New York-based Krallice are one of my favorite black metal bands. Black metal, from its inception 20 some years ago up until today, is one of the most challenging, misunderstood, and flat out crazy genres of music. Most of the craziness (murders, church burnings) comes from the Norwegian scene in the ’90s. More recently, black metal bands have been cropping up in the United States. Some attempt to copy the black metal stylings of the original Norwegian bands, but the bands that are pushing the genre today are the ones that bring a more unique approach to the table. Bands like Nachmystium from Chicago or Wolves in the Throne Room from Olympia have introduced psychedelic and folk elements to the traditionally noise-only oriented formula.
This brings me to Krallice. Krallice is awesome. Their second album, Dimensional Bleedthrough, was progressive, mathy, and plenty noisy. It took them two years to follow it up, but it was worth the wait. Steregum premiered the track “The Clearing,” which opens with shoegaze guitar before bursting into glorious black metal riffs. Diotima came out yesterday, but it was available to stream on NPR a week ago. I give NPR a lot of credit for stepping out of its normal programming. Also, the write-up on the album is great. The album is a great step forward for the band, and it will be interesting to see how finicky black metal enthusiasts deal with the proggy nature of the album and the fact that it was featured on NPR.
Apache Dropout are three dudes from Bloomington making psychedelic garage rock. Most of what I have read about them compare them to Spacemen 3, Velvet Underground, and The Stooges. Lofty comparisons, but the album delivers. I would also throw in some newer drugged out teenage ennui-repping bands like the Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees. Also, Paul Mahern of The Zero Boys (whom I interviewed a while back) helped engineer the album.
Cass McCombs is a singer-songwriter that has been compared to the likes of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Leonard Cohen. Those comparisons are a bit misleading, however, as McCombs tends to wander off the beaten path more than the aforementioned songwriter titans (the last six minutes of PREfection are just noise).
On his fifth LP, Wit’s End, McCombs lays down his most melancholy material to date. There is no “Dreams Come True Girl” on this album. That being said, McCombs is still an amazing songwriter and imagery in songs like “The Lonely Doll” easily make this album a frontrunner for best of the year. Also, “County Line” is without a doubt my favorite song so far this year.
Listen to “County Line”
Wit’s End will be out 4/26/11 on CD/LP/Cassette via Domino
My first introduction to Swedish musicians was with The Hives back in high school. Then later, Tallest Man on Earth, Jens Lekman, and the list goes on. Lately I have found an even smaller niche in Sweden’s musical output; classic rock revival. First I was introduced to Witchcraft, who have their Black Sabbath imitation down pat, and then came Graveyard. Their first album is a decent effort. It has a driving classic rock sound, but lacks any stand-out guitar hooks. Hisingen Blues is one of those rare follow-up albums that takes everything good about the first release and builds upon it. This album has hooks, psychedelic tinges, doom sections, pretty much everything you would expect from a Mountain/Black Sabbath mashup band. Swedish people know what is up, as Graveyard outsold Britney Spears when Hisingen Blues was released in Sweden.
Normally I don’t post straight up rock ‘n roll but I have been blasting this album for a month, and sometimes you just need to rock.
Bass Drum of Death is 2 dudes from Mississippi who make loud garage rock and probably do their fair share of drugs. They sound like a mixture of San Francisco garage and Nashville punk, borrowing the pop sensibility of Ty Segall mixed with the heaviness of Jeff the Brotherhood. Also, I’m a sucker for 2 piece bands, especially ones that make more noise than most four part bands. Also, they backed up Odd Future.
I understand that with the sheer amount of music coming out, plenty will fall through the cracks and be forgotten. Still, it amazes me how musicians like Richard Swift haven’t experienced more mainstream success. As my buddy Chad would say, Swift has his hands in many soups. Singer, songwriter, filmmaker, and multi-instrumentalist, Swift is at his best when singing self-deprecating love songs (although his experimental work as Instruments of Science and Technology is worth a listen as well).
“Lady Luck” is the last song from his 2009 full-length, The Atlantic Ocean. It works more of a Frankie Valli feeling than Swift’s usual Nilsson vibe, which might be why it was stuck on the end of the album. Either way, the track is fantastic and the album is solid.
Justin Broadrick is a prolific musical mastermind. Once the guitarist for extreme metal band Napalm Death, he has since moved on to at least five other musical projects including Jesu. Jesu has been called many things; post-metal, drone metal, ambient, electronic, experimental, and all the tags seem to fit pretty well. After releasing a slew of EPs, singles, splits, and remixes a new full length is finally due in May. Head over to Stereogum to listen to “Birth Day” from the new album. As usual, Broadrick strikes a balance between the heavy and the delicate that puts him worlds above his peers.
Ascension is out on CD and digitally May 10 via Mark Kozelek’s (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) Caldo Verde Records
“Vinyl Release Date Coming Soon.”
The Fresh & Onlys are a garagey psych-rock outfit from San Francisco fronted by the prolific and awesome Tim Cohen. Their newest EP, Secret Walls is a more laid-back release, more reminiscent of Cohen’s solo work than a Fresh & Onlys album. That being said, it is solid. Solid like a rock. All five songs are catchy as hell and make you want to kiss girls.
Dax Riggs is a guy that has been around forever in different bands. Formerly fronting Acid Bath, Agents of Oblivion, and Deadboy & The Elephantmen, last year Riggs put out a solo album, Say Goodnight to the World, and it is awesome. He seems to be one of those guys that is well known in some circles but completely unknown in others, which is a shame because SGTTW is a great blend of sludge, blues, and Stooges-esque rock ‘n roll. I have described the album to people as apocalyptic blues rock.
The album features an Elvis cover, “Heartbreak Hotel,” which is much creepier than the original. Here is “Let Me Be Your Cigarette,” one of the more Stoogey songs on the album, played live at a Hearya Live Session in 2010.
Moon Duo is Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips) and Sanae Yamada. They are from the moon, or San Francisco, or Colorado. Maybe Berlin, since that is where this record was made. Mazes is less spacey than any Wooden Shjips album, but it’s not exactly down to earth. Underneath it all, the album is guitar driven and more accessible than their previous releases.
Oh those crazy kids
Recommended for space rock junkies and psych lovers. I also recommend checking out their previous Sacred Bones release, Killing Time.