Run The Jewels Release “Meow The Jewels”

Run The Jewels has released its first-ever remix album, Meow The Jewels. The record reshapes the group’s critically-acclaimed Run The Jewels 2 in the sonic mold of cat noises with guest work from Snoop Dogg, Dan the Automator, 3d and many others.

The album is available for free via the band’s official website. You can preview the record below with an official trailer.

Artist Spotlight: Dungen

Despite an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and a performance at Bonaroo, Dungen can’t claim much of a profile. Swedish psychedelia has yet to break mainstream, but that hasn’t stopped the band from releasing a number of fantastic releases over its 16-year career. From  Ta Det Lungt‘s hazed-out indie psych to the pastoral, summery vibes of Skit I Allt, Dungen has maintained an enviable consistency. The band’s latest record, Allas Sak, keeps that tradition alive.

Tracks like the phenomenal “Franks Kaktus” showcase the band’s instrumental ingenuity with a solid percussive backbone anchoring airy flute passages. Beneath, Reine Fiske retains his ever-tasteful guitar tone and seals the deal for a truly gorgeous instrumental jam. Elsewhere, “Flickor Och Pojkar” ebbs and flows like a gentle stream, soothing the listener with its lapping melodic waves. It’s more than just a gorgeous track: it’s a perfect excuse to daze out of reality. Really, that just might be Dungen in a nutshell. Whether playing peaceful psychedelia or indie rock through a kaleidoscopic lens, the band remains uniformly excellent – as does Allas Sak

You can find more information about the band via its official website.

The Dear Hunter Maintains its Record of Excellence with “Act IV”

Fire engulfs a mounted ring, and the crowd roars with excitement. The ringleader cracks a whip, cutting through the air like a gunshot. His lion roars and primes itself; its tail sweeps gently to and fro as its eyes narrow. Then it happens. The beast leaps through the flames with triumphant swagger, spinning circles as it lands. Fireworks burst through the air, and men on unicycles ride across tightropes in the sky. Every member of the audience explodes with applause. This is the level of bombast Casey Crescenzo achieves with The Dear Hunter. Since 2006, Crescenzo has been crafting one of music’s most ambitious projects – a six-part story of loss, love and redemption told over the course of six albums. If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. What’s also ridiculous is just how consistently good this project has been. Defying all the odds, Crescenzo’s magnum opus has gone swimmingly so far. Infectious hooks, orchestral excursions and progressive songwriting all coalesce into an unmistakable sound that’s garnered a cult status among underground music fans. Good news, then, because Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise keeps The Dear Hunter’s tradition of excellence alive and well.

Much of Act IV’s success comes from Crescenzo’s self-awareness; he seems to know himself as an artist inside and out at this point in his career. He knows he’s at his best when he goes for broke, and “The OId Haunt” is as good an example as any. Rollicking bass and tumultuous guitar leads snake beneath a solid percussive backbone before erupting into an explosive, roaring chorus. It’s a moment of exhilaration and triumph for Crescenzo, who’s fully bought into his own capacity as storyteller. Moments like these work to sell the narrative and drive it home. It’s obvious that the band has bought into this story, but standout performances like these will buy the audience in, too.  As good as that track is, I’d be remiss not to bring up “Waves,” one of the year’s finest songs. Here, Crescenzo plays to another side of The Dear Hunter’s persona: emotional resonance. Swelling strings, crashing drums and female vocal accompaniment come together into a wrecking ball of emotional force. When Crescenzo’s final lament of “but I can’t see the lighthouse” bursts through the speakers it’s a gut punch of Mayweather proportions – one that will stay with you long after the record’s stopped spinning. This isn’t the only track on Act IV to evoke a potent reaction; it just happens to be the most effective of the lot.

Despite these standouts, it’s hard to shake the thought that many listeners will grow fatigued before the album’s end. This isn’t an issue of quality, but of energy. Cresecenzo’s larger-than-life personality and sharp narrative focus may demand too much investment from casual listeners, but honestly, this album was never for them. You won’t unearth the record’s subtleties on your first listen, and you certainly won’t realize how deep its hooks have sunk until later still. Tracks like the narrative-heavy “Bitter Suite IV and V” and the nine minute “A Night on The Town” aren’t easy listening – you will expend energy to get these songs. This might sound like a hazard sign, but don’t let it deter you; the effort required here is worth it. Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise is a fantastic, ambitious record if you allow it time to spread its wings. This may not be the easiest rock album of the year, but it’s certainly earned its place as one of the most impressive.

8.7/10

Chelsea Wolfe’s “Abyss” is an Ugly, Engrossing Ride Through the Mire

Ask me to point you towards an artist that could be described as oppressive, and I’d point you towards Chelsea Wolfe. That isn’t meant as an insult given her stylistic playbook. Since her debut The Grime and the Glow, Wolfe has been perfecting an ugly concoction of doom, dreary folk and mired electronics. It’s the type of combination that sounds gloriously miserable on paper and sounds even moreso when put to practice. Even so, the ride through Wolfe’s discography hasn’t been without its issues. Her last album, Pain is Beauty, suffered from an identity crisis. Approximately half the record played to throat-crushing atmospherics while the other worked in quirk-riddled, murky pop tunes, leaving some fans to wonder which side of Wolfe would appear on her follow up. Turns out it’s the former. With Abyss, Wolfe buries all traces of uncertainty behind the shed. It’s uncompromising, unrelenting and unsettling. To put it in other terms: it’s pure Chelsea Wolfe. Welcome to the mire.

Abyss immediately sets itself apart from its predecessor in numerous ways, none more obvious than the bold songwriting decisions littering the record. Though she has often opted for the slow-burner opener, “Carrion Flowers” marks a clear departure for Wolfe. Hideous waves of distortion wash over mechanical, militaristic drums as her ghostly vocals soar and crash against the cacophony. “Iron Moon” is an equally abrasive cut, hammering the audience before Wolfe’s chilling vocals play out over soft, acoustic strums. Stark contrasts like these are part and parcel on Abyss, and they work wonders. At this point in her run, Wolfe is a seasoned artist – seasoned enough to know the subtle difference in sustaining real power and creating monotony. “Maw,” oddly enough, may be the perfect example of Wolfe’s penchant for power, though not in the way you might expect. It’s a slow, surrealistic dirge of a song that as obfuscated as it is beautiful. Finding the right mix of ethereal synth and acoustic guitars, Wolfe draws the audience in like a whirlpool. Her music might tap into natural beauty from time to time, but don’t let it fool you; there’s a sick, emotional violence beneath that will swallow you if you let it.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a murky undertow without the proper production, and Wolfe delivers here as well. Tracks like Grey Days showcase this fidelity best. Running through obscured, muddied lows in equal proportion to crystal-clear highs, the track truly shines and earns it spot as one of the album’s best. Just when the song seems like it’s about to slip into an inescapable muck of solemn distortion and pounding rhythms, Wolfe’s vocals pierce the fog with a tremendous relief. Moments later, ethereal strings lift the veil. Here, songwriting and engineering work in tandem to create something special. Sure, Wolfe’s been playing with this song-meets-sound approach for years, but it’s never resounded quite like this. Wolfe’s fourth album feels like a mission statement in many ways: tightened songwriting, consistent aesthetics and keen talent in the sound room all come together in spectacular ways on Abyss. If 2011’s Apokalypsis showcased an artist coming into her own, Abyss is that artist pushing past the pack.

9/10

Artist Spotlight: Hisstracts

I can’t fault anyone for not having heard of Hisstracts. With only one album under their belt playing the least marketable style of music imaginable, they’re not really arena fodder. Ambient, noise and electronica are the names of the game, and the band plays it like grizzled veterans. Together, David Bryant of Canada’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Kevin Doria of Growing manufacture David Lynchian soundscapes channeled through radio static, menacing washes of distortion and just about every other permutation of modern soundscapes imaginable.

In other words, Hisstracts debut LP Shortwave Nights just might be one of the least musical music recommendation you’ll get this year. Tracks like “…shortwave nights” work through a distinct post-rock ethos via monochromatic drones and echoed guitars. It’s the type of sound you’d expect to permeate abandoned cities in a ruined, post-disaster world. Moreover, it’s expertly constructed. Subtleties reveal themselves throughout, keeping Hisstracts’ debut an engaging listen that doesn’t wane on repeat. Together, Bryant and Doria nail both their sound to tape and their audience to the speakers. If you’re a fan of Ulver, Grouper, Sun 0))) or just a fan of noise that sounds like the end of the world, give Hisstracts a go. You’re sure to fall in love.

Deerhunter Detail New Album

Atlanta-based indie rock outfit Deerhunter has detailed its upcoming studio album, Fading Frontier. The record is slated for an October 16 release via 4AD Records and will follow up 2013’s Monomania. You can view the album art and track list below:

fadingfrontier

  1. All The Same
  2. Living My Life
  3. Breaker
  4. Duplex Planet
  5. Take Care
  6. Leather And Wood
  7. Snakeskin
  8. As Astra
  9. Carrion

More information regarding the band and its upcoming album can be found here.

Tame Impala’s “Currents” Is Equal Parts Dance Fever and Mediocrity

It seems that Kevin Parker will never be happy with taking the indie world by storm. It just isn’t enough. While some fans would be happy to hear his debut “Innerspeaker” over and over again, those looking for a change of pace are likely to find a lot to like about Tame Impala’s third album, “Currents.” The fuzzed-out guitar of Parker’s debut is entirely absent, replaced by variegated cascades of synthesizers and dance beats. It’s undoubtedly different, but different doesn’t always translate into better. Parker’s third foray into the Tame Impala canon starts admirably with a series of invigorating cuts, but “Currents” gradually drifts away in Parker’s own ambition for change. Swept by the currents, indeed.

The album’s biggest problem isn’t its quality: it’s the record’s slow dive into monotony. “Let It Happen” may be the best opener Parker has ever recorded, full of vibrant synths and romping disco beats, but the luster of Tame Impala’s shiny new aesthetic quickly wears off. By the time “The Less I Know the Better” comes around, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that this exact song played just a few minutes ago. For all purposes, it did. Parker has clearly fallen head over heels for his shining new psychedelic dance persona. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this sound, but by album’s end the whole proceeding washes over like waves of obfuscated noise. Tracks like “Reality in Motion” drag the album to a grinding halt as it repeats the same tricks heard minutes earlier and serve only as deadweight to pan out the running time.

Monotony isn’t the only issue plaguing Parker’s latest opus: bizarre songwriting quirks spring up like weeds. “Past Life” is the worst offender, beginning with an irritating spiral of synth repeated ad nausea beneath a low-register, roboticized spoken-word intro. Just when the irritation ends and a song starts to emerge, the baffling narration returns for continued sabotage. “Let It Happen,” the album’s highlight, isn’t free of problems, either. Midway through, the same note repeats for thirteen seconds straight. It was literally as though the media file had been corrupted and glitched into a loop, but for some reason this was determined to be a desirable effect. It’s inexplicable, and it doesn’t do the album any favors.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though; there are gems to be found here. “Yes I’m Changing” is a remarkably pretty ballad, full of confessional self-inflicted barbs and crooned exclamations of “bullshit.” Parker’s admissions feel genuine enough warrant a considerable emotional response from the listener, securing its spot as one of the album’s key tracks. Album closer “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” injects some much-needed life into the proceedings with its expansive, electric sweep, and “The Moment” works well as an early album energizer with its charming boot-heel stomp and Parker’s spaced-out recollections of dance-floor magic. Lines like “I fell in love with the sound of my heels on the wooden floor, I don’t want our footsteps to be silent anymore” work well to sell any hesitant listeners on Parker’s new aesthetic.

Moments like these, though, come few and far between the further one delves into “Currents.” It’s an album of jolting revolutions without the backbone to support them. Engaging songwriting, typically one of Parker’s strengths, seems to disappear half-way through the album, leaving the listener to wonder whether the magic is truly gone or whether it’s been buried beneath top-dollar production sheen and endless barrage of electric noises. Unfortunately, “Currents” is likely a better album title than Parker realized. The further he ventures from that illustrious debut, the further and further away he’s drawn from what made his music special in the first place.

5.1/10

Deafheaven Announce “New Bermuda”

Acclaimed black metal pioneers Deafheaven has revealed New Bermuda, its new album. The record is set for an October 2 release via Antihero Records. New Bermuda follows the band’s highly successful sophomore LP Sunbather, which won numerous album of the year awards.

newbermuda

  1. Brought to the Water
  2. Luna
  3. Baby Blue
  4. Come Back
  5. Gifts for the Earth

You can view the trailer for New Bermuda below:

More information about the band can be found at their official website.

Clutch Premieres New Single

Clutch has released the music video for lead single “X-Ray Visions” via Metal Hammer. The song is taken from the band’s upcoming studio album, Psychic Warfare, due for release October 2 via Weathermaker Records.

The band’s previous album Earth Rocker was met with acclaim from critics and fans, with both groups praising the album’s return to heavy rock and roll. Recent interviews with the band have revealed that Psychic Warfare will continue in the same vein as its predecessor.

You can stream “X-Ray Visions” below: