Thursday, October 30, 2008
October 29th, 2008
Live Kult: KRALLICE “Wretched Wisdom” and “Timehusk” [NYC, 2008]
Posted in Live Kult, Videos
On October 8, 2008, MetalKult trekked down to the Knitting Factory to catch the live actions of the mighty Watain. Before the Swedes’ scorched-earth attack began, we were treated to a good crop of opening bands, including NY’s own black metal virtuosos, Krallice.
The brainchild of guitar wizards Mick Barr (Ocrilim, Orthrelm) and Colin Marston (Behold…The Arctopus, Dysrhythmia), Krallice blends blazing guitar histrionics with seasick atmospherics and seriously vicious vocals. The result, as heard on their self-titled debut (released on Profound Lore earlier this year), is truly intoxicating. And as we found out that night, Krallice’s live show is not to be missed. Go HERE to check out Krallice as they play “Wretched Wisdom” and “Timehusk”.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
As a followup to Thing Of The Past, psychedelic San Francisco folk-rock troupe Vetiver, aka Andy Cabic & Co., is releasing a companion covers EP called More Of The Past (11/11, Gnomonsong). In addition to the EP, the band's putting out a two-song 7", which finds More Of's "Hey Doll Baby" backed by the vinyl-only "Miles Apart." Well, vinyl-only until we premiered it in this week's Drop. On top of offering the new track, we asked Cabic about his take on A.R. Kane's original. Original post with song stream.
How did you decide to cover "Miles Apart"? Why didn't it show up on Thing Of The Past or More Of The Past?
I'm a fan of A.R. Kane -- much like all the other artists whose songs we performed on Thing Of The Past -- and this was a song in particular of theirs that I enjoyed a lot and thought would be fun to try our hand at. It didn't make the album because I wanted to keep Thing Of The Past concise, and "Miles Apart" didn't seem to fit alongside the others.
Any significance in its pairing with "Hey Doll Baby" on the 7"?
Not really, no. They are both songs I personally wanted to have available on vinyl.
How do you go about making a cover song your own?
I'm not sure you do anything different than perform it sincerely, with your own sense of style and abilities, right? I'm not setting out to "own" the song. Ownership is determined by the ear of the listener I suppose. All the songs we performed are significant to me, personally, in how they've played a role in my life through their melody, their lyrics, their style, what they suggest. They already are personally significant ... We just recorded them because it was fun to do, to present these songs in a new but not dissimilar way to people who may not have heard them before.
Upcoming live dates:
12/04 Louisville, KY @ Museum Atrium Gallery
12/05 Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theater (w/ Black Crowes)
12/06 Detroit, MI @ The Filmore @ State Theater (w/ Black Crowes)
12/07 Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom (w/ Black Crowes)
12/08 Grinnell, IA @ Herrick Chapel @ Grinnell College
12/09 Fargo, ND @ The Venue (w/ Black Crowes)
12/10 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue (w/ Black Crowes)
12/11 Des Moines, IA @ ValAir Ballroom (w/ Black Crowes)
12/12 Omaha, NE @ Slowdown Jr
12/13 Denver, CO @ Filmore Auditorium (w/ Black Crowes)
12/14 Lawrence, KS @ Jack Pot Saloon
12/15 St Louis, MO @ Off Broadway Night Club
12/17 New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge
When Beirut's Zach Condon canceled his European tour earlier this year to collect himself, he didn't just sit around reading On the Road, watching "Oprah", and wolfing down Ben & Jerry's by the tubful. Well okay, who knows really, maybe he did. But he also spent some time cooking up a nifty little double-disc release.
Come February 17 in the U.S. and February 16 in Europe, Condon's own Pompeii Records (with an assist from Ba Da Bing!) will issue a pair of EPs from the Zachster, packaged together but spread out over separate CDs for maximum EP-ability. The first, March of the Zapotec, collects six new tracks partially recorded in Mexico recently by Beirut, while the second, Holland, is credited to Realpeople and features five solo jams from Zach's early home-recording days. UPDATE: Though Realpeople was the name of Condon's early project, these are new recordings.
Astute readers will recognize Realpeople track "My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille" from that Natalie Portman-curated Big Change comp (billed to Beirut), while "Venice" previously turned up on the CD accompanying The Believer's 2007 Music Issue (billed to Zach's given name). Icy Demon Griffin Rodriguez engineered and mastered the March of the Zapotec/Holland two-fer, and the guy's Obey Your Brain imprint will be responsible for putting it out on vinyl.
Check back tomorrow to read Condon's thoughts on the new release and other matters Beirut, and brace yourself for the band's return to the road, planned for next year.
Beirut: March of the Zapotec:
01 El Zocalo
02 La Llorna
03 My Wife
04 The Akara
05 On a Bayonet
06 The Shrew
01 My Night With a Prostitute From Marseille
02 My Wife, Lost in the Wild
04 The Concubine
05 No Dice
Vashti Bunyan: 40 Years Later, A Musical Rebirth
By Christian Bordal
Original post with audio interview link.
Day To Day October 24, 2008 - Back in the mid-'60s, Andrew Oldham, manager of The Rolling Stones, saw something promising in a quiet young singer-songwriter named Vashti Bunyan. So he brought her into the studio to record a single called "Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind," written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Oldham himself presided over the session.
"Oh, yeah, he was there," Bunyan says. "Mick Jagger was there. Everybody was there. But nobody really spoke to me, and I certainly didn't speak to anybody. I was way too shy."
Bunyan says she's always been shy.
"Though I had a huge ego about my songs," she says. "I thought these were great and everybody should listen to these. But as a person, I had no way of persuading anybody. I was just way too shy and pretty much merged with the wallpaper, I think."
Bunyan's shyness comes through in her soft, tentative singing. She says that, despite years spent trying to overcome it, singing more strongly just doesn't suit her.
She spent three years recording demos and singles with Oldham and others, but in spite of her own great expectations, she made little headway. In 1967, she says, she decided that she'd had enough.
But if Bunyan's arrival on the London music scene had caused little fanfare, the method of her departure three years later did raise some eyebrows — if only those of her parents. Bunyan had been living with her boyfriend in the woods behind his art school, but they were kicked out. So they decided to move to Scotland, via an antiquated form of transport.
As she and her boyfriend made their slow pilgrimage to Scotland by horse and cart — "Horses don't need petrol," she says — Bunyan says she decided she was done with recording, though she continued to write new songs.
But a chance meeting with the well-known folk-music producer Joe Boyd convinced her to go back into the studio once more, if only to document her journey and record her new songs.
The result was Just Another Diamond Day — an album that, much like her earlier efforts, hardly caused a ripple in the pop-music marketplace.
"People dismissed it as nursery rhymes for children and being very insignificant," Bunyan says. "And I just thought, 'Oh, well, I've made another mistake. They must be right. It must be rubbish. I'll never pick up a guitar again. So I didn't."
And she didn't.
"It was like taking a whole part of myself and putting it in a cupboard and putting a padlock on it," she says. "It was painful."
Instead, Bunyan spent the next 30 years raising a family and farm animals in rural Scotland.
Then, a few years ago, while surfing the Web, Bunyan says she was amazed to find that the music she'd given up for good was actually alive and well. In fact, Just Another Diamond Day and other early recordings were becoming cult classics to a new generation of musicians, and in 2004, that album was reissued. In 2005, Bunyan released her first batch of new songs in 35 years on a thoughtful, bittersweet album called Lookaftering.
"When I first got on the Internet and realized that Diamond Day hadn't just disappeared off the face of the earth and that people were still listening to the songs, it made me able to pick up my guitar again and get some kind of meaning back from it for myself," she says.
Bunyan says she's still shy and still bedeviled by issues of self-confidence. But, more than 40 years after she took her first tentative steps down the path toward a musical life, she's now finally leading it. She set up a small home studio, and, with no more children in the house, is hard at work on her next batch of quiet, carefully crafted little folk-pop poems.
"I'm writing about more particular things: more particular emotions and relationships," she says. "I'm just trying to dig a little deeper, maybe? But I've only got five songs so far. So it's kind of hard to tell."
Friday, October 24, 2008
Exhibition: Most people probably know Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley) as an experimental guitar band, and to a lesser extent as the multidisciplinary cultural protagonists they have been ever since the collective surfaced in 1981. From day one, Sonic Youth has been exploring and mapping unknown cultural territories through their activities as a band and as four individual musicians, visual artists or cultural entrepreneurs, each member with his or her specific ties to and within the international cultural scene. Through collaborations with musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, writers and other equally creative spirits, Sonic Youth expanded their artistic potential, which by now – 27 years later – could be defined as a true Sonic Universe.
Before the Sonic Boom, in 1981, both Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo were trained as artists who upon arrival in New York City in the late 1970s started playing in bands rather than dedicating themselves fully to the production of visual art. This was the case with many of their artist friends as well, like Glenn Branca, Richard Prince or Robert Longo. The artist Dan Graham was a central figure in this constellation of visual artists/musicians, and was known to schlep his barely portable tape recorder to concerts of punk rock and no wave bands to record these performances, which were often held in art galleries and so-called art lofts. Back then, visual art and experimental music seemed to be one and the same energy, and the natural crossover between the two, as was apparent in those days, laid the foundations for the multidisciplinary activities of Sonic Youth. Since the start, the band has been true to their attitude to be unorthodox and to do their own thing, and in their comprehensive output they continued – and still continue – to amalgamate punk rock’s rebellious posture and DIY attitude with experimental music and conceptual art, a production that in its range and complexity up until today remains unrivalled by that of any other band or artists’ collective.
Their album covers, inner sleeves and inlays have been the carriers of a multifaceted output of art by – next to the band members themselves – artists such as James Welling, Richard Kern, Dan Graham, Gerhard Richter, Raymond Pettibon, Mike Kelley, William S. Burroughs, Savage Pencil, Richard Prince, Christopher Wool, and Jeff Wall, to mention a few. Many of Sonic Youth’s album covers are true collages in which material of a broad range of sources is freely put together, evoking relations between that what hardly had been imagined before to exist side by side in a single glance. This approach is triggered by the band’s curiosity about all sorts of subjects, such as beat poetry, avant-garde art and music, late 1970s punk rock, no wave, early 1980s hardcore, experimental noise, stardom, politics... Thurston Moore once defined these eclectic interests as follows: “There’s a fascination with those things, for sure, but hopefully none of those things are central to what we’re doing. What we’re doing is always inventing itself. I have no terminology for it.”
The exhibition SONIC YOUTH etc. : SENSATIONAL FIX follows a similar collage technique as the band applies for their album covers. Through this multilayered collage we are able to uncover an alternative history of contemporary culture, while the goal of this exhibition is not so much to give a complete overview of the history of the band and their collaborations, but rather to pinpoint several directions taken by the band, while taking into account possible future collaborations, as the essence of Sonic Youth is that they constantly redefine their mission. Sonic Death inevitably followed their early credo Sonic Life, but what remains bouncing back and forth in this cycle is eternal renewal. And that’s Sonic Youth. Upcoming venues of the exhibition:
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany, (31 January – 10 May 2009); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden, (29 May – 20 September 2009), Centro Huarte de Arte Contemporáneo, Navarra/Nafarroa, (October 2009 – January 2010).
Publication: A vastly illustrated, 720 page English publication will be released in November 2008 by LiFE and Museion, in collaboration with Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne. Next to a selection of writings by the band members and reprinted articles by other authors, it contains new contributions by among others John Miller, Jutta Koether & Alan Licht, Carlos van Hijfte, Mike Watt, and Roland Groenenboom. Extensive new interviews with each band member, conducted by Paul Sztulman & Christophe Wavelet, highlight the band’s history in the context of the New York art and music scenes of the late 1970s and early 1980s and their many ties with visual artists, poets, musicians, filmmakers... over the last 27 years. The band’s history is documented in images of album covers, band portraits and live photos, among which many unpublished to date. The exhibition is documented through a selection of works and a listing of the full content of the exhibition. The book furthermore contains two 7” vinyl records with unpublished sound contributions by each member individually.
The publication will soon also be available in French, German and Italian. Check www.museion.it, www.lelife.org or www.sonicyouth.com for availability, prices and order details in the next weeks.
New Zealand trio strips down
The Dead C: Secret Earth
Label: Ba Da Bing
Upon emerging from semi-hiatus two years ago, New Zealand grub-note merchants the Dead C made two executive decisions ---– one long overdue and the other cynically pragmatic. In 2006, the trio issued a catalog retrospective – the term "greatest hits" is tough to apply to a band with lower name recognition than Wolf Eyes in the States – called Vain, Erudite and Stupid: Selected Works 1987-2005. Last year saw the release of Future Artists, a restrained display of grumbling noise presented in five instrumental movements. It doesn't matter whether guitarist-singer Michael Morley, laptopist Bruce Russell and drummer Robbie Yeats were cashing in on the present noise vogue or merely following their tectonic shifting-tone bliss – Artists was a late-career master stroke.
Their new album, Secret Earth, released this week, marks a return to the trio's early roots. Treble-heavy chordal themes are introduced and slowly, excruciatingly crushed into powder, propelled by tinny drums and cymbals and narrated in labored, unintelligible syntax by Morley. The instrumental glower and gloom is dialed back to almost loungey levels on "Mansions," and it feels like a head-fake on par with the surprise of abrasive noisers Sightings' menace-shorn 2004 release, Arrived in Gold. On "Stations," feedback is almost another instrument, gilding a turgid, rattling churn that seems to last forever; distended vocal lines push back against the clattering, blackened current, seeking a foothold but finding none. Yeats' fancy kit work on "Plains" provides a mooring force for the prevailing maelstrom of shredded riffage that envelops existentialist sentiments like "No one knows who you are/Drift and peel away."
Characteristically, of course, this gray buzz-saw whirlpool sounds like it's being played thousands of miles away and beamed to us by satellite telephone; as vague coherence gives way to a pummeling, eternal flail, all sense of place and time is lost. We'd settle for nothing more, or rather, nothing less. This is the desiccated vein the Dead C mine best, and it's a relief to see them back at it again.
BY RAYMOND CUMMINGS
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Upcoming UK & European dates:
10/23 Carlise UK Brickyard
10/24 Glasgow UK Captains Rest
10/25 Edinburgh UK Henry’s Cellar Bar
10/26 Birmingham UK Academy Bar
10/27 Sheffield UK The Harley
10/28 Galway IRE Roisin Dubh
10/29 Dublin IRE Crawdaddy
10/30 Cardiff UK Clwb Ifor Bach
10/31 Oxford UK Zodiac
11/01 Sunderland UK
11/05 Manchester UK Academy 3
11/06 London UK ICA
11/19 Toulouse FR Le Ramier w/Stereolab
11/21 Galicia ESP Caixa Galicia w/Stereolab
11/22 Barcelona ESP Razzmatazz w/Stereolab
11/23 Madrid ESP La Riviera w/Stereolab
11/24 Málaga ESP Teatro Cervantes w/Stereolab
11/26 Paris FR La Cigale w/Stereolab
11/27 Nantes FR Olympic w/Stereolab
11/28 Schorndorf DEU Club Manafaktur w/Stereolab
12/18 Brighton UK Concorde 2 w/Stereolab
Friday, October 17, 2008
Pitchfork.tv: The Octopus Project: "I Saw the Bright Shinies" [Video Premiere]
Animated ghosts grace ghostly indietronics in the video for the Octopus Project's "I Saw the Bright Shinies". From the Austin band's fine Hello, Avalanche, the track is an "intricate electro-fugue," as Pitchfork contributor Adam Moerder put it, and it has just enough warm keyboards and fuzzy guitars to take the chill out of the eerie moan of what sounds like it might be a Theremin. Divya Srinivasan, who also directed Spoon's "Everything Hits at Once" video, here animates a charming, crayon-grained Halloween treat, in which a boy ghost unites with some friends and the woodland critters and local townsfolk all party on down.
Just in the nick of time for this tour:
10/17 Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
10/18 Birmingham, AL @ The Bottle Tree
10/19 Atlanta, GA @ E.A.R.L.
10/20 Knoxville, TN @ The Pilot Light
10/21 Baltimore, MD @ Talking Head
10/22 Washington, DC @ The Black Cat
10/23 Philadelphia, PA @ The M Room
10/25 New York, NY @ Blender Theater (CMJ showcase 11:20 PM)
10/26 Cambridge, MA @ TT the Bears
10/27 Montreal, QC @ Club Lambi
10/28 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel
10/29 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
10/30 St. Louis, MO @ The Bluebird
OK, I realize that this is just getting embarrassing now, but I just hafta tell you that U.S. EZ , the new Sic Alps album on Siltbreeze is easily their definitive work; More on this next month, and probably every month here on after. But speaking of Siltbreeze, dude’s been on a roll lately. To be quite honest, I was starting to wonder a bit after a run of fairly mediocre albums by xNo BBQx and the inexplicably fawned-over Psychedelic Horseshit, but three recent releases in particular have confirmed that Siltbreeze is still the greatest indie since, err…Zapple? Fabulous Diamonds are a frisky guy/ girl duo from Melbourne, Australia playing skeletal drone pop reminiscent of long forgotten greats like Beyond The Implode or perhaps a more ‘screwed and chopped’ Palais Schaumburg. The absence of guitars in lieu of all manner of percussion, dubby synth stabs, and saxophone, makes the band distinctive enough, while the bratty playground taunts that pass for vocals will certainly make fans of anyone who digs Lilliput, ESG, or Julie Ruin. Very brief (but not too brief), this eponymous album manages to encapsulate the gloomy stoicism of no-wave without that genre’s predictable ‘confrontational’ bent. Good job. Naked on the Vague, on paper, sound like a sister band to Fabulous Diamonds—also co-ed, also from Australia (this troop from Sydney), also working within the parameters of ‘space dub’ and largely ignoring rock and roll’s favored instrument—but Naked on the Vague, on their debut LP The Blood Pressure Sessions, possess a more sinister, apocalyptic edge that likens them more to Young Marble Giants or something Andrew Eldritch might have recorded had he horded Messthetics comps. I also give them the slight edge because Naked On The Vague essentially do what Fabulous Diamonds do, but then take things even further into the ether. For instance, “The Horse, He’s Sick,” all woozy synths and chanted vocals, would fit comfortably on Fabulous Diamonds LP, but only until the creepy, gear-changing chorus. Also especially great is “Mother’s Footsteps,” which simultaneously reminds me of Huggy Bear, Crass, The Knife, and Sonic Youth. Oh yeah, and Naked on the Vague writes great lyrics: “I know nothing of God or the devil / And I know nothing of heaven or hell / All I know is that I wake up breathing...” Post-post-punk? Lastly, Eat Skull follows two massive singles with Sick To Death , a snottily canorous journey into the psyches of these creeps, who also play in The Hospitals (see Sewers #13). As for the sound, pre-sheen Guided By Voices is an obvious touchstone, as on “Survivable Spaces” which conjures GBV anthems like “Quality of Armor,” while the pensive, melancholy “Fade To Smoke” could pass for an outtake from Alien Lanes. Don’t mistake this for Magnet fodder, though—the band alternately rawks as ferociously as Electric Eels on tracks like the fittingly titled “Punk Trips,” and the Count Dracula cackle that concludes “Puker Corpse” is the best chorus-that-isn’t-a-chorus since I don’t know when. While Sick To Death is certainly something Trouser Press would call ‘lo-fi,’ there is a clarity and attention to detail here that makes it lo-fi like Kriminella Gitarrer and not lo-fi like, say, Sentridoh. Stellar.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Dusted Reviews Artist: Vivian Girls
Album: Vivian Girls
Label: In the Red
Review date: Sep. 29, 2008
Just weeks after Mauled By Tigers dropped the original LP-only release of this, the Vivian Girls self-titled debut, the record was trading for near triple-digit sums as collector dweebs scoured every last nook and cranny for a copy they could flip on some dumb chump. Obviously, the inevitable backlash wasn’t too far behind, and the grumbling that this Brooklyn three-piece, with only a two-song single to their name, was somehow undeserving of the press, praise and inflated market value began to pick up.
The strange thing about all this is that the hype, valuation and subsequent rebukes of that status couldn’t have happened to a more unassuming bunch. Formed a couple of years back in Kings County, the Vivian Girls are hardly an original proposition, obviously indebted as they are to airy shoegaze and driving indie-punk, pursuing an overall aesthetic that’s already been mapped out by folks like Black Tambourine, Tiger Trap and a bunch of other bands that popped up on labels like K and 53rd and 3rd back in the day. If anything, big money prices have been transparently based not on the music the band plays, but on the bet that their overall style would be the next thing geeks would salivate over, and the resulting criticism a refutation not of the quality of the tunes, but of the values people assigned to them.
Really, then, it’s hard to imagine how anyone whose heart isn’t made of burnt coal could have much of a problem with the 10 songs the Vivian Girls cooked up for their debut. Though far from perfect, they flit by in an instant, all washes of trebly guitars and nervous vocals that leave enough heartwarming traces to warrant subsequent returns. Check the way the ladies tumble through “All the Time” and its percussive chorus, or how the moody pulse of the kick drum and a needling guitar accompaniment carries the climax of “Tell the World.” Likewise, “Where Do You Run To” sports some nifty three-part harmonies that carry its rote thump up a few levels. And it’s sincerely doubtful any other bands have wrung as much out of the word “No” as these three have on the crashing song of the same name.
All told, the Vivian Girls are yet another example of this latest “Buy first, ask questions later” school of record collecting, one in which the speed with which a band’s material disappears seems to move drastically faster than the discussion surrounding the music itself. It’s no fault of their own, however, as much of what they have released has ranged from mostly decent to fairly great. Now, with the widespread availability of this debut album, that discourse should be able to catch up, and allow these three to shift from the latest in a series of bizarre eBay bank-breakers to a pretty good band clearly capable of some amazing things in the not-too-distant future.
By Michael Crumsho
Media Blitz - Vivian Girls UK press links:
This Is Fake DIY
Drowned In Sound
The Dreaded Press
And lastly, more live dates:
10/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Harket Motel (w/ Fucked Up)
10/17 Baltimore, MD @ Sonar (w/ Fucked Up)
10/18 Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary (w/ Fucked Up)
10/19 Washington, DC @ Rock And Roll Hotel (w/ Fucked Up)
10/26 New York, NY @ Cake Shop (CMJ showcase 12:00 AM)
11/08 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom (w/ Deerhunter, Times New Viking)
11/09 New Haven, CT @ Bar
11/10 Boston, MA @ Paradise (w/ Deerhunter, Times New Viking)
11/16 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex (Part Time Punks Festival)
11/17 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
11/18 Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell
11/20 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill
11/22 Portland, OR @ Backspace
11/23 Seattle, WA @ Nectar Lounge
11/28 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's (w/ King Khan & BBQ Show)
11/30 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom (w/ King Khan & BBQ Show)
12/02 London, UK @ Brixton Windmill
12/03 London, UK @ Old Blue Last
12/04 Nottingham, UK @ The Social
12/05 Liverpool, UK @ Club Evol
12/06 Glasgow, UK @ Captain's Rest
12/07 Leeds, UK @ Cockpit
12/08 Coventry, UK @ Colosseum
12/09 London, UK @ Madame Jojo's - White Heat
12/10 Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
12/12 London, UK @ Vice Kills Proud Galleries
12/13 Bristol, UK @ Club Kute at Cooler
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
New Larkin Grimm - "Ride That Cyclone"
Larkin Grimm was raised in Memphis in The Holy Order Of MANS until the cult disbanded and her parents relocated with her to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. We're told she's itinerant these days, spending the warmer months living outdoors in the woods, but she hunkered down in NYC earlier this summer (at least for the time being). I mention her travels, because the propulsive, galloping "Ride That Cyclone" comes off like the march of restless body. Somehow, it also ushers in a fall breeze. (It feels like Grimm wrote and recorded the new record in the most autumnal conditions possible -- changing leaves, colder breezes, early-season wood fires). "Ride That Cyclone"'s the second track on Parplar, her first album for Michael Gira's Young God (he co-produced the collection with Grimm, too, and encouraged her and her work early on). She has a powerfully assured voice, which she compliments with acoustic guitar, banjo, dulcimer, Chinese harp, an old keyboard.
This is clearly the work of more than one person. She's also backed by labelmates Fire On Fire, who add double bass, accordion, banjo, percussion, guitars, and background vocals, among others on trumpet, viola, trombone etc. It's a whirl of sound. Grimm was an early member of Dirty Projectors (she met/had a close relationship with Dave Longstreth while at Yale on a full scholarship to study art) and clearly enjoys collaboration, but despite the large backing cast, this collection is clearly her own. Grimm's earlier self-recorded albums aren't as densely composed. They're worth tracking down. You can find Harpoon and The Last Tree via Secret Eye. You'll also hear more at her MySpace. Where you can read her thoughts, like this post titled "Patti Smith, Horses":
Horses is the sexiest record I have ever heard. I was getting really deep into the monastic lifestyle ... I was a born again virgin. I was giving it up to Jesus. I had repented for my sins. I hadn't brought myself to orgasm since the beginning of August. But I put on this record as I was going to sleep a couple of days ago, and I couldn't help myself.
One problem with the underground music scene now is that a lot of the more radical kids are afraid to be sexy, because sex has become such a nightmarish tool of capitalism. We know that John McCain is staring at Sarah Palin's ass while she is making speeches and he is thinking about Pamela Anderson, or thinking about a billboard he saw with Gisele Bundchen on it as his limo was driving him into the city high on codeine. And the whole universe is contained in this moment, and we can see it all. We know how we have been manipulated, but are not sure what to do about it.
Then we have Obama, a eunuch for President. I greatly prefer Jesse Jackson's crazy rainbow fist.
There is an idea in magick that sex is the most powerful energy you can use to make a spell work. You get a million men masturbating for your cause, and there you have some real power being generated. You have to watch where your energy is going, and who is taking it. Because this is real, we are nothing but energy. Out of all the things I have learned in my life, that's the most important and true knowledge, having an awareness of the energy flow in the universe, and within my own body, and that it is all the same, but I can will it to move.
This economy crash, which happened on my birthday, that was the best birthday present ever. I have been waiting for this moment, you know. It is a great moment.
Happy birthday. Parplar is out 10/28 via Young God. Posted at 12:02 PM by brandon
Upcoming Larkin Grimm shows:
10/15 Frankfurt, DEU @ Clubkeller
10/16 Stuttgart, DEU @ FFUS
10/22 Ceské Budejovic, CHE @ Velbloud
11/06 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church (w/ Meg Baird)
11/07 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge (w/ Holly GoLightly)
11/08 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (w/ Mountain Goats)
Monday, October 13, 2008
From Crackle: Take-Away Show: Why? - "Eskimo Snow"
Why? is still on tour:
10/22 Moderne-Poitiers, FR @ Confort (w/ Son Lux)
10/23 Saint Etienne, FR @ Le Fil (w/ Son Lux)
10/24 Dijon, FR @ La Vapeur (w/ Son Lux)
10/25 Paris, FR @ BB Mix Festival (w/ Son Lux)
10/27 Amiens, FR @ Pirates Cabaret (w/ Son Lux)
10/28 La Havre, FR @ Electrique (w/ Son Lux)
10/29 Rennes, FR @ L'Antipode (w/ Son Lux)
10/30 Nantes, FR @ Festival Yamoy (w/ Son Lux)
10/31 Vendome, FR @ Rockomotives (w/ Son Lux)
11/01 Dublin, IRE @ Andrews Lane Theatre (w/ Son Lux)
11/04 London, UK @ Scala
11/06 Massy, FR @ Centre Culturel
11/07 Metz, FR @ Musique Volante
11/8 Colmar, FR @ Super Sound Festival
11/10 Hamburg, DEU @ Uebel und Gefährlich
11/11 Berlin, DEU @ Maria Am Ufer
11/12 Leipzig, DEU @ Ut Connewitz-
11/13 Prague, CZE @ Double007
John Coxon (Spring Heel Jack) once described Aufgehoben as having been "edited into existence", referring to the fact that the group's albums, though based on improvisation sessions, result from a long process of hard disk surgery overseen by drummer Stephen Robinson. But just as his massively overloaded constructs initially allowed the Brighton based quartet to discover their musical identity, so their emergence over the last two years as a live outfit has left an imprint on his processes. There is a stronger sense of a group presence on Khora than on their previous four albums, and while Robinson still delights in subjecting the source material to the most punishing indignities of distortion, that same material nevertheless asserts itself as the main agent in determining the character and direction of the finished composition.
It's also noteworthy that the album culminates in the unedited half-hour track "Jederfürsich", in which Gary Smith's guitar notes peel off like stripped paint, two drummers flail away on kits that sound like their on fire, and monumentally bloated low-end electronics hoover up the detritus. Like solarized video footage, the music's movement and contours are recognisable as proceeding from the natural world, but only just.
Aufge' have one live performance planned for this year. The band will be playing the Hokaben Music Festival (93ft East venue on Brick Lane) in London on Nov. 8th.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
It may be easy to create an indie rock song that eschews structure for instrumental shock-and-awe, or reveals too much information in the lyrics, or pokes fun at messianic rock stars. Doing all of the above is rare, however-- as is making each stray verse or hiccup as arresting as the one before it-- but volcano! manage this on their second record, Paperwork, even better than they did on their debut, Beautiful Seizure.
The mercurial three-piece may now be more cohesive, consistent, and focused, but volcano!'s unpredictability is Paperwork's biggest strength. "'78 Oil Crisis" starts slow with incidental noises, but it settles into a streamlined, linear melody, until the intermittent spasms of guitar become almost calming. A theremin tone anchors the grinding and coughing of "Sweet Tooth" as it grows more paranoid and mechanical, and later makes an insistent earworm from bent-out-of-tune guitar notes. "Astronomer's Ballad" is a doe-eyed Spanish-language serenade that eventually devolves into tightly controlled chaos. None is quite as stunning as the graceful and evocative "Palimpsests", whose well-tamed fuzz-guitar line and increased patter of drums makes With's taps-like call to "wake up, wake up" seem like a test of strength.
The arrhythmic, stuttering beat and meandering melody of "Performance Evaluation Shuffle" is not the first song to send up cubicle culture, but few have sounded so suffocated and desperate. "Africa Just Wants to Have Fun" shows off the many modes of volcano! but flows more naturally than some of their other freewheeling material. The verse gradually builds to a brassy, step-ladder melody, which progresses to a damn-near funky staccato guitar line, as singer/songwriter Aaron With uses every bit of his elastic vocal range to lampoon Bono, most pointedly over the buzzing bass keyboards in its bridge ("Won't you make up your mind/ Are you bored or inspired... You're acting like Christ on the cross/ You look ridiculous").
As with many tracks on Paperwork, the floor drops out of "Tension Loop", but the percussion skitters along with impressive precision, never losing the pulse. The song emerges from gentle drums and a soft, busy guitar plucking, finally torn apart by jagged samples and electronic manipulation that go from pretty to hair-raising, while With's tempered croon grounds the song (with only minimal yodeling). "Slow Jam" (which is anything but) is the record's biggest gamble, a falsetto-laden ode to impotence.
Lord knows why "Kitchen Dance" ends it all with a half-sigh, offering all the band's tricks-- bi-lingual crooning, keyboards that go from whisper to scream, double-time drums that spike the pulse-- without any of the pacing, charm, or measure of the rest of the album. But without volcano!'s occasional over-indulgence, this record would be half as interesting. Even compared to the convulsive and ambitious pop of their better-established peers like Deerhoof, volcano! are set apart by their fearlessness.
- Jason Crock, October 9, 2008
The Dead C
Sun., Oct. 12, 9 p.m., $12, with Blues Control and Pink Reason, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684,
by Brian Howard
The Dead C are largely unknown in the U.S. (and throughout most of the world). I could say you sound like the Velvet Underground's most scabrous feedback blown up and improvised into mantras of morbid malevolence, crossed with the early Fall's relentless repetition and ramshackle production values. But that may be oversimplification. How do you describe your sound to people who've never heard the Dead C?
You really can't do this easily. I think your reference points are good enough, if you are talking to a well-schooled music fan. I try to explain that we look and sound like a rock band making the most cacophonous racket you can imagine—but really we're something else. Our music is pretty well 100-percent improvised using rock instrumentation, but it's almost completely unmusical, certainly devoid of melody. If you imagine rock music is like landscape painting, our work is extreme abstraction.
Time Out New York
The Dead C + Sightings + Northampton Wools + King Darves
6 Delancey St (between Bowery and Chrystie St)
Lower East Side
Tickets: advance $15, day of show $18
Dead C's new Secret Earth is the New Zealand sludge trio's most satisfying outing in years. The group finally banishes the ambient laziness that tarred its past few releases and breaks a sweat, submerging simple chords and rock-steady percussion in vats of choleric feedback and low-fidelity crud. Lots of bands bury their tunes beneath scuzzy feedback, but Sightings is unique in that neither element seems primary: Its music could just as easily be termed rock-tinged noise as vice versa. Also playing are Northampton Wools—that's Bill Nace and Thurston Moore—and New Jersey's King Darves, who crafts fine little handmade songs.
Mon 7:30pm .
Full Dead C US Tour:
10/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s (w/ Blues Control, Pink Reason)
10/13 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
10/15 Seattle, WA @ Nectar Lounge (w/ Six Organs Of Admittance)
10/16 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall (w/ Six Organs Of Admittance)
10/19 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle (w/ Wolf Eyes)
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
"Trapped In The Web" video played for four weeks in a row on MTV's Headbanger's Ball to an overwhelming response
Pitchfork Media feature:
"Huge riffs, demonic growls and sword-sharp solos these battle-ready warriors hail from the hellish outlands." - SPIN
"Frevently old-fashioned doom, the Indiana trio know exactly how a heavy album should sound." - 9/10 Decibel
"Easily one of the best doom/heavy metal albums of 2008, "Conqueror" is the sound of a band peaking. It doesn't get much better." - 9/10 BLABBERMOUTH
"The freshest metal record you'll hear this year." - Pittsburgh Daily News
"It doesn't get any truer than this" - Terrorizer
"The Gates Of Slumber are something of a reevelation and are on a mission to kill stone dead any false metaller foolish enough to cross their path." - Kerrang!
"'Conqueror' is a varied and ultimately satisfying doom/stoner metal album" - About.com
THE GATES OF SLUMBER "Conquest Of Poverty" Tour
11/9/08 Denver, CO @ Funhouse
11/10/08 Boise, ID @ The Gusto Bar (w/ Cast Into Eternity)
11/11/08 Portland, OR @ Satyricon
11/12/08 Seattle WA @ Studio Seven
11/14/08 Oakland, CA @ The Metro (w/ The Faceless, Decrepit Birth)
11/15/08 Bakersfield, CA @ Jerry's Pizza
11/16/08 Los Angeles, CA @ Black Castle
11/17/08 Tempe, AZ @ Big Fish Pub
11/18/08 Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
11/19/08 Abilene, TX @ Midnight Rodeo
11/20/08 San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit (w/ Anal Cunt)
11/21/08 Austin, TX @ Red 7 (w/ Anal Cunt)
11/22/08 Dallas, TX @ Reno's Chop Shop (w/ Anal Cunt)
11/23/08 TBA w/ Anal Cunt
11/24/08 New Orleans, LA @ Dragon's Den
11/25/08 Tallahassee, FL @ The Engine Room
11/26/08 Tampa, FL @ Brass Mug
11/28/08 Gainesville, FL @ The Atlantic
11/29/08 Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
11/30/08 Baltimore, MD @ Talking Head (w/ Fierce Allegiance, Strong Intention)
12/1/08 New York, NY @ Lit Lounge - Precious Metal Mondays
12/2/08 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
12/3/08 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop (w/ Midnight, Argus)
12/4/08 Columbus, OH @ Ravari Room
12/5/08 Chicago, IL @ The Metal Shaker
12/6/08 Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theater
Monday, October 06, 2008
Column by Brandon Stosuy
San Francisco's Hammers of Misfortune are the brainchild of John Cobbett, also of epic black metal crew Ludicra, ex-Slough Feg, and a past contributor to other various projects (Amber Asylum, Jarboe, Gwar). Since Hammers emerged from Unholy Cadaver in 2000, debuted with 2001's The Bastard, and followed with equally essential The August Engine (2003) and The Locust Years (2006), they've proven to be one the most ambitious, satisfying, and classic seeming underground metal crews. At the end of the month, they're releasing two new full-lengths packaged together-- Fields and Church of Broken Glass [Profound Lore/20 Buck Spin]. I spoke with Cobbett at length about both. Below, take a listen to Church's title track and Fields' "Rats Assembly". There's older material at the band's MySpace.
Pitchfork: Hammers of Misfortune debuted with The Bastard, a three-act opera. How did you make that decision?
John Cobbett: I don't remember exactly when or how it was decided, but I wanted to do something on a larger scale than just writing unrelated songs, compiling them into a set list, and recording the lot. I was a bike messenger at the time, and I would drink 40s of King Cobra and watch these Joseph Campbell lectures on PBS really late into the night (I think it was "Transformations of Myth Through Time"). He talked a lot about Wagner, James Joyce, and other artists who had tapped into this archetypical mythical stuff. I wanted to try it. The most important thing I got from Wagner, or opera in general, was the use of musical motifs for characters or situations. This meant using riffs or themes all over an album instead of having parts that were purely local to their respective song. Also, when you have them interacting you weave them together for some pretty interesting results. I've played with this approach ever since with Hammers. Any riff on an album is available to all the songs, like a global variable. The project evolved over time. The idea of doing that album was around before the idea of doing a band. As the idea got bigger and musicians were brought in to play the parts, it went from being a solo/bedroom type project to a full-scale band.
Pitchfork: Seven years later you've created a double album. Were there any previous double albums that got you thinking about doing this?
John Cobbett: We were talking specifically about putting our next LP out on vinyl. From there it wasn't much of a jump to make it a double LP (of course it had to be a double LP...) With that in mind we thought in terms of that format. With vinyl you get about 20 minutes per side before you start losing audio quality, so you have to arrange the flow of the album to accommodate that. We'd joked about doing "a split with ourselves" in the past, but in this situation it made sense. I always thought it would be cool to make two distinct albums joined at the spine. So all these ideas pointed in the same direction and it was clear what had to be done. As for other double LPs that might have inspired this idea, I can only cite [Pink Floyd's] The Wall. I've always wanted to attempt something on that scale. In fact The August Engine was our first attempt to make an album that big, but it didn't work out for various reasons.
Pitchfork: In the era of mp3 downloads, it's bold releasing something so tied to the album format. Was it motivated by the state of the music industry, hearkening back to a different time in metal?
John Cobbett: Mostly the motivation comes from being a fan first. As a fan, I think it's a cool idea for a release and I'd probably want it in my record collection (I wish all our records were available on vinyl). Maybe there's a defiant aspect to it, but I don't have anything against mp3s or downloading. The way it's going now, you have a group of fans that want the physical artifact-- the record or CD-- in their hands. The release is for them. The songs are for everyone, and let's face it, they are free for the majority of listeners whether we like it or not. "The industry" is in ruins. Our release strategy was more of a reaction to that than a statement about it. It's a self-financed, self-produced, DIY album, which is pretty much the only way we've ever done anything, and probably the only way left at this point.
Pitchfork: How do the two records link beyond being packaged together? Or do you prefer seeing them as separate entities?
John Cobbett: The songs were all recorded in the same sessions. That's the biggest common factor. They're also inevitably linked because that they came out of the same historical period and the same phase of the band. In other words, they're very related circumstantially, but that's as far as it goes for me. I see them as two distinct albums.
Pitchfork: Hammers has a new lineup. Was it different writing for the new vocalists and other players? The original drummer's back, right? How'd that happen?
John Cobbett: Yeah it was different writing for different singers and a new bass player. There are songs that Patrick [Goodwin] sings, for example, that I would never have asked Mike [Scalzi] to sing-- it just wouldn't work for him. You always have to write to people's strengths and new members always bring in new possibilities. It affects the writing process for sure. [Drummer] Chewy left the band for almost a year. We tried out a bunch of drummers but nothing sounded right. Eventually we just asked him to come back and luckily he did. The first time I played with Ron Nichols was at a mental institution on Halloween 2005. We played covers of "Purple People Eater" and "Monster Mash" and stuff like that. The audience was made up of pretty severe cases, really heavily medicated. True story.
Pitchfork: What's the idea idea behind "The Fields Trilogy"? Going back to my previous question about the opera-- you start this pair of records with a triology, a signal of the ambitious scope. How did you decide on this for the opener? The vocals shift from Patrick to Jesse between track one and two. A call and response?
John Cobbett: OK, before going into the lyrics I want to make it clear that I try to write with several different, unrelated things in mind at the same time. The song could be about five or six things simultaneously. That way it's abstract enough for the listener to fill in the blanks and get something unique from the words. I don't like explaining too much for fear of spoiling it for people who get their own meaning out of it. The words can be taken as personal, storytelling, political or whatever you like. That being said, for "The Fields Trilogy" I was reading a lot of history, particularly that of Russia and the U.S.S.R. It struck me that it's all about the peasant class. However, peasants never write history, they merely execute it. The poorest people have always grown the food, fought the wars and done all the dirty work of history. A peasant lives a short, brutal life in fields - be it a field of crops or a battlefield. Thus: Fields. That's where the idea started. From there it went several different places. Musically a trilogy works really well. You can take a few themes and really work them to death (pun intended) over the course of three movements-- like the classical sonata form. In a nutshell, the lyrical point of view shifts to a different worldview for each song. For each part, it was pretty obvious which singer to use. I think Jesse [Quattro] and Patrick both have some of their finest moments on that one.
Pitchfork: Are these "Fields" tracks a commentary on our current shitty economic situation, the greater rich/struggling divide? "Spare us alas, for our seasons have sown only great expectations and rust/ Only in labor and sun-beaten backs can we place our trust." There's also talk of "the coming war," a farmer/peasant revolution, which leads into "Part 3: Motorcade."
John Cobbett: Well, sort of...basically we start with History 101: The rich get rich by exploiting the poor. The poor rebel. Institutions like government and religion are deployed. These institutions steal from the poor and give to the rich. Rinse and repeat... That's where the idea started. It goes into a lot of other stuff from there, more specific scenery and points of view. First you have an aristocratic narrator ("Agriculture"), then you have a more working class, melancholy voice ("Fields"), then you have a military/police point of view. The first two-- in their own respective ways-- are lamenting a loss of innocence and longing for simpler times. The third ("Motorcade") has no illusions at all.
Pitchfork: On side two we move into "Rats Assembly": "Article 128 could hardly be more clear/ By order of the council you are always welcome here." It's like we've gone from the fields to some urban Kafka-style tale.
John Cobbett: Yes, you have moved from the field, to the street, to prison-- and the interrogation room. The Kafka reference is dead on. One book-- The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn-- was a direct influence on this song. There are references to "extraordinary rendition" and "black sites" in there also.
Pitchfork: Rats become the recurring image of side two: "Rats we live like/ In the walls/ Or hiding underground/ Fearful of the sound/ Those who fly/ Own the sky..."
John Cobbett: That song, "Always Looking Down" has a lot to do with poverty, homelessness, drugs, paranoia, crime, despair, and all that stuff. I like the idea of Ayn Rand as a homeless tweaker, invoking objectivist doctrine as she's breaking into your car. There's an Orwellian theme throughout; planes flying above, satellites above those, all looking down, watching. Spies everywhere, in your walls, on the corner of your street, you get the idea...we're all criminals.
Pitchfork: "Too Soon" returns us to the fields...folks being "spirt[ed] and deposit[ed] abroad." The more I dig into the lyrics, the more this seems an overall/extended commentary on our current situation. Am I wrong?
John Cobbett: You are right, there isn't really a wrong way. Again, I try to be abstract enough to allow the listener to project his or her own meaning into it. For my part, the following quote (via Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine quoting John Robb, for Fast Company magazine) had a lot to do with that song: "Wealthy individuals and multinational corporations will be the first to bail out of our collective system, opting instead to hire private military companies...to protect their homes and facilities and establish a protective perimeter around daily life. Parallel transportation networks...will cater to this group, leapfrogging its members from one secure, well-appointed lily pad to the next." That elite world is already largely in place. But Robb predicts that the middle class will soon follow suit, "forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security." These "'armored suburbs' will deploy and maintain backup generators and communication links" and be patrolled by private militias "that have received corporate training and boast their own state-of-the-art emergency-response systems." ...As for those outside the secured perimeter, "they will have to make do with the remains of the national system. They will gravitate to America's cities, where they will be subject to ubiquitous surveillance and marginal or nonexistent services. For the poor, there will be no other refuge." And this quote [from James Howard Kunstler] "We will not believe that this is happening to us, that 200 years of modernity can be brought to its knees by a world-wide power shortage. The survivors will have to cultivate a religion of hope-- that is, a deep and comprehensive belief that humanity is worth carrying on. If there is any positive side to stark changes coming our way, it may be in the benefits of close communal relations, of having to really work intimately (and physically) with our neighbors, to be part of an enterprise that really matters and to be fully engaged in meaningful social enactments instead of being merely entertained to avoid boredom. Years from now, when we hear singing at all, we will hear ourselves, and we will sing with our whole hearts."
Pitchfork: How do you view Church of Broken Glass musically and lyrically in relation to Fields? The lyrics feel more mystical-- or fantastical-- the playing more windswept and heavy, less pastoral. They're clearly quite different. The latter seems to have more of a focus on the pictorial, structures (buildings).
John Cobbett: Church is more of an inner landscape, the commoditization of personality, the individual as an industrial ruin, the decay of the inner life etc. It looks through some different pairs of eyes at similar scenes of decline.
Pitchfork: Are you referencing an actual Butchertown? Or is this a place you've created as a stand-in for cities in general, setting for these particular songs? "Everything is metal now/ Metal is the king whose crown is melted down/ In Butchertown."
John Cobbett: There's a neighborhood in San Francisco known as Butchertown. Not many people use the name anymore. This neighborhood is all abandoned warehouses, closed power plants, toxic waste, ruined factories and so on. It's the kind of place where you can see nature trying to take over again, weeds growing up through the concrete and rust in the air and everywhere. I lived there for a while and that's where the song came from. The lines you refer to could paint a picture of any rust-belt neighborhood slowly falling into ruin.
Pitchfork: What was the inspiration for "Church of Broken Glass"? This track reminds me of certain post-apocalpytic sci-fi texts.
John Cobbett: Interesting story about that song... it was written for The August Engine-- back in 2001-02. It never made it on to that album, so we recorded another version for The Locust Years in 2005. That didn't get used either. We made sure to make it stick this time, even going as far as making it a title track. It's a simple song about longing and melancholy, and searching for something long gone...classic stuff like that.
Pitchfork: As far as other projects, I was talking with [Ludicra drummer] Aesop [Dekker] recently and he mentioned a new Ludicra, perhaps in 2009. How do you manage the work between your various bands? What can we expect the new Ludicra to be like?
John Cobbett: This is how it works: Ludicra practices on Tuesdays and Hammers on Wednesdays. Sometimes one band or another will do a Thursday or a Saturday. Leading up to recording we'll try to get in as many practices as we can, even if only two or three people can show up. That's right-- we can only manage practice once or twice a week. Everyone in both bands is chronically busy at all times. Ludicra and Hammers are like two different attitudes. The way the bands work and the approach to playing and practicing is totally unrelated. I don't expect Hammers fans to like Ludicra any more than I expect Slough Feg fans to like Hammers. It's like different worlds. Next Ludicra record is about 70% written, and I think it's going to be more "vast" than previous albums, hopefully.
Pitchfork: In the States, the west coast's seen as a key spot for black metal, among other things. Why do you think the Bay Area's managed to birth such a high caliber of ambitious, unique metal?
John Cobbett: I don't know. Maybe it's all the hippies, foodies, burning man trash, haircuts, fixies, craigslisters and hipsters around here. If you walk down the street, you don't get the idea that it's a stronghold for metal, but it's obviously bubbling beneath the surface. There's a healthy scene here, so if you have a metal band there's going to be some real competition. That could result in better quality and more variety.
Friday, October 03, 2008
(20 Buck Spin)
Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, Samothrace (not sure if named after the Greek Island or a race of Emperor guitarists) have come out of nowhere with a stunning debut album that mixes the girth and throb of psychedelic sludge/Post Rock (think Minsk and Rwake) with the utterly rending, layered harmonies and beautiful yet wilting melody of Anathema, Morgion or even the Finnish doom/death scene.
Life’s Tradeis 4 songs and just over 45 minutes of draining, soul crushing music that will leave your heart shattered and spent but with a glimmer of hope gleaming through the shroud of despondency. Seriously, the mix of typically fuzzed out Sanford Parker produced sludge/doom, gruff roars, sprawling ambience and truly evocative, layered guitar work might move you to tears-it almost did me.
Opener “La Llorona’s” (”The Crying lady”-named after a child drowning ghost of Mexican folklore) is a moping, heaving monster of lethargy and a slight Southern drawl mingled with the haunting throes of the subject matter. Then, standout track “Awkward Hearts” renders arguably one of the most moving pieces of music I’ve heard in 2008. While my full time job has rendered my an emotionless prick, music still has the ability to physically affect my emotions and the opening delicate strums and cascading peak of “Awkward Hearts” is that rare piece of music that feels like God reaching into my chest, grabbing my heart, wringing it out, and leaving it a withered husk. Think Anathema’s “Lovelorn Rhapsody” and Morgion’s “Canticle” mixed with the crushing ebbs of Isis or Neurosis. Simply fucking amazing.
“Cacophony”, has a tall order to follow, but manages to keep me enthralled initially a heftier, sludgier repast before gently transitioning into a shimmering, psychedelic mid song trip and tumbling, stoner doom ending climax. Closer “Cruel Awake” gives a fittingly despondent , 13 minute endnote with a crumbling, epic lope littered with layered melodic acoustics and again, a slightly hazy, swampy feel and the closing 3 minutes coming close to recreating the sheer mournfull bliss of “Awkward Hearts”.
Like Deadbird, Samothrace isn’t the biggest name in the genre, but by god have they delivered one of the year’s better albums and like Deadbird’s Twilight Ritual, look for Life’s Trade to flirt with my year end list.
Written by Erik Thomas
October 3rd, 2008
Upcoming live dates:
10/04 New Haven, CT @ Rudy's
10/06 New York, NY @ Lit Lounge
10/07 Rochester, NY @ The Pussy Barrel
10/08 Columbus, OH @ Legion of Doom
10/09 Cincinnati, OH @ The Bluerock Tavern
10/10 Toledo, OH @ Ramalama Records
10/11 Chicago, IL @ Metal Shaker
10/12 Milwaukee, WI @ 319 Garfield
10/16 Fayetteville, AR @ The Grill
10/17 Tulsa, OK @ House show
10/18 Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
10/19 Oklahoma City, OK @ Spinks @ Neil Diamond
10/20 Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
10/22 Lawrence, KS @ The Replay
10/23 Denver, CO @ Blast-o-Mat
10/27 Los Angeles, CA @ House show
10/28 Oakland, CA @ Hazmat
10/29 San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
10/30 Chico, CA @ Monstros Pizza
10/31 Portland, OR @ Halloween house show
11/01 Seattle, WA @ Squid and Ink
11/02 Bellingham, WA @ Green Frog Acoustic Room
11/08 Denver, CO @ Curtis St. Bar
11/10 Vermillion, SD @ Arts Center Undergroung