Uneasy Listening 1/12

Oh man, been slacking on a huge stack of records to review for months, so here’s a big old mess of ‘em. More yet to come.

Angels in America/Weyes Blood split (Northen Spy)

Two of my favorite new bands of last year, and each new thing they do is better than the last, so no wonder this one sold out fast. AiA clean up their production a tad, but it’s really just to let you hear all those odd loops and drugged vocals a little crisper. “The Corpse” is the standout, a cold-as-ice gothic opus that’s definitely too weird for people who listen to cold gothic music. As for Weyes Blood, what can I say besides that Natalie’s voice and songwriting is astounding. Stark, haunting, gorgeous music as always, If you’ve heard anything by her you know what I mean. “Seven of Wands” is mostly instrumental and not as great as the other two songs on her side, but I’m not complaining.

Druid Perfume- Don’t Eat Them They’re Poison 7” (X!)
Title jam comes on strong like early & heavy Gong riffage with sax, then the screamin’ dude shows up to remind you not to put those berries in your mouth and then everything falls apart into a big goofy mess.”Honk Your Horn” is the B-side and it’s a hard & hairy prog stomper, jest the way I like ‘em. A real fun one fer sure.

Fontana – s/t (X!)
Tough, snarling & snotty outta-control punk rock & roll from this Detroit trio. Scorching guitars and misanthropic vocals abound, and they seem to draw influence from post-hardcore, wiry post-punk and slop rock equally. Not a dud song on it.

Frustrations- Negative Reflections (X!)
Wiry and whip-smart rock band that’s hard to pin down. I’m more partial to their more moody, abstract tunes (“Shimmer”, “Meaningless”) but they’ve got plenty of melody, killer bass lines and fury to spare. Lots of great lyrics too,  mostly seemingly about boy-girl trouble but the apocalypitc anti-civ anthem “These Woods” stands out.

Johnny Ill Band- In the Wintertime 7” (X!)
Perfect song for right now, an ode to how much of a bummer Midwestern winters are (“you have to wear boots all the time/and sometimes scarves”). B side songs are about their friends who don’t like or care about you. A goofy one fer sure, but much-needed during a freezing rainstorm.

Running- Saves the World (Rotten Tooth)
Totally unrelenting psych punk freakout fury from Chicago. Heavy and raw and totally unhinged. Saw them open for Cave and totally steal the show with their energy and sassy drummer antics.

Shin Joong-Hyun- Beautiful Rivers & Mountains (Light In the Attic)
Finally someone put out a giant double album of Korea’s psychedelic guitar master, shedding light on his work both as an axeman of the highest caliber and a pop svengali creating some of the dreamiest pop of the 60s (the Korean Les Paul would maybe more fitting than his usual comparison to Mr. Hendrix). A big interview with the man himself, background on all the songs and a lot of songs even a die-hard SJH fiend like myself hadn’t heard before. If you like your 60s sunshine pop, soul and psych all mixed into one pot of kimchi, this is a must-have.

Alpha Strategy/Projekt STINKA- Muck (Owness)
Alpha Strategy is Rory Hinchey’s new solo project, with synth gorp oozing all over drum samples and crazed David Thomas-esque no wave vox on top. Projekt STINKA is Czech accordian player Hana Lundiakova’s dark cabaret project, and her two songs are as haunting and cold and Alpha Strategy’s are disjointed and frantic. Killer cover by Graham Larkin too.

Zach Kouns- The Concealed History of Coming Races
I was totally not expecting this to be a fractured country record, but it is, and a great one to boot. Drawing from the lineage of fucked-up country weirdos (Jandek, Modal Rounders). A nice pairing would be this and Warmer Milks’ classic “Soft Walks”.

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