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MELVINS, THE Joe Preston (Boner) cassette 6.66

album cover MEM1 +1 (Interval Recordings) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The L.A. sound art duo Mem1 gathered together a great line-up of collaborators for this, their second album released earlier in 2009. Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider, and Area C are the heavy-hitters from our perspective, although those contributions from the those we've not heard of - Jen Boyd, Ido Govrin, RS-232 - seem to more than pull their weight. Mem1 works from an electro-acoustic context reworking cello through an interconnected series of electronics, most of which are probably driven through Max/MSP patches. The results typically settle into a slumbering drone sensibility, as noted in the Jan Jelinek collaboration which interweaves dark plucks from the cello with fizzing Tim Hecker-esque digital washes. The RS-232 pairing is a creepy, nocturnal track of sci-fi sound design for deep industrial hummings scorched with slow burning arcs. Frank Bretschneider offers an exception to this rule through his pulsing post-techno rhythms which gyrate in pools of reverb beneath looping sustained patterns of resampled cello. Beautiful stuff!
MPEG Stream: "+Jan Jelinek"
MPEG Stream: "+RS-232"
MPEG Stream: "+Frank Bretschneider"

album cover MEM1 Alexipharmaca (Interval Recordings) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
With artwork by the man behind Svarte Greiner and a conceptual framework dealing with "plant and animal poisons and their antidotes," Alexipharmaca is an album that wouldn't be out of place on Type. The Los Angeles based Mem1 is a duo comprised of Mark & Laura Cetilia, employing plenty of high-tech gadgets to abstract, obfuscate, and accompany the languid sounds from Laura's cello. Softened drones and delicate atmospheres are the dominant structures for Alexipharmaca, certainly casting a long gaze back to Erik Satie's idea of wallpaper music through the lens of Brian Eno's ambient and Akira Rabelais' esoteric digital abstractions. The movements of the bow across the strings of the cello are sometimes all that remains, as the rest of the sounds have been rarified, pitch-shifted, softly mulched, and recast as a ghostly undulation of sound crosshatched with digital ephemera and microsonic pin-pricks of glitchiness. While many of the quietly rendered sounds enjoy a jewel-like preciousness, Mem1 infuse these passages with a ghostly bleakness that occasionally grows ominous.
MPEG Stream: "Somniferum"
MPEG Stream: "Dasyatis"

album cover MEM1 {Tetra} (Estuary Ltd.) lp 17.98
A while back we reviewed two cds from the LA based duo of Mark And Laura Cetilla, one a collaboration with bigger avant music names (Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider), the other the duo's own dark sonic concoction, and while the guests on the collaborative record definitely made for interesting listening, we much preferred the Cetilla's work unadorned, a hushed minimal darkness, brooding, and softly caustic, ominous and strangely menacing. The sounds here on their first proper full length lp, seem to be a continuation from the music presented on that cd.
Three longform compositions, of smoldering lowercase sound, what sounds like bowed strings, and reverberating metal, blurred into a murky concoction of shimmering grey thrum and dense softly undulating swells, the vibe is definitely cinematic, conjuring up all manner of bleak and abject imagery, evoking decay, and distance, the drones alive with overtones and constantly shifting layers, noisy in places, but the noise blunted and smoothed out into rough expanses of warm buzz and softly prickly hum. There are moments of pure unfettered speaker shredding noise, but even within these blown out squalls, lurk all manner of rich texture and subtle shading. That said, most of the record is spent in hushed drift mode, the final track the most fully fleshed out, with the original instruments still recognizable, the tones organic and only lightly effected, drifting on a sea of distant blackened shimmer, and softly roiling whir and hiss, before finally smoothing out, into a final coda of warm, dreamy (and still slightly ominous tranquility). Dark abstract loveliness for sure, the sort of thing that folks into Jasper TX, Machinefabriek and Type Records might dig quite a bit.
LIMITED TO 300 COPIES, each one hand numbered, packaged in super swank matte finish jackets, and includes a download coupon as well.
MPEG Stream: "Trieste"
MPEG Stream: "Caldera"

album cover MEMORIES ATTACK, THE s/t (tUMULt / Noyes) cd 11.98
tUMULt seems to have been unfairly pegged as a purely black metal label lately. Easy mistake to make really. For sure BM is a big part of the tUMULt universe. Weakling, Leviathan, Crebain, Draugar, Diamatregon... But at the risk of committing heresy in the eyes of the black hordes, there's more to musical life than black metal alone. And by that we mean specifically, POP MUSIC. Before there was black metal, heck before there was even metal for us, our musical world was defined by pop music. And that pop side never went away, a list of all time favorite bands would still be packed with groups like Sloan, Redd Kross, the Posies, the Swirlies and a little group from Canada called Eric's Trip.
Anyway, the black metal hordes are just gonna have to move to the back of the bus and let the pop kids sit up front, as we're in for a little flurry of genius pure pop, branded with the tUMULt logo, the debut full length (actually THREE full lengths crammed onto one cd!) from SF's very own Ovens, coming soon, and this, record number two from The Memories Attack, which just so happens to feature Chris Thompson of the mighty Eric's Trip as well as long time aQ customer and indie rock luminary in his own right Ron Bates.
The Memories Attack are a duo, augmented by an occasional drummer, who sound like they were transported to 2008 directly from the early nineties, bringing with them all the jangle pop, lo-fi bedroom folk, crunchy distorted guitar, gorgeous vocal harmonies, busted effects pedals, old synths, incredible hooks, and catchy songs they could stuff into an old beat up suitcase. Bates plays in a band called Orange Glass, Thompson performs solo as Moon Socket, but it would be silly to not look back to Eric's Trip, one of THE Halifax pop bands who ruled the nineties indie rock world along with Sloan, Jale, Hardship Post, Superfriends, Thrush Hermit, and a bunch more, as the sound of Eric's Trip as well as other bands of the era (especially Sebadoh) totally inform the music of The Memories Attack.
And the thing is, they just don't make bands like TMA that much anymore, a couple guys, with a four track, a guitar, a beat up old drum set, and a head full of hooks. With Pro-Tools and laptops, home recording is a totally different process, and now pretty much everybody has some sort of drone record, or an abstract black ambient band, or a solo project of buzzing synthscapes, and don't get us wrong we love that stuff, but there's something to be said for songs, for POP songs, the kind that get stuck in your head, find their ways onto mix tapes, are forever stuck in the car stereo, the soundtrack to every roadtrip, whether it's across country or just to the 7-11. Take "Peaks & Valleys". It is THE jam of the summer, if it was in fact summer, and if it was actually 1995. Fuck it. This is the 2008 winter jam of the year, so there. All fuzzed out guitars, chiming melodies, blown out drums, gorgeous drawled vocals, and a chorus that KILLS. We literally have listend to this song about 100 times since we first got our hands on these recordings.
Or take "The Raft", beginning with a laid back lope, all spidery minor key guitars, falsetto vocals, distant shimmery drones, underwater bass, until the chorus kicks in, a massive churning chunk of heavy as fuck crunch, a killer riff, all wreathed in crumbling distortion and wrapped around an angular almost looped sounding countermelody, and tempered with gorgeous high high vocals, the sort of jam that you never ever ever want to end. "Collapso" is a minute long blast of scrabbly high end guitars, dueling vocals, splattery drums, all treble, a swirling glorious high end blowout. "Beautiful Sound" begins with a chugging metallic groove, pounding drums, very hypnotic and heavy, before slipping into a soft glimmering droney drift, vocals hovering above cymbal shimmer, and little flurries of clean guitar, before the heaviness kicks back in again. Record closer, "Exploding House II" is all folky and fluttery, a gorgeous steel string guitar workout, twangy pick and strum supporting dreamy world weary vocals, long streaks of fuzzy chordal whir drifting in like thick clouds in a bright blue sky, so so lovely.
Every track here is some glorious strain of perfect pop, whether it's a chunk of old school college rock jangle, a burst of synth infused almost metal crunch, wild wooly lo-fi garage-y stomp, or hushed intimate bedroom pop, it's all so catchy and rocking and irresistible. And it's all held together by some sort of mysterious pop music magic that few have mastered and even fewer understand, but which never fails to totally and utterly entrance us every time.
Needless to say WAY recommended. Most definitely another contender for pop record of the year!
MPEG Stream: "Peaks & Valleys"
MPEG Stream: "Beautiful Sound"
MPEG Stream: "The Raft"
MPEG Stream: "Go!!"
MPEG Stream: "Collapso"

album cover MEMORY BAND, THE Apron Strings (DiCristina Stair Builders) cd 13.98

MPEG Stream: "Blackwaterside"
MPEG Stream: "Come Write Me Down"

MEMORY GARDEN Mirage (Metal Blade) cd 16.98
Latest (third, I think) release by this Swedish band who are heavily influenced by the dark, epic, doom metal of countrymen Candlemass, circa '88. The chugging riffs, melancholic lead guitar, and the lamentations of their singer (whose soaring and sad wails are not quite as over the top as those of former Candlemass vocalist Messiah Marcolin, but close) all fit that doom blueprint, and will meet acceptance from fans of Solitude Aeturnus, Memento Mori, and the like as well. Really great stuff, actually, with some brilliant guitar solos.

MEMORY SMOKER Skulled Peel (Time Burglar) cassette 49.80

MEMPHIS BLEEK Understanding cd 16.98

MEMPHIS MINNIE The Essential (Classic Blues) 2cd 15.98
That Memphis Minnie defeated Big Bill Broonzy in a Chicago competition in 1933 that Bill himself called "the first contest between Blues singers that was ever given in the USA" should alone carry a hefty weight as a testament to Minnie's greatness. From 1905, at the age of 8, when she got her first guitar, to her death in 1973, Memphis Minnie was a popular figure in blues amongst blues musicians and fans alike, hosting Monday night blues parties throughout the 30's in Chicago and winning top awards as a vocalist and performer. This reasonably priced collection brings together 36 of her best tracks on two disks. Most tracks feature Minnie alone on guitar, but there are a few barrelhouse blues numbers with piano accompaniment and duets with the likes of Kansas Joe McCoy, Bumble Bee Slim and Little Son Joe.
RealAudio clip: "Where Is My Good Man"
RealAudio clip: "Let's Go To Town"
RealAudio clip: "Today Today Blues"

album cover MEN OF FORTUNE Time Lovingly Bled (Bird Dialect) lp 14.98
Some bands are considered 'punk' or 'underground' or even 'alternative' based more on lineage, their record label, or membership than actual sound. And weirdly, we find ourselves often digging more mainstream sounds made by those underground bands. Not sure if it's a lifelong aversion to 'the man' and his 'corporate rock', or maybe more likely, it's that popular music is popular for a reason, but when an artist makes 'popular' music and comes at it from a whole different direction, with a whole set of non-popular sonic references and resources, that just makes for something more original and compelling and interesting. A perfect example is the recent Orange record from Diamond Youth. A record we originally bought cuz it was on the same label as another band we love, one that's super punk and noisy and screamo, but the fact that Diamond Youth sounded like something you could hear on the radio, maybe SHOULD hear on the radio, only made it that much cooler.
Which brings us to Men Of Fortune, who we've raved about on the list before, and who are on a cool weird underground label, and who play shows with all sorts of heavy rock and punk bands, but whose sound is maybe closer to outfits like Kyuss or Queens Of The Stone Age. Or at least it was last time we heard em. But this time around, the label references Santana and King Crimson as well. Which at first blush we thought was sorta ridiculous, but the more we listen to Time Lovingly Bled, the more the weirdness, and proginess, and tripped out jamminess shine through. The split we first heard these guys on, they came across more as a sort of stonery noise rock outfit, but here, the band have stretched WAY out, and transformed their sound into a kind of sprawling stoner prog psychedelic space rock. Churning riffs and pounding drums give way to epic droned out psych-dirge drifts, the sound slipping sometimes into near metallic crush, but just as often, getting super spacey and abstract, meandering post rock psychedelia, the kind of thing that wouldn't be out of place on Agitated or Rocket or Cardinal Fuzz. And it's sorta funny, all that talk above about weird underground bands playing popular music, well, with every spin of this record, the actual sound becomes more and more tripped out, proggy, tangled and fucked up, which maybe speaks to the power of MoF's vision, cuz really, some of the moments here are catchy as hell, lots of moments in fact, but those moments are surrounded on all sides by strange swirls of buzzing synths, or tranced out hypno-rock blowouts, or brooding post-rock creeps, the arrangements dense and intricate, the prog vibe looms large, as does the sort of Isis / Neurosis style post metal, although these guys are less about bombast as they are about mood and vibe, texture and tone, some of the jams here, we could get lost in for hours, the band laying down dense tribal rhythms beneath skies full of swirling spidery melodies, and blurred chordal shimmers, the bass thick and sinewy, but the songs always seem to coalesce into proper songs, and in places, those songs verge on classic DOOM, just check out "The Passing Shame", which sounds like modern day Cave-In playing doom metal, and as unlikely as that may sound, the actual SOUND of it is pretty fucking excellent.
We definitely dug the previously reviewed split, but this full length has won us over big time. If you dig progged out heaviness, droney space rock, and all strains of psychedelia, and aren't averse to a little poppiness and proper songcraft, Time Lovingly Bled should push all your musical buttons. Pressed on 180 gram, 100 percent virgin vinyl. Includes a download of the whole record, as well as tracks from MoF side project Leaves Aflame!!
MPEG Stream: "Voices From The Void"
MPEG Stream: "Some Crystal Dawn"
MPEG Stream: "The Passing Shame"

MEN'S RECOVERY PROJECT Bolides Over Basra (Load) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

album cover MEN'S RECOVERY PROJECT The Very Best Of (5RC) cd 14.98

album cover MEN, THE Campfire Songs (Sacred Bones) 12" 16.98
New five song ep from these East Coast noise rockers, and true to the title, the songs here are all acoustic, not sure if they actually were recorded around a campfire, but hell, they probably could have been! It's not necessarily a whole different side of the band, the last full length, found them shedding much of their obtuse noisiness in favor of more jangle and a bit more poppiness, and that is definitely evident here as well, although don't be expecting spare strum and croon, the sound here is actually pretty lush and full, a little bit noisy, distorted and maybe mid-fi. Opener "I Saw Her Face" transforms acoustic guitars into something thick and blurry, while the multi-tracked (or dual?) vocals, keening and heartfelt, definitely add some pathos. Sounds like their could be a piano in there too, or maybe just another guitar, but for an acoustic jam, it's pretty noisy and psychedelic. Some of the other tracks are bit more acoustic-y, like "The Seeds", which is downright Beatles-esque, super melodic and classically catchy, laced with some shaker-percussion, but even here, the guitars seem to billow into clouds of strummy shimmer, giving the sound a definite psychedelic vibe. And so it goes, the other tracks here are similarly woozy and washed out, pretty, fuzzy and strummy, although "Turn Your Color" might be our favorite, it's definitely the droniest and most tripped out of the bunch, with minimal percussion, and long stretched out tones, super trancey and hypnotic, thick clouds of cymbal shimmer, and some mumbled, buried-in-the-mix vox. Nice!
MPEG Stream: "I Saw Her Face"
MPEG Stream: "The Seeds"
MPEG Stream: "Turn Your Color"

album cover MEN, THE Immaculada (Deranged) cd 13.98
As much as we loved The Men's Leave Home album, which we made our Record Of the Week back in 2011, Immaculada, the 2010 debut from Brooklyn post punks / noise rockers The Men, released on cd for the first time (and vinyl again), might be even better. It's the same mix of experimental noise and twisted pop smarts, but here that hybrid is even more raw and feral, more blown out and urgent, more of a sort of home brewed basement-made mystery. The opener is the perfect teaser, a crumbling distorted layer of guitar buzz draped over a lilting organ melody, the combination reminding us of Tim Hecker, or maybe the Goslings, and then when the band kicks in proper, they simply add another layer, transforming that gauze-y drift into a sort of slow-mo shoegaze bliss-metal doom-drift that we sort of wish would have gone on forever.
Thankfully, the rest of the record is just as great. "Problems/Burning Up" unfurls a woozy sitar like drone, a sort of lo-fi raga, that is rudely interrupted by a squall of feedback and guitarnoise, those too settle into a sort of drone, before the sound splinters, and the song kicks in, all swaggery noise rock riffage and howled distorted vox, early AmRep is the vibe, but all washed out and sort of blissed out, and seriously catchy, and from there on out, the band sort of careen wildly from sound to sound, pretty and drifty one second, noisy and stomp the next, blurry and psychedelic the next, it's a glorious hodgepodge, as is evidenced by the jagged edits, and weird song structures, almost like this was a patchwork put together way after the fact, but that sort of schizophrenic arrangement suits the sound and the songs. "Grave Desecration" is The Men doing their best buzzing black metal, peppering that blackened noise-rock with parts way poppier, not to mention a dreamy acoustic guitar outro. "Madonna, Star Of The Sea" is another gem here, never fully forming into proper song form, but instead, unfurling as a glorious, super distorted, blissed out psychedelic guitar drone, the sound churning and undulating, chugging and drifting in equal measure, a bit of twang here and there, but ultimately, the sounds surface and then seem to ooze and bleed into one another, the result a sort of heady psychedelic drone-drift, that again, like the opener, could have filled up the rest of the record and we would have been just fine with that.
From there on out, the group continue to confound. "Lazarus" delivers a swirling squall of guitar noise and feedback drenched skree, very free form Sonic Youth style, but then when the song kicks in, it's CRAZY poppy, sounding like a stumblier, noise rockier version of the Swirlies, "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition" sounds like Polvo by way of the Meat Puppets, total classic noise pop, a little bit angular, a little bit twangy, but still plenty murky and lo-fi, "Oh Yoko" is a brief blast of pop flecked noisiness, a chaotic sonic swirl rife with shrieked vox and buried melodies, and finally the title track is a brooding groover, a classic slice of noise pop/rock, with chugging, churning bass heavy verses, soaring super distorted sort-of choruses, some killer psychedelic guitar freakouts, and somehow the whole thing manages to still be insanely catchy. Probably should have made this one Record Of The Week too, which of course means that this is absolutely and utterly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Stranger Song"
MPEG Stream: "Problems / Burning Up"
MPEG Stream: "Grave Desecration"
MPEG Stream: "Madonna; Star Of The Sea"
MPEG Stream: "Lazarus"

album cover MEN, THE Immaculada (Deranged Records) lp 17.98
As much as we loved The Men's Leave Home album, which we made our Record Of the Week back in 2011, Immaculada, the 2010 debut from Brooklyn post punks / noise rockers The Men, released on cd for the first time (and vinyl again), might be even better. It's the same mix of experimental noise and twisted pop smarts, but here that hybrid is even more raw and feral, more blown out and urgent, more of a sort of home brewed basement-made mystery. The opener is the perfect teaser, a crumbling distorted layer of guitar buzz draped over a lilting organ melody, the combination reminding us of Tim Hecker, or maybe the Goslings, and then when the band kicks in proper, they simply add another layer, transforming that gauze-y drift into a sort of slow-mo shoegaze bliss-metal doom-drift that we sort of wish would have gone on forever.
Thankfully, the rest of the record is just as great. "Problems/Burning Up" unfurls a woozy sitar like drone, a sort of lo-fi raga, that is rudely interrupted by a squall of feedback and guitarnoise, those too settle into a sort of drone, before the sound splinters, and the song kicks in, all swaggery noise rock riffage and howled distorted vox, early AmRep is the vibe, but all washed out and sort of blissed out, and seriously catchy, and from there on out, the band sort of careen wildly from sound to sound, pretty and drifty one second, noisy and stomp the next, blurry and psychedelic the next, it's a glorious hodgepodge, as is evidenced by the jagged edits, and weird song structures, almost like this was a patchwork put together way after the fact, but that sort of schizophrenic arrangement suits the sound and the songs. "Grave Desecration" is The Men doing their best buzzing black metal, peppering that blackened noise-rock with parts way poppier, not to mention a dreamy acoustic guitar outro. "Madonna, Star Of The Sea" is another gem here, never fully forming into proper song form, but instead, unfurling as a glorious, super distorted, blissed out psychedelic guitar drone, the sound churning and undulating, chugging and drifting in equal measure, a bit of twang here and there, but ultimately, the sounds surface and then seem to ooze and bleed into one another, the result a sort of heady psychedelic drone-drift, that again, like the opener, could have filled up the rest of the record and we would have been just fine with that.
From there on out, the group continue to confound. "Lazarus" delivers a swirling squall of guitar noise and feedback drenched skree, very free form Sonic Youth style, but then when the song kicks in, it's CRAZY poppy, sounding like a stumblier, noise rockier version of the Swirlies, "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition" sounds like Polvo by way of the Meat Puppets, total classic noise pop, a little bit angular, a little bit twangy, but still plenty murky and lo-fi, "Oh Yoko" is a brief blast of pop flecked noisiness, a chaotic sonic swirl rife with shrieked vox and buried melodies, and finally the title track is a brooding groover, a classic slice of noise pop/rock, with chugging, churning bass heavy verses, soaring super distorted sort-of choruses, some killer psychedelic guitar freakouts, and somehow the whole thing manages to still be insanely catchy. Probably should have made this one Record Of The Week too, which of course means that this is absolutely and utterly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Stranger Song"
MPEG Stream: "Problems / Burning Up"
MPEG Stream: "Grave Desecration"
MPEG Stream: "Madonna; Star Of The Sea"
MPEG Stream: "Lazarus"

album cover MEN, THE Leave Home (Sacred Bones) cd 14.98
Brand new full length from this Brooklyn postpunk / noiserock quartet, who take the whole gloomy, gothicky dour eighties pop sound that is so popular with the kids these days, and twist it all up, supercharging it, dousing it in noise and transforming an overfamiliar sound into something super exciting and fresh, blown out and psychedelic, wild and chaotic, a collection of crashing, bombastic pop songs, tripped out droney instrumentals, and furious super saturated noiserock blowouts, that while in fact do occasionally hint at the aforementioned sound, seem to shed bits of that sound as the record progresses, and even moreso with every play, ultimately revealing the twisted, noisy, and wholly original sound at The Men's gloriously distorted core.
The opener starts with a misleadingly tranquil stretch of softly swirling psychedelic guitars, warbly ambience, and effects laced shimmer, it's over three minutes before the song proper kicks in, but when it does, holy shit, a blinding, head spinning kaleidoscopic blast of thick shoegazey guitars, super distorted drum pound, all tangled melodies and swirling harmonies, the main riff sounding strangely like Big Country, albeit more warped and woozy and noisy, and then the vocals swoop in and it's pure pop, all supercharged dreamy hazy multitracked vocals, everything wreathed in a crumbling almost Elephant Six style production, it's like a dirgey noiserock Neutral Milk Hotel record, melting in the sun, and blasted through some hood mounted loudspeakers as you do doughnuts in the middle of a busy intersection on a hundred degree summer afternoon, fantastically fuzzy and blissed out, but still crunchy and heavy and dreamily noisy.
The rest of the record follows suit, mixing in healthy heapings of pop soaked punkish pound, but even then the sounds are warm and in-the-red, and the sounds seem to ooze and warble, the riffs slippery and the songs laced with loads of subtle (and not so subtle) subtle harmonies. Much of the record is actually instrumental, which in the hands of most bands would bore big time, but these guys kitchen sink every song, often sounding like multiple Polvo's playing at once, thick and dense and gnarled and gloriously twisted, the songs constantly switching gears, whether it's feedback doused almost-sludge, wrapped in wild squiggly guitar leads, or dirgey near Brainbombs sounding cacophony, or even strummy psych pop blowouts that seem to explode into swirling squalls of free-psych shreddery, the sounds all merge into one glorious noise pop blur.
"Bataille" is the hit here, and it's obvious why, all of the above mentioned sonics, harnessed to a low slung chunk of Sonic Youth worthy post punk, all angular guitars, dense layered melodies, howled throat shredding vox, and dense propulsive drumming, the song rife with crazy hooks, droney-cyclical riffage but also some seriously killer gloomy new wave-isms. And while we love that track, our favorite (besides the opener), might just be "Shittin' With The Shah", a smoldering, sun baked, wide eyed bit of hazy psychedelia, all simple skeletal drumming, and chiming echo drenched guitars, woozy and dreamily druggy, a soft slow build to a final one minute blast of gloriously blown out in-the-red, sweetly melodic, but speaker shreddingly noisy shoegazekrautpopnoiserock swirl.
Needless to say, quite a surprise, even from a label we dearly love and who rarely disappoints. Most definitely a new noise pop / psych rock / post punk favorite, that we can't seem to stop listening to!
MPEG Stream: "If You Leave"
MPEG Stream: "Bataille"
MPEG Stream: "Shittin' With The Shah"

album cover MEN, THE Leave Home (Sacred Bones) lp 14.98
Brand new full length from this Brooklyn postpunk / noiserock quartet, who take the whole gloomy, gothicky dour eighties pop sound that is so popular with the kids these days, and twist it all up, supercharging it, dousing it in noise and transforming an overfamiliar sound into something super exciting and fresh, blown out and psychedelic, wild and chaotic, a collection of crashing, bombastic pop songs, tripped out droney instrumentals, and furious super saturated noiserock blowouts, that while in fact do occasionally hint at the aforementioned sound, seem to shed bits of that sound as the record progresses, and even moreso with every play, ultimately revealing the twisted, noisy, and wholly original sound at The Men's gloriously distorted core.
The opener starts with a misleadingly tranquil stretch of softly swirling psychedelic guitars, warbly ambience, and effects laced shimmer, it's over three minutes before the song proper kicks in, but when it does, holy shit, a blinding, head spinning kaleidoscopic blast of thick shoegazey guitars, super distorted drum pound, all tangled melodies and swirling harmonies, the main riff sounding strangely like Big Country, albeit more warped and woozy and noisy, and then the vocals swoop in and it's pure pop, all supercharged dreamy hazy multitracked vocals, everything wreathed in a crumbling almost Elephant Six style production, it's like a dirgey noiserock Neutral Milk Hotel record, melting in the sun, and blasted through some hood mounted loudspeakers as you do doughnuts in the middle of a busy intersection on a hundred degree summer afternoon, fantastically fuzzy and blissed out, but still crunchy and heavy and dreamily noisy.
The rest of the record follows suit, mixing in healthy heapings of pop soaked punkish pound, but even then the sounds are warm and in-the-red, and the sounds seem to ooze and warble, the riffs slippery and the songs laced with loads of subtle (and not so subtle) subtle harmonies. Much of the record is actually instrumental, which in the hands of most bands would bore big time, but these guys kitchen sink every song, often sounding like multiple Polvo's playing at once, thick and dense and gnarled and gloriously twisted, the songs constantly switching gears, whether it's feedback doused almost-sludge, wrapped in wild squiggly guitar leads, or dirgey near Brainbombs sounding cacophony, or even strummy psych pop blowouts that seem to explode into swirling squalls of free-psych shreddery, the sounds all merge into one glorious noise pop blur.
"Bataille" is the hit here, and it's obvious why, all of the above mentioned sonics, harnessed to a low slung chunk of Sonic Youth worthy post punk, all angular guitars, dense layered melodies, howled throat shredding vox, and dense propulsive drumming, the song rife with crazy hooks, droney-cyclical riffage but also some seriously killer gloomy new wave-isms. And while we love that track, our favorite (besides the opener), might just be "Shittin' With The Shah", a smoldering, sun baked, wide eyed bit of hazy psychedelia, all simple skeletal drumming, and chiming echo drenched guitars, woozy and dreamily druggy, a soft slow build to a final one minute blast of gloriously blown out in-the-red, sweetly melodic, but speaker shreddingly noisy shoegazekrautpopnoiserock swirl.
Needless to say, quite a surprise, even from a label we dearly love and who rarely disappoints. Most definitely a new noise pop / psych rock / post punk favorite, that we can't seem to stop listening to!
MPEG Stream: "If You Leave"
MPEG Stream: "Bataille"
MPEG Stream: "Shittin' With The Shah"

album cover MEN, THE New Moon (Sacred Bones) cd 15.98
And now here's the cd version!
We love NYC noise rockers the Men, pretty much every one of their records ended up being a HUGE favorite around here, heck we even made Leave Home our Record Of The Week back in 2011. Review-wise we'd sort of been leapfrogging between records and sounds, having first reviewed, Open Your Heart, before reviewing their much noisier, WAY more chaotic debut Immaculada. And while we did love that record, it may have distracted folks from the fact that The Men had been growing steadily more poppy and less noisy with each record. And we'd been hearing rumblings recently about how this new one was crazy poppy, so much so that some folks just couldn't handle it. We were pretty skeptical, but listening to it now, we can definitely see what had people all worked up. Don't get us wrong, we still dig it, it's a pretty awesome record, but it IS crazy poppy, sounding way less like nineties noise rock, and way more like nineties indie/college rock, which might not seem like that much of a distinction, but in some ways it really is.
But if you're like us, and you love jangly pop as well, there's still some noise pop goodness to be had here, it's just now heavier on the pop than on the noise. Just check out the opening one-two punch of "Open The Dorr" and "Half Angel Half Light". The first of which is all acoustic guitar and piano, whirring organ, laconic laid back vocals, a little bit twangy, it reminds us a bit of the Woods, or for a nineties reference, a little bit like a less guitar heavy Dinosaur Jr, maybe Sebadoh? Might not be what we expected, but it's pretty great. And the follow up is definitely more rocking, but somehow it's even more nineties indie rock sounding, a la Replacements, Soul Asylum (when they were good, and when they were good, they were GREAT), Skunk... This could be some lost band on Minneapolis label TwinTone, with the heartfelt vox, the urgent jangle, the fuzzed out riffage, swirls of wah wah guitar and a big chorus. And that's pretty much how the whole record plays out, a killer throwback to the heyday of nineties indie rock, but these guys began life as a post punk / noise rock band, so they can't ditch that side of their sonic personality altogether, and when it pops up, it adds some awesomely noisy heft to the proceedings, like on "Without A Face", the stripped down verse give way to a wild squall of a bridge, complete with wild harmonica blowing (!!), or on "I Saw Her Face", the band unfurl a super blown out, crumbling distortion drenched dirge, wild and psychedelic, but underpinned by some serious poppiness. Elsewhere the band further confound with the stripped down jangle garage rock of "The Seeds", but return to melt faces with "The Brass", which could definitely have been plucked from one of their older records, and the sprawling 8 minute closer, which fuses dense drum pound with chugging, noisy distorted riffage, the whole thing tranced out and hypnotic, but laced with some stretches of pure poppiness, which are balanced by some fierce noise drenched psychedelic blowouts, sounding not only like an ideal final track, but probably a live set closer as well.
So yeah, don't believe the hype, odds are if you dug the other Men records, you'll likely dig this one too, unless you're extremely averse to pop, but in that case, what the heck is wrong with you?!?
MPEG Stream: "Open The Door"
MPEG Stream: "Half Angel Half Light"
MPEG Stream: "Without A Face"
MPEG Stream: "I Saw Her Face"
MPEG Stream: "The Brass"

album cover MEN, THE New Moon (Sacred Bones) lp 17.98
We love NYC noise rockers the Men, pretty much every one of their records ended up being a HUGE favorite around here, heck we even made Leave Home our Record Of The Week back in 2011. Review-wise we'd sort of been leapfrogging between records and sounds, having first reviewed, Open Your Heart, before reviewing their much noisier, WAY more chaotic debut Immaculada. And while we did love that record, it may have distracted folks from the fact that The Men had been growing steadily more poppy and less noisy with each record. And we'd been hearing rumblings recently about how this new one was crazy poppy, so much so that some folks just couldn't handle it. We were pretty skeptical, but listening to it now, we can definitely see what had people all worked up. Don't get us wrong, we still dig it, it's a pretty awesome record, but it IS crazy poppy, sounding way less like nineties noise rock, and way more like nineties indie/college rock, which might not seem like that much of a distinction, but in some ways it really is.
But if you're like us, and you love jangly pop as well, there's still some noise pop goodness to be had here, it's just now heavier on the pop than on the noise. Just check out the opening one-two punch of "Open The Dorr" and "Half Angel Half Light". The first of which is all acoustic guitar and piano, whirring organ, laconic laid back vocals, a little bit twangy, it reminds us a bit of the Woods, or for a nineties reference, a little bit like a less guitar heavy Dinosaur Jr, maybe Sebadoh? Might not be what we expected, but it's pretty great. And the follow up is definitely more rocking, but somehow it's even more nineties indie rock sounding, a la Replacements, Soul Asylum (when they were good, and when they were good, they were GREAT), Skunk... This could be some lost band on Minneapolis label TwinTone, with the heartfelt vox, the urgent jangle, the fuzzed out riffage, swirls of wah wah guitar and a big chorus. And that's pretty much how the whole record plays out, a killer throwback to the heyday of nineties indie rock, but these guys began life as a post punk / noise rock band, so they can't ditch that side of their sonic personality altogether, and when it pops up, it adds some awesomely noisy heft to the proceedings, like on "Without A Face", the stripped down verse give way to a wild squall of a bridge, complete with wild harmonica blowing (!!), or on "I Saw Her Face", the band unfurl a super blown out, crumbling distortion drenched dirge, wild and psychedelic, but underpinned by some serious poppiness. Elsewhere the band further confound with the stripped down jangle garage rock of "The Seeds", but return to melt faces with "The Brass", which could definitely have been plucked from one of their older records, and the sprawling 8 minute closer, which fuses dense drum pound with chugging, noisy distorted riffage, the whole thing tranced out and hypnotic, but laced with some stretches of pure poppiness, which are balanced by some fierce noise drenched psychedelic blowouts, sounding not only like an ideal final track, but probably a live set closer as well.
So yeah, don't believe the hype, odds are if you dug the other Men records, you'll likely dig this one too, unless you're extremely averse to pop, but in that case, what the heck is wrong with you?!?
MPEG Stream: "Open The Door"
MPEG Stream: "Half Angel Half Light"
MPEG Stream: "Without A Face"
MPEG Stream: "I Saw Her Face"
MPEG Stream: "The Brass"

album cover MEN, THE Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones) cd 13.98
We made the last record by The Men, Leave Home, our Record Of The Week, a kick ass collision of old school noise rock, hazy psychedelia, and super distorted Sonic Youth beholden shoegaze noisepop. And while that all still most definitely describes this latest record, the one difference we're noticing this time around is some serious poppiness. Not that the other record wasn't poppy, but the poppiness was often obscured by squalls of chaotic noise, or stretched out into droned out heaviness, or wreathed in cacophony, but here, it's fully on display, as if they were in fact a POP band, who just also happened to be noisy and psychedelic and fucked up and heavy. Every song here is shot through with hooks galore, irresistible melodies, pure pop centers no matter what sort of wildness surrounds it. And it suits them. As much as we played that other record to death, this one is fast catching up. Imagine a sort of Stooges-y stomp fused to something a bit more pop-punk, all dipped in distortion and sent careening into a sweaty wildly pogo-ing pit. Opener "Turn It Around" flits easily from garagey punker out crunch to soaring hook heavy indie pop jangle, and even throws in some wild psychedelic leads, not to mention some wild killer drumming. "Animal" takes that poppiness and wraps it in fuzzed out riffage, punkish pound and howled feral vox. And like Leave Home before it, the band definitely don't shy away from mixing it up. "Country Song" is all twangy and reverby and yeah, a little bit country, but a sort of sun baked psych country, all rife with slide guitar, and woozy interwoven melodies. Then there "Oscillation", which might be our favorite. Starting out all minimal and stripped down, motorik and krautrocky, super melodic, driving and catchy as hell, a tangle of melodies and guitars all somehow sculpted into a super crazy catchy chunk of washed out psychedelic indie rock bliss, it's not even until 5 minutes in before the vocals first come in, a weirdly dramatic deep croon, the music building to a serious frenzy, the sort of song you can almost imagine as a set closer, so rocking and weird and catchy and infectious.
"Please Don't Go Away" is total jangle flecked noise pop, with plenty of vocal oooh' and aaah's, not to mention some old-Flaming Lips worthy psychedelic guitar freakouts, in fact, early Flaming Lips is definitely a good comparison, if not for the songs, certainly the sound, that same sort of on the verge of total chaos, fusing loose druggy psych, with total classic hook filled pop. The title track is total seventies style classic power pop, just roughed up a little, and drenched in a bit of extra distortion. There are still moments of full on blown out speaker shredding noise rock freakouts, "Cube" is a two and a half minute sweat soaked bloody knuckled blowout, but then that leads right into "Presence" which is a slide guitar, swampy, bluesy dirge, that sounds more like Naked On The Vague or Crystal Stilts, until near the end when the song seems to splinter into a psych pop freakout all wild shredding leads, layered vox and octopoidal drumming. "Ex-Dreams" finishes things off with some new wave flecked noise pop crunch, another song that could also be one of our favorites, but then really, the more we listen to this record, the more we think that about pretty much all of the songs. Which is most definitely a good sign. And really the more and more we dig this, the more we think this could easily have been a Record Of The Week too, which obviously means this is WAY recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Turn It Around"
MPEG Stream: "Animal"
MPEG Stream: "Candy"
MPEG Stream: "Ex-Dreams"

album cover MEN, THE Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones) lp 14.98
We made the last record by The Men, Leave Home, our Record Of The Week, a kick ass collision of old school noise rock, hazy psychedelia, and super distorted Sonic Youth beholden shoegaze noisepop. And while that all still most definitely describes this latest record, the one difference we're noticing this time around is some serious poppiness. Not that the other record wasn't poppy, but the poppiness was often obscured by squalls of chaotic noise, or stretched out into droned out heaviness, or wreathed in cacophony, but here, it's fully on display, as if they were in fact a POP band, who just also happened to be noisy and psychedelic and fucked up and heavy. Every song here is shot through with hooks galore, irresistible melodies, pure pop centers no matter what sort of wildness surrounds it. And it suits them. As much as we played that other record to death, this one is fast catching up. Imagine a sort of Stooges-y stomp fused to something a bit more pop-punk, all dipped in distortion and sent careening into a sweaty wildly pogo-ing pit. Opener "Turn It Around" flits easily from garagey punker out crunch to soaring hook heavy indie pop jangle, and even throws in some wild psychedelic leads, not to mention some wild killer drumming. "Animal" takes that poppiness and wraps it in fuzzed out riffage, punkish pound and howled feral vox. And like Leave Home before it, the band definitely don't shy away from mixing it up. "Country Song" is all twangy and reverby and yeah, a little bit country, but a sort of sun baked psych country, all rife with slide guitar, and woozy interwoven melodies. Then there "Oscillation", which might be our favorite. Starting out all minimal and stripped down, motorik and krautrocky, super melodic, driving and catchy as hell, a tangle of melodies and guitars all somehow sculpted into a super crazy catchy chunk of washed out psychedelic indie rock bliss, it's not even until 5 minutes in before the vocals first come in, a weirdly dramatic deep croon, the music building to a serious frenzy, the sort of song you can almost imagine as a set closer, so rocking and weird and catchy and infectious.
"Please Don't Go Away" is total jangle flecked noise pop, with plenty of vocal oooh' and aaah's, not to mention some old-Flaming Lips worthy psychedelic guitar freakouts, in fact, early Flaming Lips is definitely a good comparison, if not for the songs, certainly the sound, that same sort of on the verge of total chaos, fusing loose druggy psych, with total classic hook filled pop. The title track is total seventies style classic power pop, just roughed up a little, and drenched in a bit of extra distortion. There are still moments of full on blown out speaker shredding noise rock freakouts, "Cube" is a two and a half minute sweat soaked bloody knuckled blowout, but then that leads right into "Presence" which is a slide guitar, swampy, bluesy dirge, that sounds more like Naked On The Vague or Crystal Stilts, until near the end when the song seems to splinter into a psych pop freakout all wild shredding leads, layered vox and octopoidal drumming. "Ex-Dreams" finishes things off with some new wave flecked noise pop crunch, another song that could also be one of our favorites, but then really, the more we listen to this record, the more we think that about pretty much all of the songs. Which is most definitely a good sign. And really the more and more we dig this, the more we think this could easily have been a Record Of The Week too, which obviously means this is WAY recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Turn It Around"
MPEG Stream: "Animal"
MPEG Stream: "Candy"
MPEG Stream: "Ex-Dreams"

album cover MEN, THE Tomorrow's Hits (Sacred Bones) cd 14.98
ALSO ON CD!
For a band that started off in a noise-rock, post-punk vein, The Men sure have changed a lot (grown up? well no, the were already Men). In keeping with the acoustic around-the-campfire twang of the Campfire Songs 12" that preceded it, this new full-length starts off with the muscular, moody "Dark Waltz" which has a country-ish rock sound to it, like The Men performed this song while hanging around on some back porch out in the sticks - or had been listening to a lot of Uncle Tupelo. "Give What You Give" keeps up some of same vibe, sounding a bit like a twangy Pavement.
The country-ishness fades away though as The Men move into pure power pop with that track and the next few - indeed, the extra-lush "Another Night" incorporates a full-on horn section, maybe channelling some '80s Springsteen or something. Uptempo powerful poppiness is indeed what The Men are all about here, as side one closes out with the anthemic "Different Days", a great song that reveals a big Replacements influence.
Side two starts off with "Sleepless", a more intimate song than what's come before, with piano. But then The Men erupt into the honky-tonk freakout of the energetic rocker "Pearly Gates". There's more piano on this one as well, and horns, and it kinda reminds us of some '70s Stones footstomper. It's the longest track on the record and they really jam and get wild. Good times.
"Settle Me Down" mellows things out a bit, it's a lovely slice of wistful pop strum, a nice one to hum along with. Then, they may have saved the best for last, "Going Down", a more vigorous number that mixes wiry post-punk with a classic rock vibe (hints of Eddie & The Cruisers sez Andee, meaning it as a compliment!).
While we loved the distortion and noisiness of this band's earliest outings, their newfound, hi-fi, clean-cut maturity (some might say Dad-rockishness) is done pretty darn well, they know how to write songs after all.
MPEG Stream: "Dark Waltz"
MPEG Stream: "Different Days"
MPEG Stream: "Going Down"

album cover MEN, THE Tomorrow's Hits (Sacred Bones) lp 17.98
For a band that started off in a noise-rock, post-punk vein, The Men sure have changed a lot (grown up? well no, the were already Men). In keeping with the around-the-campfire twang of the aforementioned 12", this new full-length starts off with the muscular, moody "Dark Waltz" which has a country-ish rock sound to it, like The Men performed this song while hanging around on some back porch out in the sticks - or had been listening to a lot of Uncle Tupelo. "Give What You Give" keeps up some of same vibe, sounding a bit like a twangy Pavement.
The country-ishness fades away though as The Men move into pure power pop with that track and the next few - indeed, the extra-lush "Another Night" incorporates a full-on horn section, maybe channelling some '80s Springsteen or something. Uptempo powerful poppiness is indeed what The Men are all about here, as side one closes out with the anthemic "Different Days", a great song that reveals a big Replacements influence.
Side two starts off with "Sleepless", a more intimate song than what's come before, with piano. But then The Men erupt into the honky-tonk freakout of the energetic rocker "Pearly Gates". There's more piano on this one as well, and horns, and it kinda reminds us of some '70s Stones footstomper. It's the longest track on the record and they really jam and get wild. Good times.
"Settle Me Down" mellows things out a bit, it's a lovely slice of wistful pop strum, a nice one to hum along with. Then, they may have saved the best for last, "Going Down", a more vigorous number that mixes wiry post-punk with a classic rock vibe (hints of Eddie & The Cruisers sez Andee, meaning it as a compliment!).
While we loved the distortion and noisiness of this band's earliest outings, their newfound, hi-fi, clean-cut maturity (some might say Dad-rockishness) is done pretty darn well, they know how to write songs after all.
MPEG Stream: "Dark Waltz"
MPEG Stream: "Different Days"
MPEG Stream: "Going Down"

album cover MENACE RUINE Alight In Ashes (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
While we've definitely dug the last few records from Canadian blackened neo-folk duo Menace Ruine, we were initially a bit confused by their shift from grim, psychedelic, experimental black metal, to their newly minted neo-folk incarnation, and while much of the mood and musical ambience remained, some of us still longed for the group's previous style. But over the course of the next two records, we grew to dig their witchy, mystical sound, one that shared seemingly everything but sound with the black metal that birthed them, sinister and haunting, abject and ritualistic, it's no surprise that they continue to be embraced by the BM scene, even though they had essentially ceased playing black metal long ago. But on Alight In Ashes, their blackened strain of neo-folk has definitely drifted even closer to the great black abyss, the sound already grim, but here even more cloaked in shadow, the soaring dramatic vocal incantations, the perfect foil for the roiling blurred riffage and muted power electronics that churn underneath. In fact, the music sounds like slow motion black metal, blurred into sinister swells of smeared riffage and buried rhythms, it makes for a fantastic combo, when coupled with the vocals, which we've seen compared to Nico, but we still hear Jex Thoth or Blood Ceremony or Christian Mistress, and in places, the vocals sound remarkably like a female Mike Scalzi from Slough Feg. The vibe throughout, much like the record before it, continues to be haunting and harrowing, very much like these are in fact mysterious rituals, and arcane incantations, the music often building to dense, near psychedelic crescendos, or slipping into hushed mesmer, the opening track might be the most black metal thing we've heard from Menace Ruine since they shed their black buzz, a sprawling, dynamic expanse of murky metallic churn and smeared shadowy psychedelic shimmer. Elsewhere, the sound shifts to something much more medieval, that ancient music simulated by electronic buzz and minimal percussion, or the music groans and heaves, like a symphony of moaning strings, even sans vocals, the music here would be some fascinating collection of blackened electronic ragas, but with the vocals, the sound is transformed into some sort of divine doom-ed blackened medieval folk, and we find ourselves no longer missing the black buzz one bit.
MPEG Stream: "Set Water To Flames"
MPEG Stream: "Salamandra"
MPEG Stream: "Burnt Offerings"

album cover MENACE RUINE Alight In Ashes (Sige) 2lp 32.00
NOW ON DOUBLE VINYL!
While we've definitely dug the last few records from Canadian blackened neo-folk duo Menace Ruine, we were initially a bit confused by their shift from grim, psychedelic, experimental black metal, to their newly minted neo-folk incarnation, and while much of the mood and musical ambience remained, some of us still longed for the group's previous incarnation. But over the course of the next two records, we grew to dig their witchy, mystical sound, one that shared seemingly everything but sound with the black metal that birthed them, sinister and haunting, abject and ritualistic, it's no surprise that they continue to be embraced by the BM scene, even though they had essentially ceased playing black metal long ago. But on Alight In Ashes, their blackened strain of neo-folk has definitely drifted even closer to the great black abyss, the sound already grim, but here even more cloaked in shadow, the soaring dramatic vocal incantations, the perfect foil for the roiling blurred riffage and muted power electronics that churn underneath. In fact, the music sounds like slow motion black metal, blurred into sinister swells of smeared riffage and buried rhythms, it makes for a fantastic combo, when coupled with the vocals, which we've seen compared to Nico, but we still hear Jex Thoth or Blood Ceremony or Christian Mistress, and in places, the vocals sound remarkably like a female Mike Scalzi from Slough Feg. The vibe throughout, much like the record before it, continues to be haunting and harrowing, very much like these are in fact mysterious rituals, and arcane incantations, the music often building to dense, near psychedelic crescendos, or slipping into hushed mesmer, the opening track might be the most black metal thing we've heard from Menace Ruine since they shed their black buzz, a sprawling, dynamic expanse of murky metallic churn and smeared shadowy psychedelic shimmer. Elsewhere, the sound shifts to something much more medieval, that ancient music simulated by electronic buzz and minimal percussion, or the music groans and heaves, like a symphony of moaning strings, even sans vocals, the music here would be some fascinating collection of blackened electronic ragas, but with the vocals, the sound is transformed into some sort of divine doom-ed blackened medieval folk, and we find ourselves no longer missing the black buzz one bit.
MPEG Stream: "Set Water To Flames"
MPEG Stream: "Salamandra"
MPEG Stream: "Burnt Offerings"

album cover MENACE RUINE Cult Of Ruins (Alien8 Recordings) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
What to make of a black metal band that has releases on both the Alien8 (Nadja, Merzbow, Acid Mothers Temple) and Tour De Garde (Ash Pool, Marblebog, Tomb Of..., Uno Actu) labels? That they're probably pretty weird? They are. And intense too. This is some sick stuff. Also beautiful, if you, like us, have fallen under the spell of this most extreme aesthetic, if you're someone whose eyes/imagination can scan the soot-blackend skies of an apocalyptic otherworld, and still spy flights of swans and stars beyond.
Menace Ruine, from the "frozen north" of Quebec, are the mysterious male/female duo of S. de La Moth and Genevieve. This James Plotkin-mastered Alien8 release is their debut album, after one demo (being reissued as a cassette on Tour De Garde). MR's original black metal art really made an immediate impression upon us despite how easily jaded we can be with the glut of black metal out there. It's the unholy layering of sometimes melodic feedback-sculpted ambient drone howl, with machine gun blasting... long stretches of atmospheric synth heavily infiltrated with sheer noise and distortion, scattered further with clanging industrial raw rhythms. There's almost 20th c. avant-garde moments of majesty, like some Romanian electronic composer gone insane in his or her sound laboratory, and others that with the occasional female vox bring to mind Wolves In The Throne Room wandering in another dimension. Or simply blaze with the burning black metal fires of not mere churches but whole civilizations.
For Alien8's first foray into the troo cvlt world of black metal, they couldn't have done much better, with a release that's indeed (oc)cult and true but also experimental, and not something that we've heard already a thousand times before, a rarity indeed! Fiercely recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Process Of Bestialization"
MPEG Stream: "Sky As A Reversed Abyss"
MPEG Stream: "Bonded By Wyrd"

album cover MENACE RUINE In Vulva Infernum (Tour De Garde) cassette 5.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We reviewed the debut cd from this boy / girl black metal duo from Canada, a few lists back, released on the not typically black metal label Alien8, and gushed appropriately about its gorgeous drone drenched minimalist black buzz. We mentioned then that they also had a release on Tour De Garde, the label run by the guys in Akitsa, and we've now finally managed to track down a bunch of copies of that first tape.
If anything, this one is more metal (but in parts just as experimental), less minimal, with a sound much more intense, drums and vocals the focal point. The sound less blissed out and atmospheric. It's a strange sound, one that changed pretty dramatically for their next record, but we ended up digging this as much as the Alien8 release.
It's both the drums and the production that make this record so intense, the sound is super hot, the recording vivid and loud without being blown out, and the drums, programmed we assume, are furious and LOUD and pretty much drive all the action. Way up in the mix, pounding relentlessly, peppered with flurries of double kick and blasting fills, the guitar alternately unfurling clouds of harmonics, or grinding riff for riff right alongside the drums, turning the metal into something more looped sounding and trancelike, eventually exploding into a weird processed dronescape, all glitchy buzz, and streaks of hiss, whirring electronics, and bits of crumbling distortion, drums still there, buried now underneath this churning slab of fuzz and buzz and blur, until those drums lurch up of the murk, and the guitars lock back into a strange static riff, the rhythm more sparse, with dark throaty female vocals, suddenly the sound is some black gothic doom, still the guitars grind and soar, chunks of jagged melody are hurled back and forth, the sound is just so good, so intense, and so strange. This is so unlike any other black metal we've heard. Listening to this tape has us wanting to go back to the Alien8 disc and dig deeper into that one too.
Later on, the band dabble in huge trudging black doom, the guitars so processed and blown out, they emanate a warm fuzzy aura, the programmed drums monstrous and pummeling, making the rhythms sound almost like dance music at times, while sounding like a less lo-fi Nadja at others. Distant howled vocals, throbbing distorted low end. This shit is just so crushingly heavy but not at all in the way we're used to. Hard to describe. But we've listened to this tape about 4 times in a row now, and have no plans to stopÉ
Packaged in beautiful textured paper sleeves, some blue, some red.

album cover MENACE RUINE The Die Is Cast (Alien8) cd 15.98
For their sophomore full length, Canada's Menace Ruine return not exactly as the heavy noise inspired black metal band you know and love, but as a neo-folk, noise-rock powerhouse. You may be wondering like us: did we miss something? And what exactly is the link? Well, maybe it's the misanthropic, anti-humanist ethos shared by both neo-folk and black metal artists that somehow ties them together. Or maybe it's the fascination with all things medieval. Or maybe it's the general brooding and ever-present sense of darkness. Could it be written off as a shared love of sonic tension? Wait, wait ... there is a difference between them somewhere, right? As the label astutely points out, in the wake of both Leviathan and Nachtmystium covering Death in June, this sort of explicit crossover makes tons of sense. And really, it might be a tad reductive to simply say that this sounds like a black metal band that wrote songs for Der Blutharsch, but it's not too far off the mark. Menace Ruine probably couldn't escape their uber-noise tendencies even if they wanted to, but other than that, the comparison essentially holds true. It is also worth noting that the label mentions an upcoming Merzbow collaboration. Woah! Man, you know a record is good when it isn't simply good, but it leaves your head spinning trying to figure out what just fucking happened, and if you've read this far then you've seen all our questions. This is what you'd hear if Moss, The Dead C, and Douglas P were caught in the middle of some bizarre, church burning audial orgy. Potential fans of something that could convolutedly be described as tortured, grim, militaristic folk-noise will absolutely want this. And if that doesn't scream recommended, then we're not really sure what the hell does.
MPEG Stream: "One Too Many"
MPEG Stream: "This Place of Power"

album cover MENACE RUINE Union Of Reconcilables (Aurora Borealis) cd 17.98
Not quite black metal, though doubtless Menace Ruine would happily bask in the smoldering embers of a charred church somewheres up north. Not exactly militaristic neo-folk either. Nor are they a noise band. Well, maybe noise. But that's only part of it. Their dark, distorted drone textures are also often adorned with witchy female vocals, a la Jex Thoth. So, three albums in, this Quebec girl-boy duo of Genevive and S. de la Moth are still quite hard to define, though we know we like 'em, and the Menace Ruine music they make (indeed a mix of noise, drone, folk, and black metal moves) is grim as well as sometimes quite gorgeous, that is if you're like us and can find the beauty in ten-minute long tracks of misanthropic sonic miasma. Perhaps it's the way the ceremonial lamentation of Genevive's gentle singing merges with the slowly churning electronic extremes of intense, dense distortion and feedback... Certainly this new release via Aurora Borealis (following previous efforts on Alien8 and Tour De Garde) is a fine continuation of their unique post-black metal noise-folk aesthetic. If you liked The Die Is Cast that came before this, you'll probably like this too. And fans of bands as diverse as Burial Hex, Dead Raven Choir, Velvet Cacoon, Current 93, Wolf Eyes, and Alcest, among others, ought to check out Menace Ruine if you haven't already.
MPEG Stream: "Collapse"
MPEG Stream: "The Upper Hand"
MPEG Stream: "Not Only A Break In The Clouds But A Permanent Clearing Of The Sky"

MENCHE, DANIEL Crawling Towards The Sun (Soleilmoon) cd 9.98
Daniel Menche's "Crawling Towards The Sun" catches the reclusive noise artist in transition from the intense furnace-burn of albums like "Screaming Caress" to something much closer to a soft focus haziness to his drone work. Out of his earlier abject, pseudo-holocaust references, Menche has attained a majestic darkness to his sounds putting Menche on par with the latest work from such contemporaries as Lustmord and the Hafler Trio.

MENCHE, DANIEL Field Of Skin (Soleilmoon) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The infernal sounds of low end rumbling, creaking pipes, and the variable noise of heat induced stress on metal continue to emanate from Daniel Menche's smoldering electroacoustic albums, yet here on "Field Of Skin," the source material is not from the furnace, and actually was culled from a Menche amplifying the sounds of his own body. With both sonic references to intense heat and to the flesh, Menche conjures some ghastly metaphors on this highly effective low end noise / drone album.

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Flaming Tongues (Blossoming Noise) cd 14.98
We haven't even come close to carrying all of the many recordings Daniel Menche has has released over the years, as his output of scalding noise coupled with caustic drones is now starting to rival the massive catalogues of fellow noise-mongers Merzbow and Francisco Lopez. Menche's work seeks to channel a raw, primal, and unmistakably masculine energy through his impressive noise arsenal often citing the rituals of Japanese warriors and Native American war chants as jumping off points for his atavistic expressionism. Flaming Tongues is one of many exceptional releases that Menche has produced in 2005, marking one of his most prolific periods. Menche presents us here with one of his typical strategies in counterpointing an expansive timbral minimalism a la Eliane Radigue or Jonathan Coleclough with a blistering vein of scalding noise that threatens to smash through the drone with an incendiary detonation. Menche constantly teases with the possibility of such a violent explosion, but never actually does. Instead, Flaming Tongues stands as a constant pressure cooker of grating textures, seething white-hot noises, infernal atmospheres, and volatile electro-acoustics.
MPEG Stream: "Track 01"
MPEG Stream: "Track 03"

MENCHE, DANIEL Hope And Prey (Soleilmoon) cd 7.98

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Kataract (Editions Mego) cd 17.98

MENCHE, DANIEL October's Larynx (Alluvial) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
A few years back, Daniel Menche recordings occupied a brutalist space, where tortured wheezes of somatic activities adjoined harsh textures of rough stones upon strained glass in the production of thick slabs of smoldering noise. Yet, Menche has recently emerged from an extended sabbatical, to showcase the softening of his craggy, bleak attitudes with an equally powerful sound that relies less on the insistency of noise and more on the sublime urges of the drone. While his process may still be the same (contact microphones and a few effects), Menche appears to have replaced his arsenal of bricks and shattered glass with the celestial tones of Chinese gongs and bells. October's Larynx swells with beautifully sustaining coppery metallic tones, sounding much like Francisco Lopez's enigmatic ebbtides of pure sound. During the last passage on the album, Menche allows for the gongs to speak with their own voice, as he initiates a steady pulse before expanding the gong's resonance in a thick haze of reverb. Quite a nice recording.
RealAudio clip: "October's Larynx 1"
RealAudio clip: "October's Larynx 5"

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Radiant Blood (Drone) 10" 14.98
The amazing Drone Records label, run by Stefan Knappe of Maeror Tri / Troum, has been quietly releasing super limited, hand made slabs of gorgeous drone music for years now. Mostly 7", always vinyl (although there will soon be a 2cd collection of early out of print singles on Andee's tUMULt label), each disc an ultra personal exploration of the drone, sometimes soft and dreamlike, sometimes harsh and noisy, but always beautiful. Recently, Drone has launched a new series, 10"s this time, with a very complicated premise: "A concept that embraces the prospect of infinite possibilities for artists to create music about the intangible such as: the unnameable, the unspeakable, the unthinkable, the unidentifiable, etc. Various aspects related to "The Unknown". Sound artists and artwork designers were invited to work on the theme of the "grey matter" / the "dark continent" surrounding us & within us. Transforming this paradoxical idea into acoustic and visual objectifications." Phew. Pretty heady stuff. But these first three installments are up to the task, creating dark and disturbing and truly though provoking dronemusic. We can hardly wait for the rest of the series.
Up first is sound artist Daniel Menche, whose contribution buzzes and crackles and is not as minimal as one might expect. Metallic insect like buzzing rings and reverberates beneath streaks of keening high end and upper register pulses. The disparate sounds slowly blend into one another and the disc approaches actual NOISE, a wall of lawnmower roar wrapped in short circuiting electronics and swirling sonic loops. The B side steps way back into the darkness, unveiling a gorgeous and creepy piano dirge, all low end, the notes piling up, overtones upon overtones, building into huge swells of thrum and throb, bathed in a prickly cloud of hiss and static and white noise.
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES. Pressed on brown and black swirled vinyl.

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Raw Fall (The Tapeworm) cassette 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Man, is The Tapeworm tough to figure out. But maybe we don't want to figure them out. A label, a CASSETTE ONLY label, that traffics in an insanely wide range of sounds, how they're all connected we're not sure, field recordings, seventies style disco funk, obscure trip hop by super models, gorgeous soundscaping, avant outsider sound art, spoken word, turntablism, strange women reading Baudrillard, heavy drones, solo piano, interviews with artists, faux sixties psychedelic jazz, lost new wave... All we know is there aesthetic kind of reminds us of... well, OURS! Which is maybe why we're so in love with this label, and pretty much everything they release. This week elsewhere on the list you'll find some nineties recorded but seventies style dubbed out weirdo disco funk, and then there's this right here, a collection of field recordings from Daniel Menche, two side long tracks, each a recording of a waterfall in the Oregon mountains, and both weirdly lovely. Knowing that these are in fact recordings of waterfalls, makes it easy to identify the sounds the second they start, but after a few minutes, the sounds become less and less obvious, and if you were played this recording with no knowledge of the source, you'd likely just assume it was a collaged soundscape of white noise and muted hiss, blurred fuzz and swirls of static, a weirdly hypnotic abstract, totally random and ever shifting soundscape of muted white noise, almost like a Merzbow record, dialed WAY down, all the edges smoothed, into something strangely serene, a sound that while totally natural, when removed contextually from nature, sounds manmade, even though it's a sound we've all heard, camping, hiking, and which once again demonstrates that much of what we discover and create, already exists in nature, which is both incredible and incredibly humbling. A fantastic sonic document. LIMITED TO 250 COPIES!

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Sirocco (Important) cd 14.98

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Terre Paroxysm (Utech) cd 14.98
Much of Daniel Menche's recordings have mustered primal forces (the self, the voice, the natural world, etc.) channeled into a potent sound design of powerdrones, concussive rhythmic assaults, and sustained explosions; yet Terre Paroxysm, on Utech, is something of a detour into more subtle constructions. Following a similar modus operandi as on his Kataract album on Editions Mego, this Portland noise merchant constructs everything from recordings of ice, wind, and rain, with considerable amount of electro-acoustic treatments. The album begins with a slow crackling of what sounds like crushed gravel slowly being pulverized into smaller and smaller components, until Menche reduces his earthen composite to their molecular and atomic base elements. Here, Menche's natural sounds become electrical, buzzing and vibrating as if the whole desert were wired with miles of hissing fluorescent bulbs. Abruptly, Menche cuts the power and ends the first track. A haunted watery drone introduces the second track with a soft percussive underbelly that punctuates a frigid trickling of water and swelling high-frequency tones. Here, Menche's texture and drone configurations resemble those of Small Cruel Party, G*Park, or Coelacanth. Quite nice! The third track continues along that vein with a series of repeating patterns of slushed texture orbiting around sharply sparkling electronic tones and deep subharmonic rumblings, all of which slide into an insectoid chorus at the end of the track. The finale is the most psychoacoustically tense piece found on Terre Paroxysm with a sinewy set of pierced sinewave tones that undulate above a blustery howl of crunched noise. While this fourth track is typical of Menche's catalogue, the more restrained elements of Terre Paroxysm are where Menche is at his best.
MPEG Stream: "Terre Paroxysm 2"
MPEG Stream: "Terre Paroxysm 3"
MPEG Stream: "Terre Paroxysm 4"

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL The Face Of Vehemence (Ground Fault) cd 11.98
With the two preceding recordings "Crawling Toward The Sun" and "October's Larynx," the ultra-physicality of Portland based sound artist Daniel Menche noticeably waned in favor of a more Zen approach in meditative awe of the drone supreme. "The Face Of Vehemence" is something of a return to those more physical sounds with an emphasis on densely textured noises passing through the stereo field. For this album, Menche took as an inspiration "Sun and Steel" -- a book by Japanese writer Yukio Mishma, whose partially autobiographical tales are noted by a preoccupation with the body, its beauty, and its degeneration. The themes of a majestic beauty and a putrescent abjection have always run through the work of Menche, typically swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other. "The Face Of Vehemence" is a rare example for the artist working with both extremes at the same time mostly by exposing an overwhelming beauty with the archetypes of noise. Menche opens this album with a sustained discordant cluster of notes from a harmonium, conjuring a similar transcendent abrasion found in those epic Hermann Nitsch "Harmoniumwerk" albums. Throughout the album, Menche mars his thick drones with processed field recordings, whereby bristling electricity transmits from a chorus of crickets and grumbling frogs pronounce menacing bellowings. The manifestations of the sublime should always strive for grand metaphors, and "The Face Of Vehemence" succeeds in rendering those metaphors undeniably audible.
RealAudio clip: "Face Of Vehemence 1"
RealAudio clip: "Face Of Vehemence 3"

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL Wolf's Milk (Utech) cd 14.98
Across his prolific catalog over the past 12 years or so, Daniel Menche's recordings have been almost synonymous with scalding noise and boldly masculine aggression, much in the same way that you know what to expect when you pick up a Merzbow record. Yet, there are a couple of exceptions to the Menche confrontational agenda. The most notable recordings in the lesser known, Menche drone sound would be October's Larynx, Crawling Toward The Sun, and now Wolf's Milk. All of these recordings hold a golden shimmer which steadily changes from a somnolent ambience into a smoldering drone of compacted static, rasping vibrations, and even a few distant hints of the mangled electronics of his noise persona. Each of the three lengthy tracks on Wolf's Milk ramps up to the immersive atmospheres and steadily deflates back down to a stately dronefield, which all together recalls BJ Nilson and even Phill Niblock. A really nice record, in the usual nice Utech packaging!
MPEG Stream: "Wolf's Milk 1"
MPEG Stream: "Wolf's Milk 3"

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL & KEVIN DRUMM Gauntlet (Editions Mego) cd 14.98

album cover MENCHE, DANIEL / KIYOSHI MIZUTANI Garden (Auscultare) cd 11.98
Kiyoshi Mizutani began his career working in Merzbow (when Merzbow wasn't just Masami Akita alone). After parting ways with Akita in the late '80s or so, Mizutani released a number of solo recordings, most recently focusing on field recordings. His first foray in his search for natural sounds was the less than perfect Bird Songs, but since then Mizutani has blossomed into an exceptional contextualist of found sounds. Garden is his collaboration with Portland noise veteran Daniel Menche, who has been struggling for several years now to calm his work, but can't quite seem to shake his preternatural talents for explosive noise. On this recording, Menche handled all of the low frequencies, while Mizutani was responsible for all of the high frequencies. The source material was a finely captured field recording of Japanese locusts and crickets, presumably from the Mizutani archives. The slow organic chorus of those insects starts out with a very hypnotic, natural introduction; but Mizutani offers small clues to his manipulation by first repeating the choral phrases which would never be so precise in a natural setting, and later by filtering out everything but the timbral roots. Mizutani's gradual shift from these environmental sounds to almost mechanical ones is particularly unsettling, especially in communion with Menche's ominous bass plod which slowly emerges over the course of this recording. Within this metamorphosis of sound, Mizutani and Menche rewrite insect languages as metallic, inorganic, and alien ones where apocalyptic implications abound. Really gorgeous. Released on Randy Yau's immaculately designed Auscultare label.
MPEG Stream: "Garden"

MENDELSON L'avenir Est Devant (Lithium) cd 14.98
Acoustic and dark and really beautiful. Mendelson are like a French Nick Drake, or maybe more accurately, a French Belle And Sebastian (who are of course, obsessed with Nick Drake). Long stretches of gently plucked guitars, minor key strings, mumbled vocals, and sparse percussion. Absolutely stunning.

album cover MENDELSON Quelque Part (Lithium) cd 14.98
Mendelson's second record is a little more aggressive, taking their Nick Drake / Belle And Sebastian sound and drenching it in electric guitars and reverb, adding some roughness to their dark crystalline sound. And this time around, the vocals are more spoken, less sung, making a lot of this record sound like a French Arab Strap. You feel like, if you understood French, you would realize these beautiful songs were actually crushing tales of impotence and drunkenness and loneliness. Nice
RealAudio clip: "Le Brouillard"

album cover MENEGUAR Strangers In Our House (Troubleman Unlimited) cd 12.98

MPEG Stream: "Living In The White"
MPEG Stream: "Set A Line"
MPEG Stream: "Paint You"

album cover MENEGUAR The In Hour (Woodsist) cd 13.98
One of the great things about working here at the aQ HQ is finding out how much shared musical history you have with your co-workers. Take, for example, a few months ago when our review for the new Dodos record referenced this totally obscure mid-'90s band from Western Mass called the Wicked Farleys. That one offhand mention got us all so amped up that it sparked a bunch of long, hyperactive, rambling conversations about our other favorite overlooked bands from that era. Even now, whenever someone comes into the store and asks about Vetiver, there are a few of us who will take the opportunity to reminisce loudly about how totally rad Andy Cabic's OLD band, The Raymond Brake, was (believe us, they were really rad). There's a whole host of fractured, whammy bar-worshipping rockers form the mid-'90s that we collectively wax nostalgic about here both in our reviews and our day-to-day conversations (The Swirlies, Pitchblende, Polvo, Erectus Monotone, as well as the aforementioned Wicked Farleys and Raymond Brake to name but a few!); we're crazy about these bands and their records still get plenty of play years later. So with all that in mind, take us seriously when we say that had we heard the first two records by Brooklyn-based indie rockers Meneguar (I Was Born At Night and Strangers In Our House, both on Troubleman Unlimited and both newly available at aQ) back in '95 that they would undoubtedly be included in aQ's hallowed pantheon of atonal pop bliss!
So, with all of that said, there was some serious trepidation on our part when we first gave The In Hour a spin as the record finds the band dipping into new, self-consciously 'experimental' waters. Generally, 'experimental' albums by rock bands are fraught with the potential for self-indulgent missteps, poor song choices, and a total disregard for the kind of intensive self-editing required of a fine pop record. Thankfully, Meneguar manage to avoid these pitfalls and make a record that, although different from its predecessors, is still a thoroughly enjoyable listen! The In Hour is definitely a scrappier affair, but there are still hooks and riffs a plenty. Maybe it's the fact that they've always had a bit of a fey touch to them that keeps the the melody-to-skronk ratio tipped to the tuneful side; or maybe the extended meanderings are kept to a bare minimum by the fact that several of the band's members are able to get their freakier ya-yas shaken out as part of Brooklyn drone-folkers, Woods Family Creeps (whose excellent self-titled debut we highlighted a list or two back).
Aside from the ghetto blaster meets trash can aesthetic of the recording, the most notable change from their earlier work is the subdued feel that permeates the record. The distortion and anthemic leanings are dialed down, making space for acoustic guitars that manage to both clang and chime, a healthy dose of crackle and hiss, and a whole lot of reverberating echoes bouncing hither and dither. Meneguar have managed a rare feat in the world of indie rock: stretching out and messing with their formula without completely losing sight of what makes them special in the first place. Despite the slightly more primitive approach to execution and production, the band hasn't forsaken melody or catchiness or chosen to dive headlong into the hissy, static, shitwave wash of which we've been hearing so much lately. This one is equally likely to appeal to fans of Woods Family Creeps, Barn Owl and the like as it is to fans of No Age and Eat Skull without sounding particularly like either tribe. At its core, The In Hour is a thoroughly enjoyable indie rock record that will give fans of bands like Les Savy Fav, Superchunk, GBV, Pavement and Archers of Loaf plenty to smile about. It's chock full of memorable, melodic gems that should provide ample mix tape fodder for the coming summer days. Hopefully, giving this one a listen will inspire some of y'all to check out their back catalog as well! Recommended for sure!
MPEG Stream: "We Own We Sell"
MPEG Stream: "Lynch The Swan Bar"
MPEG Stream: "Black Death"

album cover MENEGUAR The In Hour (Woodsist) lp 14.98
One of the great things about working here at the aQ HQ is finding out how much shared musical history you have with your co-workers. Take, for example, a few months ago when our review for the new Dodos record referenced this totally obscure mid-'90s band from Western Mass called the Wicked Farleys. That one offhand mention got us all so amped up that it sparked a bunch of long, hyperactive, rambling conversations about our other favorite overlooked bands from that era. Even now, whenever someone comes into the store and asks about Vetiver, there are a few of us who will take the opportunity to reminisce loudly about how totally rad Andy Cabic's OLD band, The Raymond Brake, was (believe us, they were really rad). There's a whole host of fractured, whammy bar-worshipping rockers form the mid-'90s that we collectively wax nostalgic about here both in our reviews and our day-to-day conversations (The Swirlies, Pitchblende, Polvo, Erectus Monotone, as well as the aforementioned Wicked Farleys and Raymond Brake to name but a few!); we're crazy about these bands and their records still get plenty of play years later. So with all that in mind, take us seriously when we say that had we heard the first two records by Brooklyn-based indie rockers Meneguar (I Was Born At Night and Strangers In Our House, both on Troubleman Unlimited and both newly available at aQ) back in '95 that they would undoubtedly be included in aQ's hallowed pantheon of atonal pop bliss!
So, with all of that said, there was some serious trepidation on our part when we first gave The In Hour a spin as the record finds the band dipping into new, self-consciously 'experimental' waters. Generally, 'experimental' albums by rock bands are fraught with the potential for self-indulgent missteps, poor song choices, and a total disregard for the kind of intensive self-editing required of a fine pop record. Thankfully, Meneguar manage to avoid these pitfalls and make a record that, although different from its predecessors, is still a thoroughly enjoyable listen! The In Hour is definitely a scrappier affair, but there are still hooks and riffs a plenty. Maybe it's the fact that they've always had a bit of a fey touch to them that keeps the the melody-to-skronk ratio tipped to the tuneful side; or maybe the extended meanderings are kept to a bare minimum by the fact that several of the band's members are able to get their freakier ya-yas shaken out as part of Brooklyn drone-folkers, Woods Family Creeps (whose excellent self-titled debut we highlighted a list or two back).
Aside from the ghetto blaster meets trash can aesthetic of the recording, the most notable change from their earlier work is the subdued feel that permeates the record. The distortion and anthemic leanings are dialed down, making space for acoustic guitars that manage to both clang and chime, a healthy dose of crackle and hiss, and a whole lot of reverberating echoes bouncing hither and dither. Meneguar have managed a rare feat in the world of indie rock: stretching out and messing with their formula without completely losing sight of what makes them special in the first place. Despite the slightly more primitive approach to execution and production, the band hasn't forsaken melody or catchiness or chosen to dive headlong into the hissy, static, shitwave wash of which we've been hearing so much lately. This one is equally likely to appeal to fans of Woods Family Creeps, Barn Owl and the like as it is to fans of No Age and Eat Skull without sounding particularly like either tribe. At its core, The In Hour is a thoroughly enjoyable indie rock record that will give fans of bands like Les Savy Fav, Superchunk, GBV, Pavement and Archers of Loaf plenty to smile about. It's chock full of memorable, melodic gems that should provide ample mix tape fodder for the coming summer days. Hopefully, giving this one a listen will inspire some of y'all to check out their back catalog as well! Recommended for sure!
MPEG Stream: "We Own We Sell"
MPEG Stream: "Lynch The Swan Bar"
MPEG Stream: "Black Death"

album cover MENOMENA Friend And Foe (Barsuk) cd 11.98
Whoa, now that Menomena are on Barsuk Records are they gettin' all suitably indie rock on us?! Sure seems to be the case. They make their move with what is their most straightforward album to date. Menomena fans may be slightly disappointed to find the new sound to be less distinctly or recognizably sprawlingly expansively 'Menomena', but the group might gain a new flourish of fans of their new dreamy wintry pop. Really, this fits quite perfectly alongside labelmates Death Cab, Mates Of State, Jim Noir et al. Fans of those bands please take note!
And by the way, this disc has some of the coolest jewel case packaging we have ever seen. Super elaborate, hyper detailed cartoon drawings, with little shapes cut out to reveal still more patterns on the disc face, while on the back, little circles are punched out to allow the silver cd face to shine though the tray card. WOW!
MPEG Stream: "The Pelican"
MPEG Stream: "Ghostship"

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