Verdun ‘The Eternal Drift’s Canticles’

verdun

 

Verdun [ver-duhn, vur-; French ver-dœn]

  1. A fortress city in NE France, on the Meuse River. A German offensive was stopped there in 1916 in the bloodiest fighting of World War I.
  1. A band from France whose debut album, The Eternal Drift’s Canticles, mixed and mastered by the great Tad Doyle, delivers a slow, low, and melodic aural pummeling cut from the same sonic cloth as Mr. Doyle’s Brothers. A band so crushingly heavy that it, too, could turn back a massive German offensive. And there would be blood. At the very least, eardrums would bleed.

Get ready for the crushing.

The Eternal Drift’s Canticles is out now via Lost Pilgrims Records. Check it out here.

OCCY ‘No Way’

occy

It makes sense that Tommy Hinga headed back to his native West Coast after spending time in Brooklyn with The Denzels and before creating his solo effort, No Way, under the moniker OCCY. On No Way, Hinga starts with his previous band’s garage rock Echo and the Bunnymen vibe, then runs things through a psych filter steeped in the DNA of San Francisco’s music lineage. Crisp, melodic bass lines, fuzzed-out guitar jangle, and reverb-saturated, deep-well vocals, all awash in layers of murky keys, come together in 2-3 minute psych-pop bursts interspersed with a few slightly more adventurous synth tunes. Taken as a whole, the overall feel  of the album is, los grillos imagines, not unlike the aural equivalent of waking at dawn on a fog-rolled beach as somewhere behind the heavy grey day the sun is just starting to think about warming its way through the constant cool breeze that chills your bones and makes you wish you had a lighter instead of matches or damned if you might never get that joint lit. But then, at last and last match, success! And then you draw deep, lie back and exhale, and watch the smoke mingle and dance with the fog as it rolls onward toward the city.

No Way is out now via Admirable Traits Records. Check it out here.

Dawnbringer ‘XX’

dawnbringer xx

Seemingly from out of nowhere comes this cause for horn throwin’, head bangin’ celebration. Chris Black, Chicago’s fount of heavy metal,  has dropped a new Dawnbringer EP called XX, and it’s five tracks of dark and melodic metal with a crisp production that combines the tight and shiny aspects of Black’s High Spirits with the more sprawling existential despair of what he tends to do with Dawnbringer. What I love about Dawnbringer is it reminds me of the metal that rattled my speakers in my youth but without pandering or seeming like a surface level throwback to the past. There’s always a depth to Black’s music that makes it stand out from the rest of the retro-rocking pack. And fuckin’ hell if the dude doesn’t know his way around a hook. With big riffs and melody to spare, XX is bound to be the catchiest, hardest rocking album “dedicated to death” that you’ll hear all year. Or ever.

XX is out now and available at the Dawnbringer Bandcamp site. Check it out here.

Peter Ferry ‘Old Heart’

old-heart

I was a big fan of Peter Ferry’s first novel, Travel Writing— it’s mystery and cleverness and emotion– so I was excited to hear he had another novel out in the world.

Now I have just finished Old Heart, and I have to say that as much as I enjoyed Travel Writing, Old Heart really took hold of me. It’s just an absolutely lovely story that manages to, by telling the tale of this one man and his family and his love, get at the very stuff of life. And it’s touching and sentimental but not saccharine or maudlin or any of those words or notions.

I finished it late one night by a tiny clip light as my wife slept, and by the time I got to the final page, there I was, weeping in the near dark of my room from the beauty and sadness of it all, my wife sleeping snug beside me, and it all seemed a bit silly but also perfect. I can’t remember the last time I responded to a book quite so viscerally, and I couldn’t recommend it more. It is a novel that deserves to be read, and I think readers deserve to read it.

Do yourself a favor and grab a copy here (or at your favorite local bookstore). And head here to learn more about Peter Ferry and his work.

When I think of Old Heart in terms of music, for some reason the first artist to pop into my head is Richard Thompson, so here’s one Thompson wrote for the second album by the great Fairport Convention, What We Did on Our Holidays. It feels appropriate.

Clara Engel ‘Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss’

clara engel

 

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, the latest collection of hypnotic, ethereal blues from Clara Engel, took the cricket all the way back to this mystery of a girl we used to know, back when we were much younger than today. She was a mystery but she was also as seemingly innocent as they come. She had dark hair and ivory skin, and she loved kissing in the shadows. And she had the pointiest canines– bright white and near razor sharp– I’ve ever seen. Except on vampires.

One night I walked with her through a dark field at the edge of a swirling ocean of a crowd gathered for a music festival. She pulled me along by the hand as she looked for shadows in the night. And when she found the darkest shadows she could find under a massive oak at the farthest edge of the field, she pushed me up against the tree and looked up at me and smiled. Mysterious, innocent, seductive. Her bright white and near razor sharp canines shone in the darkness. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled her lips to my ear. “You know I’m a vampire. Right?”

And of course I’d had the thought. You couldn’t see those teeth and not have the thought. But the rational– or maybe the cynical– part of me knew it wasn’t true. That it couldn’t be true. But there was another part of me– the part of me that felt most alive in that moment, the part that wanted mystery and danger and seduction– that part thought maybe, just maybe, it was true. And maybe that part of me– as this mysterious, innocent girl with dark hair and ivory skin and pointy canines slid her lips from my ear to my neck and sank her teeth into my flesh– maybe that part of me even hoped it was true.

And that’s how Clara Engel’s latest feels. Mysterious, innocent, seductive, but with an underlying, almost spiritual menace. It reveals itself gradually, patiently, almost imperceptibly, and pulls you in slowly, wrapping its arms around you and whispering softly in your ear. “Demons are real.”

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss is out now on cd via Paradigms Records here. Or you can grab it on cassette via Auditory Field Theory here.

And be sure to check out the Clara Engel Bandcamp site here.