Author Archive

Myrkur

"Skaði"

a3129722544_10

Shrugging off the controversy that the revealing of her identity caused, Danish musician Amalie Bruun has opted to put her nose back to the grindstone and work on her proper debut album as Myrkur. Though her self-titled EP was released just a few short months ago, Amalie has already begun teasing out the direction of her upcoming album. Earlier this month she released a demo called “Skaði” that, while continuing her career on its current trajectory, also opens her songwriting up a bit and lets it breathe. It’s not clear yet whether “Skaði” will end up on this new album or if it’s just a way of her clearing her throat before really getting to work; but one thing’s for sure, this Myrkur thing is for real, and she’s not going anywhere.

Full of Hell & Merzbow

Full of Hell & Merzbow

Full-Of-Hell-Merzbow-cover-art

On paper, a Full of Hell and Merzbow collaboration is one that you might not necessarily consider. While the respective artists both tend towards all that is loud and noisy, you’d be forgiven for doing a double take when reading that this group of 20-something hardcore kids from the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania were collaborating with an almost sixty-year-old noise musician from Tokyo, Japan. But, alas, here we are and God knows stranger collaborations have happened. But now that it has happened, we get to sit back and reap the benefits of these possibly disparate artists working together. Well, maybe “sit back and enjoy” isn’t quite what you’ll be doing when you dig into this album. As the very first few seconds will show you, you’d probably do better to strap yourselves in and get ready. Fire and brimstone are about to rain down around you, and you’d better be prepared.

What’s funny is that a lot of websites that have been covering this release have been putting Merzbow’s name out in front. I suppose it helps with clicks to have a more recognizable artist in the forefront, but when listening to Full of Hell & Merzbow, it’s quite clear that this is mostly Full of Hell’s show. It’s not until halfway through the album on “Raise Thee, Great Wall, Bloody and Terrible” that the band puts their foot on the brake pedal a bit and reigns the punishing powerviolence back a bit for a hellish interlude of grating noise courtesy of Merzbow. So think of this collaboration more in the terms of I Shall Die Here, the album that The Body did with The Haxan Cloak earlier this year. Yes, there are two names on the bill, but one is very obviously bolstering the other. Merzbow, with his bag of tricks, is only sharpening the ragged edges that Full of Hell carve with their riffs and brutal screaming. They’ve rearranged the pieces and found a way to make them fit in a way that’s not only wholly successful, but oh so goddamn loud as well.

I don’t mean to downplay Merzbow’s contributions to this album either, though. He has very obviously added something to the water that has Full of Hell cranking the knobs up to eleven. The band has proven their salt on their previous material, with their last album Rudiments of Mutilation being an obvious standout, but on Full of Hell & Merzbow there is something stronger and more magical going on. You could chock it up to the band maturing as songwriters, but throwing Merzbow into the mix has also made things infinitely more interesting. The riffs pack more of a punch, the lows are deeper, and the band’s overall energy is even more ferocious than it’s ever been before. They are wild animals here and, much like the serum that Dr. Jekyll imbibed that turned him into the violent and hideous creature Mr. Hyde, Merzbow injected something visceral into the veins of Full of Hell, and the result is nothing short of apocalyptic.

Listening back through Full of Hell’s discography, which comes complete with their experimental noise series FOH Noise, and reading through interviews with the band, maybe it wasn’t so far-fetched that the paths of these two purveyors of noise became crossed after all. Full of Hell are documented fans of Merzbow and even have Merzbow-themed merchandise (or “Merzrip” as they call it). And in relation to this particular collaboration it’s crazy to think of all that the internet has afforded us in just a few short decades. In Full of Hell’s case, their idol-worship led to a cross-continental collaboration with one of their heroes, and every step of the way it was all born deep within the wires. And just think, if this unlikely pairing works so well now, the possibilities are endless in the future. All we’ve got to do is just sit back and watch them line up.

Full of Hell & Merzbow is out now via Profound Lore Records.

Mitski

Bury Me At Makeout Creek

a3943051749_10

I just came home from a weekly tradition that a group of my friends and I have held for the past two months or so. We call it “art night,” and it’s probably exactly what you are imagining. We sit around, drink, listen to music, laugh, and make things with our hands. Whether it’s painting, or drawing, or weaving friendship bracelets, we’ve come to value that time together where we’re not hustling away the hours at our day jobs. I’m sure, when compared to the exciting lives that a lot of people lead, sitting on a hardwood floor with your friends is probably not that riveting, but they are little moments that mean a lot to me. And really, when you think about it, even the most exciting lifestyles are simply made up of moments. Some are just bigger than others.

Listening to Bury Met At Makeout Creek, the latest album by Brooklyn songwriter Mitski, I felt the unmistakeable touches of a kindred spirit. Though she sings about a lot of universal themes (love, heartbreak, etc.) the lens through which Mitski looks at them is a small one. She takes the big things in her life and boils them down into little moments that, while personal, she feels comfortable enough sharing with us. And though her experiences aren’t mine, I still find the smallness of Mitski’s world relatable to my own. Just as I relish the seemingly mundane, this same sort of sentiment is what fuels so much of Bury Me At Makeout Creek.

My first introduction to Mitski was through her single “Townie,” which she released early last month. Though it’s buried under metaphor and some of the most clever lyricism I’ve heard this year (“I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony”), “Townie” is essentially an everyday story about everyday kids that feel stuck in their small town, and though there’s a darkness to it, it’s also humorous in its bluntness. Listening to Bury Me At Makeout Creek as a whole, it is this intersection of honesty, humor, and straightforwardness that makes the album connect emotionally the way it does. Mitski finds the beauty in the simplicity of life, whether it’s a quiet moment sitting on the roof, a sad and drunken walk home, a tearful heartbreak, or even the endless possibilities that unemployment brings.

And yet for an album that focuses so intently on little things, and also does so with deftness and subtlety, Bury Me At Makeout Creek also manages to level listeners at almost every turn. Little turns of phrase that Mitski sprinkles into the tracks turn what could otherwise very easily be simple tunes into something much more. And on no track is this as clear as on the album’s closer, “Last Words of a Shooting Star.” Stripped of its opening and closing lines, the song plays out as yet another song detailing the pain of love lost. But framed by recurring lines about turbulence not being forecasted you realize that these are the words of a woman about to die in a plane crash, and the song takes on a devastating turn. And that’s largely where the genius of Mitski’s songwriting lies. Big things, little moments, make them beauitful, make them hurt.

So tomorrow I will return to the mundane everdayness of my job as a delivery driver for the Italian restaurant on Main Street. I imagine that I’ll continue to listen to Mitski as I peddle food all over town, but instead of seeing the hours in the car as a drag as I am frequently doing, I’ll try and do myself a favor by taking a page out of Mitski’s book. I could, I don’t know, deeply breathe in the cold fall air, or get a last look at the leaves before they’re completely gone for the year. Life is what you make it, and though the moments that my own life consists of at this current time might seem smaller rather than bigger, I’m willing to take them for what they are.

Bury Me at Makeout Creek is available now via Double Double Whammy.

Guerrilla Toss

"Be the Breeder"

Guerilla_Toss_NNA__medium_image

Guerilla Toss can’t seem to sit still—much like their manic, what-the-fuck-did-I-just-listen-to art punk. The band is prepping yet another EP and “Be the Breeder” is the first single to come kicking and screaming into the world. With a few new members in tow, the band is showing that their energy level hasn’t even begun to deplete, and “Be the Breeder” is more of the sort of barely bridled insanity that the band has become known and loved for, proving yet again that Guerilla Toss are our greatest hope in a post-Ponytail world.

“Be the Breeder” can be found on Smack the Brick—out November 18th via NNA Tapes.

Whatever Brains

"UVOD"

ssr-64

Whatever Brains have always given the term “weird” a run for its money. After three self-titled albums in a row, the band is branching out a bit by following them up with a double-12″ release on Sorry State Records. Of course the band’s aversion to proper titles remains the same with the two EP’s being named SSR-63 and SSR-64but the lovable weirdness inherent in their music is still there and, if anything, it’s amplified on this unique release.

Take for example the track “UVOD” off of SSR-64. The band says that the track is their first attempt at writing a “pure pop song,” but of course this is Whatever Brains we are talking about, so you can go ahead and take that with a grain of salt. With plinking synths and a Casio beat not often heard in their typical writing, the song is indeed melodic in what I suppose is a pop music sort of way. But it’s also totally bonkers in what I can only call a “Whatever Brains sort of way.” They lay out a formula, repeat it a few times—and then, in time for its finale—crank the knobs and send this blistering “pop” number out in a blaze of glory.

SSR-63/64 is available now via Sorry State Records.

New Terrors

"The Video Dead"

new terrors

The Video Dead is a 1987 horror film about a television set that acts as a portal for zombies to cross over from the other side. The film is a special kind of terrible and looks like it was shot over the span of several weekends using a camera on loan from someone’s parents. Of course, since the film is so incredibly bad, it’s become something of a cult classic, and if you’re a purveyor of trash cinema, then by all means, find a copy of it and get to watching. “The Video Dead,” a highlight from New Terrors‘ recently released sophomore album Leah, may share a name with a so-bad-it’s-good zombie flick, but it’s sitting somewhere more of the opposite side of the good/bad spectrum.

Leading with some lines that recall the mundanity of everyday life that would sooner recall Friday Night Lights than a horror movie, Burke Sullivan details the events of a regular weekend of what seems like the typical teenager. But as the track moves forward the lyrics take on a more metaphysical quality with talk of ghosts and graveyards until he finally ends his thoughts with the narrator talking about getting affairs in order before dying. “I’m gonna head back home, I’m burned out from living.” It’s quite the span of time considering that it all lives within a four-minute pop song, but that’s how New Terrors operates. What at first seems like a simple scratch on the surface reveals a whole lot more to uncover underneath.

Leah is available now via New Terrors’ Bandcamp.

HOMESHAKE

"Making a Fool of You"

12inchJacket_offset

Newness from HOMESHAKE is always cause for a smile. As it is I’m sitting here snacking on a bag of popcorn-flavored Jelly Bellys that I found in my room and spinning his latest single “Making a Fool of You” for probably the fifth time in a row. The two go together really well, and it’s a vibe that I’m not ready to shake just yet, probably because I know that I have to wake up and go back to work tomorrow.

So for now I’m listening to Peter Sagar and picturing him leaning back with his guitar—probably in a sunroom or comfortably lit parlor—getting funky with some buttery guitar licks. Like much of HOMESHAKE’s music, the track is laid-back and languid and fits squarely in what could best be described as the “easy listening” category. Just not the same easy listening that your dad insists on listening to on long car trips.

“Making a Fool of You” is from HOMESHAKE’s upcoming album In the Shower—out October 7th via Sinderlyn.

Code Orange

I Am King

iamking

Several years ago when Converge played a show with Pittsburgh’s Code Orange Kids, frontman Jacob Bannon saw something of himself in the young band. Something that struck a chord deep within him. The band’s violent and confident take on metalcore, a genre that Bannon himself had a hand in birthing, was enough to seal the deal and it wasn’t long after that Bannon signed the band to his label Deathwish Inc for their scrappy debut album Love Is Love/Return to Dust. Boasting a strong, classic metalcore sensibility, the album was a fine beginning to an energetic hardcore band that was just waiting to hit it big. And though the album was a lot of fun to listen to, the ambition of its reach didn’t extend too terribly far. Very obviously raised on a diet of their new mentors Converge as well as bands like Botch and Terror, Code Orange Kids put a steel-toed-boot-clad foot forward that, while not exactly reinventing the wheel, showed that the band had potential out the wazoo as well as a degree in knowing how to really tear things up.

In the two year span since Love Is Love/Return to Dust Code Orange Kids have kept themselves pretty busy. On top of a rigorous touring schedule and putting out several EPs and splits, the band has taken a big step as far as careers go—changing their name. Sure, they have only dropped the “Kids” part of the name officially making them Code Orange from here on out, but still the alteration carries some serious weight. It’s as if the band has retreated into a self-made cocoon before the unveiling of their hotly-anticipated sophomore album I Am King. They’ve taken serious steps towards maturity, both in their overall aesthetic and their songwriting. The most obvious and probably corny way of putting it is that they aren’t Kids anymore. Go ahead and roll your eyes if you must, but in dropping the juvenile portion of their nomenclature, Code Orange has stepped into a larger arena. They are sitting at the adults’ table now, and they are more than adept at holding their own there.

I’ve always maintained that the four members of Code Orange don’t look anything at all like the ferocious music they make might suggest. With their moppy hair and baggy clothing, they look less like the typical metalheads and more like extras from a lost episode of Freaks & Geeks—and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. If nothing else, the way in which Code Orange choose to present themselves serves to tell listeners that this isn’t the typical metalcore band. Don’t let their unassuming exterior fool you though. As I Am King will show, this band with their brutal riffs, can run with even the heaviest of bands. It’s not a bait-and-switch as much as it’s a defying of expectations and the further you dig into I Am King, the more you realize that any expectations at all will do best by being left at the door.

It’s no secret that metalcore is a genre that’s in serious trouble. What was once an exciting genre on the frontlines of style hybridization has now become a cut-and-paste checklist that results in style way before substance. Thankfully though, Code Orange has re-emerged with I Am King to remind listeners that all is not lost and that metalcore can once again be exciting to listen to. Overhauling the notion of what the genre means, the band has taken everything they know, put it in a blender (with generous dollops of sludge metal, doom, grunge, and some other experimental bits), thrown the resulting mess against the wall, and then gotten their hands dirty. Smearing a visage into the thick mess, the band has turned it into a jarring mural that’s as brutal as it is forward thinking.

And with every bizarre little moment that pricks the ear, Code Orange are stretching themselves and it shows. Right off the bat, I Am King reveals itself to be a metalcore album that’s more concerned with inverting expectations than lazily meeting them. The title track opens with alternately muted and buzzing guitar tones that feel like something lifted straight from a horror movie and the shadows only gets darker from there. Like the album’s artwork, the macabre nature of I Am King is grotesque and ugly to behold, but if you can get past the shock factor that Code Orange very obviously want to project, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that would require you use your brain cells rather than headbang them away. The chaos is orderly with a strangely beautiful aesthetic that feels almost mathematical the more you listen. But to keep things from feeling too familiar, every time Code Orange begin to build something where you can see the details forming, they turn around and burn it down before you can get your fingers around. It’s a cruel game, but one that keeps listeners on their toes.

One of the biggest compliments that I can pay Code Orange is that they’ve learned how to use their natural resources—most notably Reba Meyers. Not to single her out, but she is a short spitfire who is the band’s ace in the hole, and it would be criminal to ignore her very specific contributions. On I Am King, the band takes advantage of the diversity of vocal range that she enables and utilizes it to full effect. Though not the lead vocalist, Reba lends her voice to some of the album’s more melodic moments and sets the work apart simply by doing so. Modern metalcore is a genre that flirts dangerously with gross misogyny, and while Code Orange are far from being the typical metalcore band, it’s still refreshing to see them not only stare those prejudices down, but view their female contributor as an integral part of their very unique equation.

In the last couple of weeks, I Am King has pretty much dominated my airwaves. Catchy music isn’t necessarily melodic so with that in mind, man, this is one catchy album. Despite that shell of ugliness that the album is surrounded in, it’s a compulsively listenable experience that, despite its jagged edges, goes down easily and rewards relistening… and more relistening. Music that hits with the weight of a sledgehammer rarely gets this fun and each time they bring that metal down it’s even better than the last time. It hurts so good as the saying goes, and though they’d never deliver the blows with a smile, I’d be willing to bet that Code Orange are having one hell of a good time as they do it, even if they aren’t kids anymore.

I Am King is out now via Deathwish Inc.

BEIJU

"Narcissistic"

a2541575161_10

If you were a fan of the well-loved but short-lived Brooklyn band Night Manager, then you probably already know about Blood Sister, the new-ish project of founding member Ezana Edwards. What you may not know however, is that Ezana is not the only member of Night Manager to continue writing music under a different name. As the frontwoman for a new project called BEIJU, vocalist Caitlin Seager has apparently also been keeping busy. And it’s good to have her back.

“Narcissistic,” BEIJU’s first official single, debuted earlier this week on a newly minted Bandcamp page, and it’s easily one of this week’s best surprises. On top of a slinking bass line, stormy synth work, and a shit-ton of reverb, Caitlin’s vocals pierce through the noise with a punchy melody and some relaxing ooh’s and ahh’s. Add to that some biting lyrics about dependence on social media and, well, I think we’ve got a hit on our hands.