Album Reviews: UK Label Catch-Up (2)

This is the second of two posts (the first one is here) in which I attempt to catch up with the releases of some of the smaller UK labels over the past few weeks. Although I’m only covering one album from each here I very much recommend that you have a look what else they have to offer because pretty much everything that they put out is worth a look. What is notable here is that while these may be UK-based labels, the bands are from many different parts of the world showing that many of us still want to be looking outwards and not limit our horizons.

In Search of Highs (Volume 2) – The Band Whose Name is a Symbol/ Shooting Guns (Riot Season)

For regular readers of my old blog (Psych Insight Music… all the content from there can be found here) neither of these bands, nor the Riot Season label for that matter, will be new. Both Shooting Guns and The Band Whose Name is a Symbol (TBWNIAS) featured regularly, and no doubt will continue to do so. Both bands hail from Canada, and while it could be argued that they don’t have the same style their process is perhaps more similar.

This is because both have a focus on improvisation and a massive knowledge of music, which they mine to great effect to come up with vast slabs of, usually, heavy music which tend to leave you breathless as you try to keep up with where they are going and who they are honouring. What we have here proves the point with two longer tracks from TBWNIAS which probably tends towards the Krautrock in terms of approach; while the Shooting Guns arguably have more elements of blues and ur metal. These, of course, are crude descriptors, but what I can say is that both are as punk as fuck in terms of their attitude. Add to that the Riot Season label and you’ve got a heady mixture that you know is going to nail you to the back wall when you put that needle on the wax.

‘In Search of Highs (Volume 2) is available now to order from Riot Season here, if sold out it will be in record shops soon.

Tidal Mind by Dreamtime (Cardinal Fuzz)

I discovered Dreamtime pretty much at the same time as Shooting Guns, after Dave over at Cardinal Fuzz asked me to cover the release of two of each of the bands albums which he was releasing on the same day (back in January 2016, see here and here). Since then both have been regular features of my turntable, and I have really enjoyed subsequent releases; in Dreamtime’s case the amazing ‘Strange Pleasures‘.

This album feels a bit like a new direction for the band as they plot a course for the depths of the sea to create a suite of songs which seek to evoke a voyage under the ocean. They have captured this well as they summon an aura of being within an environment that feels closed, but is also alien and panoramic. This is an album to explore over and over again to get the most out of it… so while I am really only able to briefly take a dip into it here I will no doubt get a chance to fully immerse myself in it in the not to distant future. I suggest you do too!

‘Tidal Mind’ is available from Cardinal Fuzz (Europe), Little Cloud Records (US) and TYM Guitars (Australia)

Amsterdam 211 by Tajak (Dirty Filthy Records)

Tajak are a band that is new to me (this is their second album, the first being out on Buh Records (Peru) last year), one of a series that have been unearthed by Dirty Filthy Records over the past couple of years. The music on this album could certainly be described as dirty as the band, hailing from Baja in the Mexican part of California but based in Mexico City, take us through a series of highly atmospheric and hallucinogenic scenarios that really take your mind into dreamlike states and seem to revel in their strangeness.

More than anything, though, this feels like a band exploring their own, broad, psychedelic influences through the prism of their own psyches. These, then, are not clear and concise songs that are finely honed within an inch of their lives but loose improvisations which celebrate the culture from which they come… tracks which invite you into their world and immerse yourself into this eclectic and highly enjoyable mix.

‘Amsterdam 211’ is available to pre-order from Dirty Filthy records from 26/04/19 here. Put that date in your diary because I doubt that these will be hanging around.

Simply Dead by Dead Arms (Homonid Sounds)

This is Dead Arms’ second album, the first came out in 2015. During that time members of the band have been involved in other groups such as USA Nails, Los Bitchos, It Often Takes a War and Death Pedals; the latter of which is how I came across them. While arguably this is music at its most stripped back it is also hugely enjoyable as the band hammer out ten numbers over just twenty five minutes, the length of many single tracks that I often cover here.

But that’s the point. This is music that mainlines direct into your system… music that is immediate and visceral… no pissing about. That does not, however, mean that this is a shallow album as the band deal with elements of politics and culture that are every bit as serious as this album is direct. So while there is absolutely no messing about with this album it is also a real statement in its own terms and is played in a way that is simple but far from amateur… this is punk/ garage, however you want to term it… but it is presented with seasoned dexterity.

‘Simply Dead’ is available now from Homonid Sounds here and Rip This Joint Records here.



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