Since I haven't posted all that much since mid-May thanks to the rising tide of demotivating burnout, I've had a pretty massive backlog of music worth sharing stacking up over here. Here's a handful of stuff that's crossed my path during that time—in alphabetical order, as always...
This is Anxious Arms' first new tune since back in October, and right off the bat—whoa, this shit's heavy! I mean, they've always had an aggressive edge to their style, but we're talkin' H-E-A-V-Y here. Like Anxious Arms goes full-on metalcore or something. There's a little bit of melody to a small dash of the singy-shout vocals, but that's about it; and there are some pretty vicious snarls and layering to the vocals, too. It's mostly chugging rhythms and quick fits of borderline death metal tremolo picking riffs; plus some glitchy, industrialized, Code Orange-esque textures toward the end. Didn't see this coming at all! I would imagine this is not an indication that the band's going to head entirely in this direction or anything, but... we'll see what comes next!?
I don't know if things ever truly happen for a reason, but I opened a random email promoting a cool new video from No Stress by mistake last week, and that turned out to be quite a happy accident. I use words like "mistake" and "accident" simply because I'm unfamiliar with Paul Horton (a.k.a. No Stress)—who apparently plays with Alabama Shakes and is also involved with some jazz improv stuff—and probably wouldn't have thought to click into the email otherwise. But since I did, I checked out Prelude No. 1 and was instantly interested. The 10-song, 18-minute EP offers up lush, chilled-out, experimental hip-hop beats with sort of an "electronica" edge or something. They're almost like little experiments, seeing as almost every piece runs less than two minutes. But I totally love the aesthetic and am already eager to hear more. Two of the compositions even have vocals (most notably "Wake Up"), and I can imagine lots of promising possibilities with that avenue.
Yes, indeed, here we have yet more great emo/indie from Norway—this time out of Trondheim. Released today, "A Good Day to Forget" is Onsloow's second single, and makes me think of Weezer meets Baby Gopal. Expect upbeat—but not entirely—jangle-pop with a little bit of fuzz and one hell of a catchy chorus—plus some "handclap" snare hits and everything! Good stuff.
Rid of Me
Philly four-piece Rid of Me recently released succinct cassette #3, opening with a six-minute Sheryl Crow cover!? That might not sound too exciting on paper, but... it's Rid of Me and they're awesome, so of course they totally pull it off and compel it to make sense! B-side "Form" is fitting in its darker and more melodic atmospheres (compared to the bulk of the band's output), but offers plenty of hard-hitting surges, too—a great fit to back the cover song.
Last is really just another holdover until Rid of Me's debut full-length—long-awaited by me, and I'm sure I'm not alone—due later this year. Tapes are limited to 100 copies (50 clear, 50 lime green) and available through Bandcamp. Stream on Spotify or whatever.
Sunrise Dreamer features former members of New York progressive metal outfit Inner Strength, and actually formed out of enthusiasm for the trio of Inner Strength reissues that Divebomb Records produced back in 2019. Released digitally back on January 1, A World to Know was thankfully picked up by Divebomb for a CD release—a wise move, as this material is simply too strong to be relegated to the digital-only realm. I don't really listen to a ton of prog metal these days, so if you told me that a few members of a killer early-'90s act had formed a new project in that same style, I would probably check it out, but I wouldn't necessarily have my hopes up, you know? Well, I must say, these guys haven't lost a step. This material's just packed with soaring vocals and techy musicianship that's neither flashy nor over-the-top. There's a mathy chunkiness to the rhythms, a great bass presence in the mix, etc. If you're into this genre of metal, this one's a must-hear.
Yep, Norway! Again! Also released today, Oslo outfit The Uptights returns with their first new music in almost a decade (recorded between 2012 - 2016—to cassette, no less!). It is for Them That the Lights Twinkle is my first exposure to their work, and it's really interesting, lo-fi indie rock—in mono!?—with an experimental type of approach. The best tracks are quirky and dark takes on warped and warbled material that brings to mind Archers of Loaf meets Young Adults, though rawer and utilizing morose, monotone, post-punk-sounding vocals. No two songs sound that much alike, however. Sometimes they're just melodic soundscapes with spoken word samples, or rugged acoustic seques with buzzing background textures and atmospheric hum. Everything sounds like it was recorded in a reverberant basement through the wall of the room next to the band. That is to say: pretty damn crude—intentionally, of course—and it really does add a unique sense of character and curiosity to the recordings. One of the coolest things about this album is that it really proves that—if you do it right—stuff that "sounds like shit" can totally make sense and be endearing. This is one of those situations where I can't entirely put my finger on why, but I really enjoy this. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 10 years to hear more...