The northern summer is half way done – here are a few listening suggestions to help you enjoy the warm(ish) days and nights that are left in the form of the latest staff playlists. Some of our regular Hellbound staffers offer up their music picks for the cottage, camp site, beach or patio as we ease into another long weekend (for those lucky enough to have one).
Young Heart Attack, “Starlite” (XL)
If there’s one go-to summer song I crank every year, it’s this little gem from Young Heart Attack, a band I discovered virtually at random when it was assigned for me to review way back in 2004. A combination of barroom hard rock and Sweet-style glam, it’s pure unadulterated joy, highlighted by a guy-girl give and take that sends the song into the stratosphere. “Because you wear my jacket girl, because your ridin’ my car girl!” bellows Chris Hodge, followed by Jennifer Stephens beaming euphorically, “I’m in love, I’m alive, I’m in love, I’m alive, yeah!” It is one of the wickedest choruses I have ever heard in my life, one that exudes sun, sex, and loving life.
More summer playlist choices:
Hüsker Dü, “Celebrated Summer”
Ratt, “Lack of Communication”
Night Ranger, “When You Close Your Eyes”
Kix, “Cold Blood”
Watching: Scanners (Criterion BluRay, 2014)
Reading: Exile in Guyville, by Gina Arnold (Bloomsbury)
Anticipating: Zola Jesus, ‘Taiga’ (mute)
Sleep – Dopesmoker: Cuz on a lazy summer afternoon, you just wanna drop out of life with bong in hand. The 63-minute song is the ultimate stoner anthem, and if I had a cottage, I’d be playing the Southern Lord vinyl reissue loud enough to wake the neighbours… on the other side of the lake. Oh and hey, their new single’s not too shabby, either. 😉
Any weekend I get off is a long weekend but for you 9-5 schmucks the Civic Holiday marks another 3-day bender while the sun is in the sky! I’ll be doin’ what I do but for the rest of you here’s some new albums to soundtrack your long weekend. What’s the Civic Holiday about anyway?
You wanna have a good time and still feel like a badass this weekend (and all the time)? Black Anvil‘s Hail Death is the answer. Their latest in a consistently sweet catalogue clocks in at over an hour but it goes down easy. Punishing black metal thunder meets melody, huge power chords and screaming, classic metal inspired solos. The blackened vocals will have you holding your brews like invisible oranges and the gang vocals work to cement the sounds of friendship for whatever shenanigans you’re up to. It’s just an overall great album comprised of all kinds of headbangin’, fist raisin’ (but still kvlt) fun! There’s even a KISS cover so Grandpa doesn’t feel left out: Black Anvil covering KISS’s “Under the Rose”.
Speaking of raising things, the almighty Goatwhore have raised the stakes with their latest ripper, Constricting Rage of the Merciless. I was a little disappointed with Blood for the Master but I’m all over this beast. Ben Falgoust’s venom has never been spat more, uh, mercilessly and Sammy Duet tears shit up with all the gusto necessary to lead to broken necks all around. I mean it. He’s on fire! As are the other members. It’s a full band burn. Things can get awful dark after dark, especially when absinthe is involved, let me tell you. CROTM is plenty dark but if you’re laying off the booze and going for a cruise, the power of Goatwhore will have that engine roaring down the moonlit highway with dangerous speed. Hang on! And don’t drink and drive. “Baring Teeth For Revolt” video
If it’s crazy you want, look no further than Vancouver’s Expain and their debut album Just the Tip. A little innuendo perhaps? The band is seriously tight and technical but not always necessarily serious. I mean, a song called “Headbang Your Head Off”? You catch my drift. Based on speed-laden thrash, there’s much in the way of prog leanings and jazz influences. The technicality can get a little over the top at times but they’re just having a good time and not showing off. The vocals are the harshest aspect but fit right in with the rubber band energy the band gives off. Now that I think about it they kind of remind me of Children of Bodom but without the keyboards and with more crazy fun. Party hearty tech-thrash that gets better each time you listen (and with each beer you drink)! Careful though, get too crazy and might have some Expain-in’ to do. “Allegiance to Pain” video
Alright, so we’ve got the “give’r” side covered but sometimes you just want to relax and chill. I haven’t found anything better for that this year than Tweak Bird‘s Any Ole Way. The LA brother duo lays down groove for days all bathed in California sunshine. Instruments of awesome come in the form of an oversized drum kit and baritone guitar. Familial connection is tight as the two feed off each other and go with the flow of their ultra-catchy sludge-pop. (Did I just say sludge-pop?) I suppose that’s about right. Clean harmonious vocals and deep hooks are the order of the day. But they attack and that low end is wicked fat. There’s a psychedelic edge and that sinuous movement to the songs will turn your spine into a hypnotized serpent. Think Torche, Melvins and Big Business but surfing waves of poppies on your mellow drug of choice. Can’t get enough! “Peace Walker” on Soundcloud
Take the chill factor down to the extreme now with Celestite from Wolves in the Throne Room. This synth counter to the amazing Celestial Lineage takes the listener on a journey beyond the stars. It’s nothing like their majestic black metal other than in how you can totally lose yourself in it. It’s like the soundtrack to the ever-changing ballet taking place across the universe. There’s drama and bombast, stark changes in volume, mood and dimension. Even at its most foreboding and intense, the way it penetrates the mind right to the core of your eternal “I” soothes and relaxes deeply. It’s not an album you have to think about, or should think about. It’s an album you have to feel. It’s quite daring for a band like WITTR to create something this far from their norm and still use the same name. But that’s what makes it so glorious. Just relax and take it all in. Celestite streaming at… The New York Times?
Have a good long weekend! Mine’s two weeks long! Holidays baby!!
My jam of this summer is still technically unreleased, but the song “River” off the upcoming Opeth album has taken over my soul. I love how the song starts with acoustic guitar and some of the most beautiful vocal harmonies this side of classic Crosby, Stills and Nash before slowly morphing into a prog metal classic. I couldn’t find it on youtube yet, so you will have to take my word on it until the album is released later this summer.
ACCEPT – Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast)
BLUES PILLS – s/t (Nuclear Blast)
IQ – The Road Of Bones deluxe edition (Giant Electric Pea)
OPETH – Pale Communion (Roadrunner)
TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS – Hypnotic Eye (Warner)
1. Frankie Goes to Hamilton by Moonlight Desires (Unsigned)
This album is comprised of hard rock 80s pop covers that often border on metal, and it is every bit as fun as it sounds. There is moment after memorable pump-up moment here but the recognizable songs ensure it will appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes. Crack open a beer, turn on the grill and pump the volume to 11. Another bonus? You can download entire album for free! http://moonlightdesires.bandcamp.com/
2. Vast Arboreal Sky EP by Thrawsunblat (Unsigned)
This EP of acoustic folk songs always makes me wish I was in the middle of a forest around a huge, crackling fire. While this is technically Thrawsunblat covering itself, each song takes on a life of its own here. If you find yourself in the woods at anytime, you’d do well to put this on your playlist. http://thrawsunblat.bandcamp.com/album/vast-arboreal-sky-ep
For me, the days leading up to the August long weekend are about family, and this can make for an extremely diverse (and sometimes less than ideal) soundtrack. This year we’ve got a reggae fan fresh back from Jamaica and some Lady Gaga appreciation added to the mix, but I’ve also got a niece who likes her music heavy and complains that pop music makes her ears bleed. She’s recently discovered Arch Enemy and In Flames, and we’ve shared some summer bonding moments courtesy of this song:
Man’s Gin – Smiling Dogs (Profound Lore)
Agalloch – The Mantle (The End)
Woods of Ypres – The Pursuit of the Sun and Allure of the Earth (Krankenhaus Records)
Steve Von Till – If I Should Fall to the Field (Neurot)
Casualties of Cool – s/t (HevyDevy)
Watching: R100 (dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto)