Category Archives: Review

Review: Nadja — Tangled

The Canadian doom/drone duo Nadja is primarily known for its epic slow-motion sludge crawls, but on Tangled they completely switch gears and crank up both the BPMs and the aggression. The six-song 7″ doesn’t have a song that tops three minutes (a stark contrast to 2012′s Excision, for example, which had eight 20-minute dirges). To be honest this record is what I was hoping to hear from the new Godflesh material. This is spooky in a way Justin Broadrick can never hope to be while at the same time capturing the drum-machine-fueled aggression of Big Black or Austerity Program. Throw in some proggy keys and guitars here and there and some tortured doom vocals and you’ve got a departure to be sure, but still very obviously Nadja. It’s another worthy entry in a forward-thinking and iconoclastic body of work. — Russell Emerson Hall

 

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Review: Black Moses 7″ — New Cowboy Builders

 

Welsh youngsters New Cowboy Builders just dropped a great new single over on Bandcamp. It’s snotty post-punk most obviously indebted to The Fall and Gang of Four. It’s got a freshness and swagger that can only come from the exuberance of youth. But under the veneer of UK austerity is what appears to be  more than a passing familiarity with American noise-rock, recalling nibs and nobs of Big Black and Amphetamine Reptile. Pre-order the vinyl 7-inch record now and revel in some real fucking punk rock. — Russell Emerson Hall

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Review: Eden Fine Day – Things Get Better

Eden Fine Day - Things Get Better
Eden Fine Day – Things Get Better. Self-released, 2013.

Eden Fine Day is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Vancouver. In the press release that we got for her, it talks about how distinctly Canadian her sound is, and how important her status as a member of the Sweetgrass First Nation is to her music. However, when I listen to her album Things Get Better, I don’t hear anything that screams,”This is a First Nations album” or “This is a Canadian album,” even on songs that specifically reference her identity (“The Res,” “Ndn Children”). Rather, Fine Day was created a pretty universal, albeit personal, pop album.

I think that the balance between personal and universal is often difficult to find, and few singer-songwriters do it well. Fine Day manages to stand firmly on that line, whether she is talking about a break up (“Alone Again”) or her brother’s death from Leukemia (“The Res,” “Damaged”), Eden manages to be just specific enough to make Things Get Better a sort of pop-rock memoir, yet open enough that it’s easy to relate to.

Sonically, this album sounds a little like a lower-key Rilo Kiley. However, there’s a certain coldness, a distance, in the music itself that contrasts the closeness and warmth of Fine Day’s voice. Perhaps that’s the Canadian sound the press release mentions, the influence of living in the North. Regardless, this coldness adds a twinge of sadness in even the more poppy songs (like the especially Rilo Kiley-esque and deceptively poppy title track), which I think is the whole point of the album: that, as the aforementioned title track says, “Things did get better/ after they got worse.”

Ultimately, the narrative of Things Get Better is one of growth and of finding peace, but only after the world trying to destroy you? The narrator? Eden? piece by piece. Fine Day sings of pushing through the bad things in life and becoming stronger because of them, and she manages to do so without sounding melodramatic or preachy. In doing so, she has managed to create an album that is both poppy and important.

After reviewing an album, I often take a break from it, deleting it from my mp3-player to make room for the next album. Things Get Better is staying in my rotation. It’s that good.

Things Get Better is available on iTunes, as well as in physical format directly from Eden Fine Day.

-jason

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REVIEW: King Champion Sounds — Different Drummer

Probably the most notable thing about King Champion Sounds (or at least the thing that will get them the most attention aside from Thurston Moore’s endorsement) is that they are helmed by GW Sok who was the vocalist for The Ex for, what, 30 years? KCS mostly eschews The Ex’s brand of militant and angular experimentation and instead favors an exhilarating blend of late-70s rude-boy 2-tone ska and deep ambient dub-jazz.

The record alternates between anthemic horn-driven blasts like “World of Confusion” and “Here We Go Again” (with its fist-pumping refrain, “lead us not into temptation”) and swirling beat-driven tone-poems like “Shouting At The Moon” and “Orbit Macht Frei ” (with its oddly affecting repeat, “TV the ruthless religion”). The uptempo rockers come off like a clumsily metronomic Fall playing manically forward material like The Specials. The more pastoral interludes contain nods to everything from Can, Muslimgauze, Bill Laswell, spaghetti westerns, and Bitches Brew.

Different Drummer is a highly intriguing and addictive record from a group with a foot in the past and an eye towards the future. Out now in Europe; LP/CD available domestically Feb. 25 from Chicago’s Sickroom Records. — Russell Emerson Hall

RIYL: The Specials, Gang of Four, Miles Davis, Bill Laswell

 

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REVIEW: Death Pedals — The Carvery

It’s nice to know that there are still folks out there working within the punk-rock aesthetic and not making it either a retro fashion review or nihilistically anachronistic. London’s Death Pedals are a refreshing blast, coming off like an amped up Hot Snakes or a UK-leaning Dischord band (or fellow Londoners Gallows with less swagger). Snotty and sweaty, they’re precise when they need to be and careening elsewhere. Whenever the proceedings get too straight ahead, the Pedals throw in a barbed twist that pushes things further along in a gloriously hedonistic and oddly satisfying way. The occasional bass and drum interludes hint at a more-than-passing-familiarity with Chicago noiserock but front and center are the damned classic-rock earworm hooks. It’s the soundtrack for a party at the end of the world and I’m guessing the live show is manic. — Russell Emerson Hall

RIYL: Gallows, Hot Snakes, Refused, Mayors of Miyazaki

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