The Men – “Open Your Heart” & “Ex-Dreams”
March 25, 2012, 5:52 pm
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At the end of last year, I made my love for The Men known via a post on “Bataille” – a stand-out from their blitzkrieg of an LP, Leave Home – and, before I could even take that out of heavy rotation, the band has dropped another stellar album, Open Your Heart.  In the last few months, the rest of the music-loving world seems to have caught up and The Men are currently enjoying a tidal wave of much deserved love and praise.  Open Your Heart trades in some of Leave Home‘s white knuckle fury for bruised Americana and more expansive melodies.  Although, you still won’t mistake The Men for anyone else.  The title track, a whirlwind love song that roughs up The Buzzcocks’ “What Do I Get?”, is the most accessible, catchy thing they’ve produced to date.  Closing track “Ex-Dreams” is closer to the sprawling, psych-punk epics on Leave Home and has justly earned more than a few comparisons to Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth. Also worth mentioning: the band recently shared with SPIN some of their maybe-unexpected influences which included Gram Parsons, Big Star and The Rolling Stones.

Open Your Heart is out now via Sacred Bones.

Download MP3: “Open Your Heart”

Download MP3: “Ex-Dreams”


The Men – “Bataille”
December 18, 2011, 5:47 pm
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Next in my slowly continuing series of “albums I slept on until the last minute” is Brooklyn-based, noise-punk quartet The Men who weld noise, shoegaze, hardcore and krautrock into a monolithic blitzkrieg akin to their neighbors, A Place To Bury Strangers.  In more colorful terms, imagine the supernova resulting from the collision of The Stooges’ Fun House and My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything and we’re getting pretty close.  It’s also worth noting that the epic “( )” weaves in snippets of Spacemen 3’s “Revolution” and “Take Me To The Other Side.”  “Bataille” is probably the best entry point on Leave Home due to it’s relative adherence to a verse-chorus-verse structure and scorched-earth, surf-rock riffage.

If Leave Home isn’t enough for you (it wasn’t for me), The Men have already announced Leave Home‘s follow-up, Open Your Heart, will be out March 6th.

Leave Home is out now via Sacred Bones.

Download MP3: “Bataille”

Zola Jesus – “Vessel”
July 18, 2011, 9:47 pm
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The two EPs that Zola Jesus released last year – Stridulum and Valusia –  ranked high among my most loved music of 2010.  Thankfully, she’s not big on resting and already has her sophomore LP, Conatus, prepped for an October release. I just returned from Pitchfork Fest and, although I’ve previously seen her live twice, her set on Saturday night still floored me.  She played three songs from Conatus and closed with “Vessel” – a song that weaves the icy, jagged beats of Björk’s Homogenic with the gothic dread of Joy Division’s Closer.  Although the studio version is a bit more restrained than the material on last year’s EPs, it made for a powerful closer.

Conatus is out 10/4 via Sacred Bones.

Download MP3: “Vessel”

Zola Jesus – “Sea Talk” & “Poor Animal”
October 24, 2010, 7:04 pm
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Zola Jesus’ Nika Roza Danilova has been having a fantastic 2010.  She released the stunning Stridulum EP earlier this year, toured with Fever Ray and The xx and has just released another stellar EP, Valusia.  She’s on the kind of upward trajectory that leaves me doubtless that we’ll hearing even greater things from her.  Not to mention, I’m fresh off the high of seeing her perform an absolutely mesmerizing show the other night, so I apologize if this post is gratuitously gushy.  Valusia mostly picks up where Stridulum left off while adding some new textures to her sonic arsenal.  The vaporous synths on “Sea Talk” cast a bit of light into the gloom while nodding to Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”.  Conversely, “Poor Animal” plays more like New Order with its throbbing 4/4 beat, swelling synths and gorgeous violin-led outro.  Of course, the main attraction of every Zola Jesus track is Danilova’s superhuman wail of a voice.  She’s a Neko Case for the goth crowd.

Valusia is out now on Sacred Bones.

Download MP3: “Sea Talk”

“Poor Animal”

Zola Jesus – “Night”
March 5, 2010, 3:02 pm
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Like fellow Wisconsinite Bon Iver, Zola Jesus (given name: Nika Roza Danilova) draws inspiration from her home state’s expansive wilderness and desolate winters. While Bon Iver retreated to his dad’s cabin, it sounds like Danilova stumbled into The Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. On “Night”, the opening track from her forthcoming Stridulum EP, she comes on like Bat For Lashes with a serious Joy Division fetish. After a childhood spent training her voice for opera, she’s now armed with a luxurious wail. When she unleashes the song’s romantic proclamations (“Don’t be afraid/Don’t be alarmed/In the end of the night, you’re in my arms”), she’s a siren impossible to resist.

Stridulum EP is out 3/9 on Sacred Bones.

Download MP3: “Night”

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