Green Day’s latest album Revolution Radio closes with the solo acoustic song “Ordinary World,” and late last year, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong went on Conan to play the song himself without the rest of the band. And last night, he did it again, bringing his acoustic guitar over to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy … More »
The Killers just released their new album Wonderful Wonderful yesterday, and to celebrate, they played a concert at the New York City venue Terminal 5. The Killers shows often feature covers, and during last night’s set, the band played the Gaslight Anthem’s “American Slang” live for the first time. Watch their performance below. More »
Stevie Wonder is headlining Global Citizen Festival, the annual star-studded benefit concert that raises money to fight extreme poverty around the world, in New York City’s Central Park today. Green Day, the Killers, the Lumineers, and the Chainsmokers will also perform, and the show is set to feature special guest appearances from Pharrell Williams, Big … More »
Back when Toronto three-piece Metz first unleashed their debut, self-titled album in 2012, it was like a tidal-wave had been unleashed. It had been some time since the legendary Sub Pop label had released something so ferocious (bar perhaps, Pissed Jeans) though it was quite clear why the band and label were a perfect match from the onset. Rarely this side of the millennium had such an explosively LOUD band bothered the ‘indie-mainstream’ bar acts like Fucked Up or Ice Age.
The hype was justified too as METZ was a terrific, bolt out of the blue debut. Since then, the Torontans ran a little out of steam on their follow-up, 2015’s II, which was a solid record but largely stuck to the winning formula before. Two years on, the band have a renewed sense of vigour, thanks in no small part to the legendary producer and reviver of many band’s careers, Steve Albini, on their third record Strange Peace.
Immediately, Albini’s presence is felt with his voice feeding through from the control room saying ‘You are rolling’ on the propulsive opener ‘Mess of Wires’, bringing his signature live drum sound to life. There is an expanse Albini naturally brings to all his recordings, it is why bands so regularly go to him for the kick up the ass they so often require after a couple albums into their careers.
Songwriting-wise however, this is par the course for Metz. These are still the fast-moving, shape-shifting, ear-splitting ragers we have come to expect from the Toronto trio, and if you are a fan of that already, this album will not disappoint. The thing is, a lot of Metz’s appeal is based on wishing Albini-alumni Nirvana were still an active band. ‘Cellophane’, for instance, has a catchy hook right out of Cobain’s playbook, with a similarly dissonant guitar solo to boot. ‘Mr. Plague’ is a sped up version of one of Krist Novoselic’s best moments in ‘Radio Friendly Unit Shifter’ while finale ‘Raw Materials’ at least borrows from the earl-Nineties alt-rock era’s other major influencers, Sonic Youth, during its middle section.
Still, without wanting to sound too harsh on this pretty great band, there are some interesting embellishments they bring when they slow down and take stock of themselves. The central two-piece ‘Caterpillar’ and ‘Lost in the Blank City’ rachet up the tension to excruciating quantities, better than they’ve perhaps ever done before in their career so far. ‘Drained Lake’ however brings out a dynamic the band sometimes forget about, going loud and quiet but never losing pace akin to some of the greats like NEU! or Can. Meanwhile, ‘Sink’ brings things to a rather creepy, almost Slint-esque head whereas ‘Common Trash’ is about as classic of a Metz song one could hope for, bent strings and all.
Metz are perhaps never going to quite shock and awe as they did with their volcanic debut, if you don’t know what they do by now then you can’t have heard them before. That said, full marks go, as usual, to Albini who breathes life into these often familiar songs to make them sound positively MASSIVE for a band who already had a pretty ‘big’ sound in the first place. Metz keep consistently ticking along and will always be a welcome addition to any year’s new releases, regardless of whether they’re the most original band in the world and Strange Peace does nothing to disavow that.
From Charles Bradley’s camp:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Charles Bradley.
Always a fighter, Charles battled cancer with everything he had. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2016 and underwent treatment. Bradley headed out on the road earlier this year after receiving a clean bill of health but the cancer recently returned, spreading to his liver.
Born on November 5, 1948 in Gainesville, FL, Charles then moved to Brooklyn, NY at the age of 8. He lived across the country throughout his life including Maine, Alaska and two decades in the Bay Area before returning to New York City, his home for the last 20 years. Bradley passed away in Brooklyn on September 23, 2017, surrounded by family and friends including members of the bands he worked closely with: Menahan Street Band, His Extraordinaires, Budos Band and the Jimmy Hill Allstarz—his band from his time performing as Black Velvet.
Thank you for your prayers during this difficult time. Mr. Bradley was truly grateful for all the love he’s received from his fans and we hope his message of love is remembered and carried on.
Bradley’s dynamic and heartfelt live performances won over crowds across the world. He released his first album No Time For Dreaming (2011) at the age of 62, and Victim of Love in 2013. His third album Changes was released in 2016 to wide critical praise and performed on national television shows including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan and CBS This Morning: Saturday—a performance that led to an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.”
Backing into a tight corner in a white space, Hiss Spun is Chelsea Wolfe‘s closest to an attempt at looking out, at communicating with something outside of herself. The album cover sees Wolfe cloaking her body with a dress of black hair, which the wanness of her face peeks out of ever so slightly. She is on guard; waiting for the predators to arrive. Wolfe’s tired of hiding, apparently. Now she’s on the attack. Hiss Spun begins with the sound of a guitar too close to an amp. It feels like a syringe, filled with hot wax which pokes at the eardrum. Then, with sharpened claws, comes the punishing walls of caustic distortion. The bass bears the stank of a malodorous corpse, the drums rattle like hollowed bones. You can see the speakers struggling with the vibrations, as they pummel out a disgustingly sexy tri-tonal riff – and this is only track one.
If the guitar seems familiar, that’s because Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of The Stone Age) is at the reins, and he’s brought his Songs for the Deaf-adjacent A game. The combination of Wolfe’s evanescence (absolutely an emo double-entendre that I won’t let go unnoticed) and Leeuwen’s dirty earthiness, is one that totally works. Their marriage of brutality and tenderness cleans the sky of its smoke-clouds in ’16 Psyche’, before raining fire in ‘Vex’. The song stands out as the album’s closest thing to doom-metal, as Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom) screams alongside a spinning Catherine Wheel of blazing guitars and pelting drums. After the attack comes a warren of effects and distortion. Wolfe softens after the feast, singing with a head voice that sounds remarkably like FKA Twigs. It’s a moment of brief hypnagogic gentleness, but a gentleness to be cautious of – like a daytime scene in a horror film. “My finger is in your wound” she breathes. And on ‘Particle Flux’: “though you tried to swallow me whole, I did not succumb.” Although it’s not with total conviction, as she concedes: “you know, in this hell I am torn.“
Wolfe has always been torn between being on the defence and the attack; between the tender and the brutal. For the first half of the album, she battles with bloody claws. She is all slaughter and metal (although her take on it is rendered into something more like stoner-doom metal), and the thing with heavy metal, is that it is all rage. It rejects the myth of stability; it resists the idea of production. It is a lifelong temper tantrum. However, the palm-muted strings and hushed lullaby of the album’s best track, ‘Twin Fawn’ prick lightly like tickled goosebumps. Then, another hair-splitting bomb goes off. “You cut me open! You lived inside me!” Wolfe rages, as she seeks revenge upon her prey. But this time, the tenderness is retained – it’s an uncannily serene moment of bothness, or perhaps more accurately, in-betweeness.
From ‘Twin Fawn’ onward, the album exhibits exactly what makes her so precious. No longer relying on metal’s singular obliteration, nor fluttering towards the edges of ethereality, Wolfe commands both directions while lodging herself in-between them. The feedback levels are drawn out, the amp is in overdrive, and Wolfe no longer has us anchored to the seed idea of the song, but now has us listlessly drifting alongside it. In the aptly-named ‘Static Hum’, she draws our attention away from her creation, and towards the material that she cannot helm. We’re drawn into the grey noise between the beats, into an abyss that has yet to be made pregnant, in those regions of doleful, sorrowful shades. And after the album’s last desperately hopeless gush, Wolfe is swallowed by her own feedback.
What Hiss Spun does, though it begins with a brutish feast and middles with a moment of tenderness, is draw us towards the liminal. It doesn’t seek to make darkness visible, but rather exposes that which isn’t supposed to be: the in-between. Wolfe works like torchlight shining into the forest at night, when the personality of leaves is changed. Nevertheless, though Hiss Spun probably won’t end up as the best of her career, it may well be Wolfe’s best so far.