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Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - February 2022


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, Milena, X-Ray Rod, nikarg
Published: 21.03.2022


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - February 2022
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews



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:

January 2022
December 2021
November 2021

And now to the music...






A Place To Bury Strangers - See Through You
[Noise Rock | Post-Punk]


A lot of noise rock works in tandem with post-hardcore to create gritty abrasive and ominous textures. A Place To Bury Strangers kinda stood out in that regard, because while they're still achieving the same textures, they've merged it with post-punk, shoegaze, alt rock to achieve something closer to the kind of noise rock you'd expect to be wearing sunglasses indoors. It's demeanor is detached and cool instead of threatening and ominous, while still drenched in inhuman amounts of lo-fi distortion and feedback. It's groovy, it's fun, and it brings a lot of elements together, and it brings back the distortion to a degree that the past couple of their records had unfortunately toned down.

The drumming is minimal and filled with that 80s gated reverb that brings vibes from synthpop, industrial rock, and gothic rock, while the angular riffing is pure post-punk, combined with some grooves from alt-rock and the deadpan vocals of a singer that's too cool for his job, all of it filtered through a shoegaze-ish wall of sound and washed away in lo-fi distortion. That's the gist of A Place To Bury Strangers' sound on See Through You, and a lot of it sounds like a synthesis of all the band's previous albums, from the noisier first ones to the more mellow latter ones. And the result is a glorious victory lap that shows that rock music can still be fun even drowned with layers of noise. Or rather because of them.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Buñuel - Killers Like Us
[Noise Rock | Post-Punk]


Everybody’s a gansta until Eugene Fucking Robinson pulls up a .44 Magnum and blows your eardrums off. Ok, Mr. Robinson should not be the main reason for you to check out the international super group that is Buñuel. But I have to admit the vocalist from the legendary dark and twisted rock powerhouse that is Oxbow was what me discover Buñuel. And there should have been way more reasons for me to do so. So I will quickly run them up for you:

First of all, they took their name from director Luis Buñuel and if you are the type of amateur movie fanatic that I am you will immediately recognize him as “That guy that told you to open your mind by slicing open an eye with a razor blade” on Un Chien Andalou. Buñuel (the band) does pretty much the same thing. But by opening your preconceptions of what heavy music can be outside of metal. Noise rock is the game here and these boys play hard.
Secondly, The Italian trio composing the music consists of busy bees. Guitarist Xabier Iriondo hails from Afterhours, an indie rock / grunge band performing since the mid 80s. Drummer Francesco Valente and bassist Pierpaolo Capovilla are part of the post-punk group Il Teatro Degli Orrori, who in turn is a fusion of two other bands: One Dimensional Man and Super Elastic Bubble Plastic. Weird name-dropping aside, what I’m telling you is that there’s a long tradition of crazy music behind Buñuel. And Killers Like Us is their third opus. Better late than never for you to discover, right?

There should be absolutely no doubt to why a label that specializes on dark, suffocating metal like Profound Lore picks up a project like Buñuel. Because this is some oppressive, corrosive music. The post-punk tunes pummel the listener with hypnotic grooves. The wild, noisy rock that runs amok throughout the record will make Daughters fans lose their shit and fan their blushed faces. This is rock that almost touches sludge metal ground but only because of how heavy and noisy the music is. And of course, there is Eugene S. Robinson who is the threatening madman that you don’t want knocking on your door. He screams, whispers, moans and shrieks in a way that astonished me as he wasn’t as unstable on Oxbow’s last record, Thin Black Duke.

Buñuel is fast, slow, heavy, harsh, intense, dark, noisy and erratic. The perfect soundtrack when you blow a fuse.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by X-Ray Rod





In Angles - Cardinal
[Post-Hardcore | Math Rock]


Complex guitar technicality has more than found its place in post-hardcore by now, with Dance Gavin Dance and the Swancore scene showing how math rock can be used to accentuate the balance of intensity and emo melody that so many bands in the genre exemplify. On Cardinal, In Angles’ sophomore record and first full-length in 6 years, math-y guitar runs and jagged time signatures contort around one another, while Tom Etts anchors everything with emotion and conviction in his vocals, which are reminiscent of early Coheed & Cambria at their best.

Post-hardcore can be a bit of a hit and miss genre for me, but the energy, emotional resonance and directness (12 songs in 28 minutes, you do the math) of Cardinal makes it very much a hit for me. Sadder (/more ‘emo’) cuts like “Vessel” and “Apollo” are well countered by the bounciness of “A Single Thread” and up-tempo pounding drive of “Decorate”, and everything flows together in a blur of similar-yet-distinct vocal hooks and instrumentation that adequately balances virtuosity and primal satisfaction. The most frustrating thing about this album is trying to work out who it reminds me most of, as I feel a strong similarity to one band in particular, but cannot for the life of me pin down who it is. If anyone works it out, let me know; until then, I’ll just enjoy a brief but impactful burst of math rock/post-hardcore joy.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
[Art Rock | Post-Rock]


RaduP's pick


Last year when I reviewed Black Country, New Road's debut, For The First Time, I had the feeling that this band is really gonna stick out and be more than just a band to watch out for. Based just on For The First Time, the band had a unique mix of post-rock that felt more in line with the first wave sounds of Slint and Swans, with a very eclectic take on it and with some very melodramatic vocals. That hasn't fundamentally changed with Ants From Up There, but the take is even more eclectic, and sadly this is the last album with vocalist Isaac Wood, who left shortly before the release of this album. And generally when a band goes from a 40 to a 60-minute record, I groan, but this time it worked out fantastically.

The band had already used plenty of instrumentation outside of the usual bass/drums/guitars on their debut, but here that instrumental palette is used to its fullest extend, with a lot of the art rock having a very chamber music feel to it, often also drifting into jazz or experimental rock, in that order. The poetic vocal performance still feel extremely melodramatic, but the over-the-top effect is a bit softened with them being integrated even better within the music while still retaining their impact. There's a track named after one of my top 5 favorite movies, which is always a plus. The tracks move from beauty to anxiety through a world cluttered with crushing awkwardness, with an ebb and flow and a touch for buildups and releases that feel unmatched by any other newcomer. It took one album to make BC,NR unique, it took them another one to expand that sound and show that we were right to believe in them. And I believe in them still.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Big Big Train - Welcome To The Planet
[Progressive Rock]


Pastoral, retro, "real" and quintessentially English prog was Big Big Train comfortable niche since the release of The Underfall Yard in 2009, which featured for the first time the vocal talents of David Longdon, who would soon become one of the most beloved "everyman" voices of the prog scene. We tragically lost David a few months before the release of Welcome To The Planet, and his loss combined with the re-shuffling of the band, which added three new permanent members (on guitars, violins, keys and vocals - the works!) since the release of the last album made me approach this new album with a bit of apprehension. Welcome To The Planet was already completed and probably already pressed when David died; how would it turn out to be? Fortunately, it is a great addition to the discography, comparing very favorably to the English Electric albums that really put them on the map a decade-ish ago. It is more streamlined, song-focused and modern, with the new members stretching comfortably in the song arrangements each step of the way.

While the illustrious Spawton-Longdon partnership once again forms the core of the album, it's a true ensemble effort on every level, from the supporting vocal duties taken up by almost every band member to the songwriting credits. Prog stars and beardy boys Nick D’Virgilio (Spock's Beard) and Rikard Sjöblom (ex-Beardfish) contribute one blistering instrumental track each, and the album closes out with, and is named after, the theatrical track penned by one of the new kids, keyboardist and singer Carly Bryant. It's completely different when compared to virtually any song the band has done before, and the fact they'd let it take such an important spot on the album shows their aptitude for growth and change. And despite all the vocal talent already present in the band, the fact they'll have to carry on doing their thing without the charismatic presence of David Longdon on the leads makes me one sad panda. At least we got this swan song from him.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by Milena





Eddie Vedder - Earthling
[Alternative Rock | Heartland Rock]


Eddie Vedder is most well known as the lead singer of grunge legends Pearl Jam, who at one point were my fav of those big four, and even if I since have revised my ranking and now they might land in the last spot, I still have massive respect for Pearl Jam's music and especially Vedder's vocals. I understand why they might not be for everybody, especially since a lot of post-grunge's worst vocal inflections seem like they came especially out of Vedder's influence. A solo album from Eddie Vedder is not without antecedent, but soundtracks like Into The Wild or the very clearly distinct Ukelele Songs had something that clearly made them Vedder albums instead of Pearl Jam ones. In contrast, Earthling feels like a Pearl Jam album that happened to have Vedder as its main songwriter.

Of course, the previous assessment is a bit of an exaggeration, since there are plenty of songs on Earthling I wouldn't see as Pearl Jam songs. When I reviewed another solo album by a grunge legend, there also seemed to be a bunch of songs that would've fitted on an album by the main band, but with different quality control and much more prone to other sounds, and in Earthling's case, a lot of it is Springsteen-esque heartland rock, but also a lot of other scattered sounds and collaborations, like a song with Elton John and one with Ringo Starr, but it's quite ironic how the worst part of the album is performed by my favorite musician on it, namely Stevie Wonder's harmonica on "Try". As a result, Earthling is pretty uneven, but also has some worthwhile highlights.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





And So I Watch You From Afar - Jettison
[Post-Rock]


Sometimes you see a band name and immediately know what music they will make; could And So I Watch You From Afar get away with recording anything other than post-rock with such a mouthful of a name? Much like Nordic Giants, ASIWYFA get labelled with the ‘cinematic’ description, and they’ve committed to that concept with Jettison, an album that not only features the Arco String Quartet as an everpresent accompaniment, but that is also accompanied by a companion film created by visual artist Sam Wiehl. With names familiar to the metal world such as Emma Ruth Rundle and Clutch’s Neil Fallon further contributing spoken word, there’s plenty of ambition to be found on the latest album from Northern Ireland’s leading contribution to the post-rock scene.

Although divided nominally into 9 parts, Jettison is designed as a singular piece, which is emphasized by the presence of a “Jettison (Full Score)” track on Spotify that merges all the tracks together. On that singular journey, ASIWYFA begin with ERR’s evocative spoken word and moving strings before getting the whole band involved on part 2 of “Dive”. The customary bright sense of serenity that many post-rock bands opt for lingers over Jettison, but the math rock riffing on the likes of “Lung” and “Submerge” keep things from becoming soporific. Ultimately, in a month where Nordic Giants are cutting right to the emotional core, I can’t help but find Jettison to be a bit twee, but for those that like their post-rock bright and lively, ASIWYFA have got you covered.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Nordic Giants - Symbiosis
[Post-Rock | Ambient]


musclassia's pick


‘Cinematic’ gets thrown around as a defining characteristic for several post-rock bands, but English duo Nordic Giants probably hear it more than most; the audiovisual focus of their live shows surely helps with this, but the music does capture that nebulous vibe quite nicely. Although they fall under the post-rock umbrella, there’s not much guitar to be heard; the aforementioned duo play drums and piano, demonstrating how the loud/soft dynamic flows that characterize the post-rock genre can be applied across different instruments. On Symbiosis, these two instruments come together to craft some evocative and tantalizing compositions.

“Philosophy Of Mind” is a touching opening track, the piano delivering delicate melodies in the soft moments and grandstand displays in the heavier sections while voice samples drive the narrative of the song; Nordic Giants then take things to the next level dynamically with the introduction of synthesizers. It’s a really powerful opening statement on Symbiosis, and it’s one that the rest of the album lives up to. The way Nordic Giants expand upon their core sound at crucial moments, whether it’s the bright, fast electronic melody near the end of “Anamorphia”, or the guest vocalists on “Faceless” and “Spheres”. However, Nordic Giants don’t need to bring in additional elements; the beautiful piano ballad “Hjem” shines with just some touching background ambience filling in behind it. To quote a certain Dutchman, this album is simply lovely.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Lastryko - Sesje
[Space Rock | Psychedelic Rock]


It’s hard to say that Lastryko put much thought into the song titles on Sesje, featuring such memorable names as “A1”, “A2”, “B1” and “B2”. They instead focused on the music; Sesje is an improv-based record containing four long-form psychedelic/space rock jams. Based on that description, you probably already have a clear idea of what’s in store: a busy drum base with alien and evolving guitar, bass and synth tracks on top. The question is then whether it’s a good rendition of this type of album, and the answer to that query is affirmative.

“A1” spends its first few minutes gradually gathering steam, the rhythm section powering relentlessly forward while the guitar focuses on landscaping the background of the track; the second half sees that rhythm section initially pull back, with bright synthesizers grabbing the attention, before atmospheric toms march Lastryko forward toward an explosive climax that never quite arrives. With albums such as this, the vibe that the band create is crucial to its success, and there’s all the warmth and otherworldly charm on Sesje that one might hope for, with the sci-fi tones to the electronics on “B2” only compounding the ‘otherworldly’ nature. You know what you’re getting yourself into with an album like Sesje, but armed with that knowledge you’ll have a grand old time.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Animal Collective - Time Skiffs
[Neo-Psychedelia | Psychedelic Pop]


Animal Collective is one of those bands that really lived up to its name, especially the "collective" part, since it was not unusual for each album to have just a part of the four member lineup on it, from their debut being just two members to their last decade basically being ever-shifting. But Time Skiffs is the first album in a decade to have the entire four members team on it, so there's reason to be excited, especially considering how underwhelming the 2010s were for Animal Collective releases after a trailblazing 2000s. So much so, that I was generally more excited for solo releases by members than a collective album. But with Time Skiffs, that seems to have changed. And it's not just the full lineup being here once again.

Time Skiffs is less of a maximalist record in the way that AnCo's previous stuff would be texture-wise, and there's more of a subdued slow-burning nature to it. Textures are still quite fantastic, but they're not as cluttered and the psychedelia feels less ecstatic and more mellow as a result. What Time Skiffs loses in immediate appeal it makes up for with some of the most inspired songwriting the band had in decades, and that goes hand in hand with how increasingly immersive the album gets along with the listen. The pop side of the record does give it a nice catchy side, something that is often more in line with a Brian Wilson song than anything else. And what results is indeed a reason to finally be excited about AnCo again after all these years.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Beach House - Once Twice Melody
[Dream Pop | Neo-Psychedelia]


RaduP's pick


It's hard to think of any other band that shares as big of a chunk of the responsibility that Beach House had for bringing dream pop into the 21st century. Starting with a self-titled debut in 2006, and really coming into their own with 2010's Teen Dream, what followed was a series of some of the most well received dream pop of the past few decades if not of all time. Their consistency is really something to behold, though it's hard to deny that they found their lane and they've been pretty good at sticking with it. That consistency is really put to the test on Once Twice Melody, the band's largest project to date at 80 minutes, divided into four pretty equal 20 minutes chunks. And yeah "grand" is about as best as Once Twice Melody can be described.

Though the sound is still in the same dreamy vein that has remained consistent since their debut, the group is a bit more experimental in terms of alternating instrumentation and production styles, playing around between digital and analogue, electric and acoustic, extra lush instrumentation and processing, making sure that there's at least some variation across the project's runtime. My favorite tracks are pretty evenly spread out through all four sides, but I have a slight preference for Pink Funeral, the first of the four. The runtime might be a bit excessive, but the quality and variation on display here really does show why Beach House have had such a staying power, and a more concise version of this album might've actually ended up as a definitive record from the band.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





We Broke The Weather - We Broke The Weather
[Psychedelic Rock | Jazz]


musclassia's pick


Every time I begin listening to We Broke The Weather, I fleetingly wonder whether I’ve pressed play on a jazz Metallica cover band, with the “Nothing Else Matters”-style saxophone introduction. However, the album that follows is far more ambitious; there is jazz here, but it’s just one odd element of an odder sound, a psychedelic/progressive rock cacophony that is as gentle vocally as it is brash instrumentally. With all five members credited with more than one instrument in the album liner notes (even if the second instrument for guitarist Kev Ditroia is merely ‘loud noises’), there’s unsurprisingly a lot going on here, as saxophones, synths, guitars and occasional other instruments coalesce in a boisterous overall package.

We Broke The Weather aren’t excessive or frenetic, however; the brashness of opening track “Through The Wall” is tempered by real muscle to the rock, and things take an altogether subtler direction on “Rat King”, a funky track that makes the influence of The Dear Hunter on We Broke The Weather nakedly clear. Vocalist Andy Clark is the glue that holds everything together; with hints of Casey Crescenzo and Cedric Bixler-Zavala in his honey-sweet voice, it keeps listeners engaged across weighty rock (“These Old Bones”), mellow noodling (I hear a hint of Rishloo in the first half of “Fire Season”) and intriguing folk-prog-jazz fusions (“Bellwether”). Constantly creative yet reliably cohesive, We Broke The Weather is an excellent first outing for the band that shares its name.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Zela Margossian Quintet - The Road
[Ethno-Jazz]


The road that Zela Margossian has followed on the way to producing The Road hasn’t been the smoothest; the conflict and instability that existed in her country of birth, Lebanon, during her early years before she moved to study music in Armenia, the country of her heritage, and subsequently Australia influenced the music she would later create. The Zela Margossian Quintet formed five years ago, with Margossian on piano and currently joined by saxophonist Stuart Vandegraaff, double bassist Jacques Emery, drummer Alexander Inman-Hislop and percussionist Adem Yilmaz. On The Road, their sophomore effort, Margossian’s piano work is the standout element, but each component makes important contributions towards an impressive whole.

The Road is classified as ethno-jazz, and the hand percussion work from Yilmaz serves an important role in bringing elements of World music into the picture. Still, it’s the ‘jazz’ part that of the equation that stands out more clearly on the record, and it’s a wonderfully mellow and smooth form that it takes. There is variety in tone, with the moody, subtle darkness of “Devotion” immediately followed by the frenetic “Forecast”; however, it’s the opening one-two of “Refuge” and “The Road”, which linger somewhere between those two extremes, that make the biggest impression on me. “Refuge” is a gentle, mellow piece, on which Vandegraaff’s saxophone takes more of a leading role, whereas “The Road” sprawls and allows each member a chance to take centre stage, whether it’s Yilmaz’s percussive breakdown halfway through, the powerful driving piano from Zargossian that follows or Emery’s double bass solo to round out the track. I’ve covered quite a few jazz albums for this series by now, and The Road is up there with the best of them.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Melt Yourself Down - Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In
[Dance-Punk | Afrobeat]


Acoustic Ladyland, the previous project of saxophonist Pete Wareham, lasted for a decade exactly before Wareham disbanded it and formed Melt Yourself Down. A decade on, there’s no sign that the same is about to occur again, as the fourth Melt Yourself Down record has been let loose in the world. Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In, the album title, reflects the genre-crossing music that Melt Yourself Down create; the title track features Afrobeat drums, funk rhythms, jazzy saxophone motifs, brash synths, and a punk energy to some of the vocals.

It’s a bold mix of sounds, but at least on this opening song, Melt Yourself Down manage to bring them all together to create something very odd yet also very catchy. Unsurprisingly, the next song, “Boots Of Leather”, sounds completely different, with something of a post-punk/no wave vibe to the vocals early on. Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In is an album where you don’t have any real idea of what’s going to come next, whether it’s the measured groove of “For Real”, the stripped-down and at-times almost industrial feel of “All We Have”, or ska weirdness of “Balance”. It’s a blessing and a curse; there’s no predicting whether you’ll actually like what you hear, but it certainly keeps things interesting.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Imarhan - Aboogi
[Tishoumaren]


Hey, it turns out that there are more Tishoumaren artists other than Mdou Moctar and Tinariwen. For those unfamiliar Tishoumaren is basically the electric guitar version of Tuareg music, often with influences from blues, psychedelic rock, pop and so on, usually coming from countries like Niger, Mali, and Algeria. Imarhan come from the very latter of these, being one of the most recent collectives in this scene, first shaping up around 2008 and releasing their first album in 2016. Aboogi is only their third album, so their career is far from immense, but the guest spots from the likes of Tinariwen's Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni and Mohamed Ag Itlale, and Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys show that they're already getting the recognition.

There's a lot to be said about how far removed from the Western standard of guitar playing this is, and how that richness is reflected in how thrilling it is to hear music done in a way that isn't in line with how we're used to music being like. Of course, Western music is influencing Imarhan, and it's not hard to see why the desert blues is appealing to a psychedelic rock fan, as the dreamlike layers and the dry riffs do create an experience that is at least similar, but seems to come from a different angle. The instruments and the vocal harmonics are so warm and emotional. And it's probably that emotion that is the album's strongest quality, because this is more than just exotic (for us) desert psychedelic music. This is a reminder than pain and joy are universal.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Wovenhand - Silver Sash
[Alternative Country | Folk Rock]


musclassia's pick


Nergal wishes Me And That Man could make country music as dark as “Tempel Timber”. The opening track on Silver Sash takes the twanging guitar of gothic country music and adds heavy distortion along with ominous vocals from project mastermind David Eugene Edwards. It’s a bit of an odd one out in terms of how sinister it is, but “Tempel Timber” nicely sets the tone for this dark folk/country record. This is an album perfect for Red Dead Redemption playthroughs; the western guitar gets you right in the mood, while the darkness of the singing and other instrumentation pulls you under Wovenhand’s spell.

There’s range in the album, with “Acacia”’s uptempo rock energy countered by the melancholic acoustic touch of “Duat Hawk”. The dirty distortion on “Omaha” and “The Lash” adds intensity to Silver Sash, but it’s arguably the droning, percussive outro to the latter track that really shows Wovenhand at their darkest. There’s even hints of electronica on the album, most notably on the closing title track, where low-end oscillations driving a menacing undercurrent through a sparse, bleak conclusion to the record. Much like Trophy Scars’s excellent Astral Pariah from last year, Silver Sash is a short album, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, but it makes its presence very much felt before all is said and done.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Pinegrove - 11:11
[Indie Rock | Alt-Country]


I created a list a while ago of One-album Metal Wonders, which somebody first had the impression was about bands who made one great album but then never managed to hit the same heights again. Kinda like Nas with Illmatic. The kind where their other stuff maybe is still pretty good, but it was clearly perfected on that one album. Pinegrove would also fit on that list, with 2016's Cardinal being the clear highlight of their short career. Sure, maybe they'll turn around and do something that would overcome that, since the band never really dropped the ball and they're just a bit over a decade into their career. 11:11 is still a step in the right direction compared to 2020's Marigold, but if I had to bet, I'd still put my money of Cardinal's lasting power.

To those unfamiliar with Pinegrove's music, I'd best describe them as emo country. That sounds unappealing? Don't worry, it's all filtered through an indie rock framework. The country is alt-country, and the emo is more of the midwest type and has been a tad diminished since their debut ten years ago. There's a pretty big folk vibe on this record, the kind that oozes of people who really want the album to get a natural feel (hence all those bird chirping samples), and the band's musical variety is pretty well displayed here with its aggressively unapologetic indie-ness. Chamber country with big indie emo choruses is still a sound that I don't see many bands but Pinegrove approaching.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
[Indie Folk | Folk Rock]


I was pretty surprised by Big Thief back in 2019 because they followed up their weirdest album, U.F.O.F., with another strong album just that year, namely Two Hands. I reviewed both of them, and have commented on the sibling-like relationship between them. It seems like this time, Big Thief have decided to come out with a double album rather than two separate albums. And even if the two sides of Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You don't have as much of a sibling-like relationship, I never really took Big Thief as the kind of band to work for such extended runtimes. And since all digital versions make no separation between sides, this is basically an 80-minute indie folk album.

And I don't think any other band would be able to do this much with those 80 minutes. It's still too much for a single listening session, but given how long it's been since the last two records, and how good solo albums by Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek were (the former more than the latter), it's no surprise that Big Thief really had a lot of material to choose from. Recorded over four separate sessions in four different places, there's both a cohesion between the songs as well as a distinctiveness between the songs recorded in each of those. The band approaches sounds that are a bit more psychedelic, songs that are more rock-ish, songs that are more alt-country, and all of it with a production quality that's not often found in folk music, making the elongated runtime run by much faster than expected. In a way, the experience of listening to this album is quite in line with the one presented on the cover art.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Katacombs - You Will Not EP
[Gothic Country | Dream Pop]


I've gotten to know Katacombs through Amigo The Devil's recommendation. I covered the latter's latest album last year, so I was pretty surprised to learn that they're starting a new label, namely Liars Club. And one of the first acts to be signed to it is the Texan outfit Katacombs. It's quite unusual for me to cover an EP for this feature, let alone a debut EP one, but needless to say, I was pretty taken aback by this.

I did leave the "gothic country" tag for this, but while that is the backbone of the sound here, a lot of it sounds closer to Emma Ruth Rundle or Marissa Nadler than anything that the "country" tag could imply. Country music is, by definition, singer/songwriter stuff, but You Will Not is more in line with what the latter term has come to represent lately. The atmospheres are dark and ethereal, the vocals sultry and the country twang ends up feeling more like a backdrop against all the slowcore and dream pop infusions. This is also the kind of EP that could've passed for a full length with one more long-ish song, so there's still plenty to bite into here, even if it feels like an appetizer.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Mitski - Laurel Hell
[Art Pop | Synthpop]


Mitski is a singer/songwriter that I've been hearing a lot of since first coming across 2016's Puberty 2 (yes, puberty is so great, they made another one) and the going back to 2014's Bury Me At Makeout Creek, and I can't say she really became one of my favorites in the genre, but the slacker indie rock energy that both of those had was something I've come to appreciate when 2018's Be The Cowboy dropped, an album which put Mitski even more prominently on the indie map. It was pretty clear there was a shift of sound from indie rock to indie pop, and still something that could turn out to be great.

And I can't say that I really enjoy Laurel Hell as much as I did Be The Cowboy. Laurel Hell pushes even further into a synthier direction, with the overall sound of it being even more abstract and odd. And by "abstract and odd", I mean in a way that feels more awkward than impactful. It's still pretty clear why Mitski enjoyed the success that she did, and there's a certain rawness that still permeates this record, along with how emotionally impactful her vocals and lyrics can be, but the overall presentation of the album feels like it stumbles trying to walk. I can't imagine being in the mood for some Mitski and this album ever being my first choice.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Alt-J - The Dream
[Art Pop | Indietronica]


I've already made the case in this edition for another 2010s indie darling which has one clear best record, but at least for Pinegrove's case, it wasn't the actual debut. In Alt-J's case, their 2012 debut, An Awesome Wave, is a clear cut modern indie classic, but whose follow-ups haven't been as successful in making lightning strike twice. Unlike bands who find a sound and stick with it, Alt-J have become increasingly elusive with their art pop / indie pop / indietronica mixes. Though their catalogue is not massive, I enjoyed every album, albeit each less than its predecessor. Well, The Dream solidifies that 2017's Relaxer is the perigee of their catalogue by reversing the downward trend, at least for now.

The genre mixes here are about as elusive as you'd expect from an Alt-J record, with different combination of prefixes and suffixes from alt/art/indie/progressive/chamber and pop/electronica being applicable in some way, but at least there's very few moments I could call obnoxious this time around. Quite in line with the album's title, a lot of the album has a pretty dreamlike vibe to it, with its pretty sparse and mellow instrumentation, couples with the processed vocals to make something that has somewhat of a silliness to it to match the ridiculous tongue-in-cheek lyricism. There's some merit to how well this sound can express the absurdity of the times.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Saba - Few Good Things
[Conscious Hip Hop | Pop Rap]


In some way, you can make a dividing line in hip-hop between the conscious lyrical side and the fun pop side, each having pretty distinct appeals and fanbases. The dividing line isn't that clear, since a lot of conscious hip-hop has a clear pop side, like Kendrick Lamar and Outkast all being hit makers, but then there's the more abstract side that you really can't imagine hearing on the radio, while also a lot of trap or pop rap like Drake being pretty far removed from that. Saba is a rapper that started out somewhere in between the two, but has drifted more towards the conscious side, while still staying in the group that still has a clear pop side. And this makes Few Good Things a hip-hop album that is incredibly easy to like.

Saba's previous album, Care For Me, was one that I enjoyed a lot, mostly because of this merge of appeal. Its memorability is something more in line with how easy it was to get familiar with the songs as early as the second listen, but without necessarily being able to recall them unprompted. This is something that carried over into Few Good Things, with the neo-soul and jazz samples and the different flows hitting a sweet spot between introspection and groove. Almost every track has some guest feature, even if I'm not aware of any of the guests, but the result is tight and engaging, even if it may not reach the heights of the other artists in this lane that Saba is clearly looking up to.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Cate Le Bon - Pompeii
[Art Pop | Neo-Psychedelia]


There was something really appealing about this album's cover art, something that made it pretty clearly that this will be an "artsy" record, though it revealed very little about its genre. I was previously unfamiliar with Welsh singer/songwriter Cate Le Bon, so I went into Pompeii pretty blindly. Turns out, she's been doing psychedelic art pop for more than a decade, so there's some more for me to explore. But as far as Pompeii is concerned, it feels like the kind of album you appreciate more than you actually enjoy, or at least it takes a lot to properly get into. I've seen it described as "too cerebral for its own good", and I can see why.

For an album whose primary genre tag is "pop" (art pop, but pop nonetheless), it's not really something I'd call catchy, despite having choruses and pretty pleasant vocals, repetitive rhythms and everything that ought to stick in someone's mind. They just seem arranged in such a way as to keep them from actually sticking, keeping them in a sort of uncanny feeling, as if specifically constructed for quirky oddity. The instrumentals sound like Talk Talk making new wave passed through a neo-psychedelic filter, and combined with the ethereal vocals, they create a pretty surreal feeling, dreamlike in a way that isn't what's usually described by "dreamlike", since most dreamlike music sounds ethereal but not cryptic, like Pompeii does. This is music to untangle.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Boy Harsher - The Runner (Original Soundtrack)
[Darkwave]


Coldwave, drone, EBM, electronic, darkwave, minimal synth; whichever of these styles you use to describe the sound of Boy Harsher, you won’t be far off. The duo prefers to not comment on how they define themselves musically and with each album it seems that they make music depending on how they feel at any given time. This time the music was created under the influence of the pandemic and the MS diagnosis of Jae Matthews. But what is always beautiful about Boy Harsher is that they are sensual, dreamy, and haunting all at the same time. It’s like taking the cinematic qualities of John Carpenter and Wim Wenders and turning them into music. And this is even more evident with The Runner.

The latest release of Boy Harsher is not a music album in the traditional sense, but the soundtrack of a short film that was produced, written and directed by the band. It all makes sense, if you know the history of the band; Augustus Muller and Jae Matthews met each other while studying at film school and they also fell for each other. Maybe this is why their music feels so sexy. The Runner follows a strange woman as she travels to a secluded, rural town, where her violent compulsions are slowly revealed. The story intertwines with the band performing on a public access channel. The film features performances by King Woman’s Kris Esfandiari, FlucT’s Sigrid Lauren, and Lucy’s Cooper B. Handy. The soundtrack balances between moody and cinematic passages, eerie instrumentals, and the band’s familiar dark pop. The ‘80s aesthetic is very much present, of course. The album is not even half an hour-long, but it makes good use of its relatively short runtime. Check out in particular “Give Me A Reason”, with Muller’s trademark synths and his gloomy bass lines coexisting with Jae Matthews’s claustrophobic singing, the Hi-NRG-loving “Machina”, as well as the new wave ethos of “Autonomy”.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by nikarg





Sasami - Squeeze
[Alternative Rock | Noise Pop]


“Metal may mostly be a white man’s genre, but the emotions that go with the sounds of metal guitar are emotions that all humans experience” - so says Sasami, who builds upon a classical composition background and pop-oriented songwriting with a metallic edge, which is enhanced by recruiting Megadeth’s Dick Verbeuren on drums. Opener “Skin A Rat” sounds very much like an alt-rock/metal cut from the 90s/early 00s, with the dirty riffs and distorted vocals; however, Squeeze, Sasami’s sophomore full-length, isn’t a metal album. Immediately afterwards, “The Greatest” channels a different 90s/00s sound, a grunge-lite singer/songwriter approach in the vein of somebody like The Cranberries or The Smashing Pumpkins.

Not everything on Squeeze harkens back to the past to this extent; the influences on Sasami are clear, such as the Nine Inch Nails industrial overtones on “Say It” or Shania Twain sounds on some of the poppier cuts, but there is a modern and personal twist applied to them. The tracklist for the most part alternates back and forth between harder and softer songs, with song number 7 “Make It Right” the first to really break this pattern. This alternation does somewhat get in the way of the record building momentum, and it’s not necessarily the most exciting interpretation of these 90s musical influences, but Squeeze does have enough substance to go with the style and appeal to fans of this period in rock music.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Yeule - Glitch Princess
[Glitch Pop | Art Pop]


RaduP's pick


The first time I clicked to listen to Yeule's Glitch Princess I was shocked to see the 327 minutes runtime of it, and I started getting second thoughts about reviewing it even if I liked what I heard from Yeule thus far. It was quite a relief to see that most of the enormous runtime is spent on the last track, a 284 minutes ambient drone piece called "The Things They Did for Me Out of Love", leaving the album proper at a more manageable 43 minutes. "The Things They Did for Me Out of Love" is ok for however much of it I got to listen to, but I don't think it's really worth checking out for more than maybe 10 minutes, or however much it takes to realize that the album is still going on. The rest of Glitch Princess though is fantastic.

A lot of Glitch Princess is quite conceptual, with its futuristic and introspective themes being made the focus on some tracks, including the robotic spoken word intro. Despite how subdued it is, there is a lot going on on the record in terms of influence. It sounds like the hyperpop of Sophie imploding into soft art pop, the subdued nature making it border on ambient pop, with the glitch and post-industrial elements going hand in hand with the album's concept, and the end result halfway spells deconstruction and halfway truly heartfelt ambient pop. This combination makes the listening experience full of lethargy, beauty, alienation, and ominous loneliness.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Alice Glass - PREY // IV
[Electropop | Post-Industrial]


PREY // IV is the kind of album I really really wish I liked more than I do. This is the first full-length album by Alice Glass, most famously known as half of the Crystal Castles duo, and since the split between the two has been very very nasty. Ethan Kath replaced Alice on the last Crystal Castles album, the horribly inappropriately named Amnesty (I). And now, at least musically, we have the two sides of Crystal Castles each on a separate offering, and based on the details of their breakup, I was hoping to like Alice's more, but it turns out I'm pretty indifferent to both of them. As hard as it is to admit, the two were merging very well musically, and that touch is lost on both of their work since.

PREY​/​/​IV feels a bit more straight-forward and the electropop doesn't really feel tailor-suited for Alice's vocal style, which kinda demands something a bit more abstract and dreamlike. There are some post-industrial bits here that I wish were better integrated in the sound, and considering how influential her work with Crystal Castles was to the current musical landscape, you would expect her to make a lot more sense in it than she did years ago, either by working with the right people or just by some feedback loop from the landscape itself. Instead of sounding either too experimental for its own good, it just feels lackluster.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Tanya Tagaq - Tongues
[Post-Industrial, Experimental]


When I first found Tanya Tagaq's music, she was a Nunavut musician with an experimental take on Inuit music. That "experimental" side was always hard to categorize, especially given my unfamiliarity with Inuit music in general, but I've seen art pop, trip-hop, free folk all used on previous works. Retribution's cover art was the think that instantly struck me, and later the blend of styles too, since here the experimental side turned more to experimental rock and post-industrial to make the perfect blend of traditional folk elements and modern experiments in music. Now in Tongues, this feels like a Tagaq whose priorities are even harsher.

Tongues is the most biting and political that I remember any of Tagaq's works being. The soundscapes are more minimalist and industrial, with the Inuit folk music elements being even more ingrained in the music and acting as more of a sprinkled ingredient than the main root being reinterpreted. Instead, spoken word seems to be the main focus, with a lot of Tongues reminding me of a mix of Moor Mother, Diamanda Galas, and Lingua Ignota, but sometimes gritty, sometimes dramatic, sometimes soft. The production on Tongues is pretty biting, but not as biting as the vocal performance, which does keep the album a bit short of fully realizing its potential.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Tangerine Dream - Raum
[Ambient Electronic]


At what point does a band outlive its name? Plenty of groups have undergone extensive line-up changes as the years go on, but there’s usually some connecting factor, whether it’s Dave Mustaine in Megadeth, Ian Anderson in Jethro Tull or Lemmy in Motörhead. In the case of Tangerine Dream, it’s less clear; for a project that was founded in the 60s, it’s odd to say that they’re ‘still going’ if the longest-serving member left in the band joined in 2005. The continuation of Tangerine Dream after the death of founding member and bandleader Edgar Froese in 2015 has been debated, with his wife Bianca Froese-Acquaye and appointed successor Thorsten Quaeschning determined to maintain the project’s legacy, while Froese’s son Jerome doesn’t feel that Tangerine Dream can exist without his father. Debates over the current incarnation’s legitimacy aside, Raum is the second full-length record of new music released under the iconic name since Froese’s death, and although it will never threaten to challenge the legacy of the band’s finest albums, it’s a perfectly decent electronic record.

Probably my favourite track on the album is the opener “Continuum”, with the slick Aphex Twin-style beats, soothing background synths and quirky robotic main synths starting the record off on a strong footing. It’s a lengthy song, but not excessively so; in contrast, the 19-minute “In 256 Zeichen” does struggle at times to justify its runtime, meandering aimlessly through ambient soundscapes without necessarily having the central ideas to sustain interest throughout. More successful at using length to its advantage is the closing title track, which nicely builds and layers pulsating dancefloor synths for minutes on end before allowing the record to glide and lull towards a conclusion.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Raum - Daughter
[Ambient | Drone]


I think it's pretty funny that we have, in the same edition, an ambient album called Raum and an ambient album by a band called Raum. The only think missing would be an ambient Daughter album called Tangerine Dream. Anyway, Raum is a duo made up of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Grouper's Liz Harris, and so far I've only been able to listen to music by the latter, covering some of her stuff. So I'm mostly coming into Daughter looking for the same ethereal feeling that Liz' ambient stuff has already brought, and I'm definitely getting that, but this time it's probably the warmest that that experience has ever felt like.

Daughter feels like a very natural and organic record, with field recordings being a massive side of it. The sound of gravel, wind, and nature is something that is usually unwanted noise in recording, but Daughter turns it into the music itself strangely. Even by ambient and drone standards, Daughter is pretty uneventful, playing around with the drones and the field recordings very sparsely and patiently, and it is thus even more reliant on immersion. The atmosphere it provides is peaceful and reflective, but can come across as either unbearably beautiful or a chore to get through, depending on the mood.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Hello Meteor - Comfortable Loneliness
[Chillwave]


It’s been over 10 years since the ‘summer of chillwave’, but the microgenre’s not dead in the ground yet. Comfortable Loneliness is the first album in 2022 from Hello Meteor, although based on the project’s release history, there’ll likely be several more that drop before the year is out. After a surprisingly ambient and ethereal introduction track, “Dusk Weather” gets right into the cheesy 80s nostalgia-drenched keyboards, warbling electronics and simple, slick beats. Not a revolutionary combination, it’s nevertheless serviceable as background nostalgia.

The rest of the record is more in the same vein; the almost reggae bounce of the beat to “Cozy Mart” and dancefloor-oriented drive of “The Lake Green Project” shows Hello Meteor looking forward as well as backward, but the likes of “A Blue Incredible” and “The Exoplanet Environmental Trust” are nicely nestled in between to maintain that sense of serenity across Comfortable Loneliness. There’s nothing here that’s going to blow you away, but it’s very easy listening and has enough variety and substance to make some impression.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Tinlicker - In Another Lifetime
[Progressive House]


House music can be a tricky genre for me; there’s elements of it that appeal to me more than plenty of other styles, but often something keeps me away from embracing it, whether it’s annoying vocals or off-putting quirks. With In Another Lifetime, Tinlicker have for the most part avoided these pitfalls; the Dutch duo’s sophomore record sticks to satisfying beats, subtly melancholic or euphoric electronic backdrops and simple-yet-effective vocals from the likes of Nathan Nicholson and Jamie Irrepressible. In Another Lifetime is inspired by the highs and lows of life in lockdown during the pandemic, and the contrast of the bright opener “Mesmerized” with the sadness-tinged “Be Here And Now” coming immediately afterwards highlights that dichotomy early on.

Without a real idea of what constitutes ‘progressive house’ compared with ‘house’, I don’t know what elements of In Another Lifetime categorize it as the former, but the album doesn’t rely purely on dancefloor beats, with several songs allowing the guest voices to take centre stage and sing unhurried, such as Nicholson’s detours in “Be Here And Now”; however, the tracks sound best when everything comes together, with “Come Back Home” really clicking once Roos Jonker’s beguiling refrains are backed up by driving rhythms and lush layers of electronics. Not every track here works for me, with “Just To Hear You Say” a bit brash and “I Am Free” somewhat soporific, but when songs click, such as the memorable synth hooks in “Xanadu” or the quirky energy of “Under The Stars”, it’s a really pleasant vibe that Tinlicker capture.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month. Here's a Spotify playlist we compiled out of stuff featured here:







Comments

Comments: 10   Visited by: 131 users
22.03.2022 - 00:16
Uxküll

I was expecting to see We Broke The Weather on this month's non-metal releases round-up, glad it made it.
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"Nullum unquam exstitit magnum igenium sine aliqua dementia [there was never great genius without some madness]."

Best of Metal A-Z: http://metalstorm.net/users/lists.php?user_id=158339
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22.03.2022 - 09:54
Nejde
Philosoraptor
The first band that comes to mind when listening to In Angles is The Fall Of Troy (the less screamy and frenetic part of their sound). Was that it?
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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22.03.2022 - 20:27
musclassia

Written by Nejde on 22.03.2022 at 09:54

The first band that comes to mind when listening to In Angles is The Fall Of Troy (the less screamy and frenetic part of their sound). Was that it?


I've only listened to TFOT a little bit and a long time ago, so probably not, but it's possible
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23.03.2022 - 00:18
Nejde
Philosoraptor
Written by musclassia on 22.03.2022 at 20:27

Written by Nejde on 22.03.2022 at 09:54

The first band that comes to mind when listening to In Angles is The Fall Of Troy (the less screamy and frenetic part of their sound). Was that it?


I've only listened to TFOT a little bit and a long time ago, so probably not, but it's possible


Listened some more and there is another band I'm thinking of but I can't remember their name either. Chances are it's the same one as the one you're thinking of. This is gonna annoy me until I figure it out...
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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27.03.2022 - 01:36
Nejde
Philosoraptor
That Katacombs EP is fantastic but it comes as no surprise once you find out that she is the sister of Amigo The Devil. Talent obviously runs in the family. Thanks for bringing this EP to my attention Radu.
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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27.03.2022 - 14:25
Karlabos
Meat and Potatos
Finally, the Yeule full length is out!
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Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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29.03.2022 - 00:00
Andresopeth

Hello. Eager to listen to some of those.
Thanks for your time putting this together.
I can't see Spotify link.
Does anybody know what's the playlist name to search for it?
Thanks
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29.03.2022 - 07:21
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Andresopeth on 29.03.2022 at 00:00

Hello. Eager to listen to some of those.
Thanks for your time putting this together.
I can't see Spotify link.
Does anybody know what's the playlist name to search for it?
Thanks

WAMTINM! - February 2022
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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30.03.2022 - 04:53
Andresopeth

Written by RaduP on 29.03.2022 at 07:21

Written by Andresopeth on 29.03.2022 at 00:00

Hello. Eager to listen to some of those.
Thanks for your time putting this together.
I can't see Spotify link.
Does anybody know what's the playlist name to search for it?
Thanks

WAMTINM! - February 2022

Thank you!
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30.03.2022 - 17:02
Deadsoulman

I think that Nordic Giants album is my AOTY so far. It's just so tranquil, serene and peaceful. Beautiful stuff.
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