Saturday, 30 July 2016

Reviews - Picturebox | Grawl!x | Dementio 13

It's shameful when great albums miss a review but it's never too late to give them the credit that they deserve.  We thumb through his our collection and bring you more albums you should still hear.

Picturebox – Songs Of Joy (Gare Du Nord Records)


8.5 / 10

Out Now

Canterbury's Robert Halcrow possesses that enviable talent of writing near perfect pop under the pseudonym of Picturebox.  Songs Of Joy sounds like a gorgeous mix of The Kinks and The Beatles (circa Rubber Soul and Revolver) with some fine tunes that are as catchy as they are enjoyable.

From album opener Friday Morning 11am, a song that is textbook Ray Davies, to closer Disgusting (a faux New Wave guitar pop-rocker) thirteen tracks are performed with the talent of a man clearly well versed in his craft.  Everything has a chorus that is difficult to shake, and a melody that is pure delightfulness.

Even the one song not penned by Halcrow, the highly infectious Garden Song with additional voices from Welsh musician and artist Pulco, fits perfectly into the proceedings.    Like Pulco, Halcrow is also able to sing about real-life events and make them sound utterly enthralling, Crazy Golf being one such example.

Songs Of Joy does exactly what it proclaims to do.  It's all very simple and very polished as well as being a fine example of song writing at its best.  An album worthy of sitting in everyone’s music collection.

Grawl!x - Aye!


8.5 / 10

Out Now

James Michael Machin otherwise known as Grawl!x, has featured on Louder Than War several times but his album Aye! seems to have dodged the radar.  A shame as it's a lovely little thing that takes you on a journey containing neo-classical, dream-pop and occasional slices of reverb all in a highly polished stadia package.

There are some fine alternative pop pieces in the likes of Gumption and Kumquat, and whilst their titles don’t immediately instil intrigue, they soon embed their highly addictive melodies in the unsuspecting listener.  Pando is a dreamy, 90s sounding Indie pearl with some fascinating drum rolls and rhythms.

It's one of those albums that will demand more than one play as Machin commands every instrument on the album with fine aplomb.  Compliance features him via a vocoder of sorts over a synth backdrop creating an unconventional yet subtle dream world.  Each track is as good as the last as the title track is saved for the finale of the album, and once more features light vocals gently ebbing against engaging instrumentation.

The next Grawl!x album is allegedly complete and if it even begins to touch the wondrousness of Aye! then we're in for a treat.

Dementio 13 – Dead Of Night EP (Tanzwuth Recordings)


8.5 / 10

Out Now

From Cardiff via Lancashire comes the works of Dementio 13, an artist quickly making a name for himself after several albums and EPs worth of material.  Fascinatingly not being bracketed into any genre, the styles vary from synth pop to drum n bass to krautrock in the blinking of an eye, and as such holds much in the way of captivating an audience.

With the latest EP, Dead Of Night released in April, five tracks are on offer with four of them generously around the 6-7 minute mark.  Available as a name-your-price release from Bandcamp it kicks off with 4am Sun an angelic piece with appropriately added choral voices which completes a quite beautiful sound.

With NIghtview the pace is picked up somewhat into a semi-techno offering that leads into an almost electro funk effort with Shadow On The Wall.  The change in styles keeps the collection fresh and incredibly addictive. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Dementio 13 then it’s probably high time you acquainted yourself as with over twenty releases in the back catalogue there is a lot of catching up to do.  Dead Of Night confirms why Paul Dementio is an artist highly regarded by his peers and one in increasing demand as a remixer.

Published on Louder Than War 21/07/16 - here

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Monday, 18 July 2016

Three Smiles Wide To Re-Release Acclaimed EP

Acclaimed trio Three Smiles Wide will this week (22nd) re-release their celebrated debut EP. Originally recorded in 2013, the EP was then mastered by Hafod Mastering and then sold at their gigs. The EP quickly sold out and due to demand the band have decided to reissue the EP which will be available from Bandcamp and at their shows. Limited to 150 copies (CD) this is set to be a must-have release.

The precise reason for Three Smiles Wide fearless use of dirty great big hooks remains a mass debated fact in certain circles.

Some attribute it to the irreversible damage caused by spending a claustrophobically long amount of time tied together in a Butcher's lock up; others sight a general lack of IQ and a poorly informed view of human kindness. Regardless of the reasons, this fearless use of dirty great big hooks, coupled with broken amplifiers stuck on the fuzz setting, makes for a glorious three piece treat.
TSW Bandcamp

Listen! - Mt. Wolf - Hex (Infintefreefall Remix)


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Listen! - Racing Glaciers - Patient Man

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Friday, 15 July 2016

"No Wonder You're Depressed"

"No Wonder You're Depressed Listening To That"

The above sentence is something I have heard countless times throughout my life and to be fair the people who said it did in some way have a point.

Ever since my childhood days I have been obsessed with music. Music of all shapes and colours starting with whatever my parents were listening to (which was a LOT of different genres) right through to my own finds and obsessions, obsessions that last to this very day. From the age of twelve I started finding myself drawn to music that was darker and more edgy starting with the revelation that was Guns 'n' Roses Appetite For Destruction. This was my light bulb moment. At the age of ten I was hearing someone sing about sex, death, drugs, self-destruction and I was transfixed. I must admit the swearing also helped..

Why I was drawn to this music I will never really know. I grew up in rough area of the Rhondda Valleys but I had a very stable family life and good friends. It was only as I got older that the subjects that Axl Rose was singing about on this album started creeping into my life.

The older I got, the more my tastes turned to the darker arts. Films, books and music all seemed to have a theme running through them. A theme of rebellion, of isolation, of destruction and as my depression grew so did my love for this type of art. Was it the music I was listening to that was making me depressed or was I listening to depressive music BECAUSE I was depressed?
As I spiralled through my teenage life and into young adulthood I became even more engrossed in the words of musicians such as Lou Reed, Robert Smith, Radiohead, and Ian Curtis. It is this last musician who I felt the strongest affinity with. If you are not aware Ian was the lead singer of the post-punk band Joy Division who took his own life at the age of just 23 (today would have been his 60th birthday). His work with the band focussed on the darker side of human nature and it was only after his death did people fully realise that the words he was singing were not some great artistic narrative but the actual heartfelt words of someone suffering. Ian's life and death have been written about and poured over many times, the best of which being his widow Deborah Curtis' excellent book 'Touching From A Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division (Faber & Faber)

Hearing Ian sing lines such as "Here are the young men, the weight on the shoulders" really struck a chord in me as did albums like Pink Floyd's The Wall, Radiohead's OK Computer, Nirvana's In Utero and David Bowie's Low and what I realised that I was using these albums not to make myself depressed but as a form of catharsis. If I was feeling particularly low I would lock myself away and listen to an album and at the end of it I would feel better knowing that there were others that felt the same was as I and actually had had it a lot worse.

I couldn't talk to my parents or friends about the feelings I had so these musicians became my confidantes, my crutch, my North Pole.  They spoke to me like no one else could and helped me on many occasions.

Now there was a danger to this as I could sometimes get too engrossed and obsessed making me wallow in the music and build up some romantic image in my mind of what I should be aka a "tortured young man". I could assume a role and become one of these artist unfortunately without any of the musical talent or outlets so these feelings would fester in my mind.

After two 'incidents' I stayed away from the darker side of the arts for a while instead choosing to dive into the more euphoric state of dance music but the side of my brain that NEEDED to delve into the abyss kept niggling away until I returned and what I found was that now I was in a far better place in my life the music took a different perspective. I could now empathise with the words and instead of wanting to be these people I sympathised and, in the case of Ian Curtis, felt sorry for them. I have now come to a place where I can put the music on just for enjoyment (it is bloody great music after all) and not get too deep but if I need them I know they will always be there for me, a guide, a fellow sufferer, someone who "gets" me so the next time you hear a family member or friend listening to what you may term "depressing" music instead of questioning the music itself ask them why they like the music, does it help them, and to borrow the album so you yourself may get a better understanding of the music and its importance to said person.  With the increase in suicides in the UK (especially amongst young men) this is more important than ever. Don't judge, engage!

What are your thoughts? Do you use music as catharsis or do you feel listening to a certain type of music is detrimental to your mental health? Let us know below.

"Existence well what does it matter? I exist on the best terms I can. The past is now part of my future the present is well out of hand" I. Curtis (Heart and Soul) RIP x