13 feb 2012
- Behold! the Monolith – Defender, Redeemist
This trio bludgeons almost equally well at the tempo of an advancing glacier or at a jackhammer thrash pace (Motorhead comparisons bruited about in the press for this ‘un really do make sense). Veteran metal producer/engineer Billy Anderson turns in a recording that’s amazing in it’s cake/eat-it-tooness: crushingly heavy at times, but also incorporating richly textured and layered soundscapes. Brutal and epic. Sure doesn’t hurt that the band cooked up some killer riffs, but “Desolizator” chugs on one static chord for many bars and it’s awesome; that’s down to Billy.
- Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
I’m baffled by both the hype and the backlash. Is it vapid? Yes. Is it calculated? Yes. Is it any more terrible than any record by any random mononym*, that hipsters (perhaps ironically) profess to like tracks by? No, it’s not. I was going to assert that I kinda liked it just to be perverse, and I kinda sorta did, but then again, I couldn’t make it through in a single sitting (and Kate Bush should sue over for “Video Games”).
*(or other artist the public is on a first name basis with, e.g., Britney)
- Filthybird – “I’d Like to Know” (single)
Raw, lie-feeling jangly pop with surprisingly soulful vocals.
- Cheyenne Marie Mize – “We Don’t Need” (EP)
Bluesy folk is not my bag, but Mize’s voice can manage both tough and fragile, and the arrangements have some surprising details (particularly in the percussion area) — held my interest more than I expected.
- The Pines – Dark So Gold
Most people would probably describe Dark So Gold with words like “folk,” “country,” or even “blues,” and it has attributes of all three: pedal steel and banjo, acoustic guitars, some blues-style chord progressions. And it definitely fits into the category of songwriters’ exploring their internal darkness at album length, like, say, Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. It’s one of those records where even a comparatively upbeat song sounds gloomy because of the material that bookends it. But in a weird way, it reminds me of Shriekback. That’s probably mostly driven by the quantity and positioning of backing tracks; if you listen closely (which this record for sure rewards) there is tons of arrangement detail and quite a lot going on — but it seldom feels dense.
- Silverstein – Short Songs
It’s hard to imagine very many people liking all of this record, which by turns offers metally hardcore, non-metally screamocore, pretty good pop-punk, and wussy, cringe-inducing emo sappiness. But some of it is pretty cool, and with the longest tune weighing in at 1:37, almost none of them overstay their welcome. Features covers of tunes from a similarly all-over-the-map crew: DK’s, Orchid, Gorilla Biscuits, Descendents, Promise Ring. Pervesely intriguing.
- Stew and the Negro Problem – Making It
OMG so many genres! Rock/powerpop/pre-rock’n'roll pop/r’n'b/jazz!? And another record I’ve heard — and like — this year that has flute on it. Only in the end times, my friends, only in the end times.
- Thieves Like Us – Berlin Alex
The name primed me to expect New Order-influenced electropop, but this is minimalist Krautrock. Owes a clear debt to Neu!, but doesn’t emulate the awesome drumming or subtle dynamic shifts.
- Van Halen – “Tattoo” (single)
So many people said this was terrible that I was psyched for something really dreadful, but it’s just mediocre: Roth is in the jokey mode of “Hot For Teacher,” or “Ice Cream Man,” the production is a bit murky, and EVH’s solo feels a bit phoned in. So maybe it feels like a deep cut rather than a single. But it does kinda sound like Van Halen. (ed.: That hook is more durable than I thought at first. Have to admit this is growing on me.)
- Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
Eddie’s guitar work on “Honeybabysweetiedoll” really made me pay attention, kinda Steve Vai-ish, or maybe even Adrian Belew-ish. Other than that, it kinda sounded like a Van Halen record. Note: it’s been a loong time since I listened to a Van Halen record straight through. And it didn’t have Sammy Hagar on it.
- Filthybird – Songs for Other People
Much folkier and less immediately appealing to me than the new single.
- Thieves Like Us – “Your Heart Feels” (EP)
Thieves Like Us – “Your Love Runs Still” (EP)
Chilly and sparse new wave like very early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, minus the impassioned vocals. “You and I” has a danceable (Shriekback-ish, even) bassline and a chorus that almost seems to have wandered in from a Prefab Sprout song; it’s the catchiest thing here by a long shot.
Tags: 2012 · lists