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This week, we’re reviewing albums!
LOCKDOWN BY SONS OF MU
The year is 2024.
The Western hemisphere has just gone into its 36th lockdown since the dawn of the decade. The neon dogs have taken over the streets of Nottingham and the forest has begun to reclaim the city streets, edging its venomous vines and mutated wild beasts further and further towards the resistance headquarters, located in the former council building in Market Square.
In the building, barricaded with scrap metal from the Christmas market ice rink and the tram stop, lie the last remaining bastions of visceral, vascular human existence. Pulsating, throbbing with life and the libidinous desire to impose its imprint on the rest of its kind.
All over the world, where the species has survived that is, similar scenes can be found. Scenes of post-apocalyptic carnage and destruction. The human kind, nothing short of being razed to the ground by its own ambition, its own attempts to dominate the planet, is writing its
final chapter. The streets of the most important cities of the day, deserted, barren, desolate. Any last scrap of life is hunting, fighting for any other last scrap of life.
Deep in the underground basements of the resistance headquarters, Market Square, a small gathering of barely-civil life does its best to keep the arteries of man pumping with the blood and that which once made this species great. What gave it ambition and force, allowed it
to flourish and thrive.
Among a small crowd of life fiends, a grungy four-piece musters up the strength to stand up and plug into one of the few, flickering energy sources left in the city.
The first sound is struck. A wobbly synth. One of the favoured sounds of mankind’s final century. In it, all of the undulation, distortion and trepidation that this latest generation has grown all to familiar with. The perfect way to set the tone for the 7-track ritual to come, the ritual that would attempt to expel the interdimensional demons from this terrestrial plain.
I got carried away there for a moment. This new 2020 album from Nottingham outfit Sons of Mu has just come up with the soundtrack of the dystopian doom which may not be too far from reach. At least we get to revel in the soundscapes of the end of the world before it happens, we probably wouldn’t be able to appreciate it when it does come around.
I don’t know about you but I’m actually, strangely overjoyed to be hearing an album that is directly influenced by all of the worst aspects of the 2020 lockdown and pandemic.
Nevermind all of that ‘hang in there’, ‘solidarity’, ‘think about the elderly’ bullshit! This is how so many of us are really feeling, what we’re really imagining when we’re faced with the news of the day.
Let’s face it, this year has been about as close as we’ve come to living in a real-life, sci-fi horror show and this is exactly what Sons of Mu have recreated. I couldn’t applaud them more for the creativity that it takes to use a real situation – that of lockdown, with all of its unreported darkness – and to use the power of sound to drag us deep into the Black Mirror-like reflection of what could well be.
Honestly, I really think this is needed. The emotion and the vibe which Sons of Mu have put out here is something that, in almost certainly the worst case scenario, teens born in the Covid generation will be feeling.
Things aren’t just fine and dandelions right now.
Lockdown, the band’s latest release, acknowledges that and even indulges in it.
& I love it!
– Reviewed by Liam MacGregor-Hastie
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HIGHS AND LOWS BY SAFE HANDS
You know what, this album has really grown on me.
It started off with the sort of characteristic American corny-ness that makes the hairs on every Brit’s pale arms stand up but, as I listen to one more track, then two and three…
Six tracks into Highs & Lows and I’m fully invested in listening to the rest of the album by Boston-based duo Safe Hands. Heck, I think this might coincidentally be the perfect time for it to be released. Do I even need to mention what’s going out in the world right now?
It’s November 6th as I’m writing this and the world is still anticipating a certain sort of result and a certain sort of reaction which is not likely to be peaceful nor orderly. It’s all too easy to forget about the simple home comforts and the basic conditions of humanity which make our individual lives worth living.
It’s fairly clear that we shouldn’t be looking to the White House for a pair of safe hands. Instead, this country-folk duo is reminding me to tend the garden that I can touch, to focus on yourself and your immediate surroundings, first and foremost.
This entire album is deeply personal and intimate without any attempt to dissect any global issues or impose their own ideological imprint.
I don’t know about you but, after an ungodly amount of time spent looking at alternating red and blue shapes, that’s kind of what I need right now.
At a time when the eyes of the world are looking at America with a sense of angst and trepidation, I see this album as a testament to true American resilience. A show of what Americans are really like, a reminder that what we see on the screens isn’t the full picture. A reminder that this is a country that can’t be defined by the collectives but only defined as a nation of free and passionate individuals. Each one with their own Highs & Lows.
Wrapped together with an unapologetically American twang, sometimes whiny and other times powerful, Caitlin and Mikey really lay it on the line on their debut album.
Formerly classmates performing together in their high school theatre productions before parting ways for a decade, the two joined forces to reignite that spark and to give a voice to the joys, tears and fears that they each experienced since.
The album really left me with a feeling of gratitude for the things that we all took for granted when things were actually going well and that reminder that, despite the Highs & Lows, we’re going to be somewhere in the middle, we’re going to be alright.
Mikey Adams writes:
“Just remember: if you feel hopeless, you’re not and when you feel loved, cherish and remember it. This record is dedicated to my father and is released on his birthday. Most of this record was written in the cemetery he is buried in, where I lived in a car outside his grave for a year. It’s all for him.”
– Review by Liam MacGregor-Hastie