Even a cursory glance of our biweekly playlist updates 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, where two of our contributors 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 brought Pete Williams and Jordan Jerabek together to peruse each other’s tastes:
Jordan’s Grid & Pete’s Comments
Anciients – “Overthrone” (Heart of Oak)
Kicking off the playlist is something I find nearly undefinable in terms of genre. There’s obviously some great psychedelic desert rock happening here, but it’s got an edge to it that you wouldn’t expect. Psychedelic desert-core. I just coined it. You heard it here first, and I will go down in the annals of history as the champion of a new sound.
But with a sound like that, you can just see the Mad Max doom mobiles emerging from a wall of dust. Especially once the vocals get a little dirtier combined with the twin guitar melodies and super tasty fuzzy solo. This has to be the band that the Doof Warrior from Fury Road went on to create. It just has that feeling to me.
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Animal Collective – “Daily Routine” (Merriweather Post Pavillion)
Having only done two playlist swaps, I don’t care for the pattern of making Pete listen to Animal Collective. Not that I don’t like Animal Collective, but it’s just one of those bands you have to be in a state of mind to listen to. I actually really like some of their stuff like “Peacebone,” “For Reverend Green,” and “Brother Sport.” Other songs of theirs just sound like random digital noise to me that’s loosely held together by some audio theme, like a certain rhythm section or the vocals.
Still, it’s interesting to hear how they can keep all of this together. Despite the very loose nature of Animal Collective compositions, there’s some glue here holding it together. At times it seems like it’s held together simply because it’s a single track recorded in a studio. That’s certainly the case once the song breaks down after the 2:35 mark. It can seem like a test of endurance to just see if you can make it through the album or track. I still think it’s remarkable how they make this music. Like where do you even begin with this stuff? It just boggles my mind.
Antisoph – “Teleport Maze” (Antisoph)
Alright, this is super cool. I very rarely listen to mathier stuff like this which is weird since it’s so incredibly fascinating to listen to from a sheer composition perspective. The time changes and the riffing work well together in odd ways. My first thought after listening to it the first time was that this is what American Football would sound like if they were more hardcore and a little less emo. They do a lot of similar things especially with playing chords and riffing within the progression. Super cool stuff. I had to know more.
Come to find out Antisoph thinks of itself as a black metal band. Granted I haven’t really sat down with the rest of the album, but based on this single alone I don’t know how they reached that conclusion. Sure, Pete, don’t judge a book by its cover. Still, if you’re going to give yourself the label, then you need to kind of fit in with the group. That’s not a knock against them at all. I’ll definitely be looking into this to prove I’m wrong, and you can call yourselves whatever you want. Makes absolutely no difference to me, would math again.
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Cinemechanica – “Hang Up The Spurs” (Cinemechanica)
This song fits right into a guilty pleasure sort of thing for me. It sounds like Mega Man music. It’s very rhythmic and choppy and bombastic. Time to take down another Robot Master! This is just more reason why I need to listen to more math rock and metal. It can be incredibly challenging music to listen to and try to deconstruct, but it’s also super fun. I can only imagine how insanely fun it was to put this song together and start playing it live.
I grew up playing guitar, and still do when I can find the time, so I always gravitate to that part of the music and try to figure it out. But it’s the drums that really shine to me. Keeping the beat in this song while playing the syncopated rhythms has got to be either a fun puzzle to figure out or a test of sheer determination. I’ll never understand how that kind of coordination works, even after watching the video of Cinemechanica playing it live.
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Hot Snakes – “Death Camp Fantasy” (Jericho Sirens)
Really great throwback feel. Hot Snakes reminds me of the indie movement of the late 90s and early 00s. Bands like the Strokes or, more accurately, the Hives. Technically you could call it hardcore but it doesn’t really have that distinct sound. Hot Snakes doesn’t have that big tone that hardcore bands do, nor do they necessarily have the bombast of other hardcore bands. They play brighter guitars and have a kind of garage rock sound by design.
And despite being a kind of hardcore band, they still have a great driving beat. Like literally for driving. When I get a song stuck in my head, I always build up a little scene around it. I imagine some dudes in convertibles with the tops down racing each other to the beach. It has that kind of feel to the song. Of course, the song is also called “Death Camp Fantasy” and it’s about being brainwashed and analyzed. But still, hunky dudes going to the beach with surfboards. I will die on that hill, and I’m fine with it.
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Ion – “III, IV” (A Path Unknown)
Oh boy, now we’re getting real. This is the business we’ve chosen! Spacey as heck epic black metal tunes! The kind your mother warned you about! I really do love these kinds of progressive black metal tracks since they frequently toy with a number of different varieties of the genre in a single track. This one starts with atmospheric black, transitions into some great second wave BM, followed by a section of some serious dissonant stuff. The entire track transitions between sections of those along with some other stuff. I hadn’t heard of this band until Jordan sent me his playlist then badgered me to go see them when they arrived in Denver. I didn’t, so EAT IT, JORDAN. YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY REAL DAD.
Actually, that’s my fault. I should’ve done that. Dammit.
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Jo Passed – “Millennial Trash Blues” (Their Prime)
Alright, who brought Syd Barrett back for a post-punk album? Jordan, did you have something to do with this? He’s such a little scamp, always bringing back dead rock stars to make new music. What a card! Much like Hot Snakes, this reminds me of some indie songwriters from the early 00s into 10s. It fits in a similar vein to Courtney Barnett.
Stuff like this has that slinky guitar tone I love. You can hear it in the chorus. It’s just like little guitar riff lines over the chorus chord progression that gives it a little off-kilter nature. It’s nothing too big to draw your attention away from the song as a whole, but it’s a little extra something to keep your attention. If there was nothing there but the chords, it would feel like something is missing. It’s the little things, you know.
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Noisem – “Rotten Remains” (Agony Defined)
Before I get into the random shower thought this track gave me, let’s just talk about how great and chaotic it is. There’s a clear organization to it, but there’s this total war aspect to it. Slamming and crashing drums, crazy guitar solos and riffing, and great aggressive vocals that are clean enough to hear the lyrics but just a dash of dirt so you’re not confused about what kind of music you’re listening to.
It’s this kind of track that brings up a great thought for me as Noisem appears to be another band that dabbles in several different subgenres but doesn’t distinctly sound like any of them. They almost sound like Expulsion with something of a throwback grind sound, but it’s not quite grind to me. They seem to be associated with a lot of death metal bands on the various media streaming platforms, but they don’t quite have the songwriting and performing focus of a death metal band. They live in a very niche area that really intrigues me more. Not to say it’s generic or something like that, but it’s almost undefinable. Either way, it’s great stuff.
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Respire – “Shiver” (Dénouement)
Rounding out the list with a little blackgaze. Or post-black. This is kind of a difficult band to define on this front. It makes me think of Godspeed You! Black Emperor with more extreme metal influences. I could only imagine the show this crew could put on. Sure, you’ve got the extreme black intro and structure, but there’s an excellent orchestral section in the middle that really dramatizes the track. It’s hard to say no to something with a tasteful string interlude.
I really love doing these playlist swaps, especially with folks whose taste I’m less familiar with. Jordan and I have Facebook-bonded over our shared love of Americana and alt-country and had a particularly rousing discussion about “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys (hell of a video). But the better part is being introduced to things like Respire or some of the other mathy kinds of music that are up my alley but I never really look into. All in all, this list wasn’t nearly as torturous to get through as my worst fears would have said. Respire was a particularly great treat at the end. I’ll be looking into this further, too. Thanks, Jordan!
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Pete’s Grid & Jordan’s Comments
Deafheaven – “Glint” (Ordinary Corrupt Human Love)
Without getting into any value judgments, the latest Deafheaven record as a whole is just not what I expected. I need to spend more time with it, period. This song, though, is one of my favorite cuts from the album. “Glint” is (delectable) bread and butter Deafheaven with nice little twists of these almost withdrawn, muted vibes. The intro is in line with their signature cinematic slow-mo pans, but adds a darker and more downtrodden feel. Though they aren’t bearing their teeth with as much aggressive and explosive riffing as they did on the majority of New Bermuda, the passion here is nonetheless vivid, albeit a little wrapped up in something I can’t quite put my finger on. “Glint” moves along a little smoother, quieter, and less dramatic than I’m accustomed to hearing from these guys, I guess. Plus, I’m an absolute fucking sucker for Kerry McCoy’s emotive leads, so of course he seals the deal on this one for me.
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Black Fast – “Silhouette Usurper” (Spectre of Ruin)
For whatever reason, this is a band’s always escaped my ears. Oops. Going into this, I feel like it’s easy to know a couple things about these dudes from their name alone. Lo and behold, they’re blackened thrash, and I’m confident guys get a trillion Skeletonwitch comparisons. Fortunately, I love the ‘Witch, and this is right up my alley. Because of this comparison, I feel like the vocals lack the charisma of the aforementioned’s Adam or Chance in favor of a more traditional, strained approach. They’re a little more static than I’d like them to be, and for me this kinda weighs down the track and makes it a little stale. But the way the solo sneaks in at the end? Damn… I want some more of that. Like, a lot more of that. Still, I get the feeling that this is more of a straightforward ripper and they probably get a little more technical than this leads on. Definitely looking forward to listening to more of this, thanks for the nudge.
Defiatory – “In Hell” (Hades Rising)
Okay. I’m obviously out of the loop with what’s happening in the thrash world in 2018. The classic 0-100 intro that culminates into machine-gunning double kicks is something that will never, ever, ever, ever go out of style. Everything about this is classic, golden-era thrash: the riff phrasing, the chuggy chorus, the ominous slowed down bridge that erupts into a solo. It brings to mind Lazarus A.D., but with a Euro tinge to it. Basically, this is like a polished up Slayer and what’s wrong with that? I’ll give this album a go, too. You’re two-for-two on deliverin’ the new thrashy goods, my dude.
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Bongripper – “Slow” (Terminal)
I was mega psyched to see this on Pete’s grid last week. I knew Bongripper had a new album in the works, but I didn’t realize it had already come out, so this was a nice primer for me. Who likes getting slapped in the face with fuzz so thick it grinds? I do. They’re unsubtle about their brand of heavy, but they’re sneaky AF about piecing this together into a gripping 25+ minute track. Everything in this track morphs like they wrote it to sync up with a lava lamp. Flick it on, and it takes a little while to get going. Things begin to slowly shift around, cannonball drumming in tow. Eventually, they settle back down. Here they melt down into a post-rock passage which lathers itself back up into more amp worship. Eventually, this thing really gets rolling, fully fluid (and dare I say quick?) before this cools down in the closing minutes. Nobody balances mean and clean this well.
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Dead Cross – “Shillelagh” (Dead Cross)
This was one of my faves from last year. Patton going bonkers over hardcore punk seems like such a no-brainer. It blows my mind that it took so long for something like this to happen, much less with the pedigree of this lineup. I”ll admit, Patton ups the abrasive and snotty levels across the board, especially on this track. Who else can make literally shitty lyrics sound so good? I feel like this type of band allows him to shed a bit of that cerebral side and go straight for the throat, which is fan-fucking-tastic. I love how this track goes balls to the wall, stops on a dime, breaks down into a pit stomper, stops on a dime, and pivots to this cockeyed segment. This shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s just spewing ‘tude along the way. What a fucking ride, man.
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Immortal – “Northern Chaos Gods” (Northern Chaos Gods)
Like Bongripper, this is another record that was on my list that just never got the time of day. So what’s changed in the last ten years for these monochromatic maniacs? Apparently, not much. This sounds like Immortal, but… hot fucking dog is this blistering. This is so fucking pointed, surgical, and shreddy; I can’t help but think this is a little “fuck you, we’ll be just fine” to Abbath. Great track. It’s invigorated. I really didn’t expect this from new Immortal, nor did I expect this from Pete. For whatever reason, I never pegged you as a second wave black metal dude. Regardless, now I can’t wait to dig into this!
Jeff Rosenstock – “9/10” (POST-)
…And now for something completely different. I had no idea Bomb the Music Industry! frontman Jeff Rosenstock even had a solo project, so this is a pleasant surprise. So much so, that I’ll be damned if this isn’t going to pop up as one of my favorite songs of the year. I dig how these lackadaisical synths get kicked down the street by puffs of minimal drumming before a few chords and twinkling keys come by to make this dreamy and endearing. It’s hard for me not to draw a Spoon parallel, but here I am doing it. Could there be a better anthem for the tired of being tired? I’m seriously doubting it. What’s not to love about a charming “who gives a fuck?” kind of song when we’re living in a time like right now? LOVE this. Three outta three is… perfect!
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Future – “WIFI LIT” (BEAST MODE 2)
I have not a shred of a clue who this dude is, but I recognize the name, and I’m assuming I just don’t know I’ve heard him before. I like the woodwinds (is that what that is?) in the production, and I appreciate that this isn’t an assault on the senses beat-wise. It’s cool when artists have the wherewithal to let their talents shine, and. I have no fucking clue what’s going on lyrically, which doesn’t bother me, but what does… that fucking auto-tune or watery T-Pain sort of effect on his voice. It’s so incredibly annoying. Like, why all of the fucking time? It’s fun, it’s weird, but it’s too much for me. Eh, I don’t think I can do an album of this, but the instrumental is cool.
Beastie Boys – “Intergalactic” (Hello Nasty)
Beasties Boys are one of my all-time faves. This album is one of my all-time faves. I think I hammered every word of this thing into my brain before I was 13, and I’m absolutely giddy to know there’s someone at HBIH I can geek with on all things Beasties. I adore their braggy shit, and this track has SO MANY fun lines in it. These dudes aren’t just from another planet, but another fucking galaxy of skill, cool, and style (also evidenced in their music vids): “Well, if you battle me I feel reviled / People always sayin’ my style is wild / You’ve got gall, you’ve got guile / Step to me I’m a rap-o-phile,” “If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked / I’ll stir fry you in my wok / Your knees’ll start shakin’ and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock.” MCA fucking SLAYS it on this number (RIP <3). Aside from being lyrical aliens with proficient delivery, the bizarro/robo chorus, enormous 808 booms, snares and claps, classic turntablism courtesy of the freak Mix Master Mike, and a seemingly bottomless pit of bizarre samples make this track (and record as a whole) unforgettable. Like everything else they do, nothing sounds like it, and nothing ever will.