Author: Matthew Barlow

Container — LP

Container LP Spectrum Spools I’ve been digging on Container now for a few years, Ren Schofield, the man behind the name, makes some immediate, in-your-face, pounding electronic music. Schofield is from Providence, RI, but has spent a long time in Nashville, which makes me just like him more. Nashville has a burgeoning, exploding music scene, as anyone can tell you.  But Nashville’s music scene is more attuned to country and roots rock, not techno. There is, of course, a thriving scene in the city, but it’s underground.  Way underground. Schofield is getting clever with LP. This was also the title of his last release, in 2015.  It was brilliant, by the way.  Reviews of that album talked about moshpits and hard-rocking beats, like I was reading reviews of the Crystal Method c. 1997.  That does Schofield a disservice.  He is most certainly not the second coming of the Chrystal Method, nor even of the Chemical Brothers.  He is something else entirely. On 2018’s LP, he ratchets it back just a tiny bit.  There is more melody overtop of the fuzzed out, syncopated beats.  The distortion remains just as heavy.  On some tracks, though, like ‘Peppered,’ he even slows things down a bit to give us a bouncy, loopy and even trippy beat, over which the distorted noises skitter and dance.  But, for the most part, it is the same unrelenting battering. Container are...

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From the Vaults: The Charlatans — Tellin’ Stories

From the Vaults: The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories The Charlatans have long been one of my favourite bands, if not my outright favourite. Though they’re not from Manchester, they burst onto the scene with the Madchester Sound in the late 80s/early 90s, together with the Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, and the like.  Unlike all those bands, which imploded/broke up/etc., the Charlies have kept on trucking for the past 30 years.  They recently celebrated their 30thanniversary in their hometown of Northwich, hosting the North By Northwich festival. This summer, I was living in an extremely rural area, no cell service, and about a 20 minute drive to find a signal.  The car is where I do my serious music listening; I usually just stream it. Not an option that far in the boondocks.  So I dug up a bunch of CDs and threw them in the car.  But the one that remained in the disc drive (my car model year was the last to have a disc drive) was the Charlatans’ 1997 album, Tellin’ Stories. This album is a moment in time for the band.  Founding member, keyboardist Rob Collins, died in a car accident whilst recording the album in Wales.  But it was also the band’s most successful album, hitting #1 in the charts in the UK and Ireland and yielding 3 Top-10 singles in the UK,...

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Nine Inch Nails — Bad Witch

Nine Inch Nails Bad Witch The Null Corporation  Trent Reznor is 53 years old, a long-time removed from the viciousness, self-loathing and anger that drove his break through albums back in the early 90s.  I have to confess that back in the day, I thought NIN was a sad rip off of Ministry and Skinny Puppy, the gods of industrial music in the 80s.  So they weren’t my bag.  That changed with the 1999 double album, The Fragile, which gave us a slightly more mature, still angry and self-loathing Reznor.  His music had become less self-indulgent and more worldly. For the past couple of decades, he’s carried on, as well as doing soundtrack work with his partner-in-crime Atticus Ross.  And then there’s his project, How to Destroy Angels, with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig and Ross.  He’s kept himself busy, as NIN have also pumped out albums. Bad Witchis the culmination of a cycle of three EPs, though Reznor (at least in the email I got from the NIN listserv) says it’s a proper album.  At 6 songs and 31 minutes, you can be the judge of that.  At any rate, this is the best music Nine Inch Nails have released in the past two decades. Opening track, ‘Shit Mirror,’ hits like a tonne of bricks and keeps up with the repeated kicks to the gut throughout.  We start of...

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Black Thought : Streams of Thought, Vol. I

Black Thought Streams of Thought, Vol. I Human Re Sources Black Thought is better known as the frontman of The Roots, the legendary and long-standing Philly rap band that is perhaps better known to people today as Jimmy Fallon’s house band.  And as Jimmy Fallon’s house band, I have never seen much for Black Thought to do as his bandmates play music for the show.  This is a shame, because Black Thought may be the greatest rapper of all-time.  Or at least he’s close to it.  He has a smooth, velvety delivery, despite the gravel in his voice. It’s...

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The Return of The The

I read the most bizarre article in The Guardian last week.  It was about Matt Johnson and his band, The The.  The headline had me vexed from the getgo: ‘With his band The The, Matt Johnson lit up the 80s. Now pop’s bright light is shining again.’  I had this total WTF? moment.  The The were around in the 80s, yeah. And they had some hits in their native UK.  And some underground hits here on this side of the Atlantic (meaning the US and Canada).  The 1980s trilogy of albums, Soul Mining, Infected, and Mind Bomb bordered on brilliant. They were...

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