With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘DRUGS’ EP – Sugar Horse May 22, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 3:29 pm
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Brutal Bristol Doomgazers, Sugar Horse’s new EP, DRUGS, is a punishing aural assault but it also features ephemeral moments of beauty. Doomy opening track, “Drugs”, utilizes neo-Sabbath riffs over apocalyptic, downtempo drumming, and (what feel like) random pauses filled with studio chatter. Vocalist, Ashley Tubb’s voice takes on similar qualities to Deftones’ Chino Morino when it soars into higher registers in the choruses. This chimes in well with DRUGS’ press material’s, which likens Sugar Horse to a Doomy Pink Floyd. It wasn’t unusual to read Deftones being described as the Nu-Metal Pink Floyd. Around the four-minute mark, some chanting, almost gospel-like, vocals come in over some chugging guitars before the track drops back down into the heaviest, most punishing, section yet.

“Pity Party” definitely earns the Doomgaze title, with its more melodic vocals & walls of reverbed fuzzy guitar noise and swirls of feedback replacing the hammering riffs of the previous track. The rhythm section maintains the punishing, metallic abrasiveness. There is an almost heroic, lighters-in-the-air atmosphere. Single, “Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds”, begins with fuzzier, shoegazey riffing, reminiscent of Pink-era Boris or some of the more melodic Sunn O))) tunes. The vocals are trademarked metal screams when they drop in and they fit in between the stop-start rhythms. There are twists and turns aplenty and the perceived loudness and heaviness dips and dives constantly. Vocalist Ashley Tubb says it’s “a centrepiece for the record. A mangling of every direction we go in, distilled down and blasted out at both destructive and fragile volume”.

“When September Rain” is a sparse, haunting ballad (as strange as that sounds), built around vicious snare drum crack and gentle synth melodies. It’s definitely an outlier here. The heavy reverbs on the vocals and the blending of the choral backing vocals with the main seems to lend it a quasi-religious feel. Towards the end, it builds up into a wall of pure noise that would make Brian Eno or Kevin Shields jealous. “Dogegg” is a slow, sludgy slice of abrasive Doom. Perfectly pitched to end this EP. It’s heavy riffing also gives strong Boris vibes. Perhaps more Amplifier Worship than Pink though. Despite its bludgeoning feel, there are moments of tranquillity where all you hear are gentle drum patterns, subby bass, and clean guitar chords. These atmospheric segments mainly serve to heighten the impact of the next loud section though, and they fulfil this role magnificently.

DRUGS is an unusual EP and there is almost guaranteed to be something, whether song or moment, which pleases everyone. It may, however, struggle to please some due to its variety. I cannot imagine purist Doomers enjoying “When September Rain”, for example. Personally, I find this level of variety and experimentalism extremely inviting. It is definitely impressive to find such variety on a five-track EP with a runtime below 30 minutes.

Written by Tom Ray.

DRUGS EP is available now on all good digital music platforms.

The pictures were found via Google and the videos were found on YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would either like a credit or for them to be removed please let me know.

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‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ – Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate May 15, 2020


Space rock-aligned prog-rock isn’t normally a genre that I would seek out. Which is strange. Because I love it. As you may have noticed if you’ve read my recent series of blogposts about Pink Floyd’s near-mythical gig at a tiny Quaker village hall in 1967, I am very much on board.

As well as the awesome band name, which sounds more like a post-rock band than a prog band (Godspeed You! Black Emperor & And So I Watch You From Afar, anyone?), the backstory and artwork are spectacular. The cover art for ‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ is beautiful and bleak. People with boxes on their heads, standing in the mist beside a grey and imposing wall is certainly the kind of image you’d expect to see for an album like this. Seven (of twelve) of the tracks on ‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ are based upon the novels by Science Fiction novelist Alastair Reynolds. I am already a huge fan of Reynold’s novels and included one of them, ‘Blue Remembered Earth’, in my blogpost about the 10 books which influenced me the most. This makes me particularly excited, going in.

The first track, “Century Rain” starts with a wash of keyboard and guitar ambience which just screams the word “SPACE” at you. Embedded in this ambient soundscape (which sounds how the mist on the cover art looks) is an arpeggiated synth line which sounds like it’s straight out of a Vangelis composition. You almost expect Harrison Ford’s dulcet tones and the harsh electronic bleeping of the Voight-Kampf test to emerge, dreamlike, from the aural mist. The arpeggiated synths are used throughout the album, as are the calming, ambient soundscapes. Both this song and the second track, “Twin Earth”, are based upon the novel called ‘Century Rain’ by Alastair Reynolds. It’s a gritty detective story set Paris during an alternative 1950s where, despite the failure of the Nazis, fascism still rose unchecked across Europe. As well as that, it’s also a time-travelling story of post nanocaust (pretty much how it sounds) survivors battling against the nanite swarms on Earth’s surface and attempting to save alternative Earths. I’ve probably oversimplified it as it’s a long time since I read it, the music does justice to it though.

“Ark”, a song about the World War 2 British aircraft carrier, Ark Royal, starts off with some gentle keyboards and guitars before changing up into several distinct sections built around piano and guitar. The various sections representing different periods in the Ark’s life, from its construction and launch, through to the sinking of the Bismarck and the eventual sinking of the Ark Royal herself. It’s a stirring piece of music and it has the potential to be particularly exciting in a live setting. The following track, “Chasing Neon”, is a retrofuturistic instrumental with more Vangelis-esque analogue synth workout with crunchy arpeggiated bass, floating vaporwave pads and mechanical, robotic rhythms. It’s actually quite unlike anything else on the record and has a wonderful video with visuals to match the vaporwave Bladerunner aesthetic (Check it out below).

After this, we dive back into the worlds of sci-fi with songs about nanotech tumours “Nanobotoma” & a four-track sequence: “Glitterband”, “Conjoiners”, “Scorpio” and “Inhibitors” based on the Alastair Reynolds epic Space Opera, the Revelation Space series. I have it on my shelf but am yet to read it. These are dramatic compositions full of menacing piano, changeable rhythms, and virtuous guitar playing. The penultimate track, “Voyager”, takes us back up into space, inspired as it is by the exciting journey of Voyager 1. It is a gentle, synth-led instrumental with lilting melodies and complex rhythms. The closing track, “The Sixth Extinction”, addresses the impending environmental breakdown by way of upbeat rhythms, alternating choppy and crunchy guitar riffs, and early ‘90’s funk metal-style fast speak-singing. The anthemic nature of the chorus further lends to this feeling while the lead guitar leads things firmly back into the land of prog.

‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ is available on CD & all the usual digital distributors.

Written by Tom Ray

The photos were sourced via Google and the videos via YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would like a credit or for them to be taken down please let me know.

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Pink Floyd in New Earswick? May 13, 2020


One of our ace writers Tom also has his own blog, Scruffy Theory, and recently he has posted some great investigative stuff about a gig that Pink Floyd allegedly played at the Folk Hall in New Earswick in York back in 1967. It has been difficult to find much evidence about the gig online, but Tom has found his inner bloodhound and donned his deerstalker hat to discover more. Is it true or not? Read Tom’s rather interesting posts (in sequence) to find out! If you know anything about this gig feel free to get in touch.

Legendary Gig or “Suburban myth” – Pink Floyd @ New Earswick Folk Hall, 1967

Pink Floyd in New Earswick Update

Pink Floyd in New Earswick: second update

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“False Prophet” – Bob Dylan May 9, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 12:00 pm
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Despite late-night speculation over on my Blog a couple of nights ago, Dylan today released a new single, not an album. He did, however, confirm via a Tweet that his new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, will be released on 19th June.

“False Prophet” follows Dylan’s current trend for sparse, minimal arrangements but the sound palette is very different. Consisting of a snarling, overdriven guitar and more rock-style drumming, “False Prophet” has a sleazy, blues-rock vibe, calling to mind smoke-filled pool halls and bourbon on the rocks.

Lyrically, Dylan seems to be denying that he is the titular false prophet while framing himself as a kind of underdog hero. He declares himself “the enemy of treason” and boldly declares “you girls mean business and I do too”. He’s “first among equals/second to none/last of the best/you can bury the rest”. A sliver of the carefully choreographed arrogance of the early days of his career shines through here.

The back-half of the song seems to be an apology for dragging his loved ones into the kind of life he lives. The kind of life the lyrics to his music appear to suggest he lives, anyway. It’s unlikely that Bob is really out on the streets at nights fighting the man and righting wrongs, but that seems to be the image of himself he’s trying to project in these lyrics. This isn’t necessarily a criticism from me. Dylan, after all, is an actor who has played many parts and created many characters across his career. His latest one is particularly well written and vivid.

Written by Tom Ray

False Prophet is out now on all digital distribution platforms. Rough and Rowdy Ways is available on 19th June.

“False Prophet” – Bob Dylan – Lyrics

Another day that don’t end
Another ship goin’ out
Another day of anger, bitterness, and doubt
I know how it happened
I saw it begin
I opened my heart to the world and the world came in

Hello Mary Lou
Hello Miss Pearl
My fleet-footed guides from the underworld
No stars in the sky shine brighter than you
You girls mean business and I do too

Well I’m the enemy of treason
Enemy of strife
Enemy of the unlived meaningless life
I ain’t no false prophet
I just know what I know
I go where only the lonely can go

I’m first among equals
Second to none
Last of the best
You can bury the rest
Bury ’em naked with their silver and gold
Put them six feet under and pray for their souls

What are you lookin’ at
There’s nothing to see
Just a cool breeze that’s encircling me
Let’s go for a walk in the garden
So far and so wide
We can sit in the shade by the fountain-side

I search the world over
For the Holy Grail
I sing songs of love
I sing songs of betrayal
Don’t care what I drink
Don’t care what I eat
I climbed the mountains of swords on my bare feet

You don’t know me darlin’
You never would guess
I’m nothing like my ghostly appearance would suggest
I ain’t no false prophet
I just said what I said
I’m just here to bring vengeance on somebody’s head

Put out your hand
There’s nothing to hold
Open your mouth
I’ll stuff it with gold
Oh you poor devil look up if you will
The city of God is there on the hill

Hello stranger
A long goodbye
You ruled the land
But so do I
You lost your mule
You got a poison brain
I’ll marry you to a ball and chain

You know darlin’
The kind of life that I live
When your smile meets my smile something’s got to give
I ain’t no false prophet
No I’m nobody’s bride
Can’t remember when I was born
And I forgot when I died

 

The pictures were found via Google if one of them is yours and you would like it removed or would like a credit please let me know. The lyrics were sourced from Far Out Magazine.

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“I Contain Multitudes” – Bob Dylan April 20, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 9:39 am
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Hot on the heels of his epic 17-minute dissection of the J.F.K. assassination and the last 60 years of popular culture (and also his first Billboard number one), “Murder Most Foul”, Bob Dylan returns with yet another incredible new single.

“I Contain Multitudes” seems to be a more personal work than “Murder Most Foul”. Musically it is just as sparse and minimalistic as its predecessor. The arrangement seems to consist of just gently strummed guitar chords, deep and mournful cello, steel slide guitar and voice. There is no percussion. This creates a very intimate atmosphere that is both similar and radically different to “Murder Most Foul”. Where “Murder Most Foul” felt like Dylan giving a quasi-religious sermon, “I Contain Multitudes” feels warm and conversational.

Structurally however it’s a little more familiar to long term Dylan fans. It follows similar “mathematic” song structures to his earlier works. Each verse contains four lines with a simple AABB rhyming scheme followed by two lines which end in the title of the song. This type of songwriting is Dylan’s bread and butter. A quick look back at some of his most loved songs, such a “Desolation Row”, “Visions of Johanna”, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “Like a Rolling Stone” etc. reveals this same pattern repeated in a multitude (heh) of different ways.

Lyrically, obviously, is where “I Contain Multitudes” gets really interesting. Like “Murder Most Foul”, it draws from the world of literature but where the former song looked to Shakespear, “I Contain Multitudes” takes its title from a line in ‘Song of Myself, 51’, a poem by Walt Whitman, a writer Dylan has regularly signalled his admiration for in the past. Like the Poem, the song seems to be taking a long, hard look at the artist with a nostalgic and rose-tinted view of his past. Also, like “Murder Most Foul”, it is packed with references to various cultural touchstones which are as disparate as they are iconic. Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Frank, Indiana Jones, “them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones”, William Blake, Beethoven and Chopin all find themselves in the lyrical maze. These lyrics simultaneously paint the writer as both a slightly boring everyman and an exciting and roguish outlaw. He lives on the “boulevard of crime” and carries “four pistols and two knives” but he also paints landscapes and nudes. There is also an undercurrent of awareness of mortality which is only natural, I suppose, for a man in his late seventies. As such a lot of the lyrics read as a more literate “My Way”. Lyrics like “I sleep with life and death in the same bed” certainly cut deep in this regard.

This is another strong Dylan single and we look forward to more. At this rate, we might have to set up a Bob Dylan Desk here at With Just a Hint of Mayhem!

Written by Tom Ray

“I Contain Multitudes” is available now to stream or buy from all good digital retailers and streaming services.

“I Contain Multitudes” – Lyrics

Today, and tomorrow, and yesterday, too
The flowers are dyin’ like all things do
Follow me close, I’m going to Bally-na-Lee
I’ll lose my mind if you don’t come with me
I fuss with my hair, and I fight blood feuds
I contain multitudes

Got a tell-tale heart like Mr. Poe
Got skeletons in the walls of people you know
I’ll drink to the truth and the things we said
I’ll drink to the man that shares your bed
I paint landscapes, and I paint nudes
I contain multitudes

A red Cadillac and a black mustache
Rings on my fingers that sparkle and flash
Tell me, what’s next? What shall we do?
Half my soul, baby, belongs to you
I rollick and I frolic with all the young dudes
I contain multitudes

I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones
And them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones
I go right to the edge, I go right to the end
I go right where all things lost are made good again
I sing the songs of experience like William Blake
I have no apologies to make
Everything’s flowing all at the same time
I live on a boulevard of crime
I drive fast cars, and I eat fast foods
I contain multitudes

Pink pedal-pushers, red blue jeans
All the pretty maids, and all the old queens
All the old queens from all my past lives
I carry four pistols and two large knives
I’m a man of contradictions, I’m a man of many moods
I contain multitudes

You greedy old wolf, I’ll show you my heart
But not all of it, only the hateful part
I’ll sell you down the river, I’ll put a price on your head
What more can I tell you? I sleep with life and death in the same bed
Get lost, madame, get up off my knee
Keep your mouth away from me
I’ll keep the path open, the path in my mind
I’ll see to it that there’s no love left behind
I’ll play Beethoven’s sonatas, and Chopin’s preludes
I contain multitudes

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‘GOLDY’ – The By Gods April 13, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 6:53 am
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While not exactly a new concept, songwriting as a form of catharsis or therapy has created some incredible rock and pop music over the years. From the angry rhetoric of Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ to David Berman’s final project Purple Mountains, a deep dive into the crippling and “treatment-resistant” depression which eventually drove him to suicide last August, the most emotionally raw music is always the most compelling.

The quality that music written by a soul in the middle of an emotional drama has in droves, which is incredibly hard to pin down, is probably authenticity. I’ve heard discussions where people wonder why Kurt Cobain and Nirvana are still popular with young people so long after Cobain’s death. The answer is nearly always authenticity.

The By Gods singer and principal songwriter, George Pauley, was unlucky enough to have been at the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017 which was the scene of a tragic terror attack, the deadliest mass shooting in American history. 59 people died, including shooter Stephen Paddock, on that horrific day and 869 were injured. Pauley, working as a videographer at the festival, took shelter beneath a table and was lucky enough to survive physically unhurt.

Emotionally, however, Pauley was scarred by guilt, shock, and depression. The band cancelled their upcoming European tour and Pauley wrote around 35 songs in a short space of time as a way of dealing with what he felt in the aftermath of such an event. With the help of producer Alex Newport, who has worked with artists like At The Drive-In and Bloc Party, the band pared down this pile of songs into the 11 which now make up GOLDY.

 

GOLDY is a strong collection of heartfelt, warm songs with a sinister, Post-punk edge and classic ‘90’s-esque production values. The songs are very concise. None of them break the 4-minute mark and many of them are below 3 minutes. The guitars straddle the line between clean and dirty beautifully, the bass is thick and strong. The drums are clear, powerful and precise. Pauley’s voice is somewhere between some of the cleaner sounding Grunge vocalists with some strong similarities with Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts, for a more contemporary comparison. Some of the songs include piano and cello which makes a nice contrast with the grungy guitars.

GOLDY kicks off with strong album opener “Black Wave”, a screech of feedback, some drum clicks and some heavy riffing in the style of My Bloody Valentine’s classic album opener, “Only Shallow”. Complete with the heavy whammy bar effect Kevin Shields made famous in the early ’90s. Following this is the chugging power-chords, radio-friendly melodies and thumping rhythm section of “Try So Hard”, an upbeat, punky rocker with an air of recent Parquet Courts about it. Blurry is a slow, grungy power-chord chugger in the vein of Dinosaur Jr’s “Sludgefeast” but with guitar tones more reminiscent of British bands like Therapy? or The Wildhearts.

Some of the more balladlike songs like “PTO”, “Song 01”, “Long Way To Go” and elegiac closer “Penhead” seem to edge into territory usually inhabited by bands like Snow Patrol or Athlete, but they still seem to maintain a Post-Punk edge and authenticity in stark contrast to that particular Indie subgenre. This is almost certainly due to Newport’s production. He’s no stranger to hard-edged Post-Punk.

All the way through, The By Gods positively drip with the aforementioned authenticity in a way that their earlier material doesn’t seem to. It’s hard to attribute that to anything other than the horrific events which lead up to the album’s creation.

Written by Tom Ray

GOLDY is out now. Available to buy from the bands Bandcamp page as well as all of the usual digital distributors like Spotify, Apple Music etc. 

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Bob Dylan Finally Gets A Number One Single On A US Billboard Chart! April 9, 2020

Filed under: News — justwilliam1959 @ 2:59 pm
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Bob Dylan has just had his first-ever Billboard number-one single of any kind with his recent surprise release “Murder Most Foul”. He is currently at the top of the Rock Digital Song Sales chart. Hard to believe that it has taken 55 years for it to happen. His first appearance on the Billboard chart was in 1965 with “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Rainy Day Women ♯12 & 35” made it to number 2 in 1965 and 1966 respectively. The former did reach the top of the Cashbox chart in 1965, but that chart was never as popular, important or influential as Billboard. It is the first Bob Dylan single to reach the top 100 of any Billboard chart since 1993. Congratulations Robert Zimmerman.

Click here to read our earlier review of “Murder Most Foul” written by Tom Ray.

Dylan celebrates with a cup of tea 😉

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