Electricity Runs Through Frigs

This is one band I’m excited to see live when possible; their sound is kinetic, chaotic, melancholic…and amazing! Check out up-and-coming band: Frigs!

FRIGS_3_bluewall-Chelsee_Ivan
Image by Chelsee Ivan

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Arts & Crafts
Release Date: February 23, 2018

Toronto post-punk quartet Frigs—formerly Dirty Frigs—created a charged debut LP that is unapologetically jagged and intensely electrifying. Only on a first name basis through press releases, following their 2016 EP Slush, Frigs—Bria (vocals and guitar), Duncan (guitar), Kris (drums) and Lucas (bass)—return and hit hard on Basic Behaviour. The loud quartet combines noise rock with punk as Bria’s gritty vocals ranges from growls and shouts to sultry calm amping up the already raw music of gnarling guitar, bass and Kris’ primal drums.

Inspiration of post-punks bands of the past is indeed felt but Frigs are simultaneously creating a sound all their own thanks to Bria’s unique melodies and the riotous music. Anxiety, depression, feeling of hopelessness are all themes within the lyrics on Basic Behaviour. Singles “Talking Pictures” and “II” are indeed standout tracks that easily catch your ears for their jangly guitar and haunting melodies. Holding back from no difficult issues Bria takes on rape and assault with “Chest”: angered by the Brock Turner case that made US headlines, the case inspired her lyrics such as: “titles neck, yeah, they watch me/stay asleep as you spoil me.”

“Solid State,” a tongue-in-cheek title for a song that touches on mental instability, is another memorable track as the rolling guitars and interjections of guitar wails and Bria’s soft vocals, for the first time, hide beneath the wall of sound. “Gemini” is unique as the only track that does not scream of ferocity as the quiet song in addition to Bria only includes a quiet keyboard.

All of Basic Behaviour illustrates Frigs’ artistic, avant-punk abilities, but third song “Waste” is a fun epicenter of their possibilities. The 5 minute track undergoes 4 tempo changes as it starts out with a slow, growling bass, flat guitar plucks, a simple slap on the snare and Bria’s dragging, slurring vocals. Then after 2.5 minutes it transitions to a slightly faster tempo as Bria repeats “do you want to talk about it, it’s a waste;” the song picks up and moves even faster with the same lyrics. One last shift occurs as the music ends and Bria screams into the mic and closes the track with “I am a fortune teller, baby” before fading into a rambling.

A raw and solid debut, Basic Behaviour translates anguish into an intense yet catchy album.

DOWNLOAD: “Talking Pictures,” “II,” “Waste”

I think Frigs needs an official video for “Talking Pictures,” just sayin…listen to this blistering track!

Proof Positive Electronic Music Can Be Unique

To the naysayers who believe that electronic music is all the same or “not real music” (just read a few comments on youtube videos…sigh) they’re not listening to the right artists. Joakim is indeed an artist in every sense of the word, from the eclectic sounds he creates down to the cover art for his latest album, Samurai, which is an eye catching photo of him in white makeup akin to the Japanese performance threatre, Butoh. Read more below!

For Blurt Magazine:
Label: Because Music
Release Date: March 17, 2017

French producer/DJ Joakim Bouaziz has released his eighth studio album, Samurai that defies genre labeling and is best described as ‘70s jazz-funk meets ‘80s electronica. Almost an entirely instrumental affair, Samurai feels more like a Ronin as the album drifts rudderless along Joakim’s sonic stream of consciousness. Eclectic does not quite pin down how out there Samurai can become at times. For instance, “Time is Wrong” is a quiet song with simple Rhodes-reminiscent keys accompanied by…Joakim’s warbled vocals that sounds as if he’s singing through a fan underwater. He takes a song that could become a very lovely ballad and adds a weird little twist. This tendency of Joakim’s encompasses the entire album.

Playing with kinetic sounds that jitter and bounce Joakim adds sirens, horns and piano to create delicate music. He will then add his vocals that sound otherworldly, making very few songs sound alike. On “Late Night New City” for instance you can hear elements of the aforementioned ‘70s jazz-funk as a saxophone soars above the fun drum beat, while “Numb” sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to an 80s flick as Devo-esque keys, and android like vocals takes us back to a time when artists were experimenting with all of the electronic sounds hey could curate. And that is precisely what Joakim does on Samurai, play and experiment with sounds.

Opening with the recording of a plane taking off, “In The Beginning” literally launches the album; “Late Night” begins with the sounds of riding in a commuter train; Joakim’s incorporates police sirens, rain drops, wind, and radio static into the songs and as diverse as these sounds are, a jazz inspiration is felt throughout. Title track “Samurai” is perhaps the most mundane on the album, with it’s catchy beat, circling effects and percussion; and, as such, it sounds the most “normal.” But for Joakim, normal is still well crafted. The great track includes horns that add a nice layer to the song and here Joakim’s vocals are not altered as he quietly and effortlessly lifts his voice just above a whisper.

When Joakim does sing elsewhere on the album it’s rarely from the beginning to end of a track. “Not Because You’re Sad” and “Mind Bent” include indecipherable whispers and vocalizations that commence several seconds into the track and rest behind the music. In fact, for “Sad,” Joakim added the small detail of splitting his vocals so that listeners will mostly hear him from the right speaker. Such small details prove the intricacies of his music crafting.

Closing track “Hope/Patience” is an appropriate title to leave listeners with (or perhaps we should’ve taken off from here), this album may not prove to be everyone’s cup of tea and may require a bit of hope and patience to listen to Samurai. Joakim has made an album that is simultaneously familiar yet unique and sets you on a creative sonic journey.

DOWNLOAD: “Samurai,” “Not Because You’re Sad”

Watch the beautiful official video for one of my favorite tracks on the LP, “Samurai.”

Sadness Remains in their Twilight

The Twilight Sad show no signs of bringing the sunshine to their music and we wouldn’t want it any other way! The Scottish band, known for the broodingly fetching dark sounds,  continue down the same path for their fourth album and it’s a good one!

Photo by Nic Shonfeld

For Blurt Magazine:

Album: Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave
Label: Fat Cat
Release Date: October 28, 2014
The Scottish trio is back with their brand of melancholic and dark rock on Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave. For their fourth album lead singer James Graham, guitarist Andy MacFarlane and drummer Mark Devine have returned to their more post-punk sound in comparison to 2012’s No One Can Ever Know, which entered an electronic territory. However, with the loss of two band members, the wall of sound they created is no longer present; Nobody Wants To Leave may not be as formidable, but it’s still menacing.

As a whole the album is quite somber and possesses a mellow thread throughout, with few tracks leaping out of the pack. Instead it’s the subtlety and reserved, dark shifts in tone, or Graham’s unique, nearly inaudible vocals, that tugs at listeners’ ears. Opener “There’s A Girl In The Corner” begins in true Twilight fashion with a simple, slow paced echoed guitar, dark keys and a heavy bass drum. The track’s chorus peaks with a fuzzed out guitar and a loopy synth as Graham repeats “she’s not coming back” for a haunting close. “It Never Was The Same,” “Sometimes I Wished I Could” and the title track are notable songs.

“In Nowheres” and “Nobody” have the heavily distorted guitar of past Twilight efforts. The latter’s simple, repetitive guitar coasts beneath Graham’s vocals before, almost 3 minutes in, the song picks up with an accordion, quiet horn and lead guitar. The understated and well executed change comes just shortly before the track ends. Where the rest of the album resides in Twilight’s stylistic mellow drones, the halfway point introduces “Drown So I Can Watch,” which quite ironically—given the title—is the most fast paced and upbeat track on the album. And in “Sometimes” the rhythmic bass drum is joined by a plucky piano and guitar, Graham’s haunting wails carrying the song to for a calm closing track to the album.

Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave is a welcome return as the band continues to evolve. Though Nobody might not be the album for everyone, given its pervasive gloom, but ultimately Twilight Sad just may have perfected the soundtrack for rainy days.

DOWNLOAD: “There’s A Girl In The Corner,” “Drown So I Can Watch”

Cold War Kids’ Home

Cold War Kids have slowly evolved from the lo-fi, soulful, blues rock over the years with each release; leaning towards a Kids’ filtered pop. With Hold My Home the band returns to the bluesy rock  for which they are known!

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: Downtown
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Cold War Kids
downtownrecords.com

Cold War Kids have returned with the brand of bluesy soul punk from which they diverged with their 2011 LP, Mine is Yours and rediscovered with Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. For their fifth album, Hold My Home, the Kids have created some tracks that are reminiscent to their older sounds that garnered their fanbase. Lyrically the Kids continue to explore insecurities, relationships, and peoples’ conflicting personalities and as with every LP from Cold War Kids, the songs that stand out are those that balance the music with Nathan Willett’s strong vocals.

The moments on Home that work the best are when less layers of sound are used, allowing Willet’s voice to flow with the music rather than create a loud noise to outdo him. Unfortunately the latter is a pattern on Hold My Home with tracks like “Drive Desperate” or “Flower Drum Song;” the chorus doesn’t quite match the catchy, strong beginning or make a cohesive transition. The title track begins with a heavy, fast and punchy bass that gives way to a screeching organ and guitar. Loud can be good, however here it can prove jarring.

Yet the moments on Hold My Home that shine are songs “Go Quietly,” “Nights & Weekends” and the catchy “Hot Coals.” “Go Quietly” begins with a dirty guitar riff and Willets’ voice before opening up to a punchy bass, rolling drums and a falsetto chorus that makes the song. “Nights & Weekends” and the minimalist track “Harold Bloom,” which only includes a calm organ and cymbals, possess a welcoming, laid-back blues vibe. And the energetic “Hot Coals” includes a mid-pitched quickened guitar riff and rumbling bass that will sound familiar to Kids’ fans as Willet sings, “I suspect the reason I am loved is because of how tight I’m holding on.”

Half of Hold My Home includes tracks that may grow on you with time while the other tracks jump out and snare you with their instant appeal.

DOWNLOAD: “Go Quietly,” “Hot Coals”

Museum of Love: Instaclassic

That’s right! I am declaring Museum of Love’s debut  something worth listening and the duo someone worth watching. Though this is their self title debut, Pay Mahoney and Dennis McNany are veteran musicians who know how to craft unique sounds.

I am just going to quote myself here to spell out what I mean, “Museum of Love is a nonformulaic, hard to pin down, quirky and danceable album.” The gents of Museum of Love also create a great visual juxtaposition; in the wrong hands these sounds would be too cool for us to touch yet Museum of Love invites us in with their unique stylings.  What do I mean by this precisely, check out this promo video…

don’t you want to join the debauchery followed by a chill coffee session with these two?!

Here’s a video for one of my favorite tracks on their debut, “Down South.”

For Blurt Magazine:

Label: DFA
Release Date: October 14, 2014
dfarecords.com

After LCD Soundsystem (aka James Murphy) bowed out, many of the musicians who collaborated with Murphy went on to create their own projects: enter former LCD drummer Pay Mahoney. With his friend Dennis McNany the two formed Museum of Love, and for their self titled debut they’ve forged a unique electronic soundscape.

Mahoney’s vocal stylings alter slightly with the feel of each track as his soft, wispy voice balances between singing and spoken word. His lyrical approach fits the underlying melancholy that quietly pervades the album; calmer tracks such as “FATHERS” or “Monotronic” illustrate their knack for creating still, somber tracks that possess a quirky lead synth that lightens the feel. Within the latter track, rolling effects and a simple bass drum lead listeners to the words “I wasn’t made for this much happiness.” As the laid back beat gives way to organ-like keyboards we wait for the song to peak and take off; instead it, remains at its steady pace…and it works.

Static drums and shakers pick up the mellow “Down South” for a sophisticated track as Mahoney croons, “I want to feel in love.” “In Infancy” and “The Who’s Who of Who Cares” are also stand out songs yet the best number on the album holds the most head scratcher of a title, “Learned Helplessness In Rats (Disco Drummer).” Opening with the sound of waves, a steel drum and synth voices, the sounds fade to a deep bass and upbeat drums; it’s utterly entrancing. The album closes with tracks that deviate from the rest of the album; while an edgier rock influenced sound takes over “The Large Glass”—the almost lyrics track features distorted guitars and punk drum beat—closing song “And All The Winners (Fuck You Buddy)” is a ‘70s/soul-inspired number in which Mahoney’s almost falsetto delicately sings “how many ships have sailed and sank for it…fuck you buddy.”

A fine debut that is quite cohesive and flows well from track to track, with the exception of anomaly “Large Glass,” Museum of Love is a nonformulaic, hard to pin down, quirky and danceable album.

DOWNLOAD: “Down South,” “The Who’s Who of Who Cares,” “Learned Helplessness in Rats”

Interpol Paints…

OK! I couldn’t go through with an El Pintor-Spanish for The Painter-metaphor as an opener. Just trust me when I say: Interpol is back and they sound amazing! The gents are in form with their latest, El Pintor, and–if I don’t say so myself–have out-shined their last release, 2010’s Interpol. Where I walked away pocketing a few favorite songs from Interpol (2010) I find myself enjoying this whole album, rarely skipping ahead to the next track, a rare feat in this mp3 age.

Press Photo: Matador Records

For Blurt Magazine:

Album: El Pintor
Label: Matador Records
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Four years have passed since 2010’s Interpol and the departure of bassist Carlos Dengler; for their fifth LP Interpol simultaneously maintain their charged, melancholic rock and tread new grounds. El Pintor is the first album without Dengler’s contribution and the first time lead singer Paul Banks plays both guitar and bass; despite the loss of a band member the post-punk sounds remain as beefy, loud and moody as ever.

El Pintor is not Antics or Turn on the Bright Lights, there are not as many immediate hooks and riffs that were present on these earlier releases; instead, the solid music on El Pintor unveils a nuanced mellowing that has taken over the last two releases from Interpol. Thankfully Banks, Daniel Kessler and Samuel Fogarino have perked up since their 2010 album and have created a louder, more upbeat soundscape for listeners…as upbeat as our melancholic trio will allow, this is Interpol after all.

Kessler continues to create a separate landscape with his piercing lead guitar that adds a detailed accent to each track, “Same Town, New Story,”“My Desire,”“Tidal Wave”and “Twice As Hard”are prime examples. Fogarino’s skilled drumming is best heard on “Anywhere”as he changes the fast pace of the song ever so slightly and leads us to a smoother chorus that booms with his drum rolls. The bass heavy “Everything Is Wrong”is one of the catchiest tracks on the album and the words “Everything is wrong, truly wrong”never sounded so appealing. The one downfall to the piercingly loud executed music, Banks’vocals are drowned out but the themes of love, longing, sadness and a sense of foreboding are not lost.

DOWNLOAD: “Everything is Wrong,” “Anywhere,” “My Desire”

Liars’ Amazing Mess

You cannot help but to get excited when listening to Liars’s newest album, Mess! A great, ever-evolving band, Liars has always maintained their dirty-punk sounds but have added more electronica over the years and have done a ridiculously amazing job on this album. Even when they slow things down with less layered songs, the result-entrancing! Be sure to follow what Liars is up to, you will not be disappointed!

Liars
Liars press image for Mess by Zen Sekizawa

For Blurt Mag:

Label: Mute, http://www.mute.com

The creative electronic, noise trio makes a triumphant return with their seventh full length, Mess. Liars continues to wade in the melancholic, electro-dance-punk waters as they amp up the noise even more. Lead singer, Angus Andrew vocals are nearly inaudible for the entire album as they are processed through sound effects but this factor adds to the multiple layers of each song and fits the dirty, gritty feel of the appropriately named Mess. From the eerie, echo-y sounds of “Perpetual Village” that conjure images of the guys recording in an anchored, rusty ship to the upbeat, charged and catchy single “Mess on a Mission,”

From the first note Liars proves fun and entertaining as the album opens to a maniacally deep, robotic voice commanding, “Take my pants off.” We already know a good time is about to begin. “Mask Maker” could prove disturbing as the voice continues with “take my face off/give me your face” but this possibly macabre translation is lost into the hypnotic effects and dance beats that build for nearly 2 minutes before Andrew begins singing. Andrew’s deep vocals complement the dark, noisy sounds he and Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross produced together, “VOX Tuned D.E.D.,” “Can’t Hear Well,” and the menacing “Pro Anti-Anti.” In fact, all of Mess has an enjoyably menacing feel that will prove inviting to Liars fans and new listeners alike.

Simply put, Mess is a damn good album!

DOWNLOAD: “VOX Tuned D.E.D.,” “Mess On A Mission,” “Dress Walker”