On Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe embraces the industrial music and doom metal that have always lurked as influences and adds them as blackened flourishes to her gothy experimental electro-folk. “Carrion Flowers” writhes slowly on a corroded beat that hits like a door slamming beneath her curling and cooing voice. Groaning guitar noise introduces “Iron Moon” as Wolfe’s entrÃ©e into the metal world (save for her celebrated cover of black metal band Burzum’s “Black Spell of Destruction”). The eerie, wiry strings and sludgy power chords of “Dragged Out” become a pummeling wash at the chorus, which is reminiscent of Sunn O))), for whom she’s opened in the past. The album’s opening is bold, but echoes of her past work radiate through Abyss, on its strings, which can be achingly beautiful on tracks like “Maw” but wail like banshees on “Crazy Love,” or on the wavering synths of “After the Fall” (seemingly the only thing left over from some of the synth-driven exercises of her last album, Pain is Beauty). The biggest holdover here, besides an overall grim aesthetic, is Wolfe’s voice, which can sometimes get buried but breaks through the din to emote beautifully on “After the Fall” and “Crazy Love.” Some fans might bristle at the changes she’s made, but most will likely find the heavier sound suits Wolfe’s compositions and voice quite well. Besides being great on its own as an album, Abyss hopefully will add another chink in the armor of the seemingly closed-off and overwhelmingly male world of critically respected, heavy guitar-based music.
Two veterans of the Bay Area shoegaze band Whirr make a wistful indie-pop record together that recalls the best of Sarah Records. Alexandra Morte’s vocals call to mind a young Bilinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine, singing dreamily over acoustic guitars and light orchestral touches with cohort Nick Bassett. While it may not be the most original sound, Camera Shy’s eight songs are charming and sophisticated, emanating weary beauty on the rainy “Seemingly Ill” while charging through sunny environs on the jangly “Remember.” For fans of this kind of thing, Camera Shy are one of the best new bands around.
Patrick Stickles and co. return with an epic set of fist-pumping post-hardcore anthems. Centered around "Our Hero," The Most Lamentable Tragedy allows Stickles to remove himself to a degree from the narrative, and the result is that he sounds more liberated than ever, bellowing through self-effacing, existential tales of despair and coming out fighting. Despite its mammoth run-time and vague concept, The Most Lamentable Tragedy has plenty of scream-along moments, notably in the run of pub rock ballad "Mr. E Man" runs into the shake-you-by-the-shoulders fury of "Fired Up" and quick punk workout "Dimed Out" at the album's core. The only real tragedy here would be getting scared off by the album's length. It's at once an exhausting listen and one that leaves you feeling energized and ready to fuck shit up.
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker shifts gears a bit for his third album, drawing as much from ’80s soul and disco as he has from prog-rock and psychedelia. Though such a change could threaten to derail a good thing, Parker is the consummate perfectionist, and Currents’ various strands are braided together without a hair out of place. Opener “Let It Happen” builds from a proggish uphill chug into a psychedelic freakout and finally hits its stride with a silky disco beat. “Eventually” relies on rock dynamics but uses fat synthesizers to achieve its booming changes. And a tune like crystalline psych-funk jam “The Less I Know the Better” seems to marry all of Parker’s influences into a perfect amalgam, calling to mind everything from Michael Jackson to My Bloody Valentine. Through it all, Parker is the same chill knob-twiddler he’s always been, but he’s come out of his shell a bit more—it takes confidence to command a song like “’Cause I’m a Man,” which gloriously oozes ’70s cheese, akin to Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” or 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love.” From the get-go, Parker himself seems to be reflecting on the change—“Something’s trying to get out/And it’s never been closer,” he sings on “Let It Happen.” It’s confirmed by the time we get to “Yes I’m Changing,” ostensibly a breakup ballad but it seems more pointedly about an introvert accepting accidental stardom (“Curse indulgence and despise the fame/There’s a world out there and it's calling my name”). This lyrical theme, the sense that Parker is coming into his own as not only a songwriter and performer but human being, gives Currents a unity that even the superb Lonerism didn’t have. In every way, Currents is a complete triumph, both as a fascinating headphones album for production junkies and as a set of immaculate psych-pop songs that feels endlessly giving.
In the video, drummer Georgia Hubley walks around Silver Lake casually picking up multicolored trinkets while people literally explode around her and giant hearts rain down like meteorites. Bandmates Ira Kaplan and James McNew also appear, though McNew loses most of his body in the mayhem. It’s a perfect marrying of twee and doomsday sensibilities.
Watch the video below:
Watch the band’s episode of “What’s In My Bag?” below:
|Image: Maria Louceiro|
"I've Been Waiting for Her" has all the elements we've come to love over the past couple of DeMarco releases—shiney, sticky guitars playing quick and summery riffs and wavering in and out of tune over DeMarco's slacker-romantic drawl, coming together seemingly effortlessly yet perfectly executed. It's the second song we've heard from the release after "The Way You'd Love Her."
Stream the song below. Another One is available for preorder on LP and CD now. DeMarco will play at S.F.'s Outside Lands festival Aug. 8 and L.A.'s FYF Fest Aug. 23. Two-day tickets to FYF Fest are still available at Amoeba Hollywood while supplies last.