By Tim Murr
The debut album by Mortals from Brooklyn, NY is a black/thrash/sludge metal-enthusiast’s dream. Cursed To See The Future hits hard and never relents across six tracks, clocking in at around 50 minutes. With brutal, pummeling rhythms, throat-shredding vocals, and unimpeachable guitar and bass work, Cursed sets a high bar for a debut.
I don’t think it should be necessary in 2014 to make a big deal about Mortals being an all female power trio that rightly earns comparisons to High On Fire and Darkthrone, but there you go. These three women—Caryn Havlik (drums), Lesley Wolf (bass/vocals), and Elizabeth Cline (guitar)—create rhythmically exciting metal that stands shoulder to shoulder with any of their contemporaries. Track 5, “Series Of Decay,” backs up that assessment nicely.
After buying this album, it’s been pretty much all I’ve listened to, and before that I’d been listening to their Death Ritual EP and Night Terror Demo. I like Mortals quite a bit and highly recommend Cursed To See The Future. It’ll be exciting to watch this band continue to evolve; they’ll certainly be one of Relapse Records MVPs. If you can catch them on tour make sure you buy them each a quadruple espresso!
Does anyone remember what an album was? Do they still call a music “release” an album anymore? Well, back in 1980, when a band released an album, you bought an album, a piece of vinyl inside a paper sleeve slipped into a cardboard sleeve. I think I might have paid about $8 for this record when it came out in 1980. I was 15 years old. A bit of background may be in order.
To call Orenda Fink’s Blue Dream meditative isn’t at all a stretch. It’s an exploration of the meaning of love, death, and spirituality, all filtered through a dreamy, gauzy haze and sung in an incredibly intimate way. Listening to Blue Dream is like walking into someone else’s slumber: a place where you’re welcome, but it’s all a bit disorienting and dark and a little eerie. It’s a captivating record.
The 1983 Canadian tax write-off known as Curtains has long been out of print, except for deplorable VHS and DVD transfers. In the 30 years since its theatrical release, it’s become an iconic cult horror film, particularly because of its uniquely chilling ice skating murder sequence. Now, Synapse Films has restored the film from its original negative and released it on Blu-Ray. So, does Curtains hold up?
The Muffs have released Whoop Dee Doo, their first album in a decade, and for one musical moment all is right with the world. Long time friends and bandmates Kim Shattuck (guitars, vocals, organ), Roy McDonald (drums, percussion), and Ronnie Barnett (bass, vocals) bring excellent musicianship and songwriting as well as a spirit of fun every time, so it’s no surprise that Whoop Dee Doo follows suit. Six albums into their career, what band hasn’t released a clunker or put a bit of filler on a couple of albums? The Muffs, that’s who. The Muffs move in, kick your ass, and move out in under four minutes.
If there were any justice in the world, Janiva Magness’s newest, Original, would be as ubiquitous as Adele’s last album. You should hear her songs pouring out of car windows, women (and men) singing along, tears in their eyes from the sheer power of it. After all, Magness has an unbelievable voice, emotive and strong, and writes personal lyrics that speak to everyone. Janiva Magness, of course, isn’t marketed that way, which is a shame. She needs to be heard by a wide audience. She’s amazing.
Though the BPMs on La Roux’s new album, Trouble In Paradise, are lower than on her surprise hit debut, it’s still the kind of record that moves you to the dance floor. After a tumultuous break (losing her voice, breaking off from her former partner in La Roux), Elly Jackson has returned with a much warmer, fun record, and it’s a very welcome one.
I have and will always be biased when Gina Carano plays the lead or has a major role in a movie. She’s always been a favorite of mine and I get super giddy whenever I watch anything she is in. When I heard about her new film In The Blood I was freaking pumped.
By Cait Brennan
New York-born, L.A.-based singer/songwriter LP is a true American survivor. With roots in the music business going back to the ’90s, LP recorded two promising albums in the early 2000s, collaborating with Cracker’s David Lowery and hit maker Linda Perry in the process. But the impossible to pigeonhole artist and her considerable charm and swagger never really fit in with the machine. Deals with labels like Island Def Jam didn’t pan out, and LP reinvented herself as a songwriter, co-writing smash hits for Rihanna (“Cheers [Drink To That]“) and Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful People”), among others.
On her second album, All Or Nothin’, Nikki Lane (with the help of producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys) lets fly with incredibly hook-filled songs about drinking, smoking pot, one night stands, and crappy ex-boyfriends. Nikki Lane is a hard one to pin down: her music easily thematically fits into the “outlaw country” camp, and her voice is a magical mix of Loretta Lynn and Dusty Springfield, and All Or Nothin’ is crazy with the steel guitar of country, but she’s not exactly country. The most striking tracks on All Or Nothin’ sound like they’re straight off of the Red Bird label, the early ’60s girl group record company founded by Leiber and Stoller.