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Sonic Fiction is back!!!

Hello Sonic Fiction readers,

My name is Liam and I’m founder and main for Sonic Fiction. I know that the blog has been dormant since February 2017 and I haven’t posted regularly since the Summer of 2016 but that is about to change.

In fact, a lot about the blog is changing rather than being a critical music blog as it had future posts will be more about informal music debate, discussion and recommendations. Don’t worry if you’re someone who really enjoys the critcal music reviews and articles this will be coming back in a different format later in the year. I warn you however that anything critcal music wise is very much at the idea stage and I won’t have a chance to properly research and plan for it’s launch until later in the year.

In the meantime to celebrate Sonic Fiction’s relaunch I will be posting something to the blog everyday for a month (ending on the 6th May) and I hope this new direction and content will be enjoyed by all readers of the site. Planned posts include a Best Releases of the Year…so far (this will be at least 2 parts maybe more and posted once weekly until all the posts are published), Discovery of the Week (I’m hoping this will become a regular feature) and Music Question(s) (on a Sunday) – where I will post Rough Trade Shops question for that week and we can discuss and debate it in the Comments.

Keep an eye out for new posts on the site or via my Twitter.

Let me know what you think of the new Sonic Fiction in the Comments.

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Last night I attended The Gig Of The Year (for a little town like York at least) when I went to watch The Midnight Hour at The Crescent Community Venue in York. For those of you who don’t live in the UK I should explain that York doesn’t get bands like The Midnight Hour playing even in the town biggest venues. The city of Leeds is just half an hour down the road and when a tour misses out Leeds the next nearest stop is Manchester just over an hour and half to the West of York. There is no need for a band like The Midnight Hour to play York and yet local Promoter Ouroboros pulled off this amazing booking.

The evening began with support act Jack Waterson who had just released his album “Adrian Younge Presents… Jack Waterson” two before hand. The guitarist wasn’t on stage for long but played an explosive slice of psychedelic rock from his album before handing over to an off Adrian Younge’s cohorts Loren Oden who sang an epic long song while playing Fender Rhodes electric piano I picked up on hints of Marvin Gaye in his voice during this song.

After a brief break between sets it was time for the main event, The Midnight Hour took to the stage with a drummer, viola player, violinist, trumpeter, alto saxophonist, Waterson on guitar, Oden would rejoin the fray later in the set. Adrian Younge played the Fender Rhodes with Ali Shaheed Muhammad playing an incredible looking purple Fender Jazz bass. What followed wasn’t at all what I’d expect from the band. I had listened to their self titled debut album for the first time in months earlier in the day and it’s pretty much a smooth Jazz album, that’s no bad thing but it doesn’t prepare you for the live versions of those tracks. What we got instead was what my friend Paul Lowman described on Twitter as “not just the best psychfunkjazz band around, but they did ‘s Excursions, aka maybe the greatest opening of any LP, ever. Anybody who wants Hendrix fuzz & Fender Rhodes funk in their face, catch ’em live” and I couldn’t put it any better myself. The band so tight and were able to segue from song to song and change styles on a six piece all while keeping the vibe Friday night not the reality of a Sunday night. In a lot of ways the live versions of the album tracks were a better representation of the other material Adrian Younge has put out both as a solo artist and in collaboration with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

The other members of the band were equally impressive with the drummer able to switch from delicate Jazz right through to all-out Funk-Rock breakbeats, the horns were both capable of punchy stabs and expressive emotive soloing, the strings add melancholy flourishes and Loren Oden showed not only could he get into Marvin Gaye territory but also could also pull off a Curtis Mayfield style falsetto. The bands talents were acknowledged throughout the set by both Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad who got everyone up at the front of stage to thank them and give a great speech about their family (the band), never giving up on your dream and never forgetting their are no barriers between us and Love is real. All-in-all an incredible experience, I even got to meet Ali Shaheed Muhammad after the band finished. 

You owe to yourself to check out The Midnight Hour’s music, their live show and anything else that the individuals involved our involved now and into the future.  

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Sun out, roof down, wind in your mane. What’s playing on the stereo?</p>&mdash; Rough Trade (@RoughTrade) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RoughTrade/status/1120004282609229824?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 21, 2019</a></blockquote>
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So it’s time for this week’s Music Question. Another good question from Rough Trade Shops. I think if this was 20 years ago the answer would be easy “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory” by Oasis but it’s a little trickier for something more current. After a bit of thought I’m going to go with Run The Jewels “RTJ 2” it’s probably the most high octane album I’ve bought in recent years and it always reminds me of watching them perform at Glastonbury in blazing sunshine a few years back.

 

Let me know your answer down in the Comments.

This is Part Two in a series of posts rounding up my favourite releases of the last three months and writing about them. Check out Part One here. There will be further individual posts over the next two weeks.

Charlotte Adigery – ‘Zandoli’ EP

I first discovered Charlotte Adigery through her ‘Patenipat’ single last Autumn and instantly knew this could be an artist that I could come to love. The ultra danceable drums and minimal analogue synth bass and melodic riff stuck in my head from the off and got me dancing which is always a good sign. My excitement grew when I found out that Adigery is signed to DeeWee which is Soulwax/2 Many DJs label and that Soulwax/2 Many DJs were producing her songs, this made a lot of sense as the production style is a lot like their ‘Night Versions’ dance remix album.

I wasn’t disappointed when the ‘Zandoli’ EP dropped in February in addition to the excellent ‘Patenipat’ there is the creepy 80’s synths meets 90’s breakbeats of ‘Cursed and Cussed’, the lighter sounding ‘High Lights’ which has a bouncy pitch shifting synth bass line. ‘B B C’ comes across eerie and with the bass line dragging behind the beat but Adigery’s vocal melody and harmony keep things poppy and help the transition into a more upbeat section around one minute in. The EP concludes with ‘Okashi’ which seems more aimed at the dance floor like the title track, Adigery sounds almost like Janelle Monae on her ‘The Archandriod’ album the main synth bell melody is pretty creepy but is balanced out by the vocals.

In their recent review of Adigery’s performance at the Out of Frame festival in Ghent, Belgium The Quietus pronounced “surly she is the future of pop?” I think the answer is maybe and that in some parallel universe she already is.

Let me know what you think “Zandoli” and Charlotte Adigery in the Comments below.

Danger Mouse and Karen O – ‘Lux Prima’

When this album was annouced late last year I was genuinely surprised as I’d heard nothing about a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Karen O was happening. I had also forgotten that Karen O had contributed to other non Yeah Yeah Yeahs projects before including contributing vocals to tracks on NASA’s “The Spirit Of Apollo” (2009) and “Maximum Balloon” by Maximum Balloon both albums which bought together the disparate genres of alternative rock, Hip-Hop and Alternative Rock. The difference here is that while there is a bit cross over between these genres on the album generally Danger Mouse keeps things simple sticking to one genre and stripping things back for the most part.

The album opens with the title track a two part that starts off as a low key touch song with Mellotron strings, warm analogue synth and O’s breathy vocal interjections, this builds the introduction of rhythm guitar, bass guitar and sparse drums. Then there is a brief silence before the second part of the track begins with slow breakbeat drums courtesy of J-Zone then bass kicks a gaining in complexity and carrying the track melodic and allowing O to use her powerful however she wants to. It’s a great atmospheric opener that manages to hold the listener’s attention for it’s whole nine minute length. The next track ‘Ministry’ repeats the first track’s formula but with picked guitar to the fore and the drums pushed back and playing a much sublter role it’s only five minutes long. The tempo picks up on ‘Turn The Light’ with it’s funky guitar riff, glossy high and insistent drums giving Karen a slo-mom Disco canvas to do her thing over. Her vocal phrasing matches the tracks rhythms nicely. The up tick in tempo continues with the cutting distorted guitar, Soul back beat and a joyfully whooping Karen O on ‘Woman’ and the minimal breakbeats and Tremolo guitar of ‘Redeemer’. The album ends with ‘Nox Lumina’ a similarly atmospheric and epic track as the albums opener it serves to bookend the album perfectly.

I really like this album which is diverse and sonically adventurous yet since feels of a piece. This quite a different album for Karen O who is sultry rather than explosive it take a couple of listens to adjust to this and I’m not sure that every fan of her previous work will enjoy this but they should give it a try as they may well be pleasantly surprised. As for Danger Mouse this album isn’t a million miles away from some of his other projects I’m thinking of Broken Bells with The Shins James Mercer. But I found Broken Bells album boring whereas this is a Pop/Rock album that brilliantly showcases all that Danger Mouse has learnt in 20 plus years as a Producer in both senses of the word. In addition, it’s front by Karen O a woman who seems to underrated in the current music scene (though this could just be from my perspective in the UK, please let me know your thoughts US readers) but posseses a powerful voice that is more than capable of taking on what Danger Mouse throws at it on this album.

You should definitely check out ‘Lux Prima’.

Lambchop – “This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You)”

This is going to age me but I can remember when “Nixon” (2000) by Lampchop was released, it was a widely acclaimed album that fused together Alt-Country and soul to perfect encasulate the sound of the USA in the early 70’s while the band added their own twist. It was no surprise to any fans of the album when Zero 7 remixed lead single ‘Up With People’ as Lambchop were always pushing things forward in their own way. I continued to follow the band and enjoy their music on the follow-up “Is A Woman” (2002) which saw the band successfully taking on the unlikely combination of Alt-Country and reggae. For some reason I went off that album eventually selling it and I drifted away from the band. In 2018 the band re-entered my life initially indirectly via singer/lyricist Kurt Wagner featuring on DJ Koze’s ‘Knock Knock’ album and then though the release of ‘The December-ish You’ single late in the year. I was intrigued as I hadn’t realised the band had experiemented with incorparating electronic sound into their songs as early as 2005 when they collborated on the experimental “CoLAB” EP with Nashville Electronic duo Hands Off Cuba and Wagner guested on ‘Give Up’ by UK House duo Xpress 2. Wagner started releasing Electronic music under the HeCTA in 2015 and this has influnced both the next Lambchop album ‘FLOTUS’ and this current one.

On first listen the ear tends to zone in on the Electronic sounds of synthesizers and vocoded vocals but with repeat listens the music reveals itself to be a blend of both Lampchop’s past as “Nashville’s most f*cked-up country band” and their Electronic present. In this spirit the album also mixes the alien and ghostly with emotion and soul, the organic instrumentation (horns, bass guitar, electric guitars and harmonicas) with deep pulsing, throbbing and gliding synth lines and distorted or reverbant Vocoded vocals. It be noted too that this is a departure from the previous Lambchop sound in another respect it leaves behind the string arrangements and grand adorements for a restrained, stripped down but no less lush sound. It’s to Wagner’s credit that having come to Electronic music so late in his life that he is able to adapt to it so effortlessly and so humbly. Wagner has always been an innovator in a genre (Alt-Country) that generally lack thems but it’s even more impressive that he no loses sight of himself or the great emotion he is able to bring to his projects.

I would highly recommend you check it out “This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You)” it a beautiful album that is for all music fans regards of what their favourite genre might be.

Let me know what you think of “This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You)” in the Comments.

Quelle Chris – ‘Guns’

If you had told me a year ago that I would love not one but two Quelle Chris album’s I wouldn’t have believed you I would probably have said that if I did end up liking one of his albums I’d eat my shirt… and I would now be eating that shirt. I previously found his nasally voice grated on, his production was bland and his lyrics and flow weren’t anything to write home about. However, in the last year the man has delivered two amazing album that combine astute lyrism, great production and at times an amazing flow. First up was the collaborative album with partner Jean Grae “Everything Is Fine” and now year later we have “Guns”.

The first thing that really hit me about “Guns” is the incredible production the deep basslines/kick drums, the cutting snares and hi-hats the the clarity of the samples and yet it’s never an album that you could accuse of being overly clean or commerical in terms of it’s production. In fact, throughout the album there are tracks with gritty or Lo-Fi production whether Chris is creating a Casio style 8bit beat on ‘Color of the Day’ and ‘Mind Ya Bizness’ or the quartet of tracks on the album that recall 90’s RZA (Wu Tang Clan) beats (‘It’s The Law,’ ‘Wild Minks’, ‘Box of Wheaties’ and ‘PSA Drugfest 2003/Sleeveless Minks’) but nothing deems the quality of production it merely enhances it.

I have to admit that the production on this album knocked me sideways and I’m still trying to get to grips with the lyrics and their theme. From what I drawn from them I think this quote from Pitchfork’s review does a good job at summing it all up.

“On Guns, Chris doesn’t just explore gun usage, he examines how words, fear and skin color are weaponized, and how one’s community can dictate their relationship to firearms. He does this by putting himself in their shoes, and on “Spray and Pray” and “Mind Ya Bidness,” Chris becomes the tough-talking street dude with gun culture in his blood. On the former, he sounds like a West Indian from Crown Heights, Brooklyn; the latter, a Crip or Piru from South Central, Los Angeles. There’s a prevalent sadness to “Spray and Pray,” as if the protagonist is trapped in the lifestyle and death by a bullet is the only way out. “Been packin’ since a yute,” Chris grumbles through a faux-Caribbean accent, “studied gun slangin’ from ‘89 to new thousand two, prayed if I paid my dues I’d grow big to be just like you.” The “you” is up for interpretation here; given the scope of the song and album, he might be talking to a big brother or Big Brother. On “Mind Ya Bidness,” Chris pokes out his chest to rap from the perspective of a brash O.G.”

As a result of the lyrical focus this is Quelle Chris’ most serious album to date but it does still retain some of satire featured on “Everything’s Fine”. Anthony Fantano of the Needle Drop theorised that the album might be compared to Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” and there are definetly similarities the heavy Jazz influence across both albums the sound the themed lyrical content and the ability to get snapshots of what goes through a young Black man’s mind on a daily basis. However, “Guns” is isn’t as structured like a straight forward concept album and sometimes seems to be delibrately distrubing it own flow. This no reason though not to fully embrace this album it’s eclectric maybe even a bit all over the place but it’svery much an Album of the Year contender. You owe it to yourself to buy a copy of “Guns” and listen to it again and again and again until you’ve taken in all it has to offer both musical and lyrically.

Let me know what you think of Guns in the Comments.

The Comet Is Coming – “Trust in Lifeforce of Deep Mystery”

When I first heard The Comet Is Coming (Shabaka Hutchings (saxophone), Maxwell Hallett (drums) and Dan Leavers (synths) back in 2016 they sounded like nothing I had ever heard before and I was very excited. They combined Jazz, psychedelic rock, Krautrock and Electro-Punk into a surreal soundtrack to the Apocalyspe. Compared to the band debut album “Channel The Spirits” there are some calmer more mellow tracks in between the propulsive and chaotic tracks that have become the bands trademark. This is the album where the band has learnt to pace itself and create more dynamic and atmospheric music without sacrificing their skill as a hard grooving band.

Another skill that is sharpened on this album is the band ability to express emotion through their instruments while they are joined by rapper/poet Kate Tempest on album centrepiece ‘Blood of the Past’ the other eight tracks are completely instrumental. I will that the overall feeling of the first album was anger and some dread but the band is able to express more hear with tracks covering emotions from sadness through to ecstasy.

“Trust in Lifeforce of Deep Mystery” is the latest in long run of top quality releases that have been lead by Shabaka Hutchings starting back in 2016 with “Channel The Spirits” and “Wisdom of Elders” by Shabaka & The Ancestors which could be described as his World Music meets Jazz project though that is a massive over simplication. Then it continued in 2017 with the “Death to the Planet” EP by The Comet Is Coming before switching to his Afro-Caribbean influenced Jazz band Sons of Kemet and their third and finest album to date “Your Queen Is A Reptile”. This run has placed Shabaka an already well thought of musician in the London Jazz scene as one of it’s most prominent and International known figures. He deserves this as he keeps on delivering incredible and progressive projects that never put technic ahead of emotional expression and musicality. If you want to go on a journey that will take you out to some of the least explored and most mysterious and exciting places that music can take you in 2019 then I highly recommend you listen to this album NOW!!!

Let me know what you think of “Trust in Lifeforce of Deep Mystery” in the Comments.

Matmos – “Plastic Anniversary”

I genuinely tried to write a Recommendation for this album but I couldn’t do it justice. It’s difficult to write about music that uses such literal sounds but is so much more than the sum of it’s parts. So as a solution to this check it out The Needle Drop’s review below and link to Pitchfork’s review here.

Let me know what you think of “Plastic Anniversay” in the Comments.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/matmos-plastic-anniversary/

Today’s post is Part Three of the three part Goldenweek Tour preview. On Wednesday I covered all-female Japanese Punk/Garage Rock band Otoboke Beaver and yesterday it was the turn of tour mates Sue Say Me a South Korean Indie-Rock band. This final part is about South Korean Skate Punk band Drinking Boys and Girls Choir (DBGC).

Drinking Boys and Girls Choir (DBGC) is a three-piece punk band from Daegu, a conservative city in southeastern South Korea. The band name reflects their love of drinking, their youthful appearance, the fact all members participate in singing, and their gender inclusiveness. They cite the Japanese bands Hi-Standard and Dustbox as influences. In 2013 they played at the Ulleungdo Dokdo Rock Festival, and in 2018 they played Big Day South festival in Busan.

Bae Meena (bass & vocals) and Kim Myeong-jin (drums and vocals) got to know each other through the music scene while both were playing in bands. In 2009, they formed a girl punk band called Chicken and Mayo ABC and moved up to Seoul, but both eventually returned to Daegu.

Drinking Boys and Girls Choir are a skate-punk trio from Daegu City, Korea. Formed in 2013 when two drummers MJ and Meena shared a rehearsal space, and decided to form a band. Meena switched to Bass and guitarist Bondu (who had just finished his military service) answered their ad. They bonded over a shared love of drinking, skating and punk.

Inspired by Sum41, NOFX and Daegu’s 90s-00s hardcore punk/indie-rock scene before it moved to Seoul, the band are very passionate about not moving to the capital and nurturing a sustainable local scene.

The recording of Keep Drinking!! started in 2017, but MJ suffered a motobike crash, so the band took a hiatus while awaiting her recovery. When she was fit again, they DIY produced this 18 track debut album, which follows their 2015 EP ‘We are’.

The band signed to Damnably Records and Electric Muse in the summer of 2018 to release debut album “Keep Drinking!!” on digital/CD & vinyl.

Like Sue Say Me I don’t like Drinking Boys and Girls Choir as much as Otoboke Beaver but they are closer to the music I like and are skilled musicians. My only criticism of their musicianship is that they tend to use the same drum patterns on a lot of their songs and this does get overly repetitive. But just like their touring mates they are a band that has been around for a number of years and are a tight and well drilled outfit. They also have the least recorded output of all the bands so there is a still a lot of potential for development of their sound. I would definitely recommend this band to anyone looking for a fun Punk band to mosh and sing along too.

Check out Drinking Boys and Girls Choir music and the Goldenweek Tour Spotify playlist below. 

Let me know what you think of Drinking Boys and Girls Choir in the Comments.  

 

spotify:user:damnably:playlist:0qg6zq7gZ4gvDqI1Ggkhh9

 

 

Today’s post is Part Two of the three part Goldenweek Tour preview. Yesterday I covered all-female Japanese Punk/Garage Rock band Otoboke Beaver and today’s it’s the turn of tour mates Sue Say Me a South Korean Indie-Rock band. 

Childhood friends Byung-kyu (guitar), Jae-young (bass), and Se-min (drums) met Su-mi (vocals) at a tea shop in the Nampo-dong neighborhood of Busan in 2012. The three liked Su-mi’s speaking voice and immediately offered her a spot as the vocalist in their new band that would become Say Sue Me.

Say Sue Me released their debut album, “We’ve Sobered Up” in 2014 followed by their first EP, “Big Summer Night” in 2015.

In 2016, drummer Se-min fell into a semi-comatose state after rupturing his skull. Say Sue Me fans, as well as other indie bands from Busan raised over 13 million Won (South Korean currency) in one day to help pay for his medical bills.

The band brought on new drummer Chang-won to temporarily replace Se-min and named their 2017 EP, the Record Store Day release, “Semin” after the injured drummer.That year, the band also released a self-titled compilation album on UK record label Damnably.

In 2018, Say Sue Me release their second album “Where We Were Together”, followed a week later by the Record Store Day EP “It’s Just a Short Walk!”, which includes covers of songs by Blondie, the Ramones, the Velvet Underground, and the Beach Boys. That year, the band performed at SXSW, marking their first performance in the United States and toured the UK and Europe. At the end of the year, the band released the holiday EP, “Christmas, It’s Not a Biggie”.

Say Sue Me’s musical style has been described as surf rock or “surfgaze.” The band has said that their surf rock sound was not intentional, but was likely influenced by their seaside hometown Busan and their practice room’s proximity to the beach. You can also definitely hear a big Dream-Pop influence on their sound.

Of the three bands on the Goldenweek Tour Sue Say Me are least favourite. I’m not really a fan of Dream-Pop, surf music or jangly Indie-Rock. However, their best such as ‘After Falling Asleep’, ‘To Be Wise’, the trashy almost Velvet Underground-y ‘Beginning to See the Light’ and I also like the darker ‘Spy On Motorbike!”. I can also appreciate the band’s musical skill and I believe that fans of the genres the band fits into will love them.

You can check Sue Say Me’s music and the Goldenweek Tour Spotify playlist below.

Comment below with what you think of Sue Say Me.


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