Monday, December 22, 2014

Top Ten Noise Rock Albums of 2014

Top Ten albums of 2014

The holidays are upon us, so for the third year in a row, I have a top 10 noise rock albums of the year list.  This year I heard a little over 30 noise rock albums (for some reason I never got around to properly listening to the new Shellac or Oozing Wound albums though).  Again, this year there was some seriously great releases in the genre and making this list was pretty difficult, as not every good noise rock album could make the list (sorry Doomsday Student).  

That said, here’s the list:

10) Silent Front- Trust

A good opening track goes a long way for an album; Trust’s “Mechanical Grip” is a great one whose only fault is it almost overshadows the rest of the album.  The vocals here sound extremely similar to Zebras’ 2012 self-titled to the point where I have a hard time not writing a whole review simply drawing comparisons.

Overall, if you are looking for noise rock that has its roots in metal, this may be right up your alley. 

9) Fashoda Crisis- Almost Everyone is Entirely Average at Almost Everything

Here are the highlights: Reminds me of Mclusky, good range of sounds, sometimes the lyricism needs work, but you’ll have that.

What really matters is why this album is on the list.  At times I do find moments that are miss in some of these tracks, but I think tracks like “Postanova” and “A Eulogy of Sorts” showcase this bands potential.  Also, I can make a pretty similar statement for Mclusky too.  Despite this, the songwriting is just really well done and Futures of the Left should take notes.

Dog Years
8) The Great Sabatini- Dog Years

This album is some noise-core that definitely has its roots in metal.  Still, the album rocks.  Right from the get-go, The Great Sabatini bring an onslaught of sound.  As the album progresses though, they take a few steps to move their sound out of the traditional metal sound.  “Periwinkle War Hammer” is more rhythm focused, and the acoustic “Aleka” comes most unexpectedly.

You can purchase/ stream it in full Here.

Peel Off the Coating
7) Braining- Peel Off The Coating

Technically an EP, but I loved it, so it’s on the list.  Maybe it’s the vocalist’s range and style, or maybe it is just that this entire album feels so loud; regardless, from start to finish the album does a fantastic job of hooking the listener and reeling them in.

I could take the time to write a longer review, but the whole album is 10 minutes, so just take the time and listen to it yourself.

the Chronic
6) Bukkake Moms- The Chronic

If I were to go back and revise my 2013 noise rock list, Bitch Teeth would be on there.  Unfortunately I did not hear their 2013 effort, Fukkstorm, until early this year.  But, for fans of Arab on Radar, I would recommend that cassette over any of AoR’s offshoot’s.

Bukkake Moms is Rick Eye’s (of Bitch Teeth) main band and The Chronic is their seventh album.  Like many artists in the no-wave/noise rock scene, Bukkake Mom’s often mix absurdest lyricism with sexual themes, and tend to pull it off fairly well. 

When compared to their previous works, the Chronic currently stands as their magnum opus.  The vocalist seems to have mastered his delivery style, and this album finds a nice balance between no-wave and structured sounds and occasionally delivering some extremely catchy songs (I’m looking at you “Crime School”).

Take a listen below to “Crime School” and then pop on over to their Bandcamp where you can stream the whole album and purchase a CD.

Lessons in Fuck You 2
5) Big Black Cloud- Lessons in Fuck You 2

At the start of this album, I always think of Arab on Radar, but really, after you get a minute or so in, Big Black Cloud come into their own sound: loud, angular riffs thrown over a relentlessly pulsing bass drum.  One of the best surprises on this album is that the group is comfortable with instrumental tracks and has them strewn in throughout.

Sometimes this band reminds me of a more relaxed Oozing Wound, and sometimes a more relaxed punk outfit.  They are a mix of punk and metal, but the best of both parts: never too heavy or too loud.

“Disappointment” is probably the best track to listen to if you want to check the band out, so I have it embedded below.

Lost in the Spectacle
4) York Factory Complaint-Lost In the Spectacle

This album definitely caught me by surprise. Harsh static drones, industrial electronics, overdriven vocals: Lost in the Spectacle is like bastard child of Wolf Eyes and Sunn O))).  If that either sounds off-putting to you, or you don’t know either of those artists, than this probably is not a release for you.  If that sounds like something up your alley, however, then this will probably be an album you don’t want to miss.

Lost in the Spectacle is quite literally that; a spectacle.  By the time the listener is even halfway through the album, is continual droning begins to sink in.  As “Commodified” begins, the album slowly switches from attempting to scare you off to entrancing the listener.  

3) Animal Lover- Guilt

This 12” made it into my top three because it is probably the best example of ‘noise rock’ that I can think of from the year.  I mean every good noise rock buzz word needs used when describing them: ‘Dissonant’, ‘angular guitar riffs’, ‘sharp/metallic tone’, well you get the point.  When I begin writing my review of this album I found myself having a hard time choosing which tracks to point out because this album is consistently good.  “Lucky Pastures” showcases some of the best song writing in noise rock this year and “Neighbors” is a great closer for the album.

The album is under 20 minutes, and well worth your time.  Stream it below and check out their Bandcamp where you can also purchase a live cassette version.

World Champions
2) Cowards- World Champions in Male Chastity

After I wrote up a full review of this album earlier this year praising how great it was, the band emailed asking how I had found them.  Sadly I imagine that was because how little love this album got this year.  Well, regardless, I suggest everyone take a moment to check out this band as they are the best new noise rock act of the year, bar none.  The male/female vocal combination works great, as does the mixing of spoken/sung lyrics over tracks that seem to be folding in on themselves and collapsing.

I already wrote up a pretty lengthy review Here, but really I suggest you don’t bother reading it and instead just listen to the album.

1) White Suns- Totem

Sinews was great, and Totem was the next logical step for White Suns’ journey into the noise-filled abyss.  Totem starts out attempting to overwhelm the listener with an assault of sound.  This seems almost intentional, however, given that the listener needs to be aware of how abrasive moments will be on the album.  Really, the best moments on this album are not those previously described, but the moments in between, where White Suns create a buildup of tension on the listener, who knows that at any moment the sound may collapse into an absolute chaos.

Even in its most silent moments, Totem is able to carry a heavy weight to its sound.  This album is captivating, and the poetic lyrics, while minimal, become quite poignant.  I think many listeners will agree “My guide’s face is made of mirrors, my guide’s face looks like my fathers” is a truly memorable moment in this album, and too few albums today have such a memorable moment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

USAnails- Sonic Moist (2014)

Let's start off with giving a quick shout out to one of the best noise rock blogs in the world.  THIS ONE.  I constantly find great music from this little blog, so it's time I showed it some love.  That said, USA Nails is one such find that stood out.

The singer reminds me of the higher pitch singer of White Drugs mixed with Stephen Pederson of the White Octave, and songs like 'Shite at the Palladium' show off a similar songwriting to White Drugs.  For those who don't know White Drugs, think Amphetamine Reptile.

Rather than continue throwing out unknown and obsolete bands, I'll leave this review relatively short and say that this album is some fantastic, albeit run-of-the-mill, noise rock.  The band is even best when they capture that traditional angular noise rock sound with their instrumentation.  Tracks like 'Am I A Man Or Not' make their less standard tracks like 'Oh Caroline' seem lackluster in comparison.  Sure to some it may sound like a backhanded compliment to say they are great at a generic sound, but there is a reason that style instrumentation is the trademark of lots of great noise rock bands.  USAnails seem to be on the path to carry that flag for all the people like me out there looking for just that sound and to me that is great news.

Above is a link to one of the tracks on this album.  Check out their blog to preorder this on vinyl or cassette (which I would totally preorder if it shipped to the states).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Grizzlor- When You Die 7" (2014)

When You Die
Grizzlor is a band I have been meaning to get around to writing about since the release of We're All Just Aliens earlier this year.  Usually I don't write about singles, but a review of their stuff has been long overdue.

Grizzlor's sound is one that lies someplace between Oozing Wound and stoner-grunge music.  With When You Die , the group has really begin to refine this sound and fall into their own.  Immediately the first track, "No Time", shows that this band is only getting better.  Their vocalist sounds more confident, and their overall sound is much fuller.

I have been waiting on a full LP since I heard these guys back in January, and I guess I am just gonna have to keep waiting, but this single was great and just has me more excited for when they finally do release a debut LP.

Take a listen and order a copy of it Here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NAH- WOE (2014)

NAH has been busy, as Woe is his ninth release over the past two years.  I loved his debut, Tapefuck, and have followed his stuff ever since.  That said, while Woe has a much different soung than how NAH started, it probably ties Tapefuck as his best.  The production on this album brings to mind Death Grips, but is able to remain unique and doesn't come off as a mere imitation.

Woe opens with a very minimal beat and guest vocals by recent collaborator GIVV, but it only takes a few moments before the sound turns to a more progressive hip hop.  While there is certainly more vocal track on this album than his previous works (minus GIVV's album of course), NAH does a great job at mixing in instrumental tracks that keep the sound fresh and exciting.  Woe does a great job at balancing the continuity of sound with the changing of styles.  tracks like "born" are hyper paced and filled with aggressive tension, while others, like "lonely, decelerating", are bass heavy exercises in electronic.  The only fault I can give this album is the vocal performance on "they out".

If you like Death Grips or Kanye's production on the most recent Pusha T single, then give this album a try at his bandcamp Here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cowards- World Champions in Male Chastity (2014)

World Champions in Male Chastity
This album came out of nowhere.  I have seen almost no press for it whatsoever, and that is sad given how great this thing is.  I know nothing about the band, but rather than research them to give you background, I'm just gonna skip that step and describe this album.

World Champions in Male Chastity is a diverse album as far as noise rock goes.  the album features a male and female singer, but no tracks have them sharing vocals.  with the first few tracks, the male vocalist leads, with a mixture of spoken/sung words.  By the third track, "Butter Tooth", I was starting to fall into the groove of their sound and it begin to really sink in with me.  Once the fifth track, "Let's Talk About Our Feelings", came along I was thrown for a loop.  The female vocalist starts the track off with a great crooning sound, only immediately to start singing "I'll show you my parts, if you show me yours".  Over the next few tracks, this lady kills it and really changes the momentum of the album.  At times, like on "Daughters Touching Fathers" the group has an early Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound (with lyrics that reminded me of the great Yusef Komunyaa poem 'Stepfather: A Girl's Song).

For the final few tracks the album comes back to the sound of how it opened.  By this time, the change felt great, and "The Ballard of Low Looker and Button Eye" is a fantastic closing track.  Since I found this album I find myself coming back to it more and more.  I can almost guarantee this album will be in my 2014 list at the end of the year, so I suggest that you take a moment to see why.

Listen to the album Here, and support them any way you can, cause they deserve it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Public Housing- Public Housing (2013)

Robert Beatty
Public Housing is haunting.  Right from the get-go, "Modern Breathing" lets you know what you are in for; harsh, brooding music that marches on like a funeral procession.  For those that know Robert Beatty (Hair Police), the production here is very similar to his 2013 album, Mercurial Rites.  Musically, however, Public Housing have a much larger sound, soaking the background sound in constant feedback and squeals.  While this full sound is quite opposite of much of Mercurial Rites, overall the underlying feeling of both albums is quite similar.  Dread.

Another album from last year that begs comparison to Public Housing is Dreamdecay's N V N V N V.  From a songwriting standpoint both albums focus on a slower, drawn out presentation.  Moreover, the vocalists sound quite similar and sing in a very similar manner.

Over the course of its four tracks, Public Housing manages to become quite a daunting listen.  Side B starts with "Caskets", a track who stays straight noise until over a minute-and-a-half.  Even then, noise music is still probably the best classification of the sound on this entire track.

There is a good chance this isn't for you.  But if you are a fan of noise music, like some of the artists mentioned in this review, or are feeling a little adventurous, give it a try.

Stream and purchase the album Here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Biscuit Mouth- Doing it Right and Doing It Well (2014)

Doing it right and doing it well
This album was a great surprise.  With vocals someplace in between Mclusky and Zebras, biscuit mouth is are the black keys of noise rock.  They really aren't the best, but the duo has created a solid album which captures the essence of the genre, is an easy listen, and most importantly is fun.

When I first listened to this album I was immediately blown away by the great acoustics of the vocalist.  To me, Biscuit Mouth is a band built around showcasing his awesome voice.  What's more, right from the opening track you see that the band isn't interested in verse, chorus, verse, chorus; rather many of the track keep a continual progression to the lyrics in a storyteller fashion.  Sure much of what he sings is indistinguishable, but the smooth, unbroken flow was a pleasant surprise seen all too little.

Once the third track, Gregory pointer, kicks in it becomes apparent how confident the singer is in his voice.  Absences of noise are filled with his crooning voice.  On my first listen it wasn't until this track that I realized how much potential this band really had.  While this isn't my favorite track on the album, it is one that showcases what the band does best; angular guitars, a harder blues style drumming, and entrancing songwriting.

From there, this album remained strong.  "You want something" may be my favorite track.  While it starts out relatively simple, the lyrics fit the sound perfect, and sound like Bob Dylan wrote them.  Moreover, at the 3:30 point the song style switch really kicks off the second half of the album.

If I had any one qualm with this album it would be that it is only two people.  Really, the band could benefit with a good bassist filling up the sound.  Moment of tracks like Sonny Mottram would have been much stronger if the guitarist could play while that guitar line was played by a bassist.

I found this album looking through random blogs with little visits.  If you stumble upon it reading my little blog with little visit, I suggest you take the time to give this a listen like I did.  I doubt you will be disappointed.

Listen to and buy it here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

White Suns- Totem (2014)

It took me a while to fully digest Totem.  On first listen I knew I loved it, but its a lot to take in.  Having listened to Sinews quite a bit, I was glad that Totem picked up right where that album left off. 

With "Priest in the Laboratory", White Suns are immediately showcasing their signature sound; harsh noise rock that swells up into a dissonant break for vocals to be yelled.

White Suns' are not a band for someone new to noise rock, and Totem pushes even further into the harsh noise territory than their previous albums with tracks like "Disjecta Membra" and "Fossil Record".  If you are a fan of bands like Air Conditioning, Aufgehoben, and Sightings, however, this album is right up your alley.

For most listeners, "Clairvoyant" will probably be the most memorable track, with its screamed out "My Guide's face is made of mirrors.  My Guide's face looks like my fathers." lingering on after the album is over.

I was fortunate enough to catch them last night, and quickly snapped this photo.  Their live set was great and I highly recommend you try and catch them next time they come to town.  You can listen to Totem Here, as well as purchase a copy of the album and see tour dates.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Greys- If Anything (2014)

If Anything
The Toronto band, Greys, debut album, If Anything, is a great addition to the 2014 noise rock/post-punk releases heard this year.  At the faster songs, like "Use Your Delusion" remind me of current bands like Metz, White Lung, and (now defunct) Shoppers.  Slower tracks, like "Flip Yr Lid", remind me of Nirvana.

This album probably wont make any top ten lists for the year, but that is okay; afterall, some of the funnest albums I have in my collection don't deserve to make any top ten lists.  And this album is fun, with tracks like "Adderall" really capturing the vocal sound of groups like Wavves.  Additionally, much of the album sounds like  Roomrunner's 2013 album, Ideal Cities, another album that finds that balance of accessible punk and harder rock while maintaining a fun vibe.

Why not check out a few of the tracks Here, and purchase the album while your there.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Poino- Bon Ick Voyeur (2014)

Bon Ick Voyeur
With Poino’s second release the band definitely show an evolution of their songwriting style.  While overall the music is still in the noise rock genre, the sound is much more daring, with major shifts in sound on each track. “lenod” has moments of new wave sound backed up to heavy guitar riffs and even near empty portions with only repeating guitar swells.  Other tracks, like “Pinking”, feel very math rock influenced.

I have always found Gaverick’s vocals hit-or-miss, even in Giddy motors, but on this album they tend to be solid.  The opening track, “Bird Trick”, has the most off-putting vocals on the album.  Fortunately, this was the only track I found grating in that aspect.  I was happily surprised that the album contained a mix of instrumentals thrown in, as it really helped the vocals not feel overstayed and remain fresh sounding.

Overall, “Burnt Birthday” was the strongest track on this album. 

I have found little noise rock I have enjoyed this year, except this album and a couple others.  Even more of a reason for you to check it out.  Listen to it and buy it Here.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fadensonnen- Badlands (2014)

What initially turned me on to Fadensonnen was their ruckus.  Bands like them and Aufgehoben know how to skirt that fine line between a wall of noise and aggressive, progressive rock music.

With Fadensonnen's newest release, Badlands, the sound remains the same, but the feeling is much different.  For the first two tracks, gone is the rush of intensity reminiscent of Guitar Wolf.  Instead, Badlands places the listener into a static-filled, psychedelic sound.  Yes, the guitars still feel overrun by delay and reverb, and the drums still keep a fast pace, but even turned up to full blast, the underlying energy seems different.  That isn't to say that this is a bad thing, it just wasn't what I expected, and possibly not even what the band had in mind going in to record.

A great example can be found in the final moments of the opening track, "Machete".  As all the feedback fades out, the listener is left with a chopping guitar similar to something out of Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsun or Guardian Alien's body of work.  It is this sound that I hear through both the first tracks, simply buried beneath the relentless wall of noise.

The final track feels much more like Fadensonnen's White Knight album and is about where my initial expectations put the sound of this record to be; the type of sound that would make Air Conditioning want to get back in the studio. 

While overall the album is different than I expected, it still sounds great.  Badlands can be streamed Here, and do yourself a favor and pick up a copy on record while you still can.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Irk-Bread and Honey EP(2014)

Last year cattle' S/T ended up being one of my favorite noise rock EPs, an EP that was brought to my attention pretty early on during the year.  This year's Irk-Bread and Honey feels like a solid contender to repeat such a trend.

Bread and Honey has a ton of passion.  The vocalist is always giving 100%, whether boasting until hoarse or speak singing in a manner like the vocals on Satanized-Technical Virginity or Daughters-Hell Songs.  Occasionally the bass falls into a sludgy rift or backing track, but usually it is at the forefront with its overdriven sound with funky undertones.

Earlier this year I heard Bardus-Solus (2013).  While also a great album, Irk take a very similar sound and perfect it.  Given that the EP is short, I will keep my review the same way.

Expect more great stuff from these guys and stream the album Here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Aquarelle- Interrupted Forms (2014)

Droney, electro-acoustic music.  This is the first tape of the 11 tape series Dynasty At Ghost Town on Bathetic Records, a tape set I wish I had the spare cash to snatch up before it sells out.

This album reminds me of a happier Gordon Ashworh-S.T.L.A. (another fantastic album from this year).  Despite its genre, Interrupted Forms is quite an easy listen most of the time, and is one that is immersive while still being accessible enough to not overwhelm anyone who would walk into the room mid-listen (save a few moments).

Interrupted Forms I starts out with quite a bit of acoustic in the sound (something I very much like), than works its way into a lighter, ambient sound.  This sound slowely builds into a larger, angelic harmony by the end.

Interrupted Forms II picks up with a booming wall of sound larger than where the first side left off.  Despite the density, the music remains in an optimistic tone, similar to Superstorms' 2012 S/T (highly recommended).  The sound temporarily regresses from electronic denseness to a more open, acoustic structure, only to come back to the dense drones that started the track.  The final minute of the album feels empty and abandoned, as the buildup drops out and only a few background gurgles remain.

Overall, this was a standout release that is sure to sadly go under-appreciated

Stream the album Here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mincemeat or Tenspeed- Waiting for Surfin' Bird (2014)

Sitting someplace between Mutwawa and Wizards Of, Mincemeat or Tenspeed's album is an aggressive, electronic monster.  The album uses "rhythmic melodic compositions made from feedback loops, in order to fake music that would more aptly be made using synths and sequencers."  DECOHERENCE Records fittingly labeled the genre as 'no rave', a pretty accurate genre tag for an album that sounds as if Holy Fuck made an EDM album.

One strength this album has is its ability to make otherwise bad quality sounds feel natural.  The end of "Normal Techno Jam" has a Casio-style drum sound that feels either circuit bent or overdriven.  Somehow, the implementation of this sound works perfect.

If you were a fan of the Fuck Buttons, I would recommend taking some time to check this album out.  This album comes out May 6th, so look for an update here once the Bandcamp becomes available.  In the meantime, stream one track Here.