Archive for the ‘Mount Eerie’ Category

Jack Midalia’s Top 10 Albums of 2015

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

10. Sunn O))) — Kannon
Consider this a provisional tenth place for Sunn O))), as I still haven’t had the chance to listen to Kannon on a sound system large enough to do it justice. But I can tell already it’s got everything you’d want in a Sunn O))) album — a whole pile of dark, intense drone, with a sense of focus and purpose often missing from the genre. Kannon is a relatively short work, but it still feels like an epic journey from start to finish.

9. Fourteen Nights At Sea — Minor Light
Alternating between soaring noise and sparse, beautifully textured ambience, Minor Light is another staggeringly fine piece of work from Melbourne’s Fourteen Nights At Sea. I’ve frequently put this album on in the background while working, only to find myself just staring off into space, transfixed. As well as impeccable production, Minor Light’s real strength is the sense of restraint found throughout; everything on the album is essential. A brilliant recording.

8. Kurt Vile — b’lieve i’m goin down…
Kurt Vile’s sixth record, b’lieve i’m goin down…, doesn’t exactly reinvent the KV wheel. Having said that, the usual elements work together perfectly here to create a little gem of an album. The usual reverbed fingerpicking guitar is pretty constant throughout b’lieve, with the pace and intensity changing depending on the mood. Vile’s voice seems to be getting better with age, sounding fuller and richer, while maintaining its distinctive slacker drawl. A wonderful slow burning record to add to a rapidly growing catalogue of excellence.

7. Mount Eerie — Sauna
Despite being released in February, I still feel like there’s a world hidden within Sauna that I’m yet to discover (a song like “Turmoil”, for example, is a simple, straightforward song imbued through its instrumentation with a sense of uneasy depth). There’s the usual juxtaposition of traditional folk and almost-noise, and experimentation that works together to create a beautiful, haunting and mysterious world. One well worth exploring.

6. High On Fire — Luminiferous
A flat out awesome, conspiracy-filled riff-fest… what’s not to love about High On Fire’s latest record, Luminiferous? There’s been a lot of attention on the Icke-influenced lyrics that fill Luminiferous, but nowhere near enough attention on just how much of a brilliant, perfectly-produced album this is.

5. Elder — Lore
Elder’s brand of doom-tinged psych is on excellent display on Lore. From the sly nod to “Immigrant Song” of opening track “Compendium”, Lore expertly walks the fine line between hypnotic repetition and monotony. There’s a dynamic typical of heavy three-pieces that can sometimes prevent the emergence of depth and texture. Elder avoid this, imbuing their tracks with a sense of space at some times, as well as a sense of balls-out rock at others. Lore is an impressive record for such a young band — one that promises much in the future.

4. Low — Ones and Sixes
Forgive me if I don’t sound enthused about this record. It’s not that it isn’t great (it is), or that Low are just going through the motions (they’re not). It’s just that the band are such a reliable producer of ridiculously good records, that I always have a certain amount of an “oh, another masterpiece… yawn” attitude for Low releases. That being said, Ones and Sixes takes everything you’re used to from the Minnesotans (breathtaking sparsity, chilling harmonies), but with a focus, clarity and added intensity from their recent output.

3. Drowning Horse — Sheltering Sky
Another example of a band in 2015 that took a stunning live sound and perfectly translated this to record. I’m going to skip any attempt to describe Sheltering Sky, and just link to The Black Captain’s perfect review.

2. We Lost The Sea — Departure Songs
I’ve had the privilege of seeing We Lost The Sea a few times this year, and they’ve completely blown me away every time. There’s plenty of Australian acts, however, that can pull it off live but not lack something on record. No such problem here. With Departure Songs, We Lost The Sea have eschewed the usual tired post-rock tropes and created something uniquely brilliant and beautifully poignant.

1. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie and Lowell
I love pretty much everything Sufjan Stevens has done, but Carrie and Lowell might be his masterpiece. The record finds Sufjan in stripped-back mode and makes you realise what makes him such a great artist — it’s not the bold production choices or layering, it’s just simple, well written songs and an instantly recognisable, beautiful and stark voice.

Despite the fact that the world can be a dark place (and this record does go to numerous places lacking in any light), the fact that the darkness can spawn such incredible beauty as Carrie and Lowell is, at least, a small comfort.

Brian Cook’s Top 10 Albums of 2015

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Brian Cook of Russian Circles and Sumac (among others) kicks off LIFE IS NOISE’s end-of-year countdown with some of his faves from 2015.

There was a lot of good stuff happening in 2015. But whenever I start making these year-end lists I gravitate towards the stuff made by friends and colleagues. My top ten albums for the year should probably include the excellent records made by Metz, Chelsea Wolfe, Deafheaven, Mutoid Man, Marriages and Coliseum, but I wanted to pick albums by artists that I hadn’t toured with, so here’s what I was left with (in no particular order…)

Alcest – Shelter
Alcest shed all vestiges of metal on this album and wound up with the kind of lush melodic record all these new shoegaze bands are trying to make. I know this record was kind of a tough sell for Alcest’s old school fans, but I would think that anyone that dug the Manchester sound of the late 80s/early 90s would eat this up.

Jackson C. Frank – Remastered & Unreleased
Life isn’t fair. And poor Jackson C. Frank was dealt a particularly bad hand. And while a few sad bastard audiophiles have long held his minor hit ‘Blues Run The Game’ close to their hearts, his recording career was pretty much forgotten by the time he passed away in 1999. Childhood trauma, schizophrenia, and poor health plagued his life and kept him from releasing any proper full-length following his debut. Ba Da Bing Records managed to cobble up 67 tracks from his career, from early traditional standards to a set of sparse demos for a comeback album that never materialised. For me, the most engaging songs are from those final demos, where Frank manages to craft a handful of songs out of the same few chords and one fingerpicking pattern. The guitar work across ‘Bull Men’, ‘Maria Spanish Rose’, ‘Singing Sailors’, and ‘(Tumble) In the Wind (Version 2)’ is almost identical, but Frank makes each song heartbreaking in its own way.

Mára – Surfacing
Over the course of several years, Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer recorded piano and vocal demos in her home on Vashon Island when winter storms would knock out all the power on her property. Maybe they were going to turn into Mamiffer songs. Maybe they were just little creative exercises. But after being tucked away for a couple of years, Coloccia dug up the songs and released them under the moniker Mára. Try and listen to ‘Love and Infinity’ and not tear up.

Mount Eerie – Sauna
Phil Elverum’s work has always been an exploration of music that operates on the periphery of pop culture. And yet these eclectic elements always somehow make sense within the context of his soft-spoken experimental folk music. Sauna is a particularly diverse record for Elverum, with nods to drone, black metal, and Terry Riley-esque arpeggios all sitting nicely together.

Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat
I stopped following Napalm Death after their 1996 album Diatribes. But I checked out Apex Predator on a whim and was hooked right away. I guess I thought Napalm Death had settled into some fairly safe mid-tempo territory back in the mid-90s, but Apex Predator sounds like the kind of vicious, discordant stuff that could’ve found a home on Hydra Head. Brutal and smart.

Native North America (Volume 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985
Back when Myspace was still the primary way musicians were presenting themselves on the internet, I used to investigate bands based on their location. I remember wondering if there were bands in Greenland, and, sure enough, there were a handful of young’uns with electric guitars cranking out some really weird permutation of rock music out in the coastal towns with names I couldn’t pronounce. I’ve always been intrigued by bands that come out of remote or isolated regions. What kind of sound comes out of those cultural bubbles? So when I stumbled across this vinyl boxset compilation, I was intrigued. What exactly was going on in the northernmost inhabited areas of North America? Turns out, there was a lot of Neil Young and CCR worship. But there was also some gloriously sloppy garage rock by some Inuit kids in a band called Sugluk, some devastatingly sad protest music from Willie Dunn, some kitschy surf rock from The Chieftones, and a slew of other strange variants on pop culture. The opening track by Willie Dunn, ‘I Pity The Country’ is worth the cost of the collection alone.

Royal Headache – High
Good songs. No frills. These guys sound like someone else. Maybe it’s The Small Faces? I dunno. I’ve never really delved too deep into The Small Faces catalog, but whenever I hear High, I feel like I’m listening to a classic record from yesteryear. I feel like I should have a really perfect reference point for this band. But they’re not flashy enough for a Stones comparison. They’re more gritty than The Kinks. Maybe that’s what these guys were trying to do—they were trying to fill that gap in rock history, before punk slathered everything in distortion but after all those soulful garage bands started slashing up their speakers.

Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last
I included this mainly because I think ‘Web’ is one of the best songs of 2015. I mean, the whole record is great, but they could’ve rocked that krautrock beat and psych guitar lead for an entire side of the LP and I would’ve been totally fine with it.

Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling
I should not like this record. Imagine a combination of Snapcase, 311, Gorilla Biscuits, maybe even a little gloomy western twang on ‘Love Lasso’, and filter it through 80s thrash metal production. Then slap some artwork that looks like a Spin Doctors demo on it. It’s so absurd that I kept listening to it. I couldn’t figure it out. What were these kids trying to do? What were they listening to and why did they think these sounds worked together? Granted, there are a few moments where it doesn’t work (I can’t handle the 311 moments in ‘Can’t Deny It’), but as a whole Nonstop Feeling sounds like a bunch of kids who didn’t care what was cool and made something genuinely interesting out of their disparate interests.

Xibalba – Tierra Y Libertad
It sounds like Covenant–era Morbid Angel decided to form a hardcore band. So good.

Wilco – Star Wars
When you’re a band that’s been around as long as Wilco, and you have those records that have entered into the canon of classics, it can be tricky to write a new album that can rival all the warm fuzzy feelings we’ve attached to Summerteeth or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost Is Born. So forget that those records exist for a moment. Now put Star Wars on. Give it a few spins. See? It’s an amazing record. Stick with it long enough and you’ll get all those warm fuzzy feelings whenever you hear ‘Taste The Ceiling’ or ‘Where Do I Begin’ or ‘Magnetized’.

Mount Eerie — Sauna

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

I’ve ranted enough about Mount Eerie in the past on this website as well as, no doubt, drunkenly to a lot of bored people at parties desperately looking for an exit to the conversation. Unlike most of my drunken rants, however, my love for everything Phil-Elverum-related is an opinion I’ll definitely stand behind the morning after — I still rate Clear Moon as the best record released this century (seriously, if you haven’t heard it, get some headphones and click this right now).

Anyway, colour me excited, because there’s a new record on the way and from what we’ve heard so far it, it sounds like exactly the kind of brilliance I expect from my favourite musical Voight-Kampff machine. Sauna is out on February 9, and you can take a listen to the three tracks that have been released so far, below:




Mount Eerie — “Ocean Roar”

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Mount Eerie Ocean RoarHoly Jeebus am I excited about this record. We collectively lost our figurative shit over Clear Moon, the precursor to this new Mount Eerie record.

So, not content with putting out a strong contender for album of the year, we now have Ocean Roar, the follow-up record. While Clear Moon is going to be hard to top, the chances are that this record will at least be pretty damn good.

Check out the track and the clip to the title track, below.