Last night I witnessed an intense and commanding performance. The band was Deafheaven and lead singer George Clarke kept me riveted. Here’s what it looked like captured by my phone:
To understand why Bosnian Rainbows' music stands out, you have to go back to 2007 in Guadalajara, Mexico. A singer named Teresa Suarez has taken the stage name Teri Gender Bender — adopted as a feminist statement while at the head of a band called Le Butcherettes .
With a snarl that could send Billy Idol off whimpering into a corner, she’s a mesmerizing and at times terrifying performer. Her style is part Iggy Pop and part Mick Jagger, with a Mexican punk soul. “Frightening and glorious” is how one audience member described her to me. There is no woman quite like her in Latin music, but she says that early on, that seemed to work against her.
During one particularly rough gig in Guadalajara, the power went out, but the band played on. It was a good thing it did, because somewhere in the audience was a Grammy-winning producer and musician named Omar Rodriguez Lopez. He was mesmerized: She was exactly what he was looking for in a collaborator for his new project.
Listening to Bosnian Rainbows' first album made me think of the paradox about unstoppable forces and immovable objects — as in, “What happens when Omar Rodriguez Lopez (At The Drive In) leads a band alongside Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) Both powerful and iconoclastic performers, the two somehow join together without crowding each other out.
Lopez is known for being prolific and brilliant, but he also has a reputation in the industry for being brooding, controlling, even dictatorial. He himself has gone on record saying, “I don’t want to be a dictator all my life,” and said his greatest challenge and desire is to be able to collaborate with band members. If so, then his best move was deciding to play with a singer who is not to be bossed around.
My NPR colleague Mike Katzif called Deafheaven “the Sigur Ros of black metal,” and he’s right on the money. The San Francisco band’s music heaves and builds and pummels majestically, and then singer George Clarke lurches defensively and shrieks angrily like a mother hawk protecting her young. Brutal and bracing, with a shoegazing indie-rock band’s ear for graceful melodicism. - Stephen Thompson
Hella’s Zach Hill and Spencer Seim don’t just color outside the lines of rock ‘n’ roll — they scrawl all over the page, across the tabletop and into the next room. Depending on your perspective, the result is either a dazzlingly unruly abstraction or an unholy mess.
The Sacramento instrumental duo has basically one setting, and it’s full-speed-ahead sensory overload. Hill’s polyrhythmic drum assault and Seim’s jittery, Beefheart-by-way-of-Bad Brains guitar parts volley and tangle frenetically, battling to occupy every square inch of sonic real estate. Needless to say, it’s not easy listening, but with a little patience, unsnarling the duo’s dueling lines can yield exhilarating rewards.
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You can’t really accuse Boris of slowing down. The Japanese heavy music trio hasn’t released a proper “rock” album since 2008’s Smile, but in the interim put out a split 10” with the pop-metal band Torche, a collaborative EP with The Cult’s Ian Astbury and an excellent series of seven-inch singles called Japanese Heavy Rock Hits. But still, rabid Boris fans (and they are the collector types, mind you) have been waiting for something more substantial. Attention Please is just one of four — four! — Boris albums coming out this spring. Its release coincides with that of Heavy Rocks (not to be confused with the 2002 album of the same name) and two Japanese-only titles: another collaboration with noise master Merzbow called Klatter, as well as New Album, which frustratingly mixes tracks from Attention Please and the new Heavy Rocks with other material. Completists, the ball’s in your court. Attention Please, out May 24, is not only the best of this new Boris batch, but also a far-ranging leap forward for a band that felt stuck on Smile. Anchored by lead guitarist Wata, Attention Please is the first Boris album to exclusively feature her intimate vocals. After her scant but enjoyable vocal contributions on 2006’s Rainbow, the focus is welcome.
The great thing about Boris has always been its noncommittal attitude toward style. On one album, the band will serve up mammoth-sized drone; on another, soft electro-pop with sky-pealing guitar solos. On Attention Please, style runs the gamut from one song to the next, but the album never loses momentum. Songs like “Hope,” “Les Paul Custom ‘86” and “Spoon” belong to a lost 4AD record, conjuring images of surfing the Aurora Borealis in a Camaro, denim-jacket collars flipped way up. It’s shoegaze for moody skate punks. Featuring Wata’s most alluring croon, “Party Boy” is a minimal four-on-the-floor dance romper for glam-metal geeks with teased hair. And “Tokyo Wonder Land” is a song that could have only come from Boris; it’s got a head-bobbing lullaby groove on a Casio beat throttled by Wata’s ceiling-ripping guitar solos. Despite Boris’ wide sonic interests, everything comes together coherently on Attention Please, the band’s best record since Pink.
This week on All Songs Considered, we’ve got an exclusive premiere from a record whose origins date back five years, and whose inspirations go back decades more. Rome is a collaboration between producer Danger Mouse and film composer Daniele Luppi, whose shared love of classic Italian film music became the basis for an album that plays like a futuristic spaghetti western score. Much delayed since the two began work in 2006, Rome will finally see release on May 17 — and we’ll stream it as a First Listen the week before. Until then, you can hear “The Rose With a Broken Neck,” featuring vocals from Jack White, on this week’s show.
December 17, 2010
Good Old War, of Langhorne, Penn., have been turning heads recently with its self-titled LP on Sargent House Records. Rising from the ashes of rock band Days Away, this folk-influenced indie outfit has been cultivating a reputation nationwide.
Good Old War’s name is a combination of parts from the band members’ last names: Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold and Daniel Schwartz. The trio prides itself on its harmonic arrangements, alternately 1960s doo-wop and whimsical folk, but with an indie-rock aesthetic.
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1. That’s Some Dream
2. Coney Island
3. My Own Sinking Ship
5. I Should Go
6. Loud Love
Good Old War will be performing live on NPR’s World Cafe this Tuesday, June 29th. National Public Radio’s World Cafe with host David Dye can be heard on over 200 stations nationwide. You can find out what time and what station it airs in your area by clicking here
Did we mention how happy this makes us? Well we love NPR and we love Good Old War so we are pretty delighted.