Tag Results: pitchfork
Pitchfork Review: Russian Circles “Memorial”
It’s impressive what Russian Circles can do with a basic guitar, bass, and drum setup. There are plenty of metal-leaning instrumental bands who dial up big climaxes, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one that creates such an array of textures and emotions with so little. Bassist Brian Cook also uses keyboards, and on the Chicago trio’s excellent fifth album, Memorial, they bring in guest cello and violin. But the core, buttressed by imaginative arrangements and strong compositional skills, is strong enough that there would be more than enough chills without these add-ons.
Pitchfork debuts another new Russian Circles Track - hear “1777” now
Pitchfork Album Review: Chelsea Wolfe “Pain Is Beauty”
The slightest decision can haunt an artist. This much is true of Chelsea Wolfe, an L.A. singer-songwriter whose records have synthesized doom folk, wasteland noise, and noirish experimentation. Wolfe’s 2010 cover of “Black Spell of Destruction” by black metal outfit Burzum may follow her forever. Her own music, though difficult to categorize, shares something essential with that genre. It’s austere and atmospheric, expressed with the reverb through which Wolfe often pushes her voice; she’s opened for extreme bands like Sunn O))), Boris, and Swans and has cited Gorgoroth’s “Of Ice and Movement” as a treasured song. Shortly after the Burzum cover came another one that’s gained less traction on the web: a surreal, pitch-shifted take on the 1997 Notorious B.I.G. classic “Hypnotize”, found on a collection of rap covers from Ben Chisholm’s ghostly White Horse project. Chisholm also happens to be Wolfe’s bassist and co-producer on Pain Is Beauty, her best and most emotionally direct work yet.
Pitchfork Album Review names Deafheaven “Sunbather” Best New Music
Deafheaven weren’t always this good. The San Francisco band’s early shows found a scrappy, ambitious bunch of punk kids trying to warp black metal with shoegaze in a way that, for all its advances, felt familiar. In late 2010, they signed to Deathwish, the label run by Converge's Jacob Bannon, and there were expectations in the underground. (Though, at that time, people seemed to focus more on the fact that they didn't look like a metal band than what they were creating.) When vocalist George Clarke and songwriter/guitarist Kerry McCoy released their debut LP, Roads to Judah, in 2011, they added wrinkles to that live sound, especially on the opening track, "Violet". The collection didn’t always match those standards. It sometimes felt muddled, like they were trying to squeeze too much into the frame.
But that gorgeous 12-minute set-piece established the template and scope for the band’s excellent sophomore album, Sunbather, a record that finds Deafheaven living up to and then surpassing expectations. Basically, they’ve learned how to take the sounds they’ve dreamed up out of their heads so we can hear them, too. If you go back and listen to Roads, you’ll find the elements that appear on Sunbather with 10 times the intensity. So while the approach here isn’t a surprise, the force with which Deafheaven pulls it off is a revelation.
Pitchfork’s Show No Mercy feature Interview: Deafheaven
I first saw Deafheaven live at SXSW in March 2011, a month before their debut LP Road to Judah’s release. They were part of a Profound Lore showcase at the tiny bar Lovejoys, and while they were clearly a band with good ideas, their ambition was hinted at rather than truly experienced. Still, Judah, especially the brilliant “Violet”, stuck with me, so I booked the band— led by singer George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy— for the following SXSW, and then again last June as part of Show No Mercy’s Northside Showcase, where they delivered an especially compelling set. Each time, Clarke and McCoy— who have been best friends for a decade— were backed by different players, something that didn’t connote stability, but they were clearly getting closer to realizing the huge push and pull of what I’d initially witnessed in sketchier form.
The fact that they continued getting better still didn’t prepare me for their stunning sophomore album, Sunbather, out June 11 on Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc. label and streaming in its entirely right now via Pitchfork Advance. The collection folds something brighter and more melodic into their approach: something like Explosions in the Sky’s star-melting sweep combined with rabid vocals influenced by Emperor’s 1994 black metal classic, In the Nightside Eclipse. It’s gorgeous, moving music for vast spaces that will go over with fans of metal as well as those who usually stay away from heavier stuff. I spoke with Clarke about it via Skype last week.
George Clarke and Kerry McCoy
Pitchfork: When we talked last year, you said your new music was looking to be “a lot darker” than your previous material. Do you think Sunbather ended up being darker than Roads to Judah?