Tuesday Ten: 173: Tracks of the Month (April 2013)

First post in a while, yep, been really busy again. On schedule, mind, here is this month’s ten tracks you should hear.

Track of the Month: 01

Girls Against Boys
It’s A Diamond Life
The Ghost List EP

I’ve been writing what became this blog – originally my LiveJournal, still posted there but nowadays hosted on my own ‘site primarily – since mid-2003, and in all that time what is probably one of my top-five favourite bands of all have been inactive. I thought they had long since disbanded, in fact.

So imagine my surprise last week when this news broke, then. I may have punched the air a bit, and then tentatively listened to the new track, fearing that it might not have the punch of old. I was completely wrong, of course. Their two-bass attack is present and correct, life is still oh-so-sleazy, and the chorus is a killer, perked up by “woo-ooos” from Eli Janney. It’s like they’ve never been away, and with a bit of luck a new generation can now discover the joys of one of the more distinctive alternative bands to emerge from the East Coast of the United States: although a bit gutting that their European jaunt at the moment includes many French dates, as well as a few in the Low Countries, but none in the UK – at a time where I can’t really pop abroad. Wah!

Track of the Month: 02

Rabbit Junk
Break Shins To This

Until the surprise return of GVSB last week, this had been a nailed-on track of the month since the day after 172: Tracks (March 2013). So, there shall just have to be two this month, having joint billing. And it couldn’t really be more different – and it is geographically distinct, too (from the Pacific Northwest, in fact). What it does have in common, though, is that this is a nod back to a previous incarnation, back when Rabbit Junk were still shaking off the sound of The Shizit, and were seriously fucking angry.

Yeah, so this has pop hooks, but mainly this is built on grinding, blistering industrial-punk fury, which builds into an absolutely shit-kicking, thundering chorus, and is the best Rabbit Junk track since, well, ever.

John Grant
Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore
Pale Green Ghosts

I managed to miss this off last month’s list, from one of my favourite albums of the moment (shame on me). So, time to redress this. A bleak, introspective album (the extraordinary backstory helps explain exactly why), it is however full of sumptuous, elegant love songs, and his voice doesn’t half sound like Jon Crosby from VAST. And that latter feature is what hooked me in the first place, I’ll admit. I heard this track in Fopp, I think, and immediately had to know who sung it, as it is a gorgeous, melancholy sweep, of minimal electronics dominated by Grant’s rich voice. The album then bowled me over quickly, as the whole thing is almost as good as this: an album steeped in bitter regret, but despite the circumstances retains a real wit about it, too.

Daft Punk feat. Pharrell
Get Lucky
Random Access Memories

Christ, this has divided opinion like no other song I can recall in recent times. I’ll put my cards on the table now – I love Daft Punk, and I love this track, too. Their retro-take on dance music – all of their material has harked back to another age at one point or another – has almost always, somehow, sounded like a bright new future whenever played, and it is quite remarkable here that they have managed to blow every other artist out of orbit right now with one, dead-simple disco tune. Ok, so the really important ingredient to this track is Nile Rodgers – the disco king behind Chic – but the meeting of minds here has frankly created a song we aren’t going to be able to escape all summer, a glorious, sun-drenched dancefloor monster that brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. By the accounts now appearing in the media, the album is a whole lot more complex and mind-blowing than this – but after all the hype and expectation, can it even possibly live up to it?

Rotting Christ
P’unchaw kachun / Tuta kachun
Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού (Do What Thou Wilt)

Hands-down the best metal album I’ve heard in 2013, and it wasn’t the origin I was expecting for this accolade so far. Rotting Christ have been around for ages, of course, but they’ve never really grabbed me especially, for me never having anything really to make them stand out from countless other bands of their ilk. All this has changed with this album, though – which while I’ve seen some complaining that they aren’t heavy enough here, I’d say it goes the other way and the amazing textures and outside influences here showcased make this a compelling and brutal album to listen to. There are religious chants, Romanian curses, vocals roared from the depths, and most impressively of all, a spectacularly punishing tribal rhythm to the drumming that adds the power needed. This track in particular is a brilliant way to start with the album, containing all of these elements (aside from the Romanian bit, which follows on another track!).

The Dillinger Escape Plan
When I Lost My Bet
One Of Us Is The Killer

…and the award for most brutal intro to a track so far in 2013 goes to DEP. Jagged riffs appear out of nowhere like slashes of very sharp knives, Greg Puciato delivers staccato vocals in his usual snarl, before the track properly gets going, and then switches direction about eight times in the four-minute length. I wasn’t too big a fan of the last album, but this track – and the various styles it swings through, from brutal technical hardcore to more mellow moments and everything in between – already has me piqued for the new album. Also, be warned – the video is exceptionally gory.

The Klinik
Eat Your Heart Out

Unlike the brutal, sensory overload of their live show, the return of the Klinik in recorded form is an ominous, pitch-dark lesson in suspense. This track is near the end, a relentless, bruising gathering storm of industrial electronics – crucially not unlistenable but instead really quite groovy, despite the scorching white noise that takes precedence in the mix as the track builds further. Still, this “comeback” album is utterly superb from start to finish, where Dirk Ivens and Marc Verhaeghen perhaps cement their (deserved) placing as one of the vitally important, influential industrial innovators that they are.

March of the Yeti

The storming opener to their first album proper in many years, all my fears about how this album was going to sound melted away in about, oh, four seconds of this getting going – a quick drumroll, and the whole song bursts into your head. It is dense, lyrically obtuse as ever, and like so many great ET9 tracks, revolves around a great hook that is one of the reasons why their technical, “difficult” take on metal was fondly remembered and loved. And going on recent shows, that love has not dissipated, and the quality of this return really should make them a whole host of new fans.

Thee Faction
Better Than Wages
Good Politics: Your Role As An Active Citizen In Civil Society

Watch on YouTube

The first track to be released from the forthcoming new album by the Socialist R’n’B maestros, this for me is the closest that they have got to the searing power of their live show – this is dead good political rock’n’roll, with added horns, a cracking guitar solo and some great, witty lyrics. Looking forward to hearing more of this.

Gogol Bordello
Pura Vida Conspiracy

One of the greatest, most enjoyable live bands I’ve ever seen – seriously, their shows are gloriously chaotic – took a bit of a turn for the mundane on their last album, and I have to confess that this track had me thinking initially that this was a continuation of that downward spiral. But then, after a long acoustic-based minute, it all clicks back into life and coils ever tighter and faster – a trick they’ve used before, to spectacular effect in Harem in Tuscany (Taranta), and it works just as wonderfully here. A song as full of life and joy as the title suggests. (New album out on 22-July)

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