Boyfrndz ‘Impulse’


Impulse, the latest from Austin’s Boyfrndz, starts with a hyper-melodic riff and vocal punch that immediately pulled me in for a wholly absorbing psych-tinged, prog-metal ride, which surprises the fuck out of me because I don’t usually go in for prog (and I pretty much can’t fucking stand The Mars Volta, a likely critical touchstone for folks talking about this album).

But then, I am a huge fucking Queensryche fan, and though members of Boyfrndz might tell me to piss off for making the comparison, I honestly don’t think you have to travel too far down the prog-metal road to get from here to here. Or here. (And don’t get me wrong, I mean this as a compliment. And I’m not talking about stadium-sized, “Silent Lucidity”-era soft-Ryche, I’m talking about Warning and Rage for Order Ryche ‘n’ Roll.)

Anyway, the Ryche is a bit more metal and bit less, say, Radiohead, in its prog leanings, but I’m guessing members of Queensryche and Boyfrndz have worn out the same Pink Floyd albums. And both bands have a knack for melody and not getting so lost in the technical side of things that they forget to keep shit catchy. Between that and having successfully brought together myriad influences, beyond prog, to create a unique sound– and an epic, emotional album– Boyfrndz perhaps transcend the limits of a Queensryche comparison. But even if they didn’t, that’d be okay, ’cause I don’t give a fuck what you say– the Ryche rules.

Impulse is out now via Brutal Panda Records. Check it out here. Or grab a copy from the Boyfrndz Bandcamp site here.

Verdun ‘The Eternal Drift’s Canticles’



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’


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’


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.