Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - January 2020


Written by: RaduP, Abattoir, musclassia
Published: 26.02.2020


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - January 2020
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews

Sorry for the delay, but we're finally here with 2020s first batch of non-metal album in case you got some time off from your MSA listening.

The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here are our previous features:

December 2019
November 2019
October 2019

And now to the music...








Bohren & Der Club Of Gore - Patchouli Blue
[Dark Ambient | Dark Jazz]

Patchouli Blue is album number nine for Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, but acts as my introduction to the group. However, this may not be the case for many of our readers, as this German band was formed by members with backgrounds in hardcore and metal, and their music is sufficiently dark and contemplative that I imagine it would appeal to a sizeable portion of the userbase. Primarily comprised of slow, moody ambient soundscapes (the crawling drums remind me of later Earth) over which subtly phrased saxophone soulfully cries out, there is also tasteful implementation of piano, electric guitar and vibraphone, amongst other instruments, across the album. Collectively, this melancholic, subdued ambient jazz sound at times reminds me of parts of Vangelis's Blade Runner soundtrack, albeit with a more muted yet more soulful approach.

Probably the only notable complaint that could be made about Patchouli Blue is a slight lack of diversity in approach given its lengthy runtime; the glacial pace, serene backdrops and sad saxophone are consistent features throughout, and there are typically only minor differences on a song-by-song basis, meaning that tracks have a tendency to blend together. However, this could be argued to be a virtue, as it allows the listener to get lost in the experience, and what an enchanting experience it is.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Jeff Parker - Suite For Max Brown
[Jazz Fusion]

Rising to prominence as the guitarist of post-rock innovators Tortoise, Jeff Parker has subsequently established himself as a force to be reckoned with in a number of projects and as a solo artist, delivering a rather unique and avant-garde style of jazz on Suite For Max Brown, a tribute to Parker's mother. Perhaps the most effective vehicle for his guitar work on the album is "3 For L", which features an extended guitar solo over rather free-form drumming. However, although Parker's work as a guitarist impresses on Suite, it is the arrangement of the music here that is arguably more noteworthy; he uses hip-hop-inspired loops and samples as a base for improvisation on many tracks, drawing on prior experience as a DJ.

The variety of approaches and ideas on Suite For Max Brown is striking; the contrast between the sedate, oscillating opener "Build A Nest" and the bustling energy of the frantic bassline that underpins "Fusion Swirl" sets the tone for the remainder of the record, as does the brief interlude between these two tracks, "C'mon Now", which sounds as if it would've been right at home on DJ Shadow's Endtroducing.... There are several other shorter tracks on Suite For Max Brown, demonstrating Parker's willingness to allocate as much or little time as necessary for each idea. At the other end of the spectrum, the record is rounded out by the 10-minute closer "Max Brown", a very improvisational-sounding collection of trumpet and saxophone solos that still retains the charm of the remainder of the album.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Squarepusher - Be Up A Hello
[Acid Techno | IDM]

Squarepusher has been around for a really long time, but somehow despite his universal praise, he's never really gotten as much attention as his peers in Autechre or Aphex Twin. His constant playing with IDM by infusing jungle, drum & bass, acid techno, nu jazz, and so on. He's never really been one to repeat himself too much, so now on Be Up A Hello, his first album in five years, he somehow goes back, but not to rehash his older work, but to explore some of that old hardware and those old rave sounds.

The result is pretty mixed, albeit pretty fun. It's certainly an album that you have to be in the right mood to really appreciate. Combining the complex and ever-changing rhythms and measures of IDM with some genuinely goofy sounds in songs that are supposedly more "one-take" in execution is something that not a lot of people can really make to work, and if someone like Squarepusher can only make something like Be Up A Hello out of it, it's probably for the best that no others attempt it. It's an album that certainly has its moments, but not a career highlight.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Dan Deacon - Mystic Familiar
[Neo-Psychedelia | Indietronica]

Dan Deacon makes some of the most joy-inspiring transcendental music in a way that really shouldn't work as well as it does. Mystic Familiar feels absolutely grand all of the time, with its neo-psychedelia feeling like a complete dreamlike state of euphoria all of the time, despite it not really feeling necessarily drug-induced, but more like a man completely enamored with life. Self-described as his most "emotionally open" record, Mystic Familiar finds Dan Deacon being as bold with his music as he is with his emotions.

It's so great to find a synth record where the synths don't feel retro at all, even if some can feel either early 00s indietronica or early 70s krautrock inspired, Dan Deacon makes each sound his own, to give us the perfect image of his twisted jovial world. Bright and full of minimalism that feels maximalist, very tightly performed and feeling more humane than most previous Dan Deacon releases, so the promise is delivered on. And to have that constantly flowing through the pulsating synths and construction and deconstruction of textures? Yes, please!

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Caspian - On Circles
[Post-Rock]

Caspian's first record in five years, On Circles makes its mark early on with the impressively evocative opener "Wildblood", powered by emphatic percussion and stirring guitar melodies. "Flowers Of Light" immediately demonstrates a very different tonal approach, with its upbeat opening keyboard motif leading into a far more positive and gentle song than the album opener, full of euphoric guitar tremolos and melodies, as well as bouncy electronics. The remainder of On Circles lands somewhere between these two tonal extremes, with space for both melancholy and hopefulness.

"Nostalgist" features a novelty for Caspian, featuring what is apparently the first vocal performance on one of their records, courtesy of Kyle Dufrey from Piano Becomes The Teeth. For what is new territory for the group, this combination feels very natural, with the longing of Dufrey's vocals nicely combined with and responding to a gentle but gradually crescendoing instrumental backdrop. Vocals also appear on album close "Circles On Circles", a stripped-down acoustic affair sung by bandleader Philip Jamieson. Another guest on On Circles is cellist Jo Quail, whose stirring strings sit nicely in the mix of euphoric tremolo-fest "Division Blues" and star on the multi-faceted late album highlight "Ishmael". Add in the heavier and more rock-oriented "Collapser", and there is both a surplus of variety and quality on On Circles, marking the record as a successful comeback for Caspian.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Mammock - Itch
[Math Rock | Noise Rock]

Barely having the runtime to be a full-length instead of an EP, Mammock's Itch is a six song piece that feels less like an Itch and more like something to scratch that noisy alternative bassy rock itch that we've been having. It's music with a lot of bravado and a punch to pack, never content to thread the waters of a single sound. At times closer to spastic math rock, at times bassy noise rock, at times ballsy stonerish heavy rock, at times slightly grundgy alternative rock, at times going batshit crazy, at times showing restraint.

One thing is consistent throughout Itch, it's having fun going in all directions, it's not shying away from having some swagger in the riffs, but also not from making those riffs as angular as possible. It's nothing new at this point, but there's also a saxophone in there somewhere. The performances are great all throughout, I already mentioned the bass quite a lot of times, but seriously: bass. The quartet does a really great job of letting everyone shine, and they build what The Mars Volta's, Clutch's and Oxbow's lovechild would sound like.

Bandcamp

by RaduP

Aiming For Enrike - Music For Working Out
[Math Rock | Electronica]

Comfortably the most fun out of this month's bunch of albums, Music For Working Out is an incredibly entertaining and eclectic brand of instrumental electronic math rock. "Christmas Eve" nicely sets the tone for the rest of the album, with its infectious electronics and driving rhythms, and is aptly followed by the wonderfully titled "Don't Hassle The Hoff", an instantly memorable track that gradually builds in intensity from its initial bouncy riff to a noisy climactic ruckus.

Aiming For Enrike deliver a relentless supply of memorable hooks and danceable rhythms throughout Music For Working Out, whether it's the funky disco grooves of "Infinity Rider" or throbbing pulse of "Hard Dance Brainia". They also display a keen awareness of how best to develop these songs and play around with their intensity, seamlessly drifting between more subtle sections and bursts of exuberant noise. Furthermore, they're equally as capable of delivering short, punchy songs such as "Christmas Eve" as they are of pulling off lengthier, more ponderous efforts ("Flat Beats" in particular), and can deftly balance the calm ("Diving Within") and the manic ("Ponzu Saiko"). I'm enjoying waxing lyrical about it almost as much as I've enjoyed repeatedly listening to it, and recommend it fully to anyone looking for a good time.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Tricot - Makkuro
[Math Rock | Progressive Pop]

I must admit I don't listen to as much Japanese music as I should, at least outside of the usual Mono, Boris, Envy and Sigh circles. So forgive me for associating this album more than it deserves with what my closest experience is, in this case anime opening/closing credits music. As much as I think it would be putting Tricot's music a bit too low, it really isn't something I'd see unfit for such a thing, and for the most part I get the same feeling. But that is pretty surface level and it's mostly due to how fun and accessible Tricot manage to make their music sound, despite being some pretty technically complex and punchy math rock out there.

So this 3/4-girl Japanese trio do math rock with some "power pop" vocals if I may call it that. There is a bit of a contrast between how the vocals and the instrumentals sound. The latter does tend to find ways to support the former with melodies, but it also doesn't shy away from either some intricate noodling, some strong bass jangles, and the occasional amplifier feedback. So it does work both for and against itself, a compromise between its accessibility and its quirkiness that makes Makkuro sound so interesting. If either the math rock or the pop parts would've been stripped out, Makkuro, would've still been a damn good record, but it's these two together and how neither overshadows the other that make it stand out.

Apple Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Pinegrove - Marigold
[Indie Rock | Alt-Country]

For the past ten years, Pinegrove, something somewhat lying between a duo and a full band, has created their own indie rock sound of very emotional and intimate almost emo-like music. And the banjos and lap steel guitars and all that also help give it somewhat of an alt-country vibe to make it feel even more American. Led by Evan Stephens Hall, Pinegrove boast a third (forth if you count their self-released debut) album, complete with the square motif on the cover art and the one-word title.

What makes Pinegrove so interesting is the combination of all of those sounds, neither of which feels like they're forced into the mix or that they have too much weight. The emotional vocals don't feel over the top emo, but they're clearly very emo. There's a certain warmth to it all, especially in the vocals, which feel so open and earnest. There's a lot of melancholy and dread to be felt, but also hope. All of this over sparsely lush instrumentation that tinges on americana and alt-country, makes Marigold feel glistening.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Algiers - There Is No Year
[Post-Punk | Soul]

Algiers, the band not the Thou record, though that one is cool too, have been one of my favorite bands for a while, having managed to work a blend of soul/gospel with post-punk energy, to make some weird, energetic and vital revolutionary music about plight and injustice. They never really were afraid to speak their mind about social and political issues and they always seemed the kind of band where you would need some liner notes and some further reading to really get the most of it. Their self-titled and The Underside Of Power were among my most-listened-to albums ever, This Is No Year seems to mostly live up to it.

This Is No Year is the band's most cohesive record, in the sense that it has more of a singular inspiration (the book whose title it borrows and a poem that the frontman wrote), less producers and more concise recording time. This comes with its ups and downs, as it feels a lot less energetic and more moody. While it is indeed missing something, it feels like it makes up for it with interesting synth soundscapes, some quite retro, some quite unnerving. Franklin James Fisher's voice is as electrifying even as everything around him feels gloomy, but it never really feels like Algiers was the band that would fit this kind of approach, but the result is nonetheless interesting and immersive.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Floral Tattoo - You Can Never Have A Long Enough Head Start
[Emo | Shoegaze]

Ever wondered how My Dying Bride's Loveless would've sounded like with a healthy dose of pop punk or midwest emo injected in it? Well Floral Tattoo have you covered. The blend of the two sounds like something that would have been done in the 90s, but to my knowledge nothing really sounds like it, plus there is a feeling of youth that feels tangent to the youth of our generation, partly considering the LGBT issues tackled in the lyrics. Their debut, Approaching Bearable, but their best move was following it up with a record released just three days in the new year, not early enough for everyone to still be hungover, but early enough for people to be anxious to see what the new decade brings.

And I'm pretty sure for a few days You Can Never Have A Long Enough Head Start was one of the if not the album of the decade, but even as more and better albums came about, it still didn't really wash away the initial impression I had of it. This is an immensely beautiful and emotional album, one that doesn't feel very large in scope, very personal with some tongue-in-cheek feeling to all the emotion, but nothing that makes it feel less authentic or honest, it just tells you about its sadness but with a wink. And obviously if you drown that in walls of noise and reverb, it's even better.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Jodie Faster - Blame Yourself
[Hardcore Punk]

Fresh out of the oven. A proper hardcore punk debut full-length Blame Yourself from the French-based outfit Jodie Faster strikes down unstoppably. Even though, the very original band's name pops out first while scrolling and exploring through the list of bands, these guys try to keep it simplified more or less with this well-produced and composed musical output. The red line sticks to the punching vibe of the fast pace, being kept steadily through the whole album without major oscillations, waning or any kind of severe breakdowns. Blame Yourself gives more hastened and explosive feel to it.

Fuelled by vigorously screaming vocals, which are more punk-style oriented than hardcore. Worth pointing out is also the distinctive tone and distortion of guitar riffs, creating some sort of easygoing vibes. It fits in the whole package unusually well and it doesn't affect much the aggressive approach in first place. Despite the typical shortness of the songs, the diversity and dynamics from each other is undeniable. Blame Yourself is not moving out of the basic formula, however, there are some sonic bits or moves that overturns the whole thing, consequently attract the listener to be more attentive and perceptive to this effort. Just keeping it fresh and avoiding the mediocrity.

Bandcamp

by Abattoir








070 Shake - Modus Vivendi
[Alternative R&B | Pop Rap]

It's always strange to hear the first record of an artist you mostly known through collaborations or features. Danielle Balbuena, known by her stage name 070 Shake, did release a solo EP, Glitter, but it's mostly through her string of features in Kanye West's Wyoming quintuplet of short albums. So on Modus Vivendi, her full length debut, she strips away all voices but her own. And not only is every possible feature stripped, the whole sound is very stripped away and introspective, which does leave room for some pretty dark introspection at times, to make for an album that ironically demands more attention with the less it gives.

With most of it handled by produces Dave Hamelin and Mike Dean, the production is mostly some very airy synths that sometimes turn into more trap and R&B infused sounds at times, but they never feel more than minimalist and they never dare to steal the show from Danielle's vocals. Though there is some heavy voice modulation at times, it never feels dishonest or that it detracts from how authentic her voice and the lyrics feel. There is still a long way to go for her in finding a defining sound and how not to stretch too thin, but rarely has a debut album from a rapper made me anticipate their follow-up so much.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Alexandra Savior - The Archer
[Psychedelic Pop | Indie Rock]

It's not just the cover art that is hazy. That "psychedelic pop" label isn't there for nothing, the synths and drums on this record make such a great combo to give this a dreamlike quality, and don't even get me started on the bass grooves on this thing. The vocals, whether Alexandra's entrancing ones, or the backing ones, always feel slightly akin to vocal jazz under all the haze, which makes the indie rock part of the music (you know, the part that feels like a car commercial) so much more soulful.

Portland's Alexandra Savior oozes of such a melancholic coolness here, which is probably not that surprising considering the psychedelic quality of the album, but it also feels distinctly like something made today that uses that melancholic sound to reflect on personal feelings, but without ever loosing their cool. A lot of it comes to the slightly jazzy slightly rock-ish backing band, but I'd be damned if I'd ever want anyone else fronting it. As much as she sounds a bit too much like Lana Del Rey, it feels like Alexandra Savior isn't afraid to go all the way into the sound.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Destroyer - Have We Met
[Synthpop | Art Pop]

Despite the synthpop label, this doesn't feel as retro synthy as most stuff that looks at the 80s for inspirations, instead Have We Met feels a lot closer to the art pop label, with its sprawling bass grooves and glam synths. There is a modern air to some of it, but a lot of it feels full of old school cool, like a bearded man with a glass of white russian, making each word he speaks sound like poetry. Dan Bejar's voice may surprise folks who might have expected a gruffer voice considering both his appearance and his band being called... well... Destroyer, instead the synths and his high register makes him sound most alike to Pet Shop Boys if anything (who also released an album this month by the way).

John Collins, who handles most of the synths and the production on here, is likely the one responsible for giving this one such a relaxed vibe, coming somewhat strongly in contrast to the slightly darker previous Destroyer records. This also sounds like something you'd listen under the moonlight, but one in which you don't want to go home yet. If anything, Have We Met pushes upfront a few of the soft rock elements I never thought I would enjoy this much again, and everything comes together to make an album that both puts you in a certain mood, gives you a sense of nostalgia as well as a joy of life, all while making sure its poetry is something worth paying attention to.
And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Mac Miller - Circles
[Neo-Soul | Pop Rap]

It's always pretty sad to see a musician pass right as they felt they were coming into their own. But for Mac Miller, as young as he was at just 26, the case is that he did leave plenty of music behind showcasing a musical evolution that brings us to his posthumous album, Circles. From some novel and fun pop rap that he started out with, going more alternative and abstract, and then even more soulful and jazzy up until what was his final studio album up until now, Swimming. Circles was recorded around the same time, meant to be a companion piece for Swimming, but it wasn't finished at the time of Mac's passing. The rest of it was continued by producer/composer Jon Brion.

Brion and Mac being in charge of most of the album's production does make Circles the most cohesive album in this part of Mac's discography. There's some obvious bias towards it for being a posthumous album, both in newfound appreciation for the artist, as well as suspicion of the intent behind releasing it. With it being almost finished at the time of his passing, there isn't much to say in regards to the latter point, but in regards to the former I hope I am not to biased when I say this feels a lot more well realized than its companion Swimming, leaving behind most of the pop-rap or the hip-hop in general for some smooth and introspective neo-soul and something almost chamber pop-ish. If his discography wasn't filled with even more self-discovery and ambition, I would say that this is his artistic pinnacle, but I'm sure he would've grown even more if he had the chance.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.



 



Written on 26.02.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 2   Visited by: 95 users
26.02.2020 - 23:49
Peasant
The Wait a Minute series is a class on its own.
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12.03.2020 - 15:11
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Peasant on 26.02.2020 at 23:49

The Wait a Minute series is a class on its own.

I read not clss but clown.... Nja
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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