Perhaps no one musician has contributed to the cello’s prominence and presence in the field of experimental music as Randall Holt but the name might not even be familiar to you unless you’re well versed in the Austin musical scene, the post rock landscape or other experimental/jazz circles. But the fact remains that he totes one of the finest pedigrees in the market. He collaborates or has collaborated with the likes of Thor Harris (drummer for Swans), Jonathan Horne (another of Austin’s elite of hardworking musicians, also the guitarist for The Young Mothers), Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, and Adam Rudolph, one of the most important jazz composers and percussionists in the world. In 2016, Holt was ready to foray out into the world by himself with a haunting and beautiful album titled “Inside The Kingdom of Splendor and Madness” and boy is it a ride. We’re proud to stream the full album here today to celebrate the album’s physical release, on cassette and CD, so head on over below for a taste and we’ll talk more after.
As a fan of forward-thinking music, it’s been thrilling to watch Travis Laplante grow into an essential experimental artist over the past several years. As both a saxophonist and composer, Laplante has created and contributed to some of the most exceptional releases in modern classical and avant-garde jazz. In between his incredible…
Our staff has shifted quite a bit since we posted our first aggregate AOTY list back in 2014. From refocusing our content to implementing The Brooklyn Plan™ to publishing our 2017 AOTY list, our roster of contributors has fluctuated substantially in terms of numbers and genre preferences. This ebb and flow…
Well, here we are. We made it, everyone
2017. As metal in the Internet Age continues to proliferate, its identity is in constant shift. Ideas about which genres mean what, the role of politics on music, the very fabric of the financial institutions which create the scene, all come into question as the barriers between fan, musician and business man collapse. And yet, despite of what alarmists might say to the contrary, great music is still being made across a wide variety of genres, inside and outside of the metal strata. That’s why these mid year lists are important; they allow us to more carefully consider the lighthouse releases thus far released during the year and the trends which they signify. When making this list, we attempted to consider truly stand out albums, which have something interesting to say about their respective genres, the artists themselves and the interplay therein. Thus, your mileage may vary. The idea of this list is not to be definitive or exhaustive. Indeed, such an effort would be inherently doomed to fail. Instead, this list attempts to present a facet into the trends running through our community as they manifest inside the Heavy Blog staff’s “collective taste”. As you read it, consider your own relationship to the insane amount of music and the ways in which you filter it. Perhaps we can offer our own alternative viewpoint.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
It’s been a long road, but the sax is back, baby. For years the instrument, once employed lavishly upon all sorts of classic and progressive rock tracks through the 60s and 70s, became a revolting cliche and symbol of rock excess, softness, and melodrama. And, frankly, given how the instrument became abused and synonymous with the type of smooth jazz playing that would coat pop and rock ballads through the 80s into 90s with a sonic perfume strong enough to make you gag, it’s not surprising that it fell out of style. In many ways it went hand-in-hand with the back-to-basics mentality that ran through the punk, DIY, grunge, indie, and (to a different extent) metal movements of the 80s through the 90s and well into the turn of the century. Since then, though, the pendulum has slowly but steadily moved back into the other direction, and more bands and listeners view the sax and other woodwinds as viable and enticing flourishes or even centerpieces to give their music either a certain distinction or whiff of nostalgia. And though metal has perhaps resisted incorporating the instrument for longer than most other genres, there is now an utter wealth of examples of artists and bands using the instrument to (mostly) good effect, particularly in the more progressive black, death, and doom spheres, where bands like Wrvth, Aenaon, Dreadnought, and, of course, SHINING – Jorgen Munkeby probably more than anyone has made the idea of sax-heavy metal sound forward-thinking and “cool” – are releasing high-quality work that makes use of the instrument in a whole wide range of ways.
“What?!” I hear you ask, “Two episodes?! A finale? What the hell?” Well, unfortunately, the time has come to wrap up Heavy Vanguard. Scott and I were planning on putting the series on hiatus due to some upcoming life events, but I’ve also decided to leave the Heavy Blog staff, and…
Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place between playlist updates. We randomly select two of the participants from each update, have them pick their favorite track from each of the nine albums in their grid and then send the list over to the other person to listen to and comment on. Within these commentaries occurs praise, criticism and discovery, and we hope that you experience a few instances of this last point as well. This week’s post has staff writer Matt MacLennan face off against senior editor Nick Cusworth.
Man, 2017, y’all. We realize that it’s kind of our m.o. to be proponents of the whole “Golden Age of Metal” narrative and be incredibly positive about the consistently great level of stuff that is being put out from pretty much every part of the musical spectrum, but it’s such an easy thing to do when we are so constantly bombarded with new material that utterly consumes our attention. Even in months where one of us might not have as many new albums that really impressed them, without doubt there will be another one who could barely keep up because of all the superb releases from genres they pay close attention to. This April has certainly been no different in that regard, and we have a whole slew of top-notch albums to recommend to you all.