Here Come... is the first boogy-woogy soul/blues album I get to review this year! And thanks to Duck Duck Grey Duck, it's more than a mere precursor to the eventual release of The Ballantynes' latest gem. This awesome groove comes to us courtesy of three dudes in the tiny town of Geneva, Ohio(?) Yes, that's truer than fiction. Hey, Ohio; where ya been since the 90's (GBV, NIN, Breeders)? Even if this band is trying to tell us they're Ohio's Grey Duck, I'm alright with that. Grey is actually The Truth, in most cases. So these dudes are Ohio's Truth Duck!
Every tune on Here Come... is a head-bobbin', booty-shakin' good time. The hyper-accomplished drums, bass, and guitars compliment each other so well, there's really no need for an organ or anything else. They even incorporate a bit of psych into the mix on 'Ice Cream' and 'Odysseum'. Everything is on-point here, musically. Here Come... is such a fun listen; for me, it's a five-times-a-day album. Its charm won't be wearing on me too soon.
I don't know if it's just the recording or if he really doesn't have much range, but Robin Girod's vocals fell kinda flat here. He can't even execute a satisfying howl at the beginning of 'Ice Cream'. But I don't believe this band is resting its hopes on vocal delivery to carry it. All three musicians are flat-out experts with their respective instruments and when a band can boast such finely-tuned chops, lackluster vocals are easily forgiven.
Here Come...'s awesome music is as exciting to my ears as what it's album cover displays. It's hard to tell whether or not the water is running down those slides. If it is, what that dude is attempting is even more gutsy. Sometimes The Grey Duck is a ninety-foot-long slide set at a forty-five degree angle that can only be tackled by two semi-upright legs and two arms flailing.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans
Every Boston band should (heavily) pay tribute to The Pixies sometime in their career. The recently-great, Pile, have chosen the first song off their third album as that immortalized moment. 'The World Is Your Motel' is an absolutely glorious Pixies imitation. Rick Maguire talks (elongating certain vowels) and intermittently screams his way through a spastic-yet-steady tune that is basically the best of what The Pixies ever had to offer. Good on yas, Pile. It starts You're Better Than This off particularly strong. I believe it's a shining example of why people-in-the-know love Pile so damn much.
It's sort of an industry cliche for a band's third album to be its "experimental" one. Time will tell if Pile decides to stay the new course that You're Better seems to have taken. The music is just as aggressive and cathartic in places as previous efforts, but for album three, Pile get a tinge countrified; albeit of the Southern Gothic variety. Where the first two albums were almost purely proggy, angular post-punk, what we get here is some string picking with that, a few much-more-somber-than-usual tunes, and Maguire's vocals sounding a bit like Murder By Death's Adam Turla ('Hot Breath', 'Appendicitis'). It may not quite be the Pile I've come to know and love, but it's also not any less compelling.
So because I'm still only 12 years old and my immature mind still gets jarred when a band wants to change things up, it took me about three listens to understand and fully embrace what Pile have presented us. Most of the tunes are simply unafraid of grinding to a near stop and then picking back up again. Pile have never been a band who play simple tunes, so that doesn't change here.
Initially, I believed that lack of melody is the sharpest turn Pile take on You're Better, but this decision shouldn't surprise nor deflate any Pile fan. We love them because they seem to treat music like a Rorschach test. It'll be what they need it to be; merely a tool to help them pinpoint the truth about a snake, a rope, a river, hieroglyphics, the small intestine...
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans
Nun waste no time in removing our aural spleens with opening track, 'Immersion II', as Jenny Branagan lets loose a vocal assault unmatched by anything I heard last year* and carrying on into 2015. The scathing delivery is aided by layered, pulsating synths and the verse, "let me piss on your rich mother's lips". I respect Jenny for asking permission to carry out such a seemingly heinous act. I guess the guilt and stifling indoctrination of church culture still linger with Nun.
There're four members of Nun and each of them play synthesizers so Nun is as hardcore synthy as any band gets. They're committed to their keys and that's a blessing. The dynamics they create are sort of low-key but extremely measured. Upon repeat listens, it's apparent that Nun are synth lab experts. They're able to stabilize what otherwise might be a volatile mixture of elements. Any member of Nun would be a considerable asset to any band looking to fill a synth void. Together, they sound like a well-oiled super group.
Nun have cool to spare, man. Starting with even the cover art here, it's so stark yet mesmerizing to me. They also name-check some 80's cult icons in Uri Geller and David Cronenberg. Nun are the current band for dyed-in-the-wool misfits. This album should be embraced and adored by every persuasion of outsider.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans
*That's right. This is technically a 2014 release in Australia and Europe but we aren't getting it here in The States 'til exactly one year since it's original drop, thanks to the ever-mighty Hozac Records.