EP REVIEW: Creeper – 'The Stranger'

There are good bands, and then there are important bands. Those that play guitars, and those that inspire others to start playing guitars; those that make you want to jump up and down, and those that make you want to change the world. Creeper is a young UK sextet whose songs fuse the classic punk sensibilities of the Ramones, AFI’s relentless energy and the dark glamour that characterised My Chemical Romance without breaking a sweat. On the basis of their first two EPs, they are a good band. The Stranger is the brilliant, glaring evidence that they are an important one. First listen suggested it was something special; each successive run through its material multiplied that feeling to the point where it was glaringly obvious. This is a masterpiece.

Five tracks. 16 minutes. That’s all it takes for six young musicians to make their case as The Next Big Thing, and it’s all they need. From the moment the achingly solemn clean guitar that introduces “The Secret Society” abruptly shifts into thumping rock and big whoa-oh vocals, to the final haunting coda of “Astral Projection”, there’s not a second of wasted time, not a moment that doesn’t resonate with an indelible aura. More than a very good punk rock record, this is a masterclass of subverting subgenres, of perfectly balancing straight-ahead hooks with glam flamboyance, and of making rock music palatable for those uninitiated in the ways of the distorted guitar without losing the grit that far, far too many bands have abandoned in the pursuit of success.

Drawing on a well of inspiration that runs deeper than many artists tap into over the course of their careers, Creeper run riot with punk’s rulebook before sacrificing it at an altar to David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and every other star who’s dreamed of painting universes in song. The shifts in dynamics in “Valentine” and “Astral Projection” are startling but perfectly judged, and the latter in particular is engrossing in its dark majesty. “Black Mass” hurtles through clattertrap verses and an effortless hook before jumping into left field for a bridge better suited for a ballroom than a mosh pit. While that may be the best moment on The Stranger, its finest song is unquestionably “Misery”. Tapping into the bleak catharsis of Brand New at their best, it’s a piece of music so thickly drenched in the clear, naked emotion that’s gone into forming it that its triumphant final crescendo feels like a glorious inhale after being held under water for too long. It hurts, but it’s utterly glorious.

Good bands sound like they really want to make the music that they do, like they’re enjoying themselves. Important bands sound like they need to make the music that they do. Creeper cover a gamut of emotions broader than a million faux indie hipsters or Warped Tour metalcore clones will ever come near to, and they do so without ever appearing trite or disingenuous. The songs that make up The Stranger are anthemic, ambitious and immediately timeless. Before this point they showed promise, now that promise had been realised into an essential release for anybody vaguely interested in rock music. This is the sound of youthful energy stirring up immortal ideas into something elementally brilliant. This is the UK’s finest new band.

Review by Michael Bird

Album Review – "Twenty Three Years", Nessi

nessi

 

Nessi Tausendschoen is an up-and-coming German artist. Her new EP was created with Canadian guitar player William MacKenzie, which was the first collaboration between the two artists in their respective careers. To add even more to the mix, they teamed up with various guest muscians like Harry Manx and Kevin Breit. The teamwork behind this EP resulted in a fantastic piece of work, described as a ‘minimalistic blend of jazzy, folky, rootsy tunes’. When listening to it for the first time I found all of these qualities and more; a beautifully mellow vibe with an almost dreamlike feeling to the blend of voice and guitar. I have to admit that heartfelt, acoustic music is not usually my cup of tea, but despite the inevitable cliche, ‘Nessi’ contradicts that completely. ‘Twenty Three Years’ is an EP I could listen to repeatedly, particularly when in a chilled-out mood as her vocals have such a calm and soothing feel. On the flip side, the tracks don’t get boring at all as the tempo changes intermittently especially in ‘just a line’ or ‘you’, keeping your attention with more upbeat moments between the gentle parts.

So far in her career, Nessi has been compared to the likes of Ellie Goulding or Paloma Faith but she has also been congratulated on not resorting to the ‘thoughtless lyrics’ or ‘high pitched trilling’ that modern female singers are frequently accused of. Overall the EP has been highly praised, especially for ‘Hush Hush’, her biggest single yet which is included. Personally I’m in complete agreement as it’s my favorite track on the EP: a perfect summary of her feminine yet powerful voice and collaboration of acoustic and upbeat elements.

 

~ Natasha Barrett

Skeptical – Fourfit EP01

This is a new Soul:r release with four distinct flavours of D&B to taste. Firstly, and perhaps my personal favourite from the EP (not saving the best until last), ‘Desire’, featuring the vocal presence of Collette Warren. The track has a crunchy swing to it which the vocals only emphasise, sending you back to a sleazy New York bar during the Great Depression. Moving on to the second track ‘Tundra’, there is a more classically Skeptical sound that is on the forefront of the Drum & Bass scene, being both progressive and innovative. The third track features another Collette Warren appearance and although sparser in the use of vocals, it does serve to produce an eerie wisp of speech. Harder than the second track, ‘Always Be Mine’ returns to a style similar to track one acting as an intense roller that doesn’t fail at getting to grooving. The final track, ‘Turning Point’, bridges the gap stylistically between tracks 1/3, and 2, being a mesmeric forward thinking track that looses none of its potency as a dance song in its innovation. All in all a great EP that I have been waiting a while to finally get dropped; make sure you check it out!

~ Will Foreman

Listen to it here: http://www.beatport.com/release/fourfit-ep01/1258582