Savannah, Georgia sludge-metal warriors Kylesa started out as a slobbering two-drummer beast of a band, and they’re still that. But on their last two albums, they’ve been injecting their ferocious roar with more and more gloriously anthemic ’90s alt-rock melody. Ultraviolet, their latest, is a triumph in every way imaginable, and it’s one of the year’s best rock LPs thus far. We’ve posted the early songs “Unspoken,” “Quicksand,” “Vulture’s Landing,” and “We’re Taking This,” and now you can (and should) stream the entire monstrous thing at Pitchfork.
Ultraviolet is out 5/28 via Season Of Mist.
Erik Wunder is probably best known as the instrumental genius behind Colorado-born black-metal duo Cobalt, whose now-decade-old career has produced three increasingly brilliant LPs that redefined the parameters and raised the stakes of the genre: 2005′s War Metal, 2007′s Eater Of Birds, and 2009′s Gin. (Gin placed at No. 2 on Stereogum’s list of 2009′s best metal albums, and I had it at No. 3 on my Pazz & Jop ballot that year.) Yet the Cobalt story frequently centers on vocalist/lyricist Phil McSorley, whose military service and tours in Iraq and South Korea make him an unusually important voice in a genre that often treats subjects like war with cartoonish bravado and inaccuracy. It also makes him a compelling interview subject even for the likes of Fox News, but more importantly, it makes things like rehearsing, writing, and recording new music particularly difficult. As such, Cobalt releases are few and far between, and tours are nearly impossible . Perhaps to satisfy his creative muse, Wunder has focused his energy recently on Man’s Gin — a long-running project for which he serves as singer and songwriter, and which captures much of Cobalt’s blackened spirit, but manifests it in rustic tones: bleak Americana; haunted folk; boozy jams; grunge anthems; murder ballads. Wunder’s full-bodied vocals recall Alice in Chains’ late singer, Layne Staley, another man whose pipes were capable of turning the darkest of nightmares into lighter-waving sing-alongs for winos and disaffected dirtbags.
Recently, Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, played at New York’s Bowery Ballroom in celebration of the release of his latest album Muchacho, which is by no means his first, but definitely his biggest. I’m more of a Pride guy myself.
Pride came out in 2007. It’s a small album. Houck owes a lot to Will Oldham, his voice cracks under the weight of age, and even when he’s writing relatable songs, the ones on Pride mostly seemed a little bit off, in that way that makes them just weird enough to feel true.
The-Dream made a video for his absolutely bananas track “IV Play” — one of the best songs of the year, for my money — and it could not be any more boring. You have Director X as craftsman here! He got Onyx and 50 Cent rapping in a hockey rink! Drake to reenact his bar mitzvah! Essentially wrote the Ciara-Future fan fiction we’ve all been adorably writing in our minds! I understand this is not the song to go literal on, but with that director credit, I expected a little bit more than scenes of slow twerking and a helicopter. Cool fur coat, though. Watch it below because the song still knocks.
“If I Had A Tail” follows “I Appear Missing,” “Kalopsia,” and “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” as the fourth hyperviolent animated video for an incomplete song from the new Queens Of The Stone Age album …Like Clockwork. In this one, our latest cartoonworld sociopath is the driver of a blood-spattered Thunderbird deathmobile with skulls hanging from its rearview mirror, one who gets kicks by tossing molotov cocktails at nearby biker crews. Four videos in, and apparently there are still people in this animated deathscape left to kill. The song, meanwhile, is surprisingly smooth, albeit still heavy as fuck. Watch it below.
I watch a lot of television — like A LOT of television — and I’ve never seen a single episode of CSI. I know this sounds snobbish (and maybe it is in fact snobbish), but I’m saying it to make a point: I’m a fan of Black Sabbath, a passionate consumer of music, an employee at a well-read music blog, and I watch a lot of television. At some point in the last few months, some integrated marketing dude must have looked at a Venn diagram or analytics breakdown or something that included demographics overlapping with mine and realized that while premiering a new Black Sabbath song on a television show was not a bad idea, per se, premiering that song on CSI was automatically going to send a particular (and not especially flattering) message: that Black Sabbath is music for old people out of touch with popular culture. They’re not even being subtle about it — in the CSI clip during which Sabbath “performs” their new song, “End Of The Beginning” there’s a cutaway to Ted Danson (age: 65) talking about seeing the Grateful Dead in ’78 or something. I’m not saying they should be featured on Girls or Portlandia, but why not, say, Sons Of Anarchy? Or True Blood? It’s just a bad look all around and it makes me totally nauseous.
The Bristol duo Fuck Buttons have been taking their time crafting their latest tsunami of chaotic skree and psychedelic gloop. The staggering Tarot Sport, their last album, is now four years old, and Fuck Buttons are only now getting around to announcing the follow-up Slow Focus. The new album, which arrives later in the summer, is just seven tracks long, and it’s the first that Fuck Buttons have ever produced themselves. Check the tracklist below.
Right now, Titus Andronicus and the So So Glos are on the so-called “Bring Back The Dudes” tour, bringing sweaty and messy punk-rock singalongs to bars across this great nation. And both bands came together onstage to end a recent set at the New Orleans venue Siberia. The So So Glos guys drunkenly paid homage to their home borough (and Titus’s adopted home) by covering the Beastie Boys’ deathless “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” tweaking lyrics while appropriate, while Titus frontman Patrick Stickles wandered around smoking and shaking a tambourine. This show looks fun as fuck, and the So So Glos guys have never looked more Bay Ridge than they do in the video below.
Last year, Beck released Song Reader, an album that was only available as sheet music; it’s still the closest thing to a proper album he’s dropped since 2008′s Modern Guilt. Beck has resisted any and all requests to play songs from the album live, so we’ve only heard those songs in our imagination’s version of Beck’s voice, not in Beck’s actual voice. That’s about to change.
Franz Ferdinand have been debuting new material at their live shows for years, but the band has announced they will release a follow-up to 2009′s Tonight called Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action this summer. There will be a limited deluxe edition of the album, as well, called the Passport Edition which will be issued in 2xLP in a hand-numbered sleeve and will include additional items like a CD of live recordings called Right Notes, Right Words, Wrong Order, a 7″ of bonus tracks and another 12″, and four postcards from each member of the band. Check out the tracklist and watch a trailer for the album below.
The reunited Guided By Voices have released a staggering four new albums since last January, and ultra-prolific frontman Robert Pollard also has a new solo album coming out in July. But that’s not enough! Before that solo album even lands, Pollard will debut a new mostly-solo side project called Teenage Guitar. In this one, Pollard sings and plays guitar and pianos, and old friends Greg Demos and Joe Patterson occasionally help out. Teenage Guitar’s debut album Force Fields At Home is set to arrive soon, and you can hear the short and murky psych-pop song “Atlantic Cod” below.
Back in March, we posted the video for “Howl,” a truly excellent plainspoken pop single from the teenage British singer Chlöe Howl. The Portland electro-pop duo YACHT have now remixed that track, turning it into full-blooded, fleet-footed dance-pop that wouldn’t sound out of place on the new Disclosure album (which, I feel compelled to point out again, fucking rules.) It’s a great remix, and you can hear it below.
Next month, the excellent young British dance duo Disclosure will release Settle, their truly exciting debut album. I’ve heard it, and it’s one of the two or three best albums I’ve heard all year. And yesterday, the duo’s two brothers played a live-in-studio session at Maida Vale Studio’s for BBC Radio 1. During their three-song set, they debuted “F For You,” a crisp and fleet-footed new track. They also brought the singer Eliza Doolittle along to perform “You & Me,” their new single, and they covered “You Used To Hold Me,” Ralphi Rosario’s 1987 Chicago house classic, with Natalie Duncan singing. Listen to all three performances below.
The promo-mode Flaming Lips checked into 30 Rock last night to perform Jimmy Fallon once more before Fallon makes the long move to another floor on 30 Rock to host The Tonight Show. To mark the occasion, which largely served to promote the Lips new record The Terror, the band performed album cut “Try To Explain” — alongside Bowie standard “Heroes.” It’s not often in life that one gets to be in an iconic freak-rock band and cover iconic freak-rock forefather David Bowie in a year where said forefather is operating as a going concern, so it’s a particularly compelling gesture. Also compelling, in a visual sense, is Wayne Coyne’s outfit, which comprises very long translucent tubes, synchronized lights, underwear, and skin. Watch it below, because Wayne went to a lot of effort to make sure you would:
Last night, Kanye West served at the surprise guest at the upfront party for Adult Swim, which went down at the New York venue Roseland. During his set, Kanye performed in a gigantic lit-up pyramid that somehow looked nothing like the Daft Punk pyramid, trotting out a couple of new songs, including one that Hudson Mohawke debuted in a DJ set recently and another, “Awesome,” dedicated to Kim Kardashian. And you know what that means: Shaky camera-phone footage! And you know what else that means: More ranting! Unfortunately, Kanye’s label has been quick about removing footage of the two new songs he played last night. But we do get to see the rant. And honestly, we call these things “rants,” but they always sound pretty reasonable to me. In this one, Kanye, one of the preeminent musicians of his generation, says that he’s the worst kind of celebrity, that he should be allowed to just make his music and have these fuckers with the cameras leave him alone. He uses more colorful language than that, but you know what? He’s right. Watch it below.
Denny Bowen played drums in the great Baltimore punk trio Double Dagger until that band broke up, and now he leads the fired-up sludge-rock quartet Roomrunner. Bowen’s new band are about to release Ideal Cities, an album of flattening riffery and boundless energy, and it’s one of the better slabs of old-school fuzz-heavy underground rock that you’re likely to hear this year. Stream the anthemic opening track “Bait Car” at Soundcloud.
Ideal Cities is out 5/28 on Fan Death.
The introverted British electronic duo Mount Kimbie’s new album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth arrives in a couple of weeks, and we’ve posted the LP tracks “Made To Stray” and “Blood And Form.” And on “You Took Your Time,” another one from they album, they link in with the rumble-voiced young London singer-songwriter King Krule, whose angry-stoned spoken-word musings make a pretty ideal track for their hazy downtempo. Stream the track below.
Daft Punk’s new album Random Access Memories is a lot of things: A masterful years-in-the-making publicity campaign set to music, a showcase of hellaciously expensive decades-old studio craftsmanship, a stunt-casted absurdist music event on the level of the Coachella Tupac hologram, a fascinating example of what happens when pop-star robots go to disco fantasy camp, a reminder that it’s bee too long since you played Off The Wall front-to-back, an example of a hype-wave so deafening that you can almost forget there’s an album behind it. But more than anything, it’s a deeply silly piece of work. It’s the guy who wrote “The Rainbow Connection” wailing that he needs something more over Styx pianos while a vocodered children’s choir answers back that love is the answer. It’s Pharrell crooning about how trying to get laid is like “the legend of the phoenix.” It’s Giorgio Moroder lecturing about click-tracks over a click-track. It’s Julian Casablancas’s gorgeously ragged voice processed beyond all recognition, or a Panda Bear solo song showing up in the middle of a bajillion-dollar dance-pop album for absolutely no reason. It’s “Fragments Of Time,” a far-balder Steely Dan rip than anything on that last Destroyer album. The whole thing is, in its own way, as mercurial a prank as anything Bonnie “Prince” Billy or Ween ever did, and maybe the most amazing thing about the great press rollout has been how little the actual people in Daft Punk have let on that they realize how goofy all this is. But like the best mercurial pranks, the album is also, in its own way, entirely serious.
Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile’s other band, Ducktails, released one of 2013′s most unjustly overlooked LPs, The Flower Lane, an album so dreamily, wondrously relaxed that it should seriously come with the same warning label you’d find stuck to the side of a bottle of Vicodin. Now, Mondanile’s Real Estate bandmate, bassist Alex Bleeker, is set to release a new one from his own side project, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, the title of which is How Far Away, and the content of which is almost as chilled-out as The Flower Lane. (To be fair, Real Estate aren’t exactly Minor Threat in the first place.) “Step Right Up” is the third track we’ve heard from How Far Away (following “Leave On The Light” and “Don’t Look Down“) and … well, it’s probably enough to point out that the song is subtitled “Pour Yourself Some Wine.” Don’t mind if I do! Now let’s kick back and give this thing a spin.
San Francisco-based label the Flenser is one of the best sources today for excellent/experimental underground metal, and it’s especially notable for discovering and releasing music by artists who also reside in the City By The Bay, including Botanist, Necrite, and Obolus. Last year, the label released a split 7-inch featuring two of the city’s most prominent metal acts, Deafheaven and Flenser alums Bosse-De-Nage (we streamed the BDN side here). SF’s Wreck & Reference got picked up by the Flenser on the strength of that band’s 2011 Black Cassette demo, which the label released on vinyl later that year. They followed that up with a proper LP in 2012, Youth (pronounced “No Youth”), and now, a new 7-inch, Content (“No Content”), which expands the group’s bleak sonic palate. Working without any stringed instruments, Wreck & Reference (drummer Ignat Frege and multi-instrumentalist Felix Skinner) create music using only vocals, drums, and a Korg sampler, and produce with that combination of ingredients a sound that is spare, haunted, and riveting. The best comp here is probably Big Black, who also worked with limited elements in pursuit of a similarly tweaked sound. Content‘s A-side, “Absurdities And Echos” (the video for which NPR premiered a few weeks ago), has an eerie, mournful quality, but the flip, “Abhorrence,” which we’ve got for you today, is pure stripped-down, methed-up, blowtorch-wielding, abandoned-factory industrial noise. Give it a spin.