[All hail Metz. Also, all hail this Metz tee shirt, which is appropriate to wear absolutely nowhere.]
OK, I gotta get this one done quick - the stamps have let me out of my cage just long enough for me to stretch my legs and get a drink of water. Let's do this.
THE BEST (AND WORST) ALBUMS OF 2015, pt. II
The King Khan and BBQ Show - Bad News Boys-- Reunion album for these garage-soul bad boy lifers. For all of their public bickering and onstage meltdowns, the fact that remains that the much of the best music *both* has made throughout their prolific careers has been in the company of one another. Grade: B-
Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire-- Ya had to laugh when purists fretted about Lightning Bolt's decision to finally record an album in a proper recording studio. What did people expect, a fucking No Doubt record?! Fortunately, the material on Fantasy Empire fits in nicely with much of Lightning Bolt's previous output, with the benefit of a little added clarity and dynamics. (Not to mention what's likely the best song of the year.) Grade: B
Liturgy - The Ark Work -- This is either one of the worst albums I've ever heard, or another chapter in what just might be the greatest troll in history. (Either way, trust me, you don't want to listen to it.) The ever-irascible Triple H has incorporated all manner of cheap, shitty-sounding keyboard effects here, while somehow transforming Greg Fox' once-mighty drum sound into something that makes the production on St. Anger sound like a job well done. Grade: F
Lower Dens - Escape From Evil -- It's a little disappointing that as the proper follow-up to their their deep, dark, thrilling breakthrough album (2012's Nootropics), Lower Dens has settled for more conventional songwriting and occasionally aimless, bland melodies. But this one is growing on me. Grade: B-
Metz - II -- True, Metz does only one thing, but they do that one thing better than any other band does ANYTHING. Just a devastatingly awesome sonic assault, and the likely Album of the Year. Grade: A
Mike Pace and the Child Actors - Best Boy -- Pleasant, wistful power pop from the former Oxford Collapse main man. Nothing on here manages to approximate the infectious awesomeness of Oxford Collapse's landmark (well, at least in my mind) Remember the Night Parties album, but it's still a decent listen. Grade: C+
My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall -- This is the type of Dad Rock you listen to if you really want your kids to think you're a total pussy. Grade: F
Palma Violets - Danger in the Club -- The Palmas' debut, 180, was a surprise success on the back of countless, uh, "repurposed" '70s UK post-punk riffs. Now that these blokes have actually gotten around to writing their own riffs, the results are predictable. Grade: D
Pelican - The Cliff -- The title track (and centerpiece) of this EP includes vocals, an anomaly in Pelican's nearly entirely instrumental / post-metal catalog. Amazing, then, that the lyrics (written from the point of view of a creepy, desperate man, seemingly on the precipice of committing a violent act against the unwilling object of his affections) hits the nail on the head so perfectly. Grade: B
A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation -- Amazingly, probably their noisiest, most feedback-scarred release ever, and it's a good look for them. Best APTBS album overall since 2009's Exploding Head. Grade: B-
Ok, that's it for now. Will try to wrap this up next week, or not. Memphis tomorrow!
An outstanding rock record in an era when such things are increasingly rare. Although Adam Granduciel's Tom Petty fetish is obvious throughout Lost in the Dream, he exhibits an uncanny ability to avoid sounding clicheed in a domain that seemingly has little virgin territory. Beyond his songcraft (and even his singing voice), this is Granduciel's greatest debt to Petty.
2.) Dope Body - Lifer
Those who simply lump Dope Body in with the new wave of 90s noise rock revivalists are missing a major point. Yes, there are plenty of AmRep and Touch and Go-indebted idiosyncracies embedded throughout Lifer, but I dare anyone to show me an album by the likes of Drive Like Jehu, Polvo or The Jesus Lizard that is anywhere near as hooky as this one.
3.) The Austerity Program - Beyond Calculation
Several degrees of magnitude more intense, furious, and generally awesome than two geniuses with a drum machine have any right being.
4.) Beck - Morning Phase
Taken as a companion piece to 2002's Sea Change, Morning Phase manages to deal with similar topics (heartbreak, loneliness, growin' old) without being as overbearingly morose as Sea Change. Much unlike its predecessor, Morning Phase actually winds up with a vaguely pleasant, positive overall tone.
5.) Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket - In a Dutch Haze
As the story goes, Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell was unable to make it to the gig at which this album was recorded, allowing Heavy Blanket's J Mascis (also of Dinosaur Jr, natch) and Graham Clise the opportunity to save the day in Mitchell's stead. What results is nearly an hour of pure, explosive, unbridled improv, even more berserk and unhinged than a typical Earthless live joint. Yes, there's some sloppiness and wheel-spinning on here, but the peaks on this match the most frenzied jamming from Earthless' proper catalog.
6.) The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi
While little has changed with the compositional style and framework behind Sune Rose Wagner's melodic surf-noir mini masterpieces, his eagerness to experiment with varied instrumentation gives Pe'ahi a different flavor than all previous Ravonettes releases. This time around, the subject matter touches on the recent passing of Wagner's estranged, alcoholic father, giving much of the material a particularly caustic bite.
7.) The Men - Tomorrow's Hits
After a bevy of releases featuring styles ranging from explosive noise to kraut-everything to acoustic folk, these shape-shifting Brooklyn punks (*former* punks?!) can credibly add "70s Classic Rock FM Radio" to the list of genres they've successfully conquered.
8.) Todd Terje - It's Album Time
If you're the type of bitter old curmudgeon who hates young whippersnappers *and* their crappy, soulless EDM, fear not - this is an electronic album that you can really (choose one: a.) sink your dentures into; b.) wrap your adult diaper around; c.) stir into your high-fiber supplement beverage so as to provide superior flavor). It's Album Time mixes legit bangers with cool downtempo shit and enough cleverness and humor to make even the most geriatric old-timer respect (and love!) our robot ovelords.
9.)Bobby Bare, Jr. - Undefeated
The perennially underrated alt-country lifer finds songwriting inspiration in love and loss (in particular, the dissolution of his relationship as depicted in the documentary, Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost)), interminable, low-reward touring, and the inherent sadness of absentee fatherhood. But it's not all doom and gloom; "North of Alabama by Morning" is a tale of dogged perseverence, and album closer "Don't Stand at the Stove" is an undeniable barn-burning rocker.
10.) (the) Melvins - Hold It In
You'd think that the Melvins joining forces with Butthole Surfers Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary would result in some epic weirdness, but oddly the opposite happens. While Hold It In is one of the two or three least experimental / most straightforward studio efforts in the Melvins' 30-plus year history, something something bone-crushing riffs, something something hilarious song titles.
11.) Guided by Voices - Cool Planet
12.) Perfume Genius - Too Bright
13.) Haunted Hearts - Initiation
14.) Pelican - Arktika
15.) Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
16.) Hookworms - The Hum
17.) Mogwai - Rave Tapes
18.) Guided by Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit
19.) Early Man - Thank God You've Got the Answers for All of Us
20.) Floor - Oblation
21.) Queen - Live at the Rainbow
22.) Mogwai - Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1 EP
Holy schnikies, has it been nearly five months already since my last Jalepzerz post?! Sure, time has passed, seasons have changed, and adult beverages have been consumed en masse, but honestly I still have no friggin' clue how often I'm going to be able to write for this blog going forward. Sobeit. Regardless, this past weekend, when it's disgustingly humid out and I'm dealing with the tail end of a nasty case of WookFlu, might as well fire up some of the ol' keyboard tap-tap-taparoo.
Oh, yeah - I should have a bunch of show reviews from Summer Tour coming up in the weeks ahead, but for now I'm'a try to tackle some of the best non-Phish stuff of the year. As such, here's the 10 best albums of the year, in approximate best-to-least-best order. There's obviously a ton of potentially great albums coming out over these next few months (Death From Above 1979, Melvins, Perfume Genius, etc.), so it's pretty likely this list will look much different at year's end, yadda yadda yadda.
The 10 Best Albums of 2014, So Far.
The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream -- An outstanding rock record, during an era in which such things are increasingly rare. Although Adam Granduciel's Tom Petty fetish is evident throughout, Granduciel has an uncanny ability to avoid sounding clicheed in a domain that seemingly has little virgin territory. Beyond his songcraft (and even his singing voice), this is Granduciel's greatest debt to Petty.
Earthless - In a Dutch Haze -- As the story goes, at the last minute Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell was unable to make it to the show at which this was recorded, allowing Heavy Blanket's J Mascis (also of Dinosaur Jr, natch) and Graham Clise the opportunity to save the day. What results is nearly an hour of pure, explosive, unbridled improv, even more berserk and unhinged than a typical Earthless live joint. Yes, there's some sloppiness and spinning of wheels on here, but the peaks on this match the most frenzied jamming from Earthless' proper catalog.
Beck - Morning Phase -- Taken as a companion piece to 2002's Sea Change, Morning Phase manages to deal with similar topics (heartbreak, loneliness, growin' old) without being as overbearingly morose, actually winding up with a vaguely inspirational overall tone.
The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi -- While little has changed in the way that Sune Rose Wagner composes his melodic surf-noir mini masterpieces, his willingness to experiment with varied instrumentation gives Pe'ahi a different flavor than all previous Ravonettes releases. This time around, the subject matter touches on the recent passing of Wagner's estranged, alcoholic father, giving some of the material (in particular "Summer Ends") a caustic bite.
The Men - Tomorrow's Hits -- Although a few of the moments on Tomorrow's Hits seem a little bit trite (the horns on "Another Night," in particular) these shape-shifting (former??) Brooklyn punks can credibly add "70s FM Radio" to their list of conquered genres.
The Austerity Program - Beyond Calculation -- Infinitely more intense, furious, and generally awesome than two geniuses with a drum machine have any right being.
Todd Terje - It's Album Time -- To me at least, it's high praise to mention that several of these songs could be easily mistaken for alternate backing tracks from Gorillaz' excellent Plastic Beach album. It's Album Time is relentlessly diverse, reimagining the best work of contemporary electronic artists (Holy Fuck, Maserati, Ratatat before they jumped the shark), tipping its cap to classic '80s synthpop sounds, as well as indulging in other assorted playful goofiness.
Bobby Bare, Jr. - Undefeated -- The perennially underrated alt-country lifer finds songwriting inspiration in heartbreak (in particular, the dissolution of his relationship as depicted in the documentary, Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost)), interminable, low-reward touring, and the inherent sadness of absentee fatherhood. But it's not all doom and gloom; "North of Alabama by Morning" is a tale of dogged perseverence, and album closer "Don't Stand at the Stove" is an undeniable barn-burning rocker.
Sharon Van Etten - Are We There -- Three major features set Sharon Van Etten apart from generic confessional coffeehouse claptrap. First, her lyrics are so deeply evocative and self-deprecating that hearing them can, at times, be uncomfortable. Second, she possesses a singing voice gorgeous enough to swath her pointed words in soothing honey. Third, she has an uncommon gift for pop songwriting unmatched by other current artists with the dreaded "singer-songwriter" tag (this album would be worth it for the incredible "Tarifa" alone).
Guided by Voices - Cool Planet -- basically a toss-up here between Cool Planet and GbV's *other* 2014 release, Motivational Jumpsuit, this one gets the nod due to superior contributions from GbV second-fiddle Tobin Sprout. Yes, GbV's musical landscape is dotted with all manner of in-jokes and throwaways, but to those who have the necessary patience, that just makes discovering their diamonds in the rough all that much more rewarding.
Honorable mention: Guided by Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit; Haunted Hearts - Initiation; Floor - Oblation; Swans - To Be Kind; Pelican - Arktika; Low Fat Getting High - Poor Circulation; Mogwai - Rave Tapes; Death Vessel - Island Intervals.
"How bad did this year suck?" you ask. Well, it sucked so bad that I had to change the rules to where live albums are disqualified just to keep an archival live release from being my Album of the Year. Why did I feel the need to even bother tweaking the formula? I DON'T FUCKING KNOW!!!!! So, I guess, congrats to Phish for having the year's best release overall. Huzzah!
Anyway, let's have at it, shall we........
1.) ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Deafheaven - Sunbather
A gorgeous, terrifying, exhausting album - casual listening this is not. While retaining the unrelenting brutality of black metal as the musical underpinning, Sunbather adds gorgeous, melodic guitar lines reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky, ratcheting up the drama with a keen Mogwai-esque understanding of how to manipulate quiet / loud dynamics.
2.)Ceramic Dog - Your Turn
This is a helluva album, and it's also a helluva unexpected album. It's incredibly rare that a musician who has attained Marc Ribot's level of success and renown in the jazz world chooses to express himself artistically in a manner that's as angry, ornery, and loud as Your Turn, but it's not simply experimenting with a mode of expression that's a triumph here; it's that the album is a smashing success. Your Turn takes its detours down several stylistc alleys (heavy blues / hard rock, grunge, distorted fusion jams reminiscent of late-period Hendrix, and even a cacophonous, distortion-heavy update of a classic jazz tune) while streamlining the more freeform, scattershot approach taken on the trio's more noodly previous album, Party Intellectuals.
Ribot's tone on Your Turn is furious, his desire to rock is unwaveringly unapologetic, and the music's heavy grooves are arresting. So, listen to this if you like great music, otherwise feel free to go fuck yourself.
3.) Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels
If you're skeptical of yet another posthumous Hendrix release, you should be; the list of "archival" stuff that's been pinched off in the 43 years since Hendrix' death is littered with shoddy quality bootleg material and inessential, often redundant crap, the sheer quantity of which greatly outpaces the (occasionally transcendent) worthwhile stuff by a large margin. Sure, I'm definitely a sucker for unreleased / archival stuff, but this release works surprisingly well on its own as a cohesive album. Comprised mostly of material Hendrix was working on as a follow up to Electric Ladyland, People, Hell and Angels allows the listener a rare glimpse at what might have been had Hendrix' appetite for heroin and pills been less fiendish.
4.) Palma Violets - 180
Earlier this year, Palma Violets were apparently the subject of the creepy-ass UK music press' embarrassing crush; of course, if you're actually regularly reading the NME you've likely already lost the battle. Regardless, this album is a real success, incorporating classic chord progressions, strong melodies, and a warm, inviting garagey sound into their sonic stew. Where many indie acts seem to be self-consciously stuck playing small ball, 180 is unafraid to swing for the fences, evoking the work of several of music's heavy hitters (J&MC, Stone Roses, Velvets, even Springsteen) without being dominated by their influences.
5.)The Men - New Moon
The Men are a band that's seemingly always in the middle of significant stylistic flux, and growing pains are to be expected as a side effect of significant experimentation. New Moon sees them attempting to situate their music on an AM AOR station circa 1976. But for all the genre hopping that they've done over the course of their relatively brief career, to their credit these guys seem like real students (and practitioners) of "what makes rock music great," instead of simply hipster dilettantes.
These guys have pretty much nailed it. On each of Russian Circles' albums, they've managed to sound as though their distinctive post-metal / "instru-metal" awesomeness is the type of music that they and they alone were born to play. Their style is characterized by brutal tremolo picking, soaring arpeggios, sludge, occasional thrashy licks, and dreamy, shoegazy moments that can run the gamut from despairing to downright gorgeous. Memorial leans most heavily (pun intended) on the former and the latter as dominant styles, and although those uplifting arpeggios are in short supply here (except on the damn near perfect "Ethel"), these guys do "moody" very, very well.
Big Business - Battlefields Forever
Seriously, how hooky can an album be and still be considered "sludge?" On their first full-length since 2009, Big Business' songwriting chops reach new heights, intensified by full, rich production and a brawny guitar tone which will make the listener forget Toshi's irritating, overly-arty bleats on Mind the Drift. Too early to say yet, but this may be Big Business' finest release to date.
Pelican - Forever Becoming
You can be forgiven for feeling that each of Pelican's releases since 2007's excellent City of Echoes has seemed a little bit uninspired. In a case of addition by subtraction (and then another addition), Pelican recently switched out a band member whose interest in the project was flagging and followed that up by instituting a new "band-centric" style of songwriting. Although the end product isn't as vital as their classic work (City of Echoes, Australasia, and The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw in that order, IMHO), they've recaptured the energy and the bone-crushingly anthemic songwriting chops that made those albums so damn enjoyable.
Melvins - Tres Cabrones
This configuration of the constantly shape-shifting Melvins (Buzz on guitar and vocals, "original" Melvins drummer Mike Dillard behind the kit, and longtime Melvins drummer extraordinaire Dale Crover on bass, if you can believe it) was originally to be dubbed "Melvins 1983," signifying that this was likely as close as the band would get to playing with its "original" lineup from 30 years ago. Knowing Dale and his polyrhythmic prowess wouldn't be bashin' the skins this time around, Buzz wrote simpler songs to match the personnel, and what we have here is probably the most straightforward Melvins album (whatever the hell that means) you're likely ever to hear at this point. Well, straightforward, yeah, except for the absurd covers of "99 Bottles of Beer," "You're In the Army Now," and, I shit you not, "Tie My Pecker to a Tree."
I, for one, think this was a fine year for music. I've been called out for giving out too many B+'s amongst my album grades over the last few months, but, if you think about it, it makes sense: at this point, I'm not going out of my way to listen to albums I think are going to be horrible. There are at least, what, 40-50 acts every year that are going to put out albums that I'm going to listen very closely to just based on my previous history enjoying the work of said acts; the rest of the stuff I end up hearing is based on either a (well-informed, I'd like to think) hunch or ideas from friends (usually Beafvy and Bricer). Again, it's not like I'm going around listening to the new Danielson or Grizzly Bear or Best Coast or Vivian Girls or whatever just so I can write something snarky and rubber stamp a "D-" on that garbage. Believe it or not, my time is actually worth more than that.
When 2012 was all said and done, I heard nearly 80 albums, with the final one being the EP Mogwai sneakily released this morning (spoiler alert: it's not worth spending actual money on). The majority of the albums listed below reached double digits in my play count on iTunes.
So, here's the list, unadorned by such frivolities as relevant information about the albums, cover art, or helpful links that would make it easier to locate the individual album reviews, wherever they may be on this site. [EDIT: fixed that.] I'd love to dress this post up and make it a little less bare-bones, but I'll be heading towards JFK in a few short hours, so yer on yer own.
So that's it for now, and I'll check in with y'all before Phish's upcoming 4-night run at MSG (unofficially titled "Four Bros, Four Shows"). HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
So, my goal was to post reviews for every '12 album I heard (about 80 or so) before posting year-end lists, but that ain't gonna happen, so here you have the first part of the "Jaleppies," aka my year-end best-of lists. Part 2 will probably be published Wednesday morning and will consist of the year's best albums, and Part 3 will be random stuff. Enjoy! (Or don't! I don't care! I'll be in Puerto Rico beetches!)
[Note that in a few of the entries below, two songs have been combined into one single entry. You can probably figure out why, but just in case you can't, it's because the songs run together on the album and as such they sound dumb when played apart from one another. Thank you for your patience and understanding.]
1.) Fang Island - "Asunder" (edit)
2.) Lower Dens - "Lamb"
3.) Melvins - "We Are Doomed"
4.) Lower Dens - "Brains" > "Stem"
[Note - I shot this video]
5.) Dan Friel - "Valedictorian"
6.) Tame Impala - "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"
7.) Torche - "Kicking"
8.) Guided by Voices - "Keep It in Motion" > "Tyson's High School"
9.) The Men - "Oscillation"
10.) Dum Dum Girls - "Mine Tonight"
11.) Beach House - "Myth"
12.) Raveonettes - "Young and Cold"
13.) The Men - "Turn it Around"
14.) Melvins - "The War on Wisdom"
15.) Baroness - "Green Theme"
16.) Two Gallants - "Willie"
17.) Sleigh Bells - "Comeback Kid"
18.) Mount Carmel - "Swaggs"
19.) Pelican - "Ataraxia" > "Lathe Biosas"
20.) Fang Island - "Chompers"
21.) Tame Impala - "Music to Walk Home By"
22.) Guided by Voices - "Hangover Child"
23.) Van Halen - "She's the Woman"
24.) Six Organs of Admittance - "Even if You Knew"
Mark Sultan - War on Rock N' Roll -- This is a recording of Mark Sultan's full live set, captured at a club in Brazil, and it's available for free download here. [Yes, this originally came out in 2011, but I believe somebody put out a physical copy of it this year for Record Store Day, and since I didn't hear of this in '11, it gets reviewed here.] As per ushe, Sultan manages to stir up quite an unholy racket, especially considering that he performs one-man-band style, singing and playing guitar while playing drums and other assorted percussion with his feet.
Now, I've long been a sucker for Mark Sultan's particular blend of doo-wop and dirty garage, but I can see how approaching an unlabeled 50 minute slab of his live material (that's what War on Rock and Roll is) might be a bit daunting for the uninitiated or the casual Sultan fan. So, if you want to check out a few representative tracks of his before taking the plunge on War on Rock and Roll, here's a woefully incomplete list of what he plays on this: "Keep 'em Satisfied pt. 1," "I'll Be Loving You," "Keep 'em Satisfied pt. 2," "Third Avenue," "I Am the End," "We're Sinking," "Nobody But You."
[As a bonus, here's video I shot of him back in May, performing the aforementioned "I'll Be Loving You:"]
Pelican - Ataraxia / Taraxis EP -- The first two songs on this EP are probably as close to the mighty Mogwai as Pelican have ever gotten on record, mirroring "Auto Rock" > "Glasgow Mega Snake" from Mogwai's criminally underrated "Mr. Beast" album. The other two songs on here are kinda meh.
Best songs: The opening salvo of "Ataraxia" into "Lathe Biosas."
Robert Pollard - Mouseman Cloud-- Hmmmmmm. I really don't want to interrupt the great flow of positive mojo Bob's accrued this year, so let's just say "stick with the three GbV albums he's put out this year, fair listener." Move along; there's nothing more to see here.
Best song: "Obvious #1."
Torche - Harmonicraft -- Since Steve Brooks started Torche (or even before Torche, if you consider his time fronting Florida sludge legends Floor in the '90s thru the early aughts), he has been on a steady trajectory that's somehow managed to make each successive Torche release both hookier and faster at the same time. These are very good things, and this is a very good album.
Best songs: "Kicking," "Letting Go," and "Snakes are Charmed" for starters, but this is a really, really consistent release.
Well, so much for getting reviews done in a timely fashion. I guess it makes it kind of difficult when I'm seeing a new show pretty much every night (yeah, I know, cry me a freakin' river), and when I don't really get up until like 10:30 or so every day (*YAWN*. Have I mentioned that retirement's awesome?). As I sit here right now, my apartment has reached a level of filthiness heretofore unimagined. I should be cleaning, or even more importantly at the gym, but I've got Social D tonight and I can't risk pulling a hammy or wrenching my back before then.
So, yeah, frickin' Pelican, d()()d. Their new record, City of Echoes is fantastic. Since I'm such a sucker for post-rock/post-metal type bands it's pretty embarrassing for me to admit that it's the first album I've heard by Pelican, but whatever, I've just got some catching up to do. On that tip, overall I'd have to say that Pelican's sound pretty much evenly splits the uprights between Explosions in the Sky and Russian Circles -- incredibly emotive and expressive without being the least bit wimpy, and still unafraid to finger-tap and do some serious chug-chugga-chug riffing. As such, Pelican just might be the perfect band.
Hopped in the car and headed in for the evening. Parked on Delancey below Essex and headed up to Bowery Ballroom... a pleasant evening! After quickly buying a Pelican CD at the merch table, I ran up the stairs just in time to see Priestbird take the stage. Before even so much as playing a single note, these bastards had already established their hilarious / 70sish hard rock cred, thanks to the following : 1.) transparent, rainbow-colored drum set 2.) double-neck guitar/bass 3.) cello! 4.) at least one band member who looked like he should be in Brightblack Morning Light 5.) singing drummer 6.) blonde, curly semi-mullet 7.) GONG!
I dug these guys and they were pretty entertaining, although they drifted a bit too frequently into total nebulousness (nebulosity?) to really be _totally_ awesome. I was really impressed that they found a way to amplify the cello to where it wasn't totally drowned out by the dude on the double-neck, while still not being eardrum-splittingly shrill. And the drumming was spectacular. Basically, the double-neck guy's clean tone left open spaces for the one-man string section to really shine, and in turn the cello really added an element of creepiness to the heavy riffing sections. These fellows definitely have their chops, that's for damn sure.
Earth was up next. To my knowledge, Earth is semi-famous for two things: 1.) inspiring the fuck out of the guys in SunnO))) and 2.) guitarist Dylan Carlson was Kurt Cobain's best friend during high school. Me likey droney, repetitive stuff, and I came away from these guys with an appreciation for their ability to play SLOOOOOOWLY and not rush the tempo. Having never heard any of their shit before, I was expecting more of a low-end Absolutego-style sludgefest, which thankfully wound up not being Earth's bag at all; Carlson's tone evokes a demented, twanged minimalism, with many songs seemingly consisting of elements of one chord, fleshed out through patience and repetition. Really nowhere near as heavy as I'd anticipated -- kind of like an Endless Boogie record played at half-speed. Dug it.
Pelican was up next and goddamn did they hit the nail right on the head. Just simply some great guitar work, at times gentle and plaintive while at other times absolutely bone-crushingly brutal. I wisely was standing right in front of the dude playing the SG, so watching homeboy's fingers tarantula-ing up and down the fretboard took my mind off the drummer's, um, "creative" timekeeping. I was shocked that the crowd up front was mostly young kids, with few of my fellow heshers around. But who the heck cares, I'm used to being outnumbered at concerts, and if the kids these days are listening to good tunes like this, then all the better.
Before the amps had died down following the encore, the dude playing the SG ran downstairs to man the merch table and I followed suit, buying a *second* CD and a tour poster. As usual, I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say other than "great fuckin' set, man," but honestly that's probably all that needed to be said anyway. Great fuckin' set, man, indeed.