Two Reviews: The American Edition
Hey folks! Happy Thursday to you. (Does it seem strange to be excited that it’s the second-to-last day of the week? Like, the week isn’t almost over yet, but it’s almost almost over? I don’t know. But I’m definitely feeling that way this week.) Anyway.
So you might have noticed, a few days ago I wrote a thing about some Canadian bands I listened to last week on Canada Day. Well, a few days after that holiday is Independence Day for the United States of America, so it only seems natural that I should follow that post about Canadian music with one that is American-themed.
In digging through my massive archive of Stuff To Eventually Write About And Share With You, I selected two things that feature the word “American” — one in the band name and the other in the album title — although beyond this (and the fact that both actually live in America), there is very little in common between the two. I’m not saying that they’re quite polar opposites — not quite — but I’d imagine that a Venn diagram showing fans of these two albums wouldn’t have a huge amount of overlap. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe lots of you will absolutely love both of them. That would be cool. But there’s only one way to find out…
Bask – American Hollow (The Path Less Traveled Records, 23 September 2014)
Based in Asheville, which is nestled right in the middle of the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, Bask personify exactly what you might expect in a metal band from the southern end of the Appalachian region. Opening track of last fall’s American Hollow “High Mountain Pass” perfectly sets the tone for what’s to come: stoner-esque riffing with vaguely distant-sounding post-metal-ish vocals, both serving as filters for folksy Americana style songs.
At times throughout the album, one element or another takes precedence: from the folkiness that dominates the dreamy, jangly first half of the title track (and many of the tracks that follow it, particularly the gorgeous, slide-filled “A Man’s Worth,” and the lengthy, ultra-mellow, introspective closing track “Endless Summer”), for example, and the Kings of Leon-y drawl inherent in much of the vocals in these songs, to the heavier ending (complete with a brief lapse into growled vocals) of the title track, or the fuzzy, overdriven-vintage-tube-amp solos that pop up here and there (or at the end of “Shake the Soot from Your Boots” where that same tone drops into some straight-up doom metal riffage).
But for the most part, all of these components are blended together seamlessly and masterfully — check out the last several minutes of “Endless Summer,” for example, for some great southern rock guitar noodling over top of heavier power chords that might have you thinking about Neil Young in some of his more countrified moments — creating an end product that is both unique and highly memorable.
You can listen to the album at Bandcamp (see below), and then buy yourself a copy here.
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American Heritage – Sedentary (Solar Flare Records, 27 November 2012 / Granite House Records, 11 December 2012)
As they would have said on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “and now for something completely different.” It’s: American Heritage from Chicago. You’ll already have a good idea what to expect when I tell you that Sedentary was recorded by the Windy City’s resident mastermind of all things noisy Sanford Parker, and that this 2012 album also features guest appearances by Parker, in addition to The Swan King‘s Dallas Thomas, and a whole slew of other likeminded folks from their hometown’s seedy underbelly.
With so many hands stirring the pot you may expect things to turn out a bit disjointed — and indeed, the songs here seem to alternate between sounding primarily inspired by either The Melvins or GWAR — but the bursts of feedback that occasionally segue from one to the next, and the overall angry-gritty-nasty tone, give everything a distinctively Amphetamine Reptile-influenced hardcore/noiserock coloration that really ties it all together quite nicely.
This album is available for listening at Bandcamp (see below) and for purchase here.
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