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Death Grips release a new free album titled Government Plates

After a long period of silence, the constantly surprising experimental hip-hop group released a new full LP today for free on their website thirdworlds.net. Titled Governmennt Plates and still dawning a terrible album cover, the group continues the in-your-face unique sound they’re known for. Stream the album in it’s entirity below and enjoy!

Tim Hecker – Virgins review

There’s already been a surprising amount of great electronic music released in 2013, and with the year wrapping up shortly, I’d like to bring up another release that stands out. Hailing from Vancouver, BC and taking his project to Montreal, Hecker has created a name for himself in the experimental music scene since his Imaginary Country release in 2009. Virgins is his 7th full length album, and it further progresses the droning, beautiful chords that he’s noted for.

The album opens up with a signature Hecker contrast between light, pretty ambience and booming distorted whole notes. What I loved about his previous release, Ravedeath, 1972, is that it carries an experience that is unable to be had with other musicians. The problem is that I wouldn’t go back to it all the time. It’s not that it’s not re-playable, but it was a listen that I’d crave after. What makes Virgins the superior album is that I want to listen to it immediately after the final track is finished.

These 12 songs off Virgins flow so smoothly, and they stick in my head. There’s a slight dance to his music that allows me to fall under a trance, but as soon as it becomes a little too much, he swaps for another sound. Think Stars of the Lid mixed with Steve Reich’s minimalism for this album. Add some distorted, resonating notes, and you have the formula for Virgins. Although not that simple, it feels like that at times.

I found Virgins to be quite accessible too. I never felt challenged to “stick with it” or pretentious having his music playing. Especially the track, “Live Room”. Now that’s what I’ve been wanting out of Hecker for years now. It takes over “Sketch 7″ as my favourite by him. Those omniscient opening notes collide like a horror movie soundtrack with the distant echoes of noise. I imagine a burst of white noise, Xiu Xiu style, breaking the tension, but instead Hecker works his magic by flashing distorted saw buzzes into both speakers with total control over the emotions of his fans. He watches like a god and laughs at us as we can only wait until the beautiful destruction of it ends. The track is literally apocalyptic.

I found my word to describe my feelings Virgins. It’s more destructive than a typical Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, and more tense than Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent release. I feel as though Virgins can full under post-rock territory, although it’s not rock at all. Maybe post-(insert genre here)? Post-experimental-ambient-drone. deciding what genre music is in is a losing battle so fuck that, but Hecker provides some amazing moments on this LP.

“Black Refraction” is another moment that I connected with. It’s the complete opposite of “Live Room”, but the tense, creepy feeling of being lost in unknown territory still lingers. The closer, “Stab Varriation”, reminds me of The GY!BE track, “Moya”, oddly enough. It’s downfall chord progression provides imagery of ashy, torn buildings, and loneliness. I love it, and I don’t feel guilty one bit. Hecker’s ability to stay with the same idea and expand it until it breaks without feeling forced is true talent.

That’s been my comment about his music in the past, and he fixes that on Virgins. I don’t at all feel like I’m having a song on repeat, and even after many listens, I pick up on the subtlety of his layered creations. They drone, and drone, and drone, but every measure the pieces get louder, quieter, add another faint noise in, etc, until the mess is too much to handle and you cannot think, and then it’s over. You can breath. You can relax. Now you want more, so one listen turns to two, and two becomes three, and three becomes four. Hecker implies one single question through the blips of noise on his opener, “Prisms”, and asks, “Are you ready?”. I thought I was until listened.

9/10

Listen to “Live Room” below:

 

Typhoon – White Lighter

Many music enthusiasts have that one ‘personal’ band which they take pride in knowing. It’s the hipster culture of modern music, but the then again there’s always been pretentious music snobs. A band I’ve been following since their beginnings is a renown Portland indie rock, indie pop band named Typhoon. The monster 11 piece orchestra group has masked the airwaves with their unique flowing masterpieces. Their 2010 album, Hunger & Thirst, is an epic album that compares to Arcade Fire’s Funeral except without the reception from critics. White Lighter was released back on August 20th, but I’ve decided to take some time to really let this album sink in.

Before listening to this album, I was super skeptical. It’s only natural to assume that a follow-up album can’t match it’s predecessor, but I was completely false. To sum up this review, White Lighter is brilliant on so many levels. From the beginning, Typhoon gives listeners a glimpse of what to expect for the album with “Artificial Light”. The beautiful notes chime away until the signature voice of Kyle Morton, who should be watched for in years to become.

Typhoon has a quasi-post-rock sound going on, as their dynamic flows so smoothly from song to song. “Young Fathers” is a highlight to album, but it’s very noticeable that this song does have a single feel. No other song had that on Hunger & Thirst, but what makes this album better is how it stays to a steady theme. Kyle Morton suffered from a Lyme Disease as a child, which almost killed him and the concept of desperation and mortality surrounds White Lighter heavily. These tracks are like Mortan’s deathbed prayers, but luckily he’s made it through to put it into wonderful songs.

The sound of desperation is perfected on “Possible Deaths”. The steady kick drum and wonderful hook displays a vivid image that the listener can morph, but everyone will all have the similar theme. Just such great ideas are shaped into amazing manipulation of emotion in these 46 minutes of expression. “Dreams of Cannibalism” follows a standard Typhoon outline, but it’s on par with “Belly of the Cave” for best Typhoon track. Mortan lays down the best example of songwriting the album’s heard on the final two stanza’s with, “I fled the country
I thought I’d leave this behind / but I built the same damn house / on every acre I could find / And I tried to fake my own death just to shake the devils from my mind.” It’s simply magic what they put together.

What get’s me after every Typhoon release is the energy and strength of every song they put out. “One Hundred Years” starts with a blaring horn section over top intense drums. “Common Sentiments” feels more like a swaying rock track, but the originally they spin into it creates such a strong, beautiful aesthetic. What all these songs have in common is amazing instrumentation. Oh, how Typhoon perfects the crescendos! I cannot describe into words the true beauty of these dynamics. White Lighter is an album that blew me out of my chair. Although I should have expected to hear something amazing, I’m constantly amazed by Typhoon’s ability to create music. The melodies, the lyrics, the chemistry between members, the instrumentation, the songs! It’s all here packed into one album that sadly doesn’t stand out in record sales. Do yourself a favor and listen immediately. You won’t regret it.

 

9.4

Underground Mondays: Urr – The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth

When Dylan Carlson wrote the first notes to his defining album, Earth 2, for his band Earth, I wonder some days what was going through his mind. For anyone unaware, Earth 2 is arguably the heaviest, deepest, darkest guitar album ever written. It’s minimal and droning structure scares off listeners within seconds, and lucky for me I have the entire album on vinyl for the pure cult status of the music. Although I can’t honestly say if the album actually gained popularity at the time of it’s release, besides the fact that it’s an icon in music today, but I do know that it proved that Sub Pop can release all sorts of music. The label itself was the only one that gave this monster a chance, and thank you Sub Pop. Without Earth 2, there would be no Sunn O)), Melvins, or the Underground Mondays featured artist, urr from Denmark. 

You read that correctly. Much like Sunn O)))’s unnecceasary brackets, urr does in fact have all lower case letters. They’re name could resemble the buzz of the extremely downtuned guitars or a message that the band created. What I love about this album, titled The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth released by Golemtapes, is how bleak, defining, and unique it is. It has more tone than a Sunn O))) album, but just as much punch as early Earth. They put their twist on drone metal and create a unique unmatched sound by today’s standards.

Take the first song for example; titled “Bleak and Golden”. It’s the same riff over and over again, and is quite quick by for a drone metal song. It’s like a crashing wave in the dark off a coast of Scandinavia that still cools the rocks it pummels. Even at almost 8 minutes, it’s only the beginning of a monstrous listen. The second song, “Sun – Moon – Earth”, is a more traditional drone metal track. While most drone metal tracks don’t have any sort of drum track on them, the duo of urr add in the cymbals and drums to keep things heavy and intense. The second track is far longer, at 23 minutes, and I cannot describe the feelings I have while listening. I head banged (at super slow tempos), I air guitared, I zoned out, I was in a trance. That’s the best way to put it. The band puts the listener in a state of semi-consciousness, only letting them go after the breaking of sound stops.

The third and final epic track is titled, “The Branches That Bend the Most Bear More Fruit”. Now it’s structurally the same as the first track with the looping guitar riff that changes throughout the song, but it also contains the dynamics of the second track. It’s the grand finale of the album, building to the crushing final moments of the album, but never feeling like it’s missing a beat. The song, along with the rest of the album, contains a slight buzz that’s so omniscient in the background. It adds to the droning effect of the album, capturing anyone who focuses on the waves of sound. It’s a beautiful effect that urr have created.

Giving drone metal a chance can be hard. I compare it to scene in “Lawrence of Arabia” when they travel through the desert, or the entire movie of “2001: Space Odyssey”. My guess is if you enjoyed either/or, you’ll have a real connection with drone metal. Urr is a band that takes the elements of drone, and even stoner metal, adding to the ever growing popularity of heaviness in music. The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth is an album that needs more attention. It craves the necessity to be recognized as a new face to the drone metal scene. There aren’t enough house-hold names in the genre, and the ones that are known need a young gun to help progress them. Urr is just the band they need.

 

Click here to check out the band’s website

Also be sure to listen to their soundcloud below: 

Underground Mondays: Throwback to No Wave with Rosa Yemen

Ironically, a genre that takes so much out of music is on the rise again with influence. No Wave was a short lived art scene out of the dirt cheap New York City downtown. It originated with the rise of constant drug use and visual art growing in the New York downtown area, and with a mentality of going against the pop-culture scene, many people took to the underground movement. No Wave is a weird style. It’s mostly atonal, and doesn’t have any sort of song structure. It goes against everything that is popular music, or let alone experimental music. No Wave is the epitome of experimental. Many artists have emerged as extremely influential in this genre, such as DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, and notably Glenn Branca.

What attracts me to this certain sound is how different it is. There’s no way of comparing it to other sounds, because there is no other sound. For a first time listener, it will be taken as pure noise, but I find that can be the point. It’s almost about pushing the limits of ‘what is music’ with textures. Many of these avant-garde musicians came from New York, but a group I’m very fond of came out of France. Out of all places, a small group called Rosa Yemen released their only EP, titled Rosa Vertov, in their home country. It garnered zero coverage, but lead vocalist, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, went on to have a semi-successful career out of using No Wave as an influence for her world beat and post-punk career. Now Rosa Vertov stands out to me as a great EP from this genre because of how raw it is. At just over eight minutes, this thing really puts a point across. The opening, “Decrypted” has an extremely arrogant and disjointed guitar riff that doesn’t get any easier to listen to as the song progresses. Any sort of structure with this song has flown out the window, and what is left is pure noise. Not the Merzbow style soundscapes, but a very natural and unpleasant sound only found in No Wave. 

The second track, “Herpes Simplex”, has a very strong sense of emotion to it. The screaming from Descloux resembles any sort of garage rock or noise rock vocals today. The influences to bands like Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine are very strong. It’s like a history lesson on drugs. “Larousse Baron Bic” opens with a minimal guitar riff that 100% influenced the riff for The xx’s “Crystalised”. I’d be very surprised if I heard that the connection can’t be made. It’s for reasons like this that this EP means so much to me. “Rosa Vertov” is the fourth track, and it’s a complete mess. The vocals are everywhere, the guitar jumbles from tremolo picking to eight notes, and there’s a large amount of excess noise added onto the track. Not to mention there’s a droning sound in the background that only adds to the tension. A very interesting track to say the least.

Finally, there’s the semi-tonal track, “Tso Xin Yu X”. For once on the EP there’s a set beat and guitar rhythm that doesn’t fly off the tracks after a second. The track ends very suddenly after a minute and a half rhythm section, and sets itself as a solid closer for a wonderful mess of an EP. It’s very hard to describe No Wave without listening to it. I find that every artist has a different idea of what that term means, but to me it’s almost a play on words with “new wave”. It’s anti-tonal sound goes against everything new wave is, and the entire culture behind No Wave plays a very important role in modern music today. Although the sound might not click with listeners, the story behind the scene itself is seminal to anyone interested in music history. A great way to start is with Rosa Yemen’s EP, Rosa Vertov.

 

Here’s the track, “Larousse Baron Bic”, which is actually from the original EP, not Descloux’s solo album: 

Also, check out the great track, “Herpes Simplex”: 

We Are The City release their sophomore album, Violent

The main reason for independent music’s rise to fame is that it’s different. The musicians claim they have a ‘fresh’ new idea, and they’re ‘not like other bands’. Sadly, the reality is that Indie music is slowly becoming more stale by every release. This isn’t because of the high popularity of the genre’s umbrella-like term, or because it’s cool to pretend that we don’t care, but it’s because the mainstream media is jumping on every act around. *GASP*, yes indie music is mainstream music. Let’s admit it already. From The Lumineers and Mumford’s folk sound to Passion Pit’s indie pop stardom, it’s everywhere. Now before you decide these bands are utter shit, let me remind you that it’s only a handful that cash in early with their checks. Even the bands I’ve mentioned still have their dedication to music (so far). The heart of indie music is found in the local media. In a city like Vancouver, where we’ve been overrun from the next big band, it’s hard to stand out. Occasionally there’s a band that sets the tone for what’s expected, and that’s constantly We Are The City.

Hailing from Kelowna, BC and now residing in Vancouver, the band’s claim to fame is winning the prestigious Peak Performance Contest and releasing a killer debut LP and EP. I’ve been following this band closely because everything I’ve heard in the studio and live is absolutely amazing. Their debut release, In A Quiet World, is my top rated album from 2009, and 2011 proved to be great with their ultra cool EP, High School. For anyone unaware of this band, they’re a combination of sound is scattered. At times I hear Local Natives mixed with King Crimson, and others I hear The Antlers mixed with Archers Of Loaf. It’s a unique sound that I’m sure will be a major influence in the local scene. They provided me with a snippet of a sophomore release, and I was very excited to hear that their new album, Violent, has finally arrived.

First things first; this is completely different from anything the band has done before. What In A Quiet World had with their catchy prog-rock, and High School had with their experimental pop, Violent feels down right depressing. The album still contains the disjointed and tight sections that We Are The City are famous for, but they’re a different style here. Gone are blitzing structural shifts and in are the continuous drum sections and droning guitar riffs. From the get-go, “Bottom Of The Lake”, has a lush flow of notes on the keyboard, and a 2/4 drum lick that doesn’t stray away for the entire song. I have to say, I was kept on hold waiting for the song to shift, but I never got that. To my surprise though, I really enjoyed the opening without the complex compositions the band is known for. The only song on this album that has that classic feel is “King David”. It’s 7/4 time signature brings me back to my 2009 listening days. We Are The City has matured and they’re wanting us to know that. “Legs Give Out” has a slight In A Quiet World sound, but it never hits the crescendo that songs off the previous album did.

I’m not mentioning that I dislike these songs, but they definitely require a mental shift to grasp the fact that We Are The City aren’t the band they used to be. They’re more mature, down to earth, and experimental. The first four tracks provide a throwback feel to older albums, but it’s when “Friends Hurt” comes in that it really sinks in that the band has changed. What a perfect soundtrack for that realization, because the entire song revolves around despair and sadness. The band literally fucks with emotions like it’s nothing, and I give them huge credit for that. The second half of the album feels very experimental, with it’s almost minimal feel and usage of sound instead of hooks. The songs tend to drone on, creating a thick atmosphere that feels like Animal Collective gone acoustic. Tracks like “20 Ft. Up” and “Punch My Face” are good examples of the developing sound. Same with “Everything Changes”. It’s long chords and drum machine contain such a dynamic sound for a basic song. That’s the magic of We Are The City. They’re music, even though it sounds very complex, is quite simple. The complexity comes with the structure of songs. They change dynamics so quickly and contrast the previous sections like a post-rock album. Still, the band is a progressive rock band no matter what the locals might say about them.

I’m still sold on the song “Baptism”. It’s definitely the album’s lead single (If it were to have any), and shows how much the band has progressed in the past two years. Inner conflicts almost split the band, and they even resided in a tiny house close to mine to get away from the never ending mess of stardom. Drummer, Andy Huculiak is easily one of the best drummers for a band in Vancouver, and the way he manages the back beat has me jealous every time I hear him play. The song plays out like fuzzed out version of previous lead singles by the band, and takes a piece from Flaming Lips’ iconic Embryonic. The sound is so aggressive without having that upfront punch. It’s sound resembles a ballad until the signature We Are The City ‘second of silence’, and that’s where the song takes shape. It’s distorted, massive, and bursting from the seams like noise rock song with a massive melody.

The band has such goofy and down to earth lyrics that it’s so easy to get lost in them alone. They constantly feel like underdogs and are so likable, even with their accessibility being quite lower than other bands of the same sound (Local Natives, Cold War Kids). Now, the band still has that sound of self-despair, but what made the past albums run so smoothly was the themes that surrounded the band. The group doesn’t seem set on what they’re trying to accomplish with Violent, and maybe that’s the point. When a band is almost on the way to self-destruction, that’s where the most honest work comes out. Much like Weezer’s ultimate Pinkerton, it was the best work by the band at the worst time. So to speak, Violent is no Pinkerton, but the comparison in themes really resemble one another. Violent also feels like a slow cooker, and so far I’m not 100% sold on this new sound, but before I know it, it’ll be on my playlist non stop. The album is yet to click, but I know it will soon. Nonetheless, be sure to check out this sophomore release by the amazing band.

Click here to get to the band’s Bandcamp

Here’s the first promo for the album that contains the song, “Baptism”: 

Finally, here’s the actual studio version of the epic “Baptism”: 

Review: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

While I was only in New York very briefly, I’ve always found it to be a city full of emotions. I’ve never lived there, only visited, but every I hear an Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol or Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea by PJ Harvey, I’m immediately dumped right in the heart of the Big Apple. That nostalgia has ended with those albums, but a band that constantly gives me those emotions are The National. With the baritone vocals, the Leonard Cohen delivery of lyrics, and the hypnotic instrumentation, Trouble Will Find Me has been one of my most anticipated releases of 2013. After a three year gap since their critically acclaimed High Violet, the band has released their best album yet.

Trouble Will Find Me opens with a slow-cooker, “I Should Live In Salt”. The logical progression in their music makes sense, considering the change in sound from Alligator to Boxer comes in chronological order. As their sixth album to date, Matt Berninger is getting up there quickly in age. At 42, he sounds better than ever though and it shows quickly in the opener. He hits his falsettos perfectly, striking an intense emotional chord. Following this track is a slew of quick, hard hitting songs like the single, “Demons”, and “Don’t Swallow The Cap”. Both of those tracks have the perfect sound for a radio single, and it makes sense that “Demons” was hitting the airwaves as soon as it was legally possible. Together they show the skill of the bands harmonies and synchronicity. The instrumentation, especially on my personal favourite song, “Sea Of Love”, is the most complex and simple at the same time. To many listeners, it could be taken as repetitive, but it’s depth can stretch until the next National album is released. It only makes sense, because guitarist, Bryce Dessner, has a masters from Yale in classical guitar.

Like I mentioned, “Sea Of Love”, has that intense National sound that previous tracks like, “Mr. November”, off of Alligator, and the master hit, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, off of High Violet, have. The continuous snare smashes are borderline punk-like that blend perfectly with the two guitars that carry the song. What really puts this song over the edge is Berninger’s vocals. The way he connects with the listener is pure talent. Lyrically, the song is outstanding, “Hey Joe sorry I hurt you but / They say love is a virtue / Don’t they?”, with Berninger playing the roles of the multiple characters throughout the course of this 55 minute monster album.

Like past releases, The National always include a few slower tracks. Here, these slower tracks feel even softer and dynamically contrast the main sound of the album, but fit perfectly thematically. “Fireproof”, “Heavenfaced”, and “I Need My Girl”, are the three ballads that stand out on Trouble Will Find Me. The tempo is pretty quick, but there’s nothing that rivals the few hidden drum patterns and lone piano notes. It’s truly beautiful, especially “I Need My Girl”, which oddly sounds like “Kreuzberg” by Bloc Party. Although it’s been played for a few years here and there, having it on a studio track brings out the subtly on this amazing track.

Even the second last song, “Pink Rabbits”, rivals for my favourite track. Actually fuck it, almost all songs do here, but “Sea Of Love”, and the one I mentioned really have been standing out since I was able to get my rounds on this album. What I’ve noticed is how the band as a whole clicks on every track. I would say it’s their most accessible, but like I’ve said, their most complex at the same time. The dark themes of loneliness, depression, and love are so easy to relate to on this album, and are far more open compared to Boxer or even High Violet, which was the first time The National wasn’t using cryptic lyrics for personal events. They show their true colours on this album.

I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of Trouble Will Find Me. I mean, I love The National’s past three albums, so I had high expectations going into this newest release, but I wasn’t ready for the greatness of it. The album as a whole is unreal. The sound is relate-able, listenable, fun, passionate, and every other positive adjective in the dictionary. I’ve been disappointed with anticipated albums, and I should have had that thought in mind coming up to hearing this, but there wasn’t one bit of denial in my body. I knew Trouble Will Find Me was going to be good. I just never knew it would be THIS good.

Be sure to check out my personal favourite, “Sea Of Love”, here: 

Vampire Weekend succeeds with Modern Vampires Of The City

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Both Vampire Weekend and Contra were released in the months of January. I never thought of their music having a winter feeling, but in the end, the record company has the final say on the release date. The New York City indie rock band has always had a summer flair to the upbeat and disjointed hits. From college radio to hit TV shows, their music could be all over every source of media. After a three year break, they’re back with a new big time release. Modern Vampires Of The City promises a full recovery from two massively exciting albums. The band also promised a darker, more down to earth tone that could contrast the earlier albums.

The album opens with a shocking tune. “Obvious Bicycle” is slower, more draining and doesn’t have that ‘get up and dance’ feel that past openers have had. It’s dynamically different, but I enjoyed it and I assume fans will still appreciate the change. The second song, “Unbelievers”, feels like any other VW track, as does the next few. Exciting, fast BPM’s, and a very disjointed drum beat that can get any crowd moving. What I noticed from the start is how the songs a lyrically darker, “I’m not excited / But should I be / Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?”. These themes carry throughout the longest album that Vampire Weekend has released, which clocks in at just under 43 minutes. Still, the fast, exciting tracks carry that ability to be crazy hits.

What caught my eye is how smooth the production is. I was walking around listening to the ending of “Unbelievers” and the beginning of “Step” and was blown away. The drum smash right as the song picks up carries the same energy as a club banger. Even the next track, “Diane Young”, has that goofy Vampire Weekend style to it. Ironically, I just caught on the the ‘Dying Young’ play-on-words that the title holds. I never saw the band as lyrically forward thinking, but they surely pick up that aspect with Modern Vampires Of The City.

Songs like “Don’t Lie”, “Hannah Hunt”, and “Ya Hey” show that dynamic shift in their sound. I still heard that same keyboard tone and drum sound, but the songs are slower and closer to heart. Even some tracks feel more experimental (pitch shifting, large amount of reverb, and uncommon instrumentation). To most fans of the previous fun, upbeat material, this will be a shock to them. With an open mind these tracks can be just as great, but in a different way the past albums were.I personally enjoyed most of the songs included here, but I did not like the closer, “Young Lion”. The song felt very forced and an awkward reprise of the stunner, “Diane Young”. Maybe Vampire Weekend listened to too much of The Suburbs while making this album? The difference is that Arcade Fire does that sort of closer well, and Vampire Weekend was practically shoving that track onto the album. A sad way to close a very solid album.

The first time I heard a preview for the album a few months, I was shocked. I was shocked because it was the first time I felt like Vampire Weekend was doing something wrong. The preview had songs, “Step” and “Diane Young”, included and I hated it. Ironically, those ended up being my two favourite songs on the entire album. As a whole, Modern Vampires Of The City clicks very well. The darker, eerie themes seem smooth and unforced throughout the album, and Vampire Weekend still has that emotional energy that was found on past releases. The three years of no deadlines brought together the band. With a more mature sound, Vampire Weekend has released their most complete and fulfilling album to date. I highly recommend giving this a listen.

 

Watch the controversial video for “Diane Young”: 

Watch two new songs by The National on ‘Fallon’

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With a new album titled, Trouble Will Find Me, it’s fitting that the Brooklyn rockers are set to show their stuff. They’ve claimed to channel the sounds of Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan on their forthcoming LP, which is set to release May 21st on 4AD.

This should be very exciting as they’ve included guests like Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Sharron Van Etten, and members of Arcade Fire. to name a few. Members of The National also note that they have nothing to prove, so this album should showcase their true desires with the band.

Check out “Sea of Love” here

Also, check out “I Need My Girl” here

Wavves do their take on garage rock with Afraid of Heights

I was never apart of the Blink-182 craze, as the band never appealed to me. Their teenage boy style, and lewd music videos weren’t something I bothered to take part of. It was once I actually listened to the music that I was hooked. The melodies and lyrics were straight to the point and they always seem to hit the nail on the head with their music. Dude Ranch was the defining point of pop-punk for me, and anything after that just isn’t the same. It was a total 90′s thing and should stay that way. Time and time again bands are trying to recreate the same energy and atmosphere of the 90′s pop-punk sound, and are even taking their own twists on the genre.

Wavves is a noticeable force in this topic, because of their lo-fi and garage rock influences. Not to mention Nathan Williams is a huge listener of surf rock, and that seems to blend its way into the music. Their first album since 2010, Afraid of Heights, claims to have a cleaner production and to-the-point rock riffs. That’s partially here as there is noticeably less surf rock from the get-go and more garage rock riffs. The previous Wavves album, King of the Beach, was not my favourite album, but I liked the aggressive drums and blaring guitars over the shitty production. It had all the atmosphere an indie rock album should have. The major point I had was I wanted to see more hard edged rock tunes. That’s what Afraid of Heights didn’t do. Songs like the slow ballad, “Dog”, feels out of place. The opener, “Sail to the Sun”, also foreshadows that Williams is hoping to take Wavves in a different direction.
Wavves-Afraid-of-Heights

What Wavves does well this album is create super catchy hits. Tracks like the title track, “Afraid of Heights” and the second track, “Demon To Lean On”, carries the same energy that you got with King of the Beach. When I first listened to this album, I was hooked on a lot of the songs. Tracks like, “Paranoid”, were great throwbacks to the original Wavves sound, but now I hear that song I cringe. The sound seems forced. It’s the newer, unexpected songs that I’ve grown to like. “Cop” is a perfect example, because this sound wouldn’t be able to be achieved on past Wavves albums. The cheesy guitars picking and surfer rock drum beats get you dancing to the tune. You notice the difference once the quarter note crashes hit and you realize this couldn’t have been done on King of the Beach. The need for a clean production wasn’t there for the band in 2010.

I was hoping to see Zach Hill (Death Grips, Hella) take part in a bit of the recording process, as he is known for playing in the past with Wavves. Nonetheless, the drumming in the album is top notch and is a primarily strong point throughout it. Nathan’s signature strained pop-punk vocals generally shine throughout the LP, but tracks like, “Dog”, could have been left off. Lyrically, the album tends to touch on a lot of topics. Drugs, sex, and alcohol is a major topic throughout the album. Religious metaphors are also thrown around, but none of the lyrics really dig deep, and they feel more like drunken late night car thoughts than anything. They do have their time and place.”Beat Me Up” gives the album a boost of confidence as the final 6 songs are where the album starts to pick up speed and convinces the listener that this is a solid album. I read somewhere that Afraid of Heights could have been amazing if they combined the top tracks from the 2011 EP, Life Sux. Now this might seem like a “No Shit” situation, but it generally makes sense for this album. They are very much the same sounding, but Afraid of Heights at times seems very forceful with trying to fit into a sound.

Instead of sticking to their lo-fi, surf rock summer tunes sound, they tried a different take on their garage rock sound, but didn’t make it their own.  I very much enjoy the second half of the album (“Beat Me Up” onward), with a few songs from the first (“Demon To Lean On”, “Afraid of Heights”), and it makes this LP a solid one for any listener. Fan wills be disappointed if they adored King of the Beach‘s surfer atmosphere, but they’ll have a few tracks to pick and choose from. As a whole, I liked this album, but I can’t see myself coming back to it a lot until summer or the year end list. You never know, I can find something about Afraid of Heights and it’ll be the only thing I’ll listen too. It’s THAT kind of album.

Check out my favourite track here: 

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