Are you one of the admirable few who’s managed to abstain from listening to Swans‘ massive new album To Be Kind? Hang in there – there’s only a handful of days left to go! But maybe you’ve already worn out their other 12 records waiting and need a little something to keep you from cracking? Well, CHVRCHDVST Records is here for you, with this sprawling, 32-song-long tribute album to Swans by various underground acts ranging from drone to folk to post-punk in style. It’s like the length of two whole Swans records (or four early Swans records)! This really oughtta keep you occupied til Tuesday…But seriously, you should just give in and listen to the album already. No one’s gonna judge.
Also, Swans has begun uploading its back catalog to their YouTube channel. Check that shit out if you’ve been meaning to get into their music.
Xiu Xiu has made plenty of videos in support of their great (but naturally polarizing) new album Angel Guts: Red Classroom – lead single “Stupid in the Dark” first got a really gritty one, followed by a Pornhub-hosted one for “Black Dick,” another NSWF, S&M-themed one for “El Naco,” and then two surprisingly inoffensive ones for “Lawrence Liquors.”
Thankfully, Xiu Xiu have continued going in a safe-for-work direction with their latest video, for the warm, oddly triumphant penultimate track “Botanica de Los Angeles.” It features twitchy, cubistic animation and it kind of reminds me of David Lynch’s early animation. It’s really neat!
I’ve been fine with the band’s more explicit, on-the-nose expression of Angel Guts‘ unsavory subject matters – although the visuals are repulsive, Jamie and co. are displaying a level of commitment to direction and aesthetic I’ve always wanted to see from them. Still, it’s nice seeing them get back to the more creative and abstract approach to conveying these themes, as they’ve done to fine effect for past projects. However, they hinted a while back at a video for “Adult Friends,” and things could get NSFW with that video real fast – let’s hope nobody gets down and dirty with a pig for it.
Angel Guts: Red Classroom is out now via Polyvinyl. Check out our review of it below:
At long last we have the first single from Swans’ upcoming double album To Be Kind! “A Little God in My Hands” is quite the change of pace coming off thoroughly heavy efforts like The Seer and the limited edition live CD Not Here/Not Now (which contains a few early iterations of tracks to land on Kind). The track has that post-industrial strut not unfamiliar to fans of the band – such a beefy, beefy bass line! – but it’s strangely funky, even suggesting a bit of a krautrock influence. The uncharacteristically twangy guitar flicks call Neu!’s “Hallogallo” to my mind, and the trudge is also accented by these light synth splutters that are a welcome addition to Swans’ ever-growing compositional palette.
The sauntering stomp of the song’s verses gives way to eruptions of blaring brass, piercing electronics, and revved guitars – the sort of crushing climaxes you expect from Swans, but the band has done well to keep things fresh.
Frontman Michael Gira has promised that although even longer than The Seer, To Be Kind will be “more vocal-oriented” than its predecessor. Gira opts to wail his lyrics throughout “A Little God in My Hands” in a nasally, although not at all off-putting sort of way. But judging from the Kind songs the band had been developing live on their last tour, there is going to be a great deal of variety across the LP on this front – ranging from soft, weathered crooning (the title track) to throat-searing howling (“She Loves Us!”). Moreover, during the second verse here, we get a vocal cadence from presumably Annie Clark (St. Vincent), and it is absolutely lovely. I am excited to hear where and how else her voice has been utilized over the course of the record. [Sorry, I'm a dingus. All due credit to Jennifer Church, who did the lovely feature here, and who as it happens is Gira's fiance!]
To Be Kind drops via Young God on May 12 (or, a date that’s too damn far away)!
White Suns’ latest release is one of the most twisted blends of noise and rock I’ve heard this year.
Our friends/tormenters at White Suns (Kevin Barry, Rick Visser, and Dana Matthiessen) are coming out with a new LP of earsplitting tunes later in March. The album is titled Totem and judging from this new single, “Priest in the Laboratory,” it looks as though the trio’s lost none of their primal force since their 2012 sophomore effort Sinews.
The song sees White Suns again saying “fuck it” to a concept of structure, careening forward in a heap of caustic vocals, screeching guitar, piercing electronics, and frantic drumming. But the group does go through a number of interesting phases. At one point, everything pulls back to highlight Matthiessen’s deft percussion work, and later, Barry’s guitar and Visser’s electronics work together in bursts to form a coda. White Suns’ music continues to be something of an all-out shred-fest, but that’s not necessarily a problem, as their interplay continues to be a compelling combination of all-over-the-place and very, very tight.
Totems drops March 25 via The Flenser. Hopefully it’s as powerful as its predecessor, review below:
Most tribute albums don’t go over that well, and I can’t make a promise that you’ll think Xiu Xiu’s Nina is an exception. However, from where I’m standing, this collection of recordings is incredibly twisted, bizarre, beautiful, and moving.
Scope the new single from experimental songstress Carla Bozulich (of Evangelista and Geraldine Fibbers fame). “Deeper than the Well” is taken from her upcoming fourth solo LP Boy and indicates that despite being in the fourth decade of her career, Bozulich isn’t close to losing any steam, delivering one of her most left-field compositions yet, as well as a clever and intensely sexual set of lyrics. Happy listening!
Boy is due out March 4 via Constellation.
With September’s “Don’t smoke in bed,” Xiu Xiu gave us our first glimpse at its upcoming Graveface Records debut Nina, a collection of 11 Nina Simone covers done in the style of free jazz. Since then, the band has shared two more tracks from the project, “Just Say I Love Him” and “You’d Be So Nice.” The former, which actually has a discernible, catchy groove, can be streamed via the Soundcloud widget below; and the latter, the noisiest offering so far, is accompanied by a classy minimalist music video that can be watched above. Enjoy!
Nina is slated for release December 3.