Album Picks: Deafheaven, Wavves, Girls Names, Shopping

Posted by Billy Gil, October 2, 2015 12:28pm | Post a Comment

Deafheaven - New Bermuda

Deafheaven’s fusion of black metal, shoegaze and post-rock continues to grow richer and bolder on their third album. Following the crossover success of their much-celebrated second album, Sunbather, it may have been tempting for the band to trim off their rough edges — namely, the black metal influence that accounts for a large part of their sound — to focus on the more accessible parts. The fact that they didn’t speaks highly of their integrity, sure, but it’s also ensured Deafheaven stays an original. With five extended tracks, New Bermuda feels like one massive, evolving piece, making it easier to point to moments rather than entire songs that speak to you — the way “Luna” folds melodic chords into its double-bass barrage and ends up in a scenic place as lovely as anything on Souvlaki or Agaetis Byrjun; or how “Come Back” clears the way for Kerry McCoy’s chugging power chords and harmonic descending scales and George Clark’s shriek from the depths; or “Baby Blue’s” heroic, Pumpkinsy wah-wahed solos. Any metal fan can extoll the genre’s ability to soothe not in spite of, but because of its brutality and decibel level. There’s something about the music’s capacity to overwhelm and obliterate outside noise, memories, anxiety and trauma that’s rather unparalleled. Deafheaven’s commitment to bringing that sound into an indie-rock setting and vice versa has helped make them the best and most important metal crossover act since Metallica. Whatever your preferred noise is in which to lose yourself, New Bermuda is a crucial meeting point.


Wavves - V

Wavves’ fifth album finds Nathan Williams facing adulthood like a long hangover. Songs like “Heavy Metal Detox” are nervy bits of anxiety-laden power-pop, as Williams gets paranoid about all his bad habits, spends too long on WebMD and asks questions like “Have I lived too long? Why does my head hurt?” Flamezesz” is a frantically catchy manic-depressive ode that pin dark lyrics (“it’s suicide, the way you walk around”) to a careening, Pixies-inspired arrangement. Williams has never written such unrelentingly bleak lyrics (“I’m broken and insane,” “I lost my job today, but it’s all the same”), far from his days as the carefree king of the beach. But he’s all the better as a songwriter for it.  All the soul-searching gives tunes like “Pony” depth beneath the sugary power chords. Better than his radio-baiting last album, Afraid of Heights, V is Williams’ Pinkerton, full of power-pop that’s perfectly sick in the head.


Girls NamesArms Around a Vision

Belfast’s Girls Names just keep getting better and better. Their third album continues to fuse motorik beats to sturdy post-punk chords that stack like steel beams in tightly constructed drone-pop jams. Though their songs seem to emit hypnotic waves, as frontman Cathal Cully dashes off disaffected lines, there’s more passion in the sound than ever before in the satisfying build of a song like “Desire Oscillations.” The effect is like pairing a perfectly tailored suit with scuffed up shoes — while the neatness is welcome, Girls Names know how to muss things up so as not to come off as square. Thus, Arms Around a Vision strikes a perfect balance.


Shopping ­– Why Choose

Shopping come from a long line of bands producing taut post-punk built on fast beats and clipped minimalist vocals, from Delta 5 and early B-52’s though Electrelane and Erase Errata. While that sound never really gets old, the London trio keep things fresh with pointed lyrics that attack capitalism and the rigidity of the gender binary on songs like the title track, which simply asks, in this day and age, “Why wait? Why choose? Why pay?” If you like your radicalism spiked danceably off-kilter grooves and a boy/girl group-sing mentality, Shopping is for you.

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Girls Names (2), Wavves (19), Deafheaven (11), New Releases (214), New Albums (213), Album Picks (146), Shopping (3)