Royal Trux – The Cats
It may well be a quarter of a century old now but Royal Trux’s ‘The Cats’ can probably still knock most modern day music into a cocked hat. It just oozes scuzzy raw power and not for nothing did Kurt Cobain announce this as his best track of 1993 in that year’s NME magazine.
Band members Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty have just signed on the dotted line with Fat Possum Records and the American independent label based in Water Valley and Oxford, Mississippi are about to re-release Royal Trux’s entire digital back catalogue (bar the two mid-90s albums they recorded for Virgin/EMI) all the way from their 1988 eponymous debut album right through to the Radio Video EP twelve years later.
These titles will be re-issued during March, April and May of this year and we can expect some European festival dates to follow. (SG)
Susanna – Invitation to the Voyage
Not content to have featured in Tracks Of The Week a fortnight ago (with her stunning version of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’), the Norwegian artist Susanna has now gone and done it again. This time it is with ‘Invitation to the Voyage’, her musical interpretation of one of the poems from Charles Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, a work published in 1857 and condemned at the time by the French authorities as an outrage against common decency.
Like its TOTW predecessor, ‘Invitation to the Voyage’ can be found on her new album Go Dig My Grave which is released on 9th February through SusannaSonata. Here Susanna cloaks Baudelaire’s words in a drifting, illusory melody, highlighting the absolute precision and symbolic nuance in their meaning. Cast more than 150 years apart, the words and music make for a most mysterious meeting of minds. (SG)
Æ Mak – Glow
Æ Mak is an Irish art-pop band from Dublin, whose singer, Aoife McCann, has a Björk-like look and vocal presence about her. It is certainly a novel sound they produce, lying in no man’s land somewhere between dance music and pop-punk. They spent 2017 touring a series of British festivals and supporting Los Angeles’ classy female band Warpaint in Dublin. It looks like some of the latter rubbed off on Aoife McCann, both musically and literally.
‘Glow’ is a song about recognising traits in others that you see and dislike in yourself. The lyrics aren’t exactly ‘American Pie’, but hey, it’s a dance track. A worthy start to a year in which it looks as if an album may be on the cards. And a big change from the first half of 2017, when joint vocalist Ellie McMahon was still with them, and when they had more in common with Jedward. (DB)
Table Scraps – Sick of Me
Well, if black-hearted garage punk is your thing, you’ll have a fun time watching this literally nauseous video from Birmingham’s Table Scraps. ‘Sick of Me’ is about when friendships stagnate and minor annoyance gives way to mouldering resentment, followed by mouldering vomit by the look of it. It’s had a lot of BBC 6 Music airplay. Presumably, this is only a small and possibly extreme part of their repertoire. Not only have they opened for punk deity The Buzzcocks, but another track, ‘Electricity’, was chosen by Adidas for a forthcoming advertising campaign.
They have an interesting history. Drummer Poppy Twist formed the band after rejecting a record deal with Mute for her previous one. They’ve supported Swedish Death Candy and Black Lips recently and have a few headline gigs in February and March as their album Autonomy will be released on 23rd February. (DB)
Hider – Don’t Pretend It Was Nothing
Relationships rather than friendships are the concern of Hider, meaning those that are one-sided in that you more interested in the other party than they are in you. Tell me about it. It’s a deliberate choice of name (we don’t know the real one as he prefers to let the music speak for itself) as he’s been “hiding” for a while, taking a five-year break to sell guitars in London’s West End and writing soundtracks for adverts before returning in April of last year with ‘You Look So Amazing’, which sounds amazingly like this, his latest single, ‘Don’t Pretend It Was Nothing’.
It’s unlikely he ran out of ideas though, he’s a music producer as well, as is suggested by the melding of analogue synths and live drums and guitars with minimal electronic beats. It’s a slow-burner that grows then dies like his non-existent love affair. (DB)
Sol Heilo – London is Trouble
Oslo’s finest, Sol Heilo, who was interviewed in these pages a couple of weeks ago, releases her third and probably final single from her album, ‘Skinhorse Playground’, as she embarks on her debut European tour, which kicked off in Hamburg on 8th February.
The ex-Katzenjammer-er has been a frequent visitor to the UK and wrote many of her songs here, some of which are yet to be recorded. In this one, which sounds like it might concern another disappointing relationship, she’s actually observing the flipside of life on the road and it was penned when she was down and pretty much out.
The song was conceived at the iconic, but now defunct, 12 Bar Club, following a bout of retail therapy on Denmark Street, which, ironically, was where Hider (in disguise of course) was selling his guitars. Perhaps the one she wrote it on, a 1961 Gibson LG-0, was one she’d bought off him. As with the other two singles to date, the lyric video permits the multi-talented Heilo to demonstrate her artistic and video making skills. (DB)
Grimm Twins – The Theme of Grimm
Grimm Twins are from Macclesfield, England. ‘The Theme of Grimm’ leading you by the hand upon a spindling sinister guitar riff and see-sawing percussion there’s a darkness and distrust at the heart of modern society. Lead spokesman BLEICH1 delivers a sneering, urgent, scorched polemic that has echoes of everyone from Throbbing Gristle and Mark E Smith to John Cooper Clark. An admonishment of a culture built on social media, commodification and conformity, ‘this goes out to all the semi-detached people living in their semi detached houses living their semi-detached lives with their semi detached friends’ he rails. As a first act, it’s deeply impressive. (BC)