New Music Recommendations: Black Lips, Fucked Up, Oneida and More

By Elliott Sharp
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 8, 2011

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Battles, Gloss Drop

The number of new music releases each week/month is overwhelming. This is our attempt to help you navigate the never-ending deluge.

The Black Lips
Arabia Mountain (Vice)

Atlanta troublemakers the Black Lips drop 16 of their finest nuggets on this sixth LP via Vice Records. The tunes rage with brave garage-fi fury, but producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Ghostface Killah, Robbie Williams) has polished up the grimy, oil-stained gems and made ’em shine like never before. Still hell-bound, the quartet blast straight into the whiskey-seas of rock annihilation, but the jangly guitars, joyous handclaps, sax booms and roadhouse beats sound crisper and more urgent. This is the first time they’ve worked with a producer, and it has definitely paid off.

Fucked Up
David Comes To Life (Matador)

Canada’s Fucked Up return after 2008’s crushing The Chemistry of Common Life with a full-blown, 18-tune punk opera about a guy named David. A light-bulb factory employee in England, David falls in love with an anarchist lady, with whom he plans a grand act of political revolt. She dies, he’s accused of murder, and he plunges into an epic search for meaning against the backdrop of Thatcher’s crumbling, depressing, shitty England. The compositions are built on orchestral guitars and anthemic drums, with Damian Abraham’s bark perfectly complimented by women vocal guest(s) (at one point, Madeline Follin of Cults, an N.Y.C. pop duo whose self-titled debut is also out this week). The album begins with sunny, optimistic tunes—Abraham referred to them in an interview as “twee”—and gradually, as the story unfolds, shifts into angry, hardcore, life-affirming burners.

Absolute II (Jagjaguwar)

With 2009’s Rated O , Brooklyn’s Oneida unleashed an epic, triple LP that manically darted across stylistic zones, from heady rock anthems and noise to contemplative sessions and percussion explosions. On Absolute II the train hits a brick wall, as the quintet create four 10 minute-long exercises in otherworldly austerity. With no beat to express time, the minimal drones, alien hisses, machine clicks, and static sparkles produce a feeling of timelessness and extreme unfamiliarity, like floating alone, half-dead, inside a spaceship that’s on fire with no driver behind the wheel.

Path of Totality (Relapse)

“Chaos Reigns,” proclaims Tombs’ vocalist Mike Hill to kick off this Brooklyn metal band’s sophomore release. Those who wandered through the nightmare world of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist will recognize the phrase as the one uttered by the fox who makes the statement between gnawing on the baby fox in its own womb. What follows is a lovely swamp-drag through sludgy, black metal with chunky riffs, bleak melodies, cymbal shimmers and hellish grrrrs.

Gloss Drop (Warp)

This is the band’s follow-up to 2007’s hard-hitting Warp debut, Mirrored. After the departure of multi- instrumentalist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton, the (now) trio of Ian Williams (formerly of Don Caballero), John Stanier (formerly of Helmet), and Dave Konopka have filled the vocal hole on Gloss Drop by inviting several guests, including Gary Numan (yes, the guy who sang “Cars”), Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino and the Boredom’s Yamantaka Eye. I must admit, after hearing the first single, “Ice Cream,” I was very skeptical. While funky as hell and instrumentally spectacular, it, well, um, sounded like fucking 311. Having since heard the entire record, and seen them throw down a ripping live version of “Wall Street,” my skepticism has (mostly) vanished. Though Braxton’s brilliant compositional eccentricities are sadly lacking, it’s a solid sophomore effort that finds the trio unleashing the same spiraling grooves and slamming beats that made Mirrored so compelling, while also introducing strange tropical flavors and fresh cosmic oddities.

Shabazz Palaces
Black Up (Sub Pop)

Following the release of two EPs in 2009, the much-hyped Sub Pop debut from Shabazz Palaces finally drops to tickle and delight your ears. The Seattle hip-hop project is helmed by ex-Digable Planets MC Butterfly, who has now evolved into Palaceer Lazaro. Black Up constructs an alien and oddly disjointed, lo-fi and bass-heavy world where sounds swirl, vanish and (occasionally) return. Oftentimes, it’s as if sections of a single track are happening at different spatio-temporal coordinates, not necessarily connected to those they accompany, but swooping in from across the globe, history, the galaxy. On opening track “Free Press and Curl,” a woman’s vocals spectrally shift vertically and horizontally as Lazaro spits philosophically: “I’m free to be a slave to all these things I can’t escape/ Trapped inside, imagination’s tickling at my face/ Free to chain my will onto the wings of my instinct/ And wander around this box I am inextricably linked."

New music recommendations can be found every Tuesday on PW’s music blog,

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