Bad Press (self-released)
Bad Press is Captain Accident’s fourth album and the one receiving the most advance notice, recent shows supporting Toots & The Maytals raising the Cardiff project’s notoriety. The usual luscious sunshine reggae is in effect, but with more cutting protest lyrics than usual aimed towards politicians and mainstream media; opener Not The End Of The World and Run Rabbits Run are prime examples.
I had a chance to speak to Adam Parsons, as Captain Accident is otherwise known, over a couple of Dark & Stormy cocktails. Finding both solace and creativity during COVID lockdown, he recalls, the album was completed in this period. Admirably, the entirety of Bad Press is self-performed: only when touring are his backing group, The Accidents, called upon, though they’re musicians he both admires and is grateful for. Recounting the tour with Toots, whose recent passing Parsons spoke about with noticeable warmth and sadness, at one point their guitarist Carl Harvey was temporarily unavailable: “I just got up and played 54-46 Was My Number with them … I was scared and stood at the back!”
Bad Press, which is having an albeit delayed launch gig at Cardiff’s Globe on Fri 18 Feb, deserves to propel Captain Accident onto greater things.
words JUSTIN EVANS
Infinite Granite (Sargent House)
“What does daylight look like?”, wonders George Clarke on single In Blur. Now he knows. While Deafheaven’s 2013 LP Sunbather was acclaimed by critics as a gamechanger, the quintet effectively remained in the shadows. No longer. Infinite Granite – that title perfectly conveying something solid, hard and heavy but also a sense of unanchored expansiveness and freedom – finds the band stepping blinkingly out of the black metal basement and, yes, basking in the sunshine.
Shellstar, In Blur and Great Mass Of Color form perhaps the most potent opening trio of any record you’ll hear this year. That devalued-through-overuse adjective “epic” doesn’t come close to describing their stratospheric majesty. Aside from a brief passage in Lament For Wasps, it’s not until the final track, the slow-burn rager Mombasa, that drummer Daniel Tracy gets to dust off his double bass pedal. This extended dynamic range makes Deafheaven all the more devastating.
The kvlt purists upset by the shoegazey aesthetics and pink cover of Sunbather will be all the more appalled. Fuck ‘em, frankly. Focused, bright and astonishingly bold, Infinite Granite is simply stunning from start to finish.
words BEN WOOLHEAD
Into The Blue (Hassle)
The fifth full-length album from the band that originally emerged from Mold is full of the epic scope of two-thirds of the band’s current home, Utah. Lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Daffydd’s planned three-week trip to their stateside residence ended up being extended by around 12 months thanks to the sudden restrictions of a global pandemic.
As a result, the eponymous opener is full of soaring guitar lines that fill the mighty spaces of America’s film-set landscape. Drummer Matthew James Thomas posted his parts from across the Atlantic, but there’s nothing to indicate this is anything less than a tight unit of three musicians with a decade of touring behind their thumping alt-rock riffs. The singles really stand out as perfectly crafted indie gems, hewn out of the rough redstone of the album’s core sound, as deep as it is wide.
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES
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Love Will Be Reborn (Pheromone/Cooking Vinyl)
No one wears their heart on their sleeve quite like a Wainwright. Sister of Rufus, daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, Martha comes from a family of committed oversharers who were ‘no filter’ a long time before the hashtag made it trendy. So on hearing opener Middle Of The Lake, written shortly after Martha’s 2018 divorce, the passion is no surprise. What is more startling is how engaging and completely irresistible Martha is on all 11 of the original songs on this – her seventh album and first in five years.
Known for her swooping melodic lines and uncompromising vocal delivery, Martha Wainwright has always been an acquired taste. But on Love Will Be Reborn the emotional, chanson-like expression is perfectly gauged. So too is the band’s energetic, live-in-a-room playing sound and the balance of Kate Bush-inspired experimentation and Fairground Attraction pop accessibility in the writing. Impossible to not enjoy, on all and every level.
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES
Primordial Arcana (Century Media)
Wolves In The Throne Room, ecologically-inclined black metallers from the Pacific Northwest of the USA, here present their eighth studio album in just over 15 years. During that time they’ve batted aside scepticism from more fervent fans of the genre over their punk upbringing and respect for [soppy voice] the environment, and even if they probably still qualify as a black metal band that non-black metallers like, Primordial Arcana gestures to the classics in its seven songs of buzzing, snarling widescreen grandeur.
What appear to be rural field recordings serve as segues between tracks, helping to build a heady, cavedwelling atmosphere as ably as the furs and skulls on the striking cover art. Drummer Aaron Weaver is on especially fine blasting form, stomping through the likes of Spirit Of Lightning and Underworld Aurora, while the synths that WITTR brought in about halfway through their career to date offset chestbeatingly epic guitar riffs, not shy of using melody but thunderous in the same way as black metal’s early 90s Norwegian golden age.
words NOEL GARDNER