We can always count on Alarm Press for their great taste. So it’s not a surprise that they picked 5 of our albums on their Top Albums of 2011 List. Including: Adebisi Shank, And So I Watch You From Afar, Hella, Russian Circles & Zechs Marquise. Sadly the list is referred to as the Unheralded Top 50 because they are one of the few publications that look beyond the same cut and paste lists of those other Music blogazines. We are so happy that Alarm is going to be relaunching and expanding on their magazine and going back into print with the full size Magazine format again coming out every two months with more coverage on Rock and music and art culture. We will be their first subscribers. We back them hard. Click HERE to see Full Lists
Adebisi Shank: This is the Second Album from a Band Called Adebisi Shank (Sargent House, 3/15/11)
Released to European acclaim in 2010, the aptly titled second album from Irish electro/math rockers Adebisi Shank achieved North American release this year thanks to the peerless Sargent House.
The management company / record label describes the trio as a blend of Fang Island’s shredding riffs with Battles’ electronic quirkiness and rhythmic playfulness. That description isn’t off the mark, but readers won’t get a sense of the band’s real abilities until they hear its hyper-melodic, polyrhythmic, and — most importantly — jubilant songs in full.
Second Album delivers a maelstrom of zany electronics, unusual distortions, and triumphant, rapidly ascending scales mixed with vintage synths, marimba, horns, and other accoutrements. This is all packaged between and around gloriously catchy and powerful rock riffs, resulting in a manic and buoyant sophomore effort.
Hella: Tripper (Sargent House, 8/30/11)
In 2002, a wild math-rock duo named Hella released a much-ballyhooed debut that sounded impossible to perform with just two members. From there, guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill expanded their sound (and level of complexity) with synthesizers and additional members.
Now, following a few years off to pursue other projects, Seim and Hill are back as Hella’s core, releasing their first album based around guitar and drums since Hold Your Horse Is, that 2002 debut. It’s a welcome return to original form, one that is both “accessible” and melodic despite being highly technical.
Russian Circles: Empros (Sargent House, 10/25/11)
In 2009, instrumental rock trio Russian Circles released Geneva, an album that both introduced the worming bass lines of Brian Cook (of These Arms are Snakes) and showcased the band’s balance of metallic fury and melodic beauty. Complementary strings and horns also dotted the sonic landscape, creating a superlative post-metal opus.
Empros cuts away the complementary pieces of Geneva, instead focusing on the trio’s interplay. Cook has further ingrained himself in the Russian Circles sound, allowing the galloping rhythm section just as frequently to play the lead as Mike Sullivan’s effects-heavy, overdubbed guitars. And the usual ear for dynamics is present once more, building moments of tension and release to go with the killer riffs.
Zechs Marquise: Getting Paid (Sargent House /Rodriguez Lopez Productions, 9/27/11)
El Paso-based psych-prog five-piece Zechs Marquise is three-fifths Rodriguez Lopez, a surname that gained music-industry notoriety from Omar, the prolific Mars Volta guitarist.
Though its official debut album, the 2009 effort Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare, was a much more experimental and atmospheric work, Getting Paid fully focuses on the groove. Each of the album’s nine tracks moves at its own pace, venturing into an alternate sonic universe at a moment’s notice. Abrupt tempo shifts, an inexhaustible junk drawer of textures, and a healthy obsession with ’70s prog fusion culminate in a truly shape-shifting record, albeit one that consistently rocks. Zechs Marquise knows when to give into its sweaty, twisted vision-quest dalliances and when to let a groove ride.
And So I Watch You from Afar: Gangs (Sargent House / Richter Collective, 11/8/11)