Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

Audio Antihero Reviews – Nosferatu D2 and Benjamin Shaw
January 14, 2010, 6:54 pm
Filed under: album review, music | Tags: , ,

Audio Antihero (or Jamie as his mum would call him) is an unusual idea for a record company; release albums that you like in the knowledge you may never even break even let alone make money. They even label themselves as “specialists in commercial suicide” which sounds reassuring.

But on the flipside, you have to admire a guy who loves an album so much that he will do all of this to ensure at least a handful of other people can get their grubby little mitts on a record made by a band that no longer exist. A full interview with the man behind the label can be found here. As interesting as the whole backstory is, that’s not what I’m here to write about. I’m here to talk about the music. So I will.

Nosferatu D2 – We’re Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise

Sporting one of the longest album titles I know, the debut (and most likely only) release from ND2 comes a mere two years after they split up. The band are (were?) made up of two brothers; Ben and Adam Parker. If there is anyone out there who you could call a ‘regular’ to this blog will most likely recognise the first of these names as Ben now performs under the title of Superman Revenge Squad, someone who I’ve spoken of a few times in the past. It’s due to the fact that Ben was in the band that first drew my attention to the album on it’s release.

As with SRS, Ben takes responsibility for vocals and guitars. Unlike SRS though, this time he’s plugged in and sticks purely to ‘singing’ rather than using spoken prose which makes SRS so distinct. This leaves Adam with the responsibility of providing the percussion for the band which he does brilliantly with some frantic and relentless drumming throughout the album. The two of them provide a very raw sound between them that easily flits between slow, plodding tunes and an all out thrashing of their instruments. Both of these provide a backing for Ben’s vocals which may not be to everyones liking as it’s fair to say that he wouldn’t exactly get far on something like the X Factor..

The sound of the vocals almost doesn’t matter as the content of the words, rather than the sound of them, is what matters as they seek to find the depressing side of all the mundane things in life with Wetherspoons food, queuing in Tescos and even Christmas day all in line to receive the Parker treatment and it’s in this where the band shows its strengths. The songs don’t completely rely on the lyrics though and in some songs, such as ‘Springsteen’ and ‘It’s Christmas Time (For God’s Sake)’ everything comes together to create some great little songs.

Altogether, this is an interesting album to listen to. For me, it’s difficult to talk about the album without making comparisons to SRS (if you hadn’t noticed) and so for me, it feels like ‘SRS: the punk rock years’. Or something. As a package it feels a little hashed together at times but when everything comes together it works really well.

4/5 sad monkeys

Benjamin Shaw – I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got EP

Benjamin Shaw is Audio Antihero’s only other artist and the EP is his first commercial release. With just six tracks, it’s easy to talk about each track on the album as well as the album as a whole.

The opener “Thanks For All the Biscuits” starts pff with a whole muddle of noise until it eventually settles down on just Benjamin’s ukulele/guitar and his timid vocals singing about “how everyone’s gone”, with some gentle percussion joining in to create a beautiful, minimal song. This ends with more noise that leads into the next track which just features his voice and a piano that almost sounds as if it’s being played underwater.

The rest of the EP is more of the same with gentle guitars accompanying Benjamin’s gravelly, fragile vocals that sound as if they could go at any point. The occasional addition of gentle backing vocals, quiet drumming, and harmonica and guitar solos at various points give the songs an extra layer and stops them getting too boring and samey.

Overall, it’s not a record you could listen to over and over again but that doesn’t mean it’s bad; I said the same thing about the Antlers’ album which was my favourite release of 2009. Benjamin’s vocals are very distinct and a whole host of adjectives can be used to try to describe them but it’s almost impossible to do so. The songs mostly have a wonderful minimal feel to them but every now and again descend into something a bit different and something that Graham Coxon would be proud of.

4/5 singing space monkeys

You can buy both records from the Audio Antihero store!

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