This EP from Welsh trio The Decoy is chaotic. It’s also quite brilliant. Restless from the outset, this band bring metallic edginess, new wavish quirks, post-hardcore sounds, alongside a dose of noise rock, touches of light reggae and jangly guitar rock together in a way that should appeal to the more open minded prog fan, or the math rock devotee. What they lack in obvious hooks they more than make up for with sheer balls. The results are not going to be for everyone, but we should assume that’s exactly how The Decoy like it.
Queen Chief are an alt-rock band led by Justin Lien, a young musician with Native American and Germanic/Nordic roots. Their debut EP throws the listener in at the deep end with a particularly grand approach. It’s a concept release bringing (in the band’s own words) “a brutally honest, heavy rocking representation of life in the Northwestern United States’ low income suburbs and Native American reservations”. No messing there. Just as direct as the attitude driving the band, the tunes themselves pack a huge punch throughout – most carrying a weighty riff; each riff then given a huge send off courtesy of King Black Acid member and producer Daniel Riddle. The resultant sounds, resting somewhere between post-grunge and a hybrid of psychedelic blues, all come with plenty of volume – even if played quietly – and just as much attitude.
A joint release between Big Tea and FIFA Records, this debut EP by Irish band Elastic Sleep is a like a vapourous retro-fuelled dream. With layers of fuzz dragging their core sound through a technicolour haze, ‘Leave You’ is first class hybrid of dreampop and shoegaze.
In the spring of 2013 Manchester alt-rockers Duke And The Darlings unleashed their second EP, ‘Champagne of the People’, a brief work that showed the band to have a lot of energy – an energy they really harnessed when choosing to record that EP live in the studio, thus capturing their core sound in a much welcomed unfussy manner. While their song writing wasn’t always memorable in the long term, the EPs music had moments of great drive and an enthusiasm which guaranteed those lucky enough to hear it would wind up musing on how the band’s sound would develop in the future. Surely in an upwards direction, taking the best parts of their sound, refining them for an even better release…?
Picastro have slowly been marking a place for themselves in the world of alternative music with their wandering soundscapes since the late 90s. Prior to this fifth release, they’ve toured with alt-folk/anti-folk acts Broken Social Scene, Scout Niblett and Devandra Banhart, their sound slowly evolving all the while. If you didn’t “get” the band previously, 2014’s ‘You’ is intent on making sure you still won’t. In fact, ‘You’ is far more experimental than most of their prior works (certainly true if measured solely against 2007’s ‘Red Your Blues’). Sure, they could channel their talents into something dreamy and in turn attract a larger audience of devotees, but then again, that would also destroy most of what makes the band so striking.