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NARC Magazine, March 2014

Posted on Monday, 3 March 2014 | No Comments

That time again...

Album Reviews

Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

 Where 2012’s superb Attack on Memory saw Dylan Baldi’s band undertake a dramatic and rewarding shift from dream-pop to sandblasted punk, Here and Nowhere Else finds Cloud Nothings sticking rigidly to their now-established formula. It’s another half-hour long, eight-song blast of Vipers indebted angst and fury, and once again Baldi finds the sweet spot between melody and aggression on tracks like the mid-album pairing of Just See Fear and Giving Into Seeing. In sticking so carefully to the Attack on Memory template though, the band – now shorn to a power trio – falls slightly short of that previous work, with this album’s extended track Pattern Walks paling in comparison to the mighty sturm-und-drang of Attack on Memory stand-out Wasted Years.


Polar Bear - In Each and Every One

Having kept themselves occupied with all manner of side-projects and collaborations (most notably saxophonist Pete Wareham’s new afro-psych project Melt Yourself Down) in the wake of 2010’s Peepers, it’s a welcome return from British jazz veterans Polar Bear on their fifth album In Each and Every One. Drummer and bandleader Seb Rochford again leads his band through an inventive and diverse set of electronically enhanced tracks, and while some of the up-front power and accessibility of Peepers might have been sacrificed in favour of the ambient languor of Open See and the chaos of WW, it’s in aid of a lengthy and rewarding album that finds yet more new textures and contours within the established soundscape of this vital and innovative band.


Live Review

Cate Le Bon, Sea Lion
The Sage, Gateshead, 13.02.14

Sea Lion, the performing name of Gothenburg resident Linn Osterberg, starts the evening off on a spectral, haunting note. She writes haunting Americana, performed tonight in bare-bones Stratocaster and voice arrangements that brings to mind some of Cat Power’s more disquieting, lo-fi early material. There is, however, something of a conflict between the darkness of the music and the helium pitch of Osterberg’s vocals that means that her work and voice, while both impressive things individually, fail to quite cohere during her brief set.

Before our headliner emerges, a faux public service announcement blares out in Welsh and English, inviting the audience into the Mug Museum of Cate Le Bon’s current album and requesting that the audience refraining from photographing and filming the show. A more polite way of going about it than Savages, sure, but for both acts it serves the same purpose – these electrifying practitioners are best experienced in the moment, and not through the remove of a screen.

Certainly, they can be little argument now that Cate Le Bon is a strident talent. Launching directly into new track No God, Cate leads her band through a set of seemingly simple but subtly intricate psychedelic rock’n’roll, lurching from the homely synths of Cyrk to the Television riffing of I Can’t Help You and the slower, murkier What Is Worse. Her influences are clear, but she’s marshalled them into a distinctive song writing style that lingers long in the memory far after the roar of main set closer Wild has faded.

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