My favorite music of the year, not including the many wonderful bands I worked with:
1) Broncho – Double Vanity 2) Wormed – Krighsu 3) TV Baby – “Powering” single 4) Code Orange – “Forever” single 5) The Soft Moon – Deeper Remixed 6) Xiu Xiu – Plays the Music of Twin Peaks 7) 1-800-BAND – High Beams 8) Black Sugar Transmission – In the City’s Arms 9) Johnny Couch – “Animal Instinct” single 10) Rihanna – Anti See my year-end list, and others', here: http://ghettoblastermagazine.com/category/features/special-report/best-of-2016/
I had the honor to represent so many great bands in 2016, as a publicist. Some highlights:
Graf Orlock added one more new album, Crime Traveler, to its legacy. I love the DIY spirit and wild creativity this band represents. Their vibe lands right on the line between fun and brutality, intelligence and boneheadedness – right where I like it. And they're my longest-running client, going back more than 10 years. Brother band Ghostlimb put out a new one too, Difficult Loves, and the mastermind of both bands, Justin Smith, put out both records via his label, Vitriol Records.
Eight Bells made their masterpiece, Landless, and toured with Voivod.
I got to rep my friend Martin Bisi, a legend of NYC's musical history (see: Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn), with whom I've recorded two albums in the past.
I teamed up with Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan and his label Party Smasher Inc, to handle the new Primitive Weapons album, The Future of Death.
Old Wounds did Warped Tour and followed it up with an Every Time I Die tour. '68 toured hard too.
New supergroup Asphalt Graves (current/ex Misery Index, Dying Fetus, GWAR, The Black Dahlia Murder) achieved death-grind greatness on their Vitriol Records debut.
Spotlights – success story of the year, maybe. Married couple from Brooklyn makes heavy, dreamy rock, lands tour with Deftones and Refused.
Car Bomb – wow. Unparalleled musicianship on their new album, Meta.
Explosive and awesome new albums by Meek Is Murder (NYC buffalo stampede-core), Nomads (streetwise LA crust punk), Knife Hits (ultra intense O.G. screamo revival), Black Table (blackened tar pit of prog-depression, featuring my favorite female metal vocalist), and Moon Tooth (Living Colour meets Gojira!?).
Fight Amp – when I was in Today Is the Day I toured North America with this band for six weeks, and I was honored to work with them as a publicist this fall on what would turn out to be their final tour.
I teamed up with Profound Lore Records for the first time, via post-punk band Soft Kill.
Italian duo OvO released their ninth album – a carnival of primitive industrial, horror-movie ambience, and noise-rock harshness.
Good Fight Music put out a slew of good stuff, including Ion Dissonance (huge comeback album from a band that helped shape the course of heavy music), Homewrecker (absolutely badass young Slayer-ites), Hollow Earth (deep space-themed Neurosis-core), and much more.
A full list of the year's releases and tours is here:
2017 kicks off with the Jan 27th release of the new Set and Setting album, Reflectionless. Dual-drummer, instrumental band from Florida brings an aggressive attack to the lulls and swells of the post-rock genre. Recorded by Ryan Haft (Torche, Capsule), mastered by Ed Brooks (R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie).
Also in January, we have Old Wounds hitting the road for four weekend tours across the US, featuring the debut of their as-yet-unannounced new frontman!
"Metallic chug to trippy psychedelia to soaring post-rock beauty... Like Russian Circles teaming with early Pink Floyd." –BrooklynVegan "Melancholic beauty suspended in the clouds with a birds-eye view of epic terrain... Soul-searing leads and shimmering, bending guitars that convey feelings of wonder and introspection."
Driven by two drummers laying down a thunderous base, Set and Setting brings an aggressive edge to its resplendent, instrumental rock. On latest single "The Mirrored Self," relentless chugs and soaring leads layer together into a song possessing bite and beauty – BrooklynVegan's Andrew Sacher places the sound between Russian Circles and early Pink Floyd. Reflectionless was recorded by Ryan Haft (Torche, Wrong) at Black Bear Studios in Gainesville, Florida, and mastered by Ed Brooks (R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie)at Resonant Mastering. The cover, created by Samantha Muljat (Earth, Pelican), was inspired by the artwork of Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, as seen on Pink Floyd's album covers. Set and Setting will self-release Reflectionless on January 27th, 2017, on vinyl, CD and digital formats. The band has teamed up with AWAL (Kobalt) to handle the digital release, and with two labels for exclusive color vinyl options in addition to its regular vinyl pressing: Science of Silence Records (US) and Dunk!Records (EU). Pre-order Reflectionless, here: Vinyl and CD - http://setandsetting.merchnow.com/ Digital - http://awal.lnk.to/Reflectionless Exclusive color vinyl (US) - http://scienceofsilence.limitedrun.com/ Exclusive color vinyl (EU) - https://shop.dunkfestival.com/collections/dunk-records Having played recent shows with Nothing and True Widow, and tours with Mouth of the Architect, Inter Arma, and Kayo Dot, Set and Setting will be touring throughout 2017. A hometown record release show is booked for January 27th in St. Petersburg. Photo by Ryan Zarra
The veteran Italian duo's raw and dramatic sound is a unique mix of primitive industrial, horror-movie ambience, and noise-rock punishment, led by the theatrically demonic vocals of Stefania Pedretti.
CountingSwansandDiamanda Galasas their biggest influences, Pedretti and co-conspirator Bruno Dorella have spent the past 16 years releasing albums on labels like Load Records (Lightning Bolt, Prurient), and performing across the globe with the likes of Godflesh and Thrones for a total of almost 1,000 shows to date.
"They play music – rhythmic noise, really – that simmers with a flat-affect malice, owing equal debts to extreme metal, noise rock, industrial music, and dark electronica. Lurching metal/noise collages topped with wordless shrieking... Feverish energy... A melodic heart that calls '80s slasher scores to mind."
"Rhythmic, layered, sludgy noise... A David Lynch dance party." –Decibel "Dirgy ocean of pulsating noise... It's time to get your freak on." –Cvlt Nation "Punctuated by slamming, swampy drums, squalls of feedback and punchy guitar riffs, as well as Stefania Pedretti's no-holds-barred vocal."
"OvO uses the lexicon of noise and metal obliquely, and Stefania's growl manifests an ancestral femininity that speaks of monsters and ghosts, not as a bogeyman fairytale, but as a manifestation of existent possibilities." –Noisey Italia
"If you were diligent enough to show up early at this summer's Deftones / Refused tour, you were rewarded with the ultra-dense dream-rock of NYC husband-and-wife duo Spotlights. Mario and Sarah Quintero administer wave after wave of gorgeous '90s-worship distortion that should appeal to any fan of Failure, My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver or Hum." –Clrvynt "90s rock, luscious psych and rattling sludge... Like a slowly evaporating dream... Makes you want to headbang with tears in your eyes." –Decibel "Is it dreamy as fuck? Yes, but what really makes this band's music stick to my ribs is that it packs the punch-to-the-gut of a sludge album... They are just creating music on their own terms..." –CVLT Nation Brooklyn's Spotlights cap off 2016 with the release of new EP, Spiders, now streaming in full via Clrvynt. Listen, here:http://clrvynt.com/spotlights-spiders-ep-premiere/
It's been a big year for the Brooklyn-based married couple, including the release of full-length Tidals and a summer US tour supporting Deftones and Refused. The Spiders EP features a cover of a song by Danish band Mew, as well as a remix by Isis drummer Aaron Harris, and a reworking of an older song from the vault. As Clrvynt puts it, the sound is "ultra-dense dream-rock... wave after wave of gorgeous '90s-worship." Spiders can be ordered direct from the band, here: https://spotlights.bandcamp.com/album/spiders-ep
Spiders and Tidals are both now available in the UK and Europe via Plastic Head Distribution.
New Yorkers can party with Spotlights this Saturday, December 10th, at the official Spiders EP listening party at Over the Eight in Brooklyn.
Bisi – a New York City legend who since the late 1970s has lived and worked out of BC Studio in Brooklyn, recording music by Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, John Zorn, Herbie Hancock, Afrika Bambaataa, Sonic Youth, Swans, Helmet, Boredoms, Unsane, The Dresden Dolls, and many more – is also a solo artist, creating albums of his own over the past three decades. "Sin-Love-Hate" appears on his latest full-length, 2014's Ex Nihilo.
Of the new video, Bisi says, "The song has the theme from Ex Nihilo – that I'm part of a herd of animals, and me, my friends, and the city as a whole act it... Ego wanted me prowling around New York City at night, with the constant herd of cars, and morphing in and out of being a wolf as I perform with a cat-monkey brass band..." Bisi draws inspiration from across the musical map – references on Ex Nihilo include Brian Eno, The Velvet Underground, opera, and New Orleans. Bisi's dense production method, combined with the unique acoustics of his studio, results in a cryptic and thrilling sound. Bisi was immortalized in the 2014 documentary, Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio, chronicling his life and 35-year career as a pillar of underground music in New York City and beyond.
"Bisi... the man who contributed to the sound of early hip-hop, avant-garde, and indie rock, might soon finally get recognition... Considering how diverse BC Studio's output has been over the years, there's still something recognizable about the music that Bisi lays his hands on... A certain rawness." –Newsweek "Bisi has presided over recordings that defined seminal scenes, counting downtown NYC's avant-garde jazz scene, '80s art-rock and '90s Bowery scum-rock. A glance at his stunning, across-the-genre-board discography results in minds blown." –Noisey
Orlando, Florida's Axis and Memphis, Tennessee's Seraph the Light teamed up earlier this year to write and record as one eight-man supergroup. Produced by Jon Nunez of Torche and mastered by Brad Boatright (Nails, Full of Hell), the collab sees the new unit pound out an almighty-heavy sound inspired by Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna, Chelsea Wolfe, and more.
Axis and Seraph the Light begin a short US tour tonight, performing the new songs together onstage.
Axis / Seraph the Light: Dec 2 - Tampa, FL @ Lucky You Tattoo Dec 3 - Margate, FL @ Inkwell Pub Dec 4 - Jacksonville, FL @ Nighthawks Dec 5 - Atlanta, GA @ 529 Dec 6 - Nashville, TN @ The End Dec 7 - Memphis, TN @ Rock House Live Dec 8 - Birmingham, AL @ The Firehouse Dec 9 - Tallahassee, FL @ Adelaide Schnittman Hall Axis' latest release, Show Your Greed, was released on Good Fight in 2015. Of that album, Stereogum proclaimed: "If you think fondly of hateful Philly bands like Starkweather and Turmoil; if you were down with Converge and Coalesce back when they played mathy chugga-chugga-stop breakdowns; if you wish Botch, Burnt By The Sun, and Kiss It Goodbye had released more music: congratulations! You have the chutzpah to appreciate the good kind of metalcore... Axis pretty much stick to the established template for this kinda thing on Show Your Greed, but they are so goddamn good at it..." Axis' next full-length album will be out on Good Fight in 2017. The band has announced a European tour with labelmates Of Feather and Bone in February. Axis, Of Feather and Bone: Feb 17 - Brussels, BE @ Magasin 4 Feb 21 - Cottbus, DE @ Chekov Feb 22 - Prague, CZ @ Klub 007 Feb 23 - Budapest, HU @ Durer Kert Feb 24 - Vienna, AU @ Dasbach Feb 25 - Zurich, CH @ Klubi Feb 26 - Genf, CH @ Usine Feb 28 - Dijon, FR @ Les Tanneries Mar 1 - Montpelier, FR @ Secret Place Mar 2 - Rennes, FR @ Mondo Bizarro Mar 4 - Koblenz, DE @ Juz
Produced by Misery Signals' Greg Thomas, Dead Planet features guest appearances by Trevor Strnadof The Black Dahlia Murder, and Tad Doyle of Tad, and John Pettibone of Heiress.
Dead Planet fleshes out Hollow Earth's outerspace obsessions via a full-fledged sci-fi storyline, connecting it to the band's previous release, the Parting Remains EP. Concept and music are synced perfectly – monolithic Neurosis-core evokes visions of the interstellar void.Crushing, metallic grooves and radiant melodies paint scenes of grandeur and horror. "Between profound beauty and earth shattering tribal hits... Sonically precise and larger than life... A benchmark for future releases on Good Fight Music." –Metal Injection "Moody, tribal, and groovy... One of the finest metallic hardcore acts on the scene today." –MetalSucks "Slow motion otherworldly sludge jams. They delicately toe the line between Neurosis' psychedelic mantras and Dangers' incisive diatribes on the absurd modern condition." –Exclaim! "Sometimes sounding like a hardcore band who accidentally stepped on a phaser pedal, and other times like Slowdive getting beaten up in an alley, it surprisingly plays to the strengths of both ideas – big hooks but also a focused approach that still delivers the riff." –Decibel
"A fascinating new take on post-metalcore, one where riffs and atmosphere can coexist somewhere in space." –New Noise "This expansive and powerful album, resting on a strongly fleshed-out science fiction concept, channels the dynamic between metalcore and stoner metal." –Heavy Blog Is Heavy "A concept album with a well mapped narrative... Nearly every track has a strong melodic guitar line running through the sturm und drang of Hollow Earth's almost sludgy attack... A fantastic, propulsive energy that draws you in... It's stirring stuff."
–Echoes and Dust
"A claustrophobic sonic environment to match the fear of being stuck in an oxygen-deprived solar system." –Heavy Music HQ