own American trilogy of sorts.
Auslander is a grower which keeps giving with every listen, so set aside your preconceptions and dare to dream once again.
Auslander is available now on CD via record shops/Amazon and digitally on Spotify, iTunes etc. The band are also returning to the motherland for a show at Whelan's on March 15 next year if you fancy catching them live – get your tickets via Whelanslive.com.