Song Of The Day: Kills Birds – Cough Up Cherries

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Married is an absolute thrill of a record. The sophomore offering from L.A.-based band Kills Birds is an intense yet utterly enjoyable ride from start to finish without a bad track in the bunch.

The band just finished a tour with Sleigh Bells and has some upcoming dates with Foo Fighters as well as a recently announced European tour set for the new year, which hopefully will lead to a deservedly greater profile for them.

Married is out now via Royal Mountain Records. Check out the video for latest single “Cough Up Cherries” below.

Song Of The Day: Porcupine Tree – Harridan

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Following a break of more than a decade, English prog rockers Porcupine Tree are making their return with the release of their upcoming eleventh studio album Closure/Continuation, due out in June of next year.

While bandleader Steven Wilson has kept himself busy with several solo albums in the intervening years (including the excellent Hand. Cannot. Erase. and this year’s The Future Bites), the return of the band is welcome news and if lead single “Harridan” is any indication, the album looks quite promising.

Check out the lyric video for “Harridan” below.

Album Review: black midi – Cavalcade (2021, Rough Trade)

Posted on by Gary in Albums | Leave a comment

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Does anyone ever wonder if the authors of Cole’s Notes read themselves in old age to marvel at how beautifully complex, deep, and in-tune with all manifest faculties they once were?

Whether chanting (“Diamond Stuff”), traversing alternate pasts (“Marlene Dietrich”), or narrating a seemingly terrifying future a la Hieronymus Bosch (“John L”), black midi disembodies itself from space-time, climbs the throne of objective observer, describes its perspective back to you in the metaphoric language of the French opera cakes, and asks you to stay Zen and not attempt to understand.

Post-punk Buddhist monks might be a suitable descriptor. For what it’s worth, in the absence of those potential metaphors, the delivery vehicle that is Cavalcade still sounds like the soundtrack to a quasi-meta-movie called Being Johnny Cash-ovich. A thickly rhotic, faux American accent might have intended to cultivate an exuberant art deco ambiance to contrast the frenzied, post-post wouldn’t-give-a-rats-tail about traditions and forms instrumentation. Yet both still follow a stream of consciousness style that bend and stretch together. I observe that except for the middle 5/6, every even number on the album is softer and every odd number, odd and harshly dissonant. But in a sequence of less than 10, that hypothesis might well have a p-value of 1.0.

The album seems pleased with itself and stands in proud extroversion like a white-hot thermite covered highway billboard for modern-day Freemasonry – as if the album cover ever cast a shadow of a doubt. But the many elements of the album were continually pleasant to discover. The guitar hooks, the propulsive percussion and arrangements are always decisively clever. But I can do without the vocals and the lyrics that lend a layer of unnecessary sleaze, like some brownish organic ooze that interferes with the otherwise well-honed precision of the instrumental play. Cavalcade is merely mysterious and never incoherent, always perfectly able to paint a vivid picture. It is the clear results of careful craftsmanship, even though it carries the appearance of a rummaging mess of a jam session.

On repeated listening, however, the album is slower and harder than most to savour and digest in whole. You will either like it, have little opinion of it, or must reflect and then perform your decision on either of the two options when asked. In that sense, it’s built to be a museum piece that confronts. It attracts moths and critics to its ghostly flames without ever causing a stir with bees and plebeians. And when an album ends itself with an extracurricular multi-instrumental major key crescendo, that aim and aptitude for critical consumption is so patently conspicuous as to be circular. It is not built for a lazy, afternoon couch listening with your neighbor’s 2-year-old stomping opposite your ceiling. Unless that kid learns how to tap dance like Gene Kelly only to listen to this album in 70 years time and metaphorically lament his youth. Little Punk.

Album Review: Vanishing Twin-Ookii Gekkou (2021, Fire Records)

Posted on by Gary in Albums | Leave a comment

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I cannot even begin to write about the ironically apropos and prescient title of Vanishing Twin’s second album. At least not with a straight face. Somewhere a masonic temple’s granite eyeball finial must have been struck by black-and-white lightning and gained access into a colorfully rich, well-marbled dimensions.

Given their well known habits for experimentation, I think I could be similarly excused in such synesthesia. Co-mingling ready-made genres and samples into beautiful Frankensteins is, after all, air and water to Vanishing Twin. Coming on the heels of that 2019 album The Age of Immunology, their third such exploration switches from French to Japanese kookiness. Ookii Gekkou starts with an ostensibly odd but oddly-working merger between ’60s/’70s movie soundtrack and full lyrical song.

Busier, more vocal (not just in voice but tone) and more esoteric in comparison to Age of Immunology, Ookii Gekkou resembles a circus freak show in the best positive meaning of that term. With less thematic cohesion, the tracks have individual personalities like they busted out of a soundtrack from an Italian psycho movie on schizophrenia. I kid of course, about the country of origins for the brand of weirdness – the band is based in London. But if we are after a dose of stereotypical minor key hijinks, “In Cucina” does have that and some. Together with the album’s namesake “Big Moonlight”, it bookends a first phase of the album that has fresh, propulsive notes. Ookii then offers a more familiar imprint from Age seemingly designed to please previous fans, and almost as if on-cue, submerges into more electronica territory thereafter. While never trite, it is also never predictable. It is delightful to discover that genuinely enjoyable, not just artsy-fartsy, music can erupt this way.

On the notes of “Phase One Million”, then, I will be glad to return to my insouciant and carefree stroll (indoors) while chewing on marbled beef tacos de ojo, however ill-advised that might be. And on the fact that both this and the other album reviewed this week featured pink covers, I have no comment.