I’ve Listened to These Recently…

…in both sorrow and elation as my computer was stolen therefore giving me an excuse to buy a nice, new powerhouse machine.

Artist: June Panic

Album: Horror Vacui

Format: MP3

June Panic (his legal name) has the trophy of being the first artist signed to Secretly Canadian records way back in 1996, the year I graduated high school. Unfortunately I wasn’t hip enough to know about him then but have since learned from my mistakes and now call Mr. Panic one of the most underrated songwriters of our time. Sure, his voice is pure nasal, his tempo slow, and his subject matter nothing new, but it is not these that should be focused on; his ability for observation and mental images conjure things more important and deeper than anyone looking at the calm surface could ever begin to know about. Standouts include “Don’t Let Them Fool You” and “David Poe” (later re-recorded in 3/4 for the Raise the Canopy Wire EP on Southern Records).

Artist: Pink Floyd

Album: Dark Side of the Moon

Format: LP

Maybe it is a subconscious revisiting of my teenage years, where I would drive for miles and miles in the country listening to this countless times (always fast-forwarding through “Money”), or a simple appreciation for a well-known masterpiece, Dark Side of the Moon remains poignant and beautiful to this day. You know the album, you know the story, you know the trick with The Wizard of Oz, and you know how powerful something of this magnitude can be. My only word of advice: go out and get the 30th anniversary edition for two reasons:

  • Digitally remastered and pressed on fat vinyl. Yum.
  • The inclusion of three sweet Floyd posters and two white trash stickers to decorate your life as if you still live in the den of your parents’ house…yes, the ones who just don’t get how you can be so happy working in a grocery store and spending all of your time at the Sno Cone stand in front of the arcade all summer.

Artist: Antony and the Johnsons

Album: The Crying Light

Format: LP

Maybe it’s just the rhythm of the Earth, but the rise of crossdressing/transexual singer/songwriters in the last few years is dumbfounding. A general acceptance? Perhaps. New voices to evoke a new sadness and despair? Most likely. Along with Baby Dee, Antony has found his voice with a piano and a beautifully written song. Where Antony veers, though, is less sideroad trickery and creepiness and full frontal dread. As his voice vibratos with plucking strings mimicking falling tears in the opener “Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground” one cannot but help sighing and take in the surroundings so as to question every goddamn thing and its place here. A search for meaning will surely follow and the resolve that comes about is nothing short of astounding. This is what eternal life sounds like.

Artist: Fever Ray

Album: Fever Ray

Format: LP

As one half of The Knife, Sweden’s Karin Dreijer Andersson has set out on her own, temporarily, to…er, well come out with what sounds like the next Knife album. Both dense and open, Fever Ray feels like nine inches of snow falling all at once. Track after track of effected vocals evokes asexuality and command; couple that with some of the best minimalist electronic beats put on wax and you have yourself a party-stopper, unless the party is just yourself. Then it’s a goddamn firestarter. “When I grow up/I wanna be a forester/Run through the moss/With high heels”. Yes, deal.

Artist: Absu

Album: Absu

Format: LP

Black metal is gaining ground…again. Sure, history repeats itself and music is not immune to the cycle, but wow, even the old guys are getting back together. Absu remained in the underground for the majority of the nineties; that is not to say that they didn’t come out with quality stuff (check out The Storm of Cythraul), it is merely that everyone thought they were through. Rising from the dead with guitars and hate in hand, Absu vomits out the best black metal heard in quite a while (at least since last year’s Sworn to the Dark by Swedish hell-bringers Watain). Almost catchy at times (both “Between The Absu Of Fridu And Erech” and “Amy” seem radio-ready to a guy that doesn’t listen to the radio) Absu is not at all a return to form but a return to progression, something that is too often overlooked in the metal landscape.

Bonus:

Just try to absorb this clip from Richard Pryor’s ill-fated sketch show from the seventies. Note: both “black” and “death” metal were not terms nor genres in 1977. Also unheard of are their Sunn O))) cloaks and corpsepaint (save for KISS, who deserve never to be mentioned again, ever). Richard Pryor as the new godfather of modern metal? You decide:

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