Screaming Females - All At Once

This indie-rock band from New Brunswick embarks on their seventh full-length release with a sound that captures elements of alternative music from decades past while still delivering an album that feels new. The band has put together a compilation of fifteen tracks that clock in at around fifty minutes. Though a lengthier album by today’s standards, the mix of shorter and longer tracks are positioned well and the album doesn’t feel drawn out.

This record opens with the haunting “Glass House,” a song that is strong and dramatic. The vocals take turns with the amplification of the guitar and drums – a back and forth that is sure to capture attention. This repertoire highlights the nature of the tempestuous themes on the record, and the format of this opening track sets the stage for the rest of the album’s lyrical content. The track ends abruptly with the vocalist’s voice, seeming to declare that she has the last word in the matters discussed lyrically.

“I’ll Make You Sorry” has an infectious hook with a guitar that reeled me in. The overall sound is reminiscent of Sonic Youth and sounds like it could have been released in the late ‘80s.

“Dirt” is characterized by its cynical lyrics which go well with its dreary sound. The vocals are more monotonous on this track, but it feels appropriate for the subject-matter. The lyrics are about someone’s words essentially being dirt, and the short length of this song suggests that the vocalist has nothing left to say to whomever it is dedicated.

There are a few forgettable tracks on this album, but some redeem themselves by picking up some interesting qualities later in their run-times. ”Soft-domination” starts out rather bland but has a quiet-yet-concentrated instrumental between the bridge and final verse that breaks the repetitiveness of the song. “End Of My Bloodline” also has an issue with repetitive lyrics but its tone sets it apart from the others and makes it rather memorable.

“Agnes Martin” is worth nothing because of its nod to early ‘90s alternative music. At times, the layered guitars paired with the bass remind me of Siamese-Dream era Smashing Pumpkins, known for the heavy-handed albeit wonderfully crafted guitar-work. I felt the Siamese Dream influence again in the closing track, “Step Outside,” which starts out with a shining lengthy instrumental, leading the listener to believe the album might just close without another note of Marissa’s voice. Just before mid-point, however, the vocals enter and Marissa’s delivery is nothing short of a pleasing closing to the album.

While there are some songs that feel like filler, there’s enough variation between tracks that the full-effort doesn’t get tired and lost along the listening experience. There is a visit to alternative music of a couple of decades ago on this record, but lyrical themes like those on “Glass House” (possibly a commentary on the transparency of our lives via social media) remind listeners that this album is, in fact, a record of the present-day.

You can listen to Screaming Females’ new album ‘All At Once” on Spotify and Apple Music. And check out Screaming Females at their website.

Preoccupations - New Material

For the plurality of post-punk disciples, there came the point where standard punk was not enough. Evidently, prowling the stage with a maddened gait proved too primal for the defiant artsy youth; gazing at these tuneful manics from the sweaty pit undoubtedly yields the same displeasure. In the canon of the underground, the ancillary role of “post-anything” scans as either rogue minds acting against the monotony of a genre’s present state or a tangible footnote of musical structure that evolves through a span of time. Through countless case studies of bands-trailblazing-some-cool-but-new-shit triumphs, it’s clear these endeavors demand a dash of determination quite unlike the focus wielded by bands trapped in the mold. Fast forward thirty years in the wake of post-punk’s reinvestment in rock’s more sensible values—you might find yourself swarmed by concurrent trends, namely the stain of indie rock in the aspirations of any budding star with an aversion to stadium venues and studio polish.

Some bands are naturals in attaining the wit and lore of their forebears. The labyrinthine narrative behind Calgary four-piece Preoccupations hashes out the tragedies, contentions, and sonic dismalness of post-punk’s murky depths in six years’ time, all the while churning out indie’s most consuming arrangements in recent memory. Rising from the vestiges of Women, arguably Alberta’s most dexterous contribution to noise rock, the ensemble minus late guitarist Chris Reimer christened themselves as Viet Cong, and issued their self-titled debut, a bristling and seismic collection of low-end rock. The outpouring of acclaim and exposure halted upon skepticism of the band’s moniker, leading to digital think pieces and canceled shows that necessitated some form of action. In late 2015, Viet Cong announced yet another rebranding, this time denoting themselves as Preoccupations, and released their sophomore, again self-titled, effort. Their examinations grew more dismal and reflective of industrial influences like Clock DVA and Leather Nun. With much of their chronology straddling a state of limbo, when do Preoccupations begin to settle down?

Behold the plainly-titled New Material, a fusion between Viet Cong’s primeval embrace of strength and Preoccupations’ expanding electronic palette. The assembly of entices within the eight stringy tracks are formidable enough to render New Material a post-punk record upon first listen, but a cobweb of interlinked movements for studious listeners. It all emerges forth with the tinny percussive slaps that kick off jumpy opener “Espionage,” only to devolve and discolor as the band trudges onward through scorched soundscapes. Frontman Matt Flegel croons of “change [as] everything,” in a mesmeric pattern as if it’s an exercise for assurance or a broader lesson to anyone eavesdropping; abiding by the feckless piss-take that is post-punk songwriting, it’s only reasonable Fiegel insists that change is “nowhere to be found.”

Most notably, New Material showcases some of Preoccupations’ (and former incarnations) most gratifying melodies, whether its sparkle permeates the cloudy environs or nuzzles languidly into the haze. The team effort elegance of “Disarray” speaks the exact opposite, meshing Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen’s sleek guitars with Michael Wallace’s billowing drum pulse. On the crunchier side of things, “Solace” mines Flegel’s raspy vox juxtaposed between clashing keyboard lines. Curiously enough, these offerings comprise the few skippier numbers of New Material, the rest of which knuckling down on swirling or slothful experimental pieces. Waves of ethereal reverb crest in the keyboard dirge of “Doubt,” without much in the scope of discernible intentions. There’s no exhaustive sway to either faction—New Material is an extensive foray into the serene powers of post-punk, even encroaching upon the visceral grace of coldwave with “Antidote”‘s nightclub downer pitting Grace Jones against Asylum Party in a deathmatch.

To designate New Material as the potential breakthrough Preoccupations deserve (but most likely will evade) is a sort of a piecemeal stretch, although there are contenders for melodies that will extend their influence beyond prior parameters. These instances of clarity are somewhat double-edged in a sense that Preoccupations emanated from the darksome reaches of indie rock and could potentially benefit from remaining in such shadowiness. A distant cousin of this disposition, last month’s Room Inside the World from Ought equally endorses a change in strategy for the sardonic backers of contemporary post-punk. New Material may signal Preoccupations’ precipice into conventional tunesmith without the bleary-eyed padding of yesteryear nipping at their tendencies; for others, these eight tracks are a routine business for a band who takes their job with an existential frame of mind.

You can listen Preoccupations’ new album ‘New Material’ on Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube. And check out Preoccupations on Bandcamp and their website.

That Good Good

That Good Good djs

Introduce yourselves (name, year, major, fun fact, etc.):

Hey I’m Gianni Pinneri, I’m a junior Computer Science and Engineering major. While music is one of my greatest passions, I also love cooking, working out/running, and I’m a huge car enthusiast. I like to go fast and I’m also 6’5” tall and very blessed.

Hola, mi nombre es Adrián González y me gusta chupar los dedos de los pies. They call me EE daddi Suedrian because I’m studying Electrical Engineering. I’m a year removed from getting out of this school with a degree (hopefully) and starting my life as a young professional.

What is the name of your show and how did you come up with it?

(Gianni): If I remember correctly, I was thinking about how people always refer to marijuana as “Perp-skerp” or like “Loud-loud” or “good-good,” and when I was thinking of good names for a radio show “That Good Good” really stuck out to me. I initially wanted to see if I could get some kind of sponsorship from a local marijuana dispensary, but I don’t know if that’s allowed.

(Adrian): Gianni described it perfectly. I wanted to call the show “The Simp Hour” cause I mainly listen to R&B but Gianni was not too fond of the name. That name wouldn’t fit anyways. We play too many quality genres to put ourselves in a simp bubble.

Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to?

(Gianni): Although I try to consistently find new music to listen to from new-to-me artists, as well as local artists, I find myself constantly coming back to a few artists that are, I guess what you could call, my musical “comfort zones.” I always come back to the stuff grew up with like Electric Light Orchestra 70s art-rock , My Chemical Romance mid-2000’s emo, Outkast 90’s hip-hop and UGK gangsta rap. These days I listen to a lot of contemporary hip-hop artists like Young Thug, Future, Denzel Curry, and Travis Scott. I also listen to a lot of indie/alternative bands like Beach House, Animal Collective, Ariel Pink, Blood Orange, Deerhunter, and Tennis. I’m always looking for new music though; even just yesterday I discovered a new Electro DJ Duo by the name of Polo & Pan, they’re amazing. Go check them out.

(Adrian): Honestly I only listen to Anderson .Paak. Gianni chooses every song that is not Anderson .Paak on our show.

What is your favorite music memory (show, festival, etc.)?

 (Gianni): My absolute favorite memory with music was seeing Death Grips when I was 18 and it being my literal first real concert. I distinctly remember screaming the lyrics to “Lock Your Doors” and locking-in eye-contact with MC Ride, him noticing I knew all of the words, and him waving his arm in unison to mine specifically. After that I got so hype that I almost ripped my shirt off; I was only able to rip it off half-way.

(Adrian): Childish Gambino’s PHAROS event was unreal. It was Las Vegas Fremont Street meets Sci-fi on hallucinogens and they make a baby while listening to Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. I really hope this is the future of concerts.

What can we expect from That Good Good this semester?

 (Gianni): This semester from That Good Good you can expect more of that Good Good. We want to consistently introduce new music to people in a cohesive, easy-to-swallow, and good sounding organizational style. Despite our show technically being a hip-hop show, we think it’s important to venture out and introduce new genres, artists, and sounds that aren’t necessarily hip-hop based, but would go nicely when paired with certain hip-hop sounds, in order to try to get our listeners to venture out and enjoy new artists, genres, styles, and sounds.

(Adrian): Although we have varying, unique themes throughout the shows, a recurring theme continues to be the comparison between past and present artists. Inspiration is key to making any sort of art, and music is no exception; it’s important to see where some of our favorite contemporary sounds have grown from, and to understand the impact of older artists. We hope to continue shortening the gap between old and new in order to gain a further appreciation of our favorite bops.

You can listen to DJ Suedrian & Versace Hottie on That Good Good Wednesdays 8-9 PM PT on wolfpackradio.org