New Music: Friday Roll Out! REAL(s), Andy Cooper

This week has thrown me into a world of annoyance, and that’s probably for obvious reasons. There’s so much anger amongst people who have different “views” and sometimes erupts into violence. Does it have to go there? Apparently, it does. It is was it is, so now I’m expecting everyone to deliver their A-game because yes, expectations are high.

As usual, I’ll be the first to acknowledge when I’m completely clueless about someone or something. There are even moments I have no idea how things show up in front of me. In hindsight, I’m probably the better for it, going into something without any expectations.

D.S.L.B. (Dirty Water Records) is the debut full-length release by REAL(s) who call London home. The quartet refers to itself as London Space Punk Disrupters and it seems with this release of this album they’ve accomplished that. The sound is sometimes brash, loud, aggressive, but always with loads of melody. Once you peel the layers away from the group’s clever punk play, you’ll find there’s a lot more to the band than that. “Up The Slopes” has the group ruminating through with a repetitive melody that never becomes repetitious. In fact, it’s pretty alluring and hypnotic. The welcomed addition of horns thrown into the mix allows for additional atmosphere. There are layers to the song itself, vocally and musically, and it never becomes boring.  

The band is intriguing in what they do, blending in a punk aesthetic into its sound that’s sometimes drenched in sweetness without getting rid of its sneer. “From The Seed” for example, this one is soaked in guitar fuzz & feedback, as notes sometimes rise to the surface and with harmonies filling the air. It doesn’t get any better than this. “Dark Web Messiah” has a “Darklands” vibe (i.e. JAMC) but it’s obviously not that, allowing REAL(s) own identity the ability to manifest throughout. The ethereal vibe is entrancing. The group is at its best though when its more direct in its approach, much like on “Radiation,” tossing in equal parts fuzzed guitars, abrasiveness, and perfectly placed melodies & feedback. The band has a plethora of clever songwriting throughout D.S.L.B. but it’s “M.I.C. Blasters” that’s surprising! The song is overwhelming as it opens, punctuated by forceful percussion before it morphs into a beast of a song here. The band lets go of the reins and allow the melody land where it will. Reckless abandon? No, more like controlled chaos and it’s beautiful!

Yes, this is my introduction to REAL(s), and needless to say, they’re my new fucking favorite group. D.S.L.B is unrelenting, unrestrained, and gloriously free from bullshit that doesn’t allow other bands to fly free. REAL(s) are just amazing.

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There are some things that I’ve avoided throughout the years, sometimes purposeful and others not. Sometimes it’s easier to pick and choose what’s in front of you rather than leaving everything in a stack to go through one by one.

I’ve never really gotten into Ugly Duckling. Sure I’ve heard some songs but never an entire album. The trio has never been on topical, on the lips of others as the next coming of Hip Hop. But this isn’t about Ugly Duckling, it’s about Andy Cooper, who’s released the follow up to 2018’s The Layered Effect. There were strong cuts on that album like the opening “Here Comes Another One feat. Blabbermouf,” with its jazzy feel. Now while Cooper’s L.I.S.T.E.N (Unique Records) travels the same path laid out by its predecessor, there isn’t anything that stands out even somewhat jokingly like “Do The AndyPuppet.” Many tracks are nestled safely, that could maneuver right into mainstream suburban culture if it was ‘95. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s your thing.

“What Do You Mean?” though is a bit catchier than others and the horns surrounding it, along with the female vocal sample circling around it is inviting. Unfortunately, I’m not moved by much else. I think I was expecting more from Cooper’s L.I.S.T.E.N., unfortunately, we don’t receive it here.

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