October’s Album Highlights

Yes, yes, I know, my updates on this here blog are rather sparse at the moment and for that I apologise. Come December I will have much more time on my hands to devote to it again so hopefully you’ll see more appearing on here than of late. Especially as it’s heading towards the yearly BIG “50 best” post!

So, what has been blowing the Autumn leaves out of my back yard of a brain this month? (As usual Spotify links in the album title where available)

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Lost Songs

I have said before on here that Trail of Dead are one of those bands that I have a long held soft spot for, from first hearing “Prince with a Thousand Enemies” on the John Peel show in 1997, I have followed the Texan art-rockers ever since. Even their widely derided fifth album So Divided holds a place on my CD shelves (admittedly it doesn’t get the same amount of replay as the other 7). So whenever a new album appears I’m all over it like a cheap suit! The last couple of albums have been tinged with a fair amount of prog but newie Lost Songs harks back to their early few albums in that it eschews the more fantastical elements and has been stripped back to an album full of downright bangers! In fact you’ve got to go back to their peak around albums like Madonna or Source Tags & Codes to see a similar album structure to Lost Songs, and all the better for it! Regardless of how good recent albums have been, those two albums are up there as the best in their ouvre.

This album is destined for a high place in the list come the end of the year!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwQnULvbWFI]

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

As you may remember if you’re a regular reader, I wrote a post at the back end of 2010 following an abortive attempt to go and see the recently reformed Godspeed You! Black Emperor, about how I first discovered the post-rock genre (here) , the first (and some may say definitive) post-rock act I really got into (I got to see them live later the following year and they were, predictably, immense!) So I was surprised and excited upon hearing last month that they would be releasing a new album, I for one had not expected any new material to be released so I listened to the early stream of the album with some trepidation. That lasted all of five minutes into the first, suitably epic track, the twenty minute Mladic. It’s furious building guitars hit me like very pleasant sledge hammer.

The album consists of two epically long tracks (Mladic and We Drift Like Worried Fire) interspersed with two new drones (Their Helicopters Sing and Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable). On vinyl these two drones come on a separate 7″ which is a shame as it kind of interrupts the flow, it sounds a better whole on the CD or online version.

This is another album that is destined for a high place in the end of year list, in fact it’s got a bloody good stab at being number one!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXdF9uhVrI0]

Lone Wolf – The Lovers

Lone Wolf (aka Paul Marshall) released his debut (as Lone Wolf), The Devil & I, in 2010 which made it to number eleven in that year’s list on here. So when I saw he was running a Pledge campaign (here) to raise money to record and release his follow up I dutifully put my name down for the limited colour vinyl edition (I’m a sucker for some nice coloured vinyl!). The target was reached admirably quickly (crowd sourcing, who needs labels?) and as pledgers we received a download code a good two months before the official release and our physical goodies arrived this month (the album is officially available November 12th).

The Devil & I showed that he has a knack for crafting great melodies and The Lovers builds on that, but where the debut’s high production values gave the songs quite a polished sheen, The Lovers sounds and feels a bit more lo-fi, a bit more personal which, I believe fits with the tone of this follow up. It feels more honest, but there are still some lovely melodies here. It’s a beauty.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfl3OjHt6Sk]

METZ – s/t

The debut on Sub Pop from Toronto’s METZ is a joyously dirty sounding little slab of squealing, fuzzed up noise rock. At a time when tired hacks are rolling out the old “guitar music is dead” cliches, these guys come along and metaphorically thrust their guitar neck up their nostrils! In the style of contemporaries Pissed Jeans, The Icarus Line, No Age or even DFA 1979, this a lo-fi squall that will piss off your neighbours as it’s suitably brief thirty minutes blasts from your speakers, bouncing you off the walls!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krGDNbT4CSE]

Dinosaur Jr – I Bet on Sky

I surely don’t need to tell you guys about Dinosaur Jr do I? The third album since the reformation of the band that includes original member Lou Barlow and even after twenty eight years this, their tenth album sounds as good as anything they’ve released. To quote the late great John Peel when he talked about The Fall; “always different, always the same”, there is no mistaking the J Mascis voice and guitar shreds, but where this album differs is on the couple of tracks helmed by Barlow, “Rude” really doesn’t sound like Dino Jr, or even Barlow projects Sebadoh or Folk Implosion.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpsGcnLEZbk]

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

Mathcore stalwarts Converge released their eighth studio album this month, it’s only thirty eight minutes long but the fourteen tracks included ensure that’s plenty long enough! Although overall it’s a bit calmer than 2009’s Axe To Fall, it still thoroughly pummels the listener into submission! Jacob Bannon’s terrifying roar and Kurt Ballou’s technical guitar wizardry are still there in spades it’s just not quite as exhausting as previous releases (not quite!)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyJz_V9jnlM]

The Soft Moon – Zeros

The Soft Moon is Luis Vasquez from San Francisco, Zeros is the follow up to 2010’s self titled debut. Like the debut it is a album of dark, gothy, fuzzed up, synth-driven post-punk, with barely there vocals invoking comparisons with early material by The Cure or Joy Division. I fucking love it!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t73spJ48YU]
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