Monthly Archives: September 2011


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Cave – ‘Neverendless’ Drag City

After their last album ‘Psychic Psummer’ appeared on Important Records Chicago’s Cave have moved over to Drag City for the release of this their third album; sticking with the same format of Sonic Youth esqe guitars, Neu! motorik beats and psych organ riffs interspersed with space synths Cave have taken this one stage further and produced this hypnotising and mesmerising masterwork. Only five tracks make up ‘Neverendless’ but reaching over 40 minutes in total with some unexpected twists and turns. ‘WUJ’ comes out like Stereolab running through some nifty echo fuelled choppy guitar riffs from Cooper Crain into Neu! style lines leading into a spacey almost jazz jam, with lots of guitar noise for the last 2 minutes of the track makes you want to nod your body and dance. Precision drumming powers ‘This Is The Best’ from a keyboard drone piece into a repetitive mantra only Oneida could compete with. ‘Adam Roberts’ is cosmic with outer-space grooves and goes through a number of keyboards shifts before drifting out with the same drone it started with. ‘On The Rise’ has some beautiful bass and guitar interplay and closer ‘OJ’ sees Cave bouncing Rotten Milk’s keyboard lines alongside the Dan Browning’s fuzz bass and Rex McMurry’s motorik beat.

‘Neverendless’ is a stimulating and mesmerising listen and one album I didn’t want to end. Cave have defined their sound and produced something wild, precise and somewhat satisfying. After seeing Cave play some of these songs live I’m glad to hear the results of their work, especially with ‘WUJ’ and “On The Rise’ being my live favourites from last year. However, I still think they have their masterpiece inside them, this is close though.

9/10 Jason Stoll

Oneida – Absolute II

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Oneida: Absolute II

The final part of the Thank Your Parents trilogy and, as it happens, the most challenging; quite what we’re supposed to be thanking them for isn’t clear on this uniformly dark release. The previous dispatch, 2009’s triple album Rated O, seemed to open up a new audience for Oneida; even the NME got behind them (it was listed in their albums of the year). Maybe it was this flirtation with popularity that was partly behind the direction of this latest album. Not sure this one is going to be a hit with the indie kids. Four tracks, each around 10 minutes, dominated by sparse electronic textures and, most surprisingly, no drums to be heard anywhere. Those of us used to Kid Millions’ propulsive grooves found it hard to imagine what Oneida would sound like without his drumming. This is (just about) recognisably Oneida but devoid of rhythmic impetus other than subtly throbbing drones and loops of feedback. The atmosphere is throughout crepuscular, ominous and the only appearance of a voice is in the second track, Horizons, but this is a voice distorted and fractured beyond any possibility of comprehension, denatured and baleful.

Perhaps it’s necessary to put this in the context of the trilogy as a whole, a hushed coda to the machine-like energy of what’s gone before, although, even acknowledging the wildly diverse Rated O, this collection does set itself apart from any previous work by the band. It’s not exactly the commercial suicide of Metal Machine Music, but it’s an abrasive listen by any standards. Gray Area‘s hushed synths and amp hum are rudely interrupted by shattering Swans-like guitar discords. Oneida are no strangers to extremes (Sheets of Easter was a 15 minute song constructed virtually entirely around a single chord and a single repeated word) but in a world where “extreme” is increasingly associated with a desensitising barrage of louder/faster/gorier this stasis feels more alienated and alienating, a statement of that very desensitisation.

The album starts with a track called Pre Human but the feeling is more post-human; during the closing title track a Soliloquy for Lilith-like shimmer is interrupted by shards and stabs which feel like the relics of an extinct industrial culture, a dehumanised music. Maybe the title Thank Your Parents is deeply ironic; this is the world we’ve inherited from them.

Where Oneida go next is anyone’s guess. They’ve recently been producing performances of astounding stamina (10 hours plus) so presumably there’s no shortage of material. The Thank Your Parents saga has taken them in a distinctly different direction to their previous release, the folk tinged Happy New Year. I can’t imagine this would be predictive of a new direction; it has the feel of a one-off, something the band needed to do, but I’ll be eager to follow their journey. It’s certainly been an interesting one so far.

Brett Sinclair

Cave – Neverendless

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Chicago’s CAVE release their new album ‘Neverendless’ on Monday 19th September. This is thicker, denser, warbling and crunching in time — a motorik masterwork! Jams from humans being for you to put into/onto your machine.

Sarabeth Tucek

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Sarabeth Tucek -Harvest Sun Promotions, St Brides Church 05-09-11

The crumbling, neo-classical St Brides is the perfect rainy-evening venue for a tiny Sarabeth Tucek, accompanied on guitar by the producer of her most recent album, Get Well Soon, Luther Russell. Most of her set is taken from this album with the odd tone change as she picks pieces from her first record, which display how much her song writing and her confidence in her own exquisite voice has come in the last five years. Opening on a heavier note, unlike the album, Tucek and Russell, launch straight into what has been one of the most commented on tracks from the album, “Wooden”:  an epic, consuming song which loses none of its Fleetwood Mac-esque power having been stripped of drum and synths live, but builds even better than on the record. Thankfully, live, her song choices play to the surprising strengths of this set up, making the most not only of her ability but also that of her accompanying guitarist.

These tracks, with the exception of quite a dull first encore taken from the first album, showcase not only the strength and range of a voice which on record, occasionally skirts the line of being “same-y” but also destroy any potential for Tucek’s new material to be shrugged off as middle-of-the road catharsis. Heavily influenced by the death of her father, one anticipates something a little more difficult to listen to with this album, but Tucek’s cool, almost dispassionate demeanour throughout her performance only adds to the genuine, brooding undercurrent flowing throughout the subtle, philosophical poetry of her songs. She remains completely impassive and unruffled as her voice swells, cracks and breaks around the walls of the imposing church on the impossibly beautiful, elegiac “Get Well Soon” and growls through the lower, more sombre phases in songs such as “The Fireman”. It is in this last song that the comparisons to Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Karen Carpenter are most evident, especially given that when watching both women live you are made to feel there is, vocally, a lot more hiding beneath the surface, effortless lilt.

On her more pared down (but never placid) laments such as, “Things Left Behind” and “A View”, Tucek’s voice brings to mind Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star, Warm Inventions) but the reverberating guitar work found elsewhere on near-rockers such as personal favourite “State I Am In” and the amazingly powerful “Exit Ghost” drags her new material from shoe-gazing, dream-pop and more into strong, guitar-striking, Neil Young-inspired grunge folk. Tonight, I realised that it is her ability to balance these two elements of her voice and her music, at once vulnerable and huskily striking, that makes Sarabeth Tucek such an impressive vocalist and carries a sentiment which could be considered trite into something much more unaffectedly emotive, engaging and ethereal.

Lesley Ann Taker