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The Black Market (CD)

Chicago hardcore band’s latest is a full-force set of fist-pumping anthems for the eco-terrorist in all of us.

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Lion (CD)

Bauhaus front man Peter Murphy’s latest solo album is richly emotional, dark, and romantic – but would you expect anything less from the undisputed King of Goth? Also prepare for some rabble-rousing pirate sea shanties.

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Max Richter - Retrospective [Limited Edition Box Set] (CD)

Four discs of paralyzing ambient-orchestral beauty, comprising albums and soundtracks The Blue Notebooks (2004), Songs from Before (2006), 24 Postcards in Full Colour (2008) and Infra (2010).

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Eyehategod (CD)

Fourteen years down the road from their last release, Confederacy of Ruined Lives (which was, at the time, also considered a "comeback" record), the New Orleans kings of pummeling misery have returned with another blood-slick leaden slab of a record. Since CoRL, the band's members have continued their involvement in various high profile side-projects (Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar), braved Hurricane Katrina, been in jail, kicked heroin, lost founding member and drummer Joey LaCaze to respiratory failure, and been name dropped exponentially more and more as the sludge and doom revival continues to sluggishly accrete mass, menace, and popularity. To my mind, Eyehategod are the quintessential American sludge band, so their ever-growing popularity and influence is no surprise, nor is their decision to make good on it in album form at this most current intersection of the time-space zeitgeist superhighway. The metal community, overflowing with uptight taxonomists, has been forced to accept the apparently genre-ignorant legends since their first release, sludge metal being only the most conveniently available denomination we can shrug into being. If you've never heard these guys, their sound can basically be divided into quadrants. First is traditional sludge. Guitars that are dissonant and distorted with an otherworldly violent trashiness, knuckle dragging molasses lurch rhythms: this is decidedly un-Sabbath stoner metal on its worst trip, it is hateful violent minimalism at its best. The second quadrant is the band's doom and southern rock tendencies, which takes them compositionally from the first quadrant into nigh-grooving syncopated riffage, balancing their Sabbath-negative with their Sabbath-positive concerns ala Electric Wizard. The tension between these first two quadrants, what connects one to the other in time and in the fabric of any given song, is what makes up the third quadrant: a played-dumb experimentalism executed most famously by fellow southern misery farmers, Harvey Milk. This is where the band's slop and willingness to wait come in. Screeching feedback latticework, arhythmic pauses, stops, starts, drifts, an experimental metal in increments and not for the sake of itself but for the sake of representing the darkness at hand. The final quadrant is a sort of crossover hardcore crust pummel that connects the band to CoC, Discharge, & occasionally High on Fire. This is the closest the band ever comes to a rave-up.

 

On the newest release, server of jail times and kicker of heroin habits Mike Williams sounds as glass-strangled as ever, as sneering, petulant and hateful as he did in 1993. Recording technology keeps getting better and as the band gets more successful, their use of the studio reflects this. All of the screeching slashing tearing sounds are still around, but with a new clarity that belies their intention and hints at what it's like to see such a focused band live, careening in and out of lockstep riffage and sloppy rock tumbler/falling down the stairs histrionics. The dual guitar attack of Brian Patton and Jimmy Bower is as symbiotically crushing as always, seemingly more comfortable with the multiple sides of the Eyehategod coin than ever, getting both more southern boogie and more disgusting at the same damn time. Newcomer Aaron Hill has played drums in New Orleans band Mountain of Wizard, whose psychedelic southern doom couldn't exist without the band he plays in now, so it works out well. This is a band that has never released a bad record. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 14 years before the next one.

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Glass Boys (CD)

Fucked Up do two things on their new album that work in their favor—keep things at a zippy 10 songs and 40-ish minutes and flesh out the production. Though 2011’s David Comes to Life was epic in every sense, the nearly 80-minute album was exhaustive in a way that another such album would’ve felt like a weight. Instead, Glass Boys feels furious and exacting. “Echo Boomer” builds upon a melodic base, waiting until halfway through for Damian Abraham to unleash his growl and exploding in its final moments from a mid-tempo rocker to an all-out rush. “Sun Glass” similarly starts with acoustic guitars and alt-rock touches before its true form takes shape as a densely layered yet breakneck paced hardcore shoegazer. “Warm Change” makes apparent one of the most interesting aspects of the album—drummer Jonah Falco layers multiple drum takes and adds an exponential layer of chaos and psychedelic energy to the album, leaving your head spinning. Even with these dizzying layers and dynamics, the band wisely pulls back the noise for breather moments, like the opening of “Paper the House,” which gears you up for one of the band’s catchiest songs, fusing hardcore ferocity to power-pop melodicism. If Glass Boys lacks some of the immediate power of its predecessor, it’s also ultimately a more accessible and equally powerful album in many ways. It’s as though they’ve compacted their ambitions like a sheet of foil rolled into a cannonball, as Glass Boys lands like a swift punch to the gut.

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Singles (CD)

It’s a gutsy move to call your album Singles, but in the case of Future Islands, their fourth album and first for 4AD, it’s appropriate. The album is packed with songs that are both immaculately written and catchy as hell, as Future Islands mine new wave and pop-rock for all they’re worth. Just as lead singer Samuel Herring’s dynamite performance style and swingin’ dance moves have won people over (David Letterman, famously), the band gives it their all on songs like “Seasons (Waiting On You).” Herring’s emotional, throaty tenor, which can warp into a growl in an instant, is given the perfect backdrop of stargazing new-wave rock that should bring together fans of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to The Cure to The Killers with lighter-waving glee. The synths of “Spirit” bring up memories of B-Movies “Nowhere Girl,” but Herring’s unique voice keep Future Islands from ever veering into purely nostalgic territory. “A Song For Our Grandfathers” is dreamy yet packs an emotional punch. Herring seems to get more and more insistent over the sprightly “Light House,” almost completely out of step with the band, yet it works so much better than it would have if he played it straight, getting in your face and making it impossible to merely have the song on in the background. On “Like the Moon,” a sexy, pulsating groove gives Herring the chance to kill it vocally, crooning romantically. But his best vocal performance comes next, on “Fall From Grace”—over a simple waltz, Herring goes deep into the bowels of his voice to deliver a performance somewhere between Tom Waits, The National’s Matt Berniger and a black metal singer. Charisma like his doesn’t come around all the time, and as a band, Future Islands are smart enough to stay out of the way while crafting terrific songs that stand on their own. Before you know it, you’ve listened to Singles like five times and still can’t wait to hear it again.

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LP1 (CD)

Beautiful and talented U.K. singer/dancer FKA Twigs’ first full-length album is here to explode some minds. Her voice transports you to a world where reality and imagination is blurred to the point of pure ecstasy. Her style of unique ethereal R&B with a little bit of trip-hop is like a breath of fresh air with a cherry on top. - Nick@Nite, San Francisco my friend chris sent me a link last year and i was intrigued. minimal and eccentric, this record is so textured and effortless. it doesn't feel manufactured or forced, and the eerie wash of abstract sound comes alive with the whispery vocals. it is sensual and compelling and… rich.

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Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton [CD/DVD] (CD)

This documentary is for avid Stones Throw fans. You’re in for a surprise if you think they are strictly a Hip Hop label. It gives you a small peek of what goes on in the eclectic brain of founder Peanut Butter Wolf and insight into his start in the music industry.

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All Her Fault (CD)

The always-trustworthy Brokeoffs return with another awesome record. This one reminds me more of X than the others, which is good. You should buy this! 

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What Is This Heart (CD)

How to Dress Well’s What Is This Heart? is still plenty idiosyncratic, even as it sits among the likes of The Weeknd, Miguel and the last Beyonce album in terms of future-thinking R&B that gives equal footing to adventurousness and hookiness. Free of the lo-fi aesthetic of his early work,What Is This Heart? is a bold-faced record about love, placing Krell’s gorgeous voice front and center on songs like “Face Again,” in which he sings “kiss me on my face again and tell me what love’s supposed to be.” Krell’s voice gets cut up and digitally pitch shifted amid nighttime synthesizers, minimalist funk beats and light touches of acoustic guitar, strings and piano, and the resulting songs sound like whispered promises, quiet declarations of love given musical form. Impossibly sexy and staunchly idealistic, What Is This Heart? looks like the love album of the year.

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