Viking's Choice: Big Feelings-Metal, Japanese Jazz, Easygoing Psych
Y'all ever hit up the lunch buffet, load up a plate with mashed potatoes, pizza, fried okra, lo mein and green Jell-O topped with spray whip and think to yourself, "Yes, I've made some stellar choices here today"? That questionable, yet laudable mix of delights is like Viking's Choice — it doesn't really make sense together, but who cares?
As every week, I make an entirely new playlist of metal, free jazz, hardcore, emo, psych and weirdo-pop to upset your stomach, so let's get to it.
We start off with a scorcher from Mountain's just-released Woodstock '69 set, wherein Leslie West sustains a guitar note for, like, ever. There's some sharp-edged synth-punk from Nervous Curtains, cinematically blown-out noise-rock from Dreamdecay by way of Sub Pop's singles club and the first ripper from Gatecreeper's absolutely demolishing Deserted. Oh, and there is some righteous, Rust Never Sleeps-style guitar wrangling goin' on in Big Thief's "Not" — single edits are for chumps.
While you go back for seconds, here's a side dish of nuggets found on Bandcamp. (Note: Some of these tracks can only be found on Bandcamp.)
Wet Tuna, "Goin'"
Two masters of modern psych — Matt Valentine and PG Six (Pat Gubler) — choogle down a river so nice and easy that everyone floats up to the tie-dyed sky.
Arctic Sleep, "Kindred Spirits"
Beautiful metal with big chords and bigger feelings — think space-rockers Hum with a little bit of Billy Corgan's penchant for pinch harmonic'd, arena-sized solos.
Ronin Arkestra, "Cosmic Collisions"
I was already very much on board with this cool-as-hell Tokyo collective that deftly mixes '60s spiritual jazz with smart electronic grooves, but now you're telling me each track on Sonkei is named for an episode of the anime Samurai Champloo? I'm yours, Ronin Arkestra.
Sanguisugabogg, "Succulent Decedent"
Death metal dragged under the carriage for miles and loving it. I feel dumber for having listened and, for that, I am grateful.
Pharmakon, "Spit It Out"
Noise, a still life in three overlapping parts: A semi-truck idling ominously under a flickering parking lot light. A disintegrating siren looping at a zombie-slow pace. A gristling throb that nests inside your still-beating heart.
Lisel, "Digital Light Field"
T-Pain could always sang, but chose the language of Auto-Tune to make our hearts swell. Eliza Bagg does the same, but revels in small electro-pop ecstasies that burrow inward. (Bagg also sings on Christopher Cerrone's stunning trio of song cycles, The Pieces That Fall to Earth, which made NPR Music's best albums of July.)
We end on a sad note. Phil Haggerty, guitarist for Somos, died on Aug. 10. The Boston emo band is offering its forthcoming Prison on a Hill early, for a week only, to help offset the family's funeral expenses. "Dreamless" suggests a far more intricately woven direction for Somos, but still full of hooks that swing for the fences.
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