Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Free Music! All For You!

Intentionally free, too. The Pax Cecilia are giving away some good music on their website. Their album from last year, Blessed Are The Bonds, is a beautifully crafted work of post/ambient/whatevah metal (for those who don't waste too much of their life reading music reviews, this is metal that is less synchronized hair pinwheeling and more art-students playing metal for other art students...that sounds like a slam, but it's really not. At least not in this case), and they're just giving it away. I know, in this era of "All music is free music, man!", that's not exactly huge. But I like it about them all the same.

Anyway, check it out. The music crosses off your entire post-metal ingredient list: ambient soundscapes, moments of unhinged riffing, "non-metal" instrumentation (piano figures prominently), vocals that avoid cookie-monster death metal or screeching black metal cliches (when there are vocals, it's usually sung softly with a brief tumble into yelling), drones...the whole nine. And while music like this is not exactly unprecedented, it's not quite a yawn-inducing redundancy that similar bands in this genre create far too regularly. And while this all sounds like damning with faint praise, I assure you it's not. Blessed Are The Bonds succeeds where other albums fail because it travels a well-worn path and manages to make the ride far more breathtaking than you would expect. From the riff-extravaganza in "The Progress" to the excellent string work woven through the guitar chug on the album's standout, "The Tree", The Pax Cecilia manage to make the familiar seem exciting.

Check it out.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Three?! That's It?!

I posted three times in 2007. Wow. How crazy.

Oh well. I already explained over on the other blog that I essentially quit blogging for 2007, but am hoping to jump back into this time-burgling pool in 2008. It's not like I stopped listening to music. If anything, I probably heard more new music this year than I have in some time. If you're interested, this is some stuff I enjoyed last year. Unlike previous lists, I'm not going to try to write about them. It's up to you to dig up the stuff if you're so inclined. Hell, I'll even give you links!

Aerial - The Sentinel
Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass
Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre monde
And So I Watch You From Afar - This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It
The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls With Sand
Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant
Baroness - The Red Album
Battles - Mirrored
Big Business - Here Comes The Waterworks
The Black Dahlia Murder - Nocturnal
Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens
Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth
Caina - Mourner
Clockcleaner - Babylon Rules
- From Beale St. to Oblivion
Dekapitator - The Storm Before The Calm
destroyalldreamers - Wish I Was All Flames
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
Earth - Hibernaculum
Earthless - Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky
El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
High on Fire - Death Is This Communion
Illogicist - The Insight Eye
Immanu El - They'll come, they come
Japancakes - Loveless
Joy Wantes Eternity - You Who Pretend To Sleep
Minsk - Ritual Fires of Abandonment
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Omega Massif - Geisterstadt
Pharoahe Monch - Desire
Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb
Pissed Jeans - Hope For Men
redlightchamberchoir - We're In Trouble But We Don't Know What To Do
Rwake - Voices of Omens
Titan - A Raining Sun Of Light For You & You & You
The Voices - The Sound of Young America
Watain - Sworn To The Dark
Witchcraft - The Alchemist

Enjoy! (Where appropriate, anyway.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Put Your Face Where We Can See It, Put It On A Show On Cable

You know what you should be listening to? The new El-P album, I'll Sleep When You're Dead. It's one of the best sounding records I've heard this year; El-P's production skills have gotten even better. As an MC, he is still kind of hit or miss (more of the former), but the sounds he creates are just bugged out. Whether or not it will stick with me as much as Fantastic Damage did remains to be seen, but seems likely at this point.

You wanna know what else sounds really good? The latest album from Of Montreal. They are becoming another favorite of mine, as the quality of their albums are consistently high. Heck, even Outback Steakhouse loves them. Wait...I'm sorry, my producer is saying that's not a ringing endorsement. Well, regardless, Of Montreal is still worth your time.

The Minsk album to which I referred in the previous post, called The Ritual Fires of Abandonment, is also highly recommended. Almost as densely packed as the El-P record, but heavier and with a more plodding pace that can be wearing on the uninitiated. However, if you have the patience and about an hour to kill, you can do worse than giving this disc a spin.

Lastly, I've finally dipped into the 33 1/3 book series, reading two volumes this past weekend. Both were well written, giving behind the scenes looks into the bands and the circumstances leading up to the recording of their landmark albums. I'll be picking up more volumes soon.

Monday, February 19, 2007

There Is No God*

It seems Jesu will not be part of the Isis tour until further notice. The reason? Still don't have work permits. Dammit.

(*That's a Justin Broadrick joke; I'm not *that* broken up about this. Hopefully, Jesu will be back on tour by the time they roll through D.C.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Well, I knew it was a gamble. Tonight's Mastodon show is sold out. I bet if I went over there, I could probably by a ticket on the street. The question is, do I freeze my ass off on another gamble? I'm leaning toward no. I'm not surprised. Mastodon has pretty much become the flagship band of "metal for people who don't like metal", which is fine by me, because they do blaze and deserve the attention. It just kinda screws me when I want to see them live. On a Saturday night. In an area that has always had a large metal following. In a town full of hipsters. You don't need to be Euler to figure out that equation means no ticket for Damian.

Slayer has already sold out both nights of their show. Even less surprising.

I should probably get my Isis (3/11) and Lamb of God (3/26) tickets soon, because those will likely sell out, too.

But, while I'm on the subject of teh rock, 3/26 is also the street date (I think) of the new Clutch album, From Beale Street to Oblivion. Go get you some of that. It's pretty great.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's 2007. C'mon With The Postings!

Yeah, it's 2007, and it's already off to a whiz bang start. Naturally, I already feel behind, but I can say that things are getting out of the gate fast in the first two months. I can endorse heartily the following (some which haven't seen official release *cough*):

Low Drums and Guns: If you liked the last Low album, or are just willing to ride with the band wherever they go, you should get this when it comes out. The album favors shorter songs, some with an oddly unfinished feel (and may well have been, considering), but still manages to sink its hooks into you from the beginning. Even the use of programmed drums, which doesn't seem right when it comes to this band, feel natural rather than out of place. See if you can find "Sandinista" or "Violent Past" to sample the wares.

Jesu Conqueror: This is good, and may even be great, but doesn't have the benefit of brevity that last year's brilliant Jesu EP has. I honestly haven't listened to this enough because the songs tend to drag toward the middle. Then again, I haven't really had much time/patience for critical listening lately.

Explosions in the Sky All Of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone: One of my favorite bands seems to be in a holding pattern. But if the music is this good, that's not a bad thing. This isn't a giant leap beyond their fantastic last album, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, but is not bad in the least. If you're a sucker for this kinda dramatic, crescendo-rock (like I am), then go nuts.

I've also put in some time new albums by Phazm, Rwake, and Minsk. Early judgment is favorable, but I need to give them a few more spins. I'm especially liking the Phazm disc, which seems to have some good hooks and riffs on the disc.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Top Ten of 2006: Musica Generica Style

You'd never know it by looking at the activity of this blog this year, but I've actually listened to a ton of music, most of it new. Of course, it's never really enough, as I realized as I was compiling this list. The number of albums I didn't get a chance to peep is staggering, and with a new year upon us, I have no idea when I'll catch up. The short list of artists with new albums that I completely neglected includes Isis, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, The Coup, Mars Volta, Tool, Neko Case, Napalm Death, Kataklysm, Cult of Luna, Motorhead, and Ornette Coleman. It's sad that I could keep going.

But let's not dwell upon the negative. Instead, let's celebrate the good music that I did manage to get my mitts upon. As always, there were some noteworthy records that just missed the cut. Worth your time are:

Boris - Pink (Southern Lord)
DragonForce - Inhuman Rampage (Roadrunner)
J Dilla - Donuts (Stones Throw)
Kayo Dot - Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue (Robotic Empire)
Lamb of God - Sacrament (Epic)
Slayer - Christ Illusion (American)

And now, in alphabetical order, the ten albums that gave me the most enjoyment of 2006:

Agalloch - Ashes Against The Grain (The End)
Comets On Fire - Avatar (Sub Pop)
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam)
Gojira - From Mars To Sirius (Prosthetic)
Jesu - Silver EP (Hydra Head)
Korpiklaani - Tales Along This Road (Napalm)
Mastodon - Blood Mountain (Reprise)
The Melvins - A Senile Animal (Ipecac)
Om - Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain)
Voivod - Katorz (The End)

First, I will say that the Melvins album was my absolute favorite of the year, beating out Ghostface's Fishscale, which I wouldn't have believed way back when I first picked up that disc. So if you really need numerical assignments, right there are one and two. The Melvins delivered an album I really didn't think they were capable of delivering this late in the game, especially given the new personnel and their propensity to weird things up (and I mean that in a good way). I never imagined them going back to balls out rockin' out like they did here, and with such a sense of urgency to boot. Breathtaking. And what can I say about Ghostface's album that hasn't been said over and over since its release. It has everything you want out of a great rap album: great production, good to mindblowing lyrical skill, and that one song that will make it onto every mix you'll make for the next ten years ("The Champ").

The Agalloch album was my introduction to the band and is one of the most beautiful records I heard this year, the occasional black metal vokills (which are not nearly as distracting as many metal vocalists) notwithstanding. I need to get their earlier records, because I'll always have the time to listen to wintry, atmospheric music. Comets On Fire, meanwhile, released their most focused record to date, while managing to keep most of the freewheeling squall intact. France's Gojira another band new to me, released one piledriver of a record, equal parts technical wizardry (hello Meshuggah!) and spitfire brutality, but tempered with a certain atmospheric quality worthy of Devin Townsend himself.

And speaking of tempering their music, Jesu did just that on their EP, which saw the band inject a bit more melody into their claustrophobic ambient metal. On the other end of the spectrum are Korpiklaani, whose Finnish folk metal should inspire the kind of drunken revelry reserved for Irish weddings/funerals. Anybody who thinks metal is all skulls and Satan and slit wrists would do well to check this album out. Mastodon, under the pressure of dropping their first major label disc, not to mention having to top Leviathan, their previous album that was the subject of so many critical mash notes and handjobs, unleashed Blood Mountain. It was a terrific album to be sure, if not as immediately bracing as its predecessor, and should not be missed.

Om, bka the rhythm section of stoner metal godz Sleep, put out their second album, which is right up there with Agalloch on the beauty scale. Consisting only of two tracks that clock in past fiteen minutes each, Conference of the Birds is what the duo do best: repetitive rhythms and drones that change subtly over the course of each piece, the heaviness of Om's music carrying the listener along without every getting waist-deep in dullness.

Finally, there is Voivod's album, which will always carry with it the weight of the death of Denis "Piggy" d'Amour, the band's co-founder and guitarist, who recorded all of his parts for the record prior to his untimely passing. These parts were later completed by the rest of the band and released (there's also supposed to be a second album in the making, using the rest of the guitar parts Piggy recorded) as Katorz. Even without the backstory, this would have been a noteworthy release, as Katorz is the fierce roar of a band at its technical peak, crafting rock solid metal without ever putting it into cruise control.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hipster Shuffle

It seems my iPod is in a very hep cat mood this morning. Here are the first ten songs it played:

Dysrhythmia "Touch Benediction"
Pavement "Old To Begin"
Pepe Deluxe "Salami Fever"
Public Enemy "Don't Believe The Hype"
Teenage Fanclub "Older Guys"
Damon & Naomi "The Great Wall"
Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"
Superchunk "Garlic"
Elliott Smith "Waltz #2"
Pixies "Bone Machine"

(And the 11th song, playing as I type this, is New Pornographers. I'm a Ted Leo song and funny pair of shoes away from being me three years ago. Except I don't actually own any Ted Leo albums.)

The year end list is almost complete and will be posted later today. Another fine year in music.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I'd just like to point out that the moment at 1:30 in the Poster Children's "Where We Live", the closing track on their fantastic Daisy Chain Reaction, is one of my favorites in rock music. At least tonight. It just...erupts. Sure, the quiet/loud thing has been done so, so many times. But the timing seems so perfect here.

Anyway...just notin'.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Call Down The (Gods of) Thunder

I said this over on the other blog, but it's worth repeating: you must go get the new Melvins disc, A Senile Animal. I just cannot stop listening to it. I've been waking up to it all week, it's what I listen to on the way to and from work, and it's on in the evenings. Now, I'm not listening exclusively to it, but I might as well be. Every time I put on another disc, no matter how good (like, say, Gospel's The Moon Is A Dead World, or what I'm listening to as I type this, Om's Variations On A Theme), I wind up putting on The Melvins right after.

Now, my obsession (which will wane with time) is not the most compelling reason to hear this disc. Obviously, it's the music, which is some of the most straightforward and furiously rockin' stuff they've released in some time. Sure, there's nothing on here they haven't really done before. After all, they've been around 20 years and have put out nearly as many albums (if not more) and have never been ones to shy away from experimentation. Consequently, short of a complete stylistic makeover, there's not much "new" they haven't already tried before. This time out, however, they seem to have distilled everything that has made them great into one mindblowing elixir. And, okay, I lied. There are a couple of new wrinkles. Namely, there's the addition of new members Jared Warren on bass and Coady Willis as a second drummer, aka the hard rock duo Big Business. Not only do they add extra-heaviness to an already punishing rhythmic base, but they give it a little swing, too. And, perhaps the most surprising element is the vocal harmonies featured on a number of songs, used to best effect on the song "Civilized Worm", which starts off as a mid-tempo rocker but before long becomes an anthemic ass-kicker and a perfect example of what I love so much about this album. It could be because I've started to ignore/tune-out most vocals (listening to a lot of death/black metal will do that to you), but the harmonies really are a welcome addition to Melvins already potent formula.

Best of all, there's not one track I want to skip when I listen to this. Even the last two tracks, which sound anti-climactic in the wake of the money shot that is "A History Of Bad Men", are worth sticking around for.