Posts Tagged ‘Post-punk’

Bands containing exclamation marks in their names have experienced varying degrees of success over the years [think Wham!, Hadouken! and ¡Forward Russia!]. Thus, the up-and-coming German shoegaze quartet Audiocæneat! can expect a mixed reception from critics with regards to their sceptical use of superlative punctuation.

Likened by their record label to the Smashing Pumpkins and Sigur Rós, Audiocæneat! have been praised for their ‘catchy, cinematic and highly emotional’ sound. But despite satisfying the third criterion, Red Sessions – their first release – fails to scale the heavenly heights of a Sigur Rós record. In fact, it’s exceedingly more downbeat than upbeat and is moodier than a sullen infant whose toys have been thrown from the pram. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing: ‘stunning melodrama … mighty sad guitar lines’ said Sputnikmusic in an overwhelming acclamation.

Buh! (“boo” in German apparently) promises to surprise. Beginning with a heavy beat reminiscent of early Biffy Clyro, the encouraging opening fades disappointingly into obscurity. The Truth Unfolded I unveils dodgy rhythms and undistinguished guitar twangs: neither of which leave one craving a sequel. A bizarre voice-over narrative features on the introduction to Idyll – a sixteen minute journey through the archives of musical anonymity. Surely a song one-quarter of an hour in length must progress to tell a story?

On a positive note, Audiocæneat! are commended for their daring and inventiveness. Never is this better illustrated than in Kalypso, with changes in pace, tone and unintended patches of Bloc Party electro. From The Massives To The Masses exposes flickers of talent when an almighty riff featuring a hyperactive bass pedal banishes memories of the sombre introduction. Painting The Earth With Night Flares sporadically illuminates the overriding gloom with powerful bursts of guitar overdrive.

Overall, Red Sessions reeks of guitar distortion and experimental instrumentals, infrequently coupled with Oliver Saglitz and/or Hans Wenke’s whiny yet soothing vocals. Described by some as DIY, it’s true that Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would be proud of it. The expression ‘more cobbled together than a Victorian road’ springs to mind also.

Comprising six songs and FIFTY minutes of predominantly inaccessible post-punk, Red Sessions belongs firmly rooted in the underground scene. Dreary stuff from the Dresden foursome, but their potential is as clear as daylight. Now go – shoot a large dose of serotonin!

Published by The Monograph.

Echo & The Bunnymen have a legacy. Evidently this is something Ian McCulloch needs to learn and not ruin. “We think it’s important to keep coming back” the gruff, notoriously uncompromising vocalist tells this evening’s all-seater audience. The lavish decor of Manchester’s Palace Theatre provides suitable backrest for the ageing crowd, 80% of which I hazard are 40-plus somethings. “Anyone got verrrtigo?” he quizzes the third tier, accentuating his Liverpudlian Rs.

Echo & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain (cover art)

Arctic Monkeys poster – coincidence or influence?

Musically, The Doors-inspired Bunnymen are a hard band to define. A swift tour of the venue leaves me equally befuddled after spotting fans exhibiting a collection of Ramones, Cribs and Avril Lavigne shirts. A post-punk classification perhaps?

Tonight Echo are back to showcase in full their flagship album Ocean Rain; released in 1984 at the height of their powers. The addition of strings makes it an extra bit special. In a warming introduction, the string sextet treats us to a version of Love Will Tear Us Apart (always a winner in Manchester).

The first Bunnymen half of the evening is a greatest hits rendition. Initially I’m more blown away by the relentless outgassing of dry ice. McCulloch’s chronic croakiness is probably a symptom. Rescue and Never Stop rouse the restless when the Scouse singer unexpectedly harmonises with a throng of boisterous mid-tier Geordies.

After the interval we return for the Ocean Rain run-through. Immediately the beautiful Silver sparkles, inspiring outbursts of “la la la la las” and “ti ti ti ti tips”. The supplementary strings add powerful backing to Nocturnal Me and the stirring Thorn of Crowns.

The Bunnymen are riding a wave once The Killing Moon has set, and it heightens after navigating the glorious Seven Seas. All waves have to crash however and when a crowd disturbance first curtails Ocean Rain, McCulloch’s own tempestuous nature is provoked.

The Ocean Rain interruption doesn’t leave us entirely drenched with disappointment. An encore of Nothing Lasts Forever and Lips Like Sugar go some way towards sweetening the sour taste.

Today the Echo influence manifests perhaps most closely in the 4th album material of Arctic Monkeys – who were dubbed their ‘spiritual heirs’ by The Guardian. Comparisons are futile though as Echo have carved out an uncontested niche for themselves over the years. Through the haze and controversy aside this was a close to triumphant performance of their best.