The beginning of the year always has a fresh feeling to it. For me, that consisted of driving through a couple of snow storms but at the very least those snowstorms were fresh, cleaning out the air for at least a moment.
Music tends to take a while in the first three months of the year. With the end of the previous one, musicians wait it out until spring or summer, when jam season is in the air. Thankfully not all musicians adhere to this philosophy, and in fact, those that avoid it tend to have some particularly excellently weird releases, unaware or indifferent to any sort of cool music trends.
I heard a few great bands thus far, many of whom are completely new to me, which is always a nice thing. A few of these bands sort of point the new towards particular resurgences of old styles and sounds, at least that is my hope. Many more just exist on their own level, odd creatures out in the wilderness.
For the truly feral there is the unbridled joy of Orchestra Of Constant Distress’ “Distress Test”. Uncompromising does not even begin to describe the untold levels of aural brutality they work with, for they let repetition serve as a drill into the skull. I really like them a lot. While Belong’s “October Language” could be considered a similarly noisy piece, they soften the sound making it into miniature shoegaze symphonies. By taking on a less intense tact, they find beauty in a controlled chaos.
No Age oddly does a similar thing in a different way with “Snare Like a Haircut”. Delivered with an intense urgency, they have a summery feeling to them and while I saw an unreasonable amount of winter this album reminded me summer always arrives. Following up on this was The Breeders (yeah, remember them! I do!) with “All Nerve” an album that made me really yearn for the 90s again, while having a joyful approach I haven’t heard from them in a long time. The summery spirit actually was embodied by a number of artists on this list, maybe I needed that sound more than I initially realized. Arms and Sleepers took on an Avalanches sort of sound with “Find the Right Place”. So many samples with a smooth style, Arms and Sleepers filled their sound with sun. On “Garden City Movement” they took on a heat-soaked funk akin to Toro Y Moi’s debut album. And sort of finding the darkness in all that fun and funk U.S. Girls created a perfect album with “In A Poem Unlimited”.
Nicely leaving the darkness behind Frank Bretschneider’s “Lunik” embraced a wider palette of sound than he’s done in years. A.A.L (Against All Logic) traded with the past and present on the hard to pin down sample-heavy “2012 – 2017”. For more delicate textures Broshuda created an origami like work with the infinitely playful angles of “Jemi”.
Will Long’s “Long Trax 2” went into a virtual eulogy with samples nicely buttressed with mournful ambient sweeps and static rhythms. Outright beautiful, by stripping the sound down to the basics it possessed a virtual sort of heavenly take.
I hope the rest of the year’s music ends up having this level of thoughtfulness, for the way these few albums have already brightened my spirits speaks to their tremendous power, whether for bombast or for reflection.
- No Age – Snares Like a Haircut
- Frank Bretschneider – Lunik
- S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited
- A.L (Against All Logic) – 2012 – 2017
- Orchestra Of Constant Distress – Distress Test
- The Breeders – All Nerve
- Will Long – Long Trax 2
- Arms and Sleepers – Find the Right Place
- Belong – October Language
- Broshuda – Jemi
- Garden City Movement – Apollonia