There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. As is tradition, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Chamberlain – “Some Other Sky”
Pre-warning: there are few acts that I completely mark out over. Chamberlain is one of them, having been along for the full arc of their career (so far). They’ve left behind their (post)hardcore roots long ago but if you want to know where that genre really began it’s worth checking out their back catalog.
Before their name change they were Split Lip who released For the Love of the Wounded in 1993 and the seminal Fate’s Got a Driver in 1995. Shortly after the latter’s release the band surged to the front of the pack in terms of bands serving up this style of intricate, layered guitar melodies combined with emotive, dare I say poetic lyrics that would go on to be the staple of emo and eventually post-hardcore bands. From Mineral to the Get Up Kids to the Gaslight Anthem you’d have been hard pressed to find anyone from that particular scene from 1995 until the mid 2000s and even later who weren’t influenced by the band that became known as Chamberlain.
Anyway, this is the first single from their upcoming album, Red Weather (TBA) and it leans hard on their Americana roots that sprang forth on The Moon My Saddle in 1998. That album rivaled anything, in my opinion, that Ryan Adams or Tom Petty have produced. While “Some Other Sky” doesn’t quite have the verve of other tracks from the band’s past, it does serve as a tasty morsel to get fans, new and old alike, interested in what an album from the band today might sound like.
The track is awash in piano and pedal steel guitars, lots of clean picking, and a very sturdy yet subtle pocket holding the whole house up so that David Moore can do his soulful Midwestern crooning over top of the entire affair. When Moore delivers the line “what if love at first sight deserves a second look?” we’re locked into a narrative that he has trod many times over the past decades and yet, in his voice, it never gets tired. The tales of love granted and lost is part of why we came for Chamberlain. The eventual perspective gained from the whole venture, as explained via Moore’s lamentations, is why we stayed all these years.
Welcome back, fellas. Maybe don’t be strangers this time?
Strangeweather – Of the Reeds
Sometimes, we’re late. The excuses are simple and known. Mostly, there’s just so much incredible music out there. But, sometimes, the excuses just don’t cut it and there’s nothing left to us but regret that we couldn’t be more timely in arriving to something. This is the case with me and Strangeweather’s Of the Reeds, an album so seemingly written for me that it’s a wonder that it never landed in my inbox. Being honest though, the album was written for something much larger than just myself; it was written for all of us struggling under the yoke of capitalism and craving music which cuts to the core of so much that’s challenging in our modern existence and attempts to paint it in a different light.
Politically, Strangeweather is anarchist. Musically, it is heavily influenced by folk music and introduces a kind of post-punk emphasis on bass to that. Flutes, drums, the aforementioned bass, shrill guitars, and heart-wrenchingly touching vocals make up this ensemble, moving from sonorous diatribes against society (“Someday the pigs will pay and the rich will burn. / And we’ll get ours too, though never quite in turn.”) to deeply personal musings on emotional and mental states (“Wooden city in my heart creaks softly / and I wonder where I been. / Tiny talk and total trash in our mouths, / there’s a hole inside of me.”) Throughout, the pagan and the folk are weaved effortlessly, with nature, mythology, and modern day morals twisting expertly underneath the distaff of the band’s talent.
The end result is a moody, pissed off, somber, and intimate release. It should appeal to fans of genres as disparate as neo-folk, post-punk, post-rock, and more as its flute and bass clash to create something both atmospheric and heavily present at the same time. It’s not an album for all moods but when you need to muse on the transient and often cruel nature of our lives, it is the perfect companion. It is an album which invites you to dive deep into the band’s outlook and perspective, never for a moment forgetting that it is, first and foremost, a work of music.
– Eden Kupermintz