Ajenda

Ajenda from Belfast in Northern Ireland is the rock band of Jen (Vocals), Gavin (Guitars), Peter (Drums) and Jan (Bass).

Ajenda is a rock band from Northern Ireland

Ajenda image © Neil Mach

Ajenda gives a mellowed twist to Rock ‘n’ Roll with deftly played melodies that are allowed to swirl around the room like smoke before settling on the ears and underlying it is a well formulated framework which gives the music plenty of oomph.


A well defined vocal neatly balances the tracks giving the band a defined and distinctive sound as influences from Eastern European folk are interspersed in the music. There is a certain fascination to be had by listening to Ajenda. It is perhaps the fact that I am writing this on a Monday morning that it seems a little restful to my head. Come the end of the day I have little doubt this would slide down well with a relaxing drink.

With a debut LP – Unrecognizable – set for release on the 28th September and supporting tours away from Northern Ireland, I would expect the band to gain greater traction than has been so far achieved as the ten track release, which I have had the opportunity to hear, contains a well crafted set of songs that do justice to the band.

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Cabwash

I think I am set to retire – a consecutive review by Robbie, thank you Sir.

Cabwash is the collective name for five English artists local to London and Manchester: Insurance; Electrjc Guitar; Ruth Bate; Modern Blonde and Shelf. Thus far the collective has released two albums, an EP and three singles, and this article will explore all six entries.

Cabwash - a music collective from England

Cabwash


Off the Chain is an album from Modern Blonde, featuring striking tongue-in-cheek horror-themed artwork depicting a gun-toting werewolf and his monstrous pals. Opening track Warm Talking features soft synths and a simple electronic beat as the framework, whilst largely indecipherable and highly processed vocals lend the track an experimental air. As the album progresses it becomes clear that these elements are retained throughout, though in Halloween the effects processing used on the guitar tracks and reverb-saturated vocals lend the proceedings an air of shoegaze.

Unlike the majority of the release the vocals can be comprehended on the album’s 11th track, Plague, which resembles something akin to gloomy electronic pop. This is certainly no bad thing, and it provides a welcome rest for ears battered by the more eclectic tracks. Overall this is a fairly downtempo, experimental album that should appeal to those with a taste for something a bit more unusual.

The second release is another from Modern Blonde, this one titled Home Truths. From the off you are gently assaulted with vocals processed beyond all understanding and soft electronic percussion. From octave-shifting and vocoder effects, at times the release seems like one big experiment into the possibilities of sound processing, and while at times it can be a little hard on the ears it’s all fairly pleasant background listening.

Next up is the work of Ruth Bate, which from the get-go features more of those heavily processed elements; massive washes of synths, utterly mangled vocal elements and electronic drums. Every track gels completely with the next, and the collection certainly seems at home with the Cabwash incentive to produce creative and inspiring content. Ruth Bate also released a single titled This’ll Kill Ya, which despite its name is a petite slice of pretty electroacoustic music.

Gazebo, the only release so far from Shelf, begins life with the scratchy and somewhat 8-bit Shelf & Imagine, which sounds somewhat akin to several Nintendo Gameboys riding a wave of white noise and having a grand old time. As the electronic experimentation continues its course, the listener is treated to simple ambient soundscapes which would work well as the soundtrack to a lazy afternoon. The final track, Dolphin Surgery, weighs in at just under the 11 minute mark, and is essentially a huge wall of electronic noise which could very well consume your soul if you’re not careful.

The final ingredient within the collective is Electrjk Guitar, which so far represents a single song, perversely titled Millions of Songs. Sounding at this point much like the Modern Blonde output and fairly unremarkable, it stands as another piece of electronic music in the Cabwash collective.

This material is worthy of exploration beyond the sum of its parts; in time this collaboration could bear unique and exciting fruit which delves deep into the possibilities of electronic music. In order to do this each artist must continue to produce and define themselves, and in so doing learn their craft.

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HUG

HUG is a band from Newcastle, North-East England, comprised of Gemma Wilson Pitt (vocals), George Kitching (guitar), Liam Gilfellon (bass), Dave Curle (drums), Ken Sakamoto (guitar, vocals, percussion) and Ade Woolard (DJ).

HUG - new wave from the UK

HUG

You just know this is another review by Robbie when you find the word ‘humble’ in the review – thanks Robbie, really appreciate it.

If the name HUG rings a bell chances are you were around in the 90s and heard material from their four previous releases, or even saw them support bands such as Pavement and Echo and the Bunnymen. Sadly, despite critical acclaim from the likes of Melody Maker and the NME, HUG disbanded in 1994 before they could really take off into the musical stratosphere. Happily, the ex-members of HUG took it upon themselves to return to the studio in 2011 to record rough demos left in the wake of the split, and entered a brief phase of touring starting in 2011, before a triumphant finale at the historic Cooperage pub on Newcastle’s Quayside in December 2012. Also that month HUG released a compilation of re-mastered demos and a B-side from the height of their success in 1994, titled Clay, which has been kindly brought to the attention of this humble critic. Without further ado, let’s have a listen to the material and see what the fuss is all about.

First up is Clay, a really energetic song with lots of soul. Pleasingly crunchy guitars gnash away and the drums pound away passionately, while Gemma’s powerful lyrics speak of a broken relationship and the desire to retain of self-respect. The thematic elements gel nicely with the composition and from this track alone it becomes clear how HUG could have been so hotly-tipped back in the day. The second track, Kingdom Come features lyrics speaking of deceit, submission and disrespect. Gemma does a fine job delivering her cryptic messages through vaguely biblical musings while being backed by ferocious drumming and more trademark catchy lead guitar work. The third and final track on this release, titled This Dark Eden, began life as a B-side from their final release in 1994, titled Firebrands, and is the longest of the three standing at nearly six minutes. Juxtaposed between the gentle waves of the verse and heavier chorus lie more of the band’s characteristic spiritual lyrics, which in this case feature a subtle vocal harmony.

Within only three tracks HUG manage to define their sound and hark back to the golden age of Tyneside indie rock. If you’re after a slice of well-crafted music with thoughtful lyrics you could do worse than pick up Clay, or any of the back catalogue for that matter. It’s been a pleasure learning about this band and I wish them the very best in whatever they choose to do from now on.

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Strangefruit

Strangefruit – Jenny Maxwell (vocals / violin), Jamie Perrett (guitar / vocals), Peter Perrett (bass) and Dave Shaw (drums) – is an alt rock band from London in England.

Strangefruit - alt rock from England

Strangefruit

Instantly, on hitting play, the observer is lifted on a blanket of sounds and from being part of the audience, becomes part of the experience. A melting-pot of melliferous mellifluent mellow music wraps the listener in a gauze from which there is no desire to escape as Strangefruit take over the thought processes.

There is much to highlight in the experience of spending time with the quartet, of most significance is the consummate ease with which they mix together global influences and styles to generate an atmosphere in to which there is a natural grace to the output. Without wishing to play-down other parts of the band, the crowning glory is with no doubt the mesmeric vocal, which works due to the abilities of the songwriters to wrest the best out of the vocal / instrumental combinations to provide for material of the highest order.

A recent release – the debut EP – Between The Earth and Sea should see the outfit gaining higher visibility, though I have a feeling more will be made of the who they sound like and where the music would fit rather than acknowledging Strangefruit is a superb band in their own right.

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Between the Earth and Sea – EP – Strangefruit is available on iTunes*

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Atlanter

Atlanter from Oslo in Norway is an alt blues band comprising Jens CareliusArild HammerøMorten Kvam and Jonas Barsen Johnsen.

Atlanter is an alt blues band from Norway.

Atlanter

There is an unmistakeable Scandinavian pitch to the sounds which encompass influences from across the globe as Atlanter delivers incredibly busy instrumental that sit inside an ethereal framework. The combination of which flashes around the head in a triumphant parade.

The band clearly sets out to inject a feeling of movement and fluidity in the music and this extends to their recordings, which avoid a rehearsed sound and this technique brings the songs to life and ensures that the audience has a sense of engagement and relationship with the out-put.

Atlanter is a relatively new out-fit their enthusiasm and belief in their creation shines through brightly. Their musicianship is tested within the complex layers of the tracks, but the players are more than capable of handling the shifting landscape in which they play.

A recent release (12th August) the nine track LP – Vidde – is a fascinating start to a band who maintain the perception that much of the most inventive sounds, which simultaneously are readily accessible, are continuing to emerge from this area of Northern Europe.

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Vidde – Atlanter is avaliable on iTunes*.

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