Here’s some recent records I like.
Enslaved Below the Lights (Osmose/The End)
Enslaved are making the kind of music I want to hear. For every stinging whirlwind of blasting black/viking metal (of the highest quality, mind) there’s passages of pounding Hawkwind space ritual rock, twee flute gymnastics, and classic Ride the Lightning HM breaks. Oh, yeah, and some of the sickest time-signature twisting riffage ever. It’s heavy, musical, dark, unpredictable…all things good. There’s some brilliant minds at work underneath those pointy horned helmets. Album of the year?
Colour Haze Los Sounds de Krauts (Elektrohasch)
This German trio sounds like a cross between Kyuss and Santana. I don’t mean they inject latin elements into typical stoner rock. I mean they take Sky Valley-type jams and expand upon them, stretching out over long pieces that need 2 CDs to contain them. They must have great ears to be able to pull this stuff off, to listen to each other and get such subtle dynamics happening. The music flows so easily you don’t notice that 15 minutes has gone by. There’s also a brilliant 3-minute hit single called “2 + 7.” It’s (it was) the feelgood hit of the summer. I want to make a video for it using old footage of slot car racing. The cover art is done with felt pens and is super cool.
The Darkness Permission to Land (Atlantic)
Gotta get on this while I can, because The Darkness aren’t going to get any better than this, their debut album. It’s a great album, though, so it should have staying power well after the band disappears. The Darkness basically channel everything 70s and stadium-rocking into cock rock for the new millennium. I want to compare this album with The Cult’s Electric, but Permission to Land isn’t quite so calculated and monochrome. One minute they sound like Whitesnake, the next they sound like Queen (one of those ignored Queen tracks relegated to the middle of side 2…possibly written by John Deacon); sometimes they remind me of Diamond Head. There’s guitar solos and the vocalist’s falsetto sounds like he’s dipping his tackle in ice water. They may be taking the piss and just playing dressup, but I’ve removed the batteries from my irony detector in this instance. It’s all pretty keen, so much so that I’ll forgive them for blatantly ripping off the riff from Urge Overkill’s “Sister Havana” early in the album. I’ve ripped off that riff a couple times myself.
Do Make Say Think Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead (Constellation)
Lonely guitars, scattered drums, loops and other sound manipulation, all recorded in a barn, hopefully with government money. This is up there with the major players of post-rock like Tortoise and Gastr del Sol. I like that it’s not completely obtuse; it’s very approachable in fact. A lot of gung-ho spirit shines though all the art damage. And there’s the odd moment where the saxophone surges forward and it sounds, god help me, just like Van der Graaf Generator. You’ve got no idea how much I want to make music that sounds like this. I want to package music like this, too. Constellation puts out nice stuff. It blows me away that I can go to Scratch and take home such a beautiful object for just 15 bucks.