It’s been a bumpy couple of weeks for music. Fall Out Boy reunited, prompting America’s future to heave themselves upon the sacrificial Hot Topic altar for tickets (thx Daddy! #XOXO), the Grammy’s happened, featuring Wiz Khalifa dressed as your coke dealer’s couch, and Twitter dust-ups, pitting a Black Key against Justin Bieber and Azealia Banks against humanity (again), hijacked internet bandwidths as if they were the central plot point of a mid-90s Harrison Ford film. The world turns on mathematical principal, however—in this case the law of averages—which suggests that the less something happens the higher the probability of it happening becomes, trending toward some all-equalizing middle; a cosmic Wal-Mart, if you will. Thankfully this week – boasting an external hard drive’s worth of mp3 files, a Yankee Candle stock room’s worth of wax—appears to be the correction actual music fans have sat on their hands for over the past month or two. There’s a lot to get to so without further pomp, circumstance, and national anthem yodeling, let’ s get this thing started.
There are plenty of albums this week that deserve first pick in the starting blocks but my personal preference reigns in this city-state of opinion and thus we begin with Iceage’s icecap-calving You’re Nothing. Recently signed to punk stalwarts Matador, the band’s sophomore effort updates their claustrophobic, taste-of-aluminum-foil sound with inescapable Brooklyn warehouse grind (“Everything Drifts”), traditional hardcore forays (“It Might Hit First”) and Japandroids-on-a-meth-bender anthems (“You’re Nothing”). One of the truest representations of punk, past and present, that you will hear this year, You’re Nothing joins Parquet Courts’ Light Up Gold and Pissed Jeans’ Honeys on 2013’s punk-ain’t-passé LP roster. Check out the album’s opening cuts (and 7” brothers) “Ecstasy” and “Coalition” here.
Frothing on Iceage’s heels is rock n’ roll talisman Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds brothers’ 15th studio release, Push the Sky Away. In stark contrast to You’re Nothing’s propulsive, flashbang cuts, Push the Sky Away trades now-defunct (as a recording entity, at least) Cave side-project Grinderman’s twitchy immediacy for textured five and a half minute arrangements that brood and, eventually, bloom into meditations on everything from dead hookers to the God Particle. Check out the stream over at NPR but, as is the case with most Cave full-lengths, this one is best appreciated on crackling vinyl in a candle-lit dungeon with a generous glass of something stiff in hand.
As if this opening left-jab, right-hook combo isn’t enough to convince you that the music industry has snapped out of its mid-winter quality hibernation, then perhaps Mark Kozelek, modern master of the cover and a man who systematically dismantles my heteroness with every nylon-stringed pluck, has his newest collection of re-imaginings, Like Rats, humming and bumming on PFADV. While not quite the watermark that his Bon Scott-era AC/DC collection What’s Next to the Moon set (arguably the finest cover album of all time), Like Rats’ breadth of source material—from the Misfits to Bad Brains to Ted Nugent to Sonny and Cher—makes it a thoroughly engrossing time for moms and problem children alike. Oh, and if for some reason you’re not feeling the cover kitsch, no worries; Like Rats is just one of three Kozelek releases this week, accompanying a live album and documentary soundtrack to digital and physical shelves.
Swimming back toward electrified waters, Beach Fossils drop their second album, Clash the Truth, today. Alongside Slumberland, who just pressed Veronica Falls’ jangle-rock standout Waiting for Something to Happen, Captured Tracks—the checking account behind Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, and chillwave et. al—have recently taken stranglehold over the indie-pop larynx, launching most late-2012, early-2013 albums of note in the genre (though Youth Lagoon should shift the balance Fat Possum’s way in a few weeks). Listen to the whole thing over at Stereogum if you’re in need of some substantiation and/or fresh sand to dig in now that the DIIV sandcastle has begun to slip into the sea.
Though a jarring segue, American black metal just gave its first keynote of 2013, by way of NorCal upstarts Ash Borer, whose 2012 debut Cold of Ages (a Trending alumnus no less) was widely heralded as the promising future of the euro-centric genre stateside. In advance of their upcoming 12” Bloodlands, due on April 15th, the band released “Oblivion’s Spring” yesterday, a new track sure to kickstart those April showers with some awesomely atmospheric basement shriekage.
Equally heavy, in the way that the mass of liquid will match that of a solid and yet behave in an entirely different manner, is How to Destroy Angels’ cheerily titled full-length, Welcome Oblivion, which touched down on the worldwide web about the same time you seared your tongue on bodega coffee and realized your fly was down on a packed 4 train this morning. Bring on the end, indeed.
Finally, wrapping up this week’s mixtape is White Fence, who, like Tame Impala, are a neo-psych band preoccupied with giant sub-Saharan mammals, and of course Thom Yorke, whose Atoms for Peace super-side-project has their prog-rock fanboy blue-balling debut LP, Amok, streaming just about everywhere in advance of its release next week.
Thanks for listening.