…there is not a band left standing that can rival Swans for ambition in our post-millennial wasteland. Musically and lyrically, on record and in their live performances, they reach farther and dig deeper than anyone else making music today. The Seer alone would have been sufficient proof of this; that they have given us a record every bit The Seer’s equal a mere two years later is almost grotesque. Enough has been said about Swans’ remarkable comeback this decade, and in any case, I’m not the person to say it—the important point here is that To Be Kind is as vital and unsettling as anything they’ve ever done, and displays a mastery of their craft that seems almost automatic at this point.
Perhaps because the Old 97’s are a band that takes music so seriously as a full time job, they also value consistency over everything else; while some of Most Messed Up definitely goes out on a limb, it isn’t long before it edges back into safer territory. This album continues in the tradition of witty, melodic, rollicking Old 97’s records, but also offers a measure of truly interesting insight and atmosphere, making it a must-listen in the canon of rock music about rock musicians.
Ghost Stories, while suitably lame—like, efficiently so, the work of a band actively keeping up with its lack of cool—is also a pretty record, and a strangely sympathetic one. The lack of insistence is inviting, and the fact Martin has little impulse to get these songs on the radio (except once, but that’s cool) will make it the first Coldplay record in a while to ask what you think of it. And while I can see the bile it’s received in some corners as indicative of being bored of having to belong to the same country as a band this continually popular, and the indifference in others a result of liking Justin Vernon and whiskey more than Chris Martin and water, I’ll take Ghost Stories as a minor triumph.
“Boon studied art in college and dropped out because he didn’t want to end up using his art for commercial purposes. Watt studied electronics and never did it for a living because the only electronics jobs were in the defense industry. Punk rock was a godsend for their ethics. Maybe even a reward. ‘Sometimes you have to act out your dream, because circumstances can get you crammed down,’ says Watt. ‘And instead of getting angry and jealous of what they got, why not get artistic about it and create a little work site, a little fiefdom. As long as it don’t oppress anybody or something, I think it’s kind of healthy.’”—I’ve read the Minutemen chapter of Our Band Could Be Your Life so many times and this part always gets me. (via slantedandenchanted)
Dream Sequins® feels like a culmination of its various touchstones […] It turns modernity’s constant stream of media into a hazy trip, like the dream your subconscious would produce if you fell asleep with a radio, television, and looping DVD menu all playing at the same time. Pieces of the din are isolated, de-contextualized, and allowed to bleed in to each other, forming something hellish and seductive, gorgeous and a little terrifying, comfortable nostalgia spat back grotesque and caricatured.
If one can manage to listen to Say Yes to Love removed from the astonishingly thorough contextualization of the record and its authors’ ethical-punk bona fides, its songs work well enough for what they are—all trebly bluster, Graves’s atonal vocals barreling past in a flatly mixed noise-pop cloud, as breezy as dissonant music can be. The tracks blur together so much that you may not know when one begins and another ends, though this seems like a purposeful elision, giving the sense the record comes all in one breath, Graves inhaling deeply in the first moments of “Driver” and pushing the rest from her lungs until she’s blue in the face by the end of side B. It’s fast. It’s loud. Graves, when you can parse her words, sounds alternately furious or earnest or some combination of both. It is, in other words, 2014’s latest iteration of hardcore.
Featuring: Circulatory System, Nmesh, Todd Terje, Millie & Andrea, Andrew Broder, Aesop Rock, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Prodigy & Alchemist, Raekwon, The Range, Matthewdavid, Blue Sky Black Death, Teebs, Fatima Al Qadiri, Fennesz, Klara Lewis, Hauschka, and The Body.