KEN mode – Success

photo Brenna Faris

photo Brenna Faris

Predictability has never had a presence in the sounds and imagination of Canadian noise wreckers KEN mode, though that in itself is something to be expected. Their caustic and furious brews of post-rock, hardcore, metal, and noise, to mention just some of their flavours employed, have ignited ears and imaginations with a tempestuous almost petulant creativity ensuring the band’s propositions are some of the most persistently and highly anticipated treats. The Winnipeg trio’s new album Success is no exception but this time it has taken a detour which definitely takes assumptions by surprise.

The band has gone back to explore the sounds and invention which were fermenting and fuelling the late 80s/early 90s when KEN mode began to sow its own sonic explorations. The album’s press release lists the album as paying homage to “both their Canadian Prairie roots, and a time when they first started to care about making music; the burgeoning grunge; and Touch Go/Dischord scenes of, with bands like Nirvana, Big Black, Cop Shoot Cop, The Cows, Circus Lupus, and Drive Like Jehu warping their teenage minds.” Listening to Success though you can go back further and find the seeds in predominantly post and noise punk with the album persistently sounding like a primal version of Gang of 4 on steroids. It is the band as raw and aggressive as ever, probably even more so at times, and still lyrically stirring up thoughts and emotional involvement, but it shows a new character and new compelling designs from the band which might not quite work for all but here is being greedily devoured.

KMSuccessCover_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     Recorded with Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey) and recorded as a fully live and analog session, KEN mode’s sixth album opens with Blessed, a track which from its initial sonic whistle turns into a heavy bestial prowl. Simultaneously a swagger emerges in the grizzly tones of Scott Hamilton’s bass as magnetic jabbing lines the beats of drummer Shane Matthewson. Intimidating restraint replaces their predacious aggression at this point, the vocals of guitarist Jesse Matthewson crawling syllable by syllable with open ire over the addiction igniting web now in place. The song’s volatile instincts soon return to take rein though, almost insidious discord and hostility invading whilst binding excited senses in inventive and mischievous rancor.

The outstanding start kicks up another notch with These Tight Jeans, a song which roars and excites like an illicit union of Nirvana, Black Flag, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Of course that is a mere hint to something unique to KEN mode, the track a rumbling, grumbling contagion of wiry hooks, spicy grooves, and rhythmic badgering. As ever the song is driven by fury loaded vocals but this time assisted by the excellent punk lures of guest Jill Clapham who just adds richer colour to the slimline unbridled furnace on the senses.

The Owl… follows the brilliance of its predecessor with its own gripping dark beauty. A sinister noir lit intrigue escapes the growling bass groove, its drama escorted by the similarly potent landing of drum sticks as vocals dangle their raw tone and narrative over the imagination. An air of Bauhaus wraps the absorbing lure and agitated swing of the song as guitars and bass spring an inescapable menace of a flirtation which only gets darker and more imposing as the emotive intimacy of cello from Natanielle Felicitas returns after first gracing the opener. The solemn gentle passage hugging her enterprise is soon a brawl of noise and intensity again before regaining control in a mesmeric finale which leaves ears and emotions in lustful bliss

The grungy turmoil of I Just Liked Fire explodes next, it too a rebellious blaze for ears and appetite to get lustful over as twisted discord and carnal noise collude to abrase and infest the senses whilst its successor Management Control, with greater restraint crowds ears with a thick resonating bassline and a tangy vining of guitar endeavour. The beats of Shane once again provide disorientating yet anthemic bait aligned to the predatory and contagious groans of bass but sonically the song is more involved and less instant with its catchy hooks and grooves. This is not to say the track is any less virulent than the previous songs, just a more intensive exploration with layers of waiting rewards.

There is a feel of Psychic TV to the following A Passive Disaster as its carnivorous basslines and caustic bellow gets right under the skin and into the psyche whilst Failing At Fun Since 1981 straight after, is punk belligerence at its blisteringly sonic and primitively rhythmic best. Both songs are a jungle of menace and bracing invention, individual noise riots to thrill and linger though they get outshone a touch by A Catalog Of Small Disappointments and in turn closing song Dead Actors. The first of the final pair is an uncompromising persuasion, its stalking rhythms and vocal angst entwined in the rabid theatre of guitar and lyrics. The track enslaves body and emptions with ease, threatening and seducing with every snarl and raw fingering of the senses before its successor takes over with a psychotic and darkly elegant Gang of 4 meets Wire like meander of sound and distress lined emotional reflection. The song is spellbinding, a long term journey taking itself and the listener on a traumatic and turbulently fascinating adventure.

It is hard to say yet if Success is KEN mode’s finest hour such its big enough departure to previous encounters reveals something openly and strikingly different but the seriously thrilling encounter is definitely a contender.

Success is available via Season Of Mist now @ http://shop.season-of-mist.com/predefined-search?id_list=102, http://kenmode.bigcartel.com/, or https://kenmode.bandcamp.com/album/success

http://www.ken-mode.com/

Upcoming KEN mode dates with Fight Amp

June 16, 2015 – Toronto, ON @ The Shop (Parts & Labour) w/The Great Sabatini

June 17, 2015 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus w/The Great Sabatini

June 18, 2015 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus w/Pyrrhon, Couch Slut

June 19, 2015 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie

June 20, 2015 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups w/Lo-Pan

June 21, 2015 – Chicago, IL @ The Burlington w/GOBO’S CVIT

June 26, 2015 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Goodwill w/Pop Crimes, Teethmarks *no Fight Amp

RingMaster 16/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

Clouder- Sister Raygun

 

Clouder

     It is fair to say that 2013 was a big year for the re-emerging Clouder, the US band finding a spark to reignite their appetite and adventure after a hiatus which left the future of the band in doubt. With the release of their second album Sister Raygun, they and we can expect this year to not only follow the last in success but push the band into greater wider spotlights. Pulsating and brawling with the band’s unique mix of garage and psyche rock driven by punk/power pop energy, the band‘s new release offers a tantalising bait which is contagiously irresistible and irrepressibly belligerent, a glorious mix in the hands of sonic devils like Clouder.

        The Brooklyn quintet took little time to provoke passions from their coming together in 2011, playing over 100 shows around New York City in their first year building and earning a reputation for their fiery live performances. Debut album Freakin’ Out the Squares was uncaged the following year, again to strong praise and reactions from fans and media alike. Then came the eight month hiatus full of personal trials and tribulations for some members which almost brought the band to an end and saw vocalist Eric Gilstrap move to North Carolina. Thankfully the band resumed to writing new songs and spending months sending back and forth rough demos to each other as a new release became flesh. Uniting with producer Jeff Berner (Psychic TV, Heliotropes, Dead Stars) in his Brooklyn studio, the band emerged with Sister Raygun, a release which worries, solicits, and pleasures the imagination like a demonic temptress.

     Released via Fleeting Youth Records, Sister Raygun lays an initial stroke of guitar upon the ear as opener Dancing in the Album CoverProving Grounds moves into view. Its reserved first touch is aided by a rhythmic tempting before the band explodes into a potent stomp of guitar sculpted enterprise guided by the distinct cause yet magnetic vocal tones of Gilstrap. With a sixties punk throat to the voice of the guitars and a raw edge to the sonic suasion, the track provides an enticing entrance into the release, a compelling doorway which is impossible to resist crossing the threshold of.

    The following Lost in Reverie equally shows no restraint in opening up its broad rhythmic shoulders and energetic stroll. There is a swagger to the song from the off, one which soon welcomes the darker delivery of Gilstrap within the acidic invention of guitarists Steve Spinella and Matt Revie. Into its dramatic stride with further deliciously teasing imagination from the guitars and a moody tempting from bassist Max Goransson, the song intimidates and seduces with equal potency. The sound of Clouder is certainly distinct to themselves but imagine a mix of Damn Vandals and early The Horrors with at times the irreverence and haunting howls of Pil and you get an inkling of the menace and beauty on offer.

    The excellent feisty pop call of Lady Retrograde unveils an infectious vivacity and magnetic garage rock canter to continue the impressive and appetite raising stomp of the album, whilst its successors Psychic Cities and The Ballad of Sister Raygun provide further individual bait to bring a greedy hunger to. The first of the pair rides in on another highly persuasive enslaving of the emotions by drummer Jim Wood, his thumping rolling rhythms the prelude to a melancholic but lively web of melodic and sonic endeavour beneath the John Lydon reminding effect wrapped vocals of Gilstrap. There is a mystique and scuzziness to the track which equally lures in the imagination, a psychotic edge which only accentuates the bait of the song whilst its successor slowly walks openly and hauntingly through a shadowed inventive balladry, both songs leaving a lingering inventive suasion.

    Phantom Girl unleashes a new level of addiction forging contagion next, the punk bred garage rocker brewing up essences of past decades into a politely dirty schizophrenic drama. Again The Horrors meets Pil come to mind within the fresh and original character of the sonic storm with just a touch of Spizzenergi to the vocal squall and insatiable hooks. Its glory is swiftly succeeded by All the Royal Years Are Gone, another unpolished treat of dirt clad rock ‘n’ roll with the snarl and honesty to antagonise and ignite the senses.

   The mesmeric black toned Damaged Sun comes next, its sonic acridity aligned to a shadow spawned, discord filtered atmosphere. There is a Mary & Jesus Chain glaze to the track whilst an Inspiral Carpets/Birdland blend seems to infect the melodic and vocal traits of the song; a feel which less openly also spices up the transfixing and enthralling Western Wastelands. Though neither song stands out as forcibly as others on Sister Raygun both engage and satisfy thoroughly though they are not helped by standing right next to the brilliant overpowering closing song, Doldrums. Armed with a groove which simply steals attention and passions from its opening lure upon the ears, the track romps and commands with a swagger and relish that cannot fail to overwhelm the imagination like an epidemic, the repetitive hook an irresistible focus of all the craft and energy at play within band and song.

     Sister Raygun is one of those shot in the arm releases which may not come to be called a classic but has the ability to inspire a genre to explore itself further, though Clouder will be during that anyway if they can hopefully avoid any more breaks in their conquering of garage and psyche rock.

www.facebook.com/ClouderNY

http://fleetingyouthrecords.bandcamp.com/album/clouder-sister-raygun

9/10

RingMaster 05/03/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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