Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Catenary Wires “Intravenous” (Elefant): Maruta “Stride Endlessly Through Scorched Earth” (Relapse): Agnostic Front “Police Violence” (Nuclear Blast)


Virtual 45 “Intravenous” is the newie from a certain dynamic duo – Fletch & Purse, as my working title for a new wife/husband indiepop-buddy cop TV series pilot casts them - who now trade under the Catenary Wires name. It’s a kind of Young Marble Softies play Pipas, with the slightly worn-sounding male vocal (presumably Rob) working ever so well alongside Dame Amelia’s more familiar trill as the song eases gently into the enviable tradition of those legendary Sarah duets (well, legendary to us) like the slacker call-and-response of “Leaving”, or the desperately sad dual-vocal lament of “When Morning Comes To Town”.

The single catalogues the mixed emotions of being in a thrillingly intense relationship, yet realising that if things go wrong – when morning does come to town, if you like – it may not be pretty. Love is the drug, and all that comes with that. It’s riveting, not least the particularly powerful moment towards the end, when Amelia’s vocal - suddenly - sounds as tender and vulnerable as it ever has.

We sometimes harbour a nagging fear that Elefant may end up something of a rest home for ex-Sarah artists, but the quality of “Slow Changes” and this suggest that we need not be too concerned yet that said artists are resting on their laurels. Quality-wise, this would have sat very well on a Sarah 7”, you know. In fact, we’d venture that “Intravenous” is sufficiently strong that a place should be found for it even on the packed tracklist of Rob and Amelia’s greatest hits, once K-Tel eventually get round to delivering it.

Less tender and vulnerable is Maruta’s taster for their new “Remain Dystopian” LP, but it’s their best tune yet: the triumphant “Stride Endlessly Through Scorched Earth” manages to be entertaining and chaotic as well as gruff and metallic, bringing Beefheartian influences to the fore and ending up sounding like a mad scientist’s cross between the new wave of deathgrind / techgrind and all those Ron Johnson Records bands who made our lives so much better in the 1980s. This is all the more impressive given that Maruta are from Miami, a place whose musical icons are not generally known for following scenes that evolved from Stafford Polytechnic, or had representatives on C86. The boys (plus the marvellous Tomas Lindberg, who seems to have got involved too), sound like they’re having a riot: yes, this is ‘metal’, but really not as we know it.

Should you want a little more… focus, then it’s probably best to step to the ever-dependable Agnostic Front, and the first track to be released from their 2015 LP on Nuclear Blast (it still seems incredible to think that the Front, or indeed Carcass, are labelmates with the likes of world-conquering modern folk troupe Nightwish, but we’ve always loved diverse rosters).

Less than a minute long, “Police Violence” is lean and fittingly angry and topical and basically ace. With the hell-for-leather charge of the verses briefly subsiding in order to allow a classic breakdown towards the end, this is in the same musical ballpark as Haymaker’s fiery “Let Them Rot” 7” last year. In its own way, it’s just as honest and open as “Intravenous”, but then we would expect nothing less from the guys that once gave us Sunday Matinee anthem, erm, “Anthem”.

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