It baffles my tiny, insignificant mind that 2014 has completed half of its cycle of torment and despair. Luckily a plethora of good music graced my ears and gave me the strength to make it through another six months of life. The following 10 releases have stuck with me the most during the past six months and keep me hyped for the quality that I assume will grace the remainder of the year. In no particular order, these are my favorite releases of the year so far.
The new two-hour opus from Swans, To Be Kind, can now be streamed in its entirety over at NPR. The album will officially be released on May 13th, and pre-orders are still available here. If you have two-hours on your hands, let yourself be annihilated by the chaotic soundscapes of Swans. Point your browsers to NPR now.
The Quietus have premiered a new track from Swans’ forthcoming album, To Be Kind, which is out on May 12th. The new track is the eight minute “Oxygen” in which the band focus on ever mutating, psychotic grooves that will surely test the endurance of the listener. You can stream the new track after the break and pre-order the record at this location. The band’s upcoming tour dates can be found below as well.
Swans have premiered a new track from their forthcoming album, To Be Kind, over at Pitchfork. The new eight minute tune is entitled “A Little God in My Hands” and is highlighted by discordant grooves, multi-layered instrumentation, walls of sound, and Michael Gira’s haunting crooning. It’s quite the odd track, even by Swans standards, and that’s a compliment. The band also shared the album’s six-paneled artwork, courtesy of Bob Biggs, which can be seen after the break. Head over to Pitchfork to stream the new track.
Pre-orders for To Be Kind can be purchased through Young God Records starting March 31st. The album will be released on May 13th.
Swans have completed work on their 13th full length album and follow up to 2012’s massive The Seer. The new record will bear the title To Be Kind and will see a release through frontman Michael Gira’s own label Young God Records on May 13th. The album was produced by Gira himself and was recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas with John Congleton. Gira comments that “a good portion of the material for this album was developed live during the Swans tours of 2012/13…much of the music was otherwise conjured in the studio environment.”
The album will see a variety of musical guests, much like The Seer did. A few that were mentioned were St. Vincent, Cold Specs, Little Annie and Bill Rieflin. The album will be released digitally, on triple vinyl and double CD with a deluxe edition live DVD option. Gira also expresses plans to release the album on a USB drive with special packaging. The album is slated to be over two hours in length.
Michael Gira has also announced a handful of solo European tour dates, which can be viewed after the break along with “The Seer”.
Canadian hardcore bastards Burning Love have embarked on a month long North American tour that will see the band punishing ear holes in a city near you. The tour will see the band sharing the stage with the likes of Cellos, Heiress and even the mighty Swans at their appearance at Sled Island in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Check out the remaining tour dates below and stream their 2012 record Rotten Thing to Say.
This year has been more than gracious to my ears. I was fond of so many releases in 2012 that it was like pulling teeth trying to narrow this list down to JUST thirty. Since albums have the tendency to grow on me, this list was compiled without review ratings in mind, if I had a chance to review them that is. These thirty albums are the records that I continued to revisit throughout the year and have yet to stop jamming. These are the records that are still fresh and exciting upon the umpteenth listen. Without further adieu, these are my favorite albums of the year.
Out of seemingly nowhere, I recently found out via BrooklynVegan that Flourishing, a New York based group that play a distinctive and unique style of forward thinking deathgrind, are releasing a new EP. I was introduced to the group through their debut LP, The Sum Of All Fossils, sometime in 2010, a period where I was very much into old school death metal, particularly the technical grime of groups such as Immolation and Gorguts. As a result, Flourishing, naturally, was of great appeal to me. With a sound influenced by experimental groups such as Swans and Godflesh, Flourishing play a style of deathgrind that is heavily indescribable. It is both consistent and chaotic, comprised of dizzying riffs that while at the outset sound organized, can drive the listener mad upon scrutiny. Intersubjectivity, the group’s latest effort(released via The Path Less Traveled Records), is currently streaming in full via bandcamp here where it can also be pre-ordered for the measly price of $2.50 before its imminent release date on November 13th, where the price will hike up. Nevertheless, to save you Aftermathers the grievance of checking out a band you possibly may not heard on another link, the track “The Petrification Lottery” can be streamed below exclusively thanks to Brooklyn Vegan.
These three albums have been in heavy rotation in my car’s stereo and my headphones. These records have completely taken over my life the past week or so and are extremely infectious listens. I am sure you will hate them but at this point in my life I could care less about you. Check them out you goons.
By Lane Oliver
Fans waited fourteen years for the shape-shifting entity known as Swans to return in 2010 with the phenomenal My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. That record was a forty minute leviathan that combined elements of Swans and Angels of Light into a colossal slab of elated sound. My Father ended up being one of my favorite records of that year and one of my favorite Swans records of all time. But there is always room for improvement and boundaries to push with anything that bears the Swans moniker. The band knew this and combined their talents in the studio to create something bigger than anything they have ever done and bigger then themselves as well. The end result is The Seer; an eleven song, two hour monster collected on two discs. The record, according to frontman Michael Gira, “took 30 years to make”. He also described it as a culmination of all music he has been involved in including Swans. When you listening to this record you will see that his statement is true.
A menacing two note riff repetitively marches around to the beat of Thor Harris’ prominent drumming whilst a sinister presence is panting underneath. Layers of instrumentation including a rolling bass line and harmonic organ like drones hum blissfully above it all while strange, inharmonious hums create an unsettling atmosphere. After four minutes this display of aural claustrophobia abruptly stops to the sound of Michael Gira’s panting only for the band to build a wall of sound that culminates nearly every instrument the band has at their disposal to the tune of Gira’s mantra: “In and out and in and out again”. Then this display of power fades to a soft, crawling acoustic piece accompanied by Michael’s familiar droning baritone voice. “Mother of the World” is like listening to a metamorphosis taking place. This ten minute track goes through many stylistic changes without sounding forced or trite. Swans’ The Seer will be released on the 28th of this month and will feature this mammoth of a track. Listen to it below and behold the power that this band can produce.
Swans upcoming two hour opus The Seer will be released on August 28th. I have pre-ordered and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival in my mail box. You can now listen to short previews of each song on the record via Amazon.com. This thing sounds very varied and expansive and I cannot contain my excitement any longer. Check it out.
One of my most anticipated releases of this year would obviously be Swans upcoming record, The Seer (August 28th). Pitchfork is streaming an exclusive ten minute excerpt of the twenty-three minute closing track “The Apostate”. Layers and layers of sliding guitars, bells, synths and other sounds combined with Michael Gira’s insanity ridden yelling (which is in a higher pitch than normal surprisingly) creates a huge acid trip for the ears. I can’t sit here and describe it in detail at the moment because I am way to immersed in it. Just listen now!
Swans have revealed some juicy details on their highly anticipated new record, The Seer. The two hour long, 3xLP/2CD set will be released on August 27th and will come with the Live DVD I posted about when purchased through Young God Records’ Site. The album will feature special guests such as Karen O, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low, members of Akron/Family, Ben Frost, Grasshopper from Mercury Rev and the legendary Jarboe. Yes, Jarboe will be returning. Frontman Michael Gira had this to say on the new record: