Cabaret Voltaire "Shadow of Fear (Mute)"
Shadow of Fear is Cabaret Voltaire’s first studio album in 26 years. Richard H. Kirk is the sole remaining member; he’s released many acclaimed solo albums, having invented bleep techno via his groundbreaking work in Sweet Exorcist. Kirk has formed this new album from a series of pulverising live shows. The tone and personality of CV is ingrained in its core as it dances across techno, dub, house, 1970s Germany and general esoteric explorations coupled with mangled vocal samples.
The Cavemen "Euthanise Me (Slovenly)"
New Zealand’s stank beacons of irresponsibility THE CAVEMEN are back in the Slovenly saddle with four new merciless hits to the chin, as if 2020 hasn’t been painful enough! Like, who doesn’t wanna get euthanized, right? Only time will tell if this year’s NZ ‘End of Life Choice Act’ to legalise euthanasia passes. If not, at least you get three square meals a day in the clink!
Seems like the ‘Men would have already tackled a tune titled “Eat Your Heart Out” on one of their hundred previous releases, but cannibalism is only the tip of the iceberg here – these guys want to “Eat Your Heart and Wear Your Face.”
HOW DISGUSTING(LY ROMANTICAL).
But don’t flatter yourself, baby. They’re fine with going to see a shrink to get “Over You” while you’re twisting with your new squeeze. So enjoy yourselves, because as they say, it’s later than you think.
Terry Gross "Soft Opening (Thrill Jockey)"
Terry Gross is an engrossing trio composed of guitarist Phil Manley (Trans Am), bassist Donny Newenhouse, and drummer Phil Becker. The trio are also connected as owners and engineers at Bay Area recording spot El Studio, where they began improvising together as a way to test the boundaries and gear of the studio. Their loose, organic chemistry burgeoned into a deep camaraderie and a sound both expansive and exacting. The three experienced musicians crafted their first full-length album through the pure joy of playing together with no expectations. With the tapes rolling on their rehearsals, the band captures the exuberance of live performance and elevates those recordings through a deft use of the studio as their collective instrument. On their debut LP Soft Opening, Terry Gross channels their cosmic powers and considerable chops into a gleefully mesmerizing odyssey fit for an arena.
Soft Opening took shape over the course of 2016-2019, with Terry Gross writing and refining their songs. “Space Voyage Mission” and “Worm Gear” parallel one another as sinuous jams that pulse with adamantine fervor. Each mountainous epic churns spellbinding repetition and simplicity into dizzying gallops that take hairpin turns into sinewy riffing and elysian vocal melodies. Phil Manley’s guitar takes on a constellation of tones across “Space Voyage Mission” with drifting delays soaring over the Newenhouse and Becker’s driving rhythm section which all succumb to frothing overdrives that spin the song into entirely new pastures. The hypnotic throb of “Worm Gear” grows all the more enchanting as Newenhouse and Becker add subtle shifts to the single-chord barrage. “Specificity (Or What Have You)” contrasts these two in its more traditionally pop-oriented structure while retaining its predecessors wide-eyed energy and delves further into the album’s lighthearted-yet-earnest take on sci-fi tropes from space and time travel to the singularity.
As Terry Gross, Phil Manley, Donny Newenhouse, and Phil Becker are sonic scientists traversing the borderlands of rock. Soft Opening captures the simple joy of a no-holds-barred trio in stunning detail, transporting the listener into the splendor and freedom of rock.
Ex Oh "Ex Oh (Team Love)"
Jerry Adler has been around for a while. Yet despite his extensive, wildly eclectic catalog, his career has flown stubbornly under the radar. Coming out of the same NYC scene that produced The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol in the early 00’s, his band @TheBlam recorded two albums, had hits on national college radio, and toured sin the U.S. and UK. The group dissolved in 2005, but due to prominent placements over the years in hit TV shows such as The Office (US) and Skins (UK) the band has cultivated a small and dedicated cult following.
Adler returned the following year with Flugente (2006-10), captured on two albums but best exemplified in live performances that bordered on performance art. In 2011, he made yet another 90-degree turn with Wave Sleep Wave, an experimental, loop-based, guitar and drums duo with Yuval Lion (Cibo Matto, Suzanne Vega, The Blam). Ever restless, Adler’s guitar experimentation would lead him to join with classical sitar player Mustafa Bhagat (Biryani Boys) to form Arranged Marriage NP, in 2016. The duo relies on the Indian raga canon for its material, but replaces the traditional tabla drum with a whirling, swirling galaxy of sound.
Now Adler delivers EX OH, an album of super-tightly woven, impeccably arranged, songwriterly pop songs packed with myriad sounds and surprises. EX OH is dense, even maximalist. Each part is in full flower. If you’re a fan of albums on which art and pop are not opposing concepts, this one might be for you.