A Place To Bury Strangers: Worship
Guitars as jet engines; guitars as haunted electronics; guitars as filling-melting white heat: A Place To Bury Strangers' new album Worship is explosive, visceral, and dark. APTBS' DIY-braintrust of Death By Audio wizard Oliver Ackerman and bassist Dion Lunadon continue the evolution of songwriting that began with Onwards to the Wall, the band's 2011 EP. Now on Worship, they interweave threads of krautrock, dream-pop, and 80s goth without ever losing the edge that is quintessentially Strangers. Unhinged dissonance is artfully framed within a fiercely dynamic and assured melodic sensibility. Standout "You Are The One" is a coldwave white squall, with Ackerman coming through like an austere and menacing Damo Suzuki. Later on "Dissolved," the band methodically builds an atmospheric battle charge only to take a hard left mid-song into pure, shimmering Cure territory. There are ambitious, trend-bucking choices at every turn.
"This album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered by A Place To Bury Strangers. It is our vision of what our music should sound like in 2012, not someone else's interpretation," says Lunadon. "Every sound on the album is made by us and our tools; tools created by us, used on no other recordings, and purposefully built for this project. This is real. Some of it is the band being in complete control -- bending, shaping and building the songs and the sounds. Other parts are the band relinquishing control and letting the songs and sounds take over and produce themselves. We are not trying to reinvent ourselves, but simply push ourselves further in all aspects of our music."
"We made this, we recorded this, we did everything," adds Ackerman. "Yes, we chose to do this and no, we didn't have to but we think it is pretty cool. No producer made us. We didn't go to school for any of this and we don't have time for tutorials. We invented this and now we are sharing it with you."
A Place To Bury Strangers: Onwards to the Wall
Onwards to the Wall packs every bit of the searing sonic maelstrom listeners have come to expect (nay, demand!) from Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers. Yet, the adroit songcraft that's always been there is brought more the fore, pop hooks are repurposed and more instantly recognizable. Now joined by bassist Dion Lunadon, formerly of The D4, Ackerman has found a crucial companion in pulling timeless melodies from their jet engine textures. Standout "So Far Away" takes all the pure pop perfection of The Box Tops' "The Letter" and shoots it through with a barely-harnessed dark energy and snarling propulsion. The title track carries a similar balance of classic, 60s-pop hooks and doomed-out vibes, employing a boy-girl vocal tradeoff that's at once both sexy and menacing. A handful of contemporary bands are currently exploring the new limits of loud. And here, APTBS proves that they have not only been leading that charge for some time now, but that they are also evolving and maturing on those front lines.Onwards to the Wall is a fresh, complete artistic statement from APTBS. It's a new chapter, a prelude for what awaits us on the horizon. It is a taste of greatness to come.
A Place To Bury Strangers: And I'm Up
A Place To Bury Strangers interweave threads of krautrock, dream-pop, and 80s goth without ever losing the edge that is quintessentially Strangers. Unhinged dissonance is artfully framed within a fiercely dynamic and assured melodic sensibility. Here "And I'm Up," a highlight from the band's 2012 intense Worship, is paired with unreleased "Don't Stop."
Akron/Family: Sub Verses
The album started with visions of large monumental sounds inspired by Heizer and Turrell; American works on a grand scale, monuments, dirty hands and an epic American masculinity. Dust, Stone, Sky, Earth.
These broad, bold strokes would come to pass but not quite as expected.
A Sci Fi aesthetic narrative emerged. Tackling distant pasts and future humanism, the pain and idiocy of our contemporary culture. How to deal with it open heartedly? The boredom, the sadness and speed. The plots within plots of Dune mirrored in many layers of sound. Creating 3D sonic atmospheres that our songs and singers inhabit.
Our story, a story, all stories. Told in verses, in underground language, in sub frequencies. Not audible, only felt, intuited, imagined in some deepest psychic space that you are yet to know. A strange story. Of the future, of yourself. Of everyone. We are all we are, only this and yet we move forward. Along some line to somewhere. And who knows?
Akron/Family: Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
Opening with a groove unlike anything Akron/Family have ever laid to tape, the first track on Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free kicks off a new chapter for the band. The percussive thunder and anthemic electric guitars of "Everyone is Guilty" make a bold statement, touching on everything from Fela Kuti to Sly and the Family Stone in under six psychedelic minutes. This is not the Akron/Family you think you know.As "Everyone is Guilty" fades into "River" the band returns to something they have always been known for: writing a timeless hook. "River" delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody. As the album unfolds, Akron/Family's musical explorations are virtually without limits. Whether it's the celebratory sing-along gospel of "Gravelly Mountains of the Moon," the lush folk sounds of "Sun Will Shine (Warmth of the Sunship Version)," or "MBF," which lies at the intersection of primal punk rock and heavy free jazz, Akron/Family are a band boiling over with ideas. Their musical vocabulary runs deep ? it's not just Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead that inform Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free. Akron/Family feel at home on this album, confident and self-assured. Following a year of making things bigger and wilder live, the band returns to something simpler on Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free. With limited outside assistance, this trio has made a focused, powerful and unified work. Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free maintains the communal spirit of the big band that won audiences over throughout the world, but it showcases Akron/Family at its core ? three musicians, equals, creating music from deep within. Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free is something undeniably special and immensely powerful. Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free is the new psychedelic rock.
Akron/Family: S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT
Finally, after over a month of unanswered emails and text messages, blown deadlines, and pleas to finish and turn in their new album, last week, a large brown cardboard box showed up at the Dead Oceans doorstep. It had "SHINJU TNT" scrawled across the bottom of the box in black magic marker, and the return address read only "AK, Detroit." Opening it revealed a sincere but poorly made diorama of futurist swirling spaces filled with toy astronauts and dinosaurs, four blown out song fragments on a TDK CDR in a ziplock bag, three pictures, and a typewritten note from Akron/Family. A post-it on the bag declared the band refused to send the full album to anyone but the vinyl pressing plant, for fear of leaking and possible lost revenues.
Akron/Family spent the end of 2009 and half of 2010 exploring the future of sound through Bent Acid Punk Diamond fuzz and Underground Japanese noise cassettes, lower case micro tone poems and emotional Cagean field recordings, rebuilding electronic drums from the 70's and playing them with sticks they carved themselves. Upon miraculous resuscitation of the original AKAK hard drive, the album layers thousands of minute imperceptible samples of their first recordings with fuzzed-out representations of their present beings to induce pleasant emotional feeling states and many momentary transcendent inspirations. This album is titled S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. We have no idea what that means.
"River" is the second single from Akron/Family's 2009 release, Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free. Following the thundering and anthemic "Everyone is Guilty," "River" returns to something they have always been known for: a timeless hook. "River" delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody.
Like the "Everyone is Guilty" 7-inch, "River" features an exclusive non-album b-side, the lovely "Morning on Michigan Avenue (Thinking of Old Friends)." Strictly limited edition, we advise scoring one of these slabs of vinyl now.
Over the 25 songs composing this Record Store Day exclusive 2xLP, Akron/Family enlist collaborators, kindred spirits, and extended family to re-imagine/reinterpret/re-illuminate S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.
Bear In Heaven: I Love You, It's Cool
I Love You, It's Cool is the first time Bear in Heaven has sounded so unapologetic and so evolved, so risky and so redeeming, so focused and so finessed. After years of restless exploration, this feels like a definitive arrival. I Love You, It's Cool is music written in the present tense but ready to speak to the future. The work is its own rarified reward.