Viet Cong – “Continental Shelf” [music video]

Here’s that new Viet Cong music video, as promised. The song is Continental Shelf, first single from the band’s self-titled debut, releasing January 20th.

I should mention now that it’s super NSFW. But only for a few seconds. Watch it!

The imagery here seems to be a disjointed puzzle, an intriguing mess. It feels like the trailer for an art house film aping George Meliés at times, with a hint of Jodorowski. Fans of Holy Mountain or El Topo might know what I mean. That looks like a lot of links; whatever, they’re all awesome video clips.

The song itself is easily the catchiest tune on the brief album, with intelligible vocals and a clean hook. While not entirely representative of the band as a whole, it should still grab your ears tightly.

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Here’s a screenshot I took from the video. Fire mustache?

As I mentioned yesterday, this album is one of the most exciting rock releases I’ve heard in a long time. Modern rock has been boring me for years now, so it takes something truly special to ignite my enthusiasm.

Check the Viet Cong bandcamp page for links to purchase this fiery debut album in every format, including cassette, LP, CD, and digital. You can find it on Amazon of course but it’s better to buy right from the label. I did.

Snippet from a conversation on Top 40 Radio

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In this exchange, we join a Skype conversation deep into the workday. There’s nothing incredibly insightful here. I just wanted to share a bit of our back and forth on a topic that’s often relevant to something my peers encounter on a daily basis.

Me: Here’s where “weird” just sounds hilarious as a pseudo-criticism to me: in 2004 I was way into Arcade Fire, and many of the somewhat related Canadian indie rock bands. They were so weird to top 40 pop fans. So alien, so ugly.

In 2014 I’m hearing an unending stream of bands that sound exactly like those 2004 bands, right there on Top 40 radio.

So here’s hoping that in 10 years the spacey jazzy synth shit I’m into is on 104.5! (Note: it’s a local pop station)

Jzn: Assuming that commercial radio as we know it it still around by then.

Me: Oh god, it’ll just keep smashing headlong into a future that doesn’t want or need it. All the same shit, no matter what city or state you’re in! Which is the true death of radio. It’s no longer vital, it doesn’t champion local sounds or spread the news about a regionally popular band.

Because now you’re either popular everywhere, or “underground.” There’s nothing in between.

So now you get the same garbage here as you do in Arizona or Alaska. How insanely boring.

Viet Cong’s explosive debut album [plus my favorite song streaming]

Somehow, Viet Cong flew under my radar for the entirety of 2014. It’s my fault, really. Several friends let me know that half the members were from the short lived but brilliant Canadian band Women, and several more friends simply stated that they made balls out noisy punk-stained rock. The kind that’s darkly beautiful and complex in an unassuming way. The kind that I love.

They were right.

Hear for yourself; here’s the moment I realized that this is perfect.

This song exemplifies what I love about Viet Cong’s sound. It’s a three part suite in miniature, shaped at a glance like some post apocalyptic cousin of The Beatles’ Happiness Is A Warm Gun. We enter with a softly grinding drone and muted drum machine tumbling down stairs. The song bursts wide open with harmonized vocals and a sharply panning metallic guitar strum, while an insistent drum throb swells in the background. Finally, iridescent guitar tones rocket toward the sky. I don’t know if I’m hearing a weirdly tuned synthesizer or effects-laden guitar work; it doesn’t matter. The song absolutely explodes into a rave-up ending that had me grinning from ear to ear, determined to buy this album the moment it’s released.

The weird thing is, I was finally sold on giving these guys a try with a friend’s comparison to This Heat. The legendary experimental band from England released only a pair of bewilderingly fresh albums and disappeared at the turn of the 80s, leaving an indelible legacy that’s rarely touched, much less spiritually evoked. If you’re at all familiar with that band, give this your rapt attention. Right now. See also: fans of The Stooges, Public Image, Ltd., Bauhaus, and probably The Velvet Underground. What these bands have in common is a tough, motor-driven veneer with a knotty, heart-on-sleeve artfulness at center. Mining deeper into this territory, Viet Cong marries ragged noise and unapologetic beauty.

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Check the Viet Cong bandcamp page for another free tune, plus links to purchase the debut album in every format. One listen, and you’ll want to repeat these 37 blistering minutes as often as possible. Keep an eye on this page for the album’s first single and music video.

Deepchord Presents Echospace – Liumin

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This is one of the best dub techno releases of all time. It’s a nighttime ride through the sonic world of an imagined Neo-Tokyo, on the bleeding edge of an inevitable cyberpunk reality. It’s a propulsive dream.

Continue reading

Shabazz Palaces drop impossibly trippy new animated video for Forerunner Foray

With my Best of 2014 post coming up, it felt like great timing to notice Shabazz Palaces have dropped a fresh, wildly psychedelic animated video for the second track on Lese Majesty, one of last year’s best albums. Fellow Sub Pop artist Chad VanGaalen provides his unique style of surreal hand-drawn art, meshing with the song’s astral imagery in perfect fashion. Check it now.

Well look, we’ve got Magic Johnson riding a slice of pizza through hyperspace! There’s not much to say about this video; the bonkers imagery speaks for itself. It fits the impressionistic hip-hop sound playfully, perfectly.

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As for the music itself: there’s a reason Lese Majesty is one of the best albums of 2014. With a liquid, organic flow kinking to every philosophical whim of the duo, an end-to-end listen is more like twisting through a wormhole than anything resembling a straightforward rap album. There are a few brief flashes of familiar song structure, but they’re outliers on an album more closely resembling something from Oneohtrix Point Never, Flying Lotus, or Miles Davis at his spaciest.

If you enjoyed the brilliantly kaleidoscopic debut, Black Up (check my thoughts), you’re in for a weird surprise. This is Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire absolutely elevating their game, mutating an alrady impeccable sound into something more expansive and indefinable. I feel confident saying, prepare thyself for to deal with a miracle.

Edit: apparently the wrong video was showing; it’s been fixed.

My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless Has Been Reissued On Vinyl

This is no joke. I was wandering through Vertigo Music in downtown Grand Rapids, MI, yesterday and my eyes fell upon something I never expected to see without the internet exploding well ahead of time: a fresh LP copy of the timeless shoegaze masterpiece, Loveless. I hugged it lightly against my chest as I finished browsing (and picking up a copy of Cocteau TwinsHeaven Or Las Vegas) before asking the wise and friendly owner if he knew the details.

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As my cursory Discogs browsing had indicated, it’s a likely bootleg. Do not let this fact discourage you. The sound is impeccable, and after a single listen the moment I got home, I have to say that it sounds warmer, and a bit more substantial, than the tinny original CD edition we’ve all been stuck with for over two decades. It may be sourced from the few-years-old analog/digital remaster that Kevin Shields has still neglected to release or it may be from the original vinyl issue, for all I know. The point is, if you love this album already, you’re going to adore the sound quality of this release.

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The packaging claims that it’s a Creation Records release, “made in Nippon,” which, along with the lack of an Obi strip, tips me off to the bootleg nature of this release. With a money back guarantee if I wasn’t satisfied, this was hardly a passing concern. I’m so thankful that I took the leap and now own a perfectly decent copy of one of my favorite albums of all time on vinyl.

Now, for a bit of additional information: this is not a straight reissue of Loveless in its original form. There is a second disc, and while the original 11 tracks are in place, a small wealth of bonus material fills out disc two.

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As shown on the back side of the full size insert, there is a minor annoyance: the original album tracks are spread over three sides, instead of a single disc. Perhaps this was to allow for a deeper mastering, or simply to ensure that they could fill out a full four sides of music. Regardless, this became a non-issue once I heard how fantastic it sounds. As an owner of the original Tremolo EP on CD, it’s fantastic to have the three original songs (Swallow, Honey Power, and Moon Song) represented here along with Sugar (from a split single with Pacific) and Instrumental no. 2, a tune I only recently discovered with the 2012 2CD EPs 1988-1991 release. These five wonderful tunes round out the reissue in a non-essential yet entirely welcome manner.

I’ll finish this post with a couple links to help my fellow MBV fans make a purchase of their own. The fact that I hadn’t heard one peep about this says that it might come as a surprise. There are a handful of copies on Discogs, and one seller on Amazon seems to have this edition for $79. Please note that there are occasionally copies of a 2003 Plain reissue floating around, but my experience with this company isn’t encouraging. Shields himself has stated that it’s “ripped from the original CD” and the label doesn’t have a great track record with regards to pressing quality.

With all that out of the way: I can’t emphasize enough how much of a gorgeous, mind-bending landmark this album is, how much of a monolithic presence it’s played in my life and the development of my musical taste. Loveless is so much more than “the best shoegaze album.” It’s a sound that bends rock music so far that, instead of breaking, it pushes into entirely new dimensions. Once you’ve let it into your life, your sense of audio aesthetics will be forever changed. I couldn’t wait to share the news with everyone.

(Here’s the full album, in case you’re wondering what the fuss is about. Play at high volume.)

By the way: if you live anywhere nearby, please visit Vertigo Music and talk to the owner, Herm. Tell him I sent you. It’s easily the best record store I’ve ever visited in the midwest. There were 2 copies left yesterday, at only $27. Hurry if you’re interested!