Mince, the debut album from Scottish band Min Diesel, is a clash on the senses and for some maybe a car crash as certainly their sound is not going to be an easy fit for many. It is a challenging proposition, and at times has even keen ears unsure but its real potency is in luring back regular attention which shows album and band are doing plenty right.
Aberdeen bred Min Diesel take inspirations from late-80s/early-90s punk, lo-fi and math-rock bands into their abrasing cacophony of sonic enterprise. They are a trio also becoming used to strong support and praise, through a live presence which has seen the band play with the likes of Errors, Acoustic Ladyland, Joan of Arc, Johnny Foreigner, Playlounge, Tuff Love, Hot Club de Paris, Sky Larkin, and Paws since forming in 2009 and a clutch of EPs. Two splits with Sidca and Pinact respectively in 2013 lured potent acclaim whilst last year’s Puzzle & Activity EP gave an enticing teaser to Min Diesel’s debut album now uncaged and prowling the psyche.
The threesome of Zippy, Stu, and David state inspirations come from the likes of Fugazi, Pavement, and Shellac whilst others have compared the band to artists such as Dinosaur Jr. and Stapleton. They are all understandable references though you can add many others, for us at times thoughts of Pere Ubu emerging in certain places across Mince. Equally though there is a freshness to the band’s sound which puts them at least one step aside of the crowd. Opener War Band swiftly entangles the senses in a healthy scrub of guitar and thumping beats, their union with the throaty lure of bass a magnetic invitation for ears and attention. The vocals come from within the thick mesh of sound, laying deeper in their textures than expected but working enjoyably as contagion brews within the enjoyable encounter. A searing spearing of guitar erupts in its closing moments, its acidic aggression imposing and magnetic as the track leaves with impact.
The following Pagan Pageant opens with a folkish air and quaint melody wrapped in caustic ambience, the blend further coloured by raw and often wandering vocals. Slightly deranged and openly wrong-footing, the song swings from good to not sure regularly but already there is that captivation at play meaning you want to indulge in its confusion and incitement again and again in response to its increasing persuasion. Next up Trail of T-Shirts is a more immediate tempting but also reveals stronger enticing over listens. Sharp hooks and spoiled melodies provide an appealing enticement whilst the energetic rhythms quickly bait ears and appetite, but it is the delicious discord coating the clang which steals the passions, another mighty aspect across the release backed as here by potent guitar craft and rhythmic juggling.
Kirk Session reveals a mellow though no less concussive quality to songwriting and sound next, the band casting a jarring croon of sound and vocal prowess which again will work for some and not others whilst Down on the Green straight after, goes for a more predatory intent for its pop rock cacophony. The bass discovers a bestial growl over which voice and guitar dance with brash yet warm resourcefulness. As it continues the track seems to turn a little mellower though ears are still resonating to the sonic jangle and rhythmic confrontation by its close.
The album hits its high spot with the next trio of tracks, starting with the virulent swagger of dB where again the bass is wonderfully bestial against the melodic ferocity around it. The song emerges like a tart mix of Swell Maps and Asylums though there is also a strong whiff of Josef K and very early Orange Juice to the encounter, all spicing adding to the invention of the best track upon Mince, though it is quickly challenged by Last Bus (Emm Es Bee ). The new encounter sways whilst caressing ears with citric melodies and a tangy sonic tempting, musically playing like a raw lemon on the tongue, making the senses pucker at its touch but sparking a hunger for more. Again though, it is the inventive discord trespasses which steal the show, adding greater intensity and weight to the thrilling croon.
Another song which half thrills but leaves questions in its wake, Musskulls is a psyche pop/noise rock tangle of sound and ideation. It twists and turns through coherent and deranged scenery with seamless and ultimately enticing adventure though vocally something goes a little astray. That said without finding the same spark as the last two songs, it still engages ears and thoughts forcibly and as the album grows with every listen.
Mince is brought to a close by firstly the volatile energy and aggression of Bastards, an encounter with a catchy melodic spine of infectiousness, and finally North-East Soul, a dark and raw serenade which sparkles with the Scottish lilt of the vocals, the first time the accent really comes into play within the album. Stray twangs and off kilter noise add to the drama and lure of the enthralling end to the encounter, the band almost exploring improvisation with sonic relish across the turbulent landscape.
We are on safe ground suggesting that Mince will not be a tasty offering for all but it is a release which needs time and focus to explore and come to terms with; for us as an example, it making an ok first impression but with regular engagement turning into a vat of increasing persuasion and thorough enjoyment.
Mince is available now via Struggletown in association with AlbTwo Records and Cool Yr Jets digitally and on Ltd Edition 12” cream or red/white vinyl @ http://mindiesel.bandcamp.com/
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