The Vaulted Skies were one of the few bands that became the soundtrack to my insanity during lockdown. When they announced their show at The Angel in Nottingham supporting Lesbian Bed Death, I obviously had to be there in full unashamed fangirl fashion.
Starting with their sludgy hard-hitter, Hollowhead, they instantly asserted their ability to create an atmosphere where hearing the music becomes secondary to feeling it. After a delicate guitar intro that feeds intoxicating post-punk opium vibes, they slammed into an arresting amalgamation of shoegaze, rock and grunge with Molko-Esque vocals that cut above the noise.
Originally it was their gothy dancey hit, Does Anyone Else Feel (Strange)? which ended the set that won me over; the mix of inimitably intricate guitars over a filthy four-on-the-floor beat naturally had me hooked. But with the emergence of their demo release of their slower indie single, Almost Happy, my adoration became far more multifaceted.
Whether they’re creating floor-fillers or stripped-back melodic tracks, there’s a magnetism that proves emotion always comes before ego, which makes it so easy to lose yourself in their sonic alchemy through the sense of unfiltered connectedness.
The Vaulted Skies is easily one of the most criminally underrated alternative acts in the UK right now. Anyone with a proclivity towards pensiveness and pioneering alt-rock should be paying attention.
The popularity of alt-rock may have been in decline since the 90s, but the level of talent runs parallel through artists such as Noise Blossom. Ahead of the release of their sophomore album, Louderage, we’ve delved into the standout single, SAD.
Right from the prelude the echo of the grunge era grips you. Amidst the nods to Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana, Noise Blossom diversifies their sonic palette with Metallica-reminiscent instrumental tones and doomy vocals that will undoubtedly resonate with anyone whose mentality errs on the side of melancholy. In 2021, I am assuming that is everyone.
The official video for SAD premiered on September 17th; you can check it out for yourselves via YouTube.
Left of the Slash are the harbingers of doom in their latest single, The Time is Now, which uses screeching sleaze rock solos around the trepidation-laden rhythm section. In the vocals, you’ll find a sense of urgency for awakening that becomes infectious throughout the high-octane hard-rock hit.
Left of the Slash is easily one of the most promising alt-rock outfits to have fallen on our radar this year. Their expansive array of influence covers everyone from TOOL to The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Black Sabbath to Pixies; which gives you an idea of how they came to cultivate such a dynamic sound that is unpredictable from one release to the next.
With their melodic themes that vary from no-wave to folk, Rouse the Boroughs is an exceptionally rare kind of outfit that can parallel the evocative output from nostalgia-inducing artists such as Mazzy Star, Elliott Smith and Neutral Milk Hotel. Those aren’t comparisons that I make lightly. The lead single, Tighter is the Rope, from their latest release, Cosmic Creatures – Part 2, is the perfect introduction to the Montreal-based art and music cooperative.
Instead of the cleverness of the soundscape capturing you through its vibrant dreamy -sporadically over-driven and sludgy, tones – it’s the emotion that the cooperative can express with their sound that leaves you affably hooked. The vocals allow you to imagine what Sonic Youth would have sounded like if Thurston Moore was as vocally sweet as Matthew Caws. You’d be seriously hard-pressed to find a more blissfully provocative single released in 2021.
Alt-rock outfit, Shadow Box, made its debut in 2021 with their album, Flat Moon. The lead single, Without a Word, will quickly become a playlist staple for fans of Faith No More, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. (I don’t make Mike Patton comparisons easily.) If someone told me that Without a Word was a lost relic from the alt-90s, I’d believe them; the panoramic anthem pulls you in with the intensity of the emotion poured over tight melodic instrumentals.
Shadow Box formed when Mike Roman (guitars, vocals, keyboards) and Mike Rajinone (guitars and vocals) fused their respective hard rock and folk-rock styles. Any difference between them quickly became aural chemistry. We can’t wait to hear what follows.
Sany Veloo’s latest scuzzy garage rock hit, The Human Race Ain’t Worth Saving, is a playlist staple for every misanthrope. The high-octane hit channels the angst of 90s grunge, the instrumental flair of rock n roll and the energy of a pop-rock anthem.
Before making his solo debut, the Singapore-born and raised artist was in the band, Boredphucks before they were banned by the government for their polarizing music. It doesn’t get more rock n roll than that, does it? Now residing in Melbourne, Australia, Veloo carries the same commitment to creating unapologetically expressive tracks. We probably don’t need to mention that, given the title of his latest release.
With the powerful and colourful instrumentals in The Human Race Ain’t Worth Saving, Veloo created an ironically euphoric atmosphere for the listener to complete our undeserving sentience.
The Human Race Ain’t Worth Saving is now available to stream via Spotify.
Up and coming alternative artist, Wohn has released his relatable EP, Waiting for Life to Happen; the lead track, Junjito, is an arresting amalgamation of shoegaze, post-punk and garagey psych-rock that any fans of the alt-90s will want in their ears.
After a shoegazy prelude, the mostly instrumental release starts to centre around the artist’s ability to lay down riffs at blistering speed and his ability to make a soundscape fraught with tumultuous tension with his over-driven angular lead work.
After an ebb in the veracious momentum, the pensive vocals make an eerily captivating appearance before Wohn lays down a scorching-hot, seemingly endless solo that is leagues apart from other contemporary alternative artists. We truly can’t rate Wohn highly enough. He not only evokes angsty grungy 90s nostalgia, but he also puts a visceral signature spin on it. We can’t wait to hear more of in the future.
Hands in Shadow’s latest single, Hater, Fighter…Lover? is an ingenious mash of indie post-punk, funk, grunge and avant-garde. The prelude delivers Nirvana-Esque sludgy tones before the playfully polyphonic keys allow you to imagine the aural result if the Residents and Kraftwerk produced together.
Hands in Shadow found the perfect balance between obscurity and melody, the eerie magnetic pull of the single makes you feel at a loss when the short and sweet psychedelic indie hit suddenly comes to a close. We will definitely be keeping the Yorkshire-based artist on our radar for future releases; we advise everyone with a penchant for avant-garde indie to do the same.
You can check out Hands in Shadow’s latest single for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.
The 90s-inspired alt-rock outfit Skin 17 started in Scotland and regenerated in Japan before finding a new base in London, where Andrew Cockburn found the home place of his sophomore album, Lighting your way by the bridges that you burn. The timely record takes inspiration from the likes of the Cure, NIN and Smashing Pumpkins, but leaves plenty of room for originality.
With snarled lyrics navigating lament and the even angstier guitars and percussion that could easily allow a pit to open it, the lead single, The Heart That Will Not Start allows pain to cohabit with anger in the fiery tumultuous release that carries hints of 70 punk alongside swathes of grungy nuance.
Instrumentally, you’ll find reminiscence to Disturbed, Driving Pool and Godsmack, while vocally, you can expect plenty of Social Distortion-style scathing yet vulnerable emotion.
Check out the latest album from Skin 17 by heading over to Bandcamp.
Stop wearing out your Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins records and hit play on the frenetically dark alt-rock hit, At the Door,London’s luminary outfit Disorder.
With mastering work by Alex Wharton (Pixies, The Beatles, My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai) at Abbey Road Studios and the mixing and co-production talent of Billy Bush (Garbage, Muse, Foster the People), you don’t need us to reassure you of the production quality.
But plenty of the ingenuity in At the Door comes via Disorder’s energetically confrontational presence in the alt-rock scene.
They offer the chaos of punk in a tumultuous soundscape blazoned with serious rock n roll stripes. The combination of heavy down-tuned guitars, synths and drum machines have redefined what rock and roll means in 2021. At the Door isn’t a revival but a reformation.
At the Door officially released on July 2nd; you can check it out for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.