Alex Delivery is comprised of members from former Eastern Bloc nations and Korea, so the harsh realities of totalitarian communism arenâ€™t just a trendy design concept to them (even if they all met in art school), itâ€™s a way of life. You can tell on Komad, which starts like the cast of Stomp lost one of their own and decided to throw him a New Orleans-style funeral march. Then, it keeps goingâ€¦ Itâ€™s borderline infuriating if youâ€™re not in the right mindset for 10 minutes of dissonance, but if you allow yourself to get into Alex Deliveryâ€™s dystopian groove, you might just stomp along with them.
Remember laser-rock shows? They were all the rage back in the late 80s, early 90s. They’d usually take place at planetariums: you’d kick back in these theater chairs staring at the ceiling while Pink Floyd blasted over the PA. A tripped out laser-light display flashed overhead. It was a drug-free trip for the straight-edge set. Stoners took advantage of the chance at doubling their fun. One listen to The Besnard Lakes and you’ll be wishing someone would light up a laser show in your neighborhood, tonight! This husband/wife led six-piece play big, epic, classic rock slowed down and spruced up with all manner of atmospherics. Their second record, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, will fill your head with skull-swelling psychedelia. The band reminds me a lot of Low, if, instead of stripping down their songs to bare-bone affairs, they turned it up to eleven and invited Roger Waters to the party.
We usually save our announcements for the Junk Drawer, but today is a momentous day of sorts here at the Hive. It was two years ago that our very first posting went live. Although we contributors are more likely to get excited about the birthday cake than the party, we thought we’d celebrate in our own way by bringing you a two-fer and saying thanks for checking out what we’re listening to these days. Speaking of which…
It doesn’t take long to lock a visual on the meaning behind the name of Black Mountain guy Stephen McBean’s side project, and as titillating or offensive as you might find it, the name thankfully ain’t all she wrote. McBean is a maverick one-man-band who falls somewhere along the continuum between Eels, Nine Inch Nails, Nick Drake, Self, and that dude from 13th Floor Elevators. That’s a pretty disparate list, and it still doesn’t do much to describe how Pink Mountaintops mixes bawdy lyrics with Casio-tized death metal, sweet noir balladeering, and even singer-songwriter affectation. He’s an enigma, in case you didn’t get that from the poster at the label website, and like all good enigmas, you won’t want to stop listening even if you can.
Black Mountain, unlike Pink Mountaintops, is not Stephen McBean’s band alone, but that doesn’t stop it from having McBean’s self-consciously unself-conscious swagger. If you close your eyes and think hard enough, you can imagine that Black Mountain is what would have happened if Ozzie had never left Black Sabbath. But if you keep your eyes â€“ rather, your ears â€“ opened, you’ll hear something that has the telltale signs of ’70s accidental arena rock but that also carves out a niche for itself as the soundtrack for headbangers and spliff tokers of a different decade.
Parts & Labor is a Brooklyn trio that makes some noise — some very noisy noise. Donâ€™t let that deter you if it ainâ€™t your thing, because the way all that noise is organized on â€œA Great Divide,â€ well, itâ€™s darn near rapturous. Screaming guitars, drums pulsating like helicopter blades, vocals shouted through a bullhorn, bleeps and burps and explosions like a Radio Shack under siege — and it all comes together like there’s a riot in your headphones and everyoneâ€™s invited!
A few months ago, The New York Times compared Okkervil River to The Decemberists, noting that both bands compose literate, obscure indie-pop songs for small-but-growing audiences. At least I think that’s what the article was about. I don’t really remember. Anyway, the songs I donwloaded back then have been sitting around on my computer, aging like a decent bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, so please let me say, “Drink away!” Start with the mellow intensity of “A Favor,” check out the pop legs of “Black,” or dive right into “For Real,” off their recently released Black Sheep Boy. For more hits at the bottle, so to speak, check out the half dozen other tracks available at the Okkervil River homepage (and please excuse my oenophilic tendencies).
Spokane slow things down to reveal the fragile melody and uncomfortable detail of people trying to get along.
Rich orchestral pop with affected and infectious vocals ressembling a cross between Mark E. Smith and Rik Ocasek.