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Tag: hardcore punk

Listmas 2014: The Top 50 Albums of the Year [#10-1]

This is it! The final post of 2014 also marks the conclusion of Listmas and specifically this Top 50 Albums of 2014 countdown. It’s been a long road with plenty of bumps and delays along the way, but we’ve finally reached the peak of this imaginary mountain. At this point I’d like to give a special thank you to everyone who read something, clicked on something or downloaded something here at Faronheit over 2014. All of the content that’s posted here is for you to discover and enjoy, and I’m grateful for anyone who visits with that intention. It hasn’t been the best year for the site content-wise, but the hope is to generate more and return to form in 2015. Typically I’d tease a bunch of new features and exciting things in development for next year, but honestly most of that stuff either gains no traction or simply falls off never to be heard from again, so let’s just stick to the mantra of more everything and go from there.

So what can I say about these Top 10 Albums of 2014? Well, like the other entries in this list, there’s plenty of variety in terms of genre and style. It goes from weird to fun to noisy to sexy to relaxing to adventurous and back again. If you’ve been following me on Instagram these last few weeks, you’ve been given access to an early preview of the eclectic Top 5, though I can assure you that #6-10 are as equally exciting and wonderful. And hey, while I wasn’t able to write a lot of album and show reviews this year, some of the ones I did write about make an appearance here. Also worth mentioning: a particular pair of artists who are members of my Class of 2014 had an exceptionally great year, helping to continue to support that program. So I’m not going to spend any extra time talking this up. Please join me past the jump for the big reveal of my absolute favorite albums of the year.

Previously: [#50-41] [#40-31] [#30-21] [#20-11]

Show Review: Perfect Pussy [Schubas; Chicago; 1/22/14]

Seeing Perfect Pussy perform is akin to an incredible workout. You’re running faster and longer than you ever have before, lifting heavier weights and doing more reps, all while your adrenaline pumps furiously to keep you going. You hit the showers feeling drained but invigorated. Then you wake up the next morning and can’t move because your body is so sore. You snap back to reality and think, “What did I do to myself last night?” But before that pain there was pleasure, and once the soreness goes away you’re stronger and healthier as a result.

Simply listening to Perfect Pussy’s debut EP I have lost all desire for feeling forces your ears to do some heavy lifting, but seeing the band live is an even louder experience for which there is no volume control. I’m not entirely sure what decibel level they’re operating at, but it’s one humans were not fully intended to handle. You know how My Bloody Valentine are one of, if not the loudest live band currently in existence? No joke, Perfect Pussy give them a serious run for their money. They may even be louder. Whereas MBV largely operate on a deep, heavy and rocketship-like rumble frequency, PP go for the screeching, high-pitched feedback-laden white noise sort of frequency. It made my earplug-less eardrums freak out and vibrate in ways that I have never experienced before. When I develop tinnitus or eventually go deaf, their show at Schubas on Wednesday night will likely be the moment I point to that started the decline. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The band’s entire headlining set lasted for just under 20 minutes. Granted, they only have an EP out with their debut full length Say Yes to Love set for release on March 18th. But they’re also a punk band, meaning a majority of their songs are under 3 minutes in length and each one feels like a blitz attack of noise. They performed their entire four track EP and a few cuts from the upcoming record, all of which bled into one another like some kind of amorphous monster. In talking with singer Meredith Graves after the show, she offhandedly mentioned that if they had continued playing much longer, she probably would have started violently puking everywhere. She wasn’t sick, but rather her unwavering commitment to the music takes so much physical and mental stamina that her body just wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. The entire band actually performs the same way, giving and leaving everything out on the stage, and I suppose that’s one of the big reasons why Perfect Pussy is so immensely compelling and quickly building in popularity.

The other main reason why is their lyrics. If you listen to any of PP’s songs, you can tell that there are words being sung/spoken/screamed, but can in no way make heads or tails of exactly WHAT is being said. That’s by design, and I can assure you it’s no clearer in a live setting. Yet on their Bandcamp they give you all the lyrics from their EP, which turn out to be intensely personal and beautifully worded. While most of the songs focus on tragic experiences, they also offer great insight and introspection about them, with lessons learned as a result. A teenage fan told Graves after the show that he goes around chanting the lyrics, “I am full of light / I am filled with joy / I am full of peace,” which close out the song “I.” It was obvious those words meant so much to him, as they do to Graves herself, who sings with so much emotion on stage that you completely understand even if you can’t make heads or tails of what words are being said.

The real tragedy is that there will be people who listen to Perfect Pussy, either on record or at a show, and immediately dismiss them as loud noise and nothing more. That’s an impulse inside of us all. But those who reject or simply don’t try to understand this band will be missing out on something incredible. Believe it or not, as abrasive as they sound PP are all about inclusion and not exclusion. They want to connect with you, embrace you and uplift you. They want to show you that good can come from even the worst situations, like that time you had your eardrums assaulted for nearly 20 minutes. And the best part is that they mean it. It wouldn’t be worth putting yourself through the sonic ringer if they didn’t.

Perfect Pussy – Driver

Preorder their album Say Yes to Love (out March 18)
Buy their demo EP I have lost all desire for feeling

Snapshot Review: Death Grips – The Money Store [Epic]

If you didn’t notice in the title of this post, Death Grips are signed to Epic Records. They’re officially labelmates with everyone from Drake to Incubus and Meat Loaf. What’s odd is how the group sounds like they should be signed to anything BUT a major label. That’s not to call their material bad, but it’s been a long time since such an odd, fringe-type act was signed to anything other than an indie label. If you want to go underground and weird, transitively sometimes brilliant, you sign to a company that seeks to take that sort of risk without meddling in your creative process. From the sound of their debut album The Money Store, Epic didn’t even try to send them notes. They were probably too scared to. The genre classifiers and wordsmiths have puzzlingly tried to describe Death Grips as being rap rock. Considering there may be one single guitar used on one single track (or not…these sounds could have come from anywhere), the “rock” tag need not apply to this group. No, what Death Grips are doing somewhat defies description. The project is made up of three people: Stefan Burnett aka MC Ride on vocals, Zach Hill on drums and production, and Andy Morin aka Flatlander on production. The goal of Hill and Flatlander as producers is to splice together these beats and electronica elements to compliment MC Ride’s words. But this is anything but traditional hip hop. MC Ride prefers a vocal style closer to that of a hardcore punk band than anything else. He seems to take cues more from Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and Fugazi than Jay-Z, Kanye West or Snoop. Everything is shouted with such a spitfire rage that most of the time you can’t tell what Ride is saying. When you can make out his vocals, you learn they’re primarily nonsensical phrases strung together to complete rhymes. It need not be clever or inventive because the delivery takes care of that for you. Hill and Flatlander take a similar approach when providing the base and beats of each track. Virtually everything comes off like the soundtrack to a 1980’s Nintendo game that’s been chopped and sped up to about three times its normal rate. The record breezes by as a result, 13 tracks in 41 minutes with only the finale of “Hacker” sneaking past the four minute mark. There are so many ideas and experiments packed into that time, it can feel like the sonic equivalent of ADD. The good news though is that every track is a legitimate banger, perfect for the clubs and ripe for remixing. Singles like “I’ve Seen Footage” and “Blackjack” may stay with you for just a little longer thanks to the massive amount of repetition in their choruses, but stick with The Money Store long enough and the charms of each individual track will unveil themselves to you. Perhaps that’s what earned Death Grips the respect of L.A. Reid and Epic Records. This may be the most individualistic and unique act signed to a major label in quite some time, but if they’re successful the great news is they won’t be the last.

Death Grips – Get Got
Death Grips – The Fever (Aye Aye)
Death Grips – Lost Boys
Death Grips – Blackjack
Death Grips – I’ve Seen Footage

Buy The Money Store from Amazon

Click past the jump to stream the entire album!

Album Review: Iceage – New Brigade [What’s Your Rupture?]

Punk rock isn’t exactly known for its depth and originality. Quick, dirty and fun seem to be the main tenets, though that doesn’t discount it from being intelligent. A bunch of bands have been responsible for brilliant punk records, from Fugazi to the Misfits and well beyond, though it’s legitimately tough to name more than a couple of current bands that make what would classify as great hardcore punk these days. Credit that to a huge underground scene in which fans pledge their loyalties to whatever band they’re watching that night in somebody’s dark basement. On a national scale it’s tougher to pick out the highlights. In certain circles, Fucked Up’s new record “David Comes to Life” represents one of the strongest punk records in awhile, but there are just as many people that would reject the mere thought that it’s a “real” punk album. It’s too clean, too structured, way too long, and lacks a certain in-your-face attitude. Well, for the most serious of serious punk rockers, shove the Danish band Iceage in your ears and watch them bleed. Their debut album is titled “New Brigade”, and as its title might suggest, these boys are looking to usher in a fresh era of no frills, all kills punk. Hope you enjoy getting sonically kicked in the teeth.

One of the keys to unlocking Iceage is a careful look backwards into the days of both hardcore punk and post-punk. Before they were known as Joy Division, Ian Curtis & Co. called themselves Warsaw and their earliest recordings evoked the sounds of The Stooges and Wire, among others. The guitars were turned up to 11, the songs never went over 3 minutes in length, and the vocals were delivered from the back of the throat with enough spit that fans in the front rows didn’t need to shower the next day. At 12 tracks and 24 total minutes, nobody is going to say that “New Brigade” is too long, or doesn’t owe some debt of gratitude to the progenitors of punk. It ravages you from start to finish and doesn’t stop for a break, unless you count those couple momentary sets of drumstick clicks across standout track “Count Me In” as breaks. What these boys have is youth on their side, and being snotty teenagers means they’re pumped full of sugar, cigarette smoke and (most likely) alcohol. They beat on their instruments like they don’t know how to fully play them, which often results in very dischordant and unpleasant noise. But it’s through that sheer lack of giving a shit that only makes Iceage that much more compelling to listen to. Hooks or any sort of verse-chorus-verse song structure are virtually the antithesis of what they want to do, yet a song like “White Rune” turns out to be remarkably memorable anyways. And with their youth not necessarily signifying that they have any real idea of some of the great music their forebears were responsible for, a bass-heavy track like “Total Drench” sounds like a long-lost Joy Division demo. But even with the best of comparisons out there, there’s still something fresh and exciting about this band that defies any easy explanation. It’s one of the big reasons why they’ve risen far above their local underground scene and are quickly becoming recognized on a global scale. That indefinable “it” quality some of the best bands have? Iceage is one of those bands.

Unless you’re fully inoculated to hardcore punk rock with a bit of a heavy metal influence, chances are you’ll find “New Brigade” a tough listen. It is the auditory equivalent of walking out your front door to find that there’s a massive riot going on. If you’re not battle tested and prepared to accept the madness coming your way, it’ll eat you alive. Iceage are taking no prisoners and leaving everything they’ve got out on the floor. You may make it all the way through the 24 minutes, but after it’s over you’ll be grateful it wasn’t longer. That’s not to say it’s a bad 24 minutes, but rather your ears take such a beating that only silence will be able to soothe them. This is one for the punks that can name you two dozen bands at the drop of a hat that 99% of people have never heard of. There are whole scenes and communities we never know or hear about, that is unless one of the bands breaks free from that small basement and into something much larger. Iceage has become one of those bands, and should they keep the same piss and vinegar style of making music, they could inspire a whole new generation of punk rock. This is likely the most legitimate rock and roll album you’ll hear in all of 2011, demented art punk run amok like only the best can do. Brace yourself, strap on some steel-toed boots, and go have some fun with “New Brigade” as your soundtrack.

Iceage – Broken Bone
Iceage – White Rune
Iceage – New Brigade

Buy “New Brigade” from Amazon

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