Glassjaw – Material Control

Glassjaw has never really died. They’re like a phoenix, if said mythical flaming bird also suffered from an incredibly hectic demeanor and a haphazard attitude towards its own existence. Ever since kicking off the underground music scene of the early 00’s, Glassjaw continued to treat their career and musical progression like they did their by-now legendary live shows. Arms flailing, music appearing and then disappearing for undefined periods of time, submerged in the rumors of hiatus and demise only to resurface from time to time with a voice of thunder, Glassjaw has spent the last fifteen years basically being a nightmare for all but the most die hard of fans. But to be honest with you, it was worth it. It was worth having that name in the periphery of the scene but also, somehow, at its center, waiting for a reconciliation, for Glassjaw and the rumor of Glassjaw. It was worth it because, at the end of the process, we got Material Control.

Circa Survive – The Amulet

Some bands hang around for a long time, producing similar but slight variations over a many year period, tweaking a tried and true format just a little with each new record. Others strive to create larger shifts in their sound over time to mixed results. There’s a certain amount of…

Street Sects – Rat Jacket

We’ve already vilified ourselves for missing Street Sects’s 2016 monster End Position, and if you haven’t heard it either, feel free to go spin the record now and share in our shame. The duo of multi-instrumentalist Shaun Ringsmuth and vocalist Leo Ashline came through with an exceptional dose of hyper-aggressive synth punk on End Position, making a bold statement in a genre defined by intensifying punk and its offshoots’ many disparate mannerisms. Not only was the album a debut that far exceeded the benchmark for a successful freshman full-length, it received well-deserved praise from the fickle beast that is the indie blogosphere. Perhaps the album’s success can be attributed to endorsement of well-respected “dark music” label The Flenser, or it could be due to the growing acceptance of heavy music as part of “normal” music consumption. However, there’s one undisputed factor for End Positions’s success, being the album’s undeniably impressive blend of industrial music and hardcore punk in a way that synth punk hasn’t seen done this well before. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this record, stop reading and go listen to it now; I won’t be offended, I promise.

Hey! Listen to Part Chimp!

Comeback albums are in vogue this year, especially for rock music and its offshoots. At the Drive-In, Gorillaz and nearly every major shoegaze pioneer (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, Slowdive, etc.) have all resurfaced for returns-to-form or late-career flops, depending on whom you ask. The fact many of these bands had been laid to rest for decades certainly contributed to disappointment among some fans, as did the heightened expectations created by their pre-breakup classics. Part Chimp bucks the drawbacks of all these metrics with their hiatus-smashing record Iv, which provides and incredible delivery of the band’s signature blend of sludge-ridden noise rock and stoner metal. The band’s comfortable position in the underground and relatively short hiatus—they disbanded in 2011 and reunited last year—has allowed Iv to feel less like a comeback album and more like a reunion with a beloved friend, where good memories come flooding back and it feels as though everything is still in its right place.

Hey! Listen To Art Far Away!

Just because you’ve never heard of them doesn’t mean Art Far Away didn’t release one of the best debut records to come out in recent times, and also one of the best albums you’re likely to hear from any band at any stage of their career. The sound of 2014’s Verisimilitude & The Second Estate is tough to pin down. Art Far Away are certainly a progressive act, and it’s certainly a progressive record. Yet it’s equally certain that the Swedish five-piece don’t fit the traditional “progressive” metal mold.