TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraint of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.
Here I present a ten album sampler of some of the absolute best mind altering rock music I’ve received for review consideration (so far) this year. Consider it a trip for the brain using familiar blues-broken structures and anti-pop architectures when necessary. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.
Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks focus was chosen because I’d accumulated a healthy amount of rock music I’d wanted to talk about, but had talked myself out of a full review. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.
|Title [Type/Year]||Devil-Shadowless-Hand [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Ether Feather|
The easiest way to describe how I see Los Angeles, California band Ether Feather is ‘serious freedom’, and I don’t mean it like that. They’re taking their performances, songwriting, and sound serious as professionals but the quartet aren’t weighed down by the consequences of exploration, era, or any sort of damning self-consciousness that holds so many otherwise striking southern California heavy rock bands up. ‘Devil-Shadowless-Hand’ has a darker side that won’t always go light, a bluesy heft that’ll go all the way desert rock if it wants to, and all of it flows from the fingers and throats of folks who’re clearly no struggling with their instruments or compositional dynamic. Opener “Falconer” communicates all of this withing minutes and the rest of the album is no less ambitious but, it all rolls out at the speed gravity would allow. The Snail-esque “Interstellar” and a proggy-art house jams of “Haggard Hawk” and “New Abyss” find the band on a roll. The momentum of the album drops off kinda steep for me at that point, it gets a bit stoned and “Your Half in the Middle” feels like it has no real purpose on the album. The closer, “The Ultimate Halycon”, saves it bringing back that same ‘early 90’s rock band went stoner rock in the 2000’s’ feeling. A really solid album that I’d end up hitting a total mental black when it came time to write a longer form review, something no doubt the heavy psych crowd will like for bringing all the trip and a minimum of the too-typical heavy blues trappings.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Lesser Feats [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from The Lesser Feats|
It’ll take a few layers of noise/punk rock inception to get to The Lesser Feats but break off a chunk of Black Racers between T. Brown and K. Johnson (Ed Kemper Trio, Terrible Lovers) and lay on a bit of funk-thumpin’ post-punk to get there a bit quicker. Johnson‘s voice and guitar work kinda fling up on their own plane for several of these songs (“Existential Crisis Management”, “Microscope”), which is satisfyingly characteristic of output past and present though this goes a bit more directly noise rock than other more recent projects. The ease of Brown‘s basslines decompress Johnson‘s knack electric clangor into something far warmer and exploratory than expected.
|Title [Type/Year]||Medicine Machine [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Sutphin|
A lot of younger noise rock bands know how cool they are pretty early on but, man I dunno if Wichita, Kansas stranglers Sutphin are fully aware of how shit heavy and kinda nuts they are. To be fair their debut ‘Pocketnapkin’ (2017) wasn’t great but they’ve put in the time and written a healthy set of cranked and angular biters that don’t rely on post-hardcore cliches as much as they resemble early 90’s noise rock depravity. No they’re not quite as weird as Barkmarket circa ’89 but I could see things getting way weirder before they manage an edgeless alt rock record for sure. Love the title track in particular, most all of Side A really, and “Farm to Freezer” too.
|Title [Type/Year]||Believe Anything [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from TV Moms|
They’re not as catchy as The Primals but that late 80’s early 90’s pre-and-post Grunge stoned feeling is likewise a major part of the minor league chill fuming off of this second full-length from Minneapolis, Minnesota alt/noise rock band TV Moms. ‘Believe Anything’ has the right feeling, a great sound and a nice early 90’s rock sound going on but the whole of the record does suffer from some redundancies. “Nothing New” finds the right balance of those grunge rock tones and the easier flow of ‘mainstreamed’ noise rock but “Happiness Don’t Leave” almost feels like the same song at a slightly slower speed; Likewise “Admit Yr Wrong” serves as a slight return to memorable opener “Get Away”. These aren’t major offenses but it does start to sound like they’re out of ideas when Side B rolls around. I like it, though, and felt like I could put this thing on for an hour and not take any major issue with the full spin beyond their relatively simple oeuvre.
|Title [Type/Year]||G.E.E.P. [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify|
Goddamn dirty twenty something punks singing songs about their dirty kitchens (“Mold”).– Netherlands based garage punks Magnetic Spacemen appear to focus on the mundane dirt of life for the sake of having anything poignant to say. I mean, they’re great though, just a hint of surfin’ and some grating psychedelic crunch to their production sound makes for an understated but moderately catchy ride. I’m all on board for the hooks of “Mold” and “Streetboy” here but I felt like they were just fuckin’ around on “Junkyard Island” as much fun as it was as a jam.
|Title [Type/Year]||11.11 [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from American Sharks|
Austin, Texas ‘stoner punk’ rock trio American Sharks bring a great deal of alt-rock sneer to their garage punk/psych sound and it makes for an album that is surreal as it is grounded. ‘11.11’ kicks off with a shitload of energy with a buzzing ‘grunge’ era punk rock feeling that feels way more city of angels than the city of the violet crown. That energy drops off hard with “KLUDU” and although I personally like the song it doesn’t get enough of a reprise on the album (“Satans Overture II” barely counts) and ultimately feels way out of place. I get the comparisons to Red Fang on some level, I love ‘Whales & Leeches’, and some of those faster paced/shorter songs tune into a similar groove but without the Melvins-esque heaviness in charge. With five years in between albums it doesn’t feel like American Sharks spent that time writing an opus and if anything these tracks are a jumbled quick rip of fun, a mess that I can appreciate on a base level. They might’ve been better off keeping some of their Queens of the Stone Age groove for the sake of continuity but ‘11.11’ ain’t bad.
|Title [Type/Year]||Permanent Climbing Monolith [LP/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY from Apprentice Destroyer|
Alright let’s see… Press release mentions Glenn Branca, Neu! and band has four lead guitarists all masterminded by the fellow from Pandiscordian Necrogenesis and Mastery (among others). Sold. Although this isn’t necessarily a post-modernist guitar orchestra making atonal performance pieces, the high concept experimentation intended and on hand is remarkably well shaped on ‘Permanent Climbing Monolith’. Ranging from metallic takes on kosmische musik to hulking noise rock waves worthy of the late 80’s New York art rock movements the whole of this second Apprentice Destroyer record is an unexpectedly huge expansion of ideas thanks to the addition of three additional guitarists. A remarkable record that begs for several listens. I’d written a draft of a long-winded review for it some weeks back but scrapped it because it was too self-indulgent, if you can imagine.
|Title [Type/Year]||Zones [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Enablers|
Although I doubt most folks who read this site will sit through most of the records I’ve included on this weeks list this’ll surely be too much for the 99%. Why? Spoken word narratives atop post-rock with some jazzy liberties taken serves as a vehicle for what I’d consider (mostly) slice of life prose on this latest Enablers record. Nothing really gels in the usual way these guys ‘hit’ with until “Squint” where the dynamic matches the narrative. Maybe I just wanted something a bit more impassioned to kick things off. I suppose at face value the ‘Zones’ title is meant suggest an expansion upon the modus of 2018’s ‘The Pigeon Diaries’, reacting to a scene with an appropriate presence. I dunno, I most definitely put a fair number of hours into ‘Family Man’ and certain other spoken word albums over the years and I’d suggest that they’re all pretty revolting until you’ve given them more of a chance than they deserve.
|Title [Type/Year]||Trips Around the Sun [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Dream Ritual|
If you’re not a huge fan of where Torche have gone with their last few records but you still want those big-muffing 90’s stoner rock songs punched up to 2010’s standards ‘Trips Around the Sun’ makes a pretty damned slick, catchy introduction to this Springfield, Missouri quartet. I was pretty much on board with this EP outside of the momentum killer that is “Outside Your Window”, too much teenaged slow-dance sentimentality for me. The grooves never quite wake up after that and it all kinda bleeds together as the record finishes but I think “Faster” and the two part title track are both onto something, the right energy and presence at the very least.
|Title [Type/Year]||Zgrzyty [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Morze|
Gdańsk, Poland art rock project Morze arrive with intentional distance from the listener, obscured and simply placed in the center of the mix their largely instrumental post-rock delivered neo-tribalistic post-modernist guitar music. ‘Zgrzyty’ stretches out into performative threads that spool together from many crooked paths and it never feels like a ‘song’ is achieved so much as a meditative dipping of the toes into outsider post-music. I’d have been totally lost in much of this EP were it not for the guiding light of the saxophone, a burly jazz variable that the bassist and guitarist appear to jump at the chance to share space with. I suppose the only major criticism I have is that the release leans too hard on the ‘safety’ of quiet and could likely thrive as much on ‘loudness’ based on the more noisome experiments within.
Did I miss your favorite 2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please consider a small donation to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.
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