Author: Madelyn Boudreaux

Front Line Assembly
Echogenetic
Metropolis
Street: 07.09
Front Line Assembly = Skinny Puppy + Front 242
Returning somewhat to their early 1990s sound, but with a detour through dubstep—it’s sort of impossible not to get that particular peanut butter wub in your electronic chocolate these days—Echogenetic is a very workable, even strong bit of electronic industrial/ebm. Look ma, no guitars! This album is a return to pure electronics, and a list of Moogs and Korgs and related instruments as long as your arm, after 2010’s more metal Improvised Electronic Device with its contribution from industrial-headbanger Al Jourgensen (Ministry). There’s a little here for fans of founder Bill Leeb’s many side projects, particularly nods to Delerium, Conjure One and Intermix. Standout tracks include “Ghosts” (although not the greatest, lyrically) and “Heartquake”—which would do fantastically on a dark wave dance floor (do those still exist?)—and made me want to get up and kick it a bit. While this release doesn’t exactly break any new ground, there’s plenty of excellent material here for the long-time fan. Listen late at night while pondering the specs of your future robot body. –Madelyn Boudreaux
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Ministry
From Beer to Eternity
AFM
Street: 09.06
Ministry = [(Dethklok – Pantera) x ClockDVA] + Strong Bad
I still think Ministry’s best stuff is the ‘80s new wave dreck that they only released so they could get a label deal, but this last hurrah was impossible to pass up. Every trip gets more metal, but Beer is also pretty damn electronic at moments and has a few bits that remind you of where this band has been. They remain devoutly political, with songs like “Perfect Storm”—probably the only shred-metal song about climate change deniers—and “Fairly Unbalanced” about Fox News, and still drench nearly every track in samples. “Enjoy the Quiet” actually sounds industrial, but most of the album is very much on the metal end of the “metal industrial” genre they now claim. Beer includes some awesome artwork featuring Uncle Al as a ne’er-do-well Christ. I guess it’s hotrods all the way down from here. Rock this in your Camaro with your mullet and turn it waaaay up! –Madelyn Boudreaux
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Mick Harvey
Delirium Tremens

Mute
Street: 06.24
Mick Harvey = (Combustible Edison + The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy) x Barry Adamson

Some two decades and change after he began his recordings of Serge Gainsbourg’s sexy and often kitschy songs, Mick Harvey (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Crime and the City Solution, PJ Harvey) returns with his third volume, Delirium Tremens, following up on the boozy, woozy Intoxicated Man (1995) and Pink Elephants (1997). Given Gainsbourg’s nearly legendary status in France (and beyond), it is perhaps gutsy for Harvey to undertake his own translation of the material, but with such a rich body of work to choose from, it’s an understandable choice. Over the course of the album, Harvey recalls both his own previous albums and the work of his fellow Bad Seed bands, giving the songs the feel of James Bond Themes for a Darker Age.

The album opens with the weird, David Lynchian “The Man With The Cabbage Head,” which is about being drunk and stupid in love—and all the financial ruin and disasters that come with that state of being. “Deadly Tedium” is a smoky jazz number that sounds like something by fellow Bad Seed Barry Adamson, while the cutesy love song “Coffee Colour” follows like a garish, 1960s sitcom with a too-bright laugh track.

After that, the album takes a darker turn, getting closer to my favorite tracks from Harvey’s previous albums. “The Convict’s Song” recaptures the jangly but driving monotone intensity I associate with Harvey’s work with Nick Cave. Next up is the upbeat and lyrically controversial “SS C’est Bon” (that “SS” is a reference to the Nazi Schutzstaffel). If the choice seems offensive, note that Gainsbourg was a Ukrainian Jew who grew up in occupied France, so a certain amount of sarcasm is likely in a song whose title translates to “The SS—it’s good!”—sarcasm that’s borne out by the dissonant ending layered on top of breathless lyrics.

“I Envisage” captures the hot summer stickiness of my favorite Crime and the City Solution song, “The Last Dictator,” and, along with the beautifully melancholic, 1960s-inspired “A Day Like Any Other” sung by Xanthe Waite (The Amber Lights), is my favorite track. Also excellent is “A Violent Poison (That’s What Love Is),” with its wonderfully dismissive and angry lyrics of a man who has dated more than his fair share of women. Along with “More and More, Less and Less,” these latter three songs tell a story of a love affair and breakup. The album rounds out with two of the weaker songs: the overly twee “Don’t Say A Thing” and the treacly ballad “La Décadanse.”

This last is, while not my favorite song, at least interesting because it features Harvey’s longtime partner, painter Katy Beale.

Delirium Tremens is, overall, a really nice collection of good-to-great songs, but it doesn’t quite solidify into a satisfying whole, which is the same strength and weakness of Harvey’s previous Gainsbourg tributes. It’s definitely a good buy for any Bad Seed completest (like me).

Listen to this album while driving very fast British cars after successfully infiltrating secret Soviet strongholds in the late 1960s, and make sure there’s at least one very pretty girl in the car to round things out. –Madelyn Boudreaux

The Legendary Pink Dots
The Gethsemane Option
Metropolis
Street: 06.25
The Legendary Pink Dots = (Pink Floyd + Coil) x Nurse With Wound
Yet another in a long line of releases, this album brings the number to 98, by my reckoning, not counting the 60-some solo releases by frontman Edward Ka-Spel—by a band whose name may have been pretentious in 1981, but has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Legendary, indeed. The CD is comprised of seven experimental tracks of dreamy and hypnotic textures (which may signify mystical intent, or may just be what they had—it’s hard to know with this band). Ka-Spel’s sing-song vocals mesh well with The Silverman’s keys and electronics, creating a lush and introspective experience. The standout song for me is the dark, edgy “A Stretch in Time,” but the rest of the album is mainly the ambient, swirly, neo-hippy vibe they produce these days. Stay up all night listening to this with your 12 closest friends before heading down to Golgotha. –Madelyn Boudreaux
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Wovenhand – Star Treatment – Sargent House / Glitterhouse

Wovenhand
Star Treatment

Sargent House / Glitterhouse
Street: 09.09
Wovenhand = (Iggy Pop + Southern Death Cult) x Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The last time I visited with David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower, The Denver Gentlemen), it was to interview him for 2014’s Refractory Obdurate, a drone-filled, folk-metal album dedicated to the notion of rebellion. He’s been relatively quiet until now, with the release of his latest LP, Star Treatment, which is about humanity’s relationship to the stars, according to their website.

If the last album was drenched in heavy drone, then Edwards et al. now return to the heavy sway of early Wovenhand or 16 Horsepower, with 11 tracks that cover a lot of ground but mostly take the listener back to the band’s origin.

The album starts with a big bang: “Come Brave” explodes with a strong punk feel that hints at Iggy and the Stooges, The Birthday Party and The Cult/Southern Death Cult. The track is relentless and angry, yet inviting. Edwards uses lots of Native American imagery, including the art for this single. I don’t know if this is an entreaty to an imagined figure or a reference to an 1880s rallying hymn, or maybe both: Whatever the point of reference, it definitely pumps you up for whatever is coming next.

What comes next is “Swaying Reed,” a six-minute experimental piece that seems more like an orchestral warmup or a sermon. The album picks back up afterward with the great “The Hired Hand,” calling back to 16 Horsepower’s early gothic-country stomp and slide. When Edwards commands, “Give up your dead,” I’m ready to give ’em up!

As I listened, I wondered if this album is a nod to the late, great David Bowie, whose final album, Blackstar, was released days before his death earlier this year. The references to stars and stardom seem unlikely to be mere coincidence, and “Crystal Palace” cemented it for me—there’s a definite spirit of Bowie in Edwards’ delivery. This song would have fit in perfectly with late-night 1980s alternative radio, its sticky dark crooning reminiscent of Bauhaus. My favorite track, the gorgeous “Crook and Flail”—that’s Egyptian iconography of kings as shepherds and harvesters—continues in the vein of Siousxie Sioux and Dead Can Dance, with swirling Middle Eastern and Indian instrumentation. There’s a touch of Dead Can Dance again on the slow burner “All Your Waves,” as well as a lot of Crime and the City Solution (whose keyboardist, Matthew Smith, also appears on this album), with its still-waters-run-deep intensity reminiscent of their earlier track “The Good Hand” or Cave’s “Lovely Creature.”

Rounding out the album are four more tracks that return to the original sounds of Wovenhand. “The Quiver” is slow and methodical, with Edwards’ trademark crackly old-time radio vocals and evocative country lyrics touched by a bit of psychedelia. “Golden Blossom” veers still more into 16 Horsepower’s scorched-earth territory, followed up by “Go Ye Light” and “Five By Five.” There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s gorgeous, if not as memorable as other tracks. The final track, “Low Twelve,” takes me back again to Nick Cave’s earlier works—a great way to close out the album.

Listen to this while driving to Burning Man (or on any hot vacation road trip where you want a touch of dark Americana).

Wovenhand played Psycho Las Vegas in August and launch a European tour with Emma Ruth Rundle starting Sept. 12, hitting 29 cities in a little over a month. Find them online at wovenhandband.com.
Madelyn Boudreaux

Night Sweats
Red EP
Self-Released
Street: 01.25
Night Sweats = Bauhaus x Joy Division + Iggy Pop
Usually, an EP will comprise a few songs representing a short body of work by a band. In the case of Night Sweats’ Red EP, four songs make up over 30 minutes of dark yet poppy electronic indie music. These underground darlings were featured in SLUG’s Localized back in December 2010, and have graced the stage for a decade as members of several other, popular local bands, such as The Red Bennies. I keep seeing references to them on my Facebook feed. Red makes it quickly obvious why they’re on every tongue and fingertip. Scott Selfridge’s vocals channel Ian Curtis––every indie rocker’s favorite proto-goth suicide––like a motherfucker. Liberal doses of Bauhaus-ian droning bass on “Keys to the Fortress” and “Body Talk” meet frenetic drums reminiscent of The Chameleons UK and even more frenetic strains of electro-gum-pop-meets-Iggy-Pop on “Car Car Commercial” for a combination that probably shouldn’t work, but really does. Complex, dark and layered doesn’t always mean brooding!

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The Rose Phantom
Abandon
Self-Released
Street: 12.21.12
The Rose Phantom = Depeche Mode + HIM x Alphaville
The latest release by Salt Lake’s own Ted Newsom (Sleep Slid iN, Melodramus, revideolized), Abandon represents a new direction as Newsom turned his back on his other projects to focus two years’ time on the Rose Phantom persona and work. Marrying lush dramatics and intricate electronica, the album’s 10 tracks of careful and succinct industrial-tinged darkwave would not be out of place in a goth club or in an alternative radio station’s rotation. The bitter and beautiful opener, “All I Want,” is a goth-rock slow burner, while “Here It Is” could be a new Duran Duran/Depeche Mode collaboration. Samples and tape loops play a role, but are mysterious and invocative, never annoying or repetitive. My favorite track, “Into the Day,” recalls A-Ha and Clan of Xymox equally—an interesting melding. At times, Newsom stretches his voice a little too far at the low registers, but his vocals are clear and gorgeous, emotional and spacious. Abandon is a beautiful work, and hopefully a promise of more to come. Find The Rose Phantom online at therosephantom.com. –Madelyn Boudreaux

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Dash Rip Rock
Black Liquor
Alternative Tentacles
Street: 11.13.12
Dash Rip Rock = Hank Williams III x Reverend Horton Heat + Cowboy Mouth
In the almost 30 years since they formed, Louisiana Music Hall of Famers Dash Rip Rock have been making rollicking swamp-rock with equal doses of punk and country and even a little metal. While they didn’t invent cowpunk, they arguably own the style and a whole lot more, as their latest release on the iconic punk label proves once again. With Bill Davis (who has worked with Mojo Nixon and Jello Biafra) providing twangy vocals and guitar, supported by Patrick Johnson and Kyle Melancon, this latest release tears up the floor and takes the roof clean off. But even when these roots-rockers are threatening you with a dozen straight-pins (“Voodoo Doll“) or kicking you to the curb (“Go Ahead Baby”), it’s all well-intentioned, good ol’ boy music with the emphasis on “good,”––genuinely nice guys who know how to have fun (and are smarter than that twang might indicate). The title track is a rousing good time about just how much Louisiana’s life blood (oil, that is) is literally killing the folks back home, but don’t let that get you down; this whole CD is more fun than a barrel of drunk Cajuns. –Madelyn Boudreaux

John Cale
Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood
Double Six
Street: 10.01.12
John Cale = Bauhaus + The Velvet Underground x Brian Eno
Stand back, kids … at 70, sporting pink dye in his white hair, legend John Cale (The Velvet Underground and too many others to name) is rockin’, and not in a rockin’ chair, son. This album is chockful of his smooth and unmistakable voice––like the voice Jim Morrison might have grown into––his standard drone and his louche lyrics that rival Leonard Cohen’s for their depth. You don’t so much listen to Nookie Woods as you get grabbed and bodily hauled in for some very shifty adventures, indeed. The opener, “I Wanna Talk 2 U,” a collaboration with hip-hop producer Danger Mouse, explodes out of your speakers. The masterful “Hemmingway” rattles you with its building intensity, while “Face to the Sky” is a gorgeous melding of electronic and organic elements, a swooping, woozy nod to Dali’s Car and Bowie. But lest all this ancient name-dropping makes you think the album is a throwback, worry not: there’s nothing old-fashioned about it. Cale seems committed to moving forward with music, playing around with over-processed autotune on “December Rain,” but he’s not afraid of organic acoustic sounds, as on “Mary.” If you don’t already know Cale, it’s time you met him, and a trip to the Nookie Woods is a fine place to start. –Madelyn Boudreaux

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Judy Kang
Self-titled
Self-Released
Street: 03.05
Judy Kang = Liz Fraser + Yellow Magic Orchestra x Phillip Glass + Maksim
A comparison to Bjork is not the way to my heart; her music is like listening to a fax machine have a nervous breakdown. Ditto art featuring pouting and adorably quirky wunderkind Julliard grads holding cute little purse dogs, pet names by Lady Gaga and shout outs to God! None of this screams “awesome music” to me. But if the liner notes seem strangely preachy, twee and self-indulgent, Judy Kang (who’s played with Ryuichi Sakamoto of YMO and Gaga and 12-tone experimental composer Pierre Boulez) actually makes some awesome music. Turns out the hype is well-deserved, if misdirected. I was partial to the synthpop sweetness of “You,” and the initially languid but increasingly frantic experimentalism of “Everything is Pink.” “Electric Sun” recalls interstitial music from Pink Floyd’s early days, but the majority of the music here is introspective classical––undeniably beautiful and a far cry from the bubblegum pink cover. I can even hear Bjork comparisons without wanting to make sure my telecom equipment doesn’t need therapy. If there’s a lesson here for musicians, it’s that less is more in the PR department; the lesson for me is to stop judging musicians by their pink fiddles and Chihuahuas. –Madelyn Boudreaux

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