Archive for the ‘Mourn’ Category

Matthew Stoff’s Top 10 Albums of 2015

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Regular LIFE IS NOISE contributor Matthew Stoff shares 10 of his favourite releases from the year that was.

Ten albums seems like way too few for a year as packed with great releases as 2015. Because of that, I wanted to talk about the albums that I keep coming back to, rather than trying to come up with a more definitive list of albums of the year. You might not think of these as the best releases of 2015, but they’re the ones that spoke to me the most. With that in mind, here’s my end of year list:

1. Algiers – Algiers
Cold wave, Marxism, and soul might seem like a funny combination, but after Algiers self-titled album I can’t imagine what my life would be without it. This is one of most innovative albums of the decade, and its hard-hitting, courageous, and challenging political commentary is the icing on the cake.

2. Gold Class – It’s You
I can’t get enough of Gold Class. They’re smart, passionate, and totally authentic. Their live show is amazing too. Gold Class are indisputably the best traditional-sounding post-punk band in Australia at the moment. Maybe even in the world.

3. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
Sleater-Kinney’s revival album could have been a lot of things. It could have been out of touch, or lacking energy, or just a simple rehash of their old material. What it was, was nothing less than a masterpiece. It feels as though they’d never left at all.

4. Ought – Sun Coming Down
Sun Coming Down is a weird album. It’s post-punk, but it isn’t really post-punk, with atypical vocals, rambling song structures, and pop-but-not-really-pop-at-all melodies. A singular experience.

5. Heat Dust – Heat Dust
Heat Dust play traditional post-punk really hard and really fast, and I liked this album a lot more than the similarly inspired recent release from Protomartyr. Your results might vary. They’re both incredible, high-octane albums, even if this is the one that made my final list.

6. Ceremony – The L-Shaped Man
Some people might see this album as a contentious choice. It’s pretty generic, and looking at reviews after the fact, it feels like mine is one of the only ones that presents the album in a positive light. But nostalgia is powerful thing, and my nostalgia for the indie pop-infused post-punk revival of the early 2000s is very strong indeed. The mix of that and Ceremony’s lingering hardcore influences gives this album a novel sound that keeps me coming back for more.

7. Deafcult – Deafcult
As far as dream pop goes, these guys are the reigning kings. Dense, melodic shoegaze with great production, played at ear-shattering volume from a Brisbane band. What’s not to love?

8. Mourn – Mourn
Everything about this band is so unlikely. Their place of origin, their age, their musical inspirations: everything that makes them who they are. But that’s why this release is so important. It’s got a youthful sound to it. A sense that anything is possible. And it largely succeeds at all things it’s set out to do. A truly inspiring album.

9. JuliaWhy? – Wheel
I reviewed this album once for 4ZZZ and never mentioned it again, probably because it falls between the lines of various genres, and was hard to compare with anything I wrote about for LIFE IS NOISE this year. But I wanted to mention it here, because it’s a fantastic album, combining high energy delivery with lo-fi production, and subtle feminist politics. My choice for sleeper hit album of the year.

10. Metz – Metz II
Sure, it’s a little shallow and not too different from the first Metz album, yet the brutal but fantastically melodic noise rock of Metz still brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it, and that’s enough for me.

Mourn — Mourn

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Broadly defined, post-punk is a catch-all phrase for the of dark and experimental music that emerged from the punk scene towards the end of the 1970’s. As a genre title it’s been widely criticized for its lack of defining features and overlap into hardcore, krautrock, and noise. Yet if you ask me what my favourite type of music is, I can’t think of another term which explains my taste so well: D.I.Y, experimental, dissonant and strange. The songs are often simple and sometimes poorly mixed — a result of low budgets or a lack of technical experience — but they’re brimming with interest, carving out weird melodies from dissonance and eschewing traditional rules of harmony, driven instead by relentless beats and sheer determination. You might wonder what this has to do with Mourn, the Spanish punk rockers who released the digital version of their debut album on Captured Tracks last week. Unlike this year’s other new releases from their stylistic ilk, Mourn’s debut is a work of shocking inexperience, recorded in just two days by a group of three musicians under the age of 19.

There’s something of a young Jehnny Beth or Corin Tucker in the vocals, moving from soft singing to harsh shouting with little noticeable effort. Only occasionally do you realize how young the singer is: from the quirky lyrics, or the girlish lilt to her melodic vocals. Their influences are dead on, however, drawing sonic inspiration from the melodies of 90s indie and the intensity of 80s punk. Opening track “Your Brain is Made of Candy” starts out sweet and soft, adding layers of twisting guitars and booming drums as the vocals rise to a shouting crescendo. At its height, it ends abruptly, leading on to “Dark Issues”, which builds from a jangly, open strummed chord progression with soft vocals to a full-blown psychedelic alternative rock song. The tracks are very short (mostly under 3 minutes long) and like Klozapin’s debut from earlier this year, cover a crazy amount of musical ground. It’s difficult to tell what sort of song will come next, from the creepy dual vocals of “Phillipius” to the stomping riot-grrrl anthems of “Jack” and “You Don’t Know Me”. It makes it seem a little weird and rough around the edges, but the pay-off is immense. Mourn feels spontaneous. This kind of unselfconscious musical creation has always been a catalyst for innovation, and it’s refreshing to hear it returning in the era of self-promoters and studied rock-revivalists.

If last month’s release from Sleater-Kinney made you yearn for the more naïve sound of their older material, this might be your album of the year. Mourn combine the youthful energy of their older work with the melodic nuance of their new, while maintaining that early joy in musical discovery that can only come from emerging artists. This is pure, unadulterated and exquisite post-punk in an era where most musicians are all too conscious of their goals and musical influences. Mourn and Captured Tracks have done a great thing in bringing it to light, and the cover art and subtle mixing match the mood exactly. This is everything the genre was about, with no sign of pretence or intelligent design. It’s an accidental masterpiece.

Mourn is out now through Captured Tracks.