Monday, 1 August 2016

New Music Monday: Asylums 'Killer Brain Waves'

It's rare that a band become one of my favourites so quickly. 

Before even releasing their debut album 'Killer Brain Waves' (which we'll get to in a second) Asylums were well and truly paving the way to success with the release of absolute anthems such as 'Joy In A Small Wage' and 'Necessary Appliances' that blend a mix of punk rock qualities with pop riffs and urgent vocals. 

Somewhere between touring, running a record label and life in general, the four piece managed to write a unique, thought provoking gem of an album - 'Killer Brain Waves'.

'Killer Brain Waves' was released on 29th July 2016 and was eagerly anticipated by many (including yours truly).

A sense of familiarity is created in the album due to six of the tracks being released previously as singles. I personally quite like the fact that half of the album is instantly recognisable and feel as though this makes you appreciate the new material even more because it's within the context of a sound you already know.

However, this didn't prepare me for what I was about to experience.

First thought when I hit play: OKAY IT'S BEGUN. 

Roaring electric guitars, heavy drums and a cheeky little bass line faintly heard through the cloud of noise created by other instruments introduce the song, the album and Asylums perfectly. 

This track is 'Second Class Sex'.

The song addresses a poignant issue in culture and today's society, too deep to go into now but have a listen and you'll get what I mean.

Next up we have another previously released song - 'I've Seen Your Face In A Music Magazine' - that continues the energy and ferociousness with an incredibly catchy chorus, helped along by an infectious guitar part.

In my notes I have written that I especially liked what sounds like the dropping of drum sticks at the end of the track. I guess this adds a sense of authenticity.

'Joy In A Small Wage' follows.

Some describe this as more of a pop punk type of song.

As always, I don't know the intended meaning behind this song but here's how I interpret it...

I interpret the song to mean that you don't need a lot of money to be happy, just people (friends and family) that love you and to be content with experiences rather than material possessions.

Lyrics that represent this, in my opinion, include 'there's joy in a small wage' and 'there's a whole world outside your room'.

A lot of people nowadays sit in their rooms on social media or playing the latest game, downloading 'this new app' or whatever instead of travelling, walking, talking, wandering around, having fun exploring their surroundings and embracing the natural world around them and community spirit, forming real connections with people - 'there's a whole world outside your room'. 

I'm probably majorly overthinking this but it certainly makes you think.

But, before you have too much time to think, 'Bad Influence' hits you, opening with a heavy distorted guitar.

'You're the greatest bad influence of my life and I don't know what I'll do when you're not here'.

I feel like everyone has a person like this in their life.

The lyrics above gave me a pang of emotion the first time I heard it which is kind of weird when listening to a a slightly aggressive, chaotic mix of guitars and drums.

This is something that Asylums do incredibly well - a great rock sound with something to say, something that may provoke emotion in you too.

Instrumentation wise it is very similar to the tracks that precede it.

First impression of 'Wet Dream Fanzine' - Was that a cowbell I just heard?

Moving on, we have a frantic 86 seconds of pure genius talking about the 'Death Of The Television'.

I particularly like the use of a bit of classic call and response during this song, in a chanting fashion. 

'Turn off the television' ends this unapologetic anthem in an abrupt manner perfectly suited to the aggressive desperation of the track.

After that we have one of the best song titles I have seen in a while - 'Monosyllabic Saliva'.

This is another new track with a slightly more laid back feel to it, especially in the chorus, 

The vocal on this track seems to be a bit more...almost slurred at points, giving a different tone to it.

Another piece of new material is 'Born To Not Belong'. 

Again, this is slightly slower than the typical Asylums sound and arguably executed in a more controlled manner. 

In short, the 'message' of the song (in my view) is everyone's different, we're 'born not to belong' - embrace individuality, don't try or feel you need to change or 'return to the manufacturer'. 

Towards the end of the track there's a really nice, almost instrumental. break that seems to synchronise everything together well to lead into the final chorus rendition featuring the lyrics 'we were born not to belong' repeated over and over, ending in an anthemic style. 

You can almost imagine the crowd chanting, fists in the air at the end there.

'Not To belong' is a contender for my favourite track on the album and is a great opener for 'Necessary Appliances', another contender for my favourite track.

'These appliances that fill our homes make it easier to live alone'

'Chemical free but we're empty'

Are just some of the lyrics packed within the verses of this piece of social commentary.

Has technology gone too far? Are we relying on it too much?

Only when reading my notes back did I notice that this song links with other ideas found in tracks such as 'Death Of The Television' and 'Joy In A Small Wage'.

'Necessary Appliances' contains killer drum patterns, fills and lots of cymbal action.

With an infectious main guitar riff, you can't help but lose yourself to this. 

The energy in this song is fantastic to witness live. My friend (who isn't particularly into rock music) came with me to watch an Asylums set recently and ended up headbanging along to this with me in a sweaty emotion charged mess - it was a great moment. 

Now, after seeing the name of the next track I was intrigued...

'Sunday Commuters'

I would say this track has a slightly brighter tone than others on the album, especially in the beginning, and could be compared to 'Born To Not Belong'.

We have now arrived at possibly my favourite song on the album - 'Missing Persons'.

I remember the first time I saw Asylums (a year or so back maybe) - this was the one track that stood out to me back then.

As soon as that initial guitar riff hits you know you're in for a treat.

On the album, 'Missing Persons' provides a refreshing contrast and perhaps more of a 'pop-y' vibe during the choruses with the main lyric being 'let's go missing, and then start over'.

A mellow bass line keeps the song rooted and I especially like the way that the last guitar chord is left to buzz/drift away. 

Finally we have 'Slacker Shopper'.

First impression: Distorted. Very Distorted. Vocal - distorted.

This track ends very abruptly so I was a bit surprised when my minute of silence was suddenly interrupted by a stunning electric guitar pattern and clean vocal (this reminded me of The Stone Roses, no idea why but it's definitely a compliment).

We have a hidden track.

I won't say too much apart from it's an unexpected pretty contrast that I really enjoyed.

Overall, I like the fact that certain tracks on 'Killer Brain Waves' are so manic that it sounds like thoughts and feelings have been thrown down into a fantastic, unstructured piece of raw brilliance. 

Asylums are a clever band who's music disguises societal issues under a blanket of rock rebellion with imaginative titles that make you want to jump, dance, just move. 

'Killer Brain Waves' is like nothing I have personally ever heard before and I love it. 

Until next time...


To see my interview with Asylums please click here: Interview

To find out more about Asylums you can click here:

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