Notes from the Keybed – March 2015

Post-rock electronica duo Worriedaboutsatan return with Even Temper, their first album in six years. That’s not to say that Thomas Ragsdale and Gavin Miller have been taking it easy in said downtime, having released some truly stunning music from the atmospheric techno of Ghosting Season to their own solo projects and film soundtracks. Regardless of which name they are recording under, my favourite thing about the Leeds duo has always been their seamless mix of cold electronica and heartfelt songwriting, with the lo-fi samples, vocals and guitars adding a layer of ‘realness’ that is so often missing from purely electronic music. Their live approach to writing through jamming is evident in the evolving song structures and extended workouts, with many songs breaking the five minute mark yet never outstaying their welcome. Highlights include the vocal-based ‘MV Joyita’ featuring the voice of Morgan Visconti and the seven and a half minute emotional outpouring of ‘Sleep of the Foolish’. Find someone who claims not to like electronic music and play them this record to undoubtedly change their mind.

On a completely different note comes the new record from Hot Nerds who feature Some Girls’ guitar mangler Nathan Joyner, joined by synth tweaker Alia Jyawook and drummer Thomas O’Connell. With an album called Strategically Placed Bananas, adorned with cover art featuring said article of fruit protecting the modesty of a reclining cartoon mullet man, you know what you’re getting before you even press play! Fortunately the musical content doesn’t disappoint, consisting of discordant synth punk along the lines of the much-missed Test Icicles or label boss Justin Pearson’s electronic grindcore pioneers The Locust. Unapologetically weird and noisy, with many songs lasting just a minute or two it is equally wonderful and bizarre anti-pop. My personal fave on the record is the fantastically-monikered ‘Stuffed Party Animals’, which features scatty clipped drum beats, whiny vocal chants and a classic hoover synth sound.

German party boys Eskimo Callboy return with their third album of generic but enjoyable electronicore mixed with autotuned pop choruses, trappy synth leads and a good dosage of nu-metal! At its best, Crystals comes across like the Linkin Park glory days mixed with the pop hook of Issues (without the majestic vocals of Tyler C). It will no doubt polarise listeners and certainly won’t win the German band any new fans, but it’s good (in)offensive fun that’ll soundtrack a fair few throwdowns and catchy singalongs for those so inclined. The twin vocal attack works well in the classic sing/scream metalcore template and the guitars are suitably tight and chuggy mixed with some danceable beats and glitchy electro noises in the same vein as Palisades and Attack Attack!. Plus ‘2 Fat 2 Furious’ is an absolute banger about not wanting to ‘live without burgers and fries’… ‘nuff said.

On the opposite side of the audio spectrum comes the new record from alt-poppers the Go! Team. Ridiculously jubilant and stuffed with samples, singles ‘What D’You Say?’ and title track ‘The Scene Between’ tread a similar sonic path to The Flaming Lips, with experimental indie pop being the order of the day. Delightful harmonies and guitar strummed major chords take precedence over the six piece’s hip-hop infused earlier material but it is all pleasant stuff and an early contender for your summer soundtrack.

Unless you’ve been living in social isolation away from all radio, online and print media (in which case you probably won’t have the wifi connection to read this, but that’s a moot point) you can’t have missed the announcement of a new Prodigy album to hit stores at the end of this month! Back to regain the dance-rock crossover crown from the likes of Pendulum and Shikari, Liam Howlett and co launched their latest attack on the airwaves with ‘Nasty’, a suitably-titled drum & bass banger with growling synths, belligerent vocals and a typically dark guitar riff. The rest of the pre-release singles from ‘The Day Is My Enemy’ have followed suit with the Sleathford Mods collaboration ‘Ibiza’ ripping apart lad culture and ‘Rhythm Bomb’ delivering an instantly catchy floor-filler alongside the talents of dubstep don Flux Pavilion. Twenty-five years on from the birth of the rave scene, the Prodigy remain at the top of the pile, shitting on those who have attempted to steal their crown in gloriously literal fashion.

Finally, this months’s Keytar Hero award is a collective one going to Shiny Toy Guns, who boast not just one keytarist but two in the form of frontwoman Carah Charnow and synth player Jeremy Dawson. The lucky buggers have been boasting two shiny non-toy Roland AX-synths of late, which is just greedy and they really should donate one to me. Once the envy subsides you’d do well to revisit 2006 electroclash anthem ‘Le Disko’ to see why they justify such lavish playthings.

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