Lets be forward here, the last thing the music industry needs is another guitar and electronic dynamic duo based out of New York City. That horse left the gate long ago, most of the time being performed with little to no substance, and usual served as a soundtrack to some Williamsburg loft meat market dance party that you got unwillingly dragged out to. So how is it that electronic producer Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington managed to catch my attention with their newest project Darkside? It turns out this twosome are all about creating and capturing brooding dark atmospherics on their newest self-titled ep.
The downtempo/minimalism of electronics through synth lines, tape loops, reverb layered vocals, and triggered drum patterns all compliment the funk inspired bass and guitar lines on this ep. This approach allows Darkside to deliver and captivate the listener with ethereal moods through their songwriting. It becomes easy to lose sight that this supposed to be a short introduction of a new artist, and you are instead transported into a sensual nocturnal world full of confidence and swagger. Although the ep is brief, it would be fascinating to see if Darkside could hold that same type of cerebral mysticism when it comes time to release a full-length effort.
Darkside’s “Self-Titled” ep shows promise to a genre that has gone through the ringer and leaves the listener with a craving for more. You can follow this artist through their Facebook, purchase this ep through Juno Records, or stream the entire ep below:
DARKSIDE - DARKSIDE EP by Clown & Sunset
The first time I ever heard Gates is an amusing story in itself. It was about this time last year that the legendary post-hardcore/rock band Rival Schools (which I am a huge fan of) was doing a reunion tour with a string of more intimate dates at smaller venues. One of these venues was this shitty yet charming dive bar in New Brunswick, NJ called The Court Tavern where I have seen a slew of awesome bands perform before. So my girlfriend and I decided to make the trek down to the college town looking forward to a fun night ahead of us filled with great music, cheap drinks, and giant Grease Truck sandwiches.
We arrived and settled in by having a few pitchers of Rolling Rock, then made our way downstairs into the Venue past a very jaded and weathered troll of a doorman. Gates opened this show and totally blew me away with their unique sound and tightness for such a fledgling band. Rival Schools were supposed to take the stage shortly after, but waited a good thirty minutes for their singer to even arrive at the show. It was his birthday this particular night, and he had been busy celebrating while his band had been setting up to perform. He finally made his way through the crowd taking the stage inebriated out of his mind, and played one of the most disheartening sets I had ever seen. Here was this band that I was so excited to have an opportunity to see again, and before me stood this cocky drunken douchebag that was singing and playing guitar extremely sloppy and was receiving death glares from the rest of his embarrassed bandmates. About halfway through their set, my girlfriend grabbed my arm and said, “I’ll be upstairs” which I translated as, “Lets get the fuck out of here” and I couldn’t have agreed with her more.
On the car ride home, we both discussed how that show would’ve been a complete disaster if it hadn’t been for the opening band Gates. Once we arrived home, we downloaded their debut ep, “The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home” off of their website for free and were sold on the sincerity and great songwriting that came through the speakers. Gates is a band that plays a type of ambient/indie rock that can be compared to bands such as Explosions in the Sky or even Thursday’s earlier work, but show more influence from these artists than from mimicking them and create a trademark sound in the process that is entirely their own. Atmospheric and progressive guitar lines, driving low-end bass, precision drumming, and heartfelt vocals create a musical tapestry that sets the backdrop for this albums lyrical content told from the disposition of a broken man. The brevity of this ep leaves the listener craving more, and looking positively toward the bright future of this small band from New Jersey.
Gates “The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home” is a great reminder that Independent music is alive and well. You can follow this artist through their Facebook, purchase or download the entire record for free through their website, or listen to a track below:
Any time I hear the term “Supergroup”, it scares me. In so many instances, it ends up being comprised of musicians that have gained your respect through prior efforts, but now play in a regurgitated hollow sounding shit fest that rides out on a wave of watered down familiarity. Thank you All Pigs Must Die for not falling victim to this common musical atrocity, and for putting out “God Is War”, which is one of the most streamlined, no-nonsense, hate-fueled records to be released in 2011.
All Pigs Must Die is a hardcore/punk/metal/thrash band that consists of Kevin Baker (The Hope Conspiracy), Ben Koller (Converge), Adam Wentworth, and Matt Woods (Both known for their time spent in Bloodhorse). When listening to “God is War”, the listener can certainly hear the influence of the different acts this group came from, but it’s more important to focus on the direction this group is going toward. Relentless blast beats, buzz-saw distorted guitars, and filthy bass lines all help to support the harsh roared vocals showcasing lyrics that teeter between political bleakness, religious blasphemies, and the common underbelly of human nature. This freight train of ferocity is produced none other than genius hardcore/metal producer Kurt Ballou, who helps to expand the significant strengths of All Pigs Must Die’s unrelenting sound and vision of heaviness.
All Pigs Must Die’s “God Is War” is a brute force that hits with everything it has, and may knock the wind out of an unprepared listener. Consider yourself warned. You can follow this band through their Facebook, purchase this record through their Webstore, or listen to a track below:
Try to wrap your head around this: You’ve been in a metal band with your brother for twelve years. You’re pushing 30 years old. In theory, you should be well known and respected, but in actuality most people outside of your hometown don’t know who you are. You’ve put out the last few releases on your own label that you run in between your full-time job. You can’t keep a bass player in your line-up that sticks around for the long haul. All of these factors would be the white flag of surrender for any artist, but not Ken Mode. Instead, they wrote “Venerable” which is their best record to date and tour nonstop in support.
KEN Mode (An acronym which stands for Kill Everyone Now taken from a Henry Rollins biography), is rounded out by brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson and currently Andrew LaCour (Also of the Florida band Khann). They are a three piece that play a blend of hardcore, sludge metal, and noise rock that is kind of a throwback hybrid of bands like The Jesus Lizard, Unsane, and Burnt By The Sun, but done with an interesting twist. Their newest record “Venerable”, builds off this solid core sound, but focuses on great structured songwriting and great production courtesy of Kurt Ballou (Well respected metal/hardcore producer and guitar player of legendary hardcore band Converge).
This record is a nonstop kick to the teeth from start to finish. Intricate and sludgy rhythmic guitar lines, menacing screamed vocals, extreme low-end bass lines, and ferocious drumming barrage the listener on “Venerable”, but are crafted with intelligence as well as brute force. The record does play around with the use of dynamics that help to build on the extremes that this record embodies, but doesn’t give too much time for the listener to stay down before it starts to pulverize again.
By the end of “Venerable”, Ken Mode is able to accomplish something every artists wishes. They have allowed the listener to ask themselves, “Who is this band, and what just happened?” You can follow this artist on their Facebook, purchase this album and listen to it in entirety on their Bandcamp, or listen to a track below:
Dubstep music is awful. I was going to build up to this, but I figured it would be more effective if I just came flat out and said it. I’m sick of these so-called “Producers” that create shitty over-processed “canned cheese” music. With that said, it should be no surprise that when I heard the buzz circling the 22 year old mastermind Dubstep/Songwriter James Blake, I was skeptical and slept on his “Self-Titled” release. I guess that was the older-jaded musician in me rearing its ugly head, but I’ll be the first to admit that I made a mistake.
The best part about James Blake is that he uses dubstep elements to help add extra layers to his soulful singer/songwriter foundation. He’s at his best on this record when the core of his songwriting is basic piano and vocal melodies that are electronically tampered with in a tasteful fashion. Tinny drum and bass, vocoder/auto-tuned vocal patterns, and synthesizer keyboard lines all contribute to the albums mood of loneliness, desperation, heartbreak, and despair.
I tip my hat at James Blake’s “Self-Titled” release, and hope that this release inspires more artists find other creative ways to showcase Dubstep. You can follow this artist on Facebook, purchase this album through Rough Trade, or listen to a track below.
As a music fan in general, the term “Post” attached to any genre annoys the hell out of me. In my opinion, it gets thrown around way too often and is kind of a lazy way to describe a sound that isn’t really accurate. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been coaxed into listening to some lame artist that had an enormous sticker with this term glazed all over the cellophane wrapper of their record. The reason I’m bringing this up is because after hearing Ladder Devils new EP “Forget English”, many listeners will adhere that dirty word to their sound and doing so would be a huge mistake.
Ladder Devils are a Philadelphia based band that plays a blend of rock, hardcore, indie, and noisy punk. This may seem at first like a bunch of guys just banging away, but Ladder Devils have a knack for writing very structured songs that seem loose and rough around the edges. Interesting melodic guitar parts, fuzzed out bass lines, accented rhythmic drumming, and shouted vocal parts help to paint a clearer picture of an unusual rock band that adds a bit of piss and vinegar to their sound. “Forget English” is a great first step forward for a new band that isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers in the process.
Be sure not to lump Ladder Devils “Forget English” as another “run of the mill” release. You can follow them on Facebook, listen and download their entire record for free on their website, or listen to a track below.
As of late, music enthusiasts that have their ears low enough to the ground are starting to look towards Chicago as a bright beacon of hope. The Windy City currently harbors some of the most interesting unknowns that daily claw tooth and nail to be released from the city’s bowels. Soon enough, The Atlas Moth won’t have to worry about going unnoticed, because this bands newest offering “An Ache For The Distance” is another wonderful release that sheds even more light on Chicago’s rich underground music scene.
The Atlas Moth on first listen can commonly be interpreted as a hybrid of sludgy psychedelic doom metal. However when carefully examined, The Atlas Moth has more of a rhythm and blues foundation, separating them far from the pack of bands attempting this particular style. Another key point of their sound is the successful use of three guitar players. Typically, this approach tends to make a band sound disjointed, but in this case helps contribute to the atmospheric and distorted sounds on “An Ache For The Distance”. Elements such as clean sung vocals, doom growls, haunting shrieks, ambient synths, grooving bass lines, and laid back drumming are all essential in supporting the guitar driven concepts showcased on this record.
It should be no secret that Chicago’s The Atlas Moth has finally arrived on “An Ache For The Distance”. You can purchase this through their label Profound Lore, follow them on Facebook, listen to the entire record through their Bandcamp, or check out a track below: