Mutoid Man "Mutants"
When Mutoid Man came crashing out of the gate back in 2013, the Brooklyn trio’s combination
of basement punk’s zero-fucks-given energy, classic metal’s over-the-top showmanship, and
prog rock’s musical gymnastics had a seemingly unstoppable momentum. Riding on the success
of their debut EP Helium Head (2013), the band took on a manic work ethic over the next four
years, cranking out two full-lengths, Bleeder (2015) and War Moans (2017), touring relentlessly
across the US and Europe, and becoming something of a de facto house band for esteemed
New York metal venue Saint Vitus along the way. With tour dates supporting acts like
Mastodon and Danzig, it appeared that Mutoid Man’s entry into the upper echelon of heavy
metal heroes was inevitable. However, life has a way of complicating things, and between line-
up changes, an exodus from Brooklyn, a slew of other musical projects, and, ya know, a
pandemic, the band was put on hold in the midst of their ascendancy. But after a six-year
recording hiatus, Mutoid Man are back to reclaim their throne with their third full-length album
and most mindboggling effort yet, Mutants.
Guitarist/vocalist Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Old Man Gloom) and drummer Ben Koller
(Converge, Killer Be Killed) have always excelled at crafting their own unique brand of frenzied,
hyper-focused, dynamic, and deliciously excessive fretboard-savvy metal. Take two players who
were raised in the hardcore world and who quickly surpassed the technical requirements for
playing even the more sophisticated spins on that sound, and then make them playfully push
each other into more outrageous and catchy territories, and you have a rough approximation of
the Mutoid Man sound. But with new bassist Jeff Matz (High on Fire, Zeke) in tow, you now
have a trifecta of prog-level players approaching metal with punk irreverence on Mutants.
The Clientele "I Am Not There Anymore"
MacLean says I Am Not There Anymore is all about “the memory of childhood but at the same time the impossibility of truly remembering childhood… or even knowing who or what you are.”
Upper Wilds "Juptier"
On Jupiter, Brooklyn trio Upper Wilds voyage deeper into the cosmos, mapping out the overwhelming enormity of the universe in soaring hooks and blistering noise. The third installment in the trio’s exploration of our solar system looks to its largest planet for a daring exploration of scale and perspective. New York underground mainstay Dan Friel’s melodic gifts and wry lyricism are magnified and propelled ever outwards by the thundering rhythm section of bassist Jason Binnick and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher, all immersed in rippling fuzz. Just like its namesake, Jupiter stands as Upper Wilds most colossal offering in their catalog. The raw power of their music is amplified to titanic proportions, sky-clawing riffs invoking the sheer awe that the heavens inspire.
Throughout Jupiter, Friel makes canny use of shifting perspectives to make sense of the universe’s infinite expanse and our place within it. The buzz-saw groove of “Drifters” mirrors the relentless forward-motion of the NASA Voyager space probes pushing out to the edges of the known universe, Friel musing on the likelihood that they outlast the existence of the earth and our sun. “Short Centuries” pays homage to the oldest married couple on Earth, Julio Mora and Waldramina Quinteros, and love’s ability to echo out through the eons, rising from a slow shuffle to ecstatic peaks bolstered by guest vocals from Katie Eastburn (KATIEE) and Jeff Tobias (Sunwatchers). Album centerpiece “10’9”” liquifies the trio’s fizzing distortion into molten sludge in an ode to the tallest person on Earth, still a mere speck from the perspective of the cosmos. “Books About UFOs” turns instead to the legacy of science-fiction in punk music, their bounding cover of the Husker Dü original amplified by Tobias’ screeching saxophone. The juxtaposition of strange true stories of the human experience alongside grand interstellar narratives brings the enigmas and mystery of space home to the more familiar and mundane.
The Pink Spiders "Freakazoid"
From The Pink Spiders:
“Freakazoid was written mostly in the months before the pandemic. When we were ready to start tracking, we found ourselves with a lot of free time to be creative but no opportunity to get together, so we tried something we’d never done – recording an album all by ourselves in isolation. To create the sessions, we would record instruments separately in our houses and email the tracks to each other. That was an extremely frustrating and time-consuming process that took from the fall of 2020 until late 2022 to complete. We were used to banging out albums in a studio in a few weeks so it was a blessing and curse to have all the time in the world to work on it. They say great art is never finished, it is only abandoned and that’s how it felt to wrap this up. There are still little changes I wish I could make from time to time but I’ve had to learn to just let it go. That being said, I’m so proud of the album and so happy that the reaction has been so incredibly positive so far.”