Hey! As we continue inching ever-closer to the conclusion of yet another calendar year, let’s continue talking about some of the great music that has come out in 2022.
Today I’ve got two albums to share: one that was just a recent discovery for me, that I somehow missed when it came out over the summer but which has been getting SO much attention lately as all my writing peers have started publishing their own year-end lists, and then one that just came out this month, and based on that timing I’m afraid it may have inadvertently missed catching many other people’s attention.
Here we go…
Chat Pile – God’s Country (The Flenser, 29 July 2022)
Lebrique – Head Trap (Trepanation Recordings, 02 December 2022)
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Chat Pile are rooted deep within America’s heartland, Oklahoma — roughly equidistant from both New York and California, or to put it another way as described by the title of their latest full-length offering, God’s Country.
Aurally, the record owes as much to both coasts as it does to the (relatively) more local midwest region: blending NYC-style hardcore and noise rock with Oakland post-hardcore and post-sludge, into the sort of deep-dish amalgam you may expect to find in Chicago and points north.
The vocals here range from deadpan spoken word sections to intense screaming and shouting, often communicating a satisfyingly “woke” viewpoint; as the liner notes say, “There’s a sick irony to how a country that extols rhetoric of individual freedom, in the same gasp, has no problem commodifying human life as if it were meat to feed the insatiable hunger of capitalism.”
This idea is best exemplified in the song “Why,” crying out the injustice of society’s apathetic negligence of those left to fend for themselves outdoors — in a way reminiscent of the “primal gesticulating” scene of Wanderlust (2012) with Justin Theroux and Paul Rudd’s characters shouting their dislike for wars (and several other, much more mundane things).
Of course, that isn’t to say the whole album is completely serious and preachy. Another major highlight is the absolute fever dream of a closing track, named for the prominent internet phenomenon that is “grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg,” a nightmarish freakout dedicated to everyone’s favorite purple demon-thing.
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From there, we head overseas — to the North Sea in fact, to check in with Ipswich, Suffolk County, headquartered trio Lebrique. Or as they might be known in their native English, “The Brick.” And no, I absolutely did not make up that translation; you can look it up if you don’t believe me.
Noisy as hell, these eight tracks are as chunky, heavy, and unsubtle as that proverbial titular brick. Another example of blending hardcore and noise rock, but with particular emphasis on the noise: a nonstop fest of yelling and splashy cymbals atop grimy guitar and extremely fuzzy bass, with only the faintest hint of melody or anything harmonious cropping up occasionally.
When it does (for example, check out a few spots in closer “Age By Sin” or even more prominently in penultimate song “Constrictor”), it feels like we’ve been transported straight back to the mid-to-late-90s when elements of alternative and post-grunge were starting to give way to a burgeoning screamo movement.
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God’s Country may be found in digital/vinyl/CD/cassette formats, alongside a plethora of other merch options, right here. Head Trap is available in digital/CD/cassette over here.