LOCKDOWN MUSIC: WEEK 11 – ALGIERS

‘I CAN’T BREATHE.’ We know the rest, sadly. And since George Floyd’s murder by police in Minneapolis, we’ve seen an explosion of resistance and demands for change and justice. Good. We’re behind time. Black music of resistance and protest has surged on the radio, but can rock do more than crank out Rage Against the Machine again, good as they are? Something newer, less familiar? Pure entertainment won’t cut it, neither will one-dimensional anger. Whose voice speaks of Right Now?

One, without question, is Algiers. Walk Like a Panther rages so hard and with so much soul that it shorts your body-brain circuits. Check the video then check your heart for a BPM shift. Check Blood. Check The Underside of Power, There Is No Year and anything else you can get your digits on. Hit Bandcamp and give cash for Can The Sub Bass Speak?, released as a single last week ‘…to support the struggle to end state violence against Black people and destroy white supremacy‘. Check Algiers for the firepower, fury and soul that music needs right now.

Who are you turning to?

Here’s the listening for Lockdown Week 11. Heavy times, much to learn and do.

MAY 30
S
wans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference

MAY 31
The Beloved – Single File

JUNE 1
Algiers – There Is No Year
Ministry – Relapse

JUNE 2
Algiers – The Underside of Power
Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker – Cannots
Algiers – There Is No Year
Rumback & Walker, Cannots: Following Walker’s Golden Sings the other day, Cannots got an airing. Wildly underplayed, this record – mistake. These guitar and drums instrumentals veer from Walker’s song-based records towards more experimental jams that draw on the earth and the elements, at times carried by the same barren winds as Earth’s Hex: Or Printing the Infernal Method..

JUNE 3
Soundgarden – Live From The Artists Den, disc 2

JUNE 4
Funk Spectrum: Real Funk for Real People (compiled by Josh Davis and Keb Darge)
Ministry – From Beer to Eternity
Old Man Gloom – Ape of God I

JUNE 5
Zozobra – Harmonic Tremors
Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross, No Crown
Zozobra, Harmonic: There’s nothing like the bone-shaking bass of Caleb Scofield RIP to free you from human-made constructs, trivia and banality. Tune in to a primal noise frequency.

Keep the music ON, keep safe.

Lockdown Music week 10 right here.

COPE’S SELF CIVIL WAR

JANUARY REWIND: NEW JULIAN COPE. RAGING NEW PSYCHE/PROG/MATHCORE (and more) from SLIFT, ANIMAL SOCIETY, AZUSA (and more)

Decade of aggression? Art decade?

Whatever 2020 signals the start of, its first month has been fast. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs pushed Reducer out and promised a new album Viscerals in April. Algiers – a band who exist on a different plane of energy, intelligence and fury – put electro-powered gospel soul riot on the new year’s map with There is No Year.

And, beards ahoy, the Archdrude put a full-lengther out, so …

JULIAN COPE: Self Civil War

Like the Algiers album, Self Civil War is way too new to review – haven’t done the listening miles yet. But the first impressions are that Julian Cope is back.

Julian Cope Self Civil War

He’s back

He’s never been away, we know that, and he’ll always be a buy-immediately arteest for those of us who absolutely love the guy. But the recent Rites and Dopes and Skellingtons and John Balances have been less essential than Cope’s steam-hot streak from Jehovahkill through to Psychedelic Revolution, so it’s with a mix of hope and mild trepidation that you plug the new one in. Does another bunch of bass drum and chants beckon?

13 tracks and a way-generous 70-minute run time suggests not.

An untamed guitar break on That Ain’t No Way to Make a Million confirms not. Ladies and gents, we is entering into a Proper Cope Album. One with a bit of heft. It’s got the poetic roots, the too-catchy hooks, the uber smart lyrics, the Cope-class titles – My Facebook, Your Laptop is one, but even better is You Will Be Mist – but now, on this album, the return of some epic song-based sprawl (Requiem for a Dead Horse passes 11 minutes) and a questing, vibing six-string foil with Christopher Holman taking the Donald Ross Skinner/Doggen slot of Cope bands past.

As said above, these are just loose words and first impressions, but Self Civil War looks promising. Can’t wait to get stuck right in. JC gig review February 2020 if you fancy it.

Right, let’s pick off some other January ear manglers.

SLIFT: Ummon

How better to kick 2020 off than with a riotous jam that’s blastoid supernova? Set the guitar to the heart of the sun with Ummon’s six minutes of Earthless/Oh Sees frazzle and part-Motorhead depth charge. Is Toulouse known for its flame-throwing power trios? Doubt it, but that’ll change if Slift crack a new scene open. Until then, go air-guitar the shit out of this freewheeling space ripper.

ANIMAL SOCIETY: Rise

Instrumental heavy new prog. Slint-y post-rock creep. Drummer’s delight. Non-blues, high muso. With Rise, Animal Society grope a spidery route round the metallic jazz end of prog, luring you down any number of cracks and cave-holes, all of them dank. Something’s hidden and you skirt its presence. EP out now on bandcamp.

SQURL: Robbie’s Theme

Away from the psyche pyrotechnics and jazz-metallic fingerings of Slift and Animal House, we find Squrl, a.k.a. Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan. What play they? On this track it’s a beguiling strand of lush, melancholic Americana that distorts and bends with distortion. Notes ring, bleed, swell and cling. Beautiful heartbreak? Like recent Low, it’s one for the winter.

AZUSA: Memories of an Old Emotion

OM-FCKN-G. The award for Most Two-Faced Shred of the Month goes to Azusa, no question. Dillinger Escape Plan hostility one minute, Cocteau Twins sweet-pop dream-wooziness the next. And back. And back again. And converge the two … easily the most arresting sound of the month.

(Turns out ex Dillinger Escape Plan bassist Liam Wilson is in there, which is a pretty fair explanation for half the sound)

ELEPHANT TREE: Sails

When going back to this track for a second listen, I wondered why I’d bookmarked it in the first place. Why put this on my tape? (Various Radio 57, since you ask). Pleasant enough heavy trance riffage with clean floater vox, sure, but too average to make the cut. Something must happen. Hang on, riff change, bit of a drop. Not bad. Oh shit, yes … THAT BIT. The rockist solo, the divergent mass below. Flying and drowning. Serene, liquid metal. A bit too clean? Nah, something about Sails really sticks its claws in. Give it a go.

Downer sign-off

It’s been a shit month for rock RIPs on the drum front.

Rush’s Neil Peart and Corrosion of Conformity‘s Reed Mullin both left, as did former Death and Cynic drummer Sean Reinart. So, it’s been a Rush-heavy month round here. Grace Under Pressure onwards, special warmth for Power Windows. Mystic Rhythms …. why not?

’til next time.

ALGIERS: live review

ALGIERS AT THE BULLINGDON, OXFORD, JULY 4, 2019

EXPLOSIVE.

Too much already?

I don’t think so. And, judging by the ear-to-ear grins doing the rounds at the Bullingdon, I don’t think anyone else thinks so either.

Algiers lock this 4th of July night down with a one-hour compaction of incendiary avant guitar soul – none of it smooth – and if Walk Like a Panther is your route into this band, as it was for me after a first hearing late last year, you’ll know what that means.

It means you can’t write much without sounding like a shallow, know-nothing arsehole.

Because that track feels like hundreds of years of humanity – struggle, oppression, vitality, love – packed into a fast-edit soundtrack to a burning world, and a lot of that’s down to Franklin James Fisher’s riveting gospel-range vocals. Potent and soul-full, you sense that Algiers are gonna convert that sound into something truly special live because they have to. With a track that fearsome, anything less than revelatory would be fraudulent.

And convert, they do. For just four people – Fisher voice, Lee Tesche guitar, Matt Tong drums, the loose-limbed Ryan Mahan on bass – they make a wild but blisteringly assured sound, almost building their songs as they go along – guitar and keyboard fragments recorded and looped, noise and beats pushed in and out, tambourines and chains shaken and struck. It’s real-time production and construction while playing, and the interplay within the band is loose and pure. If the power cut, they’d find a way to play. You feel they have to get the message out.

Two new tracks get played back to back, both peak-fury punk bombs. Don’t know what the names are but it doesn’t really matter, they’ll be out soon enough. Don’t know what most of the other tracks are either, except for Walk Like a Panther, Blood and The Underside of Power, because when this gig was announced, I held off buying any Algiers albums beyond the digi downloads already bagged. Why? It was a rare chance to see a band in as pure a form as poss, knowing that if they do their job (which they did) they’re gonna sell me the records easily anyway (ditto). Preparation ain’t the point. Participation is.

And tonight we’re bang in the middle of it, the eye of a spirit force: riot soul meets Gambino’s America pulling on Bad Seeds, Godspeed and Zeal & Ardor for as intoxicating a gig as you dared hope. Let’s just leave it at that. For now.