Lower may have the post-hardcore album of the year on their hands on Seek Warmer Climes. The band has been compared with fellow Danes Iceage, and like that band, Lower take hardcore punk to epic proportions not seen since the heyday of bands like Fugazi or ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. This isn't to say they can't be pithy; on rumbling opener "Another Life," their atonality is fist-pumpingly catchy and Adrian Toubro's wolf-like barks and cries keep you rapt, and "Lost Weight, Perfect Skin" shows us they know their way around a hooky riff. But Lower aren't looking to make friends. On centerpiece "Expanding Horizons (Dar es Salaam)," their dirtied guitars trudge through the wilderness for more than seven minutes as Toubro sings "we travel far, expand our horizon, but in the process I see that no horizon will ever benefit me." However bleak the worldview may seem on Seek Warmer Climes, the album is never a drag. It's a thrilling, lightning bolt of a record that loudly announces the arrival of yet another great band from Copenhagen's underground.
|Jon Snow looks hot/pouty while Mance Rayder looks weary/sleepy|
Warning: There will be spoilers.
“Game of Thrones” ended its fourth season in its own spectacular fashion of killing off as many characters as possible in an hour-long show. The finale “The Children” wrapped up a number of this season’s storylines, which I’ll review below.
The episode started with picking up off of last week’s exciting battle at the wall, with Jon Snow heading off to face (and possibly kill) Mance Rayder, the leader of the wildlings. If you’ll recall, the wildlings got some help to bolster their numbers from the cannibal Thenns in episode one. Jon Snow had returned from the wildlings, saying he traveled with them to gather information. Snow and others thwarted a group of mutineers at Craster’s Keep, saving his own brother, Bran, and his crew in the process without even knowing it (a diversion from the books, I’m told). Master-at-arms of the Night’s Watch Alisser Thorne grew weary of Snow’s increasing leadership or impetuousness, depending on how you look at it, but Snow proved to be right about sealing the tunnel beneath the wall, which was breached by a giant during the wildlings invasion of the wall, during which Snow’s ex-lover and wildling Ygritte was killed. In the finale, Snow believes killing Rayder will split up the wildlings, but he is somewhat disarmed by Rayder’s decidedly unbarbaric nature.
Damon McMahon has been making lo-fi psychedelic folk under the Amen Dunes moniker over the past decade. Several tours, a stint living in China and a few records later, and Amen Dunes are having a breakthrough moment with the recently released Love, a cleaner, more precise album and perhaps one of the best of the year thus far, full of swirling, melancholic folk-rockers with carefully considered experimental touches.
I’ve read that in the past you recorded a lot of things on your own onto tape. What made you want to go for a more produced sound on this record?
I think I’ve always wanted to make records that sounded really good, but I didn’t have the means to do so. It’s always been a solitary process, it never really worked for me in studios, but I’ve always wanted to make a record that sounded really good but I never really had the ability to do that. I had specific visions for this record. I had this idea of imagining what a songwriter record would sound like if it was backed by Pharoah Sanders. I was really obsessed with this Pharoah Sanders record called Karma, I have been for a long time. I wanted to make a record that production-wise was reminiscent of that. And I couldn’t really do that with a TASCAM four-track.
Was it important to keep some of the immediacy of your earlier work? I’m thinking of a song like “I Can’t Dig It,” which has almost a live feel to it.
Allah-Las – “501-415”
Allah-Las, who met while working here at Amoeba and went on to release an excellent self-titled debut two years ago, have a new one on the way called Worship the Sun, out Sept. 16 via Innovative Leisure, produced by Nick Waterhouse. “501-415” is both more stripped down and psychedelic than what we’ve heard before, with a country jangle and Pedrum Siadatian’s wandering vocal spiraling over a tremoloed guitar funked-out bassline. It’s an intriguing turn and leaves us hungry to hear what the rest of Worship the Sun will sound like. Allah-Las’ Miles Michaud recently came by Amoeba for one of our Sunday Spins sets presented by LA Record, which continue every Sunday at 5 p.m. this month. Check out an interview I did with them a while back.
World music legend Angelique Kidjo will appear June 20 at Grand Performances, the free music series at Downtown L.A.’s California Plaza. The show starts at 8 p.m. Amoeba is proud to be a sponsor of the show, and we'll be on hand with a booth and our prize wheel.
Born in Benin, the Grammy-winning Kidjo has been called “the undisputed queen of African music” by the Daily Telegraph, while NPR calls her “Africa’s greatest living diva.” On albums like 2014’s EVE, which is dedicated to the women of Africa, Kidjo blends influences from around the world, from Afropop and Carribena zouk to the soul and funk of American artists like James Brown, Nina Simone and Jimi Hendrix (the latter of whom she’s covered, singing Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile”). Kidjo has collaborated with everyone from Alicia Keys to Philip Glass. She sings and speaks in four languages (Fon, French, Yoruba and English) and uses Benin’s traditional Zilin vocal technique, as well as jazz vocalese (a style similar to scatting, improvising by singing lyrics rather than scat syllables to pre-existing instrumentals).