Author: Madelyn Boudreaux

Crime and the City Solution
American Twilight
Mute
Street: 03.26
Crime and the City Solution = the Cult + (Bad Seeds – Nick Cave) x Devotchka
Critics’ darlings who never quite made the mainstream grade back in the early 1990s, Crime are back with their first release in 20-plus years. The album opens with the epic rocker, “Goddess,” which is musically closer to Ian Astbury’s or Iggy Pop’s recent excursions than angry, broken-hearted crooner Simon Bonney, but no less brilliant than I’d hoped. After that, the album falls more in line with my expectations––Bonney’s twangy, deep tones over the Americana-inspired, folk, country and blues-tinged goth-rock landscapes that are so beautifully created by the Australian Bad Seeds (a reference to the bands that orbit around and share players with Nick Cave). American Twilight was recorded in Detroit, and includes Denver’s David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower, Wovenhand), violinist Bronwyn Addams, and Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten), telling a tale of tooth-and-nail survival in a fast-moving world set on grinding everyone to nubs. “Riven Man” is an excellent take on Detroit funk, while “The Colonel” takes us deep into dark country territory. There’s not a bad track here; it will take over your CD player and your brain for weeks. –Madelyn Boudreaux
 

Photos:

Davey Suicide
Self-Titled
Standby
Street: 03.12
Davey Suicide = Motley Crue x Marilyn Manson + Misfits
I don’t know when the metal kids started making industrial music, or when the rivets started headbanging. Maybe it was always so, but I swear, when I was in school, the twain never met except to fight. That is no more, and there’s no better proof than on this eponymous album: 14 tracks of nuclear metal crossed with industrial distortion and quite a few bad words, oh my! The staccato screechfests of “Generation Fuck Star” and “Unholywood Killafornia” should make all the Mansonites happy. There’s plenty of pop here, too, hidden under the angry lyrics and grinding, chugging metal guitars, and of course, a heavy metal ballad, “I’ll Take a Bullet for You”––these guys paid attention to the 1980s! It’s all a little too self-aware to be a happy accident, so I suspect the heavy hand of a hype-machine behind them, but by all means, play this very loud this summer. It’s good fun, and bonus: your parents and your bishop will absolutely hate it.

Photos:

Binary

Amber EP

Self-Released

Street: 04.25

Binary = Joy Division x (NIN + Radiohead)

Deeply layered and grungy post-goth indie-rock, this five-track EP is like a postcard from a downgraded northern town in England, postmarked 1989. Intelligent––vox/guitarist David Troster studied molecular biology at Yale––and haunting, tracks like “G.O.D.,” with its strange and compelling video, and “You Need the Blue Key” evoke a sadness that is hard to put into words. Despite the dark ambiance, there’s a sense of electronic cleanliness beneath the surface––a marriage of clean, spare, modern metallic lines with a careful layer of rust lacing the surface and eating its way to the music’s soul. It’s gorgeous stuff. –Madelyn Boudreaux

 
Photos:

Depeche Mode

Delta Machine

Columbia

Street: 03.22

Depeche Mode = Duran Duran x U2

After 35-plus years of making sly and danceable new wave electronica, a band might be forgiven for letting it get a bit stale. Mixed by Flood (New Order, Nick Cave, U2), the album is a very solid, but not exactly inspired, collection of blippy dance numbers like “Welcome to my World” or “Soft Touch / Raw Nerve” that harken back to their earlier days, and tracks like “Angel” and “Goodbye” that fit into Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s more recent forays into bluesy rock. There’s nothing wrong with a band that defined a genre to rest on its laurels, but sometimes it’s sad to realize that we will never again have that rush of the first time we heard Some Great Reward. Still, this album is better than some initial reviews suggested. –Madelyn Boudreaux


Photos:

How to Destroy Angels

Welcome Oblivion

Columbia

Street: 03.05

How to Destroy Angels_ = Tool + (DJ? Acucrack x Pigface) + Portishead 

With a name referencing an early Coil song and featuring industrial (hair)god Trent Reznor, how could this not be good? Thirteen highly glitchy tracks (and two more on the vinyl release) call to mind mid-1990s industrial with a heavy dose of laid-back trip hop cool beats and most vocals by Mariqueen Maandig (West Indian Girl), who is married to Reznor. Made with long-time Reznor collaborators Atticus Ross (12 Rounds, Error) and Rob Sheridan, the album feels and looks like a soundtrack to a movie involving street-wise computer hackers and parkour chases through gritty urban landscapes, excellent for fans of intelligent instrumental metal and post-industrial. “Ice Age” stands out as an organic folk-alternative track, and “Too Late, All Gone” and “How Long?” are nearly poppy, but the album never falls into a glitzy over-produced trap. Listening to it reminds me of the first time I heard NIN, and thought I was hearing new life being breathed into the dark music world. –Madelyn Boudreaux


Photos:
Mick Harvey
Four (Acts of Love)
Mute
Street: 04.29
Mick Harvey = Crime and the City Solution – Barry Adamson
Not the fourth album, but continuing in the vein of naming by numbers, Mick Harvey’s (Crime and the City Solution, The Birthday Party) latest work is 14 tracks dedicated to that most human of emotions: love. Coming just months after a Bad Seeds release (the first to NOT include Harvey’s brilliant contributions) and a new Crime album, it’s like Christmas for followers of the Australian collection of artists! Harvey includes the aptly named “Glorious,” a track originally penned by PJ Harvey, and covers of Roy Orbison and Van Morrison tracks, but my favorite here is the beautifully gothic Americana track, “Midnight on the Ramparts.” Everything Harvey touches turns into a kind of darkly sweet and sticky gold, and this album is no exception—at once departing from previous releases yet perfectly living up to the promises they made. –Madelyn Boudreaux 
Photos:
Lux Interna
there is light in the body, there is blood in the sun
Pesanta Urfolk
Street: 05.27
Lux Interna = Spectral Light and Moonshine Firefly Snakeoil Jamboree + Swans
The fifth release by Joshua Levi Ian and Kathryn Mary, this beautiful album recapitulates dark neo-folk without dragging along the negatives that subgenre often implies, marrying it to the gothic Americana sound of bands like Munly or Wovenhand (whose keyboardist  Jeff Linsenmaier guests here) with touches of 1990s darkwave. Starting bittersweet with the claustrophobic “King Winter,” the album opens up like some Rafflesia flower, reaching its climax on the hillbilly horror story of “Wounded Stag,” the stunning “Threefold” and expansive “Seed.” This is one of the best crafted albums I’ve heard in a long time, with its almost literary pacing, from opening to climax to the final comedown, yielding much more than just a collection of songs. The CD and LP are gorgeously packaged, featuring artwork by David D’Andrea that perfectly sets the mood for this intricate, layered, dark but glittering piece of work. –Madelyn Boudreaux
 
Photos:
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
Photos:
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
Photos:

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