Founded out of alcoved sessions for what was initially envisioned as a new solo album by The Black Keys singer-songwriter lead, Dan Auerbach, The Arcs were never meant to be an original band of any sorts. Tailing along for the ride was Leon Michels, Homer Steinweiss and Nick Movshon. Richard Swift joined the fold not long after when he took a gaze upon the eclectic assortment of first-rate artists for The Arcs...
What followed was a gargantuan effect of tungsten guitars and molten rhythms – this was the explosion of 2015’s Yours, Dreamily. A feeling of mutual curiosity, bold trouser swagger and assurance in the world of alternative indie-blues. When founding member Richard Swift died in 2018, it was a strong jolt for both Auerbach and Michels. A swift exit was on the cards for a band that was once on the brink of finding their catalyst. In fact, it wouldn’t be until May of 2021 where both Auerbach and Michels would dust off the shelved recordings and bring them down from the attic to draw up the plans for a composite album; an album of honour very much on the cards. Named, Electrophonic Chronic, “it’s a way for us to say goodbye to Swift, by revisiting him playing and laughing, singing.”
An album with years of respite, emotion and a lot of thought results in a magnifying reflection for honouring a lost Brother. From the poetic piano send-off assortment in Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore to the rifling of trumpet in the funky escape of Keep On Dreamin,’ “go for a stroll in the park / Keep my mind in the dark / Nothing matters, no how / Keep on dreamin’ now. A literate mode of new noise in the world of alternative bluesy rock, it forever keeps us on our toes with the psychedelic vocation laced throughout. A Man Will Do Wrong has all the traits for Temples or even somewhere with Blood Cultures, but it has ended on an Arcs album, all for the love of Richard. The album is beautifully perplexing in colour – just look at the duo of Eyez / Behind the Eyes – and strong in dexterity, bold in instrumentation. A realist album made for real people of music.
Going into this review, I wasn’t too familiar with SG Lewis. More so for his cemented portfolio as a sought-after promoter sure, but less so for his artistry. Bright and bushy-tailed, SG Lewis’s AudioLust & HigherLove is a fruit-punch of serotonin. With energy to pack out filtered crowds here in London and even to make a big enough splash across the Atlantic, he’s a formidable artist with a fitting compilation to boot. If his prime-time slots over at Coachella and down south at Glastonbury aren’t enough to swivel your heads, then his new offering will surely do so. From the eclectic space-jam of Fever Dreamer to the synth-pop The Weeknd-influenced tranquilliser of Call On Me or even the slower magic of Oh Laura – which I can put every dollar down to it being a former 1975 swipe – it’s a guarantee satis-factor for the dance-floor. For all, SG Lewis’s AudioLust & HigherLove is a crumpet-dance pop capsule of feel-good “vibes” (yikes).
A lodge engulfed in a lost woodland is the perfect backdrop for neo-garage multi-faceted musician Kyle Thomas. Going by the lucid alter-ego name of King Tuff, a name derived from the name and initials of King Tut, his off-kilter psychedelic pseudonym of climbing out of your own thoughts is a killer. Smalltown Stardust merely dropped a day ago and momentum is picking up already for him. The wonky industry wishes to pigeon-hole Tuff’s music to “surf rock” – a definition only fitting to those stoners that rarely listen to music and just let it wash over them. But, it’s more than that. An amalgamation of freaky folk, lesser-so lo-fi indie, Beatles’ Revolver and the soul of Mind Spiders modern psychedelic, King Tuff is out on his own with a derived mix of conscious and alive music.
Moments of easy-listening madness make an album worth listening to over and over. You won’t have to look any further that the self-titled for the work. Smalltown Stardust is a fuzzy and furry sermon of funky garage-pop, set for an embarkment all on your own. This album is not just weird and wonderful noises, however. The flex of folk revival pops up every now and then however, with Pebbles In A Stream, a seedy Ben Howard-esque acoustic with some beautiful string arrangements settling behind. I don’t know about you, but this is certainly an album that will be worth listening to over and over. There is simply too much to unpack in mere paragraphs here.
Well well well. 6 years in the making ey? New waves ripple throughout the industry all the time. Some crease and smooth out over time, all too aware of their moment of madness in the sun. Be it off a lick or a TikTok trend. Some waves stay coarse throughout, shredding through everything it comes into contact with. One such wave may be Hotel Lux. The new wave of rock. A blitzing thesis of funk bass, machine-gun snares and guttural guitars, Hotel Lux – aptly named after a hotel in Moscow that housed exiled Communists during the Soviet Union – are ripping up the very fabric what it takes to be a conscious band in the world of post-mortem post-punk, most notably with their debut Hands Across The Cheek. Meshed with the sounds of vocal spoken-word wizard Ian Dury and early alternative pioneers of Orange Juice, Hands Across The Cheek is a release packed to the rafters with compelling arguments, marauding song structures and moody tan-lines that do unrelenting damage to what we understood about post-punk and its music suppliers.
A marvelling at the fallacy of the Government handling average workers’ payouts, Hotel Lux is true tribalism spirit to the world of punk: saying like it is.
“I like the fit of your suit / Too shorts at the hems / I like the cut of your jib / We could be friends / I could see myself, in your shoes / Making decisions that affect the global economy / I too could make my salary in private equity / I could be in your shoes / As I sat beside you on the 7:45am Jubilee Line train headed Eastbound.” – Eastbound and Down, Hotel Lux.
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