LA’s prodigal sons of alt-rock, Left of the Slash, are set to release their hotly anticipated psych-laden, grunge rock single, Never Let Go. The rising artist may take their sound seriously, but they made the track infectious from the first hit. The vocal personality is just as enticing as Cobain’s during his 1993 unplugged performance of Plateau.
With fleeting reminiscences to everyone from Modest Mouse to Pixies to Sonic Youth to Queens of the Stone Age, Left of the Slash refreshingly eclipse the golden era of grunge and no-wave while adding one of the freshest new takes on sludge pop that we have heard this year.
It would be no surprise to see Left of the Slash’s name added to the roster of artists at Sub Pop or Ipecac Records. Has someone informed Mike Patton that they exist yet?
Never Let Go will be available to stream from June 11th. Check out Left of the Slash via Facebook and Instagram.
German-based rock revivalists Crimson Spirit are set to release their most absorbing single to date. After a Post Punk-Esque intro, Violet’s vocals creep into the soundscape with a timbre that haunts with the same phantasmal presence as Sophe Lux and Angel Olsen.
Poor Little Boy is an epic alt-rock track that teases empathy while allowing a sardonic undertone to run under the compassion. The instrumentals artfully and progressively mimick slips of patience in the realistically hard-hitting release that tackles tendencies to turn to self-destructive vices.
The founding members, Alexander Stieben and Jana Krieger (aka Violet Rigby), are experienced musicians; before assembling Crimson Spirit, they were part of black metal and psych bands, but Crimson Spirit captures both of their work at its most experimental. Their sound is inspired by the 80s and 90s alternative eras, stylistically, they dabble with elements of classic rock, hard rock, avant-garde rock, grunge and metal to forge their own alchemically immersive signature sound.
Poor Little Boy will be available to stream on all platforms, including SoundCloud, from June 18th.
‘Spirit City Kiss’ is the latest single released by alt-indie-rock artist KAIS, the suitably sweet grungy tones are tinted with the nuances of psych-pop and swathes of alt 90s nostalgia. If Dinosaur Jr’s 2021 album didn’t hit the spot, the hazily over-driven tones in Spirit City Kiss definitely will.
Fans of Blur, The Charlatans, The Beatles and Dinosaur Jr alike will want to delve into the psychotropic soundscape inspired by the cities that make us feel home, even if our home is on the other side of the ocean. The dreamy reverb wraps around the subversive lyrics that may sound like your usual amorous tropes at first but if you read between the lines, you’ll find that KAIS has, once again, explored ubiquitous social dynamics and tapped into a relatively unexplored part of our consciousness that yearns for our spiritual homes.
Being no stranger to international travel, the Canadian, Jordan-born singer-songwriter and instrumentalist now finds himself residing in Cyprus, where he works out of his recording studio, Hot Soap Studios.
KAIS has been travelling the globe and gracing stages since the early 00s. In 2014, he took part in the Mayor of London Big Busk. In 2014, he graduated with a diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering (Point Blank Music College). With a full band, he performed throughout Vancouver, Toronto, and Seattle in 2016 and 2017.
With an EP in the works and due for release later in 2021, you’ll want to save a spot on your radar.
Spirit City Kiss released on May 14th; you can check it out for yourselves by heading over to Spotify.
‘Enjoy Your Fat Self’ is the iniquitously confrontational debut album from Flint-based alt-rock outfit Werewolves that shakes the mindlessness out of consumerism and compliance.
The title track is a frenetic feat of high-octane sleaze rock that will be a hit with fans of the Cramps and Motley Crüe alike. With rock rhythms distorted into tumultuous discord under the whiskey-soaked brash vocals, it is adrenalizing from the intro. The release proves just how far Werewolves have taken their sound since establishing their line-up in 2017. In their current formation, Werewolves is Bruce Horn (guitar & lead vocals), Paul Owsinski (guitar & backing vocals), Aaron Reinhard (drums & backing vocals), Doug Wilson (bass & backing vocals (on album)) and Nick Baker (bass & backing vocals (current & live)).
Through the rest of the album, you’ll find plenty of exhibitions of Werewolves’ versatility. With some tracks oozing the stylish despondence of Dinosaur Jr. and others being experimental with psych-laden prog structures; there isn’t a skippable track.
The debut release shatters Danzig’s claim that ‘punk can’t happen in our woke generation’, punk tears through this release with sharper teeth than ever, and discernibly, far better musicianship.
With their next LP already in the works and their motivation to release a constant stream of high energy, angsty life-affirming tracks, Werewolves are worth getting acquainted with as they take the scene by storm in 2021 and beyond.
After forming in 2019, London-based three-piece powerhouse Young Fatigue is gaining all the right attention and are on track to take the Alt-Rock scene by storm in 2021, especially with the release of their latest single, Am I Pretty Now?
With crystal clear nods to Daniel Kessler’s lead work in the intro giving way to the grungey carnage in the first verse combined with throbbingly ominous post-punk basslines, Am I Pretty Now? hooks you in, right from the start. As the single continues to evolve, pop-punk biting energy transgresses into post-hardcore-style-furore, delivering an angsty scuzz that you are unlikely to forget.
Tune into the lyrics, and you will find that Young Fatigue attack aesthetic obsession with the same poignancy as Richey Edwards. If Richey was around to witness the Instagram generation, I do not doubt that his lyrics would be reminiscent of Young Fatigue’s.
Georgetown grunge trio Tough on Fridays has been on our radar since we heard their unforgettable 2018 single, ‘The Waywards’. With their latest single, Cabin Fever, their pop-punk edge has been stripped-back and replaced by doom-laden tones that will win over any fans of Porcupine Tree.
The gloomy, progressive anthem, complete with a thrashing rhythm section and angular cutting guitar notes that bring Shoegaze nuances into the mix, is a raw admission of the frustration experienced while locked away from normality.
What makes Cabin Fever so intense and cathartic is the realism of the angst. It was delivered in the same despondent way we’ve all been feeling over the past year.
Cabin Fever officially released on May 3rd; you can check it out for yourselves by visiting Tough on Fridays’ website.
I always try to find the positives in reviews and give constructive pointers where there are areas for improvement, and I guess with that in mind there’s some nice fingerpicked guitar here coupled with Tommy Harwood’s obvious enthusiasm for what he’s doing. Maybe it’s that enthusiasm that’s at fault here, because ‘Walking In The Dark’ feels and sounds like the passion to get the song finished and recorded took away from the necessity to polish the lyrics and work on the performance. Sadly, the guitar’s lacking in any midrange warmth and so bright as to be brittle and shrill, the vocals are too up-front in the mix and have some – to put it delicately – tuning and pitching issues, and the cajon sadly wanders in and out of time seemingly of its own volition. All of these things could be corrected by some vocal coaching and some time with a seasoned producer to take charge of the engineering and mixing, and to guide the performance in the right direction.
Tommy’s a poet as well as a songwriter, and there’s no question that, at the root of all this, he can write verse; he needs to focus a little more on meter-over-music – poetry and lyric writing are very different beasts, despite their surface similarities – and on the vocal performance. He certainly knows his way around fingerstyle guitar, and it’s a shame that the production values on this demo don’t really allow that to be showcased. It may be that in his eagerness to commit ‘Walking In The Dark’ to tape (is that even still a thing?) and add ‘multi-instrumentalist’ to his CV, he’s done himself a disservice – it’s entirely possible that, with a few fewer instruments to worry about, a bit of singing-and-guitar-only focus, and a decent producer to get the best out of his vocal and guitar-playing performance, there’s some nice song ideas here. It’s just a shame that they’re currently being undone by his intensity and spirit, and a desire to do everything all at once.
Decades may have passed since alt-rock outfit, Selfish Gene garnered rave reviews and joined Sonic Youth on their Washing Machine album tour in 1996, but the Tel Aviv-hailing artist’s despondently transfixing sound is just as transfixing in the 21st century.
‘After the Rain’ is the first single to be released from their forthcoming album, produced 20 years after the original line up disbanded. With vocals which carry reminiscence to Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and J Mascis against distorted winding guitar hooks which may as well have been played on your heartstrings, the melancholically mellifluous single is as evocative as it is innovative. Anyone who can’t get enough of alt-90s indie may finally find themselves sated by this sweetly optimistic-in-spite-of-nihilism release.
After the Rain is available to stream via Spotify.
When, back in November, we reviewed Godzukey’s last single ‘Alibi’, we said that Portland, Oregon, might have just spawned a new baby monster. On the basis of ‘The Wrath To Come’, that monster’s now hitting the angry teenage years, slamming its bedroom door, and refusing to come out except for snacks and video games.
Written about deceitful friends and still peppered with beautifully tasteful harmonics and bluesy shredding from guitar noisenik Conrad Bylsma, ‘The Wrath To Come’ is a glorious, grungy, doomy, melodic, stomp through sludgy stoner-rock (that’s a thing) in an old-school lazy vocal and fuzzed-up guitars kind of way. There’s large elements of some absolute classics in here – Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, with a definite nod to the Foos, Nirvana, and J Mascis/Dinosaur Jr. especially around the laconic vocal delivery and effects.
‘The Wrath To Come’ is the 8th track from Godzukey’s demo mini-album ‘Lake Mammalian’, and a precursor to their debut online gig ‘Bridge City Sessions: Godzukey’, which can be viewed via YouTube and Facebook on March 2nd this year.
Fans of loud, melodic alt-rock could do no better than checking out this, the first single from Joe Butterfield’s (QUIIET) new project Wave Armory. That’s not intending to be diminishing or ‘box-finding’, either – ‘Iron Lung’ is very definitely modern and progressive, whilst bringing together a bunch of classic 90’s and 00’s grunge and alt-metal influences; there’s a very definite ‘Dirt’-Era Alice In Chains vibe going on with the feedback and heavy drop-tuned riffage, the vocals gently effected and set back in the mix a la Stayley or Cornell. That ‘Rusty Cage’ Soundgarden edge comes across in the excellent doomy stomp of the guitars, too, the bass and drums plodding in the very, very best sense of that description, absolutely inviting the listener to slam, mosh, and wreck before the wah-driven solo takes over, the chorus sticking in your head long after the vocal ends.
Wave Armory’s debut EP – from which ‘Iron Lung’ is taken – is out across streaming platforms now. You can practically hear the circle-pits opening up in anticipation already.