Post-punk / indie rock band Nine Black Alps have returned to form this year with a new album titled Sirens, which arrived last week on Brew Records. The Manchester band traveled the major label system in the 2000's, signing to Island Records in 2003 before moving on to tour in the UK, US, Europe and Japan. Eventually they worked with producer Dave Sardy on ‘Love/Hate’ in 2006 and toured with the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Recent action includes the departure of member Martin Cohen to do his Milkmaid project.
The album is definitely energy-on, hitting us relentlessly with track after track of cleanly-mixed songs that range from punk to an almost pop territory, though Green Day they are not. Pop in the verses-chorus-verse tradition, not the top 40 ilk. Still, every time they sound like they’re heading off into either the pop or punk direction, they pull back and go the other way. It kept me on my toes and each song sounded fresh.
But although Sirens might throw flashing lights at us and blitzkrieg our speakers with noise and punk sounds, but it becomes a repetitive vehicle after the first three to five songs. The fourth track “Phosphorescence” does wander into an almost mellower dream pop -influenced lull, the kind that Dead Meadow is good at. Then it's back to pounding Nirvana with the next song “Living In A Dream,” which eerily sounds like it’s living in the dream of Nirvana’s Breed,” “Stay Away” or “Territorial Pissings” from Nevermind. Then it dawns on me: I’ve heard this album before when Nirvana released it twenty years ago. Compare for yourself and listen below.
Their label tells us that "The album was entirely self-produced and mixed by the band in Yorkshire and offers the clearest vision of Nine Black Alps yet. ‘Sirens’ is the sound of a band that has grown and matured but still contains all the hallmarks of a classic Nine Black Alps record which saw the likes of the NME hail their music as, ‘a fantasy fairyland of college rock and surf-pop’ while Kerrang nominated them for the ‘Best New band award’ in 2005."
I’m calling Nine Black Alps the “Best Nirvana Clone” of 2012.