50 Words or Less: October 2012
Can't keep up with all the music released each month? It's cool, Ian Rogers has you covered in 50 words or less. Previously: 50 Words or Less: September 2012
--Guided By Voices - Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere
Every day is already Guided By Voices day for me. So the fact that these drunken dads are still shovelling great songs onto the pile won’t change anything, but damn: life is awesome, yes? The A-side is jangled double-tracked mid-fi. On the flip, scuzzy (and shitty) rock.
--Paul Banks - Banks
Stinks. Matador must owe money to think this is a good idea. In short, this sounds like a wedding band covering Interpol, sans the darker hues. On a few tracks, this makes for a borderline interesting experience but then the remainder is jittery over-produced ‘cool’ music, with Paul Banks.
Muse - The 2nd Law
Perennially unhip, overwrought and critically abhorred Radiohead lite. The cyborg, computer-adjusted Queen. Really silly. Oh well, at least they did something. I’ll take this over a thousand shitty DIY bands and all chill-wave ever. Life is awkward and stupid half the time and at least Muse reflect this.
Ke$ha - Die Young
Do you know what makes me want to die young? Taylor Swift and Red and her six-figure sports car metaphors. So if you don’t know what’s up with Ke$ha, go listen to her competition. Here, Ke$ha sings about nothing, to add percussion only. And I’m blissing out.
--Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy
BMSR have a fairly defined shtick by now: fuzzy distorted synths, vocoded helium vocals, candy-bar melodies and some sort of nostalgic vibe that screams 70s timber veneer and splatter movies. This time round is a bit sunnier and lighter but you can’t beat the strange out of this band.
Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man
First impressions of this: Natasha Khan can carry a thin man and has a tight body and good hair and can sing. Great. Second impressions? Yeah, that didn’t happen. On top of recalling all of my worst nightmares (Taylor Dane, witch house, the Beaches OST), this sounds weak, weak, weak. (Ed: For a different take, read Doug Wallen's feature review on TheVine.)
--Neurosis - Honour Found In Decay
On their tenth album, Neurosis push with measured weight on the boundaries of heavy metal without puncturing it open Breaking rules is easy. Instead they do this fucking masterful batch of songs, all conducted with discerning swagger and audible passion. The absolute literal definition of seriously heavy. I’m eternally grateful.
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Weird, wonderful and brazen second album from Perth’s Kevin Parker. Totally emblematic of his city’s rock/experimental cross-pollination program, Lonerism is an idiosyncratic triumph, for sure, but the timing helps as well. It sits snuggly into contemporary music’s psychedelic bull-market. (Did I say the right thing at last?)
--Pig Destroyer - Book Burner
It’s no coincidence that John Peel was instrumental in popularising grindcore. It’s always been an unseemly union between heavy metal masculinities and art music. Pig Destroyer do it well. Book Burner is high on blast beat thrills and dumb/godhead riffs, all arranged according to an especially grim Venn diagram.
Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
For those who’ve found Fly-Lo a little too densely packed in the past (that’s me), this is a welcome lightening of the load. Still a ball-tripping retro-futurist archive of hip-hop, '70s tint and IDM, Until… delivers a good time and quite a bit more. Totally recommended.
Trash Talk - 119
Touted as the next Black Flag, Californian band Trash Talk are actually more like a better dressed Agnostic Front. Played damn well but also brutally mundane. Whatever these kids are smoking, it isn’t here on the album. Imagine if side B of My War (or Fucked Up, even) never happened.
Cody Chestnutt - Landing On A Hundred
A decade after his breakthrough and probably 7 years too late, but you can’t rush craftspeople. Or weirdos. And that’s what makes this so refreshing: in working those pockets of soul and R&B that encourage eccentricity, Chestnutt throws back to a time when all this was outsider music. Yep.
Bored Nothing - Bored Nothing
Love it. I have a weird soft spot for whimpy indie bands and it makes me happy to hear one so out and proud. They get it just right too: great songs married to a raw production. Super encouraging that Australian bands of this ilk are starting to rock again.
--The Church of Hysteria - Argyle
Drawing all sorts blackened drone into a series of chanted and grim workouts, Melbourne’s Church of Hysteria make for ugly listening. Not really metal, this is probably something worse. So don’t think burning churches and tinny thrash. Think desolate Australian suburbia and these guys in their sex-dungeon/practice room.
--Lawrence English - For/Not For John Cage
More commanding synth and swell ambience from Lawrence English. And just so we’re clear: this is not an academic exercise. Here Cage is more of an iconic presence than a precise influence. Good. And thus: a suite of large rolling drones, beautiful from their green valleys to their sunny peaks.
Kendrick Lamar - Good kid, mA.A.d city
While everyone else seems to shield their eyes from this album like it’s the sun, tonight in my living room it just sounds like a glimmer to me. Sure there’s something there on track 4 but the rest hides behind the same tired motifs, sketched ideas and cheap beats. Why? (Ed: Matt Shea thinks he knows the answer, in his feature review here on TheVine.)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!The 2012 return of GS!YE is frighteningly apt. Picking up exactly where they left off, these post-rock Canadians leap into the chasm of today’s failing economies, ongoing wars and two-party cock-blocking. From the bottom of that grimy pit, they play these long, beautiful hymns for us.
…And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Lost Songs
Pitched as a comeback but from what? ToD have always made a mess, as well they should. Sometimes it’s a grandiose and ornate abomination. Sometimes it’s more like this collection of raw cascading blasts. That said, the guitar noise is definitely back and Lost Songs feels uncannily like a homecoming.
Calvin Harris - 18 Months
We’re living through an era where quite a bit of EDM’s weirder ideals and ideas sit closer to the surface. Unfortunately Scottish DJ / producer Clavin Harris captures absolutely none of the zeitgeist here. Instead: a fairly tired collection of bangers that refuse contemplative listening as they dry-hump the ear. (Ed: "18 Months seems both redundant and totally necessary", writes Jonno Seidler in his feature review.)
Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
Converge have made ‘harrowing brutality’ their stock and trade so thoroughly that almost any punk, rock or metal idea could be run through their assembly line of horror and come out sounding on-point. Thankfully, where a lesser band would make sausages, these dudes still butcher with flair and determination.
Ian RogersPreviously: 50 Words or Less: September 2012