March 13, 2020

Human Impact – s/t  (Ipecac)

March saw the debut effort from a new supergroup of sorts, featuring members of SwansCop Shoot Cop, and Unsane in a riotous, chaotic trip into the dark recesses of New York City. It paints a picture of turmoil and uncertainty, drawn into stark realization through shrieking samples and ethereal, sharp guitar chording. The aggressiveness of this record is more felt than heard, punctuated by abrupt starts and stops, leaving you as quickly as it arrived. 

Ipecac Records is knows for flooding record store shelves and alternative/underground radio with absurdity, angst, whimsy, and Melvins albums. This falls into all of those categories (except the Melvins) and exceeds the summation of those descriptors. The raw power of ’80s and ’90s post-punk rock and hardcore are combined with a more mature desire for content. 

For Fans Of: Milemarker, Jesus Lizard, Unsane

Deap Lips – s/t (Cooking Vinyl)

Many times, when collaborations occur between 2 established bands, the result is a 3rd, somewhat amorphous entity instead of what might be expected from the pairing. In this case, combining the powers of Deap Vally and Flaming Lips results in EXACTLY what you would expect. Fuzzy, bluesy guitar rock and quirky acoustic-electronic pop rock from another world.

From the opening track, “Home Thru Hell”, the listener is served a potent helping of funky beats, catchy melody, playful electronics, and quixotic-but-agreeable intrumentation.

Throughout the album, Deap Vally’s usual riff-heavy rock is present, but tempered and mellowed to indie-pop levels. The Flaming Lips’ usual brand of robot-space-pop is kept accessible with relentlessly engaging vocal hooks.

Overall, this is Flaming Lips most relatable work since Yoshimi, and the most relevant Deap Vally has been since Sistrionix. My only complaint about the album is the overt self-referencing that permeates the lyrics of many of the songs. But getting lost in the vibe helped me get over that quick enough.

Circa Waves – Sad Happy (PIAS America)

Yes, I am aware that parts of this release occurred before now. However, I believe that the 2 separate pieces of the record put together create something greater than the sum of its parts. So…

Promising to be the “positive outlook” champion of 2020, Circa Waves presents us with their most sophisticated record to date. The Liverpudlian quartet delivers a thematic masterpiece about the duality of happiness with a rather comforting overture: we can be happy even in the midst of sadness.

While drawing comparisons to other artists is easy, nailing down an exact match is nearly impossible given the fluid and organic way that Circa Waves follows what each individual song requires. At different moments, they bring to mind The Strokes, Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, MGMT, or even Flaming Lips.

Maybe because of what the world is experiencing here in March as this album is being released, it feels like the emotional importance of this album cannot be understated. The catharsis , encouragement, and overall content of Sad Happy is exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

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