Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - October 2019


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg, Apothecary, Mr. Doctor, Ilham
Published: 16.11.2019


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - October 2019
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews

The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here are our previous features:

September 2019
August 2019
July 2019

And now to the music...








Gold Dime - My House
[Noise Rock / Post-Punk]

I came into My House without any knowledge, only knowing its genre tags. I have yet to get into their other album or the stuff that core member and up until recently only Gold Dime member, Andrya Ambro, did in her previous noise rock band, Talk Normal, but My House sure makes me eager to. This is apparently a more collaborative record than the previous one, especially since a bassist and a guitarist joined, but it's still centered around vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Andrya, and she themed this album around a father figure at the dinner table making the rules in his house.

And in Andrya's house there's some very organized mayhem, plenty of walls of guitar fuzz, angular riffs and disorienting drum patterns and an almost psychedelic sense of confusion that thread the line between art rock and post-punk and noise rock, but as disorienting and chaotic the album feels, there's still a feeling of passion and coziness in it, like you're part of the chaos as well now, it's all under the same roof. Her vocals might make the rules, but they sound so inspiring that you really might wanna follow them.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Kim Gordon - No Home Record
[Noise Rock / Post-Industrial]

The messy split with Thurston Moore and the disbandment of Sonic Youth is old news. The real news is that one of the coolest women in the music industry finally releases her first ever solo record after nearly four decades in the music business, and at the not-so-young age of 66. Age is just a number though, and Kim Gordon's No Home Record -named after Chantal Akerman's 2015 documentary No Home Movie- looks and sounds fresh, with avant-pop producer Justin Raisen obviously having a lot to do with that. After the two met in an Airbnb (and there is even a track here entitled "Air BnB"), Raisen asked Gordon to sing on a project that he had been working on, and this is how the bass-heavy foundations of their first song, "Murdered Out", were complemented with Kim's versatile vocals.

No Home Record is not fixated on one genre. Kim is an artist above all, and views music as something that can be formless, experimental, unsettling, rebellious, but also familiar. "Sketch Artist" mixes harsh and cold industrial bass-thumping with softer vocals and passages of sunshine and dreaminess. "Paprika Pony" pairs trap music with marimba (?) and Kim's inimitable voice. "Don't Play It" is brutal techno heard from a speaker buried under a pillow trying to break free. The punk menace "Hungry Baby" is essentially The Stooges pushed through the Sonic Youth grinder, because no one can get away from their past; and what a past Kim has. In a collage-art manner she puts together seemingly random phrases for her lyrics and the last thing heard in this album is 'Get your life back, yoga'.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by nikarg

Julie's Haircut - In The Silence Electric
[Psychedelic Rock / Indie Rock]

"Anticipation Of The Night" is a masterful, but slightly deceptive, introduction to In The Silence Electric, the ninth album by Italians Julie's Haircut. The interplay between the ominous throbbing background guitar noise, the eerie keyboard flourishes and the husky vocals creates a real sinister sense of foreboding, hinting at a dark, insidious journey to come. The remainder of the album is something from a departure from this; the next song on the album, "Emerald Kiss", is a more straightforward track, employing the same noisy guitar, instead accompanying subtle guitar grooves, upbeat keyboard and slightly hypnotic, monotonic vocals. The psychedelic rock sound of this track is a more accurate reflection of the remainder of the record, displaying many of the traits that also appear on faster cuts like "Until The Lights Go Out" and "Sorcerer".

There are still other surprises to be found on In The Silence Electric, however. "In Return" is a stripped-down, mildly unsettling ambient track, and "Lord Help Me Find The Way" is a quiet, minimalistic song, with sparse beats and almost whispered vocal interjections. "Pharaoh's Dream" almost feels industrial, with its repetitive, mechanical-sounding percussion, but the echoed vocals, disorienting electronic sounds and saxophone gradually push the song off the rails into chaos. The contrast between the fast, repetitive, krautrock-inspired song and the more ambient pieces is perhaps slightly dichotomic in a way that doesn't always feel entirely natural, but it does keep the album feeling fresh throughout. Somewhere between these two extremes is "Darlings Of The Sun", probably the most interesting track after the opener. Beginning with a pulsing electronic beat, the gradual introduction of distant saxophone, layered percussion and drifting singing takes the listener on an ever-evolving journey, a contrast to the static nature of some of the other songs here. In The Silence Electric is a varied and engaging listen that keeps listeners second-guessing about what to expect from Julie's Haircut, and delivers a couple of real gems.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Battles - Juice B Crypts
[Experimental Rock / Math Rock]

Battles is in a weird place right now. They released two of the greatest math rock albums of recent times with 2007's Mirrored and 2011's Glass Drop, but then they really failed to properly capitalize on those, especially with members leaving one by one, first after Glass Drop and then once again after 2015's underwhelming La Di Da Di, leaving Battles down to be a duo on a record that is further being underwhelming. Obviously here comes the "but they're still a cut above the rest", which isn't necessarily false, but it's not exactly flattering for a band that was miles above what we see on Juice B Crypts. It would obviously be a much better record if it wasn't released by Battles, now it crumbles under the pressure of expectations that come with their amazing previous work. But if it wasn't, we'd call them out for sounding too much like Battles.

The music is still pretty fun and exciting, but there's a sense that the more you pay attention to it the more it sounds contrived and lacking in proper punch, feeling less like an actual band and more like a collection of sloppily arranged loops, with loops so nice they even played them twice. The music does get a bit more interesting when the record's features come into play, from former Yes frontman, Jon Anderson, or rapper Shabazz Palaces, but even these feel like they could've been worked on a lot more. Juice B Crypts does have some great moments and fun textures, so it's far from a terrible record, but it's lacking in direction and depth.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Big Thief - Two Hands
[Indie Folk / Folk Rock]

Not the first Big Thief record we get this year it seems, you may remember us covering U.F.O.F. in our May edition. And as alien as that album sounded, Big Thief calls Two Hands its "Earth Twin". One recorded in a cabin in the woods in Washington, one recorded in the desert in Texas. We'll let you guess which is which. But it'll be clear which is the earth one and which is the sky one, as Two Hands is clearly grounded on two feet, almost as if they should've called it that.

The music still feels quite magical and hypnotic, but it's clearly earthed in human feelings and their experiences. Two Hands is soulful whereas U.F.O.F. was psychedelic. With a much more "live" feeling, both in the actual feeling and in how it was recorded, the band sounds probably at their most well integrated. You'd almost think it was quite a cozy and warm album if you completely ignored the lyrics like "The blood of the man who killed my mother with his hands/Is in me, it's in me, in my veins" from "Shoulder".

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Richard Dawson - 2020
[Art Rock / Avant-Folk]

Here comes another folk album that is really tied with its predecessor, that being 2017's Peasant, an indie folk record telling stories about medieval life under feudalism and its perils and ugliness. 2019's 2020 (yes, that hurt to type) is thematically tied to that, employing the same narrative focus, but paralleling the medieval setting and the feudalism of Peasant with a modern (or rather near-future) setting and capitalism, so you can tell it's not necessarily a pretty picture that it's painting. Stories of workplace anxiety, flooded cities and infidelity, and so on and so on.

2020 does differ a bit from its predecessor in musical approach though, with a lot more instrumentation bringing it a lot closer so something of an art rock record at times, with some distorted guitars and synths and some pretty industrial passages or post-punk grooves, though the core of the album is still obviously influenced by English folk music. The folk music employed here is still quite on the avant-folk spectrum, though definitely not as out-there as other records in Dawson's catalog, like 2014's Nothing Important, so compared to that, 2020 is a lot more accessible.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Portico Quartet - Memory Streams
[Nu Jazz / Downtempo]

When Radu sends the new suggested albums for this article each month, there are certain genre tags that fill me with optimism towards the associated album (synthpop/synthwave, techno) and some that indicate I probably won't enjoy that particular release (indie, hip-hop). I would previously have included jazz in the latter group; however, after the enjoyable The Mage by Greg Foat back in, there's a couple more albums this month under that umbrella that have grabbed my attention. One of these, Memory Streams by Portico Quartet, pulls this off by combining the complexity and ingenuity of jazz with the atmospheric substance of electronic ambiance, as well as the sonic diversity of world music. For an example, see the opening track, "With, Beside, Against", with its energetic drumming contrasted with minimalist piano work, ambient synths and tasteful Hang arrangements (sounds that I initially thought were from steel drums turned out to be generated using a Hang, an instrument I have just discovered exists courtesy of Portico Quartet). This all comes together to deliver a sound that is both driven and complex, but also imbued with a melancholy pathos.

"Signals In The Dusk" contains the first appearance of that defining instrument of jazz, saxophone, which can commonly be a source of irritation to me. On this song, however, the playing is simplified, with a lot of sustained notes and accessible motifs. The combination of this stripped-down saxophone above the mellow Hang and impressive drumming, which merges complexity with drive and natural feel, is highly effective. Portico Quartet aren't afraid to move the jazz aspect of their sound to the background to focus on other elements of their sound, for example on "Gradient", a more stripped-down ambiance-heavy electronic/piano piece that nicely develops as various synths/beats are mixed into it. However, I feel the band is most impressive when all the various components are brought together, such as on the aforementioned tracks or the highly enjoyable "Offset". There are odd moments where the spastic saxophone that is such a turn-off for me in a lot of jazz pops up here, such as on "Dissident Gardens" or "Double Helix", but thankfully those moments are relatively rare, with more tasteful musicianship generally favoured.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Yazz Ahmed - Polyhymnia
[Jazz Fusion / Big Band]

Polyhymnia, the third album by British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, was conceived after Yazz Ahmed was commissioned to produce an extended work to be performed at the Women of the World Festival on International Women's Day. The primary theme of female empowerment on the album is most prominently displayed on "One Girl Among Many", which features a group spoken word narration over stretches of the song. Aside from this track, the remainder of Polyhymnia, inspired by the ancient Greek music of music and dance, is purely instrumental, a nearly hour-long collection of big band jazz tracks that includes Arabic folk elements (first showcased during the introductory couple of minutes of "Lahan al-Mansour", dancing around the soloing trumpet).

Polyhymnia features some of the best and worst of jazz, as far as my musical tastes are concerned. During the substantial runtime of the songs (ranging from 8.5 to 10.5 minutes in length), the frenetic soloing style that I seem to encounter every time I listen to a jazz song or record makes semi-regular appearances, as usual most frequently courtesy of the saxophone. Additionally, the 'freakout' cacophony just over halfway through "2857" was a personal low point. However, these negatives are more than compensated for by the strengths of this record. The smooth tone of much of the album and the interplay between the various instruments can summon up some really lush music. Probably the section that stood out most prominently to me was towards the end of "Ruby Bridges", when first trumpet and then saxophone blends into a flamboyant piano solo to generate an impressive and engaging combination of these three instruments bouncing off each other as the drums power on beneath. Additionally, the Arabic influences are nicely utilized, particularly on the aforementioned "Lahan al-Mansour"; when the full band comes in together following the lengthy introduction, the percussion/clapping and intriguing trumpet/saxophone melodies conjure up a unique and compelling sound. It's not something I can see myself revisiting, but I'm happy to have had the opportunity to discover it, and I'm sure the festival performance will be quite a display.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia








Danny Brown - Uknowhatimsayin¿
[Abstract Hip Hop / Boom Bap]

Danny Brown has been one of the rappers who's gotten the most attention this decade, starting off relatively confined to more underground hip hop circles and gradually gaining more and more exposure over time. With Uknowhatimsayin¿, the guy's got a new haircut, new teeth, and a new sound. Immediately noticeable here is the production, which sounds a lot brighter, more uplifting, and all around happier than the more darker, hypnotizing sound employed on previous Danny Brown albums, especially on "Theme Song" and "Dirty Laundry." I'm not exactly the biggest fan of this change in style, but it's definitely an interesting shift.

More like Old, Uknowhatimsayin¿ also appears to be more hook centered, which at times makes it feel as though lyrical depth is somewhat compromised for the sake of being catchy and memorable. Regardless, Danny Brown still manages to spit tight, amusing lines telling tales of the grittiness of street life and the complications of staying true to himself as he achieves more fame and recognition in hip hop circles. Overall Uknowhatimsayin¿ is a bit underwhelming (and too short) for what this listener would've liked, but is still probably better than what a lot of other rappers can summon on their best days.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by Apothecary

Chong Wizard - The Time Stone
[Hip Hop / Boom Bap]

You may recall Chong Wizard from one of our earlier Nonmetal articles, the sort of anthology-esque hip hop project where DJ Chong Wizard works behind the scenes pairing various rappers with producers from all across different American and Canadian Scenes. The project has thus far seen the release of several EPs, all inspired by the Marvel Comics Infinity Stones, and The Time Stone marks the fifth installation in the series. Much like its predecessors, The Time Stone is a brief though satisfying little meal that provides ample opportunity for broadening one's hip hop horizons by further investigating the personnel recruited for it. Drawing particular attention here would be producer RoData, responsible for beats on 3 of the EP's 6 tracks and bringing a sample-heavy, hypnotizing electronic sound.

Like the four EPs preceding it, The Time Stone could loosely be classified as "nerdcore" in a way, because most of the lyrics the rappers drop on it are inspired by (as the album cover would suggest) comic book culture, particularly the Marvel universe. Opener "ComicCon" is especially satisfying, with its call outs to comic book creators such as Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, and Kelly Sue DeConnick. Overall, The Time Zone is yet another collection of a lot of talent assembled in a small package under the Chong Wizard moniker, that brings juicy beats and intelligent, witty rapping packed with a ton of fun references for those who can pick them out.

Bandcamp

by Apothecary

Billy Woods - Terror Management
[East Coast Hip Hop / Abstract Hip Hop]

It's impossible for me to stay quiet about Billy Woods, probably one of my top 3 favorite rappers. Woods already dropped Hiding Places earlier in the year, which means fans of more lyrical, intellectual hip hop are in for a real treat in the form of him going 2 for 2 with Terror Management. Once more the elusive, cryptic Woods crafts shadowy, intricate imagery with his lyrics, painting vivid, poignant pictures of the isolation and paranoia of city life, crushed protest movements, and drug use as a means of escaping from personal demons. It really wouldn't be too far of a stretch to label this as "progressive hip hop" in a sense given just how much deeper and thought provoking the rhymes Woods summons are when compared to a large majority of what else is found in the genre.

Production wise, Terror Management features perhaps the most diverse assembly on any Billy Woods release yet, boasting beats from Preservation, Willie Green, Blockhead, ELUCID, Messiah Muzik, and more. Sound wise this creates a varied listen ranging from darker, brooding tracks such as "Blood Thinner" to brighter and somewhat jazzy sounding tracks such as "Long Grass". All in all, Terror Management is yet another worthy installation in the Billy Woods discography, further suggesting that when paired with the right producers, this guy can truly do no wrong with his unique, sophisticated take on hip hop.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Apothecary

Clipping - There Existed An Addiction To Blood
[Noise Hip Hop / Horrorcore]

While they never quite attracted the level of attention and hype as their contemporaries in Death Grips, there's no denying that Clipping have been an extremely important group for experimental hip hop in the 2010s. Coming on the heels of Splendor And Misery, something of a rap opera album that really polished up their gritty, abrasive sound, There Existed An Addiction To Blood sees Clipping getting down and dirty with their production once again, and donning a sort of spooky, retro horror aesthetic as well. A lot of the production on this album takes on an aesthetic reminiscent of 70s horror film soundtracks a la John Carpenter, especially on "Nothing Is Safe".

Indeed, with There Existed An Addiction To Blood, Clipping seem to be having more fun with their music than perhaps ever before. Here they conjure an atmosphere that's both relaxed and playful while rapper Daveed Diggs still brings up some important, relevant points, such as comparing police to werewolves on "He Dead," or using vampirism as a metaphor for black cultural assimilation in America on "Blood Of The Fang". A dense and vivid trip on the lyrical level, and a crisp, enveloping journey on the production level, There Existed An Addiction To Blood is one hell of a fun listen that also manages to drop some powerful wisdom worth paying attention too. Essentially Clipping's take on the horrorcore style, the release of this one was timed perfectly for the Halloween season.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Apothecary








Oiseaux-Tempête - From Somewhere Invisible
[Post-Rock / Experimental Rock]

A dominating feature on From Somewhere Invisible are the somewhat freeform spoken word vocals, ranting above the repetitive, lengthy jams that comprise the majority of the album. How you take to these vocals may be a big determinant of the extent of your enjoyment when listening to this album; they get a bit much to me at times, particularly with the endless repetition of 'crow' on "The Naming Of The Crow", but they also add a potent energy to these deceptively developed songs. The gradual progression of each track as new elements are thrown into the fray is adeptly judged by Oiseaux-Tempête. As new guitar tracks weave in and out of the repeated riff and steady drums of "He Is Afraid And So Am I", the music responds to the increasing intensity of the vocal narration.

This song is the loudest on From Somewhere Invisible, with the loose, semi-ambient "In Crooked Flight On The Slopes Of The Sky" leading the band into more introspective territory. However, each of the lengthier ventures on the album features slow advancement towards more layered, noisier areas, as the percussion builds and guitars enter "We, Who Are Strewn About In Fragments", and the saxophone and buzuk grow in prominence in "The Naming Of The Crow". From Somewhere Insivible takes the listener on a deliberately paced journey, never standing still but never in a mood to rush without fully exploring whatever ideas they are currently using. This is a weird album, at times disconcerting, particularly as the vocals ratchet up the ranting, but never too unsettling. I really liked it; it's not something I could happily listen to every day, but it's a rich and rewarding experience.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Costin Chioreanu & Sofia Sarri - Afterlife Romance
[Art Rock / Progressive Rock]

Costin Chioreanu is probably more renowned for his artwork than his music, with his works on the front of albums by artists such as At The Gates, Darkthrone and Mayhem. However, his musical exploits aren't in the same extreme metal vein as those of the bands that utilize his artwork. Afterlife Romance is an intriguing Gothic-tinged dark prog rock album, with frenetic drumming, sinister keyboards and menacing guitar work combined with the delicate vocals of Sofia Sarri, seemingly inspired to a certain degree by trip-hop vocalists such as Beth Gibbons, as well as perhaps Björk. The overall effect does have a slight Steven Wilson/prog rock Opeth-meets-Portishead vibe.

The opener, "The Gardenian Night Shift", is comprised of melancholic dark synths and slightly off-kilter guitar work driven along by energetic drumming. On track two, "Sulphur Promenade", the drumming intensity and complexity is ramped up, as is the proggy nature of the guitars. The keyboards and vocals similarly step up in order to maintain the Gothic/horror movie element of the sound. However, as the album goes on, I do feel like there are moments where the drums are 'progging it up' for the sake of it, an issue I've previously mentioned I have with modern Opeth. When the core appeal of Afterlife Romance, from what I can tell, is the dark but subtle atmosphere, the occasional pushes towards excessive complexity slightly detract from this atmosphere. Aside from that, the vocal lines could arguably be a bit more memorable, rather than meandering in a manner that can sometimes feel a tad directionless, but the overall feel of the music is appealing, and shows off a new side to me of an artist who I've previously only appreciated with my eyes, not my ears.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Consumer - In Computers
[Noise Rock / Dark Ambient]

Formed a few years ago by Tim Macuga, who you may know as half of Have A Nice Life, Consumer seeks to, in their own words, "generate reptile-brain, late capitalist agitprop" whatever that means. All that matters is that we have Tim and also some folks from Have A Nice Life's live lineup doing some noisy sludgy droney ambient music. Or noisy droney ambiental sludge. Or noisy sludgy ambiental drone. I'm not really sure, but it's all there. Post-noise? Oh, it's also pretty industrial considering the analog synth, tape loops and broken electronics that are the source of a lot of the sounds on In Computers.

Consumer does share a bit of common ground with Have A Nice Life besides just the lineup with its lyrical themes and fascination with noise experimentation, but there's a lot that Consumer has going for itself to set it apart, like the vocals sounding like Sisters Of Mercy but with the darkness turned up to 11. Like a post-punk gothic rock album made by some 90s sludgeheads who are obsessed with noise and dark ambient, with the first half being more focused on the noise rock / sludge part and the second one more on the electronic noise dark ambient.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Zonal - Wrecked
[Trip Hop / Dub Techno]

Have you heard of Techno Animal? No? Ok, fair. Have you heard of Godflesh, Jesu and Napalm Death? Then you've heard of Justin Broadrick. And you man know that he's got a shitload of other projects other than his metal ones. Techno Animal was one of those biggest ones, combining techno, dub, hip-hop and whatever "illbient" means. The duo of Justin Broadrick and Kevin Martin [aka The Bug] that were present on Techno Animal (and on many other projects that they collaborated on) are what comprises Zonal as well, and with a very similar musical style, it's not far fetched to consider Zonal as a continuation of Techno Animal.

Wrecked does go a bit further from the Broadrick / Martin duo in the first half, which features hip-hop (or rather spoken word) artist Moor Mother on every one of the first six tracks. The result is a very slow and industrial take on trip-hop, reminiscent of Massive Attack but a lot darker and rougher. With or without the vocals, Wrecked has the wall of throbbing bass dialed up and darkened to hell, but they get to shine the most when they act as more than just background to the spoken word in the first half, thus the second half is where the album gets most instrumentally adventurous, venturing into dark ambient, dubstep, noise and other genres I'm probably not familiar enough with, as well as at points making me think that I'm listening to The Body but I can tell that the changing sounds and moods are much more dynamic than the relatively constant and vocal-centric but still engaging first side.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








The Bedroom Witch, the moniker of Sepehr Mashiahof, utilizes busy, throbbing electronic sounds to generate a dancy yet soothing instrumental base to the music of Diaspora. The tone and style can vary; "Fountain Chair" is almost upbeat with its energy, although with a slight melancholic touch coming primarily from the vocals, and "Grieving Spell" has hip-hop beats, whereas "At The Gates", despite its quirky introductory electronics, is a more ponderous, moody track. The 80s new wave influence is clear, but this feels more modern than some other current synthpop acts.

Probably the 'make or break' element of the album for many people will be the vocals. There are songs where I find the vocal melodies in principle to be very promising, for example "At The Gates"; however, the tone of the singer's voice just isn't capable of delivering the pay-off those melodies deserve. A slightly flat voice lacking a bit in pitch control, and towards the lower end of the register but not rich in tone, to me they appear to be the clear weak link on Diaspora; hopefully on future efforts this can be addressed, as there are some commendable aspects to the remainder of The Bedroom Witch's sound.

Bandcamp

by musclassia

DIIV - Deceiver
[Shoegaze / Alternative Rock]

"Horsehead", the opener of Deceiver, acts as an early demonstration of the fusion of shoegaze with alternative rock employed by DIIV, with the dreamy My Bloody Valentine-esque vocals and wall-of-sound guitars early, and alt rock-style lead guitars and punchy riffs later on. The combination of light, gentle vocals with the slightly dissonant, fuzzy guitar work on "Like Before You Were Born" follows firmly in the vein of MBV; however, there is a modern indie rock edge to the clean guitar and atmospheric drumming that emerge midway through this song that distinguishes DIIV. "Skin Game", conversely, begins like more of a quiet alt rock song with the simple guitar riffs, before noisier guitars are slowly ramped up later on in the song.

Despite not being an expert in this particular musical field, I suspect Deceiver is not the first album to combine 90s shoegaze with modern alt/indie rock; I know that people have gone in the other direction and infused shoegaze into extreme metal (Deafheaven, one of the most renowned purveyors of this fusion genre, have recently toured with Deceiver). The strengths of DIIV's particular attempt at this combination, however, lie in combining the more melancholy aspects of each genre, underlaying tender vocals with a trudgy alt-rock riff and subsequently wailing distortion in "Taker". Later on in this song, slightly eerie, off-kilter clean guitar sounds further twist the progressively layered maelstrom of sound. Similarly, "For The Guilty" alternates quiet, mellow clean verses with loud, overwhelming choruses to good effect. They are also able to conjure up faster, more straightforward songs, such as the upbeat "The Spark" and rocky "Blankenship". This well-rounded album is topped off with the lengthy "Acheron", featuring some delightful delicate guitar work before a powerful crescendoing climax, nicely showing off the best of DIIV in a single track.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

A Projection - Section
[Post-Punk / Gothic Rock]

Section lives in that dreamy plane of existence where a 2019 release can both sound interesting and at the same time comfortably nestled somewhere in the cold months of 1982. A Projection's post-punk is a direct reference to the heyday of the genre from the late 70s to mid 80s, but most interestingly to a more specific sound best represented by bands like The Chameleons. If you're a fan of the personal favourite I just mentioned, you already know that with Section you're getting some of that signature bleakness and acute sense of melody.

Always sort of floating between desperation and hope, their songs are the perfect soundtrack for a last stroll on the beach of the small town you grew up in. Always balancing each other, the cold low vocals and the uplifting guitars will inevitably make you slip away from reality, acting like the perfect bridge between your wandering daydreaming musings and their relatable lyrical themes. A lot of the good things in A Projection's music is closely tied to the very well-codified genre of music they play, which shouldn't distract you from the prowess they accomplished with Section: make a post-punk revival album sound authentic.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Ilham

Chromatics - Closer To Grey
[Synthpop / Dream Pop]

The "Sound Of Silence" cover that opens this could have been left out without negatively affecting the album; it's been covered many times, and this particular version, whilst not as unappealing as Disturbed's attempt, joins the tedious pantheon of modern pop-oriented artists covering 70s/80s classics in a stripped-down, serious and dramatic manner. Beyond being simply uninteresting, it's also not particularly in line with the music that follows it on Closer To Grey. Once we get into original music, Chromatics move into a 80s-influenced synthpop sound; see "You're No Good", with its repetitive beats, simplistic but effective keyboards and guitar work, and the effortless, smooth vocals. The title track, on the other hand, is a bit more guitar-driven, at least at the beginning, and has a more regular 4/4 rhythm, but is equally indebted to the moody alternative/pop sounds of the 80s.

With the possible exception of the 70s boner of a lot of up-and-coming hard rock artists, I'm not sure one decade has received quite as much dedication from modern artists than the 1980s, particularly with electronic pop-oriented music. Even beyond the whole synthwave scene, in just last month's article, I was very complimentary towards Bat For Lashes's recent tribute to the movies and music of that decade, Lost Girls. In comparison to that album, I feel like this album is slightly more subdued, for lack of a better word; the vocals are content to operate in a soft mid-range tone, with something of a dreamy air to them, without much variation across the album. Conversely, this album brings in more modern pop/indie/alternative influences across the whole tracklist than Lost Girls, such as the slightly R'n'B beats on "Light As A Feather" or "Touch Red", or the curiously distorted guitar tone and indie vibe of "On The Wall". Overall, this album is pretty enjoyable; the retro side of the sound isn't particularly remarkable when put alongside the myriad other artists attempting to replicate the same sound, but it's executed adeptly and utilized to make some pretty enjoyable music. Additionally, the tracks that are more inclined to merge past and present, particularly in the latter half of the album, enable Chromatics to develop a more distinctive style. Unfortunately, despite managing to offer up some variety in approach, the one-note vocal style does end up draining a bit of the listener's enthusiasm across the whole runtime.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia








Caroline Polachek - Pang
[Art Pop / Ambient Pop]

It was about time I reviewed a pop album again after I skipped (was it last month?) the new Charlie XCX due to time constraints, but obviously even if this is the most Top 40-like pop album on this month's list, the "Art" and "Ambient" tags slapped in from of the "Pop" should clue you in as to how this isn't your usual pop album. Sure, it's a lot different from other albums I reviewed lately that have the "Art Pop" tag as well, in that you have plenty of alternative R&B moments and electropop moments as well, with a lot of the album's producers coming from the same art collective as Charlie XCX and SOPHIE, so there is some PC Music touch as well.

This is Caroline Polachek first album under her own name, having released two albums under different aliases, one as Ramona Lisa and one as CEP (which is surprisingly really not pop), and the first one since the disbandment of her previous duo, Chairlift, so this is clearly not someone just starting, but it felt personal enough to stick her own name to it for the first time. And that is clearly felt through the sensual and subdued nature of the record, mostly focused on her vocals and very laid back in its instrumentation. Some of it takes cues from the charts, with some R&B elements or those processed backing vocals, but some of it is closer to the art pop territories with strings and sophistipop moods that fit the themes of love and identity on the record.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Angel Olsen - All Mirrors
[Art Pop / Chamber Pop]

I first heard Angel Olsen a few years ago when she released My Woman, a very loud indie pop album with a lot of garage rock and glam rock infusions, an album I very much loved, so I can't say I was really looking forward to a change of direction so soon after what I thought would be her breakthrough sound. Sure, I didn't want her to just find that sound and stick with it indefinitely, but All Mirrors completely replaced the guitars for synths and strings. And the result is actually a pretty good album in itself, just one that doesn't yet feel like an Angel Olsen album.

The style on this album has some grandiose-but-still-subdued strings and synths that often feel like they wash out Olsen's previously dominating vocals. Not to say that her vocals don't have a strong presence as it is, but for a record that she supposedly tried to write more in solitude, it sounds like her presence isn't enough of the main focus. Instead the album feels very dreamy and still quite emotional despite the changes in sound and emphasis, that sometimes sounds best at its most threadbare, but some of those almost gothic ballroom strings just might earn their place in washing her voice out.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Cigarettes After Sex - Cry
[Ambient Pop / Slowcore]

Cigarettes After Sex blew me away back in 2017 with their self-titled debut. Even today it remains a very personal album that I almost do not dare to share with people. It could be their ability to pull the innermost heartstrings of most people with melodies and lyrics that can apply to most listeners. But now they are back with a most-waited follow-up and deserve all the exposure they can get. This collective, led by songwriter Greg Gonzalez, creates a type of ambient pop that is dark, intoxicating, and melancholic beyond words. Not a lot of things have changed since the last album. Honestly, it's not like they need to, as their sound is truly their own.

The songwriting is solid, simple and highly effective. All instruments are perfectly audible and surround you like comfy and warm velvet blankets. Then there are, of course, Greg's vocals which are among the most beautiful voices that could ever grace a hardened, bitter heart and turn it into soft mush. The delicate and androgynous tone of his voice is perfect in order to invite all listeners to this beautiful and ethereal darkness. I do feel there is a slightly less depressing sound, with hopeful touches sprinkled here and there in-between the sweet melody. This is some of the most introspective music I've come across in the past years and Cry is as representative of their sound as their debut was. So I urge you to give it a try: Make some tea, lie in bed while looking at the ceiling and let the music elevate you.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Mr. Doctor

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
[Ambient Pop / Chamber Pop]

You may know Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds from the collaboration with Kylie Minogue on "Where The Wild Roses Grow" or from "Red Right Hand" which was heard in the Scream films and more recently in the Peaky Blinders series. Ghosteen is the band's 17th album since their formation in 1983, and the first one that is entirely influenced by the tragic death of Cave's teenage son, Arthur, in 2015. Even the cover art seems to be Cave's idea of the place where his son currently resides. Ghosteen is a double album, on which the songs of the first part are the children and the songs of the second part are their parents.

The record is deep, dark, poetic and stripped down, with an overwhelmingly sad atmosphere. For the most part, it is based on piano, keyboards and string instruments, with Cave's voice sounding more emotional and compelling than it ever has been in his entire career. I have rarely come across with something that conveys the vastness of the feelings stemming from loss and grief in such a haunting way. Cave has uploaded the entire album on YouTube with an accompanying video where his heart-wrenching lyrics are embedded. And, since I am unable to find the words to adequately describe how unbelievably impactful this masterpiece is, I am just going to quote some of these lyrics: "We are photons released from a dying star / We are fireflies a child has trapped in a jar / And everything is as distant as the stars / I am here and you are where you are."

Google Play Music / Spotify

by nikarg




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.



 



Written on 16.11.2019 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 39   Visited by: 147 users
21.12.2019 - 20:13
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Bad English on 21.12.2019 at 19:21

Written by Taravilyaion on 18.11.2019 at 18:49

God, I didn't join a metal community to read articles about shitty black music (Rap/Hiphop/Jazz/Blues) or house music (Techno/Trance).


I agree, this section sucks , when our metal section is not perfect, I am not proud we have it here,
I never this crap, and I never will, but if people wanna non metal section why dont write about neo folk, blues rock, blues, country, what is more to metal as pop music
Johnny Cash, Alman Brothers, .....

Johnny Cash and The Allman Brothers don't make music anymore
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Sometimes you need a little wishful thinking just to keep on living.
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21.12.2019 - 22:05
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Bad English on 21.12.2019 at 19:21

I agree, this section sucks

You could always write your own articles about the things you think are worth writing about.
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I have no memory of this place.
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21.12.2019 - 22:19
Bad English
Masterchief
Troy, i did Wait some time.
Radu well Yes but there are blus rock, country rock, something less pop
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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21.12.2019 - 22:22
Metren
Donkey Hotte
Ghosteen is soooooooo fucking good! Been listening to a lot since the day it was released. I've always liked Nick Cave, but Ghosteen might be my favorite thing he's ever done. I just wish he never had to experience the tragedy that inspired the album

EDIT: I am also excited to check out the new Cigarettes After Sex, I enjoyed their debut.
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I am not nor have I ever been a musician or a member of a one-man band, especially a band that has a name that starts with "D".
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21.12.2019 - 22:30
Metren
Donkey Hotte
Written by Bad English on 21.12.2019 at 22:19

Radu well Yes but there are blus rock, country rock, something less pop


It's not like pop is inherently worse than blues or country, The Beatles were considered pop and were totally ace. And it's not like MS staffers are encouraging You or me to listen to goddamn Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran, they're also not pushing less-known, but still incredibly shitty artists like Pale Waves or any crap like that. I honestly can't see why You'd complain over these recommendations.

As for me, I've never really paid attention to these not metal articles, but seeing how much effort and time goes into them and how good some of the recs in this edition are, I shall take a bigger interest in the articles from now on.
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I am not nor have I ever been a musician or a member of a one-man band, especially a band that has a name that starts with "D".
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21.12.2019 - 22:35
Bad English
Masterchief
I Never listened non, but knowing contributor or writer mussclasia, ilham and Rod music taste, you know what can be here. Troy not all, old nickos all, and radu music taste are awesome, enen radu often dont tslk much about his best music taste.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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22.12.2019 - 01:50
ZafÞ
Phlegmish
Written by Troy Killjoy on 21.12.2019 at 22:05

Written by Bad English on 21.12.2019 at 19:21

I agree, this section sucks

You could always write your own articles about the things you think are worth writing about.

Please. No.
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And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
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22.12.2019 - 12:14
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by Metren on 21.12.2019 at 22:22

Ghosteen is soooooooo fucking good! Been listening to a lot since the day it was released. I've always liked Nick Cave, but Ghosteen might be my favorite thing he's ever done.

It probably is my favourite one too.


Written by Metren on 21.12.2019 at 22:30

It's not like pop is inherently worse than blues or country, The Beatles were considered pop and were totally ace.

The Beatles are the biggest band to have ever walked this planet. The influence they had on music and musicians is immense.


Written by ZafÞ on 22.12.2019 at 01:50

Please. No.

Don't discourage him, he is actually working on something pretty cool. It is going to be a challenge to proofread it, but it's going to be an interesting read.


Written by Bad English on 21.12.2019 at 19:21

I agree, this section sucks , when our metal section is not perfect, I am not proud we have it here,
I never this crap, and I never will, but if people wanna non metal section why dont write about neo folk, blues rock, blues, country, what is more to metal as pop music

Stop whining and get on with the article you're writing. And if you don't think pop has any influence on metal listen to Elastica's "Connection", then Serpent Noir's "Dragon Egregore" and then Abbath's "Winterbane" and let me know if you don't hear the resemblance.
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22.12.2019 - 13:38
Bad English
Masterchief
Written by nikarg on 22.12.2019 at 12:14


Stop whining and get on with the article you're writing. And if you don't think pop has any influence on metal listen to Elastica's "Connection", then Serpent Noir's "Dragon Egregore" and then Abbath's "Winterbane" and let me know if you don't hear the resemblance.


Its done, it was way to huge and I forced me over the limit actually to make last lines.
I will say this, I am totaly of todays pop music I dont listen radio, unless its not news, or in a buss, caffee, I dont watch VH1 and so on.
I liked 80's and 90's pop.
This article dont talk about my kind a music :p
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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