review - HEALTH

Upon its release in January last year, the eponymous debut from L.A. noise botherers HEALTH polarised opinion. Those Crystal Castles fans who bought it in the hope of an electro-pop reappropriation of "Crimewave" were largely united in their discontent - but one man’s ungodly cacophony is another’s divine drone of tribal drumming, incorporeal chanting and wild frequencies.
Get Color’s opening gambit "In Heat" keeps up that same confrontational spirit, but only for 110 seconds. Once the industrial disco of "Die Slow" starts to throb, you’ll realise Get Color isn’t paper-thin sloganeering - it’s a declaration of intent. It’s this track’s cohesive colour (with a 'u') that informs the whole record, smuggling pop song conventions underneath caustic hits of static and pounding rhythms.
Although, on the closing "In Violet", the listener is let down gently. Sounding like a disembodied voice from Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker, Benjamin hums over a valium-spiked loop until fade-out - a rare moment of pure beauty, like watching space debris burning up on re-entry. Sublime.

mp3: HEALTH - "Death +"


review - Lovvers, Divorce @ Sneaky Pete's

some of the more astute among you (who?) may have noticed I've not posted anything in forever, but I have good reason. I've been writing a healthy amount for Scottish paper The Skinny, and that and just generally having a good time have taken up all my blogging hours. but because i just love holding court here, i'll keep posting - mainly unedited texts of reviews and interviews, MP3s, mixes, and unwarranted amounts of either hype or contempt for whoever i bloody well feel like.

Kicking things off not with a bang but an ear perforating torrent of noise, is Glasgow’s own Divorce (****). Vocalist Sinead immediately alights the stage, growling vehemently and crawling between puzzled onlookers legs - while the four remaining members onstage channel the combined spirits of Teenage Jesus and DNA. This is the kind of glorious racket Steve Albini was born to commit to tape.
Never to be outdone, Lovvers (****) pack the same healthy dose of aggression into their own set. For this tour the band have added an extra guitar into the mix, and have beefed up their wiry studio sound with a Hüsker Dü-sized reverb - the end result is a dizzy swarm of pop-punk dissonance, turning album highlights "Human Hair" and "Creepy Crawl" into charred corpses, identifiable only from their dental records. Though there is order in their chaos: the advances they’ve made since 2008 as musicians and songwriters (check out the OCD Go Go Go Girls LP for proof) are crystallised in the live setting. Where a year ago they would be clumsy and inconsistent, they are now taut and focused, without losing any of the abrasive charm.
Reception among the crowd ranges from sweaty enthusiasm to outwardly hostile, but it’s this kind of delight in being divisive that makes Divorce and Lovvers (there's a pun in there somewhere) play as fiercely as they do - and confirms them as two of the best contemporary punk bands the UK has to offer.

mp3: Divorce - "Early Christianity"
mp3: Lovvers - "I Want To (Go)"