Rock, November 2023

Intercepted Message
In The Red CD ITR380CD; LP: ITR380

Osees founder John Dwyer says he keeps changing the spelling of their name to aggravate the music press for which he has 'contempt'. Well, it's going to take more than that to get a bad review here, pal. The prolific US west coast band are also known to jump across styles and encompass both guitar-driven punk and bleeping synths on the single 'Goon'. The complex keyboard-led 'Stunner' has echoes of Suicide, Devo, '80s synth pop and even a hint of prog rock, and 'Blank Chems' is all jagged guitars and urgent, yapping vocals. These approaches coalesce on the title track, an invigorating mix of energy and gruff melody. Dwyer reckons the album is 'the opposite of AI-generated pop slop': he's not wrong there. MB


Sub Pop SPCD1591; LP: SP1591X

Deeper cite the likes of Gang Of Four, Television and Wire as influences, but the Chicago four-piece are less scratchy and abrasive than many bands who are inspired by late '70s post-punk sounds. Instead they explore the tension between a taut rock backbeat – Shiraz Bhatti plays acoustic and programmed drums – and Kevin Fairburn's adventurous, finely articulated guitar lines that coil around Nic Gohl's vocals. This combination is brilliantly realised on 'Heat Lamp', and the guitars cut loose at the close of 'Everynight'. Deeper's closest contemporaries are probably guitar band Parquet Courts, although they venture deep into electronica on 'Devil-loc'. MB


Explosions In The Sky
Bella Union CD: BELLA1527CD; LP: BELLA1527V

American instrumental quartet Explosions In The Sky have recorded soundtracks for films and TV, and on their seventh album they address the ending of episodes or cycles – which can result in loss, or rebirth into something greater. The pictures the listener makes in their mind will be subjective, but a bittersweet feeling of hope pervades their music. There's a hint of Mogwai in the structures of 'Moving On', which builds through impressionistic sections to spectacular climaxes of swirling organ and flamboyant drums, and on 'All Mountains' the ensemble steadily ascend, with massive guitar chords and delicate lead lines spiralling off into the ether. MB


Hiss Golden Messenger
Jump For Joy
Merge MRG825CD; LP: MRG825LP

Here MC Taylor writes songs from the perspective of a 16-year-old and in adopting this persona, sidesteps adult worries and concentrates on possibilities. On 'Shinbone' he sings, 'Got up this morning/God, I feel happy/What a strange sensation'. A feeling of positivity runs throughout and his excellent band plays a lean and limber take on Americana, a sunny sound of chiming guitars and spare piano. The shuddering guitar lines and long-held sax notes on 'I Saw The New Day' have the feel of a more animated Spiritualised, and a group of female backing singers invigorate the groovy 'Nugrape' gospel-style. The sense of wonder peaks on 'Feeling Eternal'. MB