CHEAP CASSETTES – Ever Since Ever Since

When Cheap Cassettes first appeared on the power pop scene with their ‘All Anxious All The Time’ album, they didn’t really sound ready to be appreciated by the world at large. The demo quality recordings had spirit, but the song writing wasn’t great, and the overall package lacked the necessary hooks to make it memorable. A few of years on, the ‘See Her In Action’ EP was a massive improvement on every level. The short collection of songs provided riff after riff of classic retro sounds; the choruses were big and – overall – Cheap Cassettes’ quick and cheap approach to recording showed a massive confidence. For lovers of middle period Replacements, Boston heroes Watts and The Dirty Truckers, the Cheapos were now pretty much guaranteed to bring a thrill or six.

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TOUNDRA – Hex

After spending years honing their hugely atmospheric post rock sound, Spanish prog/rock band Toundra hit something of a career high with their 2018 album ‘Vortex’. With its huge soundscapes of clean, shimmering guitar and crushing, yet melodic riffs, it came close to post rock perfection; more accessible than the likes of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and more focused than The Bloody Mallard. Obviously, the instrumental stance meant those listening rewards weren’t always immediate, but the best riffs eventually crawled into the subconscious in a really cool way. The follow up, a recording inspired by Robert Wiene’s Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, showed a more adventurous approach via its longer pieces, but continued the band’s natural musical ascent.

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TURKEY VULTURE – Twist The Knife EP

Connecticut duo Turkey Vulture know their way around a glorious noise. On their 2020 EP ‘Time To Pay’, they set out their stall with a collection of riffs that combined the drive of punk with the bottom end of stoner metal, topped with layers of extra fuzz for good measure. A particular highlight, ‘Lost At Sea’ sounded like Motorhead cranking their way through Black Sabbath’s ‘Children of The Grave’ augmented by a sea shanty melody and wonderfully scratchy vocal. It’s fair to say that those who got them, loved them.

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KRUPOVIESA – Default EP

There are two kinds of music fan in the world: those who get The Fall, and those who don’t. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that their sharp edged sounds, lyrical barbs and willingness to challenge didn’t change the punk/post-punk scene. The influence they had on other alternative bands – particularly in the 90s, with the slacker movement spearheaded by Pavement – is often glaringly obvious but, occasionally, there comes a band willing to take The Fall’s influence and use it to create something a bit different. This short tribute from Argentinian band Krupoviesa is a curious affair. They’ve taken four 90s era Fall compositions and reworked them in their own punchy image, repackaged them in a homage to The Fall’s ‘Slates’ – a seminal 80s work – and shared the spoils for free.

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ILIUM – Quantum Evolution Event

Since their formation in the late 90s, Australian power metal band Ilium have worked hard at building a fan base, but a sporadic approach to recording and a fairly fluid line up have contributed to making their output seem a little inconsistent. The arrival of Masterplan’s Mike DiMeo on vocals in 2009 and a distribution deal with the Escape Music label helped bring the band to a wider audience, but these associations were fairly short-lived. After a short time away, they re-emerged with the ‘My Misanthropia’ album, recorded with vocalist Lance King – the fourth man to hold that position – and although further albums released between 2017 and 2020 brought former members Mark Sneddon and “Lord” Tim Grose back to the fold, by this time, Ilium only seemed to be reaching out to their more committed fans.

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