Author: Matthew Barlow

Iceage — Beyondless

Iceage Beyondless Matador Iceage are a Danish punk band, from the capital, Copenhagen.  They’ve been around for a long time, forming when they were still teenagers in 2008.  I came across them thanks to the Instagram feed of the Norwegian pop/punk band, Sløtface. I don’t know if I’d call this punk, but, then again, I have never really liked the idea of music categories.  Whatever.  Doesn’t matter.  Iceage sound bratty and snotty, both musically and in terms of lyrics and delivery.  And they write catchy as fuck songs. Iceage aren’t exactly unknowns, they’ve been signed to Matador, the premier indie label in the US, since 2012.  And the first single from Beyondless was hyped by the Drunken Hipsters (Pitchfork, for the uninformed) as their single of the week.  So those in the know have always been in the know, it seems. Beyondless is a wonderful album.  This is a big album, compared to the band’s earlier discography.  Frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt has always had a sharp eye for social criticism.  And whereas the earlier albums were lean and taught, here, Iceage brings the noise, so to speak.  The music churns and comes in crescendos.  There are touches such as pianos and horns. But, most importantly, the songs are killer.  They’re moody and hard-hitting.  My personal favourite is the penultimate track, ‘Showtime,’ a moody, pulsing track.  Rønnenfelt’s lyrics travel around the audience...

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Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really Feel Milk Records/Mom and Pop/Marathon Courtney Barnett kind of came out of nowhere back in 2015 and just exploded onto the scene, at least in North America, with her début album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit. To call her a fresh voice is an understatement and she became the IT Girl of the moment.  But she always came with a wry smile and knew very well that our tastes shift and her moment in the sun could be over tomorrow.  The lyrics of the album’s hardest song, ‘Pedestrian At Best,’ noted that.  But the thing is, Barnett didn’t just disappear.  She won a bunch of awards in her native Australia for the album.  She was also, at least to my eyes, the first of a new wave of Aussie artists to make it in North America.  Of course, Australia has its own scene, and Aussie bands have been in fashion before, most notably in the 80s with Midnight Oil and the Church, as well as Crowded House, and others.  But everything Aussie was cool in the late 80s, thanks to Michael J. ‘Crocodile’ Dundee. [Note to self, it might be time to watch Crocodile Dundee again]. We even got really crappy Australian beer out of it all, Foster’s Lager.  And so maybe Australian music is cool again, with Barnett, her...

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Venetian Snares/Daniel Lanois: Venetian Snares X Daniel Lanois

Venetian Snares/Daniel Lanois Venetian Snares X Daniel Lanois Independent Oh boy, this is a weird album.  Daniel Lanois is known for his esoteric production; his solo oeuvre is more of the same, veering at times into unlistenable experimentation with the guitar.  Venetian Snares, aka. Aaron Funk is an EDM god, progenitor of the breakcore genre, and signee to influential electronic label, Planet Mu.  Turns out Lanois is a fan of Funk’s, and they began messing around with their music in 2014.  The resulting album, did I mention it’s weird? Repeated listens have convinced me this is excellent music.  But...

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Czarface & MF DOOM: Czarface Meets Metal Face

Czarface & MF DOOM Czarface Meets Metal Face Get on Down! When MF DOOM is on and dialled in, I don’t think there’s a greater rapper out there  His lyrics are deft, subtle, and often funny.  His delivery is smooth and rich.  One of the most prolific rappers in the hip hip underground, DOOM bridges the gap between the underground and mainstream through his frequent collaborators, most notably with Ghostface from Wu-Tang Clan. Czarface is a collaboration between another member of the Wu-Tang, Inspectah Deck and Boston’s 7L & Esoteric.  Like DOOM, Czarface exists in the hip hop underground...

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Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse

Speedy Ortiz Twerp Verse Carpark Records Speedy Ortiz are the darlings of the indie scene in Northampton, MA, just down I-91 from me.  Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis moved to NoHo, as the hipsters call it, back in 2011 to start her MFA at nearby UMass-Amherst.  I was piqued by the band’s name, Speedy Ortiz is a character in the Love and Rockets comic series, which is from whence one of my favourite bands of all-time took their name.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure they’re even a NoHo-based band anymore.  Wikipedia has claimed they’re based there, Boston, and Brooklyn.  Whatever....

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