ARTIST: High / Low
RELEASE DATE: 29/01/16
RECORD COMPANY: In Stereo Records
Back in the hazy early days of The Primal Radio Show, way before I came up with the ideas that would eventually build this monolith up to where it is today, I religiously played a little known UK based band who reminded me a lot of seminal UK band ‘Swervedriver’ by playing full on old school melodic grunge inspired fuzz & had an healthy interest in all things D.I.Y (In the musical sense). They recorded & mixed everything themselves, produced videos, created EP’s & Album artwork and even went so far as to build their own bloody guitar effects pedals! The D.I Y ethos has been very very strong in the High/Low camp since day one. From their earliest recordings High/Low have enthralled me. With their 2 EP’s – Forty (August 2012) & equally impressive Raygun (November 2012), various singles & their explosive debut album Stuck In A Void (May 2014) under their belts High/Low AKA Steve Weston (Guitars/Vocals) & Lee Yates (Bass) are back, with added crunch & intensity courtesy of new drummer Dave Pankhurst and a fist full of brand new tracks in the form of ‘Autospy’, their latest full on sonic assault on the senses released via ‘In Stereo Records’.
The album opens up with rolling drums & the growling bass tones of ‘Autospy’. As soon as Steve Watson’s vocals arrive on the scene I am instantly reminded of why I like this band so much. High/Low are melodic, but in a fuzzy alternative punk rock kind of way and they have this strange knack of sounding very 90’s! ‘Autospy’ is a turbo charged thrill ride & a fucking immense album opener. I have to add that the band are blessed to have the much needed drumming skills of Dave Pankhurst who explodes onto the musical canvass from the off and announces his arrival in style. Up next is ‘Crumble Down’ with another brilliant vocal performance from Steve & a guitar tone to die for! Track 3 ‘Mould’ doesn’t disappoint either and harkens back to the early days of the ‘Forty EP’ while Track 4 ‘Lets Run!’ pulsates & breaks with little guitar pauses, explosive drum rolls & screaming vocals. ‘Thin Skin’ takes us to new territory with its opening wall of power & fuzz leading us into a (Dare I say it?) quiet verse! Thats short lived as the track explodes into the chorus. Up next is ‘Still Dreamin’, musically reminiscent in parts to ‘Dinosaur Jr’ but with ‘Feeder’ like vocal effects. Im really pleased to hear Steve playing more lead guitar parts on this album too. It’s pretty impressive & it adds heaps of tone & shape to the overall High/Low sound. Track 7 – ‘Thing Inside’ is typical High/Low fair & fans of the 2 earlier EP’s will love it. Next up – ‘Are You Here?’ showcases just how much High/Low have invested in creating different guitar & bass sounds. And again I have to give major props to Dave who must have hammers for arms? He pounds the shit out of the poor drum kit on this track to create a maelstrom of percussive explosions. Track 9 ‘Mono’ somehow reminds me of Bob Moulds 90’s band – ’Sugar’? Maybe it’s the instrumentation or it could be the vocal harmonies? Either way its impressive. ‘Ripley’ & ‘Nowhere’ continue on in the same vein with Steve’s vocal arrangements leading the way. The albums closer ‘World Undone’ is a completely different animal. It starts off slow & quiet leading us into a false sense of security until exploding into a Michael Bay movie soundtrack. The longest track by far on the album it typifies just how good High/Low are at injecting cinematic like qualities into full on fuzzy grunge!
Overall this is a really impressive second album from a band who seem have the ability to create immense tracks by themselves, on a budget, without the aid of mega money producers & genre specific music hacks! ‘Autospy’ does however, at times, feel like an extension to ‘Stuck In A Void’, but there are signs that the band are experimenting with sound effects, production & song structures and the addition of Dave Pankhurst on drums will hold them in great stead going forward.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last three years not only fronting popular Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the Unsigned or Small Independent Label based Shoegaze Dream Pop Post-Punk & Post-Rock genre’s of music from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog – The Primal Music Blog. His other arm – Primal Radio – has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.