Links: Storytelling, the rump hi-res streaming consortium, the end of newspaper critics, Jim Bob.


Reviews: Carrousel, Neuroticfish, Epileptics (2016, 2017).


CARROUSEL: Nighttown [Memphis Again, Pt. 2] — straddling the line between pop and abrasive sound collage. They have a good idea what they’re doing with the hooks gleefully scattered through the mix like Easter eggs. Rewards both casual laptop speakers and close headphone listening. Fifth track “California” stands out as a conventional pop song (well, before it goes KLF ambient two minutes in), but you really should closely listen to the whole thing up to it. Same for “August 5th.” The other records on their Bandcamp are also at least this odd. Find of the day.

NEUROTICFISH: “Agony” (NOR) — latest single from A Sign Of Life. Well-executed EBM pop with layers of rhythmic riffing on the central musical idea. The several remixes are not superfluous extension or fat on the EP. This does its job well.

EPILEPTICS: The Sun Hurts My Eyes — The EP of the single “Lesbic”, reviewed previously. Glitchy obnoxious electropunk, assembled with loving care to get in your face effectively. Less abrasive on the second play. Other particular winners: “UNISEX”, “Hexenstep”, “amethystgrenade.gif.” There’s also lots more on the Bandcamp.


Links: Slowdive return, GRIDI, Tetris on a Launchpad, BitTorrent Inc.


Synthpop: Black Nail Cabaret, LisaWars, Lux for the Monsters (2016).


BLACK NAIL CABARET: Dichromat — synthpop noir with the cabaret side the name promises. A comforting dash of precision decadence in these dark times. Personal favourites: “CO”, “Therapy”, “We Like To Suffer”, “Minor Panics”. The additional versions on the EP of “We Like To Suffer” are also worth your time. Also check their own Bandcamp. Above: “We Like To Suffer”, “Therapy”.


LISAWARS: “Sehnsucht” — a new single released just before Christmas. Less on the Neue Deutsche Welle revival side and more on the angsty German post-punk shouting. If you liked “Schlafen” you’ll like this. And it’s free, and their entire catalogue is pretty cheap on Bandcamp.


LUX FOR THE MONSTERS: “Reconsider”; “Annie”; “Dust”; “Panic”/”Inside Revolution” — a series of boppy synthpop singles from a French band. The sound is more sparse than lush, but the songwriting more than carries it. Above: “Reconsider”, “Dust”, “Panic”.

Links: Selling yourself as a streaming artist, vacuum tubes, indie conspiracy theories.


Links: Ticketmaster, digital property, not liking music, the biggest UK debut album of 2016.

Links: AdNauseam blocked, Facebook video takedowns, hi-res Tidal, a wrist vibrator subwoofer.


Reviews: The Pineapple Thief, Trance To The Sun, Scandinavia (2016).

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF: Your Wilderness (Kscope) — “post-progressive,” which I thought was a term meaning “prog but you’re allowed to program loops in Ableton on it.” This appears to all be musicianship, though. It’s intricate and long-winded (though most tracks feel shorter than they in fact are) but has a really nice, nuanced sound to it. Main theme is broody mopiness. Above: first track “In Exile,” which is pretty representative.


TRANCE TO THE SUN: Via Subterranea — dreampop with an emphasis on the “pop”; first track “Max Mystic” makes its case immediately without undue faff. (And that’s even with it being, at 4:51, the shortest track on the album.) Real muscle and not just atmospherics (though you can still tell they were a Projekt band with a not-so-secret goth past). Find of the day. Above: “Max Mystic”. There’s several albums more on the Bandcamp.


SCANDINAVIA: World Power (Artefracture) — punky new wave power pop. It’s very catchy, clever, quirky and competent as songwriting. “Ideology” is a very effective single. Above: “Chandler Bing”, “Intelligent Hip-Hop”.

Streaming links: Google and SoundCloud, hi-res audio, codec snobbery.


  • Google might buy SoundCloud, for as-yet-unclear reasons that will undoubtedly make any sense whatsoever to someone at some point. (That story doesn’t advance any, just notes the rumour.) Better happen soon as SoundCloud is haemorrhaging money.

  • The majors and the electronics manufacturers want to push 24-bit snake oil so they can sell you your collection again, this time streaming. Being themselves, of course, they can’t agree on a codec, because 24-bit FLAC is too simple or something. The plus points of this will be (a) recordings without LOUDNESS WARS (except dance music, which sounds wrong if it hasn’t got a LOUDNESS WARS mastering) (b) an uncompressed stream you can rip from the audio to 16-bit. Yo ho ho and three megabytes of hot RAM. They’ve only been working on this six years, I’m sure they’ll get there eventually.

  • While you’re waiting for that, train yourself to hear compression artifacts and turn into a codec snob. Tell people whether Spotify’s playing off the web client or the desktop client!

The Voices: Oneiric Anthem (2016).

THE VOICES: Oneiric Anthem (Masked Dead) — today’s “what the hell even is that”: a capella experimental progressive rock. (Also, why are most of the promos in my email prog.) It’s a record assembled entirely from composer Paolo Ferrante’s voice and no other instrument. He was previously in a black metal band, Secretpath — this isn’t metal, but it’s clearly informed by it. The result is abrasive as hell, but certainly interesting.

The physical version comes as two mini-CDs, “Day” and “Night.” There’s also a painted wooden box edition with chocolate chilli liqueur and spiced honey. There’s a few more tracks on the Bandcamp. (“I’m Regret” features a metal-style Cookie Monster vocal.) Above “(Lost) My Mind” (from “Day”) and “The Bare Unbearable Bearings of a Bear” (from “Night”), which are pretty representative.