Fat Possum, 2011
So, 2011 is upon us. Well, I guess it technically has been for three months now. But this is the first record I've listened to that was actually released this year. Or that was released this year and has been worth listening to. Ooo, burn..
First impression of Yuck: horrible name. Although a name shouldn't influence the way I feel about a band, it does. I'm shallow like that. These guys were lucky to get even a fleeting nanosecond of my overly critical attention after glancing at that trainwreck of an album cover. "Judging from their name, these guys obviously don't make good decisions and I'm sure that applies to their music as well," I quipped to myself out loud. Alas, it was mostly worth my time. Mostly.
Yuck are from London and Yuck play indie/alternative rock that sounds like Superchunk and Dinosaur Jr. Yuck's songs are good when they're fuzzed out and upbeat, but Yuck's cleaner, slower songs are mostly boring. Mostly. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
It's good to hear music like this and this is not a bad record by any means. But if I want to listen to music like this, then I'll go listen to Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr. or Pavement.
It just occurred to me that Yuck are playing this kind of music because they're young and now everything from the 90's is vintage and retro. It's like when bands in the 90's played classic rock and looked like Jethro Tull. Yuck...
101 Distribution, 2010
I may be slightly biased on this one. I really like Australia and most things from Australia. It's just a quirk of mine I guess. The Jezabels are, as you may have guessed, from Australia. Sydney to be exact. And if you're not Australian or weren't just at SXSW, chances are you've probably never heard of them. That's a shame.
To me, The Jezabels sound like The National with Marie Fredriksson of Roxette fronting. I know what you're thinking: "Impossible. Brilliance such as what you describe is unfathomable." Fathom it.
This band hits every one of my musical pressure points and cripples my cynicism like an Aussie Tony Jaa. Echoey, Coldplay-like guitars? Yup. Dark, sulking atmosphere? Believe it. Female vocals? Of course. Bedroom music? Absolutely. You honestly can't lose here.
The standout track hear is without a doubt "A Little Piece". Seriously, it would be worth paying the $4.45 it costs to download this entire EP from Amazon just to have this one song. The rest of the tracks are solid, but "A Little Piece" is on another level. And that level is like sweet ambrosia for my ears.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that any of these songs could easily play during the ending montage of an MTV reality show of your choice. But don't write them off because they're marketable to the mainstream. The Jezabels are way better than 95% of the dreck that's passed off as music here in the States.
If you have a hankerin' for music that's well-crafted, melodic, conducive to sexual encounters and largely non-offensive, then I give you The Jezabels.
Hydra Head, 2010
Sometimes certain albums just give me.. an uneasy feeling. I remember when I was young, it was In Utero and The Downward Spiral. More recently, it was Lustmord's [O T H E R]. Looking back now, being creeped out by In Utero is laughable, The Downward Spiral is questionable and the Lustmord record is completely understandable. It's horrifying.
When music can affect me the way all these records did, I know they're really good. Daughters is really good.
I think I know why this record in particular gives me such an uncomfortable feeling. It's because this is what it sounds like to lose your mind. Seriously. These guys from Rhode Island have successfully recorded insanity. The pounding double-bass drums, the frantic guitars. It's nuts. And the great thing is that this is their most accessible album. This is, like, mainstream Daughters. Check out Hell Songs or Canada Songs. They will ruin your life.
On Daughters, Alexis Marshall drops the screaming and actually sings, but he's got some kind of terrifying rockabilly/David Yow/Coney Island carnie voice going on. The songs are more structured than their previous work, but just as brutal.
All that having been said, this is a really enjoyable record. I've tried and I can't think of any one else out there that sound like these guys. Unfortunately their future is uncertain at best with the departure of Nicholas Sadler (Fang Island) and Samuel Walker. But hey, they left us with a truly disturbing and original record. Salud.
A Determinism of Morality
Translation Loss, 2010
These guys just continue to amaze me. Just when I thought they couldn't top The Galilean Satellites and Wake/Lift, SNAP! They drop some science like this on me. Now, both of the previously mentioned records are amazing, but this is just more straightforward. You can't mention Rosetta without drawing comparisons to Isis. But these guys are WAY more interesting than Isis. They're like one part Explosions in the Sky, one part Old Man Gloom (yes, I know, another Aaron Turner reference), and all f**king rock. Plus, it always amazed me that they're only a four-piece. Their sound is so dense and layered that it seems like it would be impossible to recreate live. But they do it, and if you've ever seen their live setup you could probably see how. They tour with their own Guitar Center.
This whole record is phenomenal, but I find myself drawn to "Release" and "Revolve". Bassist David Grossman's vocals on "Release" are ridiculous. You know a band is serious when their bass player can out-sing pretty much any other band's frontman. "Revolve" is just spacey and (I hesitate to say it) "cinematic" splendor. Yes. Splendor. Trust me.
Rosetta have always been ahead of the curve and this is less experimental than there other stuff. But that's not a bad thing at all. Post-Metal, Progressive-Metal, whatever you want to call it. These guys kill it.