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:
The Microphones – Microphones in 2020
Phil Elverum is not a man afraid to lay bare his soul. Under the Mount Eerie moniker he release A Crow Looked At Me, which detailed one graphic, uncomfortable, heart rending detail the emotional and practical aftermath of the death of his wife. It’s an album of such devastating impact that it feels like the musical equivalent of films like Requiem for a Dream. Both are powerful, visceral, important experiences that I never wish to relive. When I heard that Elverum was returning under the guise of his Neutral Milk Hotel-level classic indie project The Microphones, I was both extremely eager to hear the result of this venture, as well as nervous about the emotional toll another Elverum release might exact. Thankfully, Microphones in 2020 is a monumental record that I’ve returned to many times since its release, and is without question one of my favorite albums of the year.
While the emotional impact may be less immediately devastating, there’s still a fairly significant challenge inherent in this release. Following the path of bands like Bell Witch, Sleep, Edge of Sanity, and many others before him, Elverum wrote this new record as one continuous piece of music. At 45 minutes in length, listening to this record is no small investment. Such a songwriting decision may seem like a cheap gimmick to some, but Microphones in 2020 unfolds its riches in such lucid, innovative, and delicious detail that its repetitive components become a gently hallucinatory sensory experience that adds a unique quality to the music that could not be present otherwise. Like the mesmeric ripples of a campfire, Microphones in 2020 is a gentle, warm, and varied musical experience unlike anything released in 2020.
Lyrically, this record is a tapestry of reflection and memory that is as potent as any of Elverum’s finest releases, displaying a level of detailed self-reflection that is simply beautiful and deeply honest on a human level. His songwriting has never been stronger, and a long-form narrative like this deserves a musical backdrop that compliments rather than distracts from the excellent storytelling. It’s here where some of the album’s most impressive work is accomplished. Revolving and resolving around a collection of simple chords that slowly morph and transform through the introduction of drums, electric guitar and synths as the track progresses, exploding in lush, gorgeous bouts of noise only to dissipate back into a simple cadence of chords. It’s a deeply effective undercurrent to Elverum’s powerful lyricism, matching the brilliance of his words. It’s a record that nails every aspect of its presentation, culminating in a 45 minute track that is somehow infinitely relistenable.
Each time I listen to this record, I glean something new. There are depths to Microphones in 2020 that stand alongside Elverum’s finest work under any moniker, and it’s a more than worthy addition to a catalog riddled with classics. One-track records aren’t for everyone, but for those willing to give headlong into a musical autobiography of jarring honesty and relatability, told by a master storyteller and musician, there’s wonder to be found here. A majestic, truly magnificent listening experience.
Flood District – “Used To Be”
If you’ve been lingering around the pages of Heavy Blog over the last few years, you may remember the now defunct progressive deathcore band Lorelei from North Carolina. Their album Lore of Lies dropped in 2014 to acclaim around these parts, and they would later go on to disband in 2017. Quite a shame, because they were one of the more creative up-and-coming bands in the genre.
Since then, their singer and songwriter Michael Rumple has been busy working on his next chapter, and has turned a complete 180 into the realm of synthpop. His new project Flood District is everything you’d want out of New Wavey synthpop, and their latest single “Used To Be” is a perfect introduction to the band’s dreamy, nostalgic, and immensely catchy sound. If I’m honest, I’m not the most well educated when it comes to this 80’s retro music scene, but I do know that this has huge GTA: Vice City vibes and if you’ve loved Zeta (you remember, the one featuring Katie Jackson, Paul Ortiz of Chimp Spanner, and Dan Tompkins of Tesseract) and recent developments in Ulver’s discography, this is right up your alley.