Following the massive success of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album at the end of 1991, the major labels turned their attention to Seattle and the surrounding areas hoping to sign “the next big thing”. Bands that’d been working hard on an underground scene suddenly found themselves thrown in the spotlight as the musical tide turned. Screaming Trees signed a deal with Epic Records and subsequently released their three finest albums (including the career defining ‘Sweet Oblivion’); Tad moved up the ranks from Sub Pop to the East/West label and even Melvins – previously considered an almost unmarketable commodity – struck a three album deal with Ahmet Ertegun’s legendary Atlantic Records.
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.