Around this time last year I don't think I would've been able to put together a list like this, this early in the year so that either:
A. Says a lot about the quality of this year's music
B. Says a lot about how late I was getting on top of 2017's musical offerings.
Regardless, and without further ado, let's get this show on the road:
Don't get me wrong, it was (and still is) a tasty slab of mathcore/hardcore but I felt like it was lacking something to differentiate it from a legion of similar sounding bands.
With Only Love, this is no longer the case.
I love when I struggle to compare an album to someone else and this is definitely one of those albums. If you'd twist my arm I'd say something like Converge writing a psychedelic pop album under the influence of Genghis Tron. That may not give you much but if someone gave me that description I reckon I'd start throwing money at them from sheer excitement. (I miss you Genghis Tron, please come back)
Only Love is far from being accessible and even if you're used to heavier music the production on the first couple of tracks might keep you at bay. Sounding like a wall of noise it took me a couple of listens to get into the pre-release singles but it wasn't until I reached songs like "Luxury Themes" and "Fortune's Daughter" that I fully fell for the album. Now I listen to it a few times a day if I can.
It's aggressive, it's catchy and it's unique as all hell but I've got only love for it. (see what I did there?)
Like the bastard child of The Hirsch Effekt, Ion Dissonance and The Rodeo Idiot Engine the music is frantic, extremely well arranged and has a great mix of tempos, vocals and levels of intensity. That doesn't mean there's a lot of chill to be found on the album, but rather that there are brief moments of respite among the noise, screaming and blast beats.
Speaking of the beats, the drums on here are incredibly solid, one of my favorite examples being "Curses" which, during its brief runtime, manages to go through d-beats, blasts, jagged choppy rhythms and the good old not-sure-what-it's-called-but-it's-got-fast-double-bass-feet-and-a-4/4-beat-on the arms.
That's not to say the drums are the only thing to standout, rather that on this album I could have literally chosen any element and called it out. I won't lie, I fucking love this album and I'll shout it from the rooftops as much as I can.
Give it a spin but make sure you don't hurt yourself on The Pointy End.
An odd description? Without a doubt, but listen to album opener "Polio Dancer" and tell me I'm wrong.
The music on here is all killer, whether it's hard hitting, poppy, or chill but it's the non-musical material on here that I have to question. What I mean are things like the "ambient" sounds of squeaky door hinges (or at least that's what it sounds like) and other interludes of that style. On Modern Frenetics (featured above) there are noisy interludes but they seem to fit the mood better; i.e. I've never found myself painfully aware of them breaking up the flow but that's happened on occasion on Sick and Dying.
This is by no means a deal-breaker, one of my all time favorite albums Frances The Mute suffers from a similar flaw, but I'm always curious about the thought process behind this sort of thing.
Don't let this scare you away from the album though as you'd be missing out on one of the year's best releases.
After last year's white belt revival album Trepanation by Sounding (super recommended) they've now released two splits, one I'm writing about here and now a new one by Arms and Seizures (only listened to the Arms side so far but it's fucking sick, their best material so far).
More on the Arms/Seizures one later because for now I wanted to talk about one of last year's favorites: SeeYouSpaceCowboy and their split with secondgradeknifefight.
The space on this list is admittedly aimed squarely at SeeYouSpaceCowboy's half of the split as they're more my speed than secondgradeknifefight (although I do like their particular noisy grind too).
Picking up from where their 2017 release Fashion Statements for the Socially Aware left off, the split gives us about 5 minutes of new music, which may not seem like much but I'd choose quality over quantity any day.
And quality is what they deliver; what we have here is more of the same MySpace worship, with elements of Daughters, Me and Him Call it Us and more great quality shit you need to get familiar with if you aren't already.
If you're unsure if this is for you, think about it this way:
What have you got to lose? It's 5 minutes long!
What have you got to gain? One of the most exciting new bands of the last few years, bringing an under-represented genre of music with political statements of under-represented minorities.
Dive in and enjoy the rodeo!
I got into them fairly early on in the history of the band and always dug them, following them through constant reinvention of their sound but now, with Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It they seem to retroactively fallen into the second one.
Although their earlier material was good, they've truly hit that magical balance in their sound on this album, balancing aggression with melody, structure with experimentation as well as other cliché comparisons, juxtaposing the old with the new etc etc.
It's clear from the start of the album that they've gone in a different direction and that's one of the things I love about it. They don't "hide" behind tradition and sneak innovation in halfway through but rather show you the new, improved and evolved Rolo Tomassi at the very start, proudly waving a flag of individualism and sailing towards bigger and better things.
I heard from friends who were at their recent Camden gig that the band got a bit emotional over the reception the new material got but the main emotion I think the world should feel is excitement as another great band fully hits its stride when others are fading.
Good Game - Good Luck Have Fun - Math Rock with female and male vocals
Aberrant Phase - End Is Near - Experimental Hardcore/Mathcore
Master Boot Record - Direct Memory Access - Synthwave featuring Öxxö Xööx vocalist
I'm honestly quite excited to revisit this and see how many of these will end up on my top 10 list at the end of the year but for now I'll get back to obsessively listening to these and you should too!