A Sinister take on Hardware

Another Halloween and my pitch-perfect J Alfred Prufrock costume still hangs in the closet gathering dust. One of these days, I swear, someone will finally invite me to that esoteric modernist literature-themed costume party that simply must exist somewhere in the folds of civilized society—but, as it stands, this year is looking like another night indiscriminately hurling candy at strange children and ensuring full holiday bookings for all local practitioners of dentistry.

But, to get things started, how about a little Halloween double-feature, beginning with the latest video from Birdeatsbaby. We brought you the first single from the new album back in August and now they’re back with the second (the title track) “Feast of Hammers”. Of course, if you’re already familiar with these Birdies, you know they’re music is always streaked with a dash of the macabre. But with the video for ‘Feast of Hammers’, they’ve really outdone themselves—so much so, in fact, that they’ve produced a censored version of the video. And, out of respect for those readers who may be somewhat prone to squeamishness, I’ll only include the PG-13 version in this post. You can watch the explicit version here. All I can say is, Lars Von Trier would be proud.

Then there’s our old friends from Chicago, The Cell Phones who’ve always had a flare for the darker side of life. They’ve got their own Occultish Halloween epic making the rounds. The only thing missing here is an altar of naked virgins. And, if that’s not enough, they’ve also done a 27-minute haunted house soundtrack (which you can find here) and a brand new EP (Hospital Spaceship) which includes the gruesome, Phil-Spector-does-in-the-Ronettes closer, ‘Husband’.

Still not enough for you? Well, out today, just in time for Halloween, is a free bit of dingy foreboding from Norwich breakcore artist Sukoshi. From exciting new Norwich label Gravy Records, ‘Claw Hammer’ is but a taster of things to come from Sukoshi’s imminent debut on the same label, due in February. In fact, there’s plenty of exciting stuff to look forward to from Gravy HQ, but that’s another story for another day. With his spoken-word samples and dark and dirty, sinister embellishments, it’s easy to imagine Sukoshi as the evil twin of Mr. PSB himself, J. Willgoose Esq. It’s no wonder, then, that Rob Da Bank is such a fan.


New Videos: Birdeatsbaby and Bitter Ruin

I don’t know what it is about Brighton that makes it such a breeding ground for dark cabaret acts. Maybe it’s something in the water, but it’s just about the only image that comes to mind when I think about Brighton – well, dark cabaret and Julia Sawalha as Lydia Bennet. Then again, maybe it has more to do with the fact that I spend so much time listening to Bitter Ruin and Birdeatsbaby (I’ve been especially keen on Birdeatsbaby the last few weeks) that I never have time to explore what else the city has to offer. And today is no different, especially in light of the new videos both bands have release in the last fortnight.

You probably know about the Bitter Ruin video. Tim Minchin shared it over the weekend. Then Stephen Fry tweeted it (and I’m pretty sure 93% of the people who read this blog also follow the Marvelous Mr. Fry), so feel free to skip down to the next paragraph if you’ve heard this one before. After all, they pop up here from time to time – and this particular video is for “Trust”, which is basically the quintessential Bitter Ruin song (it was old the first time I featured them here 18 months ago). But still I can’t get enough of it. There’s something almost Shakespearean about watching Ben and Georgia trade jabs like some sort of sadistic Beatrice and Benedick that adds a degree of vitality to the visceral sensuality that is so indicative of their music.

Then there’s Birdeatsbaby whose “Through Ten Walls” gives us a Gothic glimpse into their upcoming album Feast of Hammers – and I mean “Gothic” in the Revival sense. Recorded in Boston this past spring with Jason Rubal (Dresden Dolls; The Cure), Feast of Hammers promises more of the rich instrumental textures and metric modulations that marked their 2009 debut Here She Comes-a-Tumbling and made their single “The Trouble” a YouTube hit. Combined with Mishkin’s endearingly bleak and cynical lyrics and wry wit, it’s pretty easy to see why Birdeatsbaby would have been Mary Shelley’s favourite band (were it not for that pesky 200-year generation gap).

So maybe you know something about what’s going on over there that I don’t. If you do, please enlighten me. Why are they so good at this? Or perhaps I’ll just have to swing by this fall and check it out for myself. Who knows, maybe some of it will rub off on me. In the meantime, if you’re geographically inclined, catch Birdeatsbaby with the ubiquitous Jason Webley in Brighton on Friday (26th August). [tickets]