Alt.Rock Round-up: Summer 2014

Emma Johnston on new releases from The Julie Ruin, Nothing, Young Widows, Bo Ningen and Restorations

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The Julie Ruin: Run Fast

From the glory days of the riot grrl movement she led with her feminist punk firebrands Bikini Kill, to the political and personal electro-joy of Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna’s influence has been enormous (Pussy Riot would almost certainly doff their brightly coloured balaclavas in her direction). So, after a Lyme disease-enforced break, it’s wonderful to find her heading back into the fray and fizzing with as much energy as ever. Musically The Julie Ruin sit somewhere between Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, abrasive punk outbursts like opener Oh Come On slotting nicely alongside groovier moments such as the bongo-driven, sweetly romantic Just My Kind. Hanna is as emotionally and intelligently open with her listeners as ever, displaying her soul in that trademark yelp. Art, love, personal and political ideology – all of it is delved into with gloriously unpolished gusto, especially on the synth-driven Girls Like Us, a song that could well inspire a new wave of 14-year-olds to pick up a guitar and make a racket of their own. (710)

Nothing: Guilty Of Everything

With their ringing feedback, whispered, sighing vocals, dreamy melodies and sudden, overwhelming waves of crashing noise, nothing take a punk rock approach to resurrecting the fine art of shoegaze majesty. This might well be the finest example of the genre since my Bloody Valentine perforated their first eardrum. Utterly beautiful. (910)

Young Widows: Easy Pain

There’s a real heart of darkness at work in Easy Pain, the fourth album from Louisville, Kentucky’s Young Widows. They embrace the horrors they’ve witnessed in the world around them, and revel in the kind of deep, aggressive, borderline psychotic barks and clangorous guitar noise that made the Birthday Party such a gloriously bleak treat. Their pain is very much our gain. (810)

Bo Ningen: III

These Yoko Ono-approved, possibly entirely mad Japanese acid punks are certainly not for the faint-hearted, their frenetic, unpredictable psychedelic noise pinging maniacally from one idea to the next under a relentless barrage of yelps and growls from unpredictable frontman Taigen Kawabe. But it’s a perfect kind of insanity, and it gets the old adrenalin pumping nicely. (710)

**Restorations: LP2 **

With Loudon’s gruff vocals and a neat line in uplifting, gently punky blue-collar anthems with an underlying seam of Nowhereville melancholy, Philadelphia’s Restorations are nipping at Gaslight Anthem’s heels to be first in the queue to kiss the hem of Springsteen’s garments. But with bursts of post-rock, folk and blues, there’s much more going on here than mere imitation. (610)

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.