Many months back I was excited for the release of SULK's debut album Graceless. Their singles "Flowers", "Wishes", "Sleeping Beauty", "and "Back in Bloom" were excellent. They reminded of the music I grew up with in the late 80s and 90s. Then, I saw them perform at the Purple Turtle in Camden, UK on May 18, 2012, and my hopes for the future of music were bolstered.
But when the disc was finally released back in April, I was ultimately disappointed. I found the disc to be inconsistent and a little unfocused. I wasn't grabbed or mesmerised by it, as I was by The Stone Roses debut, The La's debut, or even The Charlatans' sophomore release, Between 10th and 11th. There are some excellent tracks on the disc. Namely, "The Big Blue", "Diamonds in Ashes", "End Time", "Down", and a reworked "Flowers". But "Back in Bloom" seems to have been slown down, to its detriment, and "Marian Shrine", an early single released under the name The Ruling Class, went from being a tight, solid guitar-based number to a loose, overproduced sonic mess.
Mind you, I still enjoyed the disc, but I could only sigh as I listened to it, and lament the lost opportunity SULK had to become the biggest band in England.
SULK on Soundcloud
SULK's official website
Fortunately, I have been turned on to Tripwires, a fantastic band from Reading, UK. They're what you might call psychedelic shoegaze, for lack of a better description. Their singles Emerald, Cinnamon, Catherine, I Feel Sick, and Shimmer are the finest examples of tightly-structured, heavy, guitar-based Britpop since Ride, Catherine Wheel, and My Bloody Valentine ruled the alternative airwaves.
Before their complete disc Spacehopper was released back in June, all tracks were made available on DIY, and I couldn't stop listening to them. Together they created a solid, well-paced, trippy ride from start to finish. I particularly enjoy "Tinfoil Skin" because of its killer baseline and "experimental" structure, but other standout tracks include "Love Me Sinister", "Paint" (with its My-Bloody-Valentine guitar sound), "Catherine, I Feel Sick", and "Slow Mo" (with a slide-guitar riff that I absolutely adore). I bought the disc soon after it was released, and it has quickly become my favourite of the year. In fact, I believe it to be the best debut since The Stone Roses.
Tripwires on Soundcloud
Tripwires official website
More recently, I have been turned on to a Canadian band called Elephant Stone. Oddly enough, I found out about them from the Twitter feed of Tom Furse of The Horrors, another great English band. Tom Furse remixed/reinterpreted "A Silent Moment" from Elephant Stone's self-titled release (and did a fantastic job). Elephant Stone is a bit like The Grapes of Wrath with a touch of psychedelia and Indian influences. It's great stuff, and you should give it a listen
Elephant Stone on Soundcloud
Elephant Stone's official website
I'm also looking forward to Exit Calm's new release, The Future Isn't What It Used to Be. The first few releases are stellar. Heavy, melodic, vast, epic, introspective brilliance.
Exit Calm on Soundcloud
Exit Calm's official website