How to describe UK trio Punching Swans?
You could say they are a carnivorous groove machine, a sonically schizophrenic rumble, or a rabidly twisted siren; all applying to the creative psyche and adventure that breeds the band’s irresistible sound and now their new fiercely virulent album Nesting. Maybe the best way to describe Punching Swans is a twisted union between The Fall, McLusky, The Fire Engines, and Maths and the Moon. It is a band which despite a clutch of similarly distinct releases has remained in the shadows of the UK music scene like the black sheep of a family which gets locked away in the attic away from prying ears. Now though, the door is unlocked and the band is about to infest British rock ‘n’ roll with their tempestuously deranged math punk, courtesy of the inimitably thrilling Nesting.
Punching Swans is the ravenous creation of producer (Sunlight Studios) Greg Webster, formerly of Medway greats Houdini, the equally impressive Frau Pouch’s Joe Wise, and Pablo Paganotto from The Explorers Collective. Formed in 2011 or 2012, depending where you read, by Greg and Joe from a one-off band called Laura Palmer and the One-Eyed Jacks they got together for a Twin Peaks night, Punching Swans quickly sparked ears with a self-titled debut album in 2012, and even more so with its successor Mollusc two years later via Skingasm Records. Each has inspired potent attention and praise across fans, media, and radio shows but it is easy to feel it has all only been the taster to reactions about to be triggered by Nesting.
Telling the “story of one man’s journey from self-imposed isolation to the skies”, Nesting takes little time in gripping attention and appetite as its opener, Cuckoo Cuckold K-killed, dangles sonic bait in front of ears before the robustly contagious beats of Paganotto get to rebellious work. His swings tempt and seduce with a tenacious grin, coaxing bodily involvement as vocals walk the rhythmic web into the imagination as tangy guitar and devilish bass lures begin to stir and add to the increasingly enthralling and incendiary stroll. Unsurprisingly there is a touch of Houdini and Frau Pouch to the delicious incitement but equally thoughts of Swell Maps and inescapably The Fall also flavour the first treat.
Seriously dynamic and gripping, the album’s superb start continues with Man Nest, an even more psychotic and caustically enterprising proposition that needs mere seconds to seduce and inflame the senses too. Wise’s bass shows it has probably the grouchiest textures in British rock ‘n’ roll at its disposal whilst Webster’s guitar trespasses show no qualms about infesting the senses and psyche, acidic grooves and fiery tempting a perpetual forte.
Pigeon Street toys with more restrained energies and urgencies for its enthralling exploits next, though it is all relative to what came before as the song, with the scything beats of Paganotto an inescapable trigger to get physically involved, blossoming into an insatiable almost predatory shuffle of searing grooves, thumping rhythms, and zealous revelry. Even its calm climax has an element of off-kilter ingenuity before the infectious rock ‘n’ roll of Ovulations rumbles along with the fervent vocals of Wise and Webster holding the reins. Again hooks and grooves steal the passions as rhythms jab deeply, the song entwining post and garage punk texturing into its fearsomely alluring landscape.
That great bass tone is at its crabbiest again in the following Beak Throat and its peevish stalking of the senses within a net of guitar spun wiry hooks and sonic delights around vocal dexterity. It is hard to imagine anybody able to resist the choleric grooves of the song or possible to see the track alone avoid sending rapturous waves across post punk/noise rock pastures with its gloriously savaging and exhilarating tempest.
The brief but again irresistible invasive seduction of Ostrituals comes next to forcibly arouse the passions. If Public Image Ltd had been The Wonderstuff or Wire been McLusky, you wonder if they would have sounded like this mouth-watering predacious stomp whilst its clamorous successor Headless Chickens suggests The Dancing Did or Stomp doing salacious things with Pere Ubu or Marc Riley & The Creepers. The outcome of both and all songs though, despite suggested spices, is always something unique to Punching Swans as proven by Pecked to Death which cantankerously sits between them. Snarky in tone and unhinged in character, the track meanders and twists into unpredictable and manic detours but returning all the time to its rapacious and concussively catchy directness.
The bulging rhythms of Egg Rock is an immediate and successful infestation of the passions, its sonic tendrils and testy Mark E. Smith laced vocal strains only adding to another senses searing, lust inducing incitement before Flight brings the invasive alchemy of the album to an end. The clamant finale to Nesting is a raw soar into noise pop infectiousness and magnetic sonic caterwauling which just lights the touch paper to rapture before retiring to leave ringing in the ears and euphoria in the heart.
Nesting is the first essential album of the year and Punching Swans one of the bands set to step out of the shadows in 2016 and become seriously shouted about.
Nesting is released via Skingasm Records on 22nd January digitally and on CD with a hand numbered limited edition of 30 with a 16-page book featuring drawings and notes from the story behind the album @ http://punchingswans.bandcamp.com/
— Punching Swans Tour 2016 —
JAN 28 CANTERBURY w/Mass lines, Death Pedals, Negative Space
JAN 29 CHATHAM Poco Loco – MEDWAY ALBUM LAUNCH w/Girlpower & Bear vs Manero
FEB 11 CAMDEN Unicorn w/Mayors of Miyazaki + Screen wives
FEB 16 BRIGHTON TBC
FEB 21 OXFORD The Library Pub
FEB 24 BRISTOL Stag & Hounds
FEB 27 LIVERPOOL Maguire’s w/ Robocobra Quartet, Jazzhands and Cal Banda
Pete RingMaster 20/01/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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