Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Feathered Arms: "Reload/Recharge"

It took 20 years, but the girl punk, not-quite-riot-grrl-but-right-there-on-the-fringes sound of female-driven, Pacific Northwest alt-rock circa 1992 has finally made its way to Sweden. "Reload/Recharge" has basically zero influences outside the brackets of 1988-1992, but it's all the better song for it, being a legitimately catchy tune making full use of a pre-existing template. If Belly staged a reunion they most likely couldn't come up with new material as compelling as what Feathered Arms have achieved here in their infancy.

Cloud Nothings: "Psychic Trauma"

"Psychic Trauma" doesn't sound like anything you haven't already heard, but that's primarily because the component sounds are so familiar: garage rock, noise... and post-punk? You don't see the latter thrown into the mix that often, at least not successfully, but damned if Cloud Nothings don't pull it off. I'm a root-for-the-underdog kinda guy so I'm not necessarily pulling for Here and Nowhere Else to come off as a top 10 album at the end of 2014 - Christ knows they earned a lifetime's supply of accolades for 2012's (admittedly glorious) Attack on Memory - but it's good to hear the band haven't lost a step nonetheless.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wild Highways: "Full Metal Jacket"

I can't figure out what the fuck the stilted, pseudo-rap singing on "Full Metal Jacket" reminds me of, but this song is all about that filthy ass beat. I could use another drop or two like the one around the 2:30 mark, though. In fact, this shit is just way too short, the type of hypnotic drone-funk that should theoretically just be getting started around seven minutes in, and instead we get an unceremonious (rather awkward, really) edit just after the 3:00 mark. Fuck you, Wild Highways, almost didn't post your ass.

Paris XY: "The Return"

This one has been kicking around a few weeks but I can't let it slip through the cracks. The 90's female singing style has been heavily in vogue for at least a year now, but Paris XY flip the script a little bit, never really delving into the expected modern rock but also proving too restless to adhere to the new wave schtick which still hasn't gotten its overdue backlash. "The Return" percolates along menacingly for the first few minutes before escalating into a filthy update on old skool rave... and no bullshit EDM in sight! Yep, what this track almost gets wrong - sidestepping disaster only at the last second - is every bit as important as what it emphatically gets right.

The Coathangers: "Follow Me"

Garage punk - done well - is a style that never entirely goes out of style, though it obviously ebbs and flows as oversaturation dictates. Well, shit, The Coathangers happen to be from Atlanta, home of OG garage punkers the Black Lips, so they're fighting an uphill battle within their own local scene, let alone an international one.

Fortunately they distinguish themselves by employing those choppy, reed-thin 80's riffs rather than laying on the overdrive and fuzz tones. It'll do.

[EDIT 2/26/14: well that was quick... updating with the official music video, featuring Mastodon for some insane reason]:

KILLER COVERS || Built to Spill: "Jokerman"

I can't say that 1983's Infidels was my first exposure to Dylan - I'd probably heard a few of his vintage tunes in passing as my parents partied on the weekends - but MTV used to play the shit out of "Jokerman" and "Sweetheart Like You" so this was the first of the man's material that stuck to my impressionable dome at the time.

I still don't frequently listen to anything else off of the LP except those two tracks, but I've always thought that the record as a whole captured some of Mark Knopfler's most tasteful playing. This Built to Spill cover loses those clean licks but has charms of its own, not the least of which is Doug Martsch's plaintive-yet-enthusiastic singing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

White Sea: "Prague"

Your first thought might be "this doesn't deviate enough from the M83 template to warrant a side project", but damn if it doesn't deliver the goods. Yay, though White Sea is the "solo" debut of M83's Morgan Kibby, first single "Prague" is prefabbed ear sugar custom built for what's left of modern rock radio... after cleaning up that deceptively vulgar chorus, naturally.

Will you quickly tire of this song after 20-30 spins? Probably. Does that negate the value of those 20-30 spins? Not in the least.

Dreamcrusher: "Vulpeculae Freeze"

Back in the 90's I used to dig me some gabber. Well, I dug a lot of things about it. What I actually really fucking hated about it was that every song had the exact same build - with only minor variation in BPMs - and the only thing that distinguished one track from the next was the rudimentary texture of abrasion layered over top. Ho hum and shit.

Dreamcrusher toy around with that abrasive overlay but don't bother with the unyielding, metronomic beats. "Vulpeculae Freeze" sounds like old Godflesh updated with modern production software, particularly in the overdrive dept... and considering Godflesh were my favorite band for a pretty good chunk of the 90's I guess that earns this track a blog entry, eh?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

THROWBACK 1980 || The Associates: "Paper House"

Never released as a single, "Paper House" remains one of the more overlooked - and elegant - entries in the tragically short lived career of the already unfairly obscure Scottish band, The Associates (later just Associates). Like the best bands of the time, Associates fused upbeat, minimalist synth patterns with mechanistic percussion and dark, oblique bass/guitar lines to create a dichotomy of repressed alienation.

THROWBACK 1983 || Black Sabbath: "Born Again"

Black Sabbath have had their fair share of rebounds over the years - need I mention their Ozzy-helmed 13 comeback being nominated for a Grammy? - but for my money none of their resurgences have been more overlooked by history than the post-RJ Dio album, Born Again.