Kudzu – Defeated

With a sound as eclectic and unpredictable as it is ravenously catchy, US synth pop duo Kudzu have just released their new album, Defeated. It is an infestation of infectious hooks, flirtatious synths, and rousing escapades but to tag it merely as synth pop is an injustice to its diversity, the album a stirring web of post punk, electro punk, industrial and more across its seriously magnetic body.

Springfield based Kudzu consists of Seth Goodwin (vocals, synth, and drum programming) and Mark Gillenwaters (vocals and guitar). Inspirations to the project include the likes of Tears For Fears, The Cure, Spectrum, Guided by Voices, Sympathy Nervous, and This Heat but as suggested, their sound has a much broader tapestry which is as bred in the seventies/eighties synth landscape as the creative now. It makes for a proposition which is as familiar as it is boldly fresh and one massive treat of a listen.

It opens with the punk assault of Some Cops, a track bursting from its electronic shimmer with zeal and urgency soaked in creative dissonance. At the same time it is a virulently catchy incitement, its fuzzy fumes leaving the senses as woozy as the bone shuddering beats. Like Calling All Astronauts meets Artery at its core, the song equally embraces psych rock winds in its contagious turbulence to provide Defeated with one ear grabbing start.

Straight away the variety of the album is at play as the following and quite superb No Backbone breaks the dividing peace with electro pulses straight out of the early Mute Records catalogue. Instantly thoughts of bands like The Normal arise but are soon pushed to the background as guitar spun melodies and harmonic vocals tease and caress respectively.  The hook Gillenwaters casts with his strings is simply delicious, a psyche enslaving lure soon backed by the darker pulsation of keys and the snapping resonance of rhythms; kind of like a fusion of B-Movie, The Cure, and Modern English yet unique from start to finish.

The album’s title track brings a scuzzier breath to ears; its post punk irritability echoed in the John Lydon textured vocals but again there is a repetitious coaxing teasing and tempting at the centre of the fuzz ball which necessitates only submission to its infectious demands. As its predecessor, it brings another hue to Defeated as does next up Burn Yourself, though its electro punk surge is akin to the opener. With the increasingly magnetic vocals almost gliding over the tides of noise springing from synths and guitar, it was so easy to be swept up in the raw yet skilfully nurtured arms of the track as thoughts colluded with its lyrical insight. Defeated is described as “a reaction to mounting disappointments and frustrations with increasingly frustrating and disappointing realities” and with intimacy and a worldly observation its often dissonant words hit the spot whilst almost arguing with the rousing catchiness of their vehicles.

The mesmeric Balking the Grave is next, the song a riveting post/gothic punk shadow bound serenade which almost seeps under the skin with its slow drawl and bordering concussive clang while Sleep in Disguise is a boisterous slice of synth pop/new wave with the scent of bands like Mr.Kitty, OMD, and early Human League to its bright if slightly caustic breeze.  Both tracks border the irresistible yet still get slightly outshine by One Purpose with its flirtatious Blancmange like melodies and climate.

One definite peak in the lofty heights of Defeated is followed by the ear grabbing proposal of When You Were Mine. The song is almost like a weave of the best traits of its predecessors, a tenacious pop song with attitude and seduction in its raw charms which manages to grumble and serenade in the same breath before leaving to allow B.I.Y.E. to bring things to a transfixing close. With its cold scenery and instinctive bounce, the song merges the alluring traits of a Joy Division and Modern Eon in its industrially edged and melodically draped canter. It is a fine end to an album which we are finding hard to shake off as new propositions to look at build up. That is never a bad aspect to have and as Defeated is so enjoyable we are certainly not complaining.

Defeated is out now via Push & Pull Records; available @ https://kudzukudzukudzu.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 09/03/2018

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The Persian Leaps – Drive Drive Delay

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Creating a sparkling clang of noise pop with indie breeding and a raw slither of punk, the sound of US band The Persian Leaps is one of those propositions which you do not realise how much you are enjoying it until it departs the ears. Certainly that was the effect of their new EP Drive Drive Delay, an encounter which made a strong if not exactly overwhelming start but by its third song had feet dancing to its tune and by the close urged an immediate need to press play all over again. It is hard to declare the offering as a major breakthrough for the Saint Paul in Minnesota hailing band, but it has plenty to awaken a real appetite for more and the potential of that upcoming moment.

The band’s seeds began with singer/guitarist Drew Forsberg, who came up with the name in a doodle whilst attending a college Greek Archaeology course. Using the name to write music independently over many years, sound inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, Guided by Voices, and Teenage Fanclub, he eventually brought the band to full life in 2012 with the expansion of the line-up. Last year saw the release of their acclaimed debut EP Praise Elephants, a well-received proposition now potently backed and at times surpassed by Drive Drive Delay.

Fire Starter sets things off and as mentioned at the start, makes a good if not exactly attention grabbing opening to the release. With thick chords and keen rhythms shaping its body after an initial vocally abrasing start, the song jangles and sonically sparks in ears with agreeable responses but there is something missing energy wise and exposed further by subsequent songs. Nevertheless bright harmonies and that persistent discordance clad ring of the guitars ensures it is no throwaway offering, just a less striking one especially once the following Pretty Boy takes over. The song swings with hefty beats from drummer Michael McCloskey across the caustic flame of Forsberg’s guitar whilst his great vocals, accompanied by the band, bring vibrant colour to the already tenacious mixture. An old school punk spice lures at the heart of the track and is especially delicious, recalling the likes of The Lurkers and the pop punk of the Radiators, whilst the song as a whole pushes Drive Drive Delay to loftier heights.

The next up (Goodbye to) South Carolina flows through ears on a scuzzy tide of riffs but with a raw bait courted by an almost spatial melodic flaming which is almost Birdland like in sonic Picture 62enterprise. Like the first song, it does not stir the imagination and emotions as its predecessor but still makes a tasty appetiser with its great acidic twang for the final pair of outstanding songs.

Truth = Consequences is a fiery croon of sound around a similarly delivered mellow caress of vocals. The track shimmers and bellows with creativity as again riffs and hooks glow with sonic heat and enterprise whilst the throaty basslines of Brad Hendrickson simply enslave the appetite in the short but riveting encounter. It is the new peak for the EP but straight away eclipsed by the excellent Permission. The closing song swings in on a rhythmic rumble clad in the fuzzy temptation of guitar, swaggering with melodic radiance and thickly barbed bass tones. That My Bloody Valentine influence is a loud whisper across the evolving landscape of the track, but equally there is unique freshness to the virulence and character of the hooks and winy grooves which vein the warm if volatile ambience of the triumph.

The EP is a potent introduction to newcomers to The Persian Leaps like us and in hindsight an impressive continuation of the qualities in the emerging band that their fans already knew about. It may have made a slow impression initially but more of the same ahead would certainly go down a treat.

The Drive Drive Delay EP is available now via Land Ski Records and digitally @ http://thepersianleaps.bandcamp.com/

http://thepersianleaps.com/

RingMaster 12/01/2015

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The Hush Now‏: Arkansas

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Taken from their forthcoming album Memos, new single Arkansas from US indie pop band The Hush Now is an engaging invitation to their impending summer release. Formed around 2008, the Boston band has drawn strong plaudits and responses to their previous albums and been equally acclaimed for their appearances at the SXSW and CMJ festivals and though relatively unknown outside of their homeland, one suspects the quintet with the new single can look forward to that changing, especially in the UK with the arrival of the album is the new song is an example of its contents.

Formed in 2006 by vocalist/guitarist Noel Kelly, The Hush Now first made a mark on fans and critics with their debut self-titled of 2009. With its pop and dreamy soundscape fusion the release made a good mark on independent radio charts and pulled comparisons to the likes of Cure, Guided by Voices, My Bloody Valentine, and Teenage Fan Club towards the band. Second album Constellations a year later continued to set the band up as one to watch. With a line-up completed by guitarist Adam Quane, bassist Pat MacDonald, drummer Barry Marino, and John Millar on keyboards, the new single feels like the next potent step for the band towards the widest recognition.

Arkansas was seeded in a road trip to one of their festival appearances. Noel Kelly tells more, “Arkansas started out with a garage band loop conjured up by our keyboardist in the back of our crammed tour van while on our way down to SXSW. It’s a good 36 hour haul from Boston to Austin. We played a couple of shows on the way down in NYC and Philadelphia, but on the last leg of the trip and about halfway through the state of Arkansas our drummer found out that a dear friend had passed unexpectedly. We stopped and mulled over our options at a gas and sip and eventually decided to carry on. We spent the week in Austin like ghosts shifting through the crowds and then piled back into the van for a marathon, non­stop drive back to Boston.  Although the song at its core is about being caught in a manipulative relationship, the lyrics try to capture that time rumbling back through the vastness of Arkansas, staring out the window and lost in reflection with a sense of nothing to return to at home.”

Opening with dowdy singular notes of the keys the song soon lures in a richer melodic tease from Millar and a deep bass temptation from MacDonald which sets up the ear eagerly for the mellow and expressive tones of Kelly. His gentles vocal caresses engage over the firm rhythms and guitar flashes, soaking the brewing sounds in a fine emotive and infectious harmonious wash. Across its length the track is a persuasive slice of accomplished indie pop but into its chorus ignites an even stronger passion for the inventive smouldering intensity and passion of the song. Ending as it began, Arkansas is an inspiring and tenderly forceful seduction towards the band and their approaching full length release.

For elegant yet fiery pop music crafted with heart and emotive generosity The Hush Now‏ is a band to pay close attention to.

Check out the single at https://soundcloud.com/thehushnow/arkansas

http://www.facebook.com/TheHushNow

7.5/10

RingMaster 25/03/2013

 

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