Graham Domain’s Reviews Roundup


dEUS ‘How to Replace It’
(PIAS Recordings) Available Now

After a ten-year hiatus Belgian art-rockers dEUS return with a new album. The title track, ‘How to Replace It’, opens with de-tuned kettle drums pounding out a strange rhythm sounding like music from 60’s TV series The Prisoner, while singer Tom Barman talk-sings through a strange tale of ‘not knowing what you have until it’s gone’ ending in a cacophony of guitar, brass, piano, drums, spoons and a triangle! Possibly the most interesting track on the album.

‘Must Have Been New’ follows, sounding like Counting Crows crossed with The House of Love on a pleasant blues based melodic guitar song that sounds like something from the early 1990’s!

The artsy ‘Man of the House’ begins sounding like Genesis at their most pomp before a cut-up woman’s voice leads into a heavy synth driven Apollo 440 style tune that slowly regresses into cartoon heavy rock!

Next song ‘1989’ begins sounding like Robbie Robertson fronting Haircut 100 before morphing into 1980’s Phil Collins soft rock!

An intense break-up resulted in the song ‘Love Breaks Down’ says the record publicity, however the lyrics… “When love breaks down… it fades away” is as insightful as it gets on this insipid ballad!

If you like dEUS you may like this record. Use your own ears – don’t let anyone tell you what to like!

The Slow Readers Club ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’
(Velveteen) Available Now

The fifth (official) album by Manchester band The Slow Readers Club comes across like a live album such is the energy captured in the recording. First track ‘Modernise’ is perhaps the most powerful, if least representative, song on the album. With its Chemical Brothers rave intro and pounding rhythm it also has the most individual sounding vocal on the album, a bit PIL like! It’s a song created to be exciting live and it serves that purpose well!

‘Afterlife’ has echoes of both Interpol and Snow Patrol with its tale of misunderstandings and compromise amid a tempestuous love affair! The singer pleading “…Why don’t you just listen… hope’s gone missing…”

‘Lay Your Troubles on Me’ meanwhile, has an anthemic potency with the words destined to be sang back at the band by festival crowds! ‘What Might Have Been’ is reminiscent of The Smiths with its Morrissey-like vocal climbs into falsetto and Marr-like guitar! A simple but effective song! ‘Knowledge Freedom Power’ meanwhile sounds like it should be a single with its driving beat and catchy chorus giving it a fair clout of anthemic power!

‘Seconds Out’ looks at the ever-present threat of war between the major powers in these precarious times of madmen leaders and dictators… with the lyrics “…come join the tribal dance, we’ve got a war to plan…” and the refrain of “close your eyes and wish it all away.” It’s a powerful song of futility in the face of global politics!

‘Forget About Me’ has echoes of both the Scars and Failsworth band, Puressence, with Aaron Starkie’s vocals climbing high in register at the end of the song! Final track ‘No You Never’ reminds me of early Interpol with its descending guitar histrionics and doomy tale of monotony and thwarted plans amid the constant barrage of life. A great album of powerful anthemic songs and possibly their most consistent effort to date.

Tomo-Nakaguchi ‘The Long Night in Winter Light’
(Audiobulb Records) 11th March 2023

This is a beautiful album of ten spellbinding pieces of ambient music by Japanese musician and sound artist Tomo-Nakaguchi.

The music is composed of strings, piano, keyboards and guitar together with various other instruments. Each piece creates the right atmosphere and music that fits perfectly with each title. Thus, ‘Morning View of the Iceberg’ features icy string drones that conjure up scenes of ice and snow: A frozen landscape. ‘Twilight Glow of the Sky’ is all twinkling pianos and beautiful Night-Sky Strings.

Meanwhile, ‘Snow Covered Pastel Town’ is a beautiful piece composed of strings, backward chords, and glistening frost piano. It conjures up the silence and beauty after a snowfall overnight, before the town awakens, when all is still and silent.

This is a beautiful album where each piece conjures-up a different vision of winter – the wonder of nature surviving and flourishing as the seasons change! As the composer himself says, the music reflects the beauty of nature – frost glistening on grass – a field of snow lit by moonlight – the night sky filled with stars! Like a ray of light, a ray of hope, this is beauty that shines through the darkest of times!

Salem Trials ‘What Myth Are We Living’
(Metal Postcard) Available Now

Crawling along dark streets, shadows loom in every doorway, footsteps echo in the night silence. Cold sweat trickling down spine, dark rumblings from a dirty basement, shadows dancing on the barred windows. Fish bones in a mouth. Coughing up blood and the smell of urine. Decay and aftershave. Cracked voice and beer-stained floor. Each step shoes stick. Black trail like slime from a snail. A coffin landfill club of noise and danger! The night ignites with saw-like melodies and cavernous hypnotic rhythms kicking against the pricks! Smoke and dark truths bounce off the walls shaking flesh and brick, glass and bone. Inspiration as sonic affray, until the last notes flare into a howl of darkness. A murder of youth collapse through doors and out along streets. City centre lights, a loneliness of drinkers cast adrift, flowing like a cut artery in a thrombosis of social isolation. Music smashed against walls! Exciting! Unbreakable!

The WAEVE ‘Self-titled Debut Album’
(Transgressive) Available Now

The WAEVE are a new band formed by Blur’s Graham Coxon (vocals/sax/guitar/medieval lute) and The PipettesRose Elinor Dougall (singer/songwriter/piano/ARP 2000 Synth).

The album starts with an echoing drum rhythm similar to the Chariots of Fire theme and proceeds into ‘Can I Call You’, a country-tinged piano ballad sung by Rose, before exploding into a sax driven punk energised finale with both vocalists singing together!

‘Kill Me Again’ is sung by each singer on alternate verses and together on the chorus. The song uses imagery from nature such as ‘the silver moon’ and ‘ecstatic magic night’ to convey atmosphere and a sense of mystery. If not already, this would make a great single!

‘Over and Over’ is one of the best songs on the album with Graham sounding like Damon Albarn to Rose’s Nancy Sinatra! The melody is somewhat reminiscent of Blur’s ‘The Universal’ with echoes of the Beatles ‘Across the Universe’. Still, it’s a great song!

‘Drowning’ meanwhile comes over like a children’s night-terror with its xylophonic intro and strange jazz shift-shaping vocal from Rose. “The city screams from every view” she sings as the orchestra descends into madness! The Bond theme ending has Graham singing “hold onto me as the waters rise” as the music crashes in waves, flooding to a climax!

‘All Along’ begins by sounding like olde-worlde folk with its use of medieval lute, before a deep synth adds a touch of danger and strangeness and girl harmonies give it a dream-like quality. An intriguing song and one that stands up well to repeat listens.

‘Undine’ begins with soft rhythmic percussion and piano on a beautiful song sung by Rose that slowly builds with a pulse of programmed synth before the vocals are taken over by ‘Crooner’ Coxon amid pulsating synths, sky scraper guitar and string ensemble sadness!

‘Alone and Free’ sounds like the Theme from Father Ted with its ragged guitar tune accompanied by gloomy organ before spiraling off into Tindersticks territory of sad strings and vocal harmonic choir!

The album ends with ‘You’re All I Want to Know’ a kind of easy listening Bacharach-type song and one of the best on the album… “Living in a summer dream, didn’t know how much you’d mean to me”…

The interaction and balance between the two voices is perfect with each singer excelling in their introversion and reserve! The band do have their own sound – a strange mix of folk-rock, punk, no wave, psych and easy listening! A truly great album that deserves a wide audience! Give it a listen – you may be surprised!

FFO: Cats Eye, Broadcast, Vanishing Point.


Pamplemousse ‘I’m Not Dietsch’
(A Tant Rever du Roi Records) Available Now – Album March 17th 2023

Taken from the forthcoming album Think of It, the new single by Pamplemousse is a cauldron of seething energy anchored to a metallic groove with punk attitude! Destined to be a floor filler for intoxicated rowdy youth in late night Indie bars everywhere!

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