Posts Tagged ‘Steve Albini’

Flat Worms

There’s something fitting about Flat Worms naming their sophomore album after the last safe space in the world from a human contact perspective, while also naming it after one that’s in dire danger from humanity at large. Antarctica is a brittle, brutal, and quite honestly fair assessment of the predicaments we all find ourselves facing in 2020. Even before the proverbial rug was pulled from the amassed nations of the world, the band found themselves in a pessimistic crouch, uncompromising and unrepentant. Who else to bring these brutalities to fruition, then, but the patron saint of disposition himself, Steve Albini. The veteran producer gives little in the way of softness to the band and, in turn, they give little back. The record is fashioned in the mold of ‘90s rock that seeks to bring on a full body itch like an unwashed wool sweater. Though that doesn’t mean its not without comfort.

There are certainly hooks dug into their disdain, but they wear their frustrations on the surface first and foremost. The fire is warm here, but the smell of lighter fluid makes it unpleasant all the same. The L.A. band has been steadily building their sound over the past few EPs and singles — working up a ferocity that breaks loose on Antarctica. Their debut was lean and lanky, but this one’s put on muscle. The bass thunders but keeps its hips limber. They lay down a bedrock of metal bitten rhythm that traces the tail of the Northwest down a rabbit hole lined with Wipers singles, Mudhoney deep cuts, and Green River nihilism. The leads scream from the strain of feedback and bile. There’s been a revival of ‘90s impulses lately, it was bound to happen, but few of the revivalists have dug into what made the crux of grunge vital like this trio has. With this album Flat Worms find that same match strike that melds the hip-thrust hunger of metal with the careening trajectory of punk. Nostalgia be damned, this one feels like its got a talon in ya, and the twisting is both brutal and glorious all at once.



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Flat Worms – “The Aughts”

This upcoming Flat Worms LP continues to be one of the year’s gnarliest scorchers and that’s only further proven with the release of “The Aughts.” With Steve Albini at the controls the band laid down a single-take topper that’s raw and ravaged and fueled by the crumble of a ruling class long gone. The song is built to break — rumbling tension that blows through the restraints in sickened guitar tones and ball peen drum damage. The band issues a very bare bones video, but it works well with the song’s lean and lithe vision of what rock might be in the rubbled remains of 2020. The band’s full length is coming April 10th on Drag City imprint God? Records. Definitely one to put on the list of necessary pickups.



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Flat Worms – “Market Forces”

Perennial favorite Flat Worms made the jump last year from small indies (Castle Face/Famous Class) to Ty Segall’s GOD? Imprint over at Drag City. Their sound has only widened in the process, shedding the threadbare punk of their early works for a burled and thick thump that comes to a head on “Market Forces.” The album was produced by Segall and Steve Albini and as such carries the studio heft of those two particular poles, soldering the austere ache of Albini’s works with the punk pummel and fuzz cloud rumble the band had been fostering in their come-up alongside. The song shares some of the same appeal that latter day Purling Hiss, pushing aside spindly hooks in favor of a punishing wave of guitar cresting the horizon with each new track. The band smears their Dino Jr. throb with the West Coast fuzz coatings of Meatbodies and the Midwest rumble of Axis: Sova. The album arrives April 10th.



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Ty Segall & Freedom Band

The live album is a strange beast to master. As the dichotomy goes, they’re either proof that a band is a whole other animal in the room or they’re a runoff of company funds filling pockets of air between studio slabs. You’re either ponying up Live/Dead, Live at Budokon, or Last Waltz territory or hogging a heap of our precious time. The exception, perhaps being archival sets like Castle Face’s Live in SF series, but that’s more along the lines of a parting gift to those who were there and a tease to those who weren’t. Those are tantamount to official bootlegs and that’s a whole other discussion. Approaching a true live album takes a certain amount of bold confidence that the alchemy created in the room can crawl out of the speakers without necessitating the packed bodies, the magnetism of performers, and the glare of the lights. The notification that a beloved artist approaches the live album puts a lump in the throat, eh?

Then again, we’re not all casually calling up Steve Albini to run the tapes. We’re not all Ty Segall – long a live draw no matter what configuration has been hammering behind him. We don’t all have the Freedom Band at our beck and call, as heavy a crew as he’s had to tangle his tracks into fuzz-crusted chaos than ever before. Deforming Lobes is no schedule filler, it’s a testament to road-worn rock and the transformative power a room full of hungry hounds yowlin’ for Ty to turn his ecstatic catalog into a sonic assault. Its one of the rare instances that a live album warrants second and third listens.

What’s best said about the impact of the album is probably what he left out, rather than what he left in. For a man with a mile-long discography that hits a halt at his recently released nineteen-tracker, Freedom’s Goblin, the trackist is lean, scraping only eight tracks, with one of them a cover of the Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red.” With the opportunity to get indulgent, the band opts to cut their set down to a molten core, snagging tracks from only a handful of studio satchels and focusing in heavy on Emotional Mugger and Twins with each grabbing two tracks to represent. What they leave in they offer up as a volume-soaked proof of purchase, eight racks of unrepentant damage that leave a scorch mark on the turntable. I’ve seen Ty everywhere from a basement to packed 700-seater and this album hits like a shockwave to the sternum. It makes a good case for keeping the format around.



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