RVA No. 7: Record Reviews

Posted by: Necci – Dec 30, 2011


Avey Tare - Down There (Paw Tracks)
This solo album from Animal Collective's Tare would sound a lot different were it instrumental. The electronic sounds are reminiscent of Aphex Twin's later work, but the warm humanity in his voice brings a human element to these songs, changing them dramatically in the process. Strangely pleasant, or pleasantly strange.


And check out the rest of the record reviews (all 23 of them!) from the new issue after the jump...

Balaclava - Crimes Of Faith (Southern Lord)
This local group's debut full-length mixes the dark, angry hardcore of bands like His Hero Is Gone with the sludgy, punishing brutality of early Isis. Some of these songs are quite long, but Balaclava's frequently changing riffs and tempos keep things interesting and intense throughout.

Bridge And Tunnel - Rebuilding Year (No Idea)
This New Jersey group comes from the pop-punk scene, but don't play that style themselves, instead going for a slower, more melodic style that they inject with emotion through their passionate delivery. Their latest album might be their best yet, full of intensely beautiful tunes that you won't soon forget.

Crooked Fingers - Breaks In The Armor (Merge)
Former Archers Of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann leads this group, who originally played weary, mournful ballads reminiscent of early Tom Waits. Archers got together again recently, though, which might be why this new CF album has a decidedly more animated, borderline-pop sound. It's an obvious improvement.

Cynic - Carbon Based Anatomy EP (Season Of Mist)
After enduring a 15 year wait between this progressive metal band's first and second albums, anything new, even a mere 6-song EP, is a blessing. Mixing darkly melodic post-metal with Middle Eastern-sounding interludes, this record is far more epic than its 23-minute running time would indicate. Hunt it down.

Druglord - Motherfucker Rising (
These ex-members of 80s hardcore bands Unseen Force and Hated Youth have slowed things down quite a bit in their new band, but they're still playing angry, heavy music. Dirty, overdriven guitars, crushing slow tempos, and harsh vocals bring to mind sludge titans Grief and Eyehategod. Brutal, downbeat, and awesome.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring - So Many Things (Goner)
This lengthy singles compilation makes a great introduction to this excellent Australian quartet. Imagine The Fall's Mark E. Smith at his most churlish fronting a sloppy garage-punk group. Iconoclastic postpunk intellect meets rock n' roll piss n' vinegar. This bracing, off-kilter energy blast is essential listening.

Five Finger Death Punch - American Capitalist (Prospect Park)
This day-ruiner of an album was created by mixing the most mediocre elements of tough guy hardcore, metalcore, and nu-metal together into a monotonous midtempo sludge. If Hatebreed, Korn, and Papa Roach were pureed in a blender, the result would be called Five Finger Death Punch. And it'd taste like crap.

Gringo Star - Count Yer Lucky Stars (Gigantic)
The sound Gringo Star are working with on this album--sixties garage-pop fed through chillwave echo effects--is becoming more common of late, but their songwriting skills are sufficient to make trendy production techniques irrelevant. Catchy tunes are what really matters, and they've got plenty.

Jolie Holland - Pint Of Blood (Anti)
There's a little bit more rock n' roll to Ms. Holland's indie-folk/alt-country hybrid sound on this her fifth album than there was on her earlier work, but these songs are still reliable melancholy-mood music for those who dig the work of Lucinda Williams, Jason Molina, or even Des Ark's acoustic stuff.

Junius - Reports From The Threshold Of Death (Prosthetic)
Beginning with a dark, progressive hybrid of emo and postpunk/goth, Junius have taken a turn towards prog/post-metal on their third album. Melodies are still at the forefront, but the guitars here are the heaviest yet, and their pacing is leaden, almost doomlike. Their most interesting work yet.

Lloyd Vines - Rose & Vines (
People tend to run screaming from music that mixes rap and rock, but sometimes they shouldn't. This album is one of those times. The rhymes are well-written and delivered passionately, and the melodic yet forceful alt-rock backing tracks are catchy and interesting. Fans of Atmosphere and POS need to check this.

Lorem Ipsum - Lorem Ipsum EP (
A three-song 7 inch vinyl single is the debut release from these local scene vets, who feature former members of More Fire For Burning People, Lazy Cain, Askance, and others. They've still got the rockin' post-hardcore sound on lock, and prove it with the 9 minutes of music here. Hopefully there's more coming soon.

Mastodon - The Hunter (Reprise)
Mastodon's fifth album is their most straightforward in a while--they've stepped back from their recent prog-rock songwriting tendencies, integrating the lessons they've learned about melody and epic riffing into shorter, more accessible songs. Not too heavy, not too proggy--perhaps this band have found their sweet spot.

Polar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt Pride (Bridge Nine)
The third PBC album is very similar to their first two, but it's hard to fault the band for sticking with what works. Driving, uptempo melodic alternative rock with passionate vocals; people might call it emo, but these days emo bands are way wimpier than this. Thank god someone still knows how to rock.

Proverbial - Proverbial (self-released)
These local guys are doing that vaguely funky Southern-rock fratboy headnod thing people call "jam band" music. They have polished production and are clearly skilled at their instruments, with touches of prog-rock and even hip-hop adding variety to their sound. Not my cup of tea, but I'm sure it's someone's.

Rob Crow - He Thinks He's People (Temporary Residence)
Pinback leader's solo album continues his musical journey. If Crow was playing post-hardcore in the early 90s, is his current work post-post-hardcore? Regardless of what you call it, Crow's undistorted guitars and pleasantly erudite songcraft combine to create an enjoyable listen for both new and veteran fans.

Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination (Prosthetic)
This band isn't exactly reinventing the wheel, but they are cranking out some fast, thrashy metal with enough power and energy to run you over. They mix 80s speed metal and 90s Euro-style thrash in a manner that's been done a good many times before, but if you're in the mood for metal, this will definitely hit the spot.

Terius Nash - 1977 (
The-Dream drops the pseudonym and gets uncomfortably real on this downtempo bad trip. When he croons gangsta-ish vulgarities during mournful heartbreak songs, it's incongruous, but unlike when R. Kelly does it, Nash doesn't seem insane--just depressed. The perfect soundtrack to the 4 AM aftermath of a horrible night out.

Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream (In The Red)
Why did it take me so long to check out this band? These energetic garage-psych troubadors crank out some extended jams on this album, but never tax your attention span with noodly bullshit. Instead they keep things rocking with a healthy dose of guitar noise and motorik drone. This rules. I'm gonna buy their other 12 albums now.

This Time It's War/Fixtures - Rusted Screws & Machinery Of Man (
Three songs each by these local groups. Scene vets TTIW deliver some passionate metalcore, with a melodic tendency that makes their songs stand out. Relative newcomers Fixtures mix emotional intensity, reverbed-out prog, and chugging hardcore for an unusual hybrid of heavy sounds. A solid split.

Trapped Under Ice - Big Kiss Goodnight (Good Fight)
This is the sort of midtempo moshcore that saturated the hardcore scene fifteen years ago, and as such should be eminently dismissable. I can't entirely hate it, though--the melodic guitar leads that show up occasionally introduce a hint of talent and originality. Just a hint, though. Mostly, this is bad.

Ty Segall - Singles 2007-2010 (Goner)
A sprawling collection from this talented garage rocker. The first few tracks, from his one-man band era, are forbiddingly primitive. Things pick up with the addition of a backing band, and by halfway through the album, we've hit a deep vein of garage-pop classics. 80% of this album is a total blast. Good enough for me.

Wavves - Life Sux EP (Ghost Ramp)
Six catchy uptempo punk-pop jams from this critically (over?)hyped group, who finally realized that their lo-fi production style wasn't doing them any favors. The use of a real studio, plus guest stars Fucked Up, Best Coast, and Dave Grohl, results in the first thing I've liked by them. Keep it up, guys.

By Andrew Necci