Starting with its first LP in 1996, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, the Finnish band Apocalyptica has spent its career reimagining metal music from a neoclassical standpoint, a perspective responsible for the group’s one-of-kind sound. Now, nearly a quarter century removed from its initial Metallica tribute, the band’s latest effort, Cell-0, marks a notable return to origins for the quartet, which consists of three unconventional cellists and a heavy metal drummer. Continue reading Apocalyptica confronts the unknown equipped only with instruments and song names on new full-length, Cell-0
With the decade soon coming to a close, 2019 offered the last chance for musicians to capture the cultural and emotional zeitgeist of the 2010s, as well as, set the tone for music to come in the 2020s. Over the past year, radio powerhouses such as The Black Keys and The Raconteurs reemerged from hibernation, newcomers such as Black Pumas, Brittany Howard and Jade Bird all created lasting power in the public eye, Future and Earl Sweatshirt dropped solid projects amidst a relatively quiet year in hip-hop, and collaborations such as Better Oblivion Community Center and The Highwomen elevated their lesser-known members to new heights.
In a time of widespread anxiety and uncertainty, when one chapter of the 21st century is turning into the next, the following 10 artists delivered albums this year that made sonic explorations and artistic statements indicative of where music is heading in the next decade while sounding perfectly at home in 2019. Continue reading Top 10 Albums of 2019
Photo from Weyrd Son Records
Way Station, the new album from Brooklyn industrial punks Pop. 1280, is a fitting title. It marks a new chapter for the band not only in material, but in its creative dynamic.
In the three years since the group’s last release, 2016’s Paradise, the band lost two key members with the departures of its drummer and synth player, leaving singer Chris Bug and guitarist Ivan Lip to figure out ways to fill the sonic voids their former bandmates left behind. Continue reading Pop. 1280 reemerges with a new lineup on Way Station, an ominous, psychological thriller of a record
Photo Courtesy of American Dreams Records
To interpret a piece as celebrated as Claude Debussy’s La Mer is a bold undertaking for any musician, even those as accomplished as Tosconini, Bernstein or John Williams. And further, to successfully adapt it into a different style of music comes with its own set of challenges.
But the decision by Forest Management, the Chicago-based music project of John Daniel, to sample and recontextualize the famous symphonic sketches into an ambient double LP feels wholly appropriate. After all, Debussy valued sound and texture over melody and progression much like today’s ambient artists. “There is no theory. You merely have to listen,” Debussy once said. “Pleasure is the law.” Continue reading Forest Management explores the formidable landscape of night on its new classically-inspired double album After Dark
Photo from Manifesto Records
In the age of the smartphone, if a musician was to test out new songs and ideas in front of a live audience, then, like clockwork, videos would be posted online for everyone to see and post comments. And even if the songs weren’t played live, there’s always the possibility of demos being leaked and downloaded, which has happened to dozens of musicians this century. But, back in 1968, the pre-internet world allowed for artists to take bigger risks in performances without fear of backlash from music bloggers. Continue reading Tim Buckley: Live at the Electric Theatre Co. 1968 provides another compelling touchstone in mapping out the masterful singer-songwriter’s stylistic progression
Don’t you hate it when the band you leave the house to see isn’t the headliner?
You pay for the bigger act just to catch a shorter set with second rate set design and a crowd with only half its heart into it. But despite all those inherent drawbacks, Knoxville quintet Whitechapel played a tight and versatile supporting set at Mr. Smalls Theatre on Monday that was as formidable as it was sincere, featuring a good portion of the band’s career-best seventh album The Valley. Continue reading Concert Review: Whitechapel at Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale, PA (Oct. 28)
Photo courtesy of Caldo Verde Records
Joey Always Smiled, Mark Kozelek’s spiritual follow-up to his compellingly mellow self-titled release last year, finds the singer-songwriter reminiscing about formative adolescent memories and contrasting them with his more recent activities. Like listening to a folk rock radio station, the narratives Kozelek includes on this album, announced way back in February, span the 70s, 80s, 90s and today during the collab’s hour-plus runtime, as he deciphers which people and events most shaped the journey to his present self. Continue reading Mark Kozelek teams up with Petra Haden and wistfully drifts through decades of memories and deep-rooted friendships on Joey Always Smiled