On their second EP ‘Six Pack’, self-confessed “slacker rock” Parisians Normcore are here to remind you of the Reading Festival mud-bath of 1992 and the long, hot summer of 1995. On a spirited homage to various distorted indie rock heroes from decades past, its six songs recycle the best bits of early Weezer, Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk and Pavement with a loving charm, but a heavy French accent throughout gives this distortion-loving quartet a slightly different slant on an overly familiar sound.
On their debut EP, HeyRocco weren’t exactly shy about flaunting their influences. Huge slabs of Nirvana-esque riffery collided with early Weezer songcraft and waves of distortion, creating something truly retro.
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.
Shrewsbury’s The Devil In Faust mix up a world of rock-based influences on their debut EP, ‘Come Apart’. Three of the four featured songs centre around a genuine punch, and whether attempting something borne of faster alt-metal elements or tackling something a little meatier, there are some great riffs to be heard. These are riffs that, for the most part, sound a hundred times better with the volume cranked, thanks in no small way to producer Tue Madsen – a man best known for his work with Meshuggah, Sick of it All and Dir En Grey. The end results aren’t perfect, since the actual song writing can be a touch wobbly, but there’s certainly some enjoyment to be had from this uneven musical ride.
Fronted by singer-songwriter Lauren Tate, Hands Off Gretel’s 2016 full length ‘Burn The Beauty Queen’ is unashamed in borrowing a lot of influence from the 90s. With elements of Nirvana, Hole and occasionally the more tuneful edge of various other alt-rock and grunge sources, its tracks take a trip through a world of big riffs on songs with a very female perspective. Almost like the missing link between Hole’s classic ‘Live Through This’ and their far more commercial ‘Celebrity Skin’, it’s an album that’s very well put together – the production is excellent, the playing very good, the songwriting often possessing a spirited quality – but it’s also sometimes a bit too calculated, like experiencing the riot grrrl movement through a Tim Burton filter. For all of their talent, Hands Off Gretel appear as a garish, stripy legginged, teen goth fantasy of what the grunge fuelled early-mid 90s were like, had there been no surviving archival references. The album in turn almost presenting the past as if Courtney Love were only remembered via folk tales passed down through a generation.