Friday, June 17, 2011


Medicine Babies (ZerOKilled)
No Surrender has been cast under a lot of genres, as is usually the case with misunderstood underground music. It’s not easy being unique in Brooklyn, a place where unique is considered a norm. Led by Eddie Steeples, more famously known as the Crabman from NBC's sadly defunct sitcom My Name Is Earl, the group been called hip-hop, synth, electronic, techno, afro-punk, alternative and soul. However, I think I can safely say that they are one of the first bands I’ve ever heard to really capture all their supposed sounds and blend them into one unique mix. For the sake of brevity, let’s just call it Medicine Babies. The album starts with springy, chunky beats (“Falling Into You”, “Godda Get It”, & “You’re a Star”) that exemplify that working blend of synth-pop and soul. Funky, falsetto choruses topped with forceful verses create an atmospheric swirl - call it a new twist on your favorite club song. That synthesizer continues to spread throughout the entire LP, but slows down for the trippy, hypnotic “Silver Hall”, featuring Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio. “Mountain” and “Carousel” bring the album to a close, dropping the pace but keeping those simple melodies alive. It seems to be the vein of the entire album – simple melody with a strong beat. Trust me when I say that isn’t a bad thing, either - it’s like 30 years of pop rolled up into one record. Just don’t call it house, whatever you do. -Toni Odell

BATTLES Gloss Drop (Warp)
A lot of hullabaloo was made last year when it was announced that guitarist and de facto frontman Tyondai Braxton would be departing the ranks of NYC's premier experimental rock supergroup Battles. But to be honest with you, for as good as their 2007 full-length debut Mirrored was, that whole alien voice shtick that dude would lace each track was with totally fucking annoying. I signed up with Battles to hear the combination of Braxton, former Don Caballero guitarist Ian Williams, bassist Dave Konopka and one-time Helmet/Tomahawk drum god John Stanier push the boundaries of instrumentalism into unknown territories of rhythm and structure. If I wanted to hear someone sing through pitch modulation like an acid-damaged cartoon, I'll refer to my handy copy of Ween's The Pod, thank you very much. But with Braxton out of the picture, it was the hope that Battles would press on by expanding upon the innovative nature of their first three EPs that peppered the early-to-mid 00s. And for fans of their wordless salad days, Gloss Drop will definitely be seen as a return to form of sorts. Yes, there are indeed vocals present in the mix on this second LP for the Warp label in the form of imaginative guest turns from such prolific voices as synth giant Gary Numan, minimalist techno great Matias Aguayo, Blonde Redhead singer Kazu Makino and Boredoms shaman Yamantaka Eye on his finest cameo since the Naked City record. But overall, Gloss Drop is a largely instrumental affair, although the band seems to have moved on from the IDM-emulating riddims of their earliest work in favor of a sound that delves deeper into a more angular prog-pop idiom. At times, this new direction veers a little too close into Pokemon territory on tracks like "Ice Cream" and "Wall Street". But on cooler cuts like "Inchworm" and "Futura", the quixotic quartet veer off into the Bermuda Triangle of island-style abstract groove that takes their music into a whole new stratosphere of strange that is unlike anything they, or anyone else for that matter, have done before. -Ron Hart

FUCKED UP David Comes To Life (Matador)
When you have a band with a name as dubious as Fucked Up, what more can you do to ensure your proverbial monkeywrench continues to grind the gears of the very establishment you rally against? Well, you would beat its poorest, most flagrantly commercial excuse for a punk band at its own game, of course. And that is exactly what this Toronto-based hardcore outfit has accomplished with their career-defining third album David Comes To Life, a 78-minute-long concept piece that serves as the Stephen Sondheim antithesis to American Idiot's Andrew Lloyd Weber-esque grandiosity. Equal parts Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, The Who's Quadrophenia and Steven Soderbergh's 2006 no-budget whodunit Bubble, the storyline revolves around a guy named David who works at a light bulb factory who falls in love with a girl who shares his beliefs in social anarchy. They conspire to build a bomb together and, after she breaks it off with him, he's the prime suspect in her murder. Remarkably, the group pulls it off without a hitch, thanks to guitarist Mike Haliechuk's revolutionary vision of what hardcore could be once it sheds its mookish narrow-mindedness and explores sonic terrain not normally associated with the art and frontman Damian Abraham's stellar sense of prose and storytelling. David Comes To Life is an incredibly impressive display of how far a particular style of music could go the moment it abandons the tethers of its fanbase's preconceived notions. -Ron Hart

No Surrender's "Young World"

Battles "Futura" live at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC April 27, 2011:

Fucked Up on David Comes To Life:

No comments: