In an age of digital music and at a time when so many listeners seem to be cherry picking bits of albums from streaming sites as opposed to viewing a piece of work as an artistic whole, the long player format sometimes seems to be floundering. This fact hasn’t escaped Seattle’s Devils Hunt Me Down, who’ve chosen to release their 2017 album ‘In Medias Res’ as three four track EPs as opposed to saving it up and putting it out as a whole. Sometimes this approach can be interesting (see Joshua Ketchmark’s trilogy of releases in 2012, where the singer songwriter used each one to explore a different style), but sometimes, it just leaves the listener wanting more with works that seem fractured.
It’s May 2017. We’re approaching the halfway point of the year and supposedly knee-deep in a UK springtime. Not that you’d especially spot that by taking any more than a cursory look. For the better part of the past five months, the sky has decided to settle upon the lightly cloudy, with only occasional flashes of blue daring to break up what is otherwise a heavy, milky blanket. It’s also bloody cold; you might even dare call it wintry. In fact, on the surface, pretty much everything looks and feels more like a standard late October than a time that’s laying the groundwork for sun and optimism.
The slightly disappointing weather seems to have had an impact on The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco too. Once a band guaranteed to bring some westcoast American sunshine despite working from a semi-secret location somewhere in the south east of England, their second full length release is somewhat moodier than expected. There are scraps of Steely Dan and remnants of The Doobie Brothers scattered throughout the ten tracks, except this time around, they’ve cast the net of inspiration far wider and come up with a record that’s steeped in loss and the feelings of what could have been.
With the bleep of old style tone test, Sunshine & The Rain open their 2017 long player in a most unexpected manner. Kicking square into ‘Let’s Go’, their music, too, has a very old soul…and it’s all the better for that. It might seem at once that this duo’s main musical stock comes from tried and tested garage rock noise, but just as quickly as the distorted guitars assert themselves, the harsh melodies are topped off with plinking glockenspiels in a contest for the ultimate contrast. The vocals come with almost a sweet naivety, as Ashley Morey (previously of New Jersey’s The Black Hollies), approaches her performance with a clarity and an almost bubblegum inspired sound. With the push and pull between the noise and the pop, you’ll either love or hate this band immediately. If you hate them, your opinion is the wrong one. Within a couple of minutes, Sunshine & The Rain assert themselves as the most exciting thing to happen on the garage rock scene since Coach ‘n’ Commando released ‘FBP!K!K!‘ the previous summer…or maybe even since Brockley Forest dropped their third EP way back in 2015.
Hungary’s Sin of God play straight up death metal. With no tricks and very little fusion, most of the time these guys play pure death metal the way you liked it (or not) in the early 90s. Their 2016 release ‘Aenigmata’ is a good step forward production-wise from 2012’s ‘Limbus’ – the drums are much tougher and heavier sounding, while the riffs have more bottom end – but, essentially, it brings more of the same as before. If you like your death metal in a largely traditional style, this mightn’t be a bad thing.
Summer in Finland is short. Very short, apparently. Maybe that’s why this band have chosen a moniker that at once conjures images of nature, only to couple the pastoral visions with the idea of something lacking. There’s no babbling brook here, no salmon leaping…just emptiness. It’s the near perfect choice of name as it turns out, as an empty brook suggests dashing hopes. Maybe it’s those dashed hopes that have made these four Finns so scathing, since Emptybrook’s music attacks with a scowl, a hardened vocal and an echoing reverb that’s deeply unnerving.