Author: Matthew Barlow

Cosey Fanni Tutti — TUTTI

Cosey Fanni Tutti TUTTI Conspiracy International It is amazing to think that this is Fanni Tutti’s first solo album in 36 years, given how much music she has been produced in partner with others, from her pioneering work in Throbbing Gristle in the 70s, to working with her husband, Chris Carter, in Chris and Cosey in the 80s, through more recent albums, including a project with members of Factory Floor a few years back.  She is one of the most prolific artists I can think of, and central to the development of the music form we call ‘industrial.’  Industrial kind of hit the stratosphere in the early 90s with the massive success of Ministry and then Nine Inch Nails, but much of that seemed closer to metal than the original form of the music through artists from Throbbing Gristle through Skinny Puppy and Cabaret Voltaire, which was both insanely heavy with beats around 125bpm and menacing, growling vocals, when they existed at all. TUTTI is meant to serve as a form of companion piece to her memoir, Art Sex Music, which came out in 2017.  She has claimed this album expresses her full self, and is the only recording she has been involved in which does that.  It was also the soundtrack to a short biographical film, Hamonic Coumaction. The entire album is a rumbling of heavy industrial beats, and she does...

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Working Men’s Club — Bad Blood (single)

Working Men’s Club Bad Blood (Single) Melodic I don’t usually bother to review singles because, well, one track.  To be fair, ‘Bad Blood’ is backed with ‘Suburban Heights.’  Formed in Manchester, they are fronted by 17-year old Sydney Minskey-Sargeant, who also play guitar (one of them obviously plays bass, too).  The trio is rounded out with Giulia Bonometti, who also plays guitar and sings, and drummer Jake Bogacki.  Bogacki is all of 18, Bonometti is 23.  The met in 2017 and formed the band towards the end of that year.  And here they are with a record deal, on indie label Melodic, and ‘Bad Blood’ is their first single. They claim to take their inspiration from Talking Heads, Television, Gang of Four, Parquet Courts, and the Strokes. To that you could add Franz Ferdinand and The Smiths. As I listen to the guitars in ‘Bad Blood,’ I can hear all of those bands.  And yet, the angular post-punk guitars sound fresh here.  This is not an easy thing to do.  Elvis Costello was doing this in the 1970s.  So was David Byrne.  And, of course, Keith Levene of PiL, who perfected the post-punk guitar sound.  And yet, this is fresh, danceable, and bouncy. ‘Both tracks are cut from the same formula, one that has been well-used over the past 40 years.  And yet, I find myself turning back to...

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Broken Social Scene — Let’s Try the After, Vol. 1 (EP)

Broken Social Scene Let’s Try the After, Vol. 1 (ep) Arts & Crafts Broken Social Scene burst onto the, ahem, scene away back in 2001 with their astonishing début, Feel Good Lost.  But it was their follow-up, 2002’s You Forgot It In People that established their street cred.  Arising out of Toronto’s indie scene, BSS centres around Kevin Drew and Brandon Canning and has included stalwarts of the indie scene of Canada as a whole, and even some Americans.  At various times, BSS has included Leslie Feist; Stars’ Torquil Campbell, Evan Cranley and Amy Millan; Metric’s Emily Haines and James Shaw; Do Make Say Think’s Ohad Benchetrit and Charles Spearin; Tortoist/Sea and Cake’s John McEntire, amongst others.   There is no real way to describe BSS’s music, though their music is unmistakeable.  I read a review of a live show once that called them ‘baroque.’  I don’t think I would disagree.  They have become legends and darlings of the indie scene. This is not, however, to say, that they’re always great.  What they are is always creative, messy, and complicated.  The last song on their 2005 masterpiece, Broken Social Scene, ‘It’s All Gonna Break,’ is an epic tale of betrayal, sex between exes and friends, and the like.  Really, I have no idea if it has anything to do with the band, but, given this was their last album until 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record, plus...

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Calling All Astronauts — Influences ep

Calling All Astronauts Influences ep Supersonic Sometimes, when you’re a big-shot music writer like me, with millions upon millions of followers on Twitter and an audience in the millions who read your reviews, a band or an artist will follow you on Twitter.  Calling All Astronauts followed me, and as I do, I followed back when musicians follow me.  I followed the link in their bio to this, their new ep.  Holy fuck! Calling All Astronauts are an electronic/post-punk/industrial/dubstep politically aware trio from London.  Fronted by producer/programmer David B., J. Browning plays guitar and Paul McCrudden plays bass.  Heavily influenced by everything from Sisters of Mercy to David Bowie to Pop Will Eat Itself, CAA sound old and new.  B.’s voice reminds me of Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy, deep, menacing, and detached.  It also helps they use a drum machine, like the Sisters did in the 80s, when Doktor Avalanche was their backing.  His voice is also, at least to me, reminiscent of the deep growl of Preoccupations’ Matt Flegel. So I went to this new ep, and then I dug into their back catalogue, and was deeply impressed.  Their originals are grand, both a call to arms in our dangerous times and a reflection of (post-)modern life as we know it. Influences is a 4-song ep that, believe it or not, is a cover of four...

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Steve Mason — About the Light

Steve Mason About the Light Double Six Steve Mason was the frontman of legendary 90s iconoclasts, the Beta Band.  They’re probably most famous for a scene in High Fidelity, where John Cusack’s character in his record store puts on ‘Dry the Rain’ from their Three EPs, and declares he will sell 10 copies.  You know what comes next. The Beta Band split in 2004, staggering towards the end under a mountain of debt. And Mason eventually went solo.  His solo ouevre has been interesting, to say the least.  I read a review of his last album, 2016’s Meet the Humans, that argued that...

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