Here’s a fresh batch of noise coming out of Nashville. Hadals’ “The Dog” is available on cassette from the Portland, OR based label Nailbat Tapes.
Opening the release is “Hound of Golden Light.” It’s squealing feedback refuses to be kept at bay, while the track plows forward aided by the heaviest of bass lines. Vocals are relegated to the background, and despite being pushed into the red the punishing discord of the guitars are clearly at the fore here.
“Claws Stretching to the Sky” starts off one part Wolf Eyes and one part punishing death metal, choosing to focus mostly on anxiety inducing wails and distant sounds of torment. Following that “My Teeth on Your Neck” picks up exactly where “Claws…” left off – with the crushing bass-heavy backbeat and feedback taking over once again.
Closing with “Sink Into the Earth” solidifies the fact that this release really is of two minds. On the one hand there is the noisy, Wolf Eyes/The Thirteen Ghosts elements, casting an unnerving pall around the distorted guitars and drums. Slowly building from one to the other the last minute and a half finds Hadals absolutely punishing their instruments into apparent oblivion.
You can grab a copy of this limited cassette from Nailbat over at their bandcamp page. And while you’re there you should check out a few of their other new releases including the Portland-based death/grind of Maltheist, and dark/ambient/noise of Red Boiling Springs.
I know that nine chances out of ten I’m trying to keep this blog full of music by artists that probably aren’t getting too much attention around the internet, but I couldn’t help taking a day to talk about the new Sharon Van Etten LP.
Not exactly obscure by any stretch of the imagination, I think that it is pretty fair to say that the secret is out about Van Etten. Her renown grows with each release, and after 2012’s “Tramp” it seemed that she’s reached a new peak, but that only means that the stakes were that much higher for her next album.
I think that it was because of that expectation that I had a hard time coming around to listening to “Are We There” for as long as I did. I’ve had several opportunities to listen, as whomever is behind her marketing is doing a pretty great job. No matter where I turn to on the internet there are ads, on Tumblr, on Facebook; and then there are all the blogs that are talking about it. Not that I have read any reviews. I wanted to experience it on my own for the first time. I knew that I would get around to it eventually, but I was tentative. The same thing happens whenever of Montreal releases a new album. I’m such a huge fan that I get nervous that I’m not going to like their latest and I’m going to have to move on from them.
Anyway, it only took a few seconds to realize that “Are We There” was not going to be a disappointing listening experience. Her voice is as confident as ever, maybe even more so. Production-wise, “Are We There” covers similar ground to that of “Tramp” but a little bit of the polish is stripped away. Van Etten’s powerful, emotive, voice is front and center. With her distinctive voice, melodies and lyric material it’s clear that Sharon is constantly pushing herself, and the results on this album are quite striking. The hook that is sticking with me right now is the haunting chorus of “Taking Chances,” perfectly orchestrated to outline Sharon’s upper register, while the verse remains mainly concerned with her breathier alto.
Songs are expertly arranged, and I think that this is most evident on “Your Love Is Killing Me.” It’s on that track that we really hear something being built from the ground up. Beginning with an echoed and distant drum track, an organ eventually makes its entrance, followed soon thereafter by Van Etten’s voice, the guitar slips in almost unnoticed and then the chorus. The way that the entire verse is designed to really launch into that first chorus is pretty powerful, and creates enough tension to propel through to the end of the song. Sharon’s voice grows continually stronger throughout, and by the end one is left struck by how powerful it can be.
I’m sure you’ve probably been hearing a lot about this release already, but (unlike an Arcade Fire album) this one is worth whatever hype can be thrown at it. It’s out now from Jagjaguwar, and Sharon is currently on an extensive tour, just in time for the Summer festival season! If you recall, her last show before taking time away from touring to record this album was in (near) Portland at the Pickathon, and I posted a few tracks here if you are curious.
Pick up “Are We There” anywhere, and catch her on tour everywhere.
Fri. May 30 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
Sun. June 1 – Koln, DE @ Studio 672
Mon. June 2 – Berlin, DE @ Privatclub
Tue. June 3 – Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet
Thu. June 5 – London, UK @ KOKO
Wed. June 11 – Boston, MA @ Sinclair
Thu. June 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall at Williamsburg (Northside Festival)
Fri. June 13 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Sat. June 14 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Tue. June 17 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Wed. June 18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Thu. June 19 – Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s
Fri. June 20 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
Sat. June 21 – Nashville, TN @ Exit In
Tue. June 24 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
Wed. June 25 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
Sat. June 28 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
Sun. June 29 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
Mon. June 30 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
Wed. July 2 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
Thu. July 3 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
Sat. July 5 – George, WA @ Sasquatch Festival
Sun. July 6 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
Tue. July 8 – Calgary, AB @ Republik
Wed. July 9 – Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room
Mon. July 14 – Fargo, ND @ Aquarium
Wed. July 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
Thu. July 17 – Madison, WI @ University of Wisconsin
Fri. July 18 – Chicago, IL @ Pitchfork Music Festival
Sat. July 19-Sun. July 20 – Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
Thu. Aug. 7 – Sun. Aug. 9 – Goteborg, SE @ Way Out West
Sat. Aug. 9 – Olso, NO @ Øyafestivalen
Tue. Aug. 12 – Bezirk-Landstrasse, AU @ Arena Wien Open Air
Fri. Aug. 15 – Hasselt, BE @ Pukkelpop
Sat. Aug. 16 – Crickhowell, UK @ Glanusk Park – Green Man Festival
I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to start off this post. I mean listening to all of the tracks it is pretty easy to hear that Kaset has no trouble spinning out melodies in understated, yet expansive arrangements. But then I came across this quote on her website:
Quiet Machine is to be released in January of 2014. Jasmin also tours extensively as one half of the filth-country duo Birdcloud.
If you haven’t heard Birdcloud, then I’ll let you look up some tunes on Youtube. The reason I bring it up is because Birdcloud was my first opportunity to hear Jasmin’s work, but at the same time I don’t think anyone walks away from a Birdcloud show praising their understated, introspective lyrics. The first time that I heard a track from her solo recordings, they blew me away.
“Porno Mtn” is the kind of excitedly hopeful track that just screams to be played on a summer road-trip. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum the rumbling piano on “I’m Tired” provides the perfect backdrop to a poignant and personal vocal. And there’s something Beatles-esque about the verse on “The Salesman.” The waltzing tack-piano sound is very “Ob-la-di-ob-la-da,” and the next verse builds on that with a chugging string section and horns. It’s all very George Martin sounding. Similar in style is “Throw it all to the Dogs.”
From the synth-pop of “Strange Traveller” to the lush “Bangalore” everything that Kaset does she does really well.
If streaming from bandcamp isn’t your thing, you can check out the video below and watch Jasmin, as well as some of her friends and family, listen to the album in its entirety. It’s got action and suspense, and at one point an apple is eaten. Sorry to spoil it for you.
You can order the album now on vinyl. It’s limited to 250 copies. It’s also available digitally from everywhere ever. You can find all those links on Jasmin’s site.
Showing up to the Tiny Tavern just before 8pm, because I know the place is small and I always get nervous that shows are going to be too full or something, seems now like it was a bit excessive. I sat at the end of the bar for about an hour listening to the members of So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet talking and making fun of the horrible musical selections coming in through the speakers of the bar (Counting Crows, Bush, The Wallflowers, Sheryl Crow. I think it must have been from the compilation “NOW That’s what I Call Overplayed Watered Down Corporate Shit Rock from the Late 90s that Attempts to Fill in the Enormous Void Left by Kurt Cobain’s Death Vol. 3”) and eating, though I don’t think that any of them really enjoyed the food as when they all got up and wandered outside there were about 8 bowls of weird looking beef stroganoff lining the bar.
I was sitting there just awkwardly observing and catching bits of conversations between the bartender and the bands. “Hey guys, and don’t forget,” the bartender leaned in to whisper to one of Diarrhea Planet’s guitarists, “that there’s a radical discount on the food for the bands and roadies and anyone that is traveling with the band.” I remember trying to figure out after he said “radical” whether he was using it as a synonym for “significant” or if he was one “hang-loose” hand gesture away from trying to be “cool like the kids.” I came to the decision that, based upon his inflection that it was the latter. Another uncomfortable interaction came a few minutes later when the drummer sat next to me at the bar in order to get some food. After ordering, the super-hip bartender with the black pageboy hat (though strangely lacking in the soul-patch department) said “how ’bout we call that….4 bucks?” and right as the drummer was saying “Ok” the bartender gave him a sideways glance and with a half winking eye said “you can talk me down to $3,” to which the drummer replied through an uncomfortable laugh “…whatever man.” I knew he and I were on the same page in regard to our thoughts on the bartender.
At about this time I was watching a dude that came in with some mic stands set up the monitor. The monitor was pretty much next to the stage in front some overturned tables and surge protectors that were dangling delicately from the ceiling, a perfect compliment to the partially working blinking icicle lights (check the date). As he set up the monitor the mics blared feedback for a good 10 minutes at 5 second intervals. A delightful array of ear piercing ultra-high frequencies assaulted our ears, yet nobody seemed fazed. As the monitor guy walked back toward the bar to excitedly talk about the app that he uses to single out the frequencies that are feeding back he said “Ok, I’ve gotta run.” It was at that point I realized that there was going to be no sound guy, he came in, set up the mics, made them squeal a bit, turned a few dials counter-clockwise a bit, drank a beer and left. All in a days work.
It was quarter to 9 and I was still the only person there not in the band. Well, that’s not completely true, there were some unsuspecting regulars that had no idea there was going to be a show and the possibly domestically challenged man in one of the booths that had drank a pitcher of PBR and fallen asleep. One of the guys in So So Glos wondered aloud “So where is everyone?” This was followed moments later by “…so it’s just gonna be that guy at the end of the bar?” Despite that being said in a bit of a hushed tone as he headed for the door it was audible from my position at the end of the bar.
Thankfully, about 20 minutes later the audience showed up. I think that they must have coordinated it earlier, like a punk rock flash mob. It seemed as if the entire audience literally walked in at once. The first opener (didn’t catch their name because the sound was terrible for some reason) tore through twenty or so minutes of noisy originals and a few covers (was that the theme to Full House?) to an appreciative crowd.
So So Glos took the stage next (and by stage I mean area of the floor in front of the fireplace, next to the aforementioned tables and surge protectors and underneath the Coors Light neon dry erase board with “Don’t forget to try the special!” scrawled onto it in that generic font that must be taught to all owners of bars everywhere) and immediately invited the audience to get up, move closer, no… closer, no… closer. They then proceeded to bring out their intense energy song after song. Lead singer/bassist Alex Levine could not be contained, and didn’t resist the urge to jump into the audience and climb atop the bar. Despite mistakenly stating, “it’s so great to be back here in California,” to sarcastic boos (someone yelled back “Yeah! Eugene, California!” we’re nice here, we don’t care and we forgive quickly) he apologized profusely and carried on. The crowd was amped up after their set, and not wanting them to leave after their “last song” began chanting “USA! USA! USA!” together with “ROCK AND ROLL! ROCK AND ROLL!” until they gave us one more tune. Off to a great start.
I think that part of the reason that we were all so ready to forgive the “California” faux pas is because of their tour schedule. So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet are doing things Japandroids style and touring non-stop up and down the coast and across the country, adding dates as they go. Speaking with lead singer and 1/4 of the shredding department of Diarrhea Planet, Hodan, he said they had been on tour since about the beginning of July and would be going almost straight through until the end of December. So, given that, fine. Call us California, call us Idaho, it doesn’t matter.
Diarrhea Planet swiftly began setting up (tooling with the monitor, as if there was a point by now. I think that every member of each band had been tweaking it all night), did a quick check and were off and running. The crowd moshed wildly, resulting in a cascade of beer flying through the air and pooling around our feet. Shirtless dudes gesticulated wildly at the closest guitarist mimicking the hand motions of Jimi Hendrix as he incited flames from his guitar. The band tore through song after song with little effort; these guys could really play well, truly well. And despite there barely being enough room for the 6 of them on the “stage” there was enough room for some true rock showmanship in the form of hair-whipping headbanging, and thrashing about on the floor while flying through a guitar solo sometimes with Hodan on his knees arching such that the back of his head rested on the floor as he continued to wail. There were a few covers as well, one as (I think) a comment to the garbage that was on the radio while they were (not) eating at the bar. That song was another from the wasteland of late 90’s corporate shit rock: Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” which was started on a whim by one of the guitarists and the rest of the band just picked up on it. They managed to get through an entire verse and chorus, with the crowd dutifully singing along and thrashing about before the band said “Ok, we can’t do that shit anymore.”
It was a great show. All the way through from the opener to So So Glos to Diarrhea Planet. It was such a great show that as everyone began to realize that it would soon come to a close we all kept yelling “ONE MORE!” until Levine came back to the stage sans bass to lead in an amazing 4 guitar version of Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!).” The crowd went insane, yelling along, hoisting people in the air while watching the leader of So So Glos climb onto the bar again. Things got a little crazy as the crowd sort of invaded Diarrhea Planet’s space, but they all had giant smiles on their face. Everyone in there was having a great time.
Speaking with guitarist Emmett after the show, while buying some merch, he kept saying how great the tour was going. I mentioned that it must be awesome to have been getting attention from NPR and the New York Times (the review was published only two days prior) and a tour that will not stop. He was genuinely excited and said the entire band was still amazed and incredibly grateful for all the press. He swore that they would be back, as they loved the crowd and our city. When they do, I’ll be right there at the front again screaming along with everyone else.
Not many bands (I actually can’t think of any off the top of my head) would be able to make use of 4 guitars and have it all make sense. Diarrhea Planet, on the other hand, are bringing shredding back to rock. And right from the opening of the album they aren’t afraid to let you know that they are not messing around.
“Lite Dream” moves from quadruple guitar solo, to straight up punk rock right before they march right into Iron Maiden territory. It makes sense to get as much use out of everything on stage as possible, so in order to do that there is a lot of stretching out, doubled guitars, solos, layered solos etc.
You may have heard about these guys before if you are a fan of Titus Andronicus (and why wouldn’t you be?) whom Diarrhea Planet opened for last year when Titus was touring for “Local Business.” I remember Patrick Stickles tweeting over and over again about how these guys would knock it out of the park night after night, but there was no way for many of us to know what he was talking about because they were pretty much just getting started. Now it turns out that Stickles was right. He was very right. The New York Times even agrees, as does NPR, who featured them on their All Songs Considered podcast.
Long story short, these guys are blowing up and you need to get in on the ground floor, it’s worth it. For a full album of guitar assault that knows how to make use of its resources, while at the same time managing to control songs to the point where they don’t go too far. Apparently it is possible to have a band like this with a minimum amount of wankery going on.
This live clip of “Kids” says it all. It starts out delicately enough, but it’s really only holding back before all hell breaks loose.
They are currently out on a seemingly never ending and constantly expanding tour (I’m actually leaving my apartment right now to see them here in Eugene) with support from NYC’s So So Glos (founders of Shea Stadium) and putting on a fantastic, amazingly energetic live show. More on that later.
The album, “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.” is pure rock and roll. I’m already sick of various sites saying that they are “equal parts Weezer and Whitesnake” as NPR does, or something similar that evokes the name of some crappy corporate rock hair metal band from the 80s. Whitesnake has nothing to do with this music. Whitesnake were a product of money-grubbing, coke-addled music execs in the 1980s. Whitesnake, in short, sucks. They sucked then and they suck now. There is no point in listening to them at all. But I digress.
There is a purity of the song writing here that takes more from the punk/DIY aesthetic than it does from the hair metal aesthetic. Sure, on the surface there are guitar solos all over the place, there’s finger-tapping, there’s palm-muted eighth notes on the lowest string (tuned to D or even C sometimes) but those things don’t add up to “hair metal.”
A song like “Separations” has a lot more to do with catchy hooks and punk attitude than anything else. Let’s not discount the fact that these guys can play. There is not a single second of insincerity on this album. “Hammer of the Gods” is more punk than it is metal. The entire album walks the line in that way, which places it firmly more in the Misfits camp than it does with Whitesnake. There is a lot more going on than what it sounds like after listening to one guitar solo doubled in thirds. Everything on the album is done because it makes sense to the song, everything serves the song. We know this because not every track on the album is structured in exactly the same way. Some have verses and choruses, while others have extended intros followed by a verse and an extended outro (see “Ugliest Son”). At no point does anything sound out of place or arbitrary due to trying to jam ideas into a form that doesn’t make sense for that particular song. The same can be said for the album as a whole; there aren’t any songs in the sequencing that are placed there because, say, they needed an upbeat 1st single and then a slow song for a 2nd single (that a band like, say, Whitesnake would do. And maybe that is one of the reasons that they are pointless to listen to, Whitesnake I mean. They are so of the time. Everything about music like that and albums like theirs is that they are very “of the time.” Taken out of context, or listened to in 2013, those albums can’t connect with us anymore because they just don’t make sense anymore).
Diarrhea Planet is currently on tour practically non-stop, criss-crossing the country until the middle of December and it seems like they are adding dates into all the free time they can. If you live anywhere between Sand Diego and Portland, Maine it’s only a matter of time before they are in a town near you. Get out there and see them, say hi, and buy the album. It’s currently available on CD and Gold Vinyl (with download code) from Infinity Cat.