Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Earthless: "Violence of the Red Sky"

Here's one to chew your teeth on. Typically when epic doom songs exceeding 10 minutes in length are released as singles, they're edited down into "teaser" mode. Earthless don't play that shit. Here's "Violence of the Red Sea" in all its 15-minute glory, even though it's the kind of hook-based classic rock jam that you could easily see making a logical six minute cut.

Jesu: "Homesick"

Godflesh were my last favorite band. Meaning that when I discovered them around the turn of the 90's my tastes hadn't yet broadened to the point where having a "favorite band" became meaningless. Honestly by the time Godflesh broke up in 2002 I'd long since started thinking that singer/bandleader Justin K. Broadrick's side projects had become far more interesting, so color me stoked when he re-emerged with Jesu in 2003.

That band has gone through it's own fits and starts of experimentation, but "Homesick", the first single from upcoming album Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came, is highly reminiscent in both tone and execution to 2006's EP headliner, "Silver", which makes it a bit of a homecoming, a return to form.

[EDIT 9/24/13: added official music video]:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Antwon: "Dying in the Pussy"

You know when you're actually hoping that Antwon is likening existence to the ghostly aftermath of a miscarriage and it turns out that nope, he's totally talking about the killing joke of punanny, a motherfucker clearly needs to feel some shame in his life.

Ka: "Peace Akhi"

Now this shit I like. The flow of Nas with the measured, patience cadence of a medicated Kool G Rap. Apparently Ka is a firefighter at his day job, so make whatever obligatory jokes you'd like about smoldering flames. We here at WKMR are above that shit.

Danny Brown: "Hand Stand"

Been awhile since we last saw Danny Brown and Darq E. Freaker on the same track, but good things come to those who wait. Speaking of long waits, Brown's belated to follow up to 2011's XXX - entitled Old, presumably because he's been sitting on these tracks for the last two years - comes out September 30.

Tre Mission: "Brunch / High Fashion"

There is a finite amount of flow out there - hell, even Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt sound alike to me and both of those guys are geniuses (genii?) - but don't tell that shit to Tre Mission. I've always appreciated rappers who can craft singsong choruses without roping in generic R&B singers to pull it off (see also: Homeboy Sandman).

This video is labeled simply "Brunch" although it clearly shifts into a completely different track midway through. The back half would be "High Fashion", which joined "Brunch" on Tre's recent Malmaison mixtape and will represent the double-AA side to his debut single on Big Dada.

[EDIT 9/2/13: yup, the versions of both songs in the video are heavily abridged. Here are the full length versions from Tre's Soundcloud]:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Raumskaya: "Tolerance, Beauty, Love"

I love me some juke, but with all due respect DJ Rashaud and the Teklife crew, the genre is starting to get as stale as acid house circa 1991: a great concept run into the ground by too many self-limiting producers trying to make a buck off the sound without really developing it into new forms. Raumskaya does his part to make sure footstep doesn't follow down that same dead end path by going for short, choppy beats that are kind of variations on a theme... the track doesn't develop greatly throughout its length, but the drum patterns never repeat themselves. Not as danceable as the Teklife stuff but I guess the universe is ready for artjuke, eh?

Youngblood Brass Band: "Ain't Nobody"

I don't get many chances to throw up brand new jazz funk on WKMR too often, so when this gem came across my desk I really had no choice, did I? Apparently I'm pretty out of the loop, though, since I'm just now hearing of this band and, according to their Soundcloud bio, this is the second single released off of their fourth album. Whoops.

(via URB):

Polvo: "Total Immersion"

Noise rock and math rock are both pretty big right now. Since Polvo had a hand in shaping both it's only fitting that they make a triumphant return with their upcoming album, Siberia. Their actual comeback was more properly 2009's In Prism, but even if four years is only a third of the time they took off for their break up it's still kind of an eternity in today's age. "Total Immersion" is almost too busy - I literally had to double check to see if I accidentally had two songs playing at once - but somehow they manage to tie it all together.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Windhand: "Woodbine"

A lot of the stoner doom bands these days are veering in the direction of groove/boogie, so it's nice when you run across another band vying with Yob to win the sheer wall-of-sound sweepstakes. I was going to review their previous, self-titled debut last year, but I kept finding conflicting street dates which indicated it may have just been picked up for wider re-release by a bigger label, so I took a pass. Won't be making the same mistake when Relapse issues Soma next month.

Christicide: "Upheaval of the Soul"

Guess this has been out a few months already but Ad Hoc just turned me onto it so big ups to them. The epic song lengths may fool you into thinking this is keyboard-driven, atmospheric black metal but these Frenchmen stick to the rapid fire guitar-bass-drums setup. They raise a hell of a racket without making it all about velocity, which is always appreciated.

You can grab Upheaval of the Soul through Hospital Productions (US) and Those Opposed (Europe).

Watain: "The Child Must Die"

Reviewed this for Metal Injection a minute ago so not a lot to add that I haven't already said there, but yeah... this was a good choice for a single, giving you the most accessible tune on the album to draw you in while not revealing all their secrets the way those comedy trailers that give away all the film's good jokes do.

Watain's The Wild Hunt came out today on Century Media.

Vattnet Viskar: "Apex"

Vattnet Viskar is Swedish for "the water is whispering", yet the band adopting this moniker is from... New Hampshire? Either way, they've got a definite post-black metal sound going on that's more associated with Cascadia than New England... lots of songs with ascending and descending waveforms (IE. extensive intros and outros), forlorn takes on shoegaze, etc. This style is arguably getting long in the tooth to just be getting around to your debut album using it, but VV sound anything but derivative here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

CBGB (Movie Trailer)

Right... so, a bit shit, eh? I'm getting tired of these hacky, overly self-conscious biopics that pretty much telegraph "HEY, IMPORTANT HISTORY OVER HERE!" in every single scene. There are many divergent methods of crafting a good - even great - biopic, but one thing that will ensure you don't hit the mark is by feeding your characters deliberately understated quips, the kind that only work if the actors are openly aware how everything is going to pan out all along. 

This is simply wrong. Your characters can't seem like they know the end game while they're still knee deep in the thick of the narrative. That's not ivory tower prescriptivism, by the way, if you're doing this with your writing no one you take seriously will ever commend you on your work. "Show don't tell" is hardly controversial advice.

Christ, just look at that trailer. "The name of this band is Talking Heads". Oh shit! There was a live album by that same title! Reference!

I kind of feel like we've slipped into a Pavlovian rabbit hole, where both context and execution have become expendable and all that's really required of a filmmaker is to evoke a totemic image, whereupon collectively as a society we are all expected to instantly devolve into Orgasm Guy from the old SNL skits.

Man, we're fucked.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vista Chino: "Barcelonian"

As much as I hate to say it, if Josh Homme was Kyuss' secret weapon then John Garcia was easily their weak link. I've always found his voice too thin and labored for the kind of bluesy bluster he's going for, so frankly - as long as Queens of the Stone Age was still hitting their mark - an actual Kyuss reunion wasn't something I actively pined for.

I got one anyway... sort of.

True Widow: "Creeper"

Remember how - back in the 80's - Enuff Z'Nuff always got lumped in with the hair metal crowd even though they might as well have been a dayglo Beatles cover band? That kind of incredulous marketing strategy surrounds Dallas band True Widow, who are signed to Relapse and - yes - have a slight doom sound about them, but effectively they're more of a shoegaze group with space rock tendencies than anything resembling metal proper.

Hey, at least the Metal Archives aren't fooled.

Pelican: "Immutable Dusk"

Unlike post-metallic peers Isis, who were starting to get a little twinkletoes there toward the end, Pelican have always kept locked in to the riff. They tend to work that riff for all it's worth, so some material goes over better than others, but "Immutable Dusk" finds the band playing to their audience's comfort zone: it never gets too new age-y or experimental, but over the course of seven minutes throws a suite of material at the listener at once satisfying and reasonably adventurous.

Forever Becoming is out October 15 on Southern Lord.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friends: "The Way"

The artwork screams Bitch or Lita Ford, but everything else - from the late night guitar to the sultry vocals - screams of a Prince protege circa 1985. It's been a minute since we heard from Friends, and "The Way" is miles from where we last left them, but apparently this is a pace car single for a sophomore album that's so far from being completed that all we know is it should be out sometime this year.

dBridge & Skeptical: "Move Way"


1. A cloth or rag used to wipe ones anal region. However, most Jamaicans use it as a substitute for the word f*ck to express anger or surprise. Bumbaclot! Dem tek mi rolex and mi new links!!

2. The acme of Jamaican swearing, translates literally as "arsewipe". Its real meaning is more like a slow, surprised "motherf****r"

3. A cloth or rag used as a tampon, etc. Gross, but likely more accurate. Wha' dee Bum-Bah-CLOT! Cum nah, get dee rass off me car?

Kid Karate: "Heart"

"Is that a stuffed gator in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

St. Lucia: "Elevate"

Maybe you can't judge a book by its cover, but goddamn if that shirt doesn't say it all. "Elevate" is meant to be consumed with mai thai in hand on a pristine beach with colorful flora highlighting a jungle backdrop. St. Lucia keeps it strictly 80's, eschewing the murky production that would otherwise pigeonhole his work in the chillwave genre. This is a guy who started at Human League and didn't bother digging any further than Thompson Twins, and sometimes that's all you need.

Joanna Gruesome: "Secret Surprise"

Joanna Gruesome are a Welsh band that do a good job of transcribing 90s Pacific NW punk and throwing in a dash of East Coast alt rock to boot. According the (probably apocryphal) press release, the Cardiff quintet met during anger management therapy. Do they even have such a thing as rage in Wales? Didn't think so.

The Flag: "Alpha 60 Punch Out"

First of all, as the band themselves are quick to point out, this is not an incarnation of dueling Black Flag reunions. Granted, The Flag are of recent vintage, but jefe Ted McGrath could never have guessed when he christened his new project that the seminal punk band would be reuniting in conflicting incarnations, with neither of them boasting any sign of Henry Rollins. If you followed that Soundcloud link above you'll appreciate the fact that McGrath cops to a Suicide influence, what with that rolling percussion loop, but there remains an indiscernable quality to "Alpha 60 Punch Out" that's at once familiar yet not so easily identifiable.

Ex-Cult: "Mister Fantasy"

Nope, not a Traffic cover, "Mister Fantasy" leans heavily on the "punk" end of the post-punk conundrum, vocals straight out of 1977 Sheffield with icy, cavernous production more redolent of 1979 Manchester. Never mind that Ex-Cult are straight out of Memphis, when you're recreating a long lost era a well-stocked MP3 collection is more important than the influence of a local scene anyway.

Poliça: "Tiff" [feat. Justin Vernon]

Well well, Mr. Bon Iver himself takes a little time off from being Kanye's cracker barrel muse and throws a little love elsewhere, this time popping up as a back up vocalist on Poliça's fantastic new single, "Tiff". Honestly I'm guessing Justin Vernon's contribution took him all of five minutes to lay down, so let's reserve most of the credit for Channy Leaneagh's 90s chanteuse vocals atop Ryan Olson's synthpop-meets-cloud rap production.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

THROWBACK 2007 || Mishka Shubaly: "The Only One Drinking Tonight"

First off, a nod to Doug Stanhope, whose podcast is bookended by both this song and my last Throwback post. Good finds, and right up Stanhope's alley, whose belligerent questioning of all social mores and conformist values basically positions the comic as the nearest thing to Bill Hicks in the last 20 years. The man also has a penchant for beer and cocktails, which presumably makes Mishka Shubaly kind of his personal Elliott Smith.

THROWBACK 2003 || The Mattoid: "Party Time"

I don't know if Ville Kiviniemi a.k.a. The Mattoid is intentionally trying to sound like a Caribbean version of Arnold Schwarzennegar or not, but damn if it isn't effective. I don't know a lot about this guy, but he appears to be to Nashville what Moondog was to New York and Wesley Willis was to Chicago: an irascible outsider art guy that happened to choose music as his medium, and never really made it too clear whether he was in on the joke or not.

Carcass: "Captive Bolt Pistol"

In case you're wondering, a captive bolt pistol is the thingy Anton Chigur dispatched his victims with in No Country for Old Men. A little late on the reference, there, Carcass are, but you're talking one of the most eagerly anticipated studio reunions in years, so a forgiving eye is in order here. Judging from the fairly no frills songwriting here, I'm going to assume that the band are going the route that has become typical for metal bands these days... putting out the more simplistic, meat & potatoes track as first single and saving the more challenging shit for the more hardcore fans that buy the album. "Captive Bolt Pistol" is a pretty strong comeback effort, but for a band of Carcass' caliber it's going to require more than 40-50 minutes of this.

Lee Bannon: "NW/WB"

Ah, I miss drill & bass. I don't even think people call it that anymore, even in hindsight, but it used to represent the art contingent of drum & bass producers a la Richard James and Squarepusher. Mr. Lee Bannon brings it back strong here with an early dubstep-influenced banger, back when the latter meant sinister dub and a nod to grime instead of airraid siren nu rave.

Duck Sauce: "It's You"

You ever meet one of those middle-aged adults who somehow think they're being progressive by listening to LMFAO? "I like that they're having fun and not taking themselves seriously", is often the justification for such ill-conceived fandom. Yeah, well, that doesn't mean the fun is being conveyed to me, motherfucker. ICP look like they're having fun too, doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy feeding them and their whole crew to a tree shredder and oiling the gears with Faygo. Anyway, in a perfect world Duck Sauce would be the fun time, party duo getting blared from every stadium soundsystem instead of Berry Gordy Jr.'s trust fund kids.

Local Natives: "You & I"

The increased emphasis on nuanced, soulful singing as late seems to finally be putting a stake through the hearts of both one-dimensional emo singing and the flat, monotone singer-songwriter schtick (sorry, but having a shitty voice alone does not imbue your material with character). Local Natives are fresh out of Silver Lake, Los Angeles - a.k.a. Williamsburg West - and only two albums in they've already settled into a nice groove of accessible yet intelligently written indie pop. Basically the kind of thing you would expect given their origin (the cover of Hummingbird even plays on the uber-trend of 3D sidewalk art) though in practice they come off as more exceptional than typical.

Matia Aguayo: "Levantate Diegor"

The conceit for "Levantate Diegors"'s video is paper thin - Matia Aguayo attempts to rouse a lethargic sidekick to the English refrain of "get up!" - but the music itself is anything but, an affectionate blend of techno and Tropicalia that brings to mind Mala, though rhythmically a bit more hard hitting.

Majical Cloudz: "Bugs Don't Buzz"

"The happiest songs end with a smile", Devon Welsh croons, but the way he's singing it you know up front this isn't going to be one of those songs. "Bugs Don't Buzz" has to be one of the more unrelentingly bleak pop songs in recent memory, an insistent piano chord underscoring the austere drudge of humanity. It's kind of pretty, no?

Weekend: "It's Alright"

Interesting mix of period styles here, Britpop-inflected shoegaze with a martial-lite, industrial percussive backing. Somewhere in the intersection where Jesus & Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins and Cabaret Voltaire were meant to collide - and never did - resides this.

Part Time: "I Want to Go"

The weird thing about the intentionally damaged production on much of today's retro music is that, while it's clearly intended to resemble a worn cassette tape, it sounds just as much like the kind of bad MP3-encoding that was prevalent in the early days of Napster. Doesn't really matter, I guess, since I spent the turn of the millennium hunting down 80's one hit wonders that I hadn't heard in 10-15 years by that point. Hard to believe that an equivalent amount of time has passed since I first went self-consciously archival in my music collecting. Guess that's what listening to these throwback tunes will do for you.

Black Joe Lewis: "Skulldiggin"

Black Joe Lewis hasn't mined the same success as fellow Austinite Gary Clark Jr. when it comes to riding the crest of retro-blues rock that the Black Keys and Jack White have helped to popularize. Perhaps it's because they've always represented somewhat of a moving target, their 2009 debut Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! largely consisting of James Brown vamping, while the 2011 follow up Scandalous found Lewis and his Honeybears delving deeper into P-Funk.

"Skulldiggin" takes the band even further left field, the crushing riff and claustrophobic production nearing 70's metal levels of heaviness. Electric Slave isn't out until August 27 (on Vagrant), so time will tell if this is a new direction or just a one-off. With Black Joe you never can tell.

College: "Départ"

There's arguably been no greater popularity booster for post-Moroder minimalist electro than the 80's-repping soundtrack to Nicholas Winding Refn's 2011 polarizing film, Drive. Kavinsky's "Nightcall" got most of the press, but David Grellier's College project made noise with their Electric Youth-featuring "A Real Hero". Grellier's chosen nom de plume evokes 80's electro-R&B group Collage and "Electric Youth" is obviously the name of a (best forgotten) Debbie Gibson hit, so everything about the song was firmly rooted in a specific decade.

College goes back to 2005, one of several backward-glancing projects that Grellier juggles - others being Valerie and Sexy Sushi - and March saw the quiet release of their third album, Heritage.

Quilt: "Open Eyes"

Quilt sticks with that brand of acid rock that is not so much a mishmash of psych tropes over the years as it is firmly entrenched in 1967, that Haight-Ashbury sound where everyone wanted to be the next Jefferson Airplane. The sound is not so much timeless as uprooted, reenactment sans pastiche. It's deeply affecting even as it's purely inauthentic. Shit, what are you gonna do?

"Open Eyes" can be found on the New Hampshire Freaks split 10" with MMOSS, out now on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nine Inch Nails: "Came Back Haunted"

Trent Reznor is officially the Too $hort of EBM: retiring for good his bread-and-butter flagship Nine Inch Nails nearly three years ago to focus on film composing and other projects, only to unapolegetically announce a comeback tour this week. What gives? Shit if I know, but "Came Back Haunted" is one of his more radio-friendly tunes in years, even though I thoroughly dug Year Zero and The Slip (Ghosts I-IV was a bit harder to take seriously).

Hesitation Marks won't be out until September 3, but you can while away that time by wondering aloud what the fuck Reznor is doing back on a major label.

[EDIT 6/30/13: added the David Lynch-helmed music vid]:

Hey Champ: "Celebrate"

I listened to the new Simply Red recently. Sucked. As you probably expected it. "Celebrate" actually sounds more like SR contemporaries Thompson Twins, maybe with Howard Jones fronting. That chorus is totally it's own beast, however.

Major Lazer: "Bubble Butt"

Don't y'all think this twerk shit done got out of hand?

The Thermals: "The Sunset"

That's right, another goddamn Portland band. Is PDX the new Brooklyn? Austin certainly isn't it, much as I'd love to say otherwise. Thermals bass player Kathy Foster takes time out from getting all Girlfight and shit by recreating the Rosie Perez hoochie dance from Do the Right Thing. Bed-Stuy do or die, y'all. It's a Brooklyn thing.

Caveman: "In the City"

Somehow "In the City" has wound up as my favorite track of 2013 thus far. It's nothing new, but the mix of plaintive vocals, gently propulsive backbeat and arresting synth line just represent the total package... a little bit psych, a little bit synthpop, stratospheric heights of broodingly optimistic vocal largesse thoroughly achieved. This is one of those songs that puts you in a sad, wistful mood wherever you are or whatever you're doing when it comes on. Kind of like Julia Stile's career at this point. BOOM! Seriously, though, this may end up my album of the year as well.

Lightning Dust: "Diamond"

"Hazy" is the musical preference of the 2010s thus far, and Black Mountain side project Lightning Dust isn't trying to buck that trend with "Diamond". With compositions this strong and awash in upbeat melancholy you can call it anything you want, just don't expect similar levels of inspiration out of this half-assed video (which reminds me, Esther Williams croaked today, RIP).

Surfing: "Hollow Sparrow"

Surf is the new shoegaze, and the unimaginatively monikered quartet Surfing have obviously been listening to their Washed Out and Best Coast in addition to their My Bloody Valentine. Can they squeeze one more hit out of the genre before the bubble bursts? Probably not, but "Hollow Sparrow" is a pretty glorious failure if nothing else.

Dirty Beaches: "Casino Lisboa"

Alex Zhang Huntai, a.k.a. Dirty Beaches, is through fucking around. The 75 minutes of his new double LP Drifters/Love Is the Devil, leave the listener scrambling for footholds in its dense mire of scattershot noise. In spite of Pitchfork's overly ebullient score the collection has a patchwork (read: directionless) quality to it but I guess if you're going to get your feet wet "Casino Lisboa" is the place to do it. Just keep in mind this is probably the poppiest song on the record.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hospital Ships: "If It Speaks"

I've been listening to a lot of early jazz lately and one thing that's struck me is that, on the vocal tracks, it was pretty common back in the day to front load the song with improvised soloing, with the singer not coming in until the midway point. Quite a switch from modernist preferences, which dictate that the singer is what everyone paid to hear and the "noodly" stuff should be saved for later in the cut. "If It Speaks" kind of harks back to that ethos, a slow, metronomic build up to a real nugget of a single. It's genuinely risky in that a lot of listeners who might have been totally into it as a pared down indie pop could potentially be turned off by the loose structure at the beginning. Don't be one of those guys.

Raspberry Bulbs: "Groping the Angel's Face"

Ok, so now we're mixing black metal and bootstrapping garage punk? Is that what we're doing? I guess it'll be alright.

Destruction Unit: "Sonic Pearl"

Rarely does drone go the junkyard dog route, but when it does the band Destruction Unit may just be involved. These guys have an album coming out August 20 on garage-psych trainspotters Sacred Bones, but a month prior - July 16, to be exact - they will unleash a 7" of this puppy via Suicide Squeeze's Singles Series. And apparently I just missed these guys during Chaos in Tejas this past weekend. Of course.

[EDIT 6/16/13: added music video]:

Darktown Strutters: "Evil Eye"

"Darktown Strutter's Ball" is one of the most oft-covered standards of early jazz, as well as providing the title for the most racist film of all time. Not sure how this discogaze (please don't let that be an actual word) group settled upon it, but "Evil Eye" is some solid ass 2 AM summer chill music.

(via Gorilla Vs Bear):