Without A Song: Anna Atkinson, “When We Were Young”


Without a song throws a spotlight on bands, albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.

It would be easy, lazy even, to paint Anna Atkinson’s song “When We Were Young” as pure nostalgia. The video that sees Atkinson visiting a once familiar neighbourhood; the black and white imagery; the dancing figures that hark back to childhood.

But it seems to me that Atkinson’s song and video are using the past to help build a tapestry that very much frames the present. The poetic lyric that references weaving, embroidery, clothing and materials points to the idea of creating something new from disparate elements; taking experiences of the past and building on them to create something worthwhile in the now, or for the future.

Says Atkinson: “I’m a descendant of a long line of makers. My maternal grandfather was a shoemaker who also made ornate wood carvings with a pen knife. My mother was a visual artist, phenomenal cook and quilt maker.

“My ancestors from both sides of my family experienced poverty, war, suffering, beyond anything I can imagine. And yet in the face of that, they continued to make things of incredible beauty.”

“When I was a child, my mother had a subscription to ARTnews, and one edition had an article about a Canadian artist – Janet Morton – who knit a sweater for a house on Ward’s Island. I thought it was the most amazing concept and it was the initial inspiration for the song.”

However you chose to interpret the track, “When We Were Young’s” exquisitely crafted, sparse arrangement – grounded in a minimal viola line – and simple, beautiful way with words make a breathtaking whole. Take a look and listen for yourself below.

“When We Were Young” is taken from Anna Atkinson’s new album, Sky Stacked Full, available now via Bandcamp.

anna-atkinson-sky-stacked-full-cover01. “Snowshoe”
02. “Water”
03. “Lovers”
04. “When We Were Young”
05. “Nobody Knows You”
06. “Silver”
07. “I’ll Buy You Lunch”
08. “When The Night Has Passed”
09. “In December”
10. “Winter Wind”

Connect with Anna Atkinson at:
Facebook: facebook.com/AnnaAtkinsonMusic
Twitter: twitter.com/AnnaCAtkinson
Web: www.annaatkinson.ca

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Without A Song: Slothrust, “Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone”


Without a song throws a spotlight on bands, albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.

Don’t you just love it when a song blindsides you, heading off at an acute angle and completely different direction to that which you were expecting?

Defy expectations, people! Which is exactly what Slothrust do with their sublime blast of swaggering noise-pop, “Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone.”

“Ah yes, it’s a knowing and literate indie-jangle!” said my brain during the song’s opening bars, just before that guitar tsunami took my legs out from under me about 30 seconds in. From there it’s a literary, anthemic, metaphor-mixing roller-coaster ride all the way to the finish line.

Get the song in your ears via the stream below.

“People have always had trouble comparing us to other bands, but someone recently described us as Nirvana meets Wynton Marsalis, and I loved that,” says Slothrust vocalist Leah Wellbaum. “We all studied jazz and blues, so I often use chords and voicings that aren’t quite as conventional for contemporary rock,” she continues. “Certain harmonic movement can get stale, so I try to incorporate colorful notes to give it more depth.”

“Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone” appears on Slothrust’s new album, Everyone Else, due out on the 28th of October via Dangerbird and available to pre-order now on vinyl and via iTunes.

Check out Slothrust’s latest video for their track “Horseshoe Crab” below.

slothrust-everyone-else-cover01. “Surf Goth”
02. “Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone”
03. “Rotten Pumpkin”
04. “Horseshoe Crab”
05. “Pseudo Culture”
06. “The Last Time I Saw My Horse”
07. “Mud”
08. “Trial & Error”
09. “Sleep Eater”
10. “Pigpen”

Connect with Slothrust at:
Facebook: facebook.com/Slothrust
Twitter: twitter.com/SLOTHRUST
Web: www.slothrust.com

Album Reviews | Live Reviews | News | SBA Lists | The Playlist | Under The Skin | Without A Song | Live From Los Angeles – Tairrie B. Photography

Without A Song: Dentist, ‘Awful’


Photos: Dentist/Cool Dad

Without a song throws a spotlight on bands, albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.

Dentist have nothing to do with dentistry (as far as I know.) And their song ‘Awful’ really isn’t awful. Talk about confusing.

What certainly isn’t confusing, however, is their dreamy, fuzzed-up, blissed-out surf-rock. I fell over it courtesy of a Soundcloud algorithm that lumped Dentist in with another band whose single left me entirely indifferent. I simply forgot to click the ‘Stop’ icon on the automatically generated playlist. Isn’t technology great?!

BAM. Suddenly it was 1 a.m. and I had deliberately listened to ‘Awful’s’ parent album, Ceilings, three times in a row.

But enough about my serendipitous evening of rock joy. Listen to ‘Awful’ via the stream below. Because it’s bloody great.

“’Awful’ is about not being able to choose who you love, and ultimately being stuck with them.” says Emily of the song. “Sometimes they don’t notice you the way you’d like, or put the effort in that you’d like, so you’re left saying,’I never wanted it to be you.’ It’s a very heat of the moment song possibly following an argument.”

Dentist are Emily Bornemann (vocals and rhythm guitar), Justin Bornean (lead guitar), Nick Kaelblein (bass) and Rudy Meier (drums).

Ceilings is out now.

dentist-ceilings-cover01. “Climbed Too Many Trees”
02. “Awful”
03. “Meet You There (In Delaware)”
04. “Over and Over”
05. “Body Slam (Move)”
06. “Joel”
07. “You’re A Bore”
08. “You Say”
09. “Air Vent”
10. “Digging up the Dog”

Connect with Dentist at:
Facebook: facebook.com/dentistband

Twitter: twitter.com/DentistBand

Web: www.dentistband.com

Album Reviews | Live Reviews | News | SBA Lists | The Playlist | Under The Skin | Without A Song | Live From Los Angeles – Tairrie B. Photography

Without A Song | Heaven The Axe are coming for you

Heaven The Axe band shot
Photo (C) Matt Ware

Without a song throws a spotlight on bands, albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.

Enough metal energy to power a sizeable township for a week; hooks so colossal they could catch a killer whale; a rock n’ roll flame firing so hot and heavy that it will wipe you out and leave nought but your shadow plastered to the nearest wall. Sometimes you look at a band, consider what they have going for them, and have no option but to be left mouth-agape wondering why on earth it is that they aren’t globe-conquering megastars.

Welcome to you, Heaven The Axe.

Hailing from Melbourne in sunny ‘Stralia, theirs is a blend of some serious hard-rock chops bolted on to a wall of monstrous heavy-metal. Frontwoman Phoebe Pinnock’s voice is an instrument of astonishing power and flexibility, and the musicians count amongst their number members and ex-members of such well known Aussie outfits as Manticore (guitarist Steve Watts), Damaged and The Berzerker. In other words, they boast serious musical pedigree.

Yes, yes, I hear you. Pedigree counts for nothing if the songs don’t live up to their billing. It’s a bloody good job that they do then, isn’t it. Heaven The Axe’s debut album Sex, Chugs & Rock N’ Roll is full to brimming with songs that contain enough aggression to make them metal, without sacrificing some stunning melodies along the way. These tracks are home to the kind of rhythmic hard-rock dynamism that will keep the tips of your toes and the hairs on the nape of your neck tingling long after your MP3 player of choice has run out of charge.

Album opener “Enemy” is a prime example of HTA’s puissant prowess; a fast moving balls-to-the- wall slug of sonic sagaciousness that punctures heart and mind like the proverbial piñata. It’s a blinding opening salvo and a real statement of intent. Likewise “Masochist” and “So Nirvana” impress with their fierce fret-hopping and gargantuan grooves. Not even the Greek Titans could conquer this mighty metal cohort.

Pinnock and the boys have some high-octane opportunities coming their way in the near future that will hopefully help to raise the band’s profile over and above their current following. March sees them play a set at India’s Hammersonic Jakarta International Metal Festival on a bill alongside metal and hardcore heavyweights like Lamb Of God and Ignite. Then just next week sees HTA perform in support of LA’s very own Butcher Babies as they head down under for a Sidewave show at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar. Bolstered by additional support from Kashmere Club, it promises to be one helluva show.

Of course television exposure can’t help but provide some much needed coverage for the cause, and Heaven The Axe’s theme tune to 7mate’s popular Aussie TV show Bogan Hunters is delivering just that. (No idea what a Bogan is? Google it, dude.)

So do your ears a favour and check out this diamond-hard, razor-sharp, needle-pointed band whilst they’re on the cusp of greatness, and don’t say we didn’t warn you. We’ve no doubt that this heavenly axe will very soon be swinging your way.

You can watch Heaven The Axe’s video for “Good Things Come To Those Who Hate” below:

Find out more at Heaventheaxe.com or check out HTA’s official facebook page

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Without A Song: King 810 | Memoirs Of A Murderer

King 810 Memoirs CoverWithout a song throws a spotlight on albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.

Artist: King 810
Album: Memoirs Of A Murderer
Originally Released: 2014
Label: Roadrunner Records

Time and hindsight are both wonderful things. When you can afford them, they allow you to develop considered and fully formed opinions. If used wisely, they can deliver the space for reflection and grant you new perspectives. And so I hope it is with Skin Back Alley and King 810’s debut album, Memoirs Of A Murderer.

Vaste swathes have been written about this band and their record, both in print media and across the web. Column inches and bits and bytes are full to bursting with missives about frontman David Gunn and his metal crew.

And to my mind, most of it is complete and utter shit.

A few minutes spent with the internet search engine of your choice will deliver you thousands, nay millions, of results leading to reviews, articles and opinion pieces about King 810. Even the most cursory of clicks will show that many, many people – both Joe Public and professional music journalist alike – have given Memoirs… the most brief of listens and have then subsequently jumped to the most base of conclusions.

You will read a lot about how they are simpleton nu-metal copyists. You will read equal amounts about how the band glamourise gun culture and violence. Others will tell you that Gunn is a one-trick pony, able only to sing about death, murder and how difficult life is in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Many will conclude that King 810 are not worth your time or hand earned money.

They are all wrong.

Memoirs Of A Murderer is an astonishing debut album. Hard hitting both musically and lyrically, it is a multi-layered thought-provoking masterpiece. Heavy metal albums – let alone FIRST heavy metal albums from new bands – rarely come as fully formed as this. Repeated listens prove richly rewarding.

King 810 Band Shot

To my mind, David Gunn is both artist and poet. Take the time to study both his words and his delivery, and their strength will hit you squarely between the lobes like the bullets he references. The fact that the majority of these words were committed to memory whilst Gunn languished in a US jail with no pen or paper to speak of makes them all the more hard won.

From the brutal opener of “Kill Em All”, through the lacerating “Fat Around The Heart” and on to “War Outside” and beyond, Gunn’s emotional intensity and poetic flow are excoriating, laying bare the reality of his inner emotions and outward strength. If there is a more visceral discussion of what it is like to live life on poverty stricken streets where carrying a gun is both the norm and necessary, then I have yet to hear it.

Nor do Gunn and his King colleagues do anything to glamourise their subject matter. This record does not exist to shout “Look at me! Aren’t I clever and cool with a gun in my pocket!” It does not boast or beautify. No, this album is run through with dread, fear, regret, the hardening of hearts and the sure knowledge that to be prepared and carry a gun is to become something less than human at the same time as being the only way to survive.

In it’s more reflective moments, and contrary to those bullshit shiny surface opinions, Memoirs… is also about so much more than it might at first seem.

“Write About Us” is brilliant in its execution, with a far more nuanced and stripped back sound it introduces a general theme of people trapped in their own lives, searching for someone they trust to help them live beyond their lot: “And they whispered unto me write down what you’ve seen / So the world knows our story and we’re finally free / They said we need it right and you’re the only one we trust / So promise that you’ll write about us.” In its second half, the song then moves in to the specifics, detailing the very lives of the previously anonymous people and fulfilling their wish and Gunn’s promise: “I haven’t seen Veronica since I told her how I felt / And the twins OD’ed and Sarah sells herself / Maxine’s on the needle, Kelly’s man cuts her up / I see Kristy where she works and she don’t bring the past up.” And so it goes on, the result of some kind of genius, an even more hard-hitting heavy metal Springsteen.

King 810 Band Shot 002

Musically there is more than enough to admire here, too. The irony is not lost on me that King 810 are currently touring the US with Slipknot, the band that they are most regularly accused of copying with impunity. Bar a guitar lick here and there that could – at a stretch – be considered similar to their forebears, King 810 plough a furrow all of their own. At their most musically intense, they are as brutal as any metal band out there. But their sound is run through with atmospheric sound effects, electronics and spoken word passages presenting the album as if it were the titular memoir of David Gunn himself.

Equally, King 810 are capable of a much more broad range of emotion and corresponding soundscapes. “Eyes”, “Devil Don’t Cry” and “Take It” all deliver impressive and impassioned moments far beyond what others are perceiving as a coarse and stunted aural bludgeoning.

So yes, on the surface and without a great deal of thought or consideration, it could be argued that King 810 are all about guns and violence. But I would argue that the people shouting loudest to tell you that are those who haven’t listened very closely at all. Or if they have listened, they certainly haven’t heard.

King 810 have, in Memoirs Of A Murderer, delivered one of the finest and most fully realised heavy metal debuts of the decade. The fact that it makes you squirm and reconsider your world view is something to be applauded, not sneered at from a hard and cynical place. Its ability to get under your skin and show you a vivid new perspective is what elevates the album above most of its contemporaries and puts it firmly on the pedestal labelled “art.”

Find out more about King 810 at their official website
Watch King 810’s video for “Fat Around The Heart” below:

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