Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week Of 10/18 - Industrial, Rock, Gypsy, Trip-Hop

New Releases:

Kidneythieves - The Invisible Plan

Label: self released
Released: 10/18 2011
Genre: Industrial/Trip-Hop
The 5 Track EP is Kidneythieves in top form, always getting better. Pushing the trip-hop style from the 90s up a notch into something bigger and better. The first track, Never And Me, is on my I Can Put It On Repeat For Hours list of songs, it's just amazing, strikes a chord deep down. The kind of song that belongs on the Insomnia At 0300 playlist. The whole EP is good, it doesn't overburden itself with remixes, which is a nice change from the modern EP format. Instead it's five new tracks, all of them excellent material. If you pre-ordered then you also got the Acoustic version of Floating Angels. It's not quite industrial heavy, but feels like it could easily swing that way with the addition of some extra bassline.

Adding To The Collection

Army Of The Universe - Mother Ignorance
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 2011
Genre: Industrial
Italian Industrial duo Army OT Universe come out with this debut album, and it really spins the genre around a little. A little more rock, and little less concerned with 'club hits' and definitely showing a lot of glam-rock through the heavy beats. With a better-than-the-original cover of Bjork's "Army Of Me" on it, the album never misses a beat, and keeps on rocking. These guys are going to do nothing but get better and better, their debut here kicks some serious ass.

16 Volt - Letdowncrush
Label: Re-Constriction Records/Cargo Music
Released: 1996
Genre: Industrial
Early 16 Volt seemed unencumbered, raw, and very guitar driven. Letdowncrush is a perfect example of 90s Industrial-Rock, and stands the test of time. It's a great piece of crunchy music, driving forward, and not getting caught on itself. It's not particularly hard, or heavy, very much teetering on the edge of Industrial and Gothic-Rock, either way it is a very cool album. With the exception of the final track that's noise behind the rantings of a radio caller, I really find it annoying when bands add five minutes of some strange person ranting on a radio talk-show/interview. Luckily it is last and easily skipped past.

Lemon Drop Kick - Lemon Drop Kick EP
Label: self-released
Released: 2011
Genre: Rock/J-Rock
LA Based Japanese/American rock band, this 4-track EP is their first offering up of a professional (or semi-professional) nature. I've seen them live and they put on one hell of a good show. On disc, though, they're simply pretty average rock, nothing bad, but nothing that really truly stands out above and beyond. Maybe I'll check back on their next release and see if they've acquired a sound that's less generic.

Rough Guide To Hungarian Gypsies
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2011
Genre: Gypsy/Folk
Another Rough Guide, another look at Gypsy music from Eastern Europe. The one thing I like about these Gypsy compilations is that it shows a massively varied selection of musical style in a relatively small area of the world, especially since they all tend to use the same or very similar instruments. I think this might be my favorite Gypsy compilation of all, it lets vocals shine a little more, feels a little more open, and whirling about. If you need a collection to start with for Gypsy musics, start here.

Bonus Tracks
Korn - Narcissistic Cannibal
Label: self-released
Released: October 2011
Genre: Dubstep
Korn offered up this free track from their upcoming album, and they have done nothing but gotten better over the past ten years. This little track they went way off their typical field and into the Dubstep arena, enlisting the help of Skrillex and Kill The Noise they produced a heavy, crunchy, guitar driven piece of dubstep madness. If this is a sign of their upcoming album I'm hooked.

Next week I cut back, and load up a small stack of compilations I've had lying around for a while now - world music, punk rock, and the new Tom Waits are all being loaded and listened to...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Week Of 10/11 - Industrial, Darkwave, Metal, Acoustic Rock

So, this week is actually three weeks worth of New Releases from my vacation and the week after it. Plus an album I helped the Kickstarter project for that was technically out in August digitally.

New Releases:

Angelspit - Hello My Name Is
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: 10/11 2011
Genre: Industrial, Electro
The latest full album from Angelspit, and their first album as a four piece band (five if you count the visual artist guy). They added drums and guitar to the mix to try and get a bigger sound, or a different sound. They thankfully didn't leave the roots that made me a huge fan too far behind, and they did greatly expand their overall sound quite a bit. Just an all around great album from the band, and nice to get a full album that isn't full of remixes. On the down side? They don't let that guitar come out and play enough. It's there, all killer riffs and such, but not big enough, it's still a bit in the background behind all the wonderful glitchy bits. I love guitar, and can think of no better way to spice up almost any kind of music, but this album needed a little more of it. Beyond that? Definitely should be on the Buy List for industrial fans.

Collide - Counting To Zero
Label: Noise Plus Music (Self Released)
Released: 10/4 2011
Genre: Darkwave
Collide always funds their albums through donor contributions, and this is one I was able to get in on and help out with, consequently I get a shout out in the big list of Thank You Names for the funding. Pretty cool. And the result is amazing. Collide is one of those bands that constantly refines their sound without redefining it. And this is an amazing result of about ten plus years of evolution and experience. It's an amazingly ethereal album, full of lush wonderful sounds, not particularly heavy. Quiet and Dark as only they know how to make it. Even non-Collide fans should add this to their collection. Probably one of the best non-label releases I've picked up this year.

Wayne Static - Pighammer
Label: Dirthouse Records (Self Released)
Released: 9/27 2011
Genre: Metal
Wayne put Static-X on hold to work on some solo stuff, and this is the result. What he did was manage to put out a Static-X album that sounds almost completely flat. I was really looking forward to this one, as I'm a big fan of Wayne and Static-X. But this, it's a little over-produced and under-performed. It's got all the elements of his past work, all the crazy vocals, the cool drum lines, and bad-ass guitar riffs. But it completely missing that something that made Static-X stand up and out. Unfortunately, it's just Wayne and I think what's missing is the dynamic interaction of a full band. Here's to hoping he puts Static-X back together, because their last release was amazing.

Unwoman - Unconvered
Label: Self Released (available on Bandcamp)
Released: 8/31 2011
Genre: Acoustic Rock/Goth
Unwoman is a cellist, having played with Rasputina among other acts. She is an amazing cellist, and a good vocalist. And like Collide, funds all her releases through fan donations, this one on Kickstarter, which I also helped with. I had to wait for the CD to arrive though, so it's a little late and the last of the New Releases. It's a collection of cover tunes, as the name implies, from 1980-1995. She covers Wham!, Madonna, Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper (a great rendition of She-Bop), Real Life (a decent cover of Send Me An Angel), Sisters Of Mercy, Michael Jackson (a weird cover of Billie Jean), Nine Inch Nails (should have picked any song other than Hurt), Nick Cave (the only bad cover on here of Do You Love Me), Front 242 (by far the most interesting choice, and I think the best cover of the lot), and a few others that are good. It's a good wide selection, done almost universally well, with little beyond her Cello and Voice, occasionally some other production elements get in there. It's good, it's different, which I like.

Adding To The Collection:
Gears Gone Wild
Label: Bitriot Records
Released: 2008
Genre: Industrial
OK, I admit I picked this up only because the cover is two Terminator Robots having sex doggy style. And it's Industrial. That's where the good stops. It's a decidedly mediocre collection of various forms of Industrial, from noise to rock. It's truly a twenty-track collection of filler. Only on a couple tracks could I be bothered to care and check who I was listening to. Skip it unless you really want a CD with Terminators having sex on it.

Next week, I'm cutting back on the number of albums, in an attempt to get more in depth into each one I choose from the stack.
Coming Up: Kidney Thieves, 16 Volt, Lemon Drop Kick, Army Of The Universe.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weeks of 9/27 and 10/4 - country, sufi, punk, metal, industrial, blues-rock, dubstep

Two weeks worth of music crammed in here due to vacation - also due to vacation is a lack of New Releases. I'm loading up three weeks worth of those for next review before getting back into the regular swing. This week though - 10 albums from all across the board.

Adding To The Collection:

Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - The Virginian
Label: Blood Shot Records
Released: 1999
Genre: Country
This is Neko Case's first full album, and it's not very typical country. Coming right at the start of the 00's alt-country explosion, it's laced with heavy doses of rockabilly and other throw-backs to 1950s country that got close to rock'n'roll and hadn't migrated too far from the blues. The sound isn't as completely polished as later albums, but for a first effort this little number is excellent.

ZZ Top - Recycler
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Released: 1990
Genre: Blues-Rock
Moving onto a similar genre, blues rock trio ZZ Top put this out in 1990 and is last part of the Eliminator-Afterburner-Recycler triology that summed up their 1980s sound. It was a move away from some of the more straight forward blues they built themselves up with in the 70s and by this album had refined itself into an almost straight alt-rock with blues mixed in sound. Nothing particularly fast, or slow. In fact, unless you're more than a casual ZZ Top fan there's not a lot here. It does contain the massive hit My Head's In Mississippi, but the production mix isn't as good as some later remasters, I don't think.

Skream - Skream!
Label: Tempa
Released: 2006
Genre: Dubstep
Not quite early dubstep, but definitely near the front of the pack, and it's not nearly as distortion heavy on the breaks. Low key, kind of down tempo, but still hits the dance floor nice and hard. It could do with a few more really heavy beats and breaks tossed in somewhere in the middle. Still, a nice shift in the dubstep from heavy to mellow.

Overkill - Bloodletting
Label: Metal-Is
Released: 2000
Genre: Thrash Metal
The last album from Overkill's less than stellar 1990s era. They managed to get stuck in a more slowed down metal sound, less thrash and more groove, and this is them stepping back up, but not completely, into a much heavier pure thrash metal sound. Hard to find these days, but still worth it for the die-hard fans that either want to fill in the holes after skipping many albums (like me), or for new fans looking for older material that isn't as pure speed as the stuff released since.

Army Of The Universe - Army Of The Universe
Label: self-released
Released: 2011
Genre: Industrial
Army Of The Universe (AoU) are an Italian industrial-rock act. As much glam as industrial, they put out this mostly remix mini-album on their own. It's a good showcase of how well they remix in talented hands. They sound like they're having a lot of fun, and it's a nice stripped down almost under-produced set of sequences. Can't wait to hear more from these guys going down the road a few years. The bonus is it comes with a video for Lovedead.

Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole EP
Label: TVT Recrods
Released: 1990
Genre: Industrial
Head Like A Hole is one of their really big early on songs that started to get NIN mainstream attention. And just about everybody has had a crack at remixing it as well. And this... is a really generic set of remixes for the title track, Terrible Lie, and Down In It. I picked it up cheap and used and am glad for the fact, the remixes have seriously dated themselves at this point 20 years later, and the whole single comes off as what it is: one of the many (hundreds) of singles put out with too many remixes and not enough substance. Diehard NIN fans will want it, and probably already have it.

Human Factors Lab - Pap3r
Label: self-released
Released: 2008
Genre: Industrial
This is another remix album, and it's from a band that hadn't at the time put out a full album yet to really remix from. There's a lot of remixes on here from a lot of bands (some famous, some not so much). And it shows off that HFL can be remixed into something really good (or in some cases just danceable) the band itself doesn't quite impress me with this release. It needed a few more un-remixed band originals to really make it good. Otherwise, it's just run of the mill industrial dance stuff.

Dropkick Murphy's - The Meanest Of Times
Label: Born & Bred Records
Released: 2007
Genre: Punk
I'm a huge DKM fan, and they're a band that consistently puts out the same sound without putting out the same album. The overall tone of this one is pretty negative, there's a lot of the downside of life here, as opposed to some other releases that emphasize the upside or fighting back. Title appropriate, as it really does take the listener through the meanest of times and situations. And comes out sounding like a great punk-rock record. This is bare-knuckle punk here, and while they don't have as much bagpipes as normal, it doesn't need it. Great album to keep around.

Rough Guide To Sufi Music w/ bonus Sufi Fakirs Of Bengal
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2011
Genre: Sufi
There's something about religious music, done well, that both soothes the soul and energizes the mind and body. And the Sufi music represented here does just that. I don't understand the words, but I understand the ideas they represent, the sounds are familiar and at once, completely different. This is great music just to listen to even if you don't take away the messages being presented. And a double CD of it at that, which is why I really like the Rough Guides. They always deliver and sometimes they deliver above and beyond expectations.

And that's that - all the new additions I listened to over the past two weeks. With that I almost depleted my backlog of albums to load up - not to fear, I reloaded the stack (a good chunk of it with Iggy Pop, I may just do an all Iggy week). Next week I review all the new releases I didn't get to over my vacation. Listen Hard!