I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say it has been a rough year. Personally, I had a lot of amazing plans that got cancelled. I was planning on traveling throughout Europe, seeing the world, touring with my dear friends Ranges and attending festivals such as dunk!festival and ArcTanGent. Then a pesky virus spread around the globe and put an end to all of that. Admittedly we’ve got it pretty good here in New Zealand. We had five weeks of national lockdown around Easter time, and certainly a lot of gigs were cancelled or at reduced capacity, but we’ve still had live music for a lot of this year, which is an absolute blessing.
Even so, I’ve found it hard for a multitude of reasons. I decided to retire from running the blog earlier in the year. But I have some spare time now that I’m on holiday and I enjoy writing these end-of-year summaries, so I’m back in action for this one last article for the year.
As I mentioned, New Zealand has still been able to have concerts and gatherings for a lot of the year, so this has allowed a lot of NZ artists to stand out a bit more on the world stage. Benee is an example of one artist who has garnered international attention and success. The Beths are another group who have gone from strength to strength. Many of us fell in love with their self-deprecating powerpop with debut album Future Me Hates Me, and follow up record Jump Rope Gazers is just as brilliant. It’s more of a slow burner than FMHM, but still proves just as irresistible and catchy after a few listens, and an easy pick for my top album of 2020. The Beths are also great live and I was delighted to catch them live again this year after a number of postponements. They’re in such demand that they played 5 packed out shows over three days in Wellington, and I imagine they could have even pulled enough of a crowd to play a few more shows too.
Caspian’s last album Dust and Disquiet is phenomenal. They blew my mind playing that material at dunk!fest in 2018 and I was so upset that I couldn’t see them play again this year after my travels were cancelled. On Circles may not quiet measure up to Dust and Disquiet, but it’s still a solid album, just in it’s own way. It’s a more reserved offering, but this seems somehow appropriate for the times. There’s two songs with singing – Kyle Dufrey of Pianos Become The Teeth lends his voice to one track, and Phil Jamieson’s singing on the titular track is sublime and soul restoring. Something else I love about this album is the interesting tones and timbres they’ve gone for. Maybe they’re in alternate tunings, maybe it’s effect pedals, I really have no idea. But these tones, coupled with some cello and violin on a few tracks, make for unusual yet enticing listening.
Regular readers won’t be at all surprised by this inclusion. It’s no secret that I’m a big IIOI fan. They were the first act that I flew overseas to see live. And the last album, Standards, was a great. Figure is a logical continuation of Standards. Brilliant songwriting, great playing. The drumming is complementary and they’ve continued their exploration into interesting tones.
Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings
Again, this should come as no surprise; Biffy Clyro have been my favourite band since I was a teenager. I almost slept on this one though – I pre-ordered the vinyl record and due to covid related complications it still hasn’t shown up. Warner said they’d send a digital download but never did (same case with their last record Ellipsis too, up your game Warner!) After a few months of waiting I figured that maybe I should do some hunting. I eventually got a copy of the album downloaded and I’m glad I did because it’s been on steady repeat ever since. Biffy have always trodden a fine line, making a point of being weird and alternative (at times inaccessible even, especially during the earlier albums), yet at the same time playing stadium rock and writing songs that earn mainstream radio play (more so overseas). And somehow they’ve managed to continue down this path with success. There’s less of the bland radio fodder that featured heavily on Ellipsis, and they’ve managed to evolve and push their style whilst style true to their distinctive Biffy sound.
Other music worth mentioning
Sam Butler released two great solo EPs this year. I reviewed the first EP, over time.
You may know Hause as the singer of punk band The Loved Ones. It’s almost a cliche how punk singers start solo projects along these lines (Think The Revival Tour). Kick is a great album, hopeful and defiant in the face of oppression. It’s in the vein of singer-songwriter, even country styles, something a bit more chilled out, but still with rock roots.
I have no idea how I came across this album but it just hit the spot. A perfect blend of ambient and electronica. I’ve needed more calming music like this a lot this year.
The state of things in 2020
I’m terrified of the ongoing implications of what will happen to the music scene as a result of this pandemic. Musicians who rely on touring and selling merch for a living suddenly don’t have an income. Venues can’t get by because people aren’t allowed to attend gatherings. No venues means no places for bands to play. And it doesn’t just affect musicians, there’s the roadies and drivers and lighting techs and sound engineers and a whole industry suddenly without work.
Many musicians are resorting to livestreaming performances. [Here’s one that my friends in Ranges did for WherePostRockDwells]. Some people have been able to monetise livestreaming these performances. We will see if this becomes comomonplace in the future.
We all know that streaming is not really the answer forward. Sure, it is a revenue stream, but they pay such a pittance per stream that it’s a joke. Bandcamp have stepped up with Bandcamp Fridays, monthly events that they choose not to take their cut on any music and merch sold in order to help the musicians and labels who need the income so badly now. And it appears to have worked, with millions of dollars worth of transactions happening every Bandcamp Friday.
Thankfully we still have live music here in NZ for the time being. I’ve been paying to a Patreon for our local venue Valhalla because I know that without venues, we won’t have a live music scene.
Live music in 2020
I didn’t see many international acts this year, for obvious reasons. I did see Queen at the stadium (it was a bit of a spectacle but I’m glad I didn’t pay much), I saw Yawning Man at Valhalla, and a few metal bands at Obey The Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt. My own band also opened for Sebadoh at a sold out show at San Fran in Feb, which was pretty awesome.
Happy Valley at Newtown Festival. Image: Will Not Fade
Some of my favourite Wellington bands at the moment are Happy Valley, Planet Hunter and Adoneye, and I managed to see them all play a few times.
It’s a real shame that Spook The Horses had their European tour cancelled, but I was stoked that they asked my band to open at their album release and they killed it. They livestreamed the night if you want to go back and watch it.
Spook The Horses album release at Meow. Image: Will Not Fade
A real indication of how much things have changed is when I went to see local speed metallers Stälker recently. It was packed. Certainly a big change from reduced capacity shows that I’d been going to a few months earlier. The mosh pit was pumping and you couldn’t move because everyone was squeezed together so tightly. I used to live for nights like that, but it felt so uncomfortable after avoiding being too close to others for most of the year.
Stälker at Newtown Sports Bar. Image: Will Not Fade
It’s hard to say what next year holds for us. Guns n Roses have announced a stadium tour in NZ. Is that too ambitious? Only time will tell. Hopefully the covid vaccine is effective.
Beastwars have held an Obey The Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt over the past few years and it’s been successful. I’ve heard rumours about the potential lineup for 2021 and I’m excited about that. I’m not holding my breath about seeing any acts from overseas anytime soon though.
In terms of releases, I’m looking forward to a new Amy Shark album, and hopefully Adoneye release their debut (bass player Jesse is recovering from wrist surgery). There may also be a live DVD from Opium Eater (Jesse’s other band) and Glassblower are dropping their debut grindcore album. My own band Secrets of the Sun will have an album out at some stage early next year too. Sora Shima are coming back so I’m hoping to see them again, and fingers crossed for some new music.
What are your favourite albums of 2020? What are your predictions for 2021? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!
The Post-Rock scene is not only diverse but extremely rich worldwide. The boundaries of this genre have been pushed far and wide over the years and Portugal was not indifferent to it. The Portuguese Post-Rock scene has grown over the years and solid acts have pushed the limits. Take a listen!
10 – Okkur
Okkur (from Barcelos) is one of those bands that astounds you in a way that is different from all the others. The band takes some influences from bands like The Last Days and Líam. This music will speak to your soul and you will not be the same person after listening to this. Every instrument is like a perfect piece in a perfect puzzle that is not only wholesome, but also pure, raw and magical for every second of it!
9 – Cerca
Cerca is the project and vision of Né Alves. With strong, vibrant riffs, each song is a story of its own, always surprising you, always pulling you in. Live, they are intense and unique. Like a punch in the stomach that instead of sending you to the stars, it pulls you down to the Earth and grounds you in a way you did not think it was possible. Cerca released their album VII in September 2017 and it’s a must-listen!
Juseph is a band formed in Vale de Cambra in 2009 whose discovery was quite a surprise. With a unique sound, distortion-driven guitars and wild grooves, they produce the sort of musical landscape that takes you to an alternative dimension and leaves you mesmerized with the sound. They have two releases: 2013’s Novae EP, and recent 2019 album Óreida. One of the most positive surprises that the Portuguese post-rock scene has to offer.
7 – Then They Flew
Hailing from Lisbon, Then They Flew is a band that leads you to a dreamscape in which vivid imagery comes to life with each note and every chord played. Soothing melodies and intense riffs bring just about the exact intensity for each moment of each song. Their style is inspired by many artists and you will find strong resemblances to If These Trees Could Talk. They released their album Stable as the Earth Stops Spinning in 2015.
6 – Imploding Stars Imploding Stars can best be defined as rich melodies and emotional uplifting music that takes you to the outer reaches of space. Hailing from the city of Braga, Imploding Stars have made a journey that not only contributed for their own personal growth and definition as a band but also to the pleasure of every post-rock listener who had the grace to find their music. They count three albums in their discography and one of them was made as a soundtrack for the movie From Earth to the Universe¸ produced for Casa da Ciência de Braga.
5 – First Breath After Coma
Founded in 2012, First Breath after Coma are a unique band. With three albums in their discography, they have risen to great heights and joined the platoon of international Portuguese bands. In March 2019 they released their last album NU, after the acclaimed 2016 Drifter. NU is an experience worth listening to. Experiencing and pushing musical boundaries, First Breath After Coma are surely bound to continue to grow and present us with amazing art.
4 – Homem em Catarse
Homem em Catarse is the project of indignu’s guitarist Afonso Dorido. Counting with one EP: Homem em Catarse and two albums: Guarda-Rios and Viagem Interior, Homem em Catarse is the combination of Post-Rock looped guitars and the traditional Portuguese Fado singing. His latest album, Viagem Interior is a recollection of experience and lives from the rural areas of Portugal that were left behind and sometimes forgotten. It’s a journey to the deepest roots of what Portugal has to offer.
3 – Catacombe
Starting in 2007 in the town of Vale de Cambra, Catambe carved a journey over the years that lead them to the release of an EP: Memoirs in 2008 and two albums in 2010 and 2014. In 2013 they appeared as the surprise band in Amplifest, participating with bands such as Deafheaven, Russian Circles, Year of no Light, amongst others. They have shared the stage with other bands such as Tides from Nebula and Minsk and on the 7th of June they are going to release the album Scintilla. This album represents a journey to the origins, and as the band puts it: “Scintilla leads us back to that primordial moment when man discovers fire, so that millions of years alter a band can discover the course, or the maturity.”
2 – Before and After Science
Born in Oporto in 2009, Before and After Science have made their presence known over the past couple of years. In 2013 they released the EP Vital Signs of a Fallen World and finally in 2017, their album Relics & Cycles. Taking influences from bands like If These Trees Could Talk and Russian Circles, they stand out in the Portugal Post-Rock/Post-Metal scene with their strong riffs and intense music. A band definitely worth listening to if you’re looking for heavy and powerful music that will not leave you indifferent.
1 – indignu [lat.]
And finally, for the first place! Indignu [lat.] is one of the most prominent Portuguese acts out there. Originally from the small town of Barcelos, they released their fourth album Umbra in May 2018. The band called Umbra “a record in memory of all the souls left in the gloom of a tragedy that raped our homeland last year. A black, painful, haunted set that describes the penumbra in which a man lives immersed in the dark chaos, in the apocalypse.”. This is the kind of band whose intense and emotional way of playing will trigger deep, strong emotions that are hard to grasp and comprehend. In September, they will be playing VIVID. a post_rock festival in Norway, with what will surely be an intense and immersive show.
Ah, the obligatory end of year listicle. They’re always fun. I love reading those written by other people, and comparing their thoughts against my own. My own annual summaries are never too comprehensive, but still a nice opportunity for reflection.
Live music in 2018
Caspian at dunk!fest 2018
The best show of the year was Caspian at dunk!festival in Belgium. Hands down. It was incredible. The lights, the music, the sheer intensity was overwhelming. I could barely comprehend it all as it unfolded in front of me. It was obvious that they put a lot of planning into creating a fully immersive experience.
The Ocean at dunk!fest 2018
One of the other headliners, Berlin’s The Ocean were also stand out. I don’t usually listen to heavy music of that ilk, but they’re coming to play a small metal venue in my hometown of Wellington next year, and there is no way I’m passing up the chance to see such an incredible band again.
Like their Japanese peers Guitar Wolf, King Brothers and the Vottones delivered incredible performances, with emphasis on the crazy rock and roll antics. They’ve set the bar high, and I don’t think that I’ll see any act play such a wild or shocking set for a log time
Rhian Sheehan has been a favourite of mine ever since I first heard Stories From Elsewhere. I’d missed his past few shows, so jumped at the chance to see him play this time. It was just as amazing as I’d hoped, with beautiful visuals added to complement the stunning music.
The Talking Heads frontman played one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen. Not only was the music great, but the choreography, lighting and stage management was outstanding – not to mention his extremely talented band who were all mobile for the entire set as well.
I’m surprised at my own favourite releases of 2018. Most of what I listen to falls under the umbrella of rock music, but I’ve found myself branching out and exploring pop, hip-hop, folk etc a lot more this year.
The Adults. – Haja. Jon Toogood was blown away by the wedding band when he got married in Sudan. He recorded some beats with them, recruited some local talent in New Zealand, and came up with this brilliant collaborative album as a result. I didn’t expect a feminist hip-hop album from NZ’s best rock singer, but it became my most listened-to album of the year. Seeing it played live was also a real treat.
Estere with The Aduots at Meow
Amy Shark – Love Monster. What is happening to me? Another favourite album I’ve thrashed this year, and this time it’s pop music! I’ve thrashed Amy Shark’s music so much since discovering her, and had a total blast seeing her live at the Hunter Lounge when she came to Wellington.
Tash Sultana – Flow State. I’m gutted I missed Sultana when she came to Wellington, because this record just oozes with talent. Plodding along with laid back vibes one minute, and melting your face off with guitar shredding the next, Sultana proves her abilities time and time again, playing all the instruments on this ripper of a record.
The Beths – Future Me Hates Me. I discovered The Beths thanks to cartoonist Toby Morris, who designed one of their tour posters. Ironically I missed said tour, but managed to see The Beths play their irresistibly catchy tunes when opening for Bloc Party, and at a Christmas fundraiser in December. They’re blowing up fast, so make sure to see them in intimate settings while you can.
Listener – Being Empty, Being Filled. Listener’s latest album rocks hard. It’s a fascinating concept album which explores the lives of inventors and creators. I was stoked to see them live at Valhalla in Wellington, and Dan and Kris even stayed at my apartment whilst holidaying in New Zealand after their tour.
Winter Dust – Sense By Erosion. Winter Dust immediately cemented themselves as one of my fave post-rock acts with their last EP, so it was awesome to find that their new album is just as good. And album that I had high hopes for, and my expectations were exceeded.
Toe – Our Latest Number. Same old Toe. This EP is exactly what we need from such a talented band. The only problem is that it’s too short. More please!
Thrice – Palms. I’m slightly bitter about Thrice, who postponed an upcoming Australian tour (that I had tickets to) in favour of supporting Bring Me The Horizon on another tour. That said, there’s no denying how great Palms is. Haunting songs that root themselves deep in your mind. I find myself humming their melodies all the time.
Alien Weaponry in Porirua on Waitangi Day
Alien Weaponry – Tū. I know that I announced Alien Weaponry as the next big thing a while ago, but I never anticipated the level of success they’ve achieved in such a short span of time. This year they’ve released their dubut album, toured Europe and America, and are currently on tour supporting Ministry. We can talk about their age, their culture, and an assortment of other topics, but when you boil it down,Tū is a great album full of furious thrash metal and it’s a blast to listen to at loud volume.
Paper Kites – On The Corner Where You Live. A late addition from my favourite folk act. I don’t think I’ve ever covered Paper Kites on this site, but you really should look them up if you aren’t familiar with them. It starts of with a stunning horn piece, which launches into a well crafted album saturated in feeling. A hazy outing perfect for listening to when you need some down time.
I’m also travelling to Sydney in February to see Cog (the same weekend that Thrice were supposed to play before postponing that tour). And I’m excited to attend Download fest in Melbourne in March, featuring heavyweights like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Alice In Chains and Slayer.
2018 has been a year of up and downs, like any other year. But if I could pick one moment to encapsulate what I want to remember this year by, it is this:
I had just rejoined my dear friends in the band Ranges. I’d travelled for nearly 40 hours to meet them in Belgium, where I would accompany them on their first European tour. I’d taken the longest commercial flight in the world (Auckland – Doha), and that was just one leg of the journey. As you can imagine, I was exhausted and jet lagged, but full of excitement for seeing my friends and exploring a new continent.
The first show was at Kinky Star in Ghent. Ghent is a wonderful picturesque town with canals, cobblestones, a castle and all sorts of exciting things that you would never see in New Zealand where I live. I’d had a few (strong) Belgium beers, which didn’t help my jet lagged body in the fight against sleep.
Belgian locals Astodan opened. They were awesome. Great guys, great music. Check out their album Ameretat.
Sadly, I didn’t make it through Ranges entire set. But there is one thing stays in my mind when I think back on that show. One of the locals kept shouting “Perfecto!” at the band. It was both hilarious and endearing, the most wholesome heckling ever. The guys from Ranges loved it too.
And that’s what I want to take away from 2018: even when I’m feeling worn out and have to tap out, there is always something small that I can focus on to laugh at and cheer me up.
Perfecto, my friends, perfecto!
p.s. Let me know what you enjoyed reading on Will Not Fade this year! What do you want to see more of? Comment below, or on Twitter or the Facebook page. I’m keen to take on feedback.
Every year offers new highs and lows, but for Will Not Fade it has been the best yet.
I started the site during my second year of university, making the most of the downtime between assignments to write about two new records I’d bought. (Shihad – FVEY and Maybeshewill – Fair Youth). The blog slowly gained traction as I continued writing. Most posts received very little attention, but I kept at it, refining my style, making musical contacts, and learning more about the IT side of things.
Believe it or not, we’ve published over 200 posts now – not a bad effort for a small DIY blog. I (Joseph) also made a few dreams come true this year, travelling to America to meet a bunch of musicians I’ve come to know online through the blog.
I met with Jesse from Glacier in Boston for a beer at a brewery near a peanut butter factory. Matt from Aviation and the War hosted me in Chicago for a few days, and we watched the solar eclipse from his back yard. Former Will Not Fade contributor CJ Blessum also hosted me at his house in Montana, and I traveled across America on tour with his band Ranges. I also stayed with Arctic Drones writers Aaron Edwards in Idaho, and David Zeidler in Vermont. It is incredibly gratifying meeting people in person after being “friends” online for some time.
I also met Samuel at a Ranges show in Colorado. He mentioned that he’d like to get into writing about music, and next thing you know, he’s making me look bad with his excellent reviews. It’s great to have someone so passionate on board.
I also teamed up with A Thousand Arms to print a limited run of WNF t-shirts. They turned out great, and I’m proud to say there was fair demand for them. Thanks to everyone who requested one.
Joseph’s best of 2017
Song of the year: Tides of Man – We Were Only Dreaming
This is the sound of happiness. The awesome instrumentation makes me dance every time. I met Tides of Man on tour and feel blessed that I can now consider them friends. I saw them play four sets on tour, and this song was my highlight every night.
Obviously dunk!USA was a major highlight. Not only was this my first international festival, but I was friends with many of the acts, and had an all-access pass. I may have let the journalistic integrity slide somewhat with my drunken antics, but as far as I’m aware, I’m the only person who wrote a review of the festival, so technically I still pulled off writing the best review. Plus, I think the photos I took were killer.
El Ten Eleven played in Brooklyn, not too far from where I was staying. I had a blast dancing along to their tunes. It’s amazing what two musicians can pull off with the help of technology and talent.
I flew to Las Vegas to see St Paul & The Broken Bones. They played a great set. But headliner Trombone Shorty blew them out of the water. This was a class act. The stage was packed with hotshot musicians, all exuding vibrant energy.
Frank Turner has long been one of my favourite artists, so it was a blast to catch him live in Vancouver. He even previewed a few new songs. There’s few things as good as seeing an artist play some of your favourite songs live.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never seen Kiwi rock legends Head Like A Hole before this year. Duncan from Hiboux invited me along to a show at Valhalla, and I’m so glad I went. Like their contemporaries Shihad, they’ve been around long enough to know what they’re doing.
And, of course, it will be awesome to meet many European friends at dunk!fest 2018 in Belgium. I may even make it to Pelagic Fest in Berlin the following week, but we will see…
Special thanks to all the readers who take the time to read our content. It is so gratifying when I hear that I’ve put someone on to new music. If you have any suggestions for what content you want to see us cover in 2018 then by all means, let us know!
The internet existed ten years ago, but it was a completely different animal. My family still had a dial-up connection, so good luck trying to load a video. Not that there were many music videos on YouTube anyway. A few of my slightly older mates tell me about how they left the computer running all night just trying to load a new four-minute Blink 182 video when it was released.
Can you remember the ghastly screeching sound that the computer made when making a connection on dial-up? I can certainly remember my dad shouting at me to disconnect when he wanted to make a phone call. And to think that today we use our phones to connect to the internet!
Biffy Clyro. Image: Luke Gilford
Youtube was a fledgling, Spotify and other such streaming sites were the speculative talk of some sci-fi future. Facebook existed, but didn’t become popular within my peer group until around 2009. We were all on Bebo [remember that???], with some of the more alty scene kids also having a Myspace account. Nobody really bothered with Facebook messenger anyway, because everyone used MSN.
Which gives you some rough context to why I was my best friend’s house trying to listen to a song called “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” using a program called Limewire. I’d read about this Scottish band called Biffy Clyro who had just released an album called Puzzle. They were on the front cover of Rock Sound magazine and they sounded interesting, so I was trying to find some of their music to listen to.
Like I said, my family had a dial-up connection, so no point trying to find anything online at home. Streaming sites didn’t exist and sites like Youtube offered little music content. The record stores in my small hometown of Nelson weren’t going to import music by an unheard of [ha!] band like Biffy Clyro unless I was willing to shell out at least $40 – almost as much as I earned in a week working part-time at a supermarket. So I decided to use Tom’s computer to try to listen to this band.
Limewire was notoriously bad for containing poor quality content. Viruses were abundant and most tracks were mislabeled and poorly spelled. So when I started listening to this song that I’d tried to download – “Living Is A Problem…” – it was of little surprise that the track sounded corrupted. I listened to the jarring, stabbing sounds at random intervals for about a minute before I stopped listening and gave up. There’s no way that this file was the single I had read about!
[This video clip cuts roughly 90 seconds off the album version of the song]
Hearing more material
It was a few months later that I bought a Kerrang! Magazine which featured a best of 2007 sampler. That CD featured a Biffy song called “A Whole Child Ago”. It had a crazy riff that sounded like a polyphonic ringtone [yes, this was 2007 remember!], weird drumming that had a looping pattern [or did it?] and nonsensical lyrics. And I loved it!
This track – along with “Get Fucked Stud”, from the Rock Sound sampler that I’d got when I first read about Biffy – made me want to track down this elusive Puzzle album again.
Tom pulled through for me. A true best friend, he had heard me go on and on about wanting to listen to that album so somehow managed to buy a copy of Puzzle on CD for my birthday.
I remember being so excited. I finally had it! I put it into my crappy discman that was hooked up to criminally bad speakers [so tinny they should have come with a gram of bud!] and sat down to listen to the album. It had a bright orange sticker on the cover with a quote from NME: “This album will change your life!” Yeah… right… I doubted the claim, but still had high expectations.
The first track was “Living Is A Problem…”. Wait… What the hell? The same stabbing sounds for almost two minutes! So that file from Limewire wasn’t corrupted? And this was a single???
Upon closer listen, I figured that the song showcased some incredible musicianship. Certainly not easy to listen to, but bloody impressive that the three musicians could play something with such odd timing and play as a tight unit. The song got really aggressive, but oddly enough had choral sections and string arrangements juxtaposed again the heavy rocking.
Listening through the rest of the album was an interesting ride. It was weird, that’s for sure. Clearly they were on drugs when they came up with most of the lyrics. And there are so many quirky elements and odd time signatures, which were actually tame compared to their previous three albums – not that I knew it at the time.
I think it is impossible to listen to the infuriatingly catchy “Who’s Got A Match?” and stay still. The triplet groove compels the listener to nod their head, tap their foot… something!
In fact, Biffy may well lay claim to my first exposure to math elements in rock. It’s either them or Tool. They took my listening experiences beyond the standard 4/4 or 6/8 time signatures that most songs we listen to are written in. “Now I’m Everyone” contains a 5/4 passage that used to annoy me so much, but I now love it.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the lyrics for most of this album. Plenty are simply nonsense. However, there is a coherent theme of mourning throughout. Simon’s mother had passed away shortly before the album was written, and glimpses into his grieving can be found throughout. I couldn’t tell you why a man is on the corner selling dozens of bones, but when Simon cries “Eleanor, I would do anything for another minute with you” the message to his late mother is clear.
And, just like that, I became a Biffy Clyro fanatic. I started trying to push it on all my mates, spreading the good word of the Biff. It became a bit of a running joke among my mates – “yeah, yeah, Joseph. We know – another weird rock band. Stop going on about it would ya?” Took a photo of the Puzzle album cover with my phone to use as the phone wallpaper, but after a while switched it for something else after a few too many people had asked me why I had the photo of a naked man on my phone.
I did manage to convert a few mates. I was in a band with my best friend Tom [who had gifted me the CD] and another friend Harry, and we chose to add “A Whole Child Ago” to our repertoire, alongside other obligatory teenage covers band numbers: Nirvana, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, System Of A Down, Incubus, Rage Against The Machine etc… I actually sat down to try to drum along to the track a few days ago and realised that I never did figure out how to play it properly, and just managed to come up with something similar that seemed to work. It’s a tricky linear beat that swaps between the hi-hat, snare and kick, and changes ever so slightly every few bars. I think I was more suited to playing something more simple and aggressive like Nirvana’s “Breed”.
It’s crazy that no-one had heard of Biffy in New Zealand. At the time, the band was busy headlining major festivals and touring with the biggest rock bands over in the UK. I guess that shows how important radio play was for entering the public consciousness, back in the days before music was so easy to find online.
I’ve since dug through the band’s catalogue, and own all of their albums and on CD or vinyl (I have most in both formats, because I’m a loser fanboy) as well as a few b-sides collections. I saw Biffy the one time they played in New Zealand and it was everything that I’d hoped for and more. I used that review to launch this music blog (and probably got a meagre 10 views – whoo!).
I guess what I’m trying to say is that NME was right. On that little orange sticker, stuck to the front on the album near the parent advisory box, they told me that the album would change my life.