My iPod #564: Nine Black Alps – I Can’t Lose

‘I Can’t Lose’ is one of the many B-sides Mancunian alternative rock/grungy-type band Nine Blacks Alps made during the sessions for their debut album Everything Is, released in 2005, and appeared on the ‘Just Friends’ single. That album still sounds as good today as it did then as an eleven-year-old. I could possibly write a whole article about how much I like that album, how I got into it etc. etc. That would be for another time.

Everything Is is a perfect twelve song package of fast, biting guitar music. Couldn’t get much better. ‘I Can’t Lose’ is very much in the same vein as the songs on the album and wouldn’t seem out of place had the band decided it to be on the final tracklist, but its production doesn’t give it that heavy feel that is present on so many of the songs that did make it.

Not trying to take anything away from it though, ‘I Can’t Lose’ is still very enjoyable. It’s not meant to be a very heavy song at all. It has a self-deprecating vibe to it which I can’t really explain. I mean, the song’s called ‘I Can’t Lose’ but the song’s narrator mentions how they always lose even if they seem to be at an advantage. Whichever way it’s meant to be taken, it’s all good stuff.

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My iPod #498: Nine Black Alps – Headlights

“Unsatisfied” has barely faded to silence before the crashing cymbals, drum rolls and minor chord guitar vamps begin the frantic “Headlights”, the fifth song on Nine Black Alps’ debut Everything Is.

The track is another one of Nine Black Alps where the lyrics are focused on a person who the narrator always sees or notices and how people react around them. In this case, this character is one who thinks too highly of themselves and thinks they are indestrictible; the narrator knows that he/she isn’t all that but can’t help but notice the dim-witted people who would want do the most tedious of things “stare into static” to gain a piece of this person’s confidence. The narrator has to put their body on the line for…. something that isn’t really revealed or explicitly stated which reinforces the worrying undertone set in the song’s music.

As for the music. Well it’s typical Nine Black Alps stuff. Full throttle guitars and rhythm to the wall and feedback which closes the track off after being buried in the mix for the last chorus.

Very fond of this one.

My iPod #420: Nine Black Alps – Ghost in the City

“Ghost in the City” closes out Nine Black Alps’ third album “Locked Out from the Inside“; after ten tracks of murky guitars and brutal rhythms, “Ghost” arrives as the slow comedown to bring it all to an end.

Maybe one of the softest Nine Black Alps songs with Sam Forrest’s vulnerable and gentle vocals, “Ghost in the City” also creates an eerie and barren atmosphere helped along by a siren-like wailing that appears at various points throughout and its overall production in that it sounds very natural. For instance, in parts where the guitars stop playing or just by listening to the song’s depressing guitar lick, every sound you hear echoes and reverberates around your headphones. It feels like everything’s moving in slow motion, though you’re right there in the studio with the band while they play the song to you.

Just short of five minutes, “Ghost in the City” carries on the themes of alienation and isolation that are noted to within the album though rather than using those themes to make another headbanger, “Ghost” brings to the forefront how miserable and frustrating feeling alone can be.

My iPod #414: Nine Black Alps – Get Your Guns

I know mostly all of the lyrics…. I could hum every tune, note and screech the guitar feedback if you indeed wanted me to recite all of “Everything Is” to you. “Everything Is” being the first album by Nine Black Alps, which was released in 2005. I know that album like the back of my hand. IT’S TOO GOOD. Even today, I still feel the same excitement and thrill as I did when I opened that case, inserted the disc and heard that crunching guitar introduction for the very first time.

“Get Your Guns” is the track of which that introduction belongs to, and it is after a commanding cymbal count-in that the song erupts like a dog at the races with a bellowing atmosphere of bending guitar strings and a powerful rhythm section. From then on, the album never lets up. It is track after track of aggressive rock music. No momentum is lost. That is until you get to the first acoustic based track six songs in.

A song to punch a wall, scream in someone’s face, and generally get pumped to, “Get Your Guns” does the perfect job of establishing the tone which the rest of the album follows which any worthy album opener should do. Just because I like the song that much I’ve never pondered in depth about what it’s meaning is; if it’s good, I don’t see a reason too. Though there was a point that I did think “Everything Is” was a concept album about a war and various relationships between people while this war is happening. It probably isn’t. Though actually witnessing the lyrics might make you see why I got that idea.

So, yeah. Have a listen to it. Has a line from a Radiohead song in there too. That’s besides the point. If this doesn’t float your boat… you have no soul. But that’s just my opinion.

My iPod #411: Nine Black Alps – Get Even

“Get Even” is a B-Side that can only be found on the vinyl single of Nine Black Alps’ song “Not Everyone”, released in 2005. Due to the track only being released on the vinyl format, it is very very hard to find this track anywhere. It’s not on iTunes, not Spotify…. nothing. Well, unless you go to the band’s official website. It can be found there on their music player on the homepage.

Its format of release also causes the track to have somewhat of a mono-aural mix where everything you hear is in the centre channel rather than the regular ‘stereo’ mix. Dunno why that really matters, I just thought I should tell you.

The track does sound like it could fit right in to “Everything Is“, obviously being recorded around the time the album was being worked on it would do. Though I think it’s a good song, the only thing problem I have with it is that it isn’t as thrilling or powerful as the twelve tracks on that album. Maybe it’s the mono mix that takes its edge off a bit, I don’t know. But even if it was in stereo, I don’t think it could have matched up to the songs on the final tracklist. The band probably knew this too.

Still, it is one to hear if you’re into Nine Black Alps. It is a hard song to find.

My iPod #400: Nine Black Alps – Full Moon Summer

Nine Black Alps’ third album “Locked Out from the Inside” owns. Unlike “Everything Is” where there are two solely acoustic tracks to slow down the album’s flow and mellow things out a bit, “Locked Out” provides one stormer after another. “Full Moon Summer” is the seventh one in the track list.

I can’t remember how I felt about the track when I listened to the album for the first time. As a whole, I was just very happy to be hearing a new Nine Black Alps album; the excitement took over and I knew that I was hearing stuff, but it didn’t really sink in. But after inevitable repeated listens of it, I weirdly came to the conclusion that “Full Moon Summer” is the album’s centerpiece.

I hear this song and visualise the band playing it on a stormy day under skies in the mixed colours of pink/blue/black/purple that you see on the album’s front cover. Generally,  I find something very mystical and highly dramatic about it. Mystical because I think it’s about a ghostly presence (if not I have no idea), and dramatic just because of how every note and sound is pummeled into your ears. It’s intense.

My iPod #386: Nine Black Alps – Forget My Name

“Forget My Name” is one of my favourite songs from Nine Black Alps’ “Love/Hate” album. Though I’ve stated time and time again that it’s not my preferred album of the band’s, it does have this one. And it’s because of this track (and another one, but I won’t tell) that I think that I should really start to give it another try.

The track is about someone being fed up with people and life in general, that they wish to stop existing. Now there’s nothing about dying or committing suicide (there is that interpretation), but don’t get that idea. I think it’s more about wanting to disappear completely from the world and for it to exist like you were never born in the first place, because you feel like it’s the perfect place to be if you weren’t there at all.

“Love/Hate” was a lighter and softer approach the band had to their music after “Everything Is”, but “Forget My Name” brings a 90s indie rock feel to the album, with a sliding riff that repeats throughout (whether it be from the bass or the guitars) a snarling vocal performance topped off with a few growls near the end by Sam Forrest and a general crunchy and moody atmosphere purveyed by the group as a whole.

A small note, I also like how the song mirrors the guitar rundown introduction at the ending of the song, where instead the guitar notes slide up the neck climaxing with a few sparks of feedback. Think it’s quite cool.