Weekly Roundup - November 3, 2017
There is a never ending onslaught of music coming out. Each Friday sees the release of a slew of new records worth your time and notice. Here are a small fraction, rounded up and reviewed to the best of our ability:
La Louma—Let the World Be Flooded Out
RIYL: Sleater Kinney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, St. Vincent
You will occaisionally find music nerds such as myself speak with fear and trepidation about the inevitable “monogenre.” This is basically the “nothing new under the sun” idea extrapolated to its furthest extent—that artists, writers, and musicians will just keep mixing and remixing influences and ideas in ever-diminishing returns and bleedovers to such a point where genre distinction and perhaps even idea distinction may become negligible. Besides being a largely pessimistic outlook on art, this seems to negate the incredible talents of artists who already manage to blend so many diverse influences into a succinct, intelligible, and above all absolutely incredible, whole. Bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, St. Vincent, Bjork, Tom Waits, Mars Volta—these artists have for years been successfully pushing boundaries and cagily refusing to be defined by the confines of genre. La Louma will be able to add her name to that list with Let the World be Flooded Out. While a deadly rock and roll attitude flows throughout the record, pop, r&b, folk, singer songwriter, world, and electronic music are all carefully and threaded throughout in a incredible Gordian knot of genres. Towards the end of the record some jaw-dropping mideastern influences went their way through “Just Want To Love You,” “Aaj Mausam Bada Beimann Hai,” and “ I Am Here I Am.” This is masterfully confident and executed stuff for a debut record.
RIYL: Doomtree, Cool Kids, Felt
Look, POS and Sims have each released two of the best records of 2017 so far. The Doomtree collective is an ever-fertile ground of inspiration and innovation and near-constant output. A team up record of the two (as well as Doomtreeproducers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger) feels like the best parts of both of their respective sounds and talents. Some of the lines they spit in this are jaw dropping and the record is just brimming with fun. It sounds like they had an absolute blast recording this and that energy bleeds over and leaves you with a grin.
RIYL: Converge, Cave In, Poison the Well
I am going to go out on a limb and say that Zao has never released a bad record. The band has quietly and unsassumingly released a bevy of incredible records for nearly its entire span of existence, nearing its 25th year. Pyrrhic Victory is another notch on the band’s collective belt. Last year’s The Well-Intentioned Virus was one of the very best records of 2016 and Pyrric Victory feels very much in the same vein. Its fast and relentless—the first two tracks chewing you up and spitting you out. The real stand out on the records are its second half, though starting with “Clawing, Clawing, Never Cutting Through,” with its Cave In-esque singing. Clean singing isn’t anything particularly new, nor the melody the track toys with over the bands usual caustic ferocity, but here it sounds easier and almost playful. It’s a new dimension to a legendary and incredible band.
RIYL: Dear and the Headlights, As Tall As Lions, Gold Man
There’s an indefinable, un-categorizable quality to Juice Jackal’s writing and debut EP. It wears a lot of different mantles, blending some hard rock, some r and b, some electronic, and some pop all together. It has a lot of potential, as album opener “Looney Tune” truly shows. Shredding guitar lines crash with electronic beats and vocal melodies in a way that feels organic and exciting. “Atone” takes a step down energy-wise but weaves in some sampled vocals in an interesting way. But the rest of the EP lets the pop influences really take the fore. “God,” “Nightmare,” and “I Can’t Sleep” feel disappointingly like fairly straightforward pop fare with some extra influences thrown in for good measure. Juice Jackal is an undeniably talented, expansive artist with some interesting influences and hands in a number of different artistic genres, but the pop realm he seems to be pursing just didn’t speak to me. Given his wealth of talent, however, I am curious to see what else he does.
Anti Flag—American Fall
RIYL: Rancid, Autopilot Off, Green Day
Right off the bat, American Fall gets into hot water. Album opener “American Attraction” sports extraordinarily slick over-production, strange vocal tuning, layered vocal tracks, and off-kilter pop sensibilities. Anti-Flag have worked tirelessly for decades with their political pop punk. With their incredible productivity and output it stands to reason that they will have their fair of stinkers, but for American Fall to get into such rough waters after what a triumph American Spring was is a bit of a disappointment. “the Criminals” tries to right the ship, but doesn’t quite make it till the last minute or so. “When the Wall Falls” meanwhile starts with an acoustic opener that could have been written by Strike Anywhere (awesome) before descending into ska-based party-punk. It’s a strange tone that Anti-Flag maintain through much of the record; really bringing the “party” part to political party punk. The second half of the record picks up, the highlight being the lead single “Racists,” which is actually one of the best songs they’ve written. Overall, however, American Fall is a weirdly, largely toothless effort, given the wealth of issues for the legendary band to focus on. After so many years of harping on various problems inherent in the American political and social system, maybe this is Anti-Flag’s “I told you so!”—a victory lap of sorts where they are basking in being proved right. It’s cool to hear Anti-Flag wearing their Rancid-love on their sleeve, but American Fall doesn’t hold a candle to American Spring.