POLAR SON – Wax/Wane

Formerly known as Porshyne, Brighton’s Polar Son know their way around a riff. On Porshyne’s 2017 EP ‘Environmental Music’, those riffs took an arty, sometimes heavy path, taking in elements of Oceansize, Tool and bits of Godsticks, beneath a vocal that sometimes shared a love of Thom Yorke’s grander moments. It was the kind of release that deserved to place the band among up and coming prog/prog metal acts. Unfortunately, despite champions in a few high places, any massive traction the band deserved was cut short by a global pandemic.

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THE 3 CLUBMEN – The 3 Clubmen EP

XTC’s Andy Partridge is a legend of the alternative music scene. From his former band’s early punk beginnings, through their angular post-punk and dub experiments and, latterly, into a world of epic pop-rock, Partridge’s unique voice always shone through. In terms of grasping off-kilter melodies and making them truly work, he shared a unique talent.

Since the demise of XTC, new music from Andy has been rare, but often very welcome, and this EP from The 3 Clubmen – teaming Partridge with Lighterthief’s Stu Rowe and inventive guitarist Jen Olive – is no exception. It’s a true collaboration, too, giving all three musicians equal space within the arrangements, and feels like something that pushes their artistic agenda into new territory.

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This three track release from Draagyn isn’t shy in taking gothic infused metal into some interesting places. There are musical elements that are very recognisable from her 2019 digital single ‘Majesty’ (namely, bursts of classic sounding black metal) and the tech/prog metal riffs from 2020’s ‘A Night Between Two Days’ still maintain a strong presence, but there’s also a desire to throw in a few more commercial riffs and contrast those with something even more extreme at times. It’s fair to say that the composer’s hand now seems much stronger. It isn’t necessarily a question of confidence, but rather more a greater acceptance of creative freedom; of knowing when to cast aside any perceived boundaries and when to pull back, and throughout ‘Bent Rib’, Draagyn uses that to her advantage, even though it sometimes results in sounds that are challenging.

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Listen: The Fierce And The Dead unleash new track ‘Wonderful’

With The Fierce And The Dead’s last studio recordings appearing in 2018, fans have had a long wait for the return of Rushden’s finest art rock band. It’s not that the band took a backseat, of course, but rather more that the world forced any momentum and creativity to grind to a halt.

Nevertheless, folks have been really keen for the band’s return, especially with various hints from inside sources and teasers suggesting that any forthcoming material would be as different from ‘The Euphoric’ as ‘The Euphoric’ had been from the career defining ‘Spooky Action’.

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CURVED AIR – The Albums 1970-1973

For most people, British progressive rock band Curved Air are known for two things: being the first band to ever issue a picture disc and for the having the legendary Stewart Copeland having occupy their drum stool in the mid 70s. Considering that vocalist Sonja Kristina had previously been an important part of the London theatre scene in the late sixties – appearing in Hair – and Curved Air actually scored a UK top five hit single in 1971, you’d expect them to be more widely celebrated. Perhaps the reason they aren’t is due to lots of their classically- and jazz-derived music being very hard going. Their earlier work often values complexity over obvious hooks – something that makes the funky ‘Back Street Luv’ single seem like something of an anomaly – and the way they switch between different moods from track to track can, at first, be disorienting. They are very much a band that requires a lot of time and patience before most of the listening rewards become obvious.

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