New Music | Friday Roll Out: The Jazz Butcher, Omnibael, Bitch, Fawns Of Love, Ritualz

After 2021’s delectable Innocence Of Protection, the Fawns Of Love return with the new EP, Unrequited Love Songs (Glass Modern). The duo of singer Jenny Andreotti and multi-instrumentalist/husband Joseph Andreotti revisit songs from Fawns of Love debut, 2017’s Who Cares About Tomorrow, and “Falling” / “Standing” 7” single. Here the duo is heavy on its electro-pop influences within the 6-song release that includes 8(!) remixes of “Boy Abstract” by Love is A Ghost and one of the group’s “Miranda,” remixed by Wor_kspace (member of Teenage Fanclub). Unrequited allows for a deeper look into the group’s earliest works floating in ethereal melancholia.

While information is sparse on RITUALZ, we can offer up that it’s the identity of one JC out of Mexico City. This maxi-single is off his new album Radical Macabro, with a release that’s TBD. The lead single “Disintegration” in a dark electro/industrial pop; not as pop-oriented as the earliest Ministry, but not as heavy as its later incarnation. It’s easily digestible and catchy and there are also remixes by Pictureplane and Sidewalks And Skeletons. On the flip side of this digital release, there’s a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Ugly.”  There are similarities to the original although the RITUALZ version has more washes of distorted guitar. It includes another track “Express Yourself,” and seemingly revisits the late 90s.  

While there are a host of comparable artists for this one, the UK’s Omnibael seems to have a running fascination with a muddy cacophony of noise throughout its full-length debut Rain Soaks The Earth Where They Lie (Cruel Nature Recordings). We have to ask, is there truly a need for this? The question holds validity considering the band’s lengthier numbers, anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes long, we’ve pretty much heard before. The release is a mixture 1989 Skinny Puppy, albeit strewn with less colorful artistry as well as 89 Ministry, but not as visceral. The band’s lengthy intros aren’t very interesting and seem at an attempt at creating an aura of mystery and darkness. You may just want to skip this one.

After 13 proper albums, 3 EPs, 3 Live albums, and 13 compilation releases, the group’s 14th, and posthumous release after the death of Pat Fish, The Highest In The Land (Tapete Records), closes the history of The Jazz Butcher’s extensive 40-year career. What was with the final opus for the group, leaves a remarkable collection of songs filled with jangly pop numbers, hints of jazzy swing & blues, monosyllabic deliveries, and odd bouncy & see-sawing jaunts, not always at the same time. There’s a great deal of beauty strewn across the release, but it’s the sprawling “Sea Madness,” with horns gently fitted within, and jangly guitars that’s inviting with Pat Fish’s soft voice caressing through these calm waters. It’s easy to fall in love with how masterfully soothing the track is. It’s moments like this, and on “Never Give Up” that are able to cover listeners in a blanket of delightfulness around airy guitars, slides, and delicateness.

The Jazz Butcher is obviously far from being a one-trick pony though, and “Melanie Hargraeves’ Father’s Jaguar” can attest. Here the band takes Squirrel Nut Zippers-like movements while still remaining as Butchery as it ever was. The canned horns, gypsy jazz chords, and backing vocals allow for its 1930’s era moment while keeping a firm footing in the present. The lament of “Goodnight Sweetheart” is something that’s easily felt here with Pat Fish’s soft delivery offering his final fare thee well moment. The soft brush-on-drum is appealing, fitting its theme. It is drenched in melancholia and the emotions are felt with his words.

Music lost a great artist in Pat Fish and while The Highest In The Land marks the band’s finality, we can always refer back to a stunning catalog of music that will live throughout time itself.

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It’s easy to take things at face value sometimes because we don’t know where it, or someone, is going to go. Moving headfirst into uncharted territory, it may be difficult for an artist to head into the unknown. It’s been well over a decade since Karen Mould has released any material as Bitch so what should anyone expect? An extension of Bitch’s last release, 2010’s Blasted!? Maybe. Has the multi-instrumentalist, “electric violin poet rock(er)” honed & refined her skills throughout the years? Well, that may qualify as a definitive yes.

Bitchcraft (Kill Rock Stars) is the new album out today and while the album varies as Mould slides into a few distinct genres from track to track, the forceful pop enthusiasm is strong throughout the album! It’s a remarkable juxtaposition that never detracts from the fact that this is in fact Bitch. Songs are crafted with an infinite finesse, and when the candy=coated sweetness of the strings takes hold of on “Pages,” they’re fitted alongside Mould’s heart-worn reflections. But it’s the strong pop inflections she bounces through within a subtle dynamic shift that captures the senses. Once it takes hold, there’s literally no letting go. It’s littered throughout the album, those moments where the Bitch sound astounds, much like on “Easy Target.” Here the song is driven by keys & piano but it’s not mechanical, feeling completely organic as Mould sings punctuating her words throughout it. We hear her range and it’s almost magical, strengthened by the colorful instruments throughout.

As mentioned though, Karen Mould’s songs are varied. While the bounce of “Hello Meadow” may have the same energy as Al Jourgensen’s “Burning Inside,” Bitch’s movements throughout hit differently. The song is comforting in its openness as well as its layering of instruments. There’s no stone left unturned here but as we backtrack here, it’s the dance excursion of the grandiose opener “You’re The Man” that sets a tone to expect the unexpected because this, is fascinating. The track simply seems HUGE as synths lead the way, building around a mechanical beat fitted with handclaps as it crescendos and explodes with vocal harmonies and Mould’s hook repeating “You’re the man you’re the man you’re the man” adding, “Oh I’m the woman.”  It’s effectively compelling and empowering. “Nothing In My Pockets” dances as well but in an 80s kind of way, without any nostalgic fluff unless one has images of Corey Hart wearing dark sunglasses but that’s as far as I’d go with any wistful reminiscing.

In honesty, Bitch eschews any idea of genres and simply is with Bitchcraft. “Polar Bear” holds a bit of harmony utilizing autotune(?) at some point, and while it works here to Bitch’s favor the song doesn’t always demand it. Mould’s vocal range is offered up, and we hear what she’s capable of doing and it truly is amazing.

Through this album, we see the growth of Karen Mould and Bitch. There’s an extensive amount of creativity from track to track and loads of inventive interplay with the instrumentation on Bitchcraft. If anyone has lost touch with Bitch, this is the album to familiarize oneself with. It’s stunning.

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