I’m cheating here because I’ve been trying to nail down which track I prefer for the last couple of months. Just when I think I’ve decided, the other track unveils its particular charms again.
Sounds like nothing else on Adam Anderson’s astounding debut 1098, with its My Bloody Valentine-ish, nearly impenetrable sonic thicket. Tangled guitar riffs meet clattering drum machines in a confident racket, asserting Rraaiillss’ grasp of the fact that beauty isn’t always pristine. This one crashes against your ears like an aural monsoon, drenching you in swelling and rippling sheets of sound.
Out of the Bag
This track takes a different tack, rolling out as a refreshingly good natured burst, sounding for all the world like a chart troubler Echo & the Bunnymen forgot to write. The guitar chimes, the beat lies slightly south of bouncy and Anderson’s vocals are appropriately breathless. The whole thing wastes no effort, gliding along on rraaiillss of guitar pop bliss.
[Still on leave of absence, but I threatened to post as events warrant and this is one of those events…]
Sometimes something strolls into your life, dressed in pencil-thin leather pants, a ratty black t-shirt featuring a band you wished you’d heard of, radiating a confidence born of too many all-nighters and careless cigarette usage, all topped with an impossible hairdo.
As it leans casually into the nearest darkened corner and watches everyone else trying too hard, you get the feeling that it knows something you don’t. This is confirmed when it says, with a mixture of bravado and resignation, “I know something you don’t know.”
And you know that you’ll never really know what that “something” is because if you press, it’ll be gone. It has a million other places it could be. But for right now, it’s tantalizingly close. Close enough to touch but miles away internally.
This “something” was SPF85, which enigmatically sauntered into my life a few months back, bringing with it the memories of formative musical experiences. Specifically, it conjured up the time-and-place intersection of a newly flexed independence meeting the brothers Reid and their 1-2-3 punch of Psychocandy, Darklands and Automatic.
Rraaiillss, in a little under 4 minutes, channeled the life-changing sounds of the Jesus and Mary Chain, a band so confident they played deliberately antagonistic white noise gigs and served notice to the music world that not only could you harness a Beach Boys melody to an impaled amp, but you could do it without a drummer.
Not often can a song take you back 15-20 years while making you glad to be alive here and now. Only a rare few tracks can turn you back into the 19-year-old you were, breaking free of radio’s compressed myopia.
As those of you who have heard the demos know, it’s incredible stuff. The JAMC touchstones are still very much there as one man band Adam Anderson maneuvers through this 12-song set. It’s a late-80s college radio feel so authentic you can practically see the department store Vox and its ridiculously small amp buzzing away in someone’s garage late at night, delivering hormonal riffs unfazed by the cheap-as-hell stock strings and faulty pickups.
But other influences are at work as well. Halogen arrives in a burst of white noise, landing somewhere in the neighborhood of My Bloody Valentine and Curve, all churning guitar undertow pushed along by a tireless drum machine set to “stun.”
FlossyNossy pushes its way into your carefully organized albums, making instant friends with your Chapterhouse LPs and House of Love singles collection.
Unlisted lucky 13th track What Time Is It? camps out on the Thames with the forces of the British Invasion, lugging with it a very welcome but somewhat impractical Wurlitzer.
All in all, a remarkable debut. It’s perfect for long drives during moonless nights or sunbaked, somewhat hungover, weekend mornings. It’s good-natured bad vibes, slightly warped and coated in restrained guitar fuzz. Catchy as all hell, too.
I’m taking this brief, very informal timeout from my self-imposed exile to point you in the direction of Rraaiillss who’s returned with another killer track in advance of his upcoming album, 1098, which will be released September 9th.
His latest, When You Feel Like…, is just another slice of off-center pop goodness with a heart of gold. Granted, it’s a rather dark gold in an “I like accompanying misery” sort of way, what with the desire to change his ways getting handcuffed to the hopeless assurance that “when you feel like poison/I’ll kiss your skin.”
Might as well give in and be dragged down with him while he kicks that last nail in, riding the twin propulsion system of a chugging guitar riff and some very insistent drums.
And maybe it’s just me, but I found myself kicked right in the heart of my music collection, triggering the aching realization that I haven’t sat down and given Automatic a good listening to in a very long while. I really should check in and see if suicide’s still standing, sucking in her cheeks.
Thanks for your attention. I hope you all are doing well. I will now return to the woodwork from whence I came.
[Another postscript: Adam Anderson (aka Rraaillss, aka Incubator) has another trick up his sleeve and if I get the go-ahead, I’ll probably be breaking what we in the blog business call “radio silence” at that point as well, if I haven’t already returned to the, um, “airwaves” by that point.]
Incubator – Cigarettes.mp3
If you were here for last week’s Heavy Rotation, we led off with a Jesus and Mary Chain-styled piece of fuzzy bliss by Rraaiillss, a.ka. Adam Anderson. Well, as it turns out, not only is he extraordinarily talented but he’s a hell of a nice guy as well, as I received an email from him thanking me for featuring his music.
After emailing back and forth a bit, he pointed me in the direction of another of his projects, Incubator. Say goodbye to the waves of carefully crafted feedback and say hello to something that sold its guitars to buy keyboards.
Feast your ears on this: a gorgeous slice of synth-y loveliness called Cigarettes, which conjures up all the best parts of Joy Division/early New Order filtered through the best stuff m83 and Ulrich Schnauss have to offer. Completely catches the feeling of that catch in your heart when you wake up next to someone you fully expected to be gone, especially the way that burst of unfiltered emotional sunlight revives a flagging psyche.
Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks.mp3
Now that your heart is racing unsteadily, let’s jump into a slice of bouncy heaven, albeit one that makes you laugh inappropriately. Foster the People would (very charmingly) like to inform you that they plan on killing you for your kick-ass (and very expensive) trainers.
As the chorus swells, you’ll be forced to sing along, alarming unsuspecting passersby with your murderous intentions and blithesome (thx Ulysses) harmonizing:
All the other kids with their pumped up kicks Better run better run Outrun my gun
And then, no fucking shit, they start whistling. It’s altogether too much. You can try and fight it but they’re still going to charm the shoes right off your bullet-riddled corpse. (Show of hands: who else felt the urge to do the Swim by eight beats in or so? Be honest.)
Parties in Belgrade – Statues.mp3
Still sticking with bouncy, it’s Parties in Belgrade, a band that usually runs a little darker, but in this instance channel all the feelgood parts of the Happy Mondays, with lead singer Carlos Anthony sounding more like Shaun Ryder than Ryder does these days.
And away they go, rambling on about erecting facetious pedestals, using words more for their flow than for deeper meaning. The slightly-tuffer-than-Happy guitars start duelling, one conjuring Hawaii and the other Pere Ubu.
Have no idea what the fook I’m on about?*
*[See next track for exactly what the fook I’m on about.]
Happy Mondays – Tokoloshe Man.mp3
A prime cut from the heyday of these baggy Madchester dance-rock merchants. One of two songs stolen from John Kongos (the other is Step On). When they could be troubled to put the smack down long enough to record, they cranked out some of the best twisted pop out there. Lead singer Shaun Ryder would then stamp his unmistakable vocals on the track, freely associating, swearing and stealing bits of others’ songs, turning each Monday’s song into a catchy, shambling wreck that charmed you with its rough-edged cheerfulness even as it shook you down for drug money.
This song is an undeniably pleasant way of dealing with a creature from the collective nightmares of South Africa, a hairy beast that is part “zombie, poltergeist and gremlin,” capable of crossing cultural boundaries just to kill:
It makes no difference if you are yellow or you’re red When the bad man says Tonight is the night when you are dead
Plus, it has some well-deployed organ.
Twisted Wires – Oh Hell.mp3
To wrap things up, we’re going dark with the perfect track to send you out into the word, all covered in sunglasses and feisty antagonism. Friends of Adam Anderson/Rraaiillss/Incubator, Twisted Wires conjures up ghosts both chronic and recent* including Sex Gang Children, the Swans, Chrome, Fields of the Nephilim, Holy Fuck, Bauhaus and maybe even a little Coil.
*[Name that reference!]
Dark dark dark. Minor chords pinned down by bass-heavy drones and near-tribal drumming. The perfect antidote to all the smiling faces currently exiting/entering various places of worship.
[Need a track taken down? Care to point out my numerous spelling errors and faulty references? Just need me to wire “some amount” of USD to a Nigerian FedEx? Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Rraaiillss – SPF85.mp3
First there was the Jesus and Mary Chain. And they were awesome. And as most bands do, they started strong and faded but were divisive enough to be considered influential, what with all their feedback and darkened outlook. But for a long time, bands called them an influence but gave no musical reason for us to believe them.
Suddenly, twenty + years after their feedback-drenched debut, bands all over the place are sound like JAMC meant more to them than just something to say to music journos. A Place to Bury Strangers, the Young Boys, Nikoo, etc. And now, the cat-on-the-keyboard-named Rraaiills.
However, Rraaiillss follows the less noisy path, with one-man band Adam Anderson staking a claim somewhere in the middle of Darklands, the milder sophomore album by the Scottish noise boys. It’s all understated distortion, hummable melodies and a bleak-as-the-great-Scottish-outdoors outlook. (You can pick up his entire 4-track ep for FREE here: http://rraaiillss.bandcamp.com/ )
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Nine Million Rainy Days.mp3 This one is for comparison. From the second album by the Jesus and Mary Chain, in which they mostly turned their back on walls of feedback, but didn’t quite do an entire 180 and start looking their audience in the eye. An atmospheric broken hymn to a collapsing relationship and the attendant exposed nerve endings of obsession.
Liars – Cycle Time.mp3 Unfolds like a bar fight. The first half is the buildup, instigated by the wrong thing said or the stare that goes on a beat too long. The chips fall off the shoulders at 1:06, leading to a chorus that hits like a swung bottle. It’s over as quickly as it starts, leaving behind nothing but bruises, blood and the echo of footsteps escaping the scene before the cops show up. Check out more from the Liars here: http://www.myspace.com/liarsliarsliars
autoKratz – Kick (BANKSY Mix).mp3
Banging away at your psyche with brooding efficiency, autoKratz’ dark tech/prog house banger (like they made in the good old days) features some icy, industrial-esque vocal distortion and an assortment of haunting electronic hums and ping-ponging scary noises.
The 4/4 thump and bass thrum move the track along with enough singlemindedness to get asses on the floor, where it proceeds to scare the bejeezus out of anyone chemically-addled enough to get too close to the bassbins. A lot like Front Line Assembly’s best work.
Chemical Brothers – K+D+B.mp3 Los Hermanos Chemical are back! Thank god. And I don’t just mean they’ve released a new album. No, they’ve done plenty of that recently with middling effectiveness and an annoying reliance on guest stars to aid in their quest to abandon their fanbase and acquire the kind of listeners who have shown a distinct tendency to pick Lady Gaga or whatnot instead.
No. Not just another album.
They. Are. Back.
Further is easily their best album since 1999’s Surrender, which is fitting because this album sounds a whole lot like that one. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s melodic. It’s thumping. It’s the underground we all wanted to be a part of. It’s the 4am set that turns to bliss as the sun rises over 20,000 dancers in a field, celebrating a primal togetherness that can only be explained by hamfisted writing and botched metaphors.
K+D+B is all that in one 5-1/2 minute track. Starting with some drums right out of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, the ChemBros kick up the pace, relying on not much else but the syncopated beats. Around a minute in, the keyboards and samples kick in, bringing the track into the daylight and warming everything around it. 1:43: something that could be called an electro-bagpipe kicks in. A buzzing burst of treble noise, but calling it “noise” does it a disservice. It adds rather than distracts.
Builds and builds and builds and why the fuck not? The sampled singing keeps telling us “higher.” I’m only making things worse by attempting to express the pure euphoria and enchantment that two guys with a room full of switches are capable of evoking. Just listen.
[Want a track removed? Think I used the words “electro” or “fuck” too much? Just say so (but nicely): email@example.com.]