Showing posts with label noise rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label noise rock. Show all posts

Saturday, July 13, 2019

video review: 'schlagenheim' by black midi

And here we go, a project that I'm genuinely surprised I liked as much as I did, but am very pleased that I got to cover it. 

Next up... okay, let's handle Ed Sheeran next - stay tuned!

Friday, July 12, 2019

album review: 'schlagenheim' by black midi

So full disclosure, the reason I'm choosing to cover this is exactly what you think it is: it got a ton of acclaim from critics I otherwise trust, and on a slow week, I figured I might as well knock it off my list. That also meant I could be setting myself up for that kind of album that I'm lukewarm on and everyone else loves, but hey, that seems to have been the running theme for most of 2019, so why not keep it up!

Anyway, black midi - English post-punk/noise rock group that seems to play fast and loose with genres, formed in 2015, released a couple of singles, performed at SXSW in 2018, got signed to Rough Trade, and now we have a debut album. Again, this is a project for which I'm going in cold and a little perturbed about what we could get with this: I kept hearing 'no wave' and 'math rock' show up in discussions of the debut with a very distinctly German-sounding name which translates to 'hit home', and I'm not the biggest fan of either genre. And the producer Dan Carey didn't really enthuse me either - I know him most for producing the worst Franz Ferdinand album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, but other than that... again, going in cold here, so let's not waste any more time: what did black midi deliver with Schlagenheim?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

video review: 'you won't get what you want' by daughters

So this was nuts - and pretty damn incredible, not gonna lie. Definitely make time to hear this, it's awesome.

Next up... hmm, Trailing Edge and then Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2018

album review: 'you won't get what you want' by daughters

Not going to mince words: these are the reviews that always give me pause when I put them together. Not that I didn't know what I was getting into - I've gone through Daughters' entire back catalog, it did not take long - but it's always a little daunting when you see so many critics praise an act so highly, especially based on qualifiers that can be very subjective to say the least.

Granted, since we're talking about Daughters we might as well open with the conversation that'll inevitably happen whenever somebody talks about this group, namely what in the Nine Hells they even are. Going into their first album you could conceivably call them grindcore with the extremely short songs, screamed vocals, and guitars that sounded like buzzsaws going through your skull, but their next two releases didn't stick in that lane, venturing into noise rock and industrial music with the sort of intentionally grotesque wildness that if you were familiar with their genre could seem a bit more accessible and experimental, showing the band diversify and expand their sound - and if you weren't familiar you were in the corner in the fetal position. This is a band that operates on violent noise and alienation and you need to be the right mindset for it - but if you can clue into that mindset, I would never call myself a huge fan but I thought their artistic direction had potential and I would have been curious for a reunion before now, eight years after they broke up after their self-titled album that many considered their final record. But they're back, and the critics who love this style of abrasion really love this album, so I was gearing up for one hell of a listen, even if the album's title seemed to promise otherwise. But fuck it, what did we get from You Won't Get What You Want?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

video review: 'visions of a life' by wolf alice

Ehh... I have no illusions this review probably won't be received all that well - which yeah, is a bit disappointing, but hopefully a bit better than the last project of theirs, we'll see.

Next up... hmm, I've got a movie review coming, but I might have something very new on the horizon. Stay tuned!

album review: 'visions of a life' by wolf alice

I'm not even sure where to start with this one - and if you saw my last Wolf Alice review, you'll know why.

See, two years ago I did cover their critically acclaimed debut record My Love Is Cool, and unlike the majority of critics I wasn't really a fan, half because I wasn't convinced the band could differentiate themselves from their 90s influences like Hole, and half because when they tried to introduce modern elements into their sound I found them pretty underwhelming, not helped by a lot of overproduction and a lack of a defined edge, especially in the guitars. Yeah, the actual compositions and lyrics were easily the best part of the record, but good writing delivered without the raw presence or firepower to compliment the instrumentation can be a considerable letdown.

But again, the band won a lot of critical acclaim and if anything they were looking to get even more wild and experimental on their follow-up this year Visions Of A Life, swapping out producer Mike Crossey for Justin Mendel-Johnsen, a producer and musician with whom I've got the sort of history that doesn't exactly present a clean picture. Suffice to say he can have a bad habit of piling in distracting instrumental elements that can clutter the mix - and considering Wolf Alice had apparently put together a noisier, more eclectic record this time around, I had no idea if or how his style would click. But hey, the band won just as much if not more critical acclaim this time around, so I might as well talk about it two months late: what did I find on Visions Of A Life?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

video review: 'bottomless pit' by death grips

Well, this was surprisingly solid, really did enjoy it. Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN... so yeah, stay tuned if you want me to give Drake another round of thrashing, stay tuned!

Monday, May 9, 2016

album review: 'bottomless pit' by death grips

Okay, I can't be the only one who is a little surprised Death Grips is still releasing music at this point, am I?

Because let's be completely honest here: after the 'break-up/reunion' that played into the whole lead-up of their last album The Powers That B which I covered last year, I got the impression that Death Grips were at the very least stretching the patience of their fanbase, only able to keep them on board because they were consistently delivering quality, albeit with records like Government Plates that might be a step away from their best. Sure, I wasn't wild about the first half of that double album, but Jenny Death did prove to be the explosive, noise-rock-inspired climax that could serve as a logical, emotionally satisfying endpoint to their wild saga...

And then they kept going. And sure, you could have predicted some of it - you could definitely argue the end of Jenny Death was a rebirth of sorts for Death Grips, a regeneration into new flights of experimentation, but I can't be the only one who feels the novelty isn't quite there anymore. Noisier production is a lot more common in alternative hip-hop these days than back in 2012, and while MC Ride is still a presence unto himself, the graphic nihilism doesn't shock me in the same way anymore. And let's get real, you can only really take the arc that Jenny Death took once, but on the flip side, this also meant that with Bottomless Pit anything could happen. So I jumped into Bottomless Pit - where did I wind up?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

video review: 'paradise' by pop. 1280

Again, this review took way too long to get out, but it's finally here. Next up is Santigold and Dori Freeman, so stay tuned!

album review: 'paradise' by pop. 1280

I guarantee the majority of you did not see the review when I covered this band the first time.

And frankly, I'm amazed that in the summer of 2013 and after a random browse through Pitchfork that I decided to cover them, more out of bored curiosity than anything else. And while I haven't really revisited much of that record, I do distinctly remember Pop. 1280 as a weird, twisted, dark little band, driving some surprisingly solid melodies through the noise to create a hollow, rattling somewhat industrial flavour, with lyrics that seemed to alternate between punk railing against the machine and the craven horrors that humanity engaged in to survive. And while I wasn't always wild about frontman Chris Bug's delivery or the haphazard mixing, I did think their sophomore release Imps Of Perversion was a step in the right direction to emphasize the band's strengths that got overshadowed in the rough noisy murk of their debut.

And thus when I heard that their third album had opted for an even bigger, even more electronic-enhanced sound, further polishing and building off of the foundation of their last release, I was definitely interested. So, better late than never, I dug into their third album Paradise - what did I get?

Monday, January 25, 2016

video review: 'adore life' by savages

Well, not quite as great as I was hoping, but still a fair bit better than a lot of critics have given it credit. Highly expect this one will get a critical reappraisal.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN, followed by Megadeth - stay tuned!

album review: 'adore life' by savages

This has been one of my most hotly anticipated albums of the year.

And really, if you go back to listen to Savages' incredible debut album, you'd see why. Silence Yourself may have been preceded by stark proclamations that many could read as reaching for impact, but the music could back it up, a haunted cacophony of noisy guitars, pummelling bass grooves and drums, and Jehnny Beth's harsh but starkly emotive delivery, walking the line between sultry and righteous rage. And that's before we get into the writing, blunt on the surface but nuanced in the framing that contorted relationships through a fiercely dominant but complex sexual picture. In other words, with every listen it only gets better and it was definitely one of my favourite albums of 2013.

And yet since then, Savages seem to have eschewed anything that would hem them in artistically or away from the more intense, difficult music they want to create. This first manifested in 2014 with the performance art piece Words To The Blind, an improvised collaboration with Japanese acid punk group Bo Ningen that delved into failures of communication across a divide that could only be spanned by regressing down to the simplest and most raw of moments - especially considering that failure of communication wasn't shy about implicating the audience in their own lack of understanding. And thus when I heard that their full-length sophomore release was partially inspired by Swans... well, I wasn't surprised, especially considering the themes and repetition that underscored To Be Kind. So I was prepared for a tough but inevitably rewarding listen with Adore Life - did I get it?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

video review: 'not to disappear' by daughter

So, this was an album that happened. Not really a huge amount to say about it, it's just decent. Probably will have more to say about Panic! At The Disco and Anderson .Paak, so stay tuned!

album review: 'not to disappear' by daughter

So let's talk a bit about expectations. 

Now as a critic, it's ideal not to have any at all when you go into a fresh release, especially out of the indie scene, because what might have been positioned as the single might not be representative of the group as a whole - the label wants something to sell, after all. And my opening expectations of the English indie folk trio Daughter were built around the expectations that they had soundtracked a bunch of TV and were known to run closer to the darker, more atmospheric brand of folk music. In other words, I thought I knew what I was getting checking out their 2013 debut album.

That wasn't exactly what I got, as their atmospheric side was less ambient and more smoky noise and post-rock, guitars that smouldered in feedback and seemed to be precisely on edge to explode against the booming percussion and Elena Tonra's haunted vocals. It was an instrumental shift that gave the group some unique personality - perhaps closer to a more accessible Chelsea Wolfe - until I started digging into the lyrics. Suffice to say the writing didn't really impress me, more suited for the emo side of shoegaze than for the darker atmospherics that Daughter was targeting, and the fact that the album never really exploded gave the sound a certain calculated petulance that I felt I should like more than I do. 

They did have a unique enough sound, though, and I was inclined to check out the follow-up this year, that was reportedly heading a more rock-inspired direction. So what did we get from the sophomore release from Daughter called Not To Disappear?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

video review: 'algiers' by algiers

Nearly forgot to post this. And I really shouldn't have, because the album is fucking excellent.

Anyway, next up... heh, you already know. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

album review: 'algiers' by algiers

There are some genre fusions that sound so insane that you'd never expect to see them work. Ambient music and country, for instance, two genres that rarely have ever crossed... until Devin Townsend created Casualties of Cool, one of the best albums of 2014. Or take, say, the entire genre-mashing careers of twenty one pilots, and they put together Blurryface, one of my favourite records of this year. My point is that oddball genre fusions can blow up in your face, but they can create something special and defiantly unique, especially in a world where the internet has proven anyone will try anything once.

But then there are the genre fusions that the second I heard about it, it made way too much sense, the sort of material that made me sigh and wish that I had thought of it first. Algiers falls into that category, an American band from Atlanta reportedly fusing post-punk, gospel, and industrial sounds for a distinctly unique debut to be released through Matador Records, the same label that's been responsible for giving us Savages and Iceage. And really, considering how much post-punk and goth culture crossed over in the late 70s and 80s, with the latter incorporating so much religious iconography it's not surprising Algiers might take a stab at pushing through a less classical and more gospel-inspired take. And given how strong the critical reception has been, I decided to give it a look - was it worth it?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

video review: 'the powers that b' by death grips ('niggas on the moon'/'jenny death')

Man, it feels like I've been waiting to get this album out of my system for ages. Long journey to get to this one, I have to say.

Okay, next up... honestly, I have no idea what's going to come after Billboard BREAKDOWN tomorrow. All I know is that tomorrow will be a crazy day for other RL reasons, and getting the damn thing done will be tough. Stay tuned!

album review: 'the powers that b' by death grips ('niggas on the moon'/'jenny death')

Ever since I started talking about hip-hop on this series, I've been asked to talk about Death Grips in some form. And I've been delaying it for a while too, mostly because in hindsight, Death Grips has gone on to be surprisingly influential in underground and even fragments of mainstream hip-hop in crafting a noisier, nastier, more industrial sound that has touched everyone from El-P to Doomtree to Kanye West. But I haven't really talked about the wild trio responsible for this sound, who rose on a wave of critical acclaim and a cult following to land on a major label... where everything seemed to self-destruct until the group fell apart and broke up. Or maybe they didn't, and the group is still together screwing with the minds of their fanbase and any music journalist who hasn't yet realized the chaos and buzz is starting to eclipse the actual music.

Okay, that's unfair, because believe it or not, when Death Grips dropped their debut album The Money Store after the well-received mixtape Exmillitary, there was a lot to like. An explosive, choppy, abrasive brand of production, impressionist lyrics that sketched out half-formed graphic nightmares, and MC Ride's bestial delivery balancing gruff nihilism with deranged paranoia. For the most part, it was pure, unrestrained id with some real visceral punch, and I can't deny it did exactly what it was designed to do... but for me, Death Grips doesn't always connect. For one, I'm not the biggest fan of MC Ride - his delivery works what the music is, but savagery loses impact with me over the course of a sustained album, even despite some eclectic production. As such, even though I'll acknowledge The Money Store being a slightly more cohesive and probably better project, I like more tracks from No Love Deep Web for a slightly more cutting and electronic approach in comparison to MC Ride's usual broad wallop. Then came Government Plates... which was just underwhelming across the board, easily Death Grips' least impressive album and one that started to show the band might be running out of ideas.

But in 2014 they dropped the first half of The Powers That B even amid the rumors of their split, and after a teasing process that frankly has gone on several months too long, they have released the second half, now giving us a full double album of material. And like I promised - and because this might be the last Death Grips release ever - I decided to cover it. What did I get?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

video review: 'citizen zombie' by the pop group

Man, I wish I loved this as much as some critics did, but in the end, it didn't quite connect as powerfully as I was hoping. Eh, it happens.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then Cannibal Ox or Purity Ring - stay tuned!

album review: 'citizen zombie' by the pop group

So when I talked about The Mavericks' comeback and reviewed Mono, it was at least a comeback that could be explained relatively easily - the group had split apart amicably, it had only been a decade, there was a growing market for old-fashioned country in the wake of bro-country's ascendance, it made sense why they'd take a shot at it.

If only the resurgence of The Pop Group made that much sense. Sure, post-punk has returned more to the spotlight in recent years, especially in the independent scene, but The Pop Group weren't exactly a traditional 'post-punk' group, at least however you can define that nebulous genre. While they might have kept the clear striking guitar textures and deep, washed out mix, it can easily be argued The Pop Group had more in common with funk crossed with free jazz, dub, avant-garde spoken word and noise that most post-punk. And as such, they were held as influential by no-wave acts like Swans to noise acts like Sonic Youth to other post-punk groups like The Birthday Party, which spawned Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. 

But The Pop Group always seemed to have a ramshackle approach that barely seemed sustainable for a few songs, let alone the two albums they managed to release in the end of the 70s - and I have to admit, of the post-punk of that era, The Pop Group is a band I appreciate more than like. Many of their songs had great elements that fired in all sorts of weird directions, but cohesion was always a problem - and it makes sense, considering the band was comprised by a group of teenagers who had more talent and imagination that cooperation. It certainly explained the lyrics, which had some evocative imagery but definitely uneven writing. Internal fighting eventually split the band apart, with the members eventually joining several other punk bands... until 2010, where talk of the band's reunion started. It took five years until Citizen Zombie was finally released - how was it?