Tag Archives: rock
What’s the old maxim? Writing about WRITER is like music-ing about music?
In this case, WRITER refers to the neo-grunge band of brothers who recently released their I Make Neon 7″ on Nineteen98. Brooklynites-via-San Diego James and Andy Ralph are fresh off of opening for the Heartless Bastards, and their new music debuts a heavier, more distorted rock. I Make Neon comes less than a year after the release of their full-length Brotherface (I guess The Black Keys took Brothers), and features two songs: “IE” and “Neon.” Both feature searing guitars and blown-out, crashing waves of sound, like Nirvana blasted through broken speakers. Stream them below.
I Make Neon is available to purchase via digital download at Nineteen98, with a limited clear lacquer 7″ available August 31st.
STREAM: WRITER – I Make Neon
This song is evil, and not just any evil, mind you. We’re talking serial killer stalking a pretty young white girl on a deserted city block, evil; gates of hell swinging open to a pit of vicious fire, evil; and, haunted house reality show where actual ghosts terrorize the charlatans, evil. With “Ultra,” the Chicago band Disappears have not only tapped into something which feeds innate emotional responses of mania, panic, and paranoia, but they’ve also done so on a nine-and-half minute track that’s surprisingly difficult to tune out. This isn’t camp or cliche. This is real horror.
The basic framework for “Ultra” is early 80s post-punk. The bass will ride the same note for measures as the cymbal hits like high heels on concrete, click, click, click, click. The guitars, meanwhile, only come in bits and pieces, clangs and clashes buried in the mix. The monotonous groove is occasionally broken, albeit, not in the manner one would prefer. The vocals, a scrambled series of foreboding lines like, “If you go, I’ll go,” grow nastier in tone. The clanks in the background become more aggressive, too. Later, a backwards track mimics Hollywood Horrors’ sound effect of a spirit set for havoc.
Should you play this track while out jogging, you’ll beat your best time. Should you use it to soundtrack trick-or-treat at your house, you’ll get all of the Snickers bars to yourself. Or, you can do as I’ve done, and repeat it until you’ve unearthed every audible note. It pulls you in like that, with a mad man’s grip. Disappears’ new album, Era, will be out 8.27 on Kranky Records, and Disappears fans, this is the one you’ve been waiting for. I’ve already burned through some good lines of what will be an ace review on just this track. I have a finite amount of good lines.
Downward Spiral felt like I had an unending bottomless pit of rage and self-loathing inside me and I had to somehow challenge something or I’d explode. I thought I could get through by putting everything into my music, standing in front of an audience and screaming emotions at them from my guts … but after a while it didn’t sustain itself, and other things took over – drugs and alcohol.
And I’m happy that I don’t feel that way any more. I’ve learned to recognise, a lot of it forced through the process of recovery, that I’m wired wrong in certain ways, the chemical balance of my brain is off in terms of depression a little bit. This record was written as the other side of that journey. The despair and loneliness and rage and isolation and the not-fitting-in aspect that still is in me, but I can express that in a way that feels more appropriate to who I am now. And often that rage is quieter.
Trent Reznor to Mark Beaumont of the Guardian on the difference between the Nine Inch Nails of Downward Spiral and the Nine Inch Nails of today.
If you have some spare time, the whole Reznor interview with the Guardian is a worthy read. For today’s purposes, however, let’s focus on the above quotes.
Reznor is 48 now. He’s not the manic (or is it maniac) depressive of his youth. Consequently, he no longer feels the need to have his songs explode into rage. When you listen to “Copy of A,” the second single from the soon-to-be released Hesitation Marks (9.3 on Columbia), you can hear exactly what Reznor means.
While the lyrics aren’t exactly sunshine and lollipops, unicorns and chocolate waterfalls — At various times during “Copy of A,” he refers to himself as an echo, a shadow, or pieces, he doesn’t completely give in to rage and despair. His voice remains remarkably calm for someone in dire straits.
The music displays a similar resolve. It retains a minimal groove for the first three minutes, then broadens into headswim of clicks, bits, whizzes and whirrs, each oblivious to the other’s existence. It’s a crescendo with all gear in tact, something that couldn’t be said of Downward Spirals’ more intense moments.
The best part of “Copy of A,” however, is, plain and simply, that it works. Reznor has found a way to be an adult and work, not flail, his way through his problems, and still make meaningful, engaging music. This new Nine Inch Nails is showing some serious promise.
Remember that time the music of Fuck Buttons was used during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Summer Olympics? Remember how your twitter feed lit up with “Aw, shit is that Fuck Buttons in the Olympics” tweets? That was pretty sweet.
At the time it was shocking to think a band with such an inappropriate name could be featured during a global event. Now, thinking back to that day, it makes much more sense, especially after processing their latest effort, Slow Focus.
While the duo of Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power are uncompromising in their approach — they coax sounds out of a slapdash assortment of electronics which have no business being used in 2013 (most famously, they used the child’s toy, Mr Microphone, as a vocal filter on earlier efforts), the resulting melodies aren’t always gripping as they ought to be. When their music isn’t creating vivid imagery, they need something like a parade of the young and fit, or the commercial glitz of a new silver sedan, to guide the listener along their vision.
Lead single, “The Red Wing,” can stand on its own. It’s like old man Fatboy Slim drunk and the purple drank. The bass is sturdier and the tempo is more of a stomp than a throb, yet it has all the whistles and tweets necessary for a dancefloor filler.
Otherwise, the album falls in between the uncomfortable middle ground between ambient electronic and big-crescendo instrumental rock — Too busy for oms, and not startling enough for ahhs.
If Slow Focus were a traditional rock record made my a traditional rock band, I’d say they were stuck in the mid-tempo hell of dad rock, unable or unwilling to aspire to anything more than pleasant enough for ear buds when you’re doing other stuff. Their invention is the only thing saving them from such a sorry designation.
18 years after breaking up, the original members of Medicine are back together with a brand new album, To The Happy Few, which was recently released by Captured Tracks. Check out the sunshiny wall of noise “Long As The Sun” below. It’s loud, and tight, like they never stopped playing together, a perfect song for your end of summer mix.
Medicine – Long As The Sun from To The Happy Few (2013)