Tag Archives: Noise Rock

White Noise Records is a Hub for Hong Kong’s DIY Underground

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Tfvsjs

“In Western culture, it’s almost a rite of passage to rebel—to join a band, to be an artist, is generally no big deal. That’s not Hong Kong’s reality,” explains Valentine Nixon, one half of New Zealand dream-pop sister duo Purple Pilgrims. “When it comes to experimental music, there is a general sense that people really mean what they’re saying. They’re living what they’re making, because it’s so far from social norms or acceptance. This often makes the art itself feel political, even when it’s not trying to be.” Nixon is speaking from experience here. Raised between New Zealand and Hong Kong by itinerant parents, some of her formative musical moments took place in Hong Kong’s underground, a landscape worlds removed from the image-obsessed Cantonese pop of the region’s glossy mainstream.

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Album of the Day: Various Artists, “Post Now: Round One, Chicago vs. New York”

In the mid ’90s, Chicago’s Skin Graft label provided a home for a slew of noise-rock, post-no wave (dubbed “now wave”), skronky prog- and art-rock, and other musically indescribable acts. This compilation, which serves as a kind of restatement of purpose, features two songs each from a number of the label’s notable alumni (including Cheer-Accident and The Flying Luttenbachers), alongside tracks by newer, like-minded bands. The Flying Luttenbachers re-record one older song (“Demonic Velocities”) and deliver one all-new one (“Prelude To Mutation”); Cheer-Accident offer a King Crimson-gone-funk tune (“War Is A Warrior”) and a dreamy ballad (“Site”); and Cellular Chaos deliver two shrill, caterwauling pieces that keep the rock in noise-rock.

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Album of the Day: Yarrow, “A Mild Circus”

 

Yarrow are a Philadelphia punk trio, all heavy chords, mathy rhythms, and lyrics that swing from desperate to brooding, like a hyper-kinetic Shellac on a particularly-bad acid trip. (They describe themselves as “doomgaze.”) A Mild Circus is their first recording, arriving via local queerpunk juggernaut Get Better Records. The twin guitar attack of Meri Haines—also the lead guitarist and singer of equally empowering band Great Weights—and Christopher Johnson manages to remain warm and dense even without the addition of bass guitar, resulting in an ample electric shimmer; it reaches a peak on “Shyless,” where Johnson explodes into a nervy, caustic breakdown atop pummeling, In Utero-esque instrumentation: “Say goodbye to what you love, I woke up!”

A Mild Circus unfolds with five short bursts of deliberate, clearly-workshopped chaos, wrought with stark urgency. Opener “Bubble Tea” creeps in from the cosmic ether with just a few minor chords, then erupts into a lurching, looming wall of noise. Drummer Shawn Gorman’s drum patterns prove especially immersive on this track; the percussionist leans into each cymbal crash with a beginner’s abandon, a tribal sense of propulsion. On “Tambourine,” Johnson sings “I’m so sick of feeling stuck / I’m so sick of waking up,” over one of the record’s many moments of droning, loopy power. When the band finds a groove, it feels like they’ve discovered the weight of life’s challenges viscerally. In other words, this is the kind of dark dream listeners will find they don’t want to wake from either.

-Alex Smith

The Future Noise of No Wave Eccentric Von LMO

Von LMO

There’s everyday weird (say, flat-earthers), there’s rock weird (think Syd Barrett), and then there’s Von LMO. Obscure even within the context of the no wave scene with which he was vaguely associated, Von LMO (born Frankie Cavallo in 1951) is one of underground rock’s true oddballs.

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Album of the Day: Deaf Wish, “Lithium Zion”

You have to hand it to the Aussie noise rock act Deaf Wish. Founded in 2007, the quartet’s created a lasting body of top flight work that could hang at the bar with anyone on the Touch and Go, Amphetamine Reptile, or Homestead rosters, yet never lapses into eyerollingly masculine “transgression” or aimless metal noodling (both stumbling blocks of contemporary noise punk). They managed to do this while going on hiatus three or so times in 11 years. If something like Lithium Zion is the result of such actions, more bands need to take more breaks.

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Album of the Day: No Age, “Snares Like A Haircut”

Snares Like A Haircut showcases L.A. noise rock duo No Age at their most mercilessly catchy, throwing deft pop hooks at every opportunity. Their last LP—the austere An Object, hand-packed and assembled by the band itself—was released in 2013 after relentless recording and touring. After nearly a decade of going hard, the band needed some time away. Continue reading

Ten British Bands That Bring The Noise Rock

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GNOD

As far as genres go, noise rock isn’t the easiest one to define. Its practitioners tend to be more avant-garde and anti-commercial. They don’t place much value in being technically proficient; they emphasize raw power, not hi-fidelity. Noise rock is slower and meatier than punk, though not as heavy as metal. It has an industrial edge and can be darkly psychedelic. Lyrically, it’s often satirical, sardonic, irreverent, or off-kilter, even when the slurred or garbled words are buried beneath the murkiest of riffs (like those of Butthole Surfers, Melvins, The Jesus Lizard, Big Black, and Unsane).

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Album of the Day: His Electro Blue Voice, “Mental Hoop”

The Italian punk trio His Electro Blue Voice, who’ve been active for the last decade, specialize in a brilliant mix of disconcerting abrasion, propulsive rhythm, and earworm hooks, all shot through with synth accents like shining silver thread. Though they’ve put out enough (stellar) singles to warrant a compilation, Mental Hoop is only the group’s second LP. Where their debut LP, Ruthless Sperm, contained some extremely solid songs but struggled for cohesion, Mental Hoop feels like a proper album. Halved not just by physical format but by two crystalline synth baubles (“Pool Cleaner” and “Pool Cleaner II”), this is a beast of an album that was built carefully and intentionally.

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