Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, three piece rock band Ugly Runner make a gloriously retro noise on their debut EP ‘Romanticizer’. Across its lean and mean nineteen minutes, you’ll hear echoes of the Stooges, Pixies, The Strokes and more as the band presents six tracks of fierce garage rock mixed with the noisier end of late 80s indie.
At the beginning of 2019, Falling Stacks broke a long silence with the ‘Sarcastic Clap‘ EP. A collection of angular post-punk sounds that looked to the past for inspiration, it still played in a way that seemed challenging in the present. It would be fair to say that EP wasn’t for everyone. Released just eight months later, ‘Sin Bin’ offers another selection of noises set to thrill lovers of ugly, spiky, guitar driven artiness and frighten the bejeezus out of everyone else.
As before, you won’t find any actual songs here…but if you came to Falling Stacks hoping for hooks, melodies or in any way an easy ride, you were misinformed.
Covers albums can be a lazy stop gap, a contractual obligation filler or – worst of all – a pointless exercise in rehashing tunes with no imagination. When done well, they can be fantastic and make you hear things in a way you never imagined. In the hands of Los Angeles noise rock/shoegaze band Medicine – famous to UK audiences for their contribution to the soundtrack for ‘The Crow’ – 2019’s ‘Scarred For Life’ provides an opportunity to dive into the past and re-imagine various cult tracks, bringing a few of their choices to a whole new audience. Although you might expect a band like Medicine to take the easier route and fuzz up a few old gothic favourites, on this eleven track release, they give their fans lots of surprises. Taking various songs from the 60s and 70s (in addition to a couple of other detours) this is a record that, in their own words, “relieves the glory of the K-Tel architechts”. That doesn’t mean the band are about to cover the likes of ‘Yellow River’, ‘Jeans On’ and a well known Suzi Quatro hit, though. This is Medicine, after all…and their voyage through decades past often favours deeper cuts.
Back in 2016, alternative rock band’s Dearly Beloved’s fourth album ‘Admission’ was their most consistent release to date. The kind of record that really deserved to boost their fan base, it led to a successful UK tour with Tommy Stinson’s Bash & Pop.
Wizard Rifle are a two piece noise rock band from Portland, Oregon. They began thrilling (and terrifying) audiences in 2010. This self titled release from 2019 is their first for Svart Records (home to Witch Mountain, Harvest, Brutus and various bands with Scandinavian sounding names), but despite making the leap from DIY recordings to signing a cult metal oriented label with a keen fan-base, Wizard Rifle haven’t become any more commercial. Their self titled record features just five tracks, but within those lengthy arrangements you’ll find sections of music which seem bolted together and huge slabs of music created from mangled riffs and sludgy sounds. Always with an ear on sculptures more than songs, it’s tiring…but also brilliant. Hearing Wizard Rifle for the first time is like experiencing Buzz Osborne from Melvins jamming with the now defunct That Fucking Tank while disturbed people shout randomly. With every listen after that, something new comes through; new noises, new howls of pain…but you’ll never forget that initial experience. And it is an experience.