You’d expect to be thrown off a bit when delving into a new Pere Ubu record; discordant, unsettling rock n’ roll has been the band’s stock in trade for over 30 years. But on their latest, Lady from Shanghai, they take it one step further. Pere Ubu describe this record as an attempt at dance music, and the most obvious change is their new emphasis on beats and squealing electronics. While not a total success, between the steady rhythms and some excellent bass work, Lady is the foot-tappingest record in the Ubu canon.
Anything in Return is the record that Toro Y Moi is going to really break through with. Not because it is necessarily his best, but because the media machine has been buzzing in overtime to get him into the upper stratosphere of ultimate hipness. This process will be helped by the fact that Toro Y Moi’s music has become accessible to more than a select group of Pitchfork readers as his career has progressed. He’s added more genres (funk, dance, electro-pop, R&B) to his repertoire — and while this can be a liability in some cases, TyM has managed to make it on the whole a strength. It’s his time, and he’s ready for it.
To be old and punk rock is to be old and potentially irrelevant, and that is, to a certain degree, why most punk bands have such a limited life cycle. How can anyone maintain the anger, aggression and emotional commitment to hold onto the values and morals deemed important as a teenager, without the world grinding it all down into a jaded package of disillusion?
There is nothing that says that being in a punk band means you have to start when you are 20 and cease when you are 27, but to a certain degree, the writing is on the wall the moment you start. You may have been bellowing discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds with your first vinyl, but after the third album is released, an older you will probably still be bellowing that discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds.
With that in mind, it is completely understandable why bands in the realm live and die so quickly, and those that stick around for decades are few and far between.
February 10th, 2012 @ Showbox at the Market, Seattle
But Gainsville, Florida quartet Hot Water Music are one of the few between. Hot Water Music released Finding the Rhythms in 1995. After eight full-lengths, numerous EPs, and returning from an “indefinite hiatus”, the torchbearers of the post-hardcore/emo wave of the mid-’90s are still going strong. For their tour in support of their latest release, Exister, HWM took out for support two very similar bands in different points in their career: La Dispute and The Menzingers.
When reminiscing about Hot Water Music, most people bring up how they were their favorite band at one point or how no one else spoke closer to home lyrically, etc., etc. For many in the punk community, Hot Water Music proved that you can wear your heart on your sleeve and not sacrifice any points for it. This evening at the Showbox in Seattle, the legions of kids that sang along to their every word 15 years ago have aged and matured likewise, rounding their set out with one of the oldest median age punk crowds you’d see in a while. When “Wayfarer” rang out, the crowd cheered almost louder than the band sang. The mosh pit was active, but not in a stupidly vicious way, and there wasn’t a single crowdsurfer until a teenager finally was able to get on the shoulders of someone else to make his mad dash for the barrier between the crowd and the stage.
Last year, the NSFW video for Kirin J. Callinan’s “Way To War (WIIW)” caught my attention with its punk rock Lars Von Trier visual choices. Just recently, the same director, Kris Moyes, released a music video for Grizzly Bear’s “gun-shy” — crystallizing what I would say is the best track from the band’s latest offering, Shields, into a sputtering-in-time work of natural and “scientific” strangeness.
Expect a compare-and-contrast interview with Moyes about both of these videos in the coming month — but for now, relish in the animated .gifs and the video’s delicious sleight of hand, tripped out subtle magic. Full clip inside, along with an initial statement from Moyes about the work.
With PSY having achieved billionaire/Bieber-destroyer status just in time for the holidays, here’s a mix of not-so-Gangnam s(e)oul jams to recap 2012 and usher in the new year. These aren’t quite for the club; they’re more for staying in — with your boo, or just you — and making it through the rest of the winter.
Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums.
With diverse dance nights and boundary-pushing local shows galore, Portland nightclub Holocene really does its part to build up the music community in Portland. To close out the year 2012, Gina Altamura and Van Pham have rounded up a list of their favorite local acts that you should pay attention to in 2013.
Aural Devastation is a regular column about heavy music. Here are some favorites from 2012, beginning with relatively structured songs and descending into the chaotic.
Baroness – “EULA” from Yellow & Green + ENTIRE RECORD STREAM
As the last song on the Yellow Album, “EULA” had an interesting job, as it needed to take the listener from the harder sounds of Baroness into the more straight-up progressive rock edge of Green Album. Baroness knocked it out of the park with their attempt, as “EULA” is one of the better songs in their entire catalog. - PETER WOODBURN
Black Breath – “Feast of the Damned” from Sentenced to Life
The opening track off of Black Breath’s mind-mashing 2012 album, Feast of the Damned showed exactly how Black Breath was taking their music — harder, faster, louder. - PETER WOODBURN
Burning Love – “Hateful Comforts” from Rotten Thing to Say
The guitars are fierce, the drums unrelenting, and the vocals snarling. Burning Love put forth a perfect blend off rock and roll and hardcore with this effort. - PETER WOODBURN
Converge – “Trespasses” from All We Love We Leave Behind + ENTIRE RECORD STREAM
This song opens and closes with more noise than anything out there. Its spastic interior showcases the madness that is the Converge flurry trying desperately to explode out. - PETER WOODBURN
Downfall of Gaia – “In The Rivers Bleak” from Suffocating the Swarms of Cranes + ENTIRE RECORD STREAM
Downfall of Gaia released one of the best metal albums of the year, and this is probably the best song off of the album. It’s got some great post-metal, sludge metal, black metal and straight up metal moments that make the eight minutes pass by in two. - PETER WOODBURN
Pig Destroyer – “The Diplomat” from Book Burner + ENTIRE RECORD STREAM
“The Diplomat” is the first song on Book Burner over two minutes long and shows why Scott Hull is the best metal guitarist on the planet. The song is all Pig Destroyer in their never-ending quest to brutalize eardrums world-wide with absolutely punishing riffs. - PETER WOODBURN
Propagandhi – “Note to Self” from Failed States
“Note to Self” contains some nice lyrical play to open the song, but really contains the best moments of Propagandhi’s conversion from punk-rock into punk-thrash. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better final minute in any song this year. - PETER WOODBURN
Swans – “Avatar” from The Seer + ENTIRE RECORD STREAM
Michael Gira is a musical genius. The way he makes “Avatar” grow while chanting, “Your life is in my hands” makes you really feel like it is — and Gira is the last person you want to take control of your destiny. He hardly has control over his own; and that is half the fun of this ride. - PETER WOODBURN
Torche – “Walk It Off” from Harmonicraft
To listen to Torche is to try to figure out what you are listening to. Is it sludge? Is it metal? Is it rock? I say a bit of all three, and they are the best bands blurring that line right now. “Walk It Off” shows Torche at their finest, with crazy guitars and constant drums. - PETER WOODBURN