To listen to Pharmakon is to stare the beast straight in the mouth. Margaret Chardiet’s latest album starts with heavy breathing, panting and a buzzing synth that sounds more like an electroshock therapy machine. “Intent or Instinct” builds deliberately with an atonal loop gathering strength until she unleashes a nasty banshee wail. Free of too much digitized effect, it sounds truly bloodcurdling. It’s also immensely cathartic. And “Body Betrays Itself” feels like it takes over your very being, her most powerful musical statement to date. Not everything in such harsh surroundings works—“Primitive Struggle” is about as inviting as it sounds, full of coughing, spitting and heaving along to a digital heartbeat. But Chardiet can really surprise you, too. “Autoimmune” actually nudges closer to something resembling pop, like the dirtiest Trent Reznor would ever let his hands get. And in the incantation of the title track, Chardiet’s actual, human voice can be heard, albeit echoed out into infinity, and the result is quite affecting, given how she shreds her voice across the rest of the record. So Bestial Burden isn’t for the faint of heart. Dismiss it and you might even get a laugh out of its relentless brutality. But give it your full attention, and it just might change you. So don’t be afraid. Dive in and let Bestial Burden swallow you whole. Note: If you like her records, you should probably see her live.
Last time I wrote about how The Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore was a gateway album for me when I was 16. Enamored of that album’s nocturnal aura, I sought music with a similarly mellow, melancholic vibe. I was also an avid Rolling Stone junkie at the time. I remember reading their four-star review of The Boy With the Arab Strap and deciding it was something I’d like, and I went out and bought it on a whim. I was right—I became totally hooked on this band, their vintage aesthetic and gently orchestrated sound, which sounded mind-blowingly fresh to me at the time.
I suppose it wasn’t just my decided lack of worldliness that was to blame there. You certainly couldn’t hear anything like Belle & Sebastian on radio or MTV, and this was still the infancy of the Napster years. My parents’ lame computer could only hold about 100 songs. There was still a lot of going out and buying CDs on whims then.
The Mantles – “Memory”
The Mantles’ Long Enough to Leave was a delightful traipse through New Zealand-style jangle pop, and now the Bay Area-based Slumberland band is coming back with a set of new recordings. They’re first coming out with the Memory 7” Dec. 2, featuring two new songs. Listen to the Felt-ish “Memory” now and get swept up in their sweet autumnal strums.
Spaceships – “Good Gradez”
Noisy L.A. duo Spaceships have a new self-titled EP coming out Nov. 4 on New Professor and we’ve got the first song now, called “Good Gradez.” It’s got the same distorted power-pop chords and snarled melodies of their debut LP, Cool Breeze Over the Mountains, with an ever-so-slightly cleaned-up sound to make sure Jessie Waite’s terrific vocals cut through clearly. I for one give this song an A+! Check out the interview I did with the band last week here.
|Hanni El Khatib|
Hanni El Khatib released a batch of catchy garage-rock tunes last year called Head in the Dirt, produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. Read my interview with him here, and check out his episode of “What’s In My Bag?” below:
Hanni El Khatib - What's In My Bag?
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The GRAMMY Museum will host Spoon on Oct. 20 for the museum’s ongoing series The Drop, featuring an interview with the band as well as a performance at the Clive Davis Theater. The show begins at 8 p.m. and you can get tickets here. Amoeba is proud to be a sponsor.
Austin’s Spoon will join the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCare’s Vice President Scott Goldman for a discussion about their latest album, They Want My Soul. The album is perhaps their most critically and commercially successful album yet, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard Charts on the strength of positive reviews and their catchy first single, “Do You.”
The band will then play a stripped down set of songs. It should be interesting to see how the band takes the wild energy they displayed at Amoeba Hollywood a while back into a mellower set. See more photos from their Amoeba Hollywood set here.