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A Magazine for Sheffield

Mark Lanegan / Åyusp / Cellar Door Moon Crow / Nick Cave / LNLY HRTS

Mark Lanegan / Åyusp / Cellar Door Moon Crow / Nick Cave / LNLY HRTS
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Mark Lanegan Band - Somebody's Knocking

If some artists, like cats, have nine lives, then Mark Lanegan's spirit animal must be William Blake's Tyger, "burning bright in the forests of the night."

The former Screaming Trees frontman and Queens Of The Stone Age collaborator has survived periods of addiction and destitution that proved fatal for many of his friends, including Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley.

Perhaps more miraculous than Lanegan's endurance is his Johnny Cash-esque rejuvenation and reinvention, the result of which has been a succession of astonishing late-career solo outings, beginning with Blues Funeral in 2012 and continuing with his latest, Somebody's Knocking.

A lifelong devotee of electronic music, Somebody's Knocking offers a peek into Lanegan's Spotify list, from Billy Idol ('Disbelief Suspension') and Depeche Mode ('Letter Never Sent' and 'Stitch It Up') to Joy Division ('Playing Nero') and Sisters Of Mercy ('Gazing From The Shore').

Ever wondered what Erasure would sound like with Lanegan's sandblasted croon drifting like urban pollution over all those bouncy synths? Then check out 'Penthouse Suite'. Or how about if the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour ground to a halt outside Portishead's rehearsal space circa 1994? Try 'Paper Hat' for size.

More than a mere nostalgia trip, these songs feel crafted from the darkness of our times. A laying down of arms and an invitation to go down dancing instead.

Chris Brownsword

Åyusp - Åyusp

As far as debut albums go, Åyusp's self-titled release is a rich melting pot of stylish electronica, classy ambience and a homage to some of the 1970s forefathers of modern electronic music.

The release begins with the haunting introduction to 'Isochronal Rapture', which opens out into a lush trance-techno track reminiscent of Orbital's golden years, with angelic choirs layered over a four-to-the-floor kick. The track continues to build throughout its nine minutes, with ever more epic strings brought into the mix before a prolonged final breakdown.

'Atlas IV' encapsulates much of the focus for the duo of Graham McElearney and Paul Mills. The track would sit nicely among any of Tangerine Dream's ambient works, with sounds that breathe in and out through thick clouds of analogue smoke. 'Strange Pathways' continues the laidback theme, and draws possible similarities with the likes of John Carpenter, Edgar Froese and more recently Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of Survive, composers of the Stranger Things soundtrack. At ten minutes long, the track moves through many well-executed sequences and changes.

'The Mourning of Synth Widows' brings an air of menace to the album, as deep violin strings add to the cinematic feel of the track alongside sirens and an underwater depth-charge bleep. To finish are a trilogy of tracks that are curated carefully together, starting with 'The Era of Ascendency I'. 'Trans-Edale Express' appears to take you on a Kraftwerk-inspired techno workout, before more glorious angelic choirs appear from up above to announce that you've reached a superb destination.

Andy Tattersall

Cellar Door Moon Crow - You Got This

You may listen to hundreds of debut albums over your lifetime, but few will delve into as many genres as this one.

After seemingly hitting the jackpot on a random word generator, Cellar Door Moon Crow, comprised of brothers Phil and Tommy Goodwin from Sheffield, have defined their own distinctive and exuberant sound. Titled You Got This, their album explores genres spanning from classic Led Zepplin rock'n'roll to alternative hip-hop beats.

The singles 'Whistler' and 'Tightrope' showcase their headbanging, hefty guitar hooks at their very best, while their ear-splitting drum rhythms give them the platform to drive their unmistakable sound.

However, it's during 'Who's Way' where their thrashing rap and hip-hop influences come to the table. The pair's ability to dip into a particular style of music midway through a song and pull off a diversifying range of vocals and tones gives this album a striking quality that few others possess.

'I Got You' contains exquisitely penetrating vocals, while 'Won't You' combines reposeful piano keys, hard-hitting riffs and effortless melodies. 'Overdrive' gives the album a new dimension with distorted sounds and silk harmonies and 'East To The West' provides a balance between nu-metal and industrial rock.

Having received support from all over the country for their multifaceted sound, the next year for the South Yorkshire duo could be monumental, as they take their emphatic debut on the road to support Airbourne on a 14-date UK tour. Cellar Door Moon Crow have the potential and prowess to grace the main stage of rock festivals around the globe and punters will not leave disappointed by their consummate style.

Daniel Atherton

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Ghosteen

Peace will come, says Nick Cave, over and over again.

Peace is what he's been looking for ever since the death of his son in 2015. Skeleton Tree, released a year later, was partly dedicated to Arthur's memory. His band's new double album, Ghosteen, is a dark, deep and heartbreaking collection of songs about the process he's been going through.

Ghosteen is a creased but colourful handwritten journal of thoughts, tales and stories of a broken man finding answers in his ongoing grief. This album is a painful journey. It's hard for Cave and it's hard for anyone listening.

The first three tracks - 'Spinning Song', 'Bright Horses' and Waiting for You' - are about a desire for return. On the former, which might be the best on the album, Cave wants to make his return by finding that long-desired peace. The more we venture deep into the album, the more Cave tries his best to move on. He's been quiet the past couple of years, but Ghosteen might serve as the first sign of him coming back from the darkest place possible.

Cave built this album as a poem, starting and ending his story by telling himself that peace is coming, one way or another, sooner or later. On 'Hollywood' Cave tells an ancient story, proving that death is universal. It happens, he has to accept it. It seems he did. Maybe he found his peace after all.

Roland Sebestyén

LNLY HRTS - Down With The Government EP

With their second EP Down With The Government, LNLY HRTS have been able to experiment with their sound after they broke free from the shackles that limit a band who record in their bedrooms. The Sheffield duo's debut thrived despite its lack of production, but studio time has allowed their follow-up to evolve into a full and exciting set of gloriously melancholic bangers.

The first half of the four-track EP sees the band wearing their influences on their sleeve, with swirling synth rhythms evocative of The 1975 and Foals. 'Koala' and 'All Over For Now' feature catchy hooks that make for memorable pop-rock tunes, although at times the sound can be a bit busy and overwhelming.

'Serotonin' is where LNLY HRTS truly begin to show off their songwriting. The powerful ebb and flow throughout gives it a real sense of space that lifts the pained vocals to the forefront. Echoing bells set a dramatic tone before the song crescendos into an epic chorus, providing one of those 'fuck yeah' moments you only really get from music.

'Sometimes, Sometimes' ends the EP with a beautifully restrained guitar lament to the past. One line in particular - "Man, it makes me sad when I look at the state of the people that we were and the people we became" - sticks with you long after it ends.

The latter half of the EP establishes a gorgeous middle-ground between the dream pop sound of their debut and the busyness of modern guitar music.

Josh Bolton

Next article in issue 140