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Hardcore/Punk

Sleaford Mods (with Big Special) Unpick British Society at Manchester Victoria Warehouse [Show Review]

Two of Britain’s most underrated acts, Sleaford Mods and Big Special, hit the road. We checked out the show in Manchester….

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Sleaford Mods press photo

After a glorious hot summer of festivals and outdoor gigs, I need something special to warm my cockles on this zero-degree night in Trafford Park, the morning frost still not thawed and a sea of red running noses queueing up outside the Victoria Warehouse.

If anyone knows how to heat up a room, it’s Sleaford Mods, and on their current tour, they are bringing along Big Special, who could well be future rivals to the Mods, but there is a sense of kinship between the bands, cemented by Andrew Fearn’s Big Special T-shirt which he wears proudly tonight.

The vast Warehouse space is blowing cold air at the crowd, which isn’t entirely welcoming, but as the hardcore snuggle together near the front, an atmosphere and a warmth builds and Big Special arrives just in time.

The similarities between tonight’s band are obvious, two blokes from middle England shouting intelligent left-wing lyrics over a backing track, but Big Special is unique and no less entertaining.

Using pounding drums, via Callum Moloney’s impressive skin-beating skills, as the lead instrument makes for an exhilarating experience. Paired with Joe Hicklin’s incredible vocal range, there is nobody else doing what Big Special is doing out there right now, and as the name suggests, this is special.

The opening song immediately recalls The Mighty Fall’s Your Future, Our Clutter era, which is absolutely no bad thing, Mark E Smith being the originator of Shouty British polemics with prominent drums throughout all of the band’s many lineups. The band has an album out in December, which will give fans more to listen to outside of the few songs currently available from the band, but what great songs they are.

“This Here Ain’t Water” is pure poetry, delivered with sheer bombast, anthemic and powerful from the opening line. “Desperate Breakfast” delivers the kind of British societal lyrics of The Kinks, Blur and Early Arctics, but with staccato attacks of Hicklin’s raging diatribes throughout. This factor is even more pronounced in fan favourite “Shithouse,” as Hicklin delivers the opening lyrics in a full-on rage before reverting to softer tones, sounding uncannily like Alex Kapranos. The recorded version of this song shows even more variations in Hicklin’s vocal delivery.

If Big Special aren’t massive by this time next year, then there is something seriously wrong with the country, and I’m sure they’ll be the first to tell us about it.

Sleaford Mods tonight are a revelation. This is my fourth Mods gig, and every time a transformation of some sort appears to have taken place. Tonight, it’s the animation of Andrew Fearn. Once, the Chris Lowe of the duo, standing not quite stock still behind his laptop but jerking to and fro in a mesmeric trance. Throughout tonight’s gig he is dancing, taking in the entire stage like a tribal Bez, and ensuring that the majority of the crowd are doing similar.

Jason Williamson is as entertaining as ever, clearly loving this bizarre niche that he has chosen to follow. His performance tonight is continually interrupted with parrot squawks and a water bottle almost permanently perched on his head. His stage movements are equally as surreal, crouching and bending, arse in the air whilst still flicking the back of his head when the lyrics become too intense.

The setlist is interesting tonight: 25 songs, which include ten from their latest album, UK GRIM, and some tracks for hardcore fans that pre-date their long-awaited rise to fame.

The title track of the album kicks the night off and ignites chants from the audience from the start. The sound is good and immediately prompts the whole room to follow Williamson’s spasmodic movements. Followed by “On the Ground” and “Pit 2 Pit” from the same album, the band takes a U-turn with “In Quiet Streets” from 2015’s Key Markets and then straight back with “Big Pharma” from their recent MORE UK GRIM E.P.

In recent years, Sleaford Mods have collaborated with others more frequently, particularly on their last two albums. This has led to extensive use of pre-recorded backing vocals being played at their gigs, starting with Florence Shaw (Dry Cleaning) making a voice-only appearance on “Force 10” from Navarone. Thankfully, it works, and each virtual guest (Billy Nomates, Amy Taylor and Perry Farrell) is duly name-checked and thanked.

“£5.60” from 2012’s limited-release Wank album is given an outing tonight in an even mightier nod to the fans who have been there from the start.

In more frantic moments like “Tilldipper,” Williamson is on full manic form, but perhaps it is the quieter moment that resonates the most in this enormous live space. “Smash Each Other Up” takes on a whole new life and becomes mesmerizing in the thick of it, and similarly, “Mork and Mindy” becomes trancelike.

The band is currently publicizing and raising money for Shelter, and their single to accompany the campaign, a cover of The Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” is included in the set. Whilst a pretty straightforward cover, the humour of imagining the soft-spoken King’s English of Neil Tennant contrasted with the shouty Williamson isn’t lost on the audience.

Favourites are held to the end with blistering renditions of UK GRIM highlight, “Tory Kong,” complete with Fearn in full Tutankhamen mode, “Nudge It,” and “Tied up in Nottz” which includes the classic line “The smell of piss is so strong it smells like decent bacon.

At the risk of sounding obvious, “Jobseeker” remains their finest moment and is played out with the usual gusto tonight, followed by gig closer “Tweet Tweet Tweet” in tight second place. Any recollections of a cold night are far gone, and the icy blast of the night now serves as a welcome cooler to the many hot, sweaty bodies pouring from the warehouse.

Sleaford Mods are still relatively underground in the grand scheme of things but remain Britain’s most relevant and consistently excellent act. To miss catching them on tour would be nothing less than foolish and rude.

Del Pike is a University lecturer in Film and Media in Liverpool (UK). He writes film, music, art, literature and culture articles and reviews for a number of websites. Del loves nothing more than snuggling down in a dark cinema, getting sweaty at  a live gig or drifting off late at night to a good book. He loves cats. He enjoys promoting new talent online so please say hi if you have something to show.

Alternative/Rock

The V13 Fix #004 w/ Darkest Hour, Glitterer, LowLives and more

From pop to metalcore, experimental grindcore to indie, each week The V13 Fix will bring you a roundup of all the new music worth hearing…

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The V13 Fix

Welcome to the latest The V13 Fix our weekly round-up of some of the best albums, singles and EPs to drop in our laps/inboxes this week. From pop to black metal to experimental pop to punk rock, there is something for everyone in this mix of new music. Check out and support all the bands and labels if you like what you hear and if there is a particular album you like, make sure you head over to Spotify and check out one of our specially curated playlists where there is more great new music added daily.

Alternatively, if you’re in a band or want one of your bands considered for inclusion get in touch. While we can’t guarantee every album or EP we receive will be included, there are still plenty of other ways we can support you.

So, without further ado, sit back, plug in your headphones and get this week’s V13 Fix of new music…

Crossfaith
Zero’ [Single]

When Japanese genre-smashers Crossfaith exploded onto the scene with their brutal, electronic-laced metalcore, the world sat up and paid attention. Well, after twelve months regrouping, the band are back with this new single, a massive statement that they’re ready to pick up where they left off but with a new energy. This new slice of heaviness from the band is packed dangerously full of pulsating electronics and pummelling metalcore. Equally as explosive as it is anthemic, “Zero” heralds a new chapter from the band who, after hitting the reset button twelve months ago, have returned with a vengeance.

Pick up your copy of “Zero” from here.

Darkest Hour
Perpetual | Terminal
MNRK Heavy

It’s incredible when you realise that Perpetual | Termainal is the tenth album in the rollercoaster career of US metalcore/metallic hardcore mob Darkest Hour. Spirit and dogged determination has kept the band going to this point and it is a theme which provides the heartbeat of this savage collection. Guitarist Mike Schleibaum explains: “The record’s theme centers around the duality of survival while embracing rebirth,” and, hearing the band hurtle through each of the eleven tracks, Perpetual | Terminal certainly feels like the sound of a band who have been reborn. An uncompromising, unrelenting metal assault, Perpetual | Terminal highlights exactly why heavy music would be worse off without Darkest Hour in it.

Pick up your copy of Perpetual | Terminal from here.

Morta Skuld
Creation Undone
Peaceville Records

Now, even though the new wave of modern death metal bands is doing a sterling job in keeping the flag flying high for the genre, sometimes it’s nice just to take a trip back into some of the old-school bands. Having formed in Milwaukee in 1990, Morta Skuld are still battering away with their latest offering from the death metal stalwarts indicating no sign of slowing down. For fans of the likes of Obituary, Morbid Angel and Deicide, the band expertly combine groovy moshy sections, blastbeats with swamp born vocals. Creation Undone isn’t metalcore, it’s not deathcore, there are no symphonies, this is just straight between the eyes brutality.

Pick up your copy of Creation Undone from here.

M.U.T.T.
Dirty Deeds
Quiet Panic

M.U.T.T. are a trashy punk rock band straight from the gutters of the San Fransisco punk rock scene. There isn’t much you need to know about the kind of punk rock M.U.T.T. peddle except that it comes devoid of airs and graces. Taking a route one approach, M.U.T.T’s punk noise is covered in snot and packed with attitude. Formed from the ashes of Culture Abuse, the project has moved on from the more rock and roll stylings of their debut album, Bad To The Bone, into more trashy waters. Offerings like “Downtown Boy” come with a suitably unpleasant sneer plastered across their face and, while this EP might a fairly brief listen, M.U.T.T pack plenty of bite into those eighteen or so raucous minutes.

Pick up your copy of Dirty Deeds from here.

Gen & The Degenerates
ANTI-FUN Propaganda
Marshall Records

Alt-punk collective Gen & The Degenerates tattoo their principals proudly onto their debut album. Written to a backdrop of disaster, tragedy and misfortune, ANTI-FUN Propaganda comes from a world of late nights and early mornings, sexuality, gender politics and mortality. It’s a punk rock album at its beating heart but, as vocalist Gen puts it, comes with a humourous approach and a love of dirty disco pop. Lyrically, tracks like “Famous” may come from a dark, bleak place but, as the video for “Big Hit Single” highlights, there is a wry smile and a sense of sarcasm nipping away at the subject matter to make sure we don’t lose sight of the fact that, while a quick look outside your window will show a world imploding on itself, it’s important to enjoy what time we have while we’re here.

Pick up your copy of ANTI-FUN Propaganda from here.

Glitterer
Rationale
ANTI-

Following his previous band Title Fight ceased touring, lead singer and songwriter Ned Russin needed a creative outlet. The creative outlet soon manifested into what originally started out as solo project but, six years later, has blossomed into a fully-fledged band and the release of their fourth album, but debut as a full band, Rationale. An album with a sound deeply entrenched in the DC hardcore and indie rock scenes, Rationale is a rowdy listen packed with jarring indie guitars and slick pop melodies with the cohesiveness paying testament to the fact that Russin has found bandmates who share his creative vision.

Pick up your copy of Rationale from here.

Hands of Kalliach
Corryvreckan
Prosthetic Records

Spawned from the minds of Edinburgh, Scotland husband and wife duo have blended together melodic death metal melded with Scottish folk music to create an album that is a work of art. The title of the album is inspired by enormous whirlpool, Corryvreckan, which lies between some of the western isles of Scotland. As harsh yet as beautiful as the inspiration behind it, Corryvreckan is a jaw-dropping piece of work. Soaring passages of melancholic Scottish folk music crash into brutal death metal, like two perfectly matched components. Through the folk music, the pair capture a drama and the emotion that can only come from being truly living and breathing it. When matched up with the extremities of the death metal scene, the end result is utterly majestic.

Pick up your copy of Corryvreckan from here.

Job For A Cowboy
Moon Healer
Metal Blade

For fans of iconic progressive death metal outfit Job For A Cowboy, it’s been almost a decade since new music was last heard from the band. Having teased for a number of years, the band are now back with their follow-up to 2014’s Sun Eater pretty much picking up where the 2014 album dropped off. Unsurprisingly, Moon Healer is the kind of album you really need to invest your time and effort into to really appreciate. Skim over it and you’ll find another incredible album in the Glendale’s musical armoury. Dig under the surface and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world which thematically picks up the story from Sun Eater while musically delivers it in a tightly woven package of complex, experimental, progressive death metal.

Pick up your copy of Moon Healer from here.

Austrian Death Machine
Quad Brutal
Napalm Records

Ten years since their last outing, Austrian Death Machine are back with Quad Brutal, their first album for new home Napalm Records. Formed fifteen years ago by As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, the Arnie-inspired neck-wrecking death machine is back reinspired and reinvigorated. Joined by a bunch of friends from across the metalcore scene including members of Ov Sulfur and Wolves At The Gate, Lambesis is back with another full-throttle, adrenaline-fueled metal feast. With more muscle than your typical weights room, Quad Brutal is just pumped-to-fuck, beefed-up metal. There’s nothing fancy about this. No need to put your brain into gear, Quad Brutal is just here for when another couple of plates on the end of that bar just doesn’t seem enough.

Pick up your copy of Quad Brutal from here.

Royal Tusk
Altruistic
MNRK Heavy

To date, Alberta, Canada three-piece Royal Tusk have gigged with a veritable Who’s Who of Rock from Slash to Halestorm while, during the pandemic, frontman Daniel sang on viral at-home collabs with Stone Sour, In Flames, and Mastodon. Listening to the hard rockers third album and you can probably pinpoint all of those inspirations seeping through the thumping anthems. Full of hard rock bangers like “Fire In Your Veins” and “The Death of Common Sense” to “Hated”, Altruistic has the perfect blend of melody, singalong choruses and power. Of the album, bassist Sandy MacKinnon says “I really hope you want to blast it in your car and headbang” and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy Altruistic than that.

Pick up your copy of Altruistic from here.

Borkanagar
Fall
Century Media

Honouring commitments delayed by the pandemic means that it has been almost five years since we have heard a new full-length album from Norwegian progressive folk/black metal band Borknagar. Reading into the whole process the band go through to write an album though, you do get the feeling Fall would have taken as long pandemic or not. An unrushed, flawlessly-crafted peice of work, Fall sounds like Borknagar frontman Øystein G. Brun has worked tirelessly to ensure that every moment of this album plays out like a story. Blast of grim, violent black metal weave through epic passages of progressive rock and folk to tell a tale of survival. Heading towards their third decade, Fall feels like the Norwegians are still riding at the top of their game.

Pick up your copy of Fall from here.

Mother Mother
Grief Chapter
Warner Music / Parlophone

It’s fair to say that 2021’s album INSIDE catapulted Canadian indie rock troop Mother Mother to new heights. Piling up an incredible 300 million streams for said album Grief Chapter has some task ahead of it. The ninth album of their career finds the band at their most energized despite it focusing, lyrically at least, on themes of death and mourning. This is an album that transcends genres not only over the course of the twelve tracks but, as demonstrated on the brilliant opener “Nobody Escapes” or the stomping “Normalize”, many times within songs. An album which may come from a morbid place lyrically, by the end, will have you well and truly hooked.

Pick up your copy of Grief Chapter from here.

Lowlives
Loser’ [Single]
Spinefarm Records

It’s the year 2000 and Wheatus earworm “Teenage Dirtbag” is rapidly becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. An anthem for misfits, outcasts and losers, it’s a song we hold close to our hearts even 24 years later. Now, West Coast alt-rockers have gone and written their own version. A wonderfully hopeful slice of slacker rock, “Loser” has an almost pleading air to the chorus while the melody is lifted straight from the grunge/alt-rock 2000s. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming debut album, Freaking Out, so don’t worry if you’re going through that misfit phase because Lowlives have got your back.

Pick up your copy of Freaking Out from here.

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Alternative/Rock

OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival Returns with Powerhouse 2024 Lineup

OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival dropped an unbelievably impressive lineup for their 2024 edition this week.

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OSHEAGA 2024

The OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival dropped an unbelievably impressive lineup for their 2024 edition this week. The 17th edition of the festival will take place from August 2nd to 4th, at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Saint-Hélène, close to downtown Montréal. Headliners include SZA, Green Day, and Noah Kahan setting the tone for a diverse exhibition that is sure to appeal to the masses.

Representation is present for all genres at this year’s fest. Rock is covered by old-school legends Rancid, LA rockers The Linda Lindas, ’90s indie favourites Sleater-Kinney, and grunge icons The Smashing Pumpkins. R&B will be backed by hip-hop pioneer T-Pain, as well as Tyla, Ayra Starr, and Michaël Brun. Pop is represented by Mean Girls powerhouse Reneé Rapp, Euphoria star Dominic Fike, and alt-pop phenom Melanie Martinez. Indie will be covered by Irish musician Hozier and this generation’s Elvis, Stephen Sanchez. EDM will be showcased with sets by world-class producers like Martin Garrix and Labrinth.

If you’re someone who enjoys all types of music, this year’s OSHEAGA is a can’t-miss event. The lineup easily competes for the best of 2024. Tickets are on sale 2/21 for 3-day passes and 2/23 for single-day passes. Prices are as follows:

GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET / SINGLE-DAY: starting at $165 CAD
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET / 3-DAY: starting at $395 CAD
CASINO DE MONTRÉAL GOLD TICKET / SINGLE-DAY: starting at $320 CAD
CASINO DE MONTRÉAL GOLD TICKET / 3 DAYS: starting at $745 CAD

PLATINUM TICKET / SINGLE-DAY: starting at $685 CAD
PLATINUM TICKET / 3 DAYS: starting at $1,620 CAD

Get your tickets while they last!

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Hardcore/Punk

The Menzingers Wrap Up Their UK Tour with a Punk Party at Manchester Academy [Photos]

Punk rockers The Menzingers brought their European and UK tour to a close in Manchester. Check out the photo gallery from the gig here…

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The Menzingers @ Manchester Academy by Maryleen Guevara
The Menzingers, photo © Maryleen Guevera

Coming at the end of a week-long run which has taken The Menzingers across the UK, the punk rockers arrive at the Academy in Manchester to wrap up their visit to these shores. The tour, which kicked off in mainland Europe on January 24th in Amsterdam, supported their 2023 Epitaph Records offering Some of It Was True.

Joining the band on the UK trek were New York punk rockers Prince Daddy & The Hyena and Philadelphia quartet Gladie. Kickstarting 2024 like they ended 2023 on the road, The Menzingers arrived in Manchester to wrap up this run of dates. Hence, we set along our photographer Maryleen Guevara to join the party as the US punks made sure their final days in the UK, for now, were ones that nobody would forget.

You can pick up your copy of Some Of It Was True from here. Before you check out Maryleen’s photo gallery from the show, here’s The Menzingers setlist.

Set List:

1. Hope Is a Dangerous Little Thing
2. I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore
3. Try
4. Good Things
5. Lookers
6. House on Fire
7. Some of It Was True
8. Anna
9. Thick as Thieves
10. Tellin’ Lies
11. There’s No Place in This World for Me
12. Burn After Writing
13. Ultraviolet
14. Nice Things
15. Come on Heartache
16. America (You’re Freaking Me Out)
17. The Obituaries
18. Nobody Stays
19. After the Party
20. Gates
21. Casey

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