Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Exitmusic - Passage (2012)

Glistening, ethereal post/indie rock for sad lovers. Sigur Rós by way of Brooklyn. Everything I'm listening to right now sounds like it was made to be played in stadiums. I believe that a lot of the hype around this band revolved around the fact that its two members were/are married, and one of them (Aleska Palladino) was Angela on Boardwalk Empire, but none of that has anything to do with Passage's ability to make you feel like you're levitating.

Track listing:
1. Passage
2. The Night
3. The City
4. White Noise
5. Storms
6. The Wanting
7. Stars
8. The Modern Age
9. The Cold
10. Sparks of Light

If you like this, try:

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Crawl - Earth (1995)

The 90s saw no shortage of bands worshipping at the altar of Godflesh, and I'd be lying if I said Crawl wasn't in that number. But crucially, Crawl injected plenty of death metal energy into the dystopian industrial wasteland, which sets them apart and fucking rules. As found in an albums folder in my Music app labeled "SHUPS", which is short for "pushups", obviously.

Track listing:
1. Skinned
2. Servant
3. Womb
4. I Believe
5. Machines Way
6. Emotional Cage
7. Soundless
8. Gray
9. Release

Also listen to:

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Cable - Down-Lift the Up-Trodden (1996)

First album by these British indie rockers. Chaotic, grunge-y post-hardcore with a sense of playfulness and melody that keeps things fun even as they descend into full-on noise rock on a song called "Murdering Spree". Had a real hard time picking which of this band's albums to post, as they only have three and they're all great, so why not start from the beginning?

Track listing:
1. New Set of Bruises
2. Choice
3. Blindman
4. Hydra
5. Seventy
6. Murdering Spree
7. Sale of the Century
8. Oubliette
9. Give 'Em What They Want [bonus]
10. Dead Wood for Green [bonus]

If you like this, listen to:

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

DEAR_SPIRIT Tells You About 5 More New Records That He Likes

As some of you surely know, I don't post download links to brand new albums, with the obvious exception of albums that the artists themselves have made available for free download. As none of you know -- unless you've been spying on me, you weird pervert -- practically all I've been listening to is new stuff. And Steve Tibbetts while I do school work. So instead of yet another Steve Tibbetts record, these are 5 more recent favorites, and if you like one of them, please consider buckling down and actually buying it.

Scowl - Psychic Dance Routine

The first track on Psychic Dance Routine is a flaming, head-on collision of 'traditional,' circle-pitting hardcore and hooky pop-grunge à la Veruca Salt. The rest of the EP fleshes out that dichotomy in spectacular form. It's a blatant swing towards accessibility and a wider reach, but it's also easily my favorite thing this band has done.

Nicole Dollanganger - Married in Mount Airy

Vignettes of doomed romance, addiction, abuse, suicide, and murder via dark, surreal, undeniably Lynch-ian Americana. Dollanganger's dreamy, almost child-like voice and guitar are at the core of every song, but they're encased in layered, pitch-shifted sonics that have an unsettling, almost alien-sounding sheen. Fans of Ethel Cain should find a lot to love here.

Tujiko Noriko - Crépuscule I & II

Tujiko Noriko has been making excellent IDM/experimental pop/other electronic sounds since the turn of the millennium, and it's truly criminal that I have never posted about her on here. Her latest, Crépuscule I & II is an expansive double album of immersive, cavernous ambience: drifting, reverb-drenched synths, the odd scattered, slo-mo rhythm, and Noriko's whispery intonations.

Derhead - The Grey Zone Phobia

Dense, eerie black metal with a massive, all-consuming sound that suggests both the yawning cosmos and the crushing cacophony of urban sprawl -- quite appropriate for an album that purportedly encourages the listener to "contemplate the contrast between reality and the inner self." Labyrinthine but not overwrought, frightening singular but not self-consciously so. Undoubtedly some of the best black metal in recent memory.

Baaba Maal - Being

A seamless fusion of Senegalese desert rock and half-time electro-pop groove. Maal's vocals would be mesmerizing in virtually any context, but over distorted rhythms and subwoofer-knocking bass-lines, there are moments of true transcendence. Practically impossible to listen to at anything less than max volume.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Keren Ann - La Disparition (2002)

Downtempo, melancholic French folk pop/chanson from the eternally pensive Keren Ann. Fingerpicked acoustic guitars, wavering strings, barely-there percussion, jazzy pianos, and muted horns provide a lush, autumnal backdrop for Ann's warm, whispery voice. It's all extremely easy on the ears. As much as I love this record, I actually thought of it as a result of my previous post due to its inclusion of one of the earliest instances of intentional AutoTune abuse of which I'm aware: the trip-hop flavored outlier "La corde et les chaussons".

Track listing:
1. Au coin du monde
2. Le sable mouvant
3. Les rivières de janvier
4. La corde et les chaussons
5. Surannée
6. Ailleurs
7. L'illusioniste
8. La tentation
9. Mes pans dans la neige
10. Le chien d'avant garde
11. La disparition

Restons ici, le soleil est moins pâle, le vent moins sidéral

Also listen to:

Friday, May 5, 2023

Khalil - The Water We Drink (2017)

The sound of Auto-Tuned pop/R&B stuttering, faltering, collapsing, and being fed through a digital wood chipper. Never heard anything else quite like it. A Posh Isolation joint. I remember thinking this record was gonna be a big deal with us nerds but as far as I can tell I was wrong, as I don't remember hearing/seeing anyone talking about it and it was surprisingly hard to track down a good rip for the purposes of this post. 

Track listing:
1. Trapper
2. Rest My Head Against a Wall of Water
3. Gigds
4. Submit So Deep
5. Estate Straight Line
6. Herat
7. Always Wanted to Ride in a Place Like This
8. Natures Envy
9. Sculpture No Solid
10. The White Hoodie I Wear Because I Love You

You should also hear:

Friday, April 28, 2023

Vic Stevens' Mistaken Identities - No Curb Ahead (1997)

Dark-tinted jazz-rock/fusion led by drummer Vic Stevens. Discordant guitars, fretless bass courtesy of Percy Jones -- for about half the album, anyway -- some saxophone here and there, surprisingly (given that the groups's formed around a drummer) restrained drumming, and a whole lotta tasty, dated keyboard voices.

Track listing:
1. Useless Humans
2. The Sun Rises in the East
3. No Curb Ahead
4. Do the Do That You Do
5. I Travel Alone
6. Would You Like to Dance
7. Answers
8. A Party of Five
9. Buy the Weigh

If you like this, try:

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Loren Mazzacane-Connors & Alan Licht - Hoffman Estates (1998)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Loren Mazzacane & Kath Bloom - Sing the Children Over (1982)

By request, here's this excellent collection of woozy, avant-jazz-psych-etc. In addition to the two musicians listed on the tin, you get contributions from a bunch of great Chicago musicians, not the least of which are from Jim O'Rourke, who played on the initial sessions, then edited them down and added overdubs.

Track listing:
1. Slowly, Slowly, Slowly
2. Block That Nixon
3. Sad at Times
4. Wisdom Day
5. Peace Scare
6. Turner's Murder
7. And Everyone 'Neath Their Vine and Fig Tree Shall Live in Peace

You should also listen to:

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Dragon - Universal Radio (1974)

After a little over a week spent either poolside or oceanside in a small Mexican tourist town, life has called me back to rainy, chilly Portland, OR, where I am currently intermittently working on a team accounting project for my capstone course. That's fun, right? Here's a great, pretty chill prog rock record that I put on late one night last week while we were sitting out on our back patio overlooking the ocean, because everyone likes old-school prog when they're drunk on vacation somewhere warm.

The tiny bit I know about this band: They were originally from New Zealand, which is where they were located when they released their first two records, this and the also-great Scented Gardens for the Blind. They then moved to Australia, where they were based from then on, and became a more straightforward pop/hard rock band.

Track listing:
1. Universal Radio
2. Going Slow
3. Patina
4. Weetbix
5. Graves
6. Avalanche

If you like this, you should hear:

Saturday, April 8, 2023

DEAR _SPIRIT Tells You About 5 New Records That He Likes

I'm getting ready to flee to a Real Housewives-style house in Mexico with a bunch of friends, and between sunbathing, floating in a pool, swimming in the ocean, eating fresh-caught grouper, and taking tequila shots, I don't expect to have much time for nerdy music blogging. However, I do know that legions of rabid fans are hanging on to my every word, unsure what to listen to, when to listen to it, and generally how to live without my impeccable taste, acerbic wit, and timeless wisdom to guide them. So to tide you over, here, in no particular order, are 5 of my favorite records of 2023 so far. Go support some artists who are trying to make it work in the here and now.

Hamish Hawk - Angel Numbers

I'm not wasting time. This is my current AOTY. Arch, clever songwriting with a wide emotional breadth that both celebrates and takes the piss out of our dumb human endeavors. It's sarcastic and cutting, but warm and sweet at its core -- check out the mid-paced, "Dead Flowers"-esque "Rest and Veneers" for a taste of that sweetness. Fills the Morrissey- and Pulp-sized holes in my heart.

Exhibition - The Last Laugh

NYC hardcore/crossover of the highest caliber. My current favorite of an already extremely strong crop of hardcore records to be released this year. If you're not crowd-killing, head-banging, or crushing your PRs: I'm sorry but you're a lost soul and I can't save you.

ICECOLD BISHOP - Generational Curse

A heartbreaking exploration of generational trauma and institutional inequity that goes hard as fuck. ICECOLD BISHOP has an extremely versatile voice that effortlessly jumps from a B-Real-sounding yelp to a smooth sing-flow to a distorted scream, and he's fond of running it through filters and effects, so he ends up sounding like he's single-handedly embodying an entire, multi-generational community of voices.

Lisa O'Neill - All of This Is Chance

All of This Is Chance starts off on an almost aggressively Irish note: first, we hear O'Neill's thick Irish accent, then she's mentioning potatoes in the second line. But All of This Is Chance quickly reveals itself as a deeply engrossing album full of droning, earthy instrumentation and haunting songs of love, famine, and resurrection. And birds.

Hammock - Love in the Void

My favorite pretty-sad post-rock album I've heard in years. It's hard to quantify what makes Hammock and Love in the Void stand out among the countless hordes of bands who move in the same lane, so I'll just say that, from its huge, immersive atmosphere to its patient, breathtakingly beautiful songs, Love in the Void is the most perfect version of itself imaginable.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Proem - Negativ (2001)

I'm up too early on a Wednesday morning, felt like a perfect time for some IDM. If you've listened to a lot of IDM, you kinda know the drill here -- gauzy, melancholic synths vs. static-y, glitchy beats -- but Negativ is an excellent distillation of this style.

Track listing:
1. Below Me Reds
2. Cold Water (Flat)
3. Running with Scissors
4. Long Distance Tiara
5. Protobella
6. Pretty Song for Alyssa
7. Take Your Pants Off
8. Bolt Action Aardvark
9. Pears in Evening Wearz
10. Access Mike (Failure to Connect)
11. Negativ Reinforcements
12. Skylup
13. Bolt Action Aardvark (Brothomstates Remix)

If you like this, you'd like:

Monday, April 3, 2023

Gluecifer - Ridin' the Tiger (1997)

Absurd, debaucherous, full-tilt Norwegian punk rock and roll. As far as I'm concerned, they never made a better record. Pure, raw, coked-up chaotic energy to fuel your next bender. 

Track listing:
1. Leather Chair
2. Rock'n'Roll Asshole
3. Bounced Checks
4. Evil Matcher
5. Rockthrone
6. Burnin' White
7. Titanium Sunset
8. We're Out Loud
9. Obi Damned Kenobi
10. Under My Hood
11. Prime Mover

Also listen to:

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Prolapse - Ghosts of Dead Aeroplanes (1999)

Psychedelic, abstract indie drawing from post-punk, post-rock, shoegaze, and Sonic Youth-ish noise rock. Easily the most experimental and my favorite of what I've heard of this band’s catalogue. One of this band's defining characteristics is the push-and-pull between their two vastly different vocalists; on one hand, Linda Steelyard has the kind of angelic, weightless voice that makes you think 4AD or Slowdive or something, while Mick Derrick pretty much just shouts in a thick Scottish accent. On previous Prolapse records, I've honestly found it kinda off-putting -- to be fair, it's probably supposed to be -- whereas here, both vocalists take on a more dreamlike, atmospheric quality.

Track listing:
1. Essence of Cessna
3. Adiabatic
4. Cylinders V12 Beats Cylinders 8
5. One Illness
6. After After
7. Government of Spain
8. Planned Obsolescence

You should also listen to:

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Jon Appleton & Don Cherry - Human Music (1970)

Got a request for this deeply strange collaborative work from electro-acoustic innovator Jon Appleton and free jazz legend Don Cherry. Sparse, discordant, sonically manipulated sound pieces composed of synth, trumpet, flute, hand drums, and distinctly un-musical mouth noises.

Track listing:
1. BOA
2. OBA
3. ABO
4. BAO

If you like this, listen to:

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Disclose - The Aspects of War (1997)

A chaotic, careening 4-track practice space recording from the great Disclose. As noise-fucked and raw as they ever sounded.

Track listing:
1. Volkssturm (National Storming Party)
2. Courage
3. The Cause of War
4. The Aspects of War
5. Why Isn't There War?
6. Heartless
7. In Fact
8. The Grief
9. Smell of the Rotten Corpse
10. After an Air-Attack

More like this: