Word of Mouth [WoMo47]
3 July, 2013
There's only thread stitching these three groups together (aside from my unrelenting approval, of course): each one of these was recommended directly to me by someone else. Otherwise, they sound nothing alike, and hail from three separate countries. Dontcha love an eclectic bunch? Anywho, here goes:
UN – If Tingle in the Netherlands tickled your fancy last week, then prepare for your little world to be rocked by UN. They’re another duo of cool cats that dabble in electronica, but they’re decisively groovier, with infectious handclaps, stomping drums from Jen Reimer, and even the occasional cowbell. Kara Keith’s hollow, echoey vocals reach out from across the void to the dance floor, matching the heady and frenetic beats with just the right icy ardor. As far as I can tell, UN has released just one album so far –the UN Titled Album, as they’ve dubbed it – and, by my standards, it’s a knock-out.
The LP starts in the best way possible, with the belter “Go! Seeker”. Carried by a low, dirty buzz, the tune showcases Kara’s dynamic vocals, as she shifts between alluring yet mysterious verses and the bold, commanding shout of the chorus. “Wicked Child” boasts more synth action, with the ever-oscillating, meaty pattern underneath and classic, futuristic tones dancing on top. Elsewhere, however, there’s the hypnotic chant of “Take A Little Light”, driven mostly by some crunchy percussion and Kara’s vocals, which swarm about here like a cloud of wayward spirits.
Have I mentioned, however, how utterly danceable this album is? By far, the most euphoric of the groovier tracks is “Amoeba”, which is in itself a constantly shifting, spooky tune carried by the nastiest bass crawl and snappy claps. However, “Sex Vampire” is inevitably the more club-ready jam, with its rubbery synths, dexterous cowbell and disco beat (not to mention that uber-catchy refrain – “Follow the feeling!”). The following track, “Crawling”, is also a stud for the dance floor, as Jen lays down fat beats under a sludgy synth. Meanwhile, “If You’re Rich You Find Love” finds UN in a funky, dubby lounge in the cosmos, where listeners are induced to a trance by Kara’s ever-mesmerizing delivery.
The last two tracks on the LP are shorter than most, but don’t skimp out on the groove. “FeverFire” is another sizzlin’, stomping hit, with its tom-heavy beat; “Love Is A Ghost”, on the other hand, is the album’s most energetic track, as the synths and drums pulse together in a steady but evenly paced jog to the finish.
Verdict? Give this band a listen, I say. UN Titled Album is available as a digital download on UN’s Bandcamp page for ten bucks.
Thumpermonkey – I AM NOT WORTHY. Seriously, I’m not. Because these dudes are quite possibly the most crushingly amazing rock band I’ve heard in a long, long time. Heavy progressive, man. Think early Genesis (the vocalist even sounds a tad like Peter Gabriel), but with beefier and more angular riffs, more explosive vocals (Mike Patton would be proud) and even more baffling twists and turns. I bow low. I bow very low. Sleep Furiously, their last LP, is simply a masterpiece.
Where do I begin? With “Direct”, perhaps? Good lord, what a track – opens on a furious stomping, then invites in one, two, THREE dueling guitars before launching into some MASSIVE riffing – and then, we reach a sort of break, with one restrained solo, before approaching a light, floating coda of handclaps, dexterously strummed acoustic guitars, and some actually lovely vocals. Yes, just this one track has more starts and stops and shifts and glorious highs than many albums could ever hope to contain. “Defecit” is no less astounding, a shattering array of sharp and jagged guitars ripping between alternating voices, that descends into a calm, serene ending.
“Pigheart” doesn’t even need the 6+ minute length of those previous two tracks to blow you away; between the nimble verses, the meaty chorus, and the harmonious bridge, this is an absolutely golden number, as dynamic and rich as many songs twice its running time. And “Sleeve”? Its transformation from a crawling, slightly sinister intro to a beastly chorus to blissful bridge is nothing short of astounding. (And let’s not forget that CRAZY solo thing at 3’27”.)
But UHHH. “Wheezyboy”. This is Thumpermonkey’s calling card, their ultimate single. It begins with a wrenching, jerky riff, then EXPLODES into a chorus that will bring you to your knees. Angst. Beauty. Devastation. And mmmmm, what stellar vocals. It’s all right here, and it’s all undeniably awe-inspiring. (If you don’t believe me, enmesh yourself in this shockingly violent, wildly imaginative video for “Wheezyboy” – I was begging for mercy at one point!)
And then, out of nowhere, there’s the gorgeous acoustic number of “The Rhetorician”, which showcases the singer’s more tender side. That, too, however, progresses to a more vigorous section, but ultimately remains breathtaking. “Own”, too, is an intriguing outlier, a number with a clear and fluid guitar and more sweet, nearly falsetto vocals. Soothing, and still incredibly fascinating. The track that follows, “Toxcatl”, picks up on this gentle, downtempo vibe, but rings with a shade of slow jangle and swells to a moving climax. Perhaps most stunning of all, however, is the deceptively simple 2 minute closer, “Quiet Earth”, a chiming, slightly simmering melody with no lyrics at all – only pleasant, harmonious “doo-doo-doo”s sending off the tumultuous album to a bright and halcyon conclusion.
SO. Do I really need to type anything more? No. Although, to be honest, on my second listen I was somewhat let down by the lack of combustible energy toward the second half of the LP – but, then again, if Thumpermonkey were any MORE dynamic, they’d probably implode all our brains with their bare hands. Fact. Anywho, do give this beast Sleep Furiously a stream on their Bandcamp page – and buy it as a digital or physical release. (A little bird tells me that some wicked t-shirts are also for sale…!)
My Personal Murderer – I received a simple message on last.fm today: “We are sorry for bothering you, but won’t you give us a little chance to steal your heart?” Well, how do you turn down THAT offer, fair reader? So I listened in – to My Personal Murderer, and their last LP from nearly two years back, a seven-track affair called Sisters Loving Brothers. And I’ll tell you this – they hit me at just the right time. Something about the Wolfsheim-ish gloom, the moody guitars, anguished vocals, and nuanced electronica strikes just the right chord with me. Any more polished, and I probably would’ve said no; but the drums are really quite engaging, the synths intriguing but never intrusive, and the melodies honestly affecting. Furthermore, none of the labels listed at the bottom of the page – post-punk, shoegaze, post-rock – don’t really fit. I do endorse this.
We begin with the title track, a haunted opening that soon pulses with a tight, tripping beat and gives way to the wistful, aching vocals. Verses swirl and swell with swooshing spirits, light distortion and panging synths. Ah, but “She’s Dead” is certainly more synthpop-inspired, albeit in a more deliberately darker vein, with its archaic electronica and sultry, snarling riff. The hushed ending to this one is rather impressive. Even icier, however, is the following track, “Vitreous Paramour”, with its icy synth glazes and brief glimpses into echoing voids.
And then MPM prove themselves capable of a quieter, less contrived form of melancholy, on “Danger Dancer”. It’s a minimal, and surprisingly organic affair, with merely acoustic guitar and piano in stark, simplistic turns. There are precious gaps, moments where you hear the fingers slide across the fret boards. It’s earnestly quite touching. “Witchfriend”, on the other hand, lends some unexpected edginess to the EP, with razor-sharp guitars bucking against the cold synth sustain.
MPM continue to impress with the brooding groove of “He’ll”. Against a hip and snappy beat, the eldritch vocals (often with gravelly accompaniment) croon on, with guitars alternating between chilling cascades and angsty riffing, while a lone synth beams out a warped solo. Good, good, good. And yet, none of the above tracks could prepare us for the contemplative conclusion, “Planet Earth”, devastatingly beautiful in its seamless integration of shuffling percussion, harrowing vocals, mellow acoustics, and righteous guitar.
Ahh, to conclude. MPM are certainly a complex lil’ band, and have managed to convey several shades of black emotion through Sisters Loving Brother. Recognizing that, however, does require a few spins, and some room for those tracks to breath. Hold them in the light, though, and you’ll find each one is rich in detail, finely crafted and attuned to sway your heart in some way. And, oh, has my heart been swayed. Give My Personal Murder a chance to woo you – stream Sisters Loving Brothers on their Bandcamp page.