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03 December 2020

Album Review: Bloody Knives | 70 Years of Static. Reviewed by Ellie Sleeper.

Bloody Knives’ new album 70 Years of Static drops this coming Friday, December 4. Read on for a track-by-track list of first reactions and a full review below! 

This absolutely must be heard in headphones, as the whole album should be. The opening hook panning and swirling builds fabulous anticipation for the moment the song comes into focus, the synthesizer and drums taking the shape of aptly futuristic burst-fire weaponry. Whole song works on building tension then dropping the floor out from listeners for just a moment. Tonal variation abounds in the latter half before the deceptively-brief affair comes to a sudden halt, tires screeching behind it just in time.

This is the Way You Burn: The opening drumming feels a knowing nod to “March of the Pigs,” trading the fury there for frigid ennui for nearly a full minute before bursting into bloom, as bitterly swirling waves of static wash over the chorus and McCown’s drumming becomes almost superhuman. It’s difficult not to imagine limbs thrashing viciously in a darkened room while Maddox’s nearly-whispered intonations fall amid the murk, each syllable laced with quiet threats, both in delivery and in actual lyrical content. It’s a familiar dichotomy for the two, but it’s somehow more sinister here than it has been before. 

Out From the Shadows Into the Light
Perhaps the most mechanical song they’ve written to date, which of course means they’re playing to strengths. There’s an effortless brawn to the arrangement, and this is definitely one of the album highlights. Dance amidst fire sirens or convince about a dozen club kids to have a knife fight; either way this is the kind of soundtrack you’d expect for it. Chugging bass contrasts with a barrage of synthesizer klaxons which are occasionally interrupted by more piercing tones. All three meet with an almost euphoric hook for the last few seconds. It’s tragically and tantalizingly brief. This one begs for a remix. Hell, it begs for twelve. May we all be so fortunate!

Again, dance culture creeps in! If the prior track felt tinged by an Underworld influence, The Orb come to mind here. One could dare describe the opening notes as playful, not an adjective that one would expect for such a band.  Hi hat rolls during this introductory passage are delicious, and all of the drumming is particularly nimble. When the dynamics shift, McCown picks up with little flourishes. It’s never ostentatious, but feels measured and quick-witted. It’s impossible not to move with his playing here. It’s confident playing, deserving of more expletive-laden, glowing compliments than may be wise to publish. The almost pastoral, horn-like synthesizer voices in the final decrescendo are unexpected, but oddly pleasant! Sadly, again, this one ends too soon. 

Eyes Don’t Move:
Oh, that opening drop! How could a punch to the face ever be so welcome? Watery vocal effects—likely clever double tracking—pad the blow just enough. Lead instrumentation is ambiguous here; whether it’s guitar or a heavily distorted horn patch on keys is hard to say, but its rise and fall propels the song forward. There are some clever cymbal-mute moments here that one could blink and miss, but they leave room in the mix and allow for copious use of said percussion that would be jarring from a less adept performer. Closing moments are again surprisingly delicate, minus the solitary, thumping roar of heartbeat bass notes.

So, 2016’s “Black Hole” got a sequel, a grittier elder brother of sorts? Few things could ever be more welcome! The lead tones crackle and hiss over distorted bass before blurring into a dizzying wash that, again, must be experienced over headphones. It’s intoxicating, layered, begging to be studied. Somehow it manages to be calm amid the din, almost comforting? Here, a clear pattern emerges of being bruised by the noise first, just to be held over a few shimmering seconds of synth pads. While it’s an initially frustrating denial, never being quite enough to get lost in, the ebb and flow of this duality becomes its own reward. Again, however, a remix or three would be warranted, welcomed, and hastily purchased. 

The tempo recedes into a warmth that would almost suit a stoner metal group. Of course, this is still Bloody Knives, so there’s an apocalyptic sheen all the same. Stuttering, syncopated drums are a welcome surprise. This is the breather we’ve been building to, though still no less fiery. This could have been ridden out for four times the existing runtime, and it’s likely no one would have objected.Their earlier “Bleed Out” comes to mind.  

A soft pulse of synthesizer pads hides deceptively fast bass work here as Preston brings one of his most beautiful vocal melodies in a long while. When the arrangement opens up, it drops listeners into a resplendent hall of mirrors as cleverly panned synth hooks refract one another into the infinite. This is a subtler moment, perhaps, but another of the high points of the album. A
lot happens here, and Bloody Knives songs are always at their best when they do this. It’s best not to spoil the surprises any further with describing them. Whereas other songs on the album close with a whisper, this one gets loud! If prior tracks on the album left youmissing that, here it is again for you, an old friend smirking at you for having been so impatient.  

Ashes Into Dust:
It’s surprising this isn’t the album closer. Do not adjust your speakers; the glitching, interrupted hooks are expected. Again, we get a slower tempo, and an assured touch of finality that comes with that. McCown controls the energy very well here, with interspersed fills moving all over isolated parts of his kit so imperceptibly that they coalesce into a broader, seamless whole. It could take a few hours to try to dissect, a pleasant challenge, to be sure. Truth told, it’s hard to focus on anything else because of how shining a moment of drumming it is. Quite probably, everything else is given a backseat to allow for this, which is a wise choice. 

We get that machine-gun-fire synth work again here. There may be some very careful time signature changes in it, but it’s not entirely apparent at the first few listens. If you forgot the punk roots this all came from, you’ll be reminded here. This feels like a celebration of all of the sounds they’ve touched on before, actually, as a simple, more psychedelic hook is set against what just might be a piercing guitar for the last few moments. This does actually make sense as the closer, in hindsight. 


On the whole, 70 Years of Static feels indebted to rave culture, despite still being every bit as industrial and aggressive as the majority of the Bloody Knives catalog to date. Big Beat groups of yesteryear come to mind, as if catapulted into the dystopia of Earth circa 2020, where such sounds prove even more needed and welcome. It’s purgative, but never too nihilistic, which is probably for the best given the shape of the last year. 

Production is bitingly crisp, lending intensity to the songs from a different angle than the dense arrangements of past work. For those who appreciated that about past albums, this represents a gear shift, but one that still hits the same targets after momentary recalibration. Great attention has been given to these mixes. It works very, very well, and is an intriguing new side to see. The growth isn’t overzealous or a radical reinvention, so nothing is so different as to be unfamiliar or unwelcome. 

Since 2016’s I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This, the Texan collective has been moving towards more subdued approaches. While 2018’s follow-up White Light Black Moon was icier than its predecessor, the songs here seem to refocus the current incarnation of the band on familiar, bloodthirsty (ha) territory, but not without a wink and a smile. Is this a . . . carefree Bloody Knives? It’s strange to even consider such a descriptor for their music, but it just may fit! Things here are certainly confident, yet never self-indulgent. Sadly, there are moments where self-indulgence would have been warranted that aren’t capitalized upon, but there are worse fates than being left wanting for more of a good thing.  

Guitar is nearly absent on the album, and may be entirely; anything sounding like one could just as easily be a very cleverly manipulated synthesizer or keyboard signal. The ambiguity works and things still sound incredible either way. Moreover, this approach will be familiar to those who enjoyed the band’s earlier work, but the end result is subtler, sharper here. 

Those who may have felt alienated by the more experimental and reserved nature of this album’s predecessor will likely welcome everything here. Those hesitant listeners who may have found the band too noisy before will appreciate how balanced the mixes are. Part of the band’s appeal in the past was that they could be a challenging listen, but they’re no less enjoyable when stripped down to bare and polished essentials. Perhaps less is more? Maybe, just maybe. 

Overall, 70 Years of Static is a crisp, focused effort that manages to make a very specific formula and approach still sound new and somehow modern. It comes at a time when a bit musical catharsis is very sorely needed. It’s hard to find any faults in any if it save for one nagging complaint: there’s just not enough of the damn thing! Brevity shouldn’t be a surprise for a band that plays at such tempos, but again, everything old is new again even here, and it’s easy to forget not to expect said brevity. At least anticipation is a Hell of a drug, eh? Here’s to the next one!  

Addendum: Oh, and rumor has it those remixes I found myself wanting may just be in the pipeline already! One can hope!

01 May 2020

NEW VIDEO: Velveteen | Change Your Mind.

UK-based fuzz lovers Velveteen premiered a brand-new single this week on When The Sun Hits’ radio show and, unsurprisingly, listeners loved it. The single, “Change Your Mind”, is a sunny, fuzz-laden piece of noise pop that’s provides a welcome distraction from the mad reality we’re living in these days. The band has also just released a hazy, kaleidoscopic video to accompany "Change Your Mind” which you can watch below. 

Drew of Velveteen tells us that the single is a one-off studio cut taken from sessions in Croydon, London that the band recorded late last year. In fact, the band has completed a full album’s worth of tracks and plans to release an LP sometime in 2020. We’re thrilled to hear that! Drew hinted that they might also release an EP at some point before the album release, but nothing is set in stone just yet (which is understandable, given the world’s present circumstances). 

As many of you know, Bandcamp is waiving their fees once again today in an effort to support artists and labels affected by the current covid-19 crisis. This means all proceeds from Bandcamp sales today will go directly to the artists (or labels), so you couldn’t choose a better time to pick up some new tunes. Bandcamp plans to waive fees again on June 5th and July 3rd, which is excellent news.

If you’re interested in supporting Velveteen today, you can pick up their most recent EP, Bluest Sunshine, here. Previous releases by the band are available here.

If you missed the premiere of "Change Your Mind" on DKFM this Wednesday night on WTSH, you can hear the single this weekend once WTSH hits Mixcloud.

22 July 2019

INTERVIEW: Nebula Glow.

Nebula Glow is a Parisian quintet consisting of members Valentina Esposito (guitar/vocals), Quentin Le Roch (guitar/vocals), Manuel Devier (bass), Gregory Wojcik (lead guitar) and Antoine Lenest (drums). The band released a debut self-titled EP in June via Somewherecold Records, and the songs featured on it quickly impressed us. The gorgeous textures, heavenly vocals and well-crafted compositions are absolutely stunning. Do yourself a favor and check out the EP on Bandcamp – you won’t disappointed! We hope you enjoy getting to know more about Nebula Glow in the interview below.

How and when was the band formed?
Val: The band formed in 2015. Quentin (guitarist/singer) and Manuel (bass player) used to work together. Coincidentally, they realised that they didn’t only share the same workplace but musical tastes as well! Quentin was going through some hard times and the music really helped with that. Then they start to look for musicians online and Greg (lead guitarist) came along, then me (Valentina, guitarist/singer). Antoine (drummer) came later; he’s our second drummer and he was a friend of friend.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
Val: We just released our first EP but actually the songs have been there for a pretty long time. Quentin is a very prolific songwriter, he has tons of news songs on his hard drives! So, right now we’re working on those, three of which are ready, and planning gigs. It’s cool to see how the songwriting is evolving and we keep on learning how to work together. There’s five of us -- plenty of ideas!
Manuel: When we have enough  material, it might be the time to hit the studio once again!

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
Val: We call ourselves Shoegaze, Post-Rock and Alternative rock 90s as there are clear influences of all of these genres in our songs and sound. We love and follow these scenes, but we don’t want to repeat a working formula. We’d like to find our way within the spectrum of things we like. We come from so many different musical backgrounds that it would be strange for us as well.

Quentin: I am constantly listening to an eclectic array of music, up to 10 hours a day! I mainly come from punk, metal, hardcore and I’ve always been fan of Deftones. At the same time I grew up with The Cure, Bowie, Queen...I listen as much Brit pop as black metal, as classical, as electronic. What moves and influences me isn’t a particular genre, but a sensibility, a feeling, a melody, when the message is clear and it gives the goosebumps.

Val: Manuel likes post hardcore and early math-rock, Greg listens to a lot of post-rock, Antoine to jazz and me to riot grrrls, songwriters, post punk and shoegaze. Genres help to give a name to music, help people to select and not having to go through literally everything to find something they like.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
Quentin: We’re big fans of Nothing, Holy Fawn, Hatchie, Slow Crush and Cloakroom.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Quentin: My Jazzmasters + Twin Reverb + Big Muff + Shimmer
Val: I’m in love with my Roland Jazz Chorus and my brand new glittery Reverend guitar!
Manuel: I think the most important piece of gear, the one that helped us define our sound, is the Big Sky reverb from Strymon.  It allowed Quentin and Greg to really sculpt the aural landscape that the songs live in. For my part, I recently acquired a Your and You’re from Montreal Assembly. It’s a killer oscillator fuzz! Even Antoine like to experiment, bringing a second snare into his drumming. One of the things I like is that we are all ready to experiment with new configurations, new pedals, amps and such to find the right mood for each song.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
Val: First Quentin records his songs using Logic. He’s a big geek composing every single instrument part and spending plenty of time on it! He’s a volcano of ideas, we’re very lucky. Then I bring my vocals and lyrics, working closely with Quentin to make sure to be faithful to the first concept/ feeling of the song. Then everyone else studies their parts, modifying sometimes and adding their bits. We then work all together refining everyone’s part and the song structure. Every band has a different work dynamic I guess, and I’ve seen so many bands getting all bitter about ego reasons. Having a band, it’s teamwork.

Quentin: When I have “THE” idea I can even wake up in the middle of the night and record a few notes on my Iphone. The day after I work on it on Logic, only using the software’s effects at this very first stage. Then I export the tracks to have them on Reaper, it’s an open source software and it’s great for sharing.

Manuel: We also recorded our EP by ourselves. It was definitely hard work. It’s been mixed and mastered on ProTools by the great people at Jonesy Agency who did a stellar job. They really took the time to speak with us, listen to our references and our remarks on the mix.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Manuel: We’re currently happily signed with Somewherecold Records and Araki. Having someone with us who’s used to this is really reassuring and helps to relieve a lot of pressure.
Quentin: Before getting signed we had our DIY Bandcamp. Everyone does this to be heard and reach to a greater audience. It’s a win-win as it helps record labels to find the artists they want to promote.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
Val: Definitely vinyl! We’re nostalgic about cassette tapes but we’re not there yet. Vinyl are beautiful, each vinyl has a story. Quentin, Greg and me could spend tons of money of them. And then, as their friends say, “They’ll eat soil for the rest of the month.”

Manuel: We are all consumers of physical releases. Of course, the music is at the heart of everything but to have an object as big as a vinyl (compared to other formats) is something. The artwork really shines. And tapes hit home for me. It’s listening to The Clash in the family car going on vacation all over again. And the cheapness aspect is a plus for me.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Quentin: Johnny Marr (The Smiths) for his touch on the guitar, Robert Smith (The Cure) for the melodies and the feelings, Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) for the originality of his songs, Slowdive, Deftones for the post rock atmospheres and prog evolutions.

Manuel: I’m a huge fan of the Louisville math-rock scene and indie rock. I try to use that spirit in ways that work with our sound and tracks.

Valentina: The early Cranberries (as some of you can probably hear) have been a huge influence on me as I grew up listening to them. I was 10 and I learned English, to play guitar and started to write songs and sing. Then Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Cure, MBV, PJ Harvey, Suzanne Vega and riot grrrls. Recently, I’m having a big Kate Bush crush!

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Val: We don’t have a specific band philosophy apart from doing what we like and what we believe in. Music is a blessing and there’s no reason to “lie” in it. Otherwise, we all have personal ones...I guess that mine is as easy as “Carpe diem”!

Quentin: When things go well they won’t last. When things go badly the worst is yet to come…So get ready for it!
Val: Hellooo happiness :P
Manuel: I think it would be try to be the best version of yourself. We all have fairly different views on life and how to react to it. I think all of it adds up to something better, just as all of our influences work toward something more.