I’m a white, middle class, well into middle-aged man. I wear darkish blue trousers, black shoes, shirts in a lighter blue, cardigans, car jackets, black peak caps. You could happily kit me out in M&S at a reasonable price. I have smirky smile, small glasses and am clean-shaven, even on the top of my head.
Imagine you see me as I go about my daily business. You wouldn’t give me a second glance. I like to listen to music through black, barely noticeable earbuds as I do my foraging. If you did spot them, you might think I’m listening to Nat King Cole, The Temptations or Berlioz. But, I like to confound expectations.
I don’t feel able to share with you all the thoughts that go around my head. Suffice to say, they are closer to those of a nineteen year old than my actual age. At nineteen, I was engrossed in reggae and post-punk and liked nothing better than hearing and watching a skinny person giving a guitar a good thrashing. The Buzzcocks hit the spot perfectly.
So, no, I’m not easy listening through those buds. I’m enjoying an unholy racket, loud enough to frighten horses and despite what many people think, decades on, there is plenty about. Over time, my taste has become more refined. I lean towards atonal throb.
Let’s start with Torres. She has undergone a Maria McKee transformation from gentle folk to raging rock. Her latest, Sprinter, is a collaboration with a PJ Harvey collaborator, Robert Ellis. Its guitar is loud but she still cannot resist writing tunes.
I’ve loved Jack White for ever. He plays drums for The Dead Weather whose Dodge And Burn involves a fair bit of thrashing and not just of a guitar. For example, a nice young lady shreds her vocal chords. Its weakness is their sense of humour. They are far too tongue in cheek for a serious throb.
Royal Headache are aptly named. It is possible to perceive that their album, High, is rowdy enough to induce a headache. However, it is consists of very skilfully delivered riff-laden songs reminiscent of Thin Lizzy circa The Boys Are Back In Town minus the silly cowboy song.*
Best of all, in 2015, is Radio Static High by Hey Colossus. It throbs and thrashes beautifully. Hey Colossus have been going for over ten years and this is their second new release this year. They are from Somerset and were part of the London Doom scene. Radio Static High remains uncompromising in terms of being a pain in the ear. However, similar to the perfect Buzzcocks, they may be loud but, under the layers of noise, there are some very sweet melodies.
I ask you Afterworders, are you keeping up appearances or defying them? Does noise annoy or bring you joy?
Here’s a sample from Hey Colossus for your delectation.
* As an aside, don’t you find cowboy songs are always silly? Even The Velvet Underground were guilty of recording one.