August's Best and Worst Albums
Royal Headache rules, Hot Chip reminds us that British white dudes can't dance, and the new Mac Demarco mini-LP inspired a hallucinatory experience involving characters from "The X-Files."
This article appears in the August Issue of VICE Magazine
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
ROYAL HEADACHE: High (What's Your Rupture?)
What's Your Rupture? has been doing God's work in releasing hit after hit, but this is fucking ridiculous. Records this good don't deserve a VICE review, because there's no place for guttersniping their contents. But here it goes, anyways. This is a band as pure as it is simple: four Aussies with one-word monikers on guitar, bass, drums, and vox churning out monster hooks that suck the air right out of the room. The production has a vintage coke dusting that amps up the urgency and makes the whole thing feel like catching lightning in a bottle. Live fast, play faster, and hopefully die a legend. It's that platonic truth of rock 'n' roll that High taps into. The relationship between hormones and heavy riffs that Alex Chilton first articulated in "Thirteen" is the core of every song here, which makes the aptly titled anthem "Little Star" a real punch in the heart. I'm a firm believer that nostalgia is poison, but no amount of cynicism can keep you from looking at old high school pics on Facebook after that.
FRENCH EGGS FAN
WORST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
CEREMONY: The L-Shaped Man (Matador)
I stopped listening to Ceremony when they started making god-awful power-violence albums and when it became time to become a respectable member of society. But once a scumfuck, always a scumfuck, so I figured I'd take this assignment. It takes balls to start a record with a song like "Hibernation," 90 seconds of a cat walking on a piano while another cat mumbles some shit about how sad he is. Apparently this is a concept album about a breakup, a.k.a. "a platform to explore loneliness and emotional weariness." There are back-to-back tracks named "Your Life in France" and "Your Life in America." Calm down, James Baldwin. Worship of Curtis & Co. is nothing new, but have some dignity and try to cover it up a little bit. There's a strong argument for plagiarism here, only slightly mitigated by the idiot-savant production decisions made by actual savant John Reis. I don't know who's trolling whom, but I get the sense that no one's going to be happy at the end of this.
PINCHY THE TIRE CRABT
BEST COVER OF THE MONTH
ULTIMATE PAINTING: Green Lanes (Trouble in Mind)
I'll never forget supplying James from Ultimate Painting his first taste of Adderall. Turns out they don't carry the shit in the UK, which is funny to me, considering you can walk into a small grocery store and say, "Hi there, I'd like one pack of the dick-numbing condoms, a box of razorblades, and the biggest box of codeine I'm seeing right up there. Cheers!" Well, it's a different place. But to be with someone the first time they've taken Adderall—oh, boy! It's like taking the virginity of a terminally ill person whose Make-A-Wish is to be fucked like the girl in 50 Shades of Grey. It's a remarkable kind of sorcery that I'm really happy to have been behind the wand of. On a completely separate note, when Jack and James put their amphetamine-less minds together, it turns out they really knock the fucker out of the park. One last thing—conflict of interest aside, I did name my son after Jack from Ultimate Painting, so if you're reading this, Jack, I'm fucking pissed we haven't talked in a while.
WORST COVER OF THE MONTH
COAL CHAMBER: Rivals (Napalm)
When Coal Chamber rolls up to the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts, this fall, I'll be asleep on the sidewalk. I'll let their tour bus roll over me like an apathetic cartoon who can count on two hands how many times he's had to re-inflate himself this week. When "Shock the Monkey" came out I was in seventh grade and my friend was carving smiley faces into his kneecaps to be like Ozzy, which, I guess, is like a Germ burn for people who put Monster Energy stickers on their motorcycles. As CC says, this album is "Another Nail in the Coffin" of our collective 21st-entury malaise. One big thing that isn't helping CC is that people—like moms and corn-fed good old boys—love Slipknot. I would bet you the seventh string off of Munky's Ibanez Universe that Corey Taylor will be a coach on The Voice next season. When my mom took me to Ozzfest in 1997, she said Slipknot was gross and she liked Marilyn Manson. There's a one-minute instrumental track here called "Dumpster Dive."
This girl who really likes to set her iCal to remind her to lick my pussy says that I need to be nicer to myself and realize that it's OK to make mistakes and take my time with things—blah, blah, blah. Honestly, though, I start to believe her the more she writes the alphabet in cursive on my clit with her tongue. But no sooner do I wish the alphabet were "ABCDEFGGGGHIJKLMNOMNOMNOPQQQQRSSSSSTTTTTUQQQ" than a motherfucker like Prince Harvey comes around and ABACADABA's PHATASS—a self-produced a cappella album recorded at the Apple Store in SoHo. The title is an acronym for Prince Harvey at the Apple Store SoHo, because he stood there pushing sounds out of his mouth and eliciting weird looks for months while perfecting every hook. He's a cunting genius!
The worst thing that's happened to me all month is my paper fedora fell into the bidet at the villa; it's been a fine month otherwise, though I can feel a canker sore coming on the front of my tongue. That said, I haven't gotten any lime juice in my urethra, and get this—I bet you've always wondered—the English translation for the Italian word Sbarro (you know, the schwag pizzeria?) is more or less "violent ejaculate eruption from the cock like a volcano." You can imagine. Like the way a hentai bro would unload some knuckle children in a jerk booth. Isn't that awesome!? The first time I ever saw Mas Ysa live it made me Sbarro all over the place, and on record it's like I get to revisit the spank bank with every rotation.
MARCHROMT30aEdit 2b 96
Maybe he's become an aging artist concerned with his legacy, or maybe he's just gotten bored with being mysterious. Whatever's been going on lately, Aphex is no longer on the endangered-species list. From posting unreleased tracks to listing off his gear, the man has been his own one-stop WikiLeaks. Next up, he's giving out the exact location of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and I hear he's producing a doc on the CIA's assassination of JFK.
THE GHOST OF DJ ROOMBA
Why Make Sense?
Let it be known: British white dudes are the worst dancers on the planet. That's why they do that jumping-up-and-down thing at shows—it's the only rhythm they're capable of. The image of watching a bunch of fine young chaps going ape to this album would be comparable to watching giraffes on ice skates hopped up on espresso while five dudes onstage, all wearing fedoras, nod their bald heads in unison. A depressing sight indeed. But in all seriousness, this album would be a gem if you took out all the singing and rapping.
DR. LUCIEN SANCHEZ
SEVEN DAVIS JR
Seven Davis Jr was a popular singer and entertainer, often called "Mister Show Business," who had a caterpillar mustache and lost his left eye in a driving accident—he shouldn't have kept his eye on the road—AH FUCK, KILL ME. He converted to Judaism in 1960 and was known to hang out with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin at Las Vegas casinos. Today, he makes tracks with titles like "Good Vibes" and "No Worries" over funky bleepy bloops despite dying from throat cancer in 1990. Only a great like him could keep on trucking with the whole music thing, even though, ya know, he's covered in maggots—he's dead; worms crawl in, worms crawl out, etc. Good for him—he's one of the best Jews we have.
SAMMY DAVIS JR. JR.
Motherfucking God bless the immediacy of the internet. Add a couple randos who seem cool at the bodega one night and bangerang! The next you know you're doing K in the green room of, I dunno, someone. Swipe right a few times, and Jiminy Cricket, you're performing analingus on the cutest girl you've ever seen. So yeah, when this fine specimen I know emailed me like, "My baby daddy made this record," I immediately responded, "Yes, I will review it." And here it is: This shit is good! It's lighthearted, marijuana-exalting, semi-melancholic trap made by a skinny white art-dude. Prego!
LINDSEY "A GOOD PERSON" LEONARD
Things that this Container album make difficult to contain: rage; psychological composure; existential chaos; the eggplant parm I daintily made for lunch at work; the ability to play it cool around pretty girls; ideas for better names than LP because all of his records are titled that and I keep forgetting which songs are on this new one; my lanky-ass dance moves.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA
They call jacking or jilling off with a hand that's fallen asleep "the stranger." I know one person who swears by it, though I'm skeptical because the last thing my brain is trying to tell me when I have a dead arm is to fuck it to completion. I will say that, conceptually, I absolutely love the idea. I bet someone like Henry David Thoreau was glad to greet the day with a bulky dead arm to fuck. It's these little pleasures in life that confirm that Forrest Gump was right about that box of chocolates all along. Thoreau, Gump—both of these guys had a real optimistic outlook on life; whether you're a paresthesiaphiliac or you pissed your pants chilling with JFK, life and pleasure are about the path you take to get there, and that's why I'm a big UMO guy! You want to eat a 3D Dorito and wash it down with a boiling-hot horchata and Campari? This is your new favorite band.
Holding Hands with Jamie
I heard this band for the first time a couple of years ago being blasted so loudly from an office that I thought it was giving me skeleton fever. This is the kind of record you want to fuck to so badly because you know things would get absolutely out of control. Every shrill, vein-scraping measure of sound these guys are making should never be played for highly intelligent apes, for they will rise and start a legit punk scene.
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD
What the World Needs Now
Every cultured (read: stages his home to appear like that one part of A Moveable Feast he read) middle-aged white male takes pleasure in the simpler things, namely rapping snide observational comedy out of the side of his mouth like Big Tex, the towering marketing/ventriloquist proto-robot icon of the annual State Fair of Texas (God rest his charred soul), the kind of stuff sheds light on how they thought things were way back when they were hot shit, until anyone acknowledges them, even if they're just the family dog. We picked up the habit centuries ago: If you've never seen it, imagine a vampire guiding his own dick into his mouth, fishing-lure-style, by looking at himself in a full-length mirror after his timeless vampire bride cracks a Cialis joke at dinner.
SWEET JOHN BLOOM
Where do you even begin with these guys? Well, they're stalwarts of the Massachusetts DIY hardcore scene. Jay got arrested once for yelling "Up the punx" at some cops in this art center in Danvers, and it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my life until Ben Henry started yelling "Attica" and a full-blown riot broke out. Their modesty could make a nun wet, but they shred like you read about. They also have amazing hair.
New age punk mysticism is hot but cooling down right now. I think I actually saw someone reading the Everyday Goth on her iPhone—its case was a bastardized version of Unknown Pleasures with Homer Simpson's head in the middle. I mean, fuck it, I got an alien tattoo; Rihanna wears Illuminati jewelry to bed. Vibes are in the air, and they're being recorded somewhere near Long Beach. Step off a gangplank into Weirdo Shrine, a dreamy hi-fi trip through irradiated Seattle-Pacific Fukushima mist, littered with Japanese surf LPs as mementos of a disaster. An island girl drapes flowered leis around your neck—fresh, duty-free perfume is involved, and you're excited because that's the part your friends said you had to make sure you experienced. Most people are truly beautiful. Fuck. What will Quentin Tarantino steal from these girls?
This record really made my spring. Ripping stoner doom you can dance to. Imagine Justin Bieber on acid reenacting 120 Days of Sodom on the corpse of JonBenét Ramsey. Sparx is back somehow, and that weird-ass cleavage thing took the Seastreak to the Vineyard. Big Gulps, huh? All right! Well, see ya later!
Razor & Tie
I don't know what the fuck I expected to hear when this record started, but it certainly wasn't what the fuck the opening track, "Unicorn Farm," delivered. Synth-addled madness? Clapping? Fuck, there are weird sounds galore, panned left, right, up, and down—all over the goddamn place. It was probably wrong of me to write this off as more stoner-rock stuff, but then again, the second track delivers in a way where I can imagine I'm a fly on the wall at Sword practice and one of the dudes unbuckles his guitar and is like, "Let's fuck up their mind grapes, kemosabe!" to a den of teeth-gnashing riff wizards. Hell, the rest of the record is riffed up as fuck, too. Near as I can tell, songs are about magic, wandering travelers, weather, and what have you. Mystical stuff, if you can dig it—throne games and shit like this. Question here: Didn't the Sword used to be more metal and filthy-sounding? At present they're going for full-on Blue Oyster Cult vibes. That's cool, but I prefer the bong-rattling, dirty-ass riffs with the huge let's-burn-down-a-goddamn-building-and-declare-a-war-on-the-pigs drums. This polite, mustache-twirling, weed-vaporizing clarity they're running with here is just not what I'm trying to suck the marrow out from. Look, it's not bad. I could 100 percent burn down a hog leg or two with the chill graphic designers in the apartment next door and really appreciate their reaction and how it could very well change my opinion. It's a shame I have to work early in the morning and they won't stop talking about that fucking bug documentary they watched last week.
TMI: I genuinely tried not masturbating to this, but then I got to the "shaving in all the right places" line in the second song and "fishing cum out of my belly button." I spent a moment deeply contemplating where and why I would masturbate at work, and the urge was so heavy I fell behind on email and my co-workers' voices muffled into a shrill gong tone. This record is the girlfriend who buried a digit in your asshole on your birthday before any sort of even playful conversation about that sort of thing ever came up, which makes you wonder where she got the inspiration to cram it in there in the first place.
This record is named after Saint Catherine; she was a martyr who died for her belief in potpourri, Funfetti cupcakes, and the holy truth that men should never wear flip-flops. However, thanks to this piece of work, she shall henceforth be remembered as the patron saint of melancholy, generalized music that tries too hard to be beautiful and goes on and on without actually going anywhere. Like most religious things, what we have here is something that sounds good but is not.
I've never felt so close to death in my life as I do at this exact moment. Everything about the dog looks artificial and perfect. Her pads and nose are these cold onyx drops that are too perfect to have your dick sniffed by. It's not only the dog. Everything looks so immaculate. I'm actually about to die right now. I'm going to die sitting next to my perfect dog, in my perfect living room, any minute now. I can't peer out of my shitty cabin in hell to see Mac's face when they tell him about how they found me slouched over my MacBook—the one that looks like if RoboCop were just a crappy old seashell, digging for clues or whatever, when suddenly a rookie on the squad named Tim Allen shouts for Sarge to come over and check something out. That asshole Rodriguez throws his massive hand on Sammy Doucette's square shoulder and, with a second to spare before Sarge crosses the clumsy plywood threshold between the foyer and the living room where my lifeless body is, shouts, "Hey, you about done building that hot rod in your fucking garage yet, Allen?" Sammy's the only guy on the force who sees something worth nurturing in Rodriguez, but even he couldn't feign a chuckle at a time like this. Instead he just kind of half-whispers, "Nice one, Mr. Wilson" in between beats of dusting for fingerprints in my living room, where I'm dead. At that exact moment, whoever the real-life versions of Mulder and Scully are let themselves in and relieve the officers of their duty, without apology or thanks. Rodriguez isn't having it and tells them both that he'll see them in hell for some reason, which is confusing enough to take everyone's mind off of all the shit that was already happening. In a last-ditch effort to hold on to some of his pride, he screams "fuck you" at both of them like he's throwing a temper tantrum or something. The Mulder guy goes, "Listen, man, you might want to think twice before you go mouthing off to your superiors." Rodriguez laughs and says, "You really believe that? And the Mulder guy goes, "I want to... BELIEVE... that; I want to... BELIEVE..." and everyone goes piss-drinking-loco in the cabeza! Cops start whistling the X-Files theme song and dancing a jig around my corpse; Doucette thinks I come back to life at one point, and he kicks me by accident and my leg kinda twitches—no biggie, Doucette!
I Wanna See Everything
On summer mornings you can find me biking on Flushing Avenue, all the way down to the Fairway in Red Hook. I lock up, walk in all sweaty and panting, and go straight to the juice fridge. I open a Naked Protein Zone right there in the store and down most of it before paying. Then I hunt for free samples. The Italian-bread-and-olive-oil station has, like, 25 olive oils, some grassy, some sweet, some bright neon yellow. There's free hot food, too, like sausages or stir-fry, and most days they have cubes of Manchego or Colby cheese. It's a dirtbag move, but you can take two slices of bread from the olive-oil station and bring them over to the cheese station and make a six-cube, three-cheese sammy. No one will stop you. Nothing on this No Honeymoon album was the song of the summer, but the title track has been the song of my summer and the things I like to get up to.
THE SLUGMAN OF HERBERT STREET
As a teenager, I hung out with a bunch of skater boys; I was their token gay friend who had the sort of hot girlfriends my friends would've traded an inch off the end of their dicks to have a balmy, yet scentless, afternoon soixante-neuf with. While they shotgunned beers, I always listened to really foggy music on YouTube. One night, I played Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" on YouTube. "Dude!" one of the skaters yelled. "I used to jack off while watching this music video!" As I listened to Natalie's new album I thought about this exact moment, because this new stuff is the musical equivalent of running into the person you used to think about while masturbating and finding out their ass is now saggy even though they've injected their bum with illegal butt buffers. It made me very sad.
KIDZ BOP KIDS
Kidz Bop 29
Razor & Tie
When we contacted Kidz Bop's publicist, she was like, "Why does an alternative youth rag wanna listen to children's covers of Meghan Trainor's 'Dear Future Husband'?" We explained that we review all types of music, but in response, she just kept LOL'ing or whatever, beating around the bush, and forwarding us links to non-Halloween-costume Meghan Trainor videos. We downloaded the album on Amazon anyways, and guess what? KIDS COVERING MEGHAN TRAINOR SONGS FUCKING BOPS!!! If only the Kidz Bop Kids could hear your platitudinal modesty I bet they'd march their butts into the studio and take a shot at "6PM in New York."
Kidz Bop lady, listen up: You need to act your age, not the Kidz Bop Kids' age.
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