Pigs – Wronger (Solar Flare Records, 02 October 2015)
Sofy Major – Waste (Solar Flare Rcords, 29 October 2015)
Hey folks, how are you? Today has seemed like the longest day — like since I left home this morning, it seems like at least two whole days should have passed, so we should be reaching the end of Friday and heading out for a nice holiday weekend by now. (For those readers who live abroad, this coming Monday will be Memorial Day here in the U.S., a day of rememberance and — for most people — a day of not going to work.) But no, incredibly it’s still Thursday and the day still isn’t quite over yet. Not cool.
Anyway, I’ve got a couple albums I’d like to share with you today — both of them released by Solar Flare Records back in October. The first one is the second full-length by Pigs, the Brooklyn trio whose highly enjoyable debut You Ruin Everything was discussed right here, when it was released about four years ago.
The second album we’ll be listening to is by Sofy Major, whose bassist/vocalist just happens to be the head guy in charge of Solar Flare. Furthermore, starting tomorrow night (Friday the 27th) and running through the end of next month, this band will be touring across Europe alongside Pigs guitarist/vocalist Dave Curran‘s “other band” Unsane. After you’re finished reading here, head down to the comments section where I’ll have that list of dates for you all.
Pigs, consisting of Curran with his Player’s Club bandmate Jim Paradise on drums, plus producer Andrew Schneider handling bass and additional vocals — have followed up a very solid debut album with a pretty stellar sophomore effort. In these eleven tracks, you’ll find all of the elements you’d expect — feedback, dissonant noises, dirty-grindy-distorted basslines, aggressive guitar riffs, and angry hardcore/noise-rock shouting — and all of that sounds great. But they’ve gone and added a bit of variety into the song structures and incorporated a few extra influences here and there.
“Amateur Hour in Dick City” features some mid-tempo stoner-rock-style riffs (a song like this would seem right at home on most albums released by Ripple Music), and with vocals to match; the same could be said about the gruff vocals in “The Life in Pink,” a song that skips around a little bit with some odd meter changes (especially in the intro and outro clean guitar part). Surely the biggest departure from these guys’ normal territory is “Mouth Dump,” which is all done on banjo and features two gentlemen having what seems to be an off-the-cuff existential discussion. But there are little unexpected twists and turns all over the place: “Wrap it Up” veers nearly into shoegaze territory by the end, while “Mope” starts off with distorted, industrial-sounding drums, and distorted vocals as well — although in the chorus part this song does turn into more of a straightforward heavy sludge/hardcore style.
Some of the other highlights on this album include “Bug Boy,” which has a sort of 90s HC/noise like most of the material here, but this song also features guest vocals by Julie Christmas, and to be honest, this sounds far more natural and at home here than on her recent collaborative album with Cult of Luna (without intending any offense towards anyone who had been involved in putting that particular project together, it just really didn’t do much for me personally); and also the closing track (and definitely the longest here, approaching eight minutes), “Donnybrook” — which actually ends up seeming surprisingly laid-back for the most part, considering that its title is a slang term for a drunken brawl, originally derived from the Irish fair of the same name.
Solar Flare chief Mathieu Moulin has been releasing albums with his band Sofy Major for nearly ten years; on Waste he is joined by drummer/vocalist Mathieu Desternes and guitarist Sébastien Fournet, and enforcing the connection with their labelmates Pigs, this nine-track album was produced by Curran and mixed by Schneider.
Given the typical fare that the record label deals with, it should be no surprise that much of Sofy Major‘s stuff is also very noisy and feedbacky, with plenty of distorted bass and angsty yelling; the songs typically range from heavy and sludgy to grindy and abrasive, often with with several layers of buzzy guitar hovering overhead. But of course there’s more than meets the eye here, and I think you’ll find that Waste even presents a wider variety than Wronger.
In “Infinite Pill Case,” for example, they throw a fun little turnaround in the guitar riff in the verses, that sounds like it could have been inspired by “Last Train to Clarksville” or “Ticket to Ride.” The single “We See Fire” (see the video below) features a hella catchy, almost melodic vocal line (at least, as much as a song with this much feedback and aharmonic noise could be considered “melodic”). Things really get interesting toward the end of the record, though: “Devotion Man” comes across like some sort of 90s post-grunge/alternative, while the dark and dirty “As Happy As” turns the calendar back even further, more in the vein of Killing Joke and the 80s post-punk/no-wave movement.
* * * * * * *