Cave of Swimmers – Cave of Swimmers (The Path Less Traveled Records, 15 April 2014)
Cave of Swimmers – Reflection (self-released, 4 May 2015)
Dear Friends, I am thoroughly confused about something. It’s been about two months since Cave of Swimmers, the Venezuelan-American guitar/moog/vocals/drums duo who live in Miami, released their second album Reflection. This is a collection of four songs that are sheer excellence — every bit as fantastic as the four songs on their self-titled debut which had been released about a year prior — unquestionably one of the most incredible things I heard in 2014, and quite a pleasant out-of-nowhere surprise. So what I can’t understand is, at this point, why is this band not just exploding, and being lauded with overwhelming international renown??
To a small extent, I accept and acknowledge my share of the blame: on both occasions I’ve let trivial things like “being too busy at work to get much writing done” keep me from publicly sharing my thoughts on the release of these two brilliant albums (with one minor exception). Well that all ends today. Get ready to fill your ears with this…
Devil to Pay – Fate is Your Muse (09 April 2013, Ripple Music)
I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT.
Anyone that read my reviews yesterday will be able to deduce what I’m talking about. My head is killing me, my entire body is aching, and overall I pretty much feel like a zombie. Accordingly, I feel like listening to something very pleasant this morning. Here’s what I came up with: an album (another one that ranked on my best-of-2013-list!) with a central theme (at least, as far as my tired mind can ascertain) about how you’re going to die someday and there’s nothing you can do about it. Furthermore, a recurring concept is that of being a born loser, unlucky at everything, and not being able to do anything about that either because it’s all pretty much dictated by fate. Just warms the heart right up, doesn’t it? Here’s Fate is Your Muse, the fourth full-length by midwestern heavy psych/blues/stoner/sludge metal band Devil to Pay, which came out just over a year ago, about a decade or so into that band’s career.
Banda de la Muerte – Pulso de una Mente Maldita (29 March 2012, Zonda Records)
So remember about two weeks ago, when I published a review of the most recent Cultura Tres album? At that time I talked about rectifying my previous oversight of South American bands, and hinted that there were two in particular I had my eye (or, ears) on. Well this is the second one: Argentina’s Banda de la Muerte.
My original plan was to write up both of these reviews and post them on the same day, but then I came to the realization that there would be so much similarity between the two, that you might get some weird sense of déjà vu — hence the delay in finishing and publishing this one. Now, I’m not trying to say that the two bands are the same or that their music is very similar; that wasn’t the problem. However, the way I first got introduced to these guys was virtually identical.
Like Cultura Tres, the name Banda de la Muerte first came to my attention as part of a European tour with Undersmile. And also, just like their neighbors to the north, these Argentinians had a song included in the recent Grip of Delusion Radio compilation The Book of Riff-elations. Once again, the band name jumped out at me when I recognized it in the track listing, and I found that I especially enjoyed their contribution, “Parte de Mi Historia” (Part of My Story).
The parallels don’t end there, either, because these guys also have had two releases, with the first one (2009’s Banda de la Muerte) being offered for a free download through Bandcamp (details included at the end of this post). Their newer album, Pulso de una Mente Maldita has been out since March (via Argentina’s Zonda Records, who also handled the earlier self-titled work), but it was recently announced that (just like Cultura Tres’ El Mal del Bien) it’s now available worldwide on vinyl (details on that included later as well).
So as you can see, there are quite a few similarities between the two bands’ stories, and in particular, my own road to discovering them. But enough of that — now I’d like to talk about what makes Banda de la Muerte unique.