Wednesday, February 6, 2013

HOMESHAKE: The Triumphant Return of Peter Sagar

Portrait of Peter Sagar
Those of you who read my Outdoor Miners review know that I'm a pretty big fan of member Peter Sagar's solo project Sans AIDS. Unfortunately, that project's music is still really hard to find, but I have good news.

Since my 5-6 month hiatus from this blog (sorry), I discovered that Peter Sagar is a member in Mac Demarco's band, which has been gaining a lot of momentum since the release of Demarco's critically acclaimed 2012 album 2.

I had briefly talked about how Sans AIDS had changed their name to "Home Shake" in my footnote on the Outdoor Miners review. Well, folks, there's a new Homeshake tape, and you can listen to it right now.

It seems that collaborating with Mac Demarco has had an affect on Sagar's songwriting. Homeshake is notably lighter. There's obscure vocal samples, poppier song structures, and cleaner sounding production. It's still sloppy, but the slop is easier to digest. 

Some may recognize the first track "Haters" as a rerecorded version of Sans AIDS "Haters Hating".

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Outdoor Miners - Disgust (Review) + BONUS: Sans AIDS

Outdoor Miners were(?) a noise rock band from Edmonton. In 2009, they released Twelve Hundred Dollars, a fuzzed out, three-song single that largely drew influence from 90's college rock bands like Dinosaur Jr and Yo La Tengo. On this, their follow-up release entitled Disgust, Outdoor Miners managed to up the production value a bit without softening the attack.

The set opens with "Disgust", a short track that faithfully hearkens back to classic Dinosaur Jr. material. This isn't your smoothed-out, Galaxie 500-type of classic indie rock; This thing is rough and chunky all around. It's ultra refreshing in modern context, where a large portion of the hip, buzz-worthy bands are playing lazy dream pop and so-called "chillwave".

Next up, "Bent Brain" is an all out brawl, complete with what could very well be the most accurate Black Francis impersonation since the Pixies. There's no subtlety; It's just a good, old-fashioned kick in the taint.

Member Peter Sagar takes the reins on the final track, "Friends With Money", the sobering response to "Bent Brain". To simplify his role in the band, Peter Sagar is basically to Outdoor Miners what Lou Barlow is to Dinosaur Jr.. His only major songwriting contribution to this release is far more introspective than the two tracks preceding it. Also, not unlike Barlow, Sagar has his own excellent side-project, the enigmatic Sans AIDS (more on that later).

There's not a whole lot of cohesiveness to these songs, but the quality is consistently good. I've only been able to find two, three-track singles by this band, and I'm uncertain if they're even together anymore. If they're not, then at the very least, they left on a good note.

"Disgust" can be downloaded for free from the band's bandcamp page (see above), and "Twelve Hundred Dollars" can still be found for cheap on itunes.

Verdict: 77%

BONUS: Sans AIDS A.K.A. Home Shake

Sans Aids - Loaners EP

I've decided to supplement this review with a more in depth look at Sans AIDS.

First off, Sans AIDS is great. Merely a two piece band comprised of a guitar and drums, it's a total showcase of Sagar's unique songwriting abilities. Songs are stripped-down and charmingly sloppy.  The Loaners EP (pictured) is kind of a classic in my opinion. It hasn't left my rotation since I first heard it in January, 2011. It's disheveled, lo-fi rock at its finest.

The reason I don't dedicate a whole review to this release is because this band's Bandcamp page has completely vanished, making it extremely difficult to find the music. It wouldn't be right of me to make a huge deal about this EP if there's no way to listen to it. There are cassettes floating around Canada, but that doesn't really help the majority of people.

 I've done some research, but my questions about this band remain unanswered. I was able to find out that they changed their name to "Home Shake", but I found even less information with that name. Maybe someday I'll find out why this band just completely disappeared.

In the meantime, here's the laughably obnoxious Sans AIDS radio spot, featuring music from Loaners:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We Arrive Alive - My Friend the Bombmaker (Review)

We Arrive Alive are an instrumental post-rock band from Dublin, Ireland. Although they lack most of the subtlety of greater known post-rock giants like Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Explosions in the Sky, their music is more accessible. Despite how that may have sounded, I don't mean for that to come off as a knock on this band. As much as I enjoy Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I don't always feel like committing to a single, hour-and-a-half long recording. We Arrive Alive (WAA)  play a brand of post-rock that has a quicker tempo and more condensed song structures. I would say it's closer to a band like Russian Circles in style and structure (especially more recent Russian Circles material).

On this, their second release, WAA sound surprisingly focused. The title track starts things off in notably upbeat fashion. Drums come in heavy and aggressive, mimicking the rhythm established in a brief solo guitar introduction. A guitar bridges loud, percussive bursts with a sliding effect that makes the drums sound as though they're charging up. It's small details like this that let you know WAA aren't messing around. The song frequently shifts dynamics, eventually winding to a conclusion accompanied by a backing horn section.

"Dachau" follows and is easily the most downbeat on the EP. With a title like "Dachau", I'd be surprised if it wasn't at least a little less bombastic than the title track. The drums play more of a traditional, backing role here. This particular track is the closest this EP gets to the aforementioned Godspeed You! Black Emperor brand of post-rock.

The rest of the release keeps with the sound established on the title track. "Zombies" appropriates the "loud quiet loud" dynamic to great success. It's 3.5 minute run-time is utilized with maximum efficiency. "A Lethal Black Ooze" is darkly captivating, complete with primal, distorted pounding that abruptly closes the EP.

Perhaps the most startling thing about this release is it's relative obscurity. It may be the lack of available material or the age of the band, but they definitely deserve more attention than they currently get. At the very least, I hope more music is on the way.

Verdict: 84%

Track Review: Krallice - IIIIIIII

"IIIIIIII", the first "single" from Krallice's forthcoming album Years Past Matter, is truly something to behold.  It basically picks up right where Diotima left off, and that's awesome, considering that was one of my favorite albums of last year.

The track starts out blasting and doesn't let up for its entire 10+ minute run time. Krallice has an uncanny ability to write long, epic compositions that don't ever feel overly so. Even though "IIIIIIII" is 10:18, I would suggest that it could have been longer. There's no "jamming" going on here. Krallice doesn't have time to play games.

The sound on here should come as no real surprise to anybody accustomed to Krallice. There's plenty of dense, tremolo-style guitar and pounding, intricate drumming. Both Vocalists take turns yelling in their own specific ways. You've got the low, gravelly bellows from Nick McMaster and the higher, manic screams from Mick Barr. The vocals are characteristically distant sounding.

Needless to say, this comes highly recommended from me. While it's true that Krallice doesn't really switch up the format they've established, I enjoy this format immensely. I suggest anybody who reads this to give this thing a good listen.

Verdict: /10

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Songs that Shouldn't Exist: "The Baby Song"

Flip Your Wig album cover
Today I revisited Hüsker Dü's album Flip Your Wig for the first time in a few years. I wouldn't say it's the Hüsker's best by any means, but it's still a phenomenal album. It features some of the most powerful and effective songs the group ever recorded.

It also features "The Baby Song", which is probably the most useless song that exists. It's 46 seconds of the finest liquid diarrhea pressed on wax. Let me break it down: somebody literally says "The Baby Song", then the remaining 45 seconds are two dudes just dicking around on a slide whistle and xylophone. It's the only song I've heard that's ever made me completely furious.

Listen to it:

I don't hate this track just because it's total garbage. I can tolerate much worse music. The reason I hate this so much is because it just doesn't belong anywhere near this album. A lot of the material on here is dead serious and emotionally engaging, and there's no preparation. The song immediately preceding this one is "Find Me", one of Bob Mould's darkest and most angst-y compositions. The song after it is "Flexible Flyer", a thought-provoking Grant Hart classic. My only guess is that "The Baby Song" is there for contrast. Like, I imagine that I'd appreciate air a lot more if I was forcefully drowned for 46 seconds between breaths. That's the only way it makes sense to me.

I can forgive Hüsker Dü though. For one, it's been over 25 years since this was recorded, and they say time heals all wounds. Also, I've read that Hüsker Dü had an unbelievable work ethic. Within about a year, they dropped three classic albums, including this one. I guess I just have to accept that they had reason for this.

"Makes No Sense At All" promo clip:

Supa Sortahuman X Shawn Kemp - Supasonic (Review)

At the beginning of the year, Lil Ugly Mane released Mista Thug Isolation, which remains as my favorite mixtape of 2012. I've yet to hear a better modern interpretation of DJ Screw-inspired Memphis Rap.  Since then, Ugly Mane's cleared his Bandcamp page and focused in on production work for other Raider Klan affiliates like Yung Simmie and EthelWulf. Lil Ugly Mane is blessed behind the boards, but I needed another official release from the mane himself.

So, you can probably imagine how excited I was when I saw this EP appear on his Bandcamp page about a week ago. You also can probably understand how I felt when I read the quote underneath it that said, "THIS IS NOT A 'LIL UGLY MANE' RELEASE".

However, there was still a lot to be excited about with this release for me. Last time Supa Sortahuman and Shawn Kemp (A.K.A. Lil Ugly Mane) joined forces, the result was "Radiation (Lung Pollution)", one of the best tracks from Mista Thug Isolation. The chemistry between  Supa and Ugly Mane is noticeable on there. It's even a little difficult to tell them apart sometimes. (Their voices are also pitched down like two octaves, which may contribute to that difficulty.)

This EP kicks off with "UFO'in", easily the closest thing to a "radio-friendly" song on here. I could see a lot of Mista Thug Isolation fans being turned away by this track. It's got a high BPM, and there's no pitch altering on Supa's voice. I'll admit that I was a little thrown off by it initially. The first time I heard the "I'm from another planet, ho" line, I cringed a little bit, not gonna lie. The song has really grown on me, though. As always, Shawn Kemp's production is top notch, and Supa does a great job of carrying it. It'd be interesting to hear this song in a club to see how people respond to it.

Things start to slow back down from there. "Go Away" is a solid return to familiar territory. It's a good transitional song between "UFO'in" and the first Lil Ugly Mane feature, "Blazin Up", where Lil Ugly Mane actually raps in a high-pitched voice. It's a funny idea, considering that Lil Ugly Mane basically spent an entire albums worth of material rapping with his voice pitched low, but it actually plays off really successfully here. Lil Ugly Mane has the tendency to challenge expectations and push boundaries. This is a good example of that.

The remainder of the EP continues to impress. "Ridin Through the Hood" is dark and atmospheric track with a heavy, heavy bass line. "Me & You" introduces the gem of a line, "Well, if life is a bitch, and Earth is nature's mother, then what is man other than a mother fucker?". Lil Ugly Mane comes in a capella and drops some of the best lines on the whole release.

"Fuck That Shit" is chock full of introspective thoughts regarding life, the world, and other general, weed-powered inquiries. Shawn Kemp's production sounds like the soundtrack to a horrible tragedy. It's a pretty bleak way to end the EP.

I wouldn't recommend this to anybody who holds lyrics above all else. Supa has some solid lines, but he talks about weed A LOT. With that said, if the idea of forward thinking, southern hip hop sounds at all appealing to you, I would say this is definitely worth checking out.

Verdict: 75%

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Right Noise Recommends #1: Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless

The DVD case cover for the CD release
When it comes to metal, I'm pretty much a slow and low kind of guy. I typically go for bands like Isis, Harvey Milk, or Melvins, but I try to keep an open mind about all types of music. The problem that I've had with albums like this in the past was that they seemed to be too focused on extremes. It's always about who can play the fastest, loudest, or most grotesque songs in the least amount of time. I understand the whole genre of grindcore was basically founded on these principles, but there's a way of following this model and still being enjoyable to listen to. If Napalm Death just constantly gurgled and squealed and played as fast as humanly possible back in 1986, they wouldn't have made anything close to the same impact.

One of the main reasons that this is such a masterpiece is because it doesn't stick to a formula. It takes the genre down so much unexplored territory, that I've seen people debate whether this is even grindcore at all. I personally wouldn't go that far, but it definitely separates itself from most.

It's one of the rare releases of this type where casual listeners of the genre can still pick out specific, noteworthy tracks. The band's most popular song, "Jigsaw" (below), surpasses it's reputation. "Pattern Blue" (also below) and "A Leaden Stride to Nowhere" both destroy, as well.

Unfortunately, this album can be kind of pricey. I lucked out and found this CD for $2 at a local record store that didn't even know what they had, but I usually see this for like $20-$40. You can still purchase it digitally or listen to it on spotify if you so choose. I'm not sure this is worth the $30-ish or so, considering the 17 tracks on this album only take about 23 minutes to listen to, but then again, it's 23 of the best minutes that grindcore has to offer. Just find a way to listen to it.


"Pattern Blue":