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Underground Mondays: Different Days EP

Nothing makes me more upset than when someone claims to enjoy “everything”, but can’t enjoy the simple things in music. I mean, pop and radio rock is the least challenging form of music to listen to. I understand there are many acts that are pretty bad (Nickelback, Finger Eleven), but claim bands that garner a large amount of success or airplay as not worth listening to is the prime example of pretentiousness. 2013 is nearing the end of it’s spectacular run, and it’s coming down to crunch time when picks are made, and time and time again my most listened too seem to be everyone else’s as well. It goes to show the popularity of an artist.

Now as I type this, I have a certain sound in my head when I think of constant radio airplay. It’s one of three categories. First is the club bangers, think big name rap artist featured on some pop stars track. Second category is the new, popular indie artist that everyone pretends they only like, (Mumford and Sons, The 1975, Capital Cities), and my final category is the tried and true rock. Since the 70′s, rock has been the only form of popular music that still receives radio airplay, even if it has fluctuated throughout the years. Different Days is a Montreal based band that grows from that popularized rock sound we all know. Strong, steady drumming, prideful vocals, and the one of a kind guitar tone. Oddly enough, throwing on the EP I received from them the first thing I thought was, “Is this PJ Harvey in 2000?”. It’s a spot-on comparison I’ve been told, and I guarantee if you listen to “A Place Called Home” and  compare it to the band’s “Inconspicuous”, you’ll agree.

The group takes pride in their self-sufficient way of doing things. Having multi-talented members who can design artwork, master albums, and brag about a degree in classical production(?), they seem to have everything set. “Different Days” is not only the closer to the same-titled EP, it IS the epitome of their whole band. Feedback that salutes Sonic Youth, incredibly strong fills, and even the opening  finger picking foreshadows the ultimate climax. There are so many different sounds on one EP. There’s a heavy metal sound, followed by a top 40 rock vibe, but it doesn’t feel forced with the exception of the opener, “Breathless”. It came across as tinny and lifeless. The upside is that the vocals are incredibly catchy, so it would be a different experience live.

Different Days is a band with a bright future. From PJ Harvey to Bikini Kill, the band knows their roots. They pick and choose only the most engaging parts from each artist to combine it into one unique, colorful blend of music. Different Days EP is a solid showcase into what the group has to offer. When experience and experimenting comes, they should be a band that brings a lot to the table for record labels. I guarantee them as the next indie sweethearts. Listen to “Static” and attempt to put a frown on, which is only acceptable when headbanging.

 

Listen to the entire EP below, and download! 

Be to check out their facebook page here

 

 

Death Grips – Government Plates

Let’s take a moment and review some of the antics this group has caused in the past year and a half. They single handily won over an entire audience with The Money Store, which received worldly acclaim, and then gave the middle finger to the same record company by releasing No Love Deep Web without their permission. Remember the Sharpie covered penis? Yes, that was Death Grips. Following this, they began a massive tour, which they cancelled before to release No Love Deep Web, and then ultimately cancelled the SAME tour again. They didn’t even bother to show up to the Lollapalooza after show either, which received a lot of coverage as well. Now the hardcore hip-hop group released a new album, titled Government Plates, to the surprise of everyone in the music community. Coming across as a logical progression to No Love Deep Web, it combines the sound of the prior with the structure of the universally acclaimed The Money Store.

Now I’m a Death Grips fan. There’s no denying that I enjoy their music, but I went off for a few months without hearing a single song. It may have been the overkill with The Money Store, or the fact that I wish No Love Deep Web sounded like the previous album. It felt like getting back with an ex when I started the stream of the new album. From the beginning of Government Plates, I realized the group was back in business. The album opens with the horribly titled, “you might think he loves you for your money but i know what he really loves you for its your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat”. Yes, that is the title, and it’s all lowercase. The first noise on the entire album is a crash of something glass, and then follows the high pitched ringing that echoes the massive bass hits that seem to be a reoccurring theme on the album. It’s arguably the best song on Government Plates, and the worst title in music history.

Follows this is “Anne Bonny”, which is a great throwback to The Money Store. What this album does so well is it sets itself apart from any Death Grips album by being plain odd. There’s a lot more of MC Rides screaming, and the electronics on every song come across as extremely eerie, but dance-able. “Two Heavens” opens with a rotating synth chord, but then a double bass break comes in with a distorted voice. It’s something I can headbang too, but also sit in the dark and squirm until it’s over. Flatlander, the noise specialist in Death Grips, really steps it up for this album. He doesn’t try anything particularly new, but every track contains an immense amount of bass this time around so I can’t complain.

Zach Hill as well lets loose for this album. He’s pretty much given the OK to try anything, and that can be seen on “This Is Violence Now (Dont get me wrong)”. Over top the preset drum machine, Hill’s chaotic drum fills are fixated to the song like a metal-heads dream. Listening to Government Plates gave me a whole new perspective of the man’s talent, and reading that he was self-taught woes me every-time. It does make sense though, because he plays like he’s feeling the beat with his body, hitting everything in sight, but it does work well. He overplays, but in only the best way possible.

Now the overplaying can be tied into the reason for the free release. It proves that Death Grips aren’t in it for the business, but for the sake of a creative outlet. I don’t know any other ventures Flatlander and MC Ride are in, but Zach has had a resume full of past bands ranging from Boredoms to Hella to Wavves. The group seems to be a release from the world around them, and them allowing us to experience it seems to be a hard thing for them to do. MC Ride does hold back on this album, but he allows the other two members to stand out. His highlight does come in with “Birds”, which has some of the groups most cryptic and eerie lyrics possible. “I’ve got a black hat/ It might live,” is bad enough to pass up, but with the minimalist mess that surrounds it adds enough of an effect to show that lines like these have an effect.

Government Plates is the oddest release yet by Death Grips. The whole idea of them releasing a brand new album for free makes me wonder what their intentions are. Just to note how far they’ve came, when they released this album on their own website, it crashed within 30 seconds. I wouldn’t be surprised if they meant for that to happen, or they meant for the insane buzz that surrounded their no-show at Lollapalooza. What Government Plates shows us is an honest look at what Death Grips wants to do. They want to let loose, they want to have fun, and they don’t give a fuck. If people call Miley Cyrus “punk”, just wait until they know about Death Grips.

 

 

 

8.5/10

 

 

Underground Mondays – AMM and how they changed music

To be honest, this is the hardest review I’ve ever written in my entire life. I have no idea how to start it, how to describe it, and how to end it. You could say I’m stumped, but there’s a definite reason why I brought up this band. This week, I’m challenging you readers. These guys aren’t new, and they’ve never been highly discussed, but the London free-improvisation group, AMM, have really connected with me lately. Founded way back in 1965, and never receiving any popularity, AMM are considered influential among the community of improvised music.

It’s a difficult topic to write about, because the music itself stretches the boundaries of sound. Ornette Coleman, the famous American jazz saxophonist once was asked to leave for talking after watching these men perform, and Paul McCartney once said the group’s set was too long, but sat through it all. AMM considers themselves as free improvisers, which practically means they follow no structure, no melodies, and no rhythm. The music is based on texture and mood, putting off a large percentage of listeners. What separates free improvisation from free jazz is the idea of a set rhythm. In AMM’s case, there is none. I’m taking zero. no rhythm what so ever, and sound comes from everywhere. It’s never chaotic oddly enough, but the most popular and debut release from this adventurous group, AMMMusic, set the group in stone as one that will be remembered.

Keith Rowe is a founding member of the group and their guitarist and icon. He takes influence from jazz musicians like Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, and Barney Kessel. His sound is unlike anything I’ve heard, and the first notes of guitar on their debut release really showcases how different and unique this group is. Rowe plays a prepared tabletop guitar, and without any traditional technique, he scraps, plucks, scratches, taps, and wedges anything he can find into the guitars strings. He began this idea slowly after deciding never to tune his guitar again to stand out among a crowd of talented guitar players. The idea and thought of watching this alone intrigues me to listen.

The debut of AMMMusic is an hour and fifteen minute epidemic of radical noise. No, not Merzbow noise, but it’s more of a collage of dynamic sound. There’s a sense of tension between every random strike of sound, and it flares like fresh wood in a fire. The boundaries are definitely pushed, and I cannot get enough of it. There’s unraveling drum hits, contrasting saxophone notes, and even radio signals that flare through the guitars pickups to add a worldly and unique touch to an already competent cluster. I’d like to remind readers that this is not jazz. It’s not even free jazz. There’s no resemblance to free jazz besides a few instruments the two have in common that are played. This is what happens when somebody decides free jazz is too generic and wants to push the envelope of music.

There’s a famous quote by the famous French composer, Pierre Schaeffer that says, “Sound is the vocabulary of nature.” It’s this sort of view that influenced AMM’s take on music. The forward thinking masterminds went on to influence musicians like Syd Barrett of early Pink Floyd, Robert Fripp of King Crimson, and even Thom Yorke admitted to listening to AMMMusic when recording their 2001 album, Amnesiac. Now I admit, there’s truly nothing appealing from a musical perspective about this. What draws me to this group is the experimental side to it. When we’re surrounded pop charts and R&B bangers, it’s a breath of fresh air to take a step back and wonder, “What the fuck does the opposite of top 40 sound like?” Now there’s a terrible reason to listen to AMM, but I have a different perspective. To me, they’re a group that takes the simple idea texture and mood and completely separates it from everything tonal in music. There’s a sense of brutality and emotion to AMM that’s just not there in anything else. AMM is AMM. That’s final.

 

Here’s a shorter track from the magnum opus, AMMMusic: 

Very cool videos from very cool artist

MITNG PLAYLIST #5

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