When talking about their current single, “The Mission Field,” I compared the musical stance from The Payroll Union to that of The Band’s breaking with the expectations and fashion of the day and mining a wholly different seam. Whereas the latter were happy to inhabit that older world, the former are more interested in describing it, the difference between historical re-enactors and academics, I guess. I say this because although they may look the part, their musical tools seem rooted in the present even if their subject is the riotous times of early 19th Century Philadelphia and it’s reactionaries, brawlers, preachers and rabble-rousers.
My review pile is a wonderfully chaotic place, a real juxtaposition of styles that tumble at random from the “to do” list onto the stereo for further consideration. So after a morning of trying to find new ways of making melancholic and pastoral singer song-writers minor key creations sound like more than the sum of their ponderous parts, it was with a squeal of delight that I was greeted by the latest Nasty Little Lonely e.p. of Bad Jack and Other Stories that had finally made its way to the top.
Nasty Little Lonely are an awesome live experience and thankfully a lot of the energy and attitude that they bring to the stage is evident in this four-track collection. To experience their music is to meander between hard and jagged genres, cold metallic industrial noise and dark gothic, reverb drenched, post punk grit. The often affected vocals add to the demonic-dream dimension that the band seem to spring from, sounding more like a band that Clive Barker had imagined than a collection of actual human musicians. And surprisingly enough for all the extreme musical measures resorted to when creating this unique sound; they still end up with something rather, well, tuneful. If a slice of howling, squalling, insane and possessed industrial noise is the sort of thing that floats your boat, if warped horror soundtracks and spikey, uncomfortable musical salvos are your thing, then Nasty Little Lonely are your very own one-stop shop of horrors.
This was written by TheNightWriter and posted by Intensely Nick
If 2012’s Voyage of Oblivion from Bristol, England-based Jim Johnston mapped out a strange, detached and unsettling musical landscape, even that didn’t quite suggest the twisted grandeur and off kilter meanderings that the follow up album delivers. Generic labels are largely useless here as all contemporary styles are put to new uses but the ever-shifting nature of the album means that it doesn’t sit in any one genre for too long. Yes, alt-rock, psychedelia and post-punk may provide the more visible backdrop but the sound of Bristol’s recent musical past (and indeed Johnston’s own with Monk and Canatella) are also on show.
Tribal dance beats and trippy electronica flavours blends with the straighter rock drives and angular indie influences, there is even an often-schizophrenic saxophone wandering through like a crazed jazz pied piper. If Voyage… was the sound of blues and psychedelia meeting in a cold, clinical embrace in a disused dockside somewhere along the Severn Estuary, this is the sound of David Bowie scoring the bleak worlds of Bret Easton Ellis’ novels and Damien Moran’s hypnotic narrative that threads it’s way between, around and through the songs immediately puts you in mind of Diamond Dogs spoken opening salvo. I’m not saying that I fully understand the overall concept of the narrative, I’m sure it is an album that reveals its secrets through multiple re-visits, but it is not easy to ignore the fleeting references to backstreet horrors, gratuitous violence and the brooding undercurrents that pour from this open wound of an album. After All The Wishing really sees Jim Johnston up his game and even after the strange beauty of his previous solo outing he has again delivered something both weird and intoxicating, dangerously attractive and unlike anything you have heard before. In the right light it would be easy to convince yourself that this is actually a long lost album from Bowie’s Berlin years and there are not many albums that you can say that about.
Find Jim Johnston’s release of After All The Wishing on Bandcamp.
You can find Jim Johnston on Facebook.
This article was kindly written by Dave Franklin.
If lead single “Wrap Up” set up our expectations for this subsequent e.p. to be a squalling, brattish love letter to every snotty, underground music genre of modern times, it certainly didn’t prepare us for the subtleties and dynamic shifts that the band are able to employ. Far from being the wall-to-wall garage band attitude, there is a lot more at work here. “Twenty Nothing”, whilst sticking to the loud-quiet template does so with more panache than you would expect, weaving in elements of jangle but stopping far short of any indie twee-ness.
The Pixies comparisons, that seem to be the yardstick that most journalists are measuring them by, only really raise their head on “Snatch,” a 90’s college rock beast, all skittering drums and slabs of bass forming a platform for some wonderfully driven and uncompromising guitar salvos.
But it is swansong “Nothing In There” that is the real surprise, a sludgy, doom-pop masterpiece of atmospherics and musical pomp, like Underneath What playing a Nick Cave torch song, big anthemic structures and sinister vocals not even hinted at on the previous three songs.
It should be obvious to anyone who crosses this E.P’s path just how great it is, how wonderfully it represents every underdog genre and every misunderstood band or every songwriter shut out by the mainstream music industry. In the space of four songs they seem to have summed up the forgotten and abused underbelly of contemporary music. If you don’t get that, on any level, then don’t play me anything from your record collection. Ever.
Wear and Tear is set for release on April 13th 2015 through Hi4Head Records
You can find False Heads on Bandcamp.
You can also find the band on Facebook.
This review was written by Dave Franklin.