Cult of Youth’s self-described “post-industrial Pet Sounds” begins with the instrumental “Todestrieb,” its eerie synths and tribal drums setting a foreboding tone for the album. “Dragon Rouge’s” acoustic strums and Sean Ragon’s intoning vocals give the track the feel of a classic Church song or stripped-down Sisters of Mercy track, while additional touches like cello and orchestral percussion pump up the grandiosity. Elsewhere, the band plugs in and goes full-tilt, with B-52’s riffs and post-punk rhythms on “Empty Faction” and goth-jangle on “Gods Garden.” Ragon’s voice is used terrifically throughout, judiciously given echo to resonate or often without effect to let his throaty post-industrial growl run free without trampling over the gorgeousness of these tracks. He’s at his best screaming through the nocturnal desert scene set by “Down the Moon” or kicking up dust on the rollicking “No Regression.” Like Iceage’s recent Plowing Into the Field of Love, Cult of Youth’s Final Days successfully marries Americana to post-punk rooted in traditions of hardcore and industrial music. It’s an unholy union, and it’s awesome. Check out "Empty Faction" via Stereogum.
Doesn’t end-of-year-list time always sneak up on us? It’s the time to reflect and realize that a lot of really great music did come out throughout the year. Here is my list of 50 best records that came out in 2013. I limited it to albums that were physically released. But it’s only the end of November, so feel free to leave a comment and tell me why I’m dumb for leaving out such-and-such record and I’ll give it a listen!
Just ’cause these guys ripped off the Madchester sound isn’t any reason to write them off. Listen to Howlin’ and try to get these songs out of your head.
Non-verbal cries echo out into infinity and give life to your unconscious while listening to Nepenthe. She’s like our generation’s Enya, only a million times cooler (actually Enya is kind of rad, nm).
48. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time
What if Kelly Clarkson really dug My Bloody Valentine and dated the dude form Diiv? What if Taylor Swift shot up heroin, posed nude for some crazy German director and actually ended up making interesting music? Night Time, My Time seeks to answer these questions you never knew you had. Even though Night Time, My Time couldn’t possibly live up to all the blog hype/hate/press Sky Ferreira got this year, it’s still a great, if fragmented pop record.
Sandra Vu has been the cool presence behind the drum kit in a number of bands, both on record and live. She's helped propel such bands as Dirty Beaches, The Raveonettes, Midnight Movies, Boredoms and, most often, as the drummer for Dum Dum Girls.
Now she has her own project named SISU. Judging by her resume, SISU's debut album is somehow both comfortingly familiar, drawing from influences such as girl groups and noise pop, and something entirely new. The strange tones that strike across the skies of songs like "Counting Stars" and pulsating beats under songs like "Harpoons" draw more from krautrock, industrial and experimental music than contemporary shoegaze, while Vu's vocals range from disaffected and alien to front-and-center pop vocals. Blood Tears is a delight throughout, atmospheric and cool, yet catchy and immediately memorable.
I took a minute to speak with Vu about her new project and how she came into making music on her own.
Me: I hear SISU is the Finnish word for “extreme perseverance.” Why did you choose that name?
Vu: Originally, "SISU" stems from my name, but we later found out that it was a Finnish word. I like the meaning though so we've adopted it, respectfully.
Plenty of great music has been released in 2013 already. It’s always staggering to look back at the halfway point and realize what has come out, what you need to give another listen to, and so on. This is a list of my personal faves that also have garnered substantial critical acclaim. I know there are lots of other great albums from this year, so why don’t you comment and tell me about them huh?! If you really want to know what else I thought was great for some reason, click through to my album picks for each week’s releases.
This has to top my list, as I’m sure it does for many others. Despite its numerous problems in the lyrics department, namely a badly used Nina Simone sample, its industrial grind and Kanye’s manic delivery trump all. There’s just no other music like this around — now or ever.
Sean Nicholas Savage - Other Life
It may sound like he’s kidding at first — Sean Nicholas Savages’ casio keyboard chords and shivering falsetto sounds like mall music beamed in from another planet on “She Looks Like You.” But beneath the chintzy set up are great songs sung by an aching voice. Other Life sounds like re-created memories of Simply Red, but its modest creation only adds to the songs’ charm. The title track’s lyrics radiate with the same nostalgia as the music, only it’s for life recently lived and chances not taken (“All I do is reminisce laying in my bed with a cigarette/Opportunities fading, crazy feelings staying only feelings/And if I go back now, how many nights till I go wild again?”). Savage perfectly captures the pain of entering adulthood and realizing life is finite, and wild nights can’t go on forever. Savage isn’t quite Prince — his attempts at romanticism on “Lonely Woman” come off as awkward, though endearingly so. But when that acute pain and awkwardness is paired with soft-rock hooks on a song like “More Than I Love Myself,” Sean Nicholas Savage’s brand of instant nostalgia rings truer than 1,000 Instagram posts.