CIMS Indie Fresh
Since the late '80s, Mudhoney – the Seattle-based foursome whose muck-crusted version of rock, shot through with caustic wit and battened down by a ferocious low end – has been a high-pH tonic against the ludicrous and the insipid. Thirty years later, the world is experiencing a particularly high-water moment for both those ideals. But just in time, vocalist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Guy Maddison, and drummer Dan Peters are back with Digital Garbage, a barbed-wire-trimmed collection of sonic brickbats. Arm's raw yawp and his bandmates' long-honed chemistry make Digital Garbage an ideal release valve for the 2018 pressure cooker. "My sense of humor is dark, and these are dark times," says Arm. "I suppose it’s only getting darker." Digital Garbage opens with the swaggering "Nerve Attack," which can be heard as a nod both to modern-life anxiety and the ever-increasing threat of warfare. The album's title comes from the outro of "Kill Yourself Live," which segues from a revved-up Arm organ solo into a bleak look at the way notoriety goes viral. Arm says: "people really seem to find validation in the likes—and then there's Facebook Live, where people have streamed torture and murder, or, in the case of Philando Castile, getting murdered by a cop. In the course of writing that song, I thought about how, once you put something out there online, you can’t wipe it away. It’s always going to be there—even if no one digs it up, it’s still out there floating somewhere." Appropriately enough, bits of recent news events float through the record: “Please Mr. Gunman," on which Arm bellows "We'd rather die in church!" over his bandmates' careening charge, was inspired by a TV-news bubblehead's response to a 2017 church shooting, while the ominous refrain that opens the submerged-blues of "Next Mass Extinction" calls back to last summer's clashes in Charlottesville. Mudhoney's core sound—steadily pounding drums, swamp-thing bass, squalling guitar wobble, Arm's hazardous-chemical voice—remains on Digital Garbage, which the band recorded with longtime collaborator (and Digital Garbage pianist) Johnny Sangster at the Seattle studio Litho. The anti-religiosity shimmy "21st Century Pharisees" builds its case with Maddison's woozy synths, which Arm says “add a really nice touch to the proceedings.” Digital Garbage closes with "Oh Yeah," a brief celebration of skateboarding, surfing, biking, and the joy provided by these escape valves. "I would’ve really just loved to write songs about just hanging out on the beach, and going on a nice vacation," says Arm. "But, you know, that probably doesn’t make for great rock." Mudhoney, however, know what does make great rock—and the riffs and fury of Digital Garbage will stand the test of time, even if the particulars fade away. "I've tried to keep things somewhat universal, so that this album doesn’t just seem like of this time—hopefully some of this stuff will go away," Arm laughs. "You don’t want to say in the future, 'Hey, those lyrics are still relevant. Great!'”
There are few voices more deeply embedded in the iconography and mythology of American indie rock than that of Chan Marshall. Under the musical nom de plume of Cat Power, Marshall has released music for nearly 25 years now and her prowess as a songwriter, a producer, and most notably—as a voice—has only grown more influential with time. Wanderer, Cat Power’s stunning 10th studio album, marks a pivotal moment in both Chan Marshall’s life and her career. In the six years since the release of 2012’s Sun, Marshall has travelled the world, given birth to a child, and parted ways with her previous record label. Even though it was, in many ways, a period of profound upheaval and radical change, those experiences resulted in a record that is arguably the most assured artistic statement of her career. Produced by Marshall and mixed by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck), the album includes appearances by longtime friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of friend and recent tourmate Lana Del Rey. Wanderer is, in many ways, a quintessential Cat Power record, with Marshall’s clarion voice front and center in a set of songs that remarkably stark and straightforward. But, if old Cat Power records might easily have been viewed as repositories for pain, Wanderer is, at its heart, a testament to the transformative nature of songs, an album-length imagining of alternate paths, redemptions, connections, and open-ended possibility.
‘Heaven’ highlights Dilly Dally’s rough edges in all their ragged glory, drawing every potent ounce of energy from the foursome’s swampy tones, raspy vocals, and volatile rhythm section. While the music is undeniably ferocious, there’s uplift woven into the fabric of every track. The album opens with the dreamy “I Feel Free,” which begins as a floating, untethered soundscape before transforming into a soaring anthem for a world that’s ready to finally turn the page on all the darkness and disillusion the last few years have wrought. The inexorable “Believe” insists on self-confidence, while the driving “Sober Motel” celebrates the lucidity a clear mind, and the lilting “Sorry Ur Mad” makes a case for releasing yourself from the prisons of anger and resentment. ‘Heaven’ carves out its own atheistic religion to get through the day, a faith that validates our pain as real but responds with a beaming light of hope.
6-panel digipak with two clear trays and center pocket, includes a 20-pg. booklet and an 8-panel mini-poster folder insert
“Never sink and never hide / They tried to break our dream, but child: / Joy Stops Time”. I was sent an unfinished version of Dose Your Dreams so that I might contribute string parts. I couldn’t stop listening to the rough mixes I received. A friend asked me how the record was. I replied, “My God, Fucked Up have made their Screamadelica.”
And psych-rock-groove it is. The drums mixed wide, propensity for drones, for delay pedal, for repetition, groove. The politics and aesthetics of hardcore married to an “open format” approach to genre. Elements of doo-wop, krautrock, groove, digital hardcore.
“None of Your Business Man” opens the album in familiar enough territory, a sax-assisted exit from an office space. But things get psychedelic very quickly. By the time the title track arrives, Mike Haliechuk is whispering, wah pedals are in full effect, and we’re wearing oversized t-shirts and pinwheeling. “Accelerate,” the lyrical centerpiece of the album, storms in like Boredoms on a bullet train and dissolves into a digital nightmare. The album closer, “Joy Stops Time,” finds Fucked Up at their most Düsseldorfian, nearly eight minutes of blissful motorik.
At the center of it all is Damian Abraham’s scream—a man chained, a man tortured, a true protagonist. The effect is one of an epic, every chapter attempting its own narrative devices, its own genre hybridization—and it works, it works so insanely well. The drama unfolds like a miniature world of many parts being explored, a map being illuminated, location by location.
As with David Comes to Life, there is a story here. David—who once came to life—is now indentured to a desk job. David meets the elderly Joyce who closes his eyes, opens his mind, and sends him on a spiritual journey. David embarks on his own metaphysical odyssey. He sees a stage adaptation of his own life. He speaks to an angel in a lightbulb. He sees an infinite series of universes as simulations within simulations.
Meanwhile, Lloyd—Joyce’s lover—was sent, decades ago, by Joyce on the same odyssey, but was lost in the void. Lloyd seeks to be found and reunited with his lover. Where will David end up? Will Joyce and Lloyd be reunited?
Dose Your Dreams—meaning: treat your dreams as you would a dream, allow yourself to be lost within them, allow them to open your heart and your mind, enjoy them as you would a drug. Reach out for my hand and pull me close.
Rick and Morty is the critically acclaimed, half-hour animated hit comedy series on Adult Swim that follows a sociopathic genius scientist who drags his timid grandson on insanely dangerous adventures across the universe. Rick and Morty stars Justin Roiland (Adventure Time), Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live) and Spencer Grammer (Greek). The series is created by Dan Harmon (Community) and Roiland who also serve as executive producers. •Rick and Morty was the most-watched TV comedy of 2017, and the second-most-watched show overall, among adults 18-24. •The Season 3 premiere (via a secret, internet-only stream) registered 3M unique visitors via Adult Swim's site. The corresponding Facebook live stream recorded 43.3M impressions and 8.7M video views. •The season 3 finale drew 3.9M viewers in the 18-24 range and was the most-watched telecast of the day with adults 18-24, 18-24, and 18-49. •Rick and Morty was recently renewed by Adult Swim for an unprecedented 70 episodes (the past season was ten episodes). This release is the first official collection of music from Rick and Morty. All formats feature 26 songs, 24 of which are from the first 3 seasons of the show, and 18 of which were composed by Ryan Elder specifically for the show. The album also includes songs by Mazzy Star, Chaos Chaos, Blonde Redhead, and Belly, all of which have been featured in the show, as well as two new tunes from Chad VanGaalen and Clipping inspired by the show. The box set includes a special bonus track on a 7”.
“The Lamb was written during a time of intense paranoia after a home invasion, deaths of loved ones and general violence around me and my friends,” says Lillie West, the Chicago-based songwriter behind Lala Lala. “I began to frequently and vividly imagine the end of the world, eventually becoming too frightened to leave my house. This led me to spend a lot of time examining my relationships and the choices I’d made, often wondering if they were correct and/or kind.” West initially started Lala Lala as a way to communicate things that she felt she could never say out loud. But on The Lamb, her sophomore LP and debut for Hardly Art, she has found strength in vulnerability. Through bracing hooks and sharp lyrics, the 24-year-old songwriter and guitarist illustrates a nuanced look on her own adulthood -- her fraught insecurity, struggles with addiction, and the loss of several people close to her. Across the album’s 12 tracks, West carefully examines the skeletons in her closet for the first time, hoping to capture honest snapshots of her past selves. Many of the songs show West asking herself agonizing questions about her life with a clever and hopeful curiosity. On the album’s first single and opening track, “Destroyer,” she reflects on feeling self-destructive and the delayed realization something in the past has irrevocably hurt you. In “Water Over Sex,” West laments her old precarious lifestyle, while trying to readjust to her newfound sobriety, and ”Copycat” confronts her feelings of alienation and boredom. “Some of this album is about being frustrated that everything is always repeating itself and being bored with your own feelings,” she explains. “‘Copycat’ in particular is about how everyone talks exactly the same on the Internet and how it sometimes feels futile to try and be yourself.”
Swearin’ is the kind of band that comes around, at best, once a decade. Thankfully for us, they’ve come around twice. After releasing two beloved full-lengths, 2012’s Swearin’ and 2013’s Surfing Strange, the Philadelphia band quietly put things on hold. It was due, at least in part, to the band’s main songwriters, Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride, ending their romantic relationship. And though Swearin’ tried to soldier on, it became far too stressful to keep going. But after a few years apart, those bad feelings disappeared. And when the band’s three members—Crutchfield, Gilbride, and drummer Jeff Bolt—found themselves in a room again, the conversation inevitably turned back to Swearin’. “Drunkenly, without any hesitation or inhibitions,” said Crutchfield, “we asked, ‘What would it take from each of us? What would we need to do this again? What would we want to accomplish if we decided to be a band again?’” They realized that what they all wanted was to not just play shows, but to make a new record. Before the band initially split, they’d already started writing for what would have been their third album, but instead of going back to that old material, they wanted to do something that reflected the people they’d become during those intervening years. “When a band re-forms and makes a new record that is trying to sound like the heyday of their band, it doesn’t sound genuine,” said Bolt. Before long, Crutchfield and Gilbride had a new batch of Swearin’ songs, ones that meshed with the sound they’d originally developed together but boldly pushed things forward. The result is Fall into the Sun, a Swearin’ record that doesn’t try to obscure the passage of time but instead embraces it. “Getting older, your tastes change, and what you want to do changes,” said Bolt. Those changes, though subtle, are impactful, making Fall into the Sun what Crutchfield calls “the adult Swearin’ album.” It can be seen in songs like “Big Change,” where she says goodbye to Philly and the scene that she came up in, or in “Dogpile,” where Gilbride offers the line any aging punk can relate to: “By pure dumb luck I’ve gotten where I’m going.” Where Swearin’ used to pummel through their songs, on Fall into the Sun, they bask in what this newfound openness offers. It’s most notable on the ambling “Stabilize,” which sees the band throw their weight around in the song’s back half, offering up what’s easily the heaviest riff in the band’s catalog. “I think both me and Allison have gone through huge transitions in our lives. There was a lot on our minds, and it was a super fertile time to put a bunch of songs together,” said Gilbride. It’s true of the material found on Fall into the Sun, but it’s noticeable in the album’s production, too. Much like the band’s previous albums, Gilbride anchored the recording and producing of the record, but this time around, the band worked to make the process feel more collaborative than ever before. “I feel like this was the first time I could look at a Swearin’ record and say that I co-produced it, and that felt really good,” said Crutchfield. Recorded in both Philly and Los Angeles, where Crutchfield now resides, Fall into the Sun took shape by the members giving their full trust to one another, and it can be seen in the final product. Listening to Fall into the Sun, the old Swearin’ is still there, but it’s a more confident, collaborative version than the one people first came to know. Crutchfield and Gilbride always had an innate ability to mirror the other’s movements in songs, but here, they build a focused lyrical perspective across their songs, one that’s thankful for their past, but looks boldly toward the future. Though it may have taken them a while, Swearin’ finally made the third album they always wanted. Fall into the Sun is as riotously affirming as their early work...