2014 has been as tumultuous a year for metal as it has been for Oberlin and the world at large. Formerly rigid classifications have been bent backwards and broken, warped into positions a chiropractor wouldn’t even dream possible. This lack of regard for convention has allowed metal genres to shake off some of the stagnancy of the early 2010s, and has paved the way for seemingly disparate elements to synergize in unexpected harmonies, culminating in some of the most compelling metal music that’s ever been produced. Below is a list (in alphabetical order) of the most intriguing records metal workgroup has looked at over the course of the last year, dominated by Profound Lore and Relapse Records. Links to listen to album or song streams are available in the respective album titles:
Anna Rose Greenberg, co-Traffic Director and host of “Germaniacs” interviewed Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps, legendary German industrial/electronic band who, incidentally, wrote the song “Germaniacs” after which Anna Rose’s show is named – hear Engler talk about the difference between American and German music, his favorite music, his new label, and more.
Before the CMJ Top 10 tomorrow, enjoy this list of very new releases to check out. We typically do things around here in multiples of 5, but I couldn’t resist tacking on one special release on the end.
1. Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions [Ed. note: She’s been around since 1992, but she still manages to sound fresh and interesting and just, well, really good.]
2. Lord Raja – A Constant Moth [Ed. note: Electronic artist from New York]
3. Girlpool – Girlpool [Ed. note: Duo of teenagers from L.A., just guitar, bass, their voices, and some killer songwriting.]
4. Oceaan – Veritas [Ed. note: Producer from Manchester, U.K.]
5. Abelardo Barroso y la Orquesta Sensacion – Cha Cha Cha [Ed. note: Re-release of an incredible Cuban group from the 50s.]
6. Parquet Courts – Content Nausea [Ed. note: The extra 6th album is Parquet Court’s second full-length of the year!]
Part 2 of International Workgroup’s playlist – a real Japanese pop star, a virtual Japanese pop star, an up and coming British singer of Ghanaian & Nigerian descent, and a legendary Malian singer with a U.S backing band.
1. Kyari Pamyu Pamyu (Japan) – Pon Pon Pon
This video is everything.
2. Hatsune Miku (Japan) – Sharing the world (“live” on David Letterman)
22nd century J-pop meets 20th century American TV.
3. Lola Rae (Nigeria’Ghana/UK)
There will be dancing.
4. The Sway Machinery featuring Khaira Arby (US and Mali)- Gawad Teriamou
Khaira Arby, also know as the Nightingale of the North hails from Mali.
Two WOBC DJs, Ariel Miller and Rachel MacLean, report on a recent concert visit…
I’m not sure what sort of crowd we expected at Alt-J’s show in Detroit on November 10th. I guess we expected more college-aged folks with undercuts, but the crowd seemed to be in their late 20s-30s with pretty average hair cuts. Maybe it was because they were tall and took up the most space, but there seemed to be a lot of tall white dudes. Suddenly we started to worry if we were, in fact, edgy and cool, or just as mainstream as the chicks in front of us obscuring our view with their flower crowns.
Some Mikky Ekko fellow opened for Alt-J. Things Mikky Ekko is into: how high he can sing, listening to himself sing, rain/leaving/love/smiles/the sun. His beat was fairly predictable, as were his lyrics. There was nothing about him that really pushed boundaries. We were bored, and this reinforced our sense of superiority. We were cool. Mikky Ekko was not.
Alt-J! Alt-J! Alt-J finally came on, accompanied by scores of e-cigs and vaporizers booting up around the room. Triangle hands all around! ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆
Alt-J is great. Their new album, This Is All Yours, is indistinguishable from their old album, An Awesome Wave, but we don’t even care because both have the same weird, catchy, danceable sound. At the concert, they played it safe, balancing the old and the new. It would have been nice to actually see them through their obscuring shroud of fog and lighting, and even nicer to see some energy or movement. But overall, they sounded just like they do on record, which was good enough for us.
The international workgroup playlist – part 1 – is here! Check out: a Belgain rapper whose video has more than 200 million views; beautiful Korean folk pop; toetapping “electro-cumbia” from Mexico; a 60s French classic; and breathtaking Russian throat singing.
1. Stromae (Belgium) – Papaoutai
Belgium’s finest rapper and pop auteur takes a trip to the uncanny valley.