WATCH: Belako – ‘Truth’

Whether it’s the global nature of alternative music in the age of streaming, or possibly the cultural aftershocks of the credit crunch, it feels like there’s a new, mucho cool Spanish indie band every week. In the case of Belako – a four-piece from the Basque town of Mungia – using the word “new” might be a bit of a stretch for a band who have been releasing music since a couple of online demos in 2011 – but, whilst forthcoming LP Plastic Drama may be their fourth album, it’s their first international release on a major label. The best part?  The album’s lead single, ‘Truth’, finds them in as fiercely DIY a mood as ever.

Clocking in at a pacey (and satisfying balanced) two minutes and twenty-two seconds, ‘Truth’ lays its cards on the table pretty quickly; in a matter befitting its title, it launches into the slightly off-kilter, detuned guitar line and punchy, if tinny, sounding drums, which are consistent throughout. This is even more true of the track’s video, in some respects, which provides its viewer with the nine lines that form the song’s lyrical content.

Theirs is a stripped-back take on post-punk, consistent with some of the genre’s best voices, who have generally used a fairly simple adage: find a message, repeat it, make no compromises. There’s something of Dream Wife’s early stuff in vocalist Cristina Lizarraga’s atonal vocal style here, but you can take the combination of the persuasive thrust and wry observation all the way back to pioneers such as The Fall or Gang of Four.

The song’s shonky feel arguably gives the band a kinship with Hinds, perhaps the most widely-recognised Spanish group of recent times. Whilst lyrically, the “truth” being spoken here is that the concept of romance has been weaponised, ensuring that love keeps us “locked up”, enforcing our exploitation – essentially, it’s about as far from the usual pop content as you can get. 

For an album that “searches for the real meaning of things in a world that translates everything into assembly lines, manufacturing and the exploitation of living beings”, ‘Truth’ appears to be the ideal introduction, ahead of its release. It’s particularly encouraging to see a band, now some time into their career, embrace their ideas and apply them not only to lyrics but also to the album’s production. If there is any truth in pop music, it looks certain to come from Belako.

Plastic Drama, the upcoming album from Belako, is out 28th August via BMG.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

LISTEN: Song Sung – ‘Come To The Water’

Hypnotising vocals, atmospheric electronics and echoing beats permeate ‘Come To Water’, the latest single from Song Sung. Taken from their debut EP I Surrender, set for release on 27th March via Night Time Stories, the duo have a talent for crafting alluring, melodic soundscapes.

Formed of twin sisters Georgina and Una McGeough, Song Sung grew up in Monaghan, Ireland before moving over to New York a decade ago. Since then, the pair have been dabbling in software and even creating songs over second-hand bass lines from a nightclub DJ that used to rumble through the floor of their East Village apartment. Now, the duo are working with David Holmes (Unloved), who co-wrote and produced their EP along with his bandmate Keefus Ciancia. The pair have previously worked on scores with Holmes too, including The Fall and Killing Eve (for which they won a BAFTA).

Speaking about the new single, Georgina of Song Sung explains: “‘Come to the Water’ is a song caught somewhere between obsession and vulnerability. There’s a fragility in the tone, a yearning within and an uncertainty in the end.” It’s this blend of emotions that makes the duo’s new track so captivating, and has us eager to hear more of their beguiling sounds.

Listen to ‘Come to the Water’ below, and follow Song Sung on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Get In Her Ears w/ Brix Smith-Start 20.02.20

Kate & Mari were back in the studio this week with plenty of new music from the likes of MAITA, MIRI, LegPuppy, Bad Bones, HMS Morris, Li Yilei, Am.I & Charlotte Spiral.

They were joined by the incredible Brix Smith-Start, who spoke about her last three albums with Brix & The Extricated, and her experiences over the years as a trailblazer in the music industry.

Listen back here:

Tracklist
Lizzo – Juice
LegPuppy (feat. Josefin Ohrn) – Secret Friend
MAITA – A Beast
DRAMA – Years
MIRI – Girls Just Want To Have Fun
MEI – I Don’t Know What’s Next
Lido Pimienta – Eso Que Tu Haces
Bad Bones – Beg
Desire – Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order Cover)
Alessi’s Ark – Woman
Shoulder Season – Clean Lines
Brix & The Extricated – Wolves
RUNAH – Same Face
Li Yilei – A Star Without Guidance
HMS Morris – Babanod
Hilary Woods – Orange Tree
Girl Ray – Friend Like That
Am.i – Millenial
Chloe Foy – Callous Copper
Charlotte Spiral – Wide Eyed
Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box
Kate Tempest – People’s Faces

ALBUM: Brix & The Extricated – ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’

Known as the Super Blood Wolf Moon, this rare celestial event occurs when the first full Moon in a calendar year is at its closest approach to Earth, during a total lunar eclipse; a collision of the Super Moon, the Blood Moon and the Wolf Moon.

Just like the moonscape that inspired its name, the soundscape of Brix & the Extricated‘s latest LP Super Blood Wolf Moon is a collision of raucous post-punk hooks, infectious progressive rock riffs, and euphoric melodies that honour and transcend the historical output of the band’s founders: vocalist/guitarist Brix Smith Start and bassist Steve Hanley, ex-members of The Fall.

Super Blood Wolf Moon is the third record from Brix & the Extricated – following their 2017 debut, Part 2, and 2018’s sophomore release, Breaking State. Opening with ‘Strange Times’, a gentle, shimmering guitar ballad of global despair that musically recalls Brix’s earlier indie pop band, The Adult Net, it continues with ‘Hustler’ – a different beast altogether. The Fall-esque second track combines the musicality of Brix, Steve, and his brother, drummer Paul Hanley’s, ’80s output – referred to lovingly as the “Brix Smith years” – with lyrical elements of unforgiving brutality: “I know, you know / I know, you know / You’re just a two-bit hustler / It’s coming back to crush ya!”

‘Wolves’ is the defining track of Super Blood Wolf Moon; reflecting on pack mentality and driven by the Hanley brothers’ driving basslines, drum beats and the triple cascading guitar collision of Brix, Steve Trafford (also ex-The Fall) and Jason Brown: “I run with wolves and sleep beneath the stars / The clothes I wear is just to hide the scars / The cross I bear is etched into my skin / I run with wolves, they’re my next of kin.”

The edgy, hypnotic, pulsating bass guitar of Steve Hanley on ‘Waterman’ is complemented by Brix’s haunting vocals, transitioning to the catchy, almost upbeat pop of ‘Dinosaur Girl’. But don’t let your ears deceive you. Brix sings honestly of depression and over medication culture – “Below the excavation / Lies the remains of a Prozac nation / Just a dinosaur girl.”

‘Crash Landing’ explores themes of drug addiction and suicide against a psychedelic guitar soundscape, enhanced by the inclusion of violinist Sarah Brandwood-Spencer’s blissful strings, whilst Brix and Steve Trafford share vocal duties, providing fantastical female/male harmonies for ‘Wintertyde’, arranged against spectral harpsichord.

Brix & the Extricated’s social commentary continues on ‘Wasteland’; a dark, operatic track that explores climate change, the destruction of our environment, and conspiracy through intense drum strikes, thunderous guitars, and sweeping strings. Whilst penultimate track, ‘Tannis Root’, is just as heavy, combining staccato rhythm guitar riffs with punchy, powerful basslines.

Closing Super Blood Wolf Moon with a heightened sense of foreboding, ‘The God Stone’ begins with Sarah’s deeply moving strings, building up to a crescendo of eccentric electric guitar. A fitting finale to an often uncomfortable and challenging record seeped in classic pop melodies, abrasive post-punk and brooding social commentary. Prepare to be extricated!

Super Blood Moon Wolf is out now via Grit Over Glamour Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne