In the vein of Bertolt Brecht and Robert Wilson, we have Snuh by the inimitable Qui. Finding their wheelhouse among themes of burlesque, vaudeville, and driving without headlights, Qui is on the road to great storytelling. The tracks become their own individual one act plays while also being so cooperative that they could become an opera altogether. The noise is fantastic. Qui is seamless in their transitions between melodies and maladies. Snuh is the car crash we didn’t know we needed.
Managing to mix melancholia with aggressive noise is not fucking easy. Qui pulls it off like professionals. The Stink of Her Eyes (b) is an example of this. It’s a brief track, but the simple piano melody emphasizes a certain sorrow while a chainsaw fuzz accompaniment suggests sinister intentions. Like being so sad you just want to punch everyone in the face. Or so I’d assume…
The LA duo Qui have the ability to make beautifully music that appears simple at first glance. However, after a few listens, you can see how intricate these songs actually are. Considering how brief most of the tracks are, somewhere under the 2 minute mark, it takes a lot of precision to get your point across quickly. Snuh manages this wonderfully and this may be what I listen to when I draw now.
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (Ipecac)
I think most people have thought about what having sex with an alien would be like. I’d wager that Daughters has actually fucked aliens and this is their way of letting us know. This being their fourth full length release, and their first time on Ipecac Records, You Won’t Get What You Want has every requirement for a great Daughters album. It’s loud, driving, anxious, and honest. There’s no mystery too great that it can’t be beaten into the ground by these Rhode Island harbingers.
Touching on religious themes, the preposterousness of sex, and personal expectations, Daughters lay everything out on the table. You Won’t Get What You Want may sound tongue in cheek for what their fans are to expect, but ultimately who do you make music for? Daughters are writing for themselves in an unselfish way that pulls people in graciously. Their application of the Loud-Quiet-Loud formulae is an inspirational look at what you can do with composition in the right kind of light. The Flammable Man is an assault piece that cuts right through you. City Song opens the album up with a long stretch that brings you into the dream city that Daughters have created. The album itself is a city of desperation and persistence that refuses to allow the listener direct explanation. We’re on this damn tour together and no one really knows what answers to expect.
Less Sex is a slower number that sounds both sensuous and lonely simultaneously. The impression I get is the act of sex can cause more isolation in certain circumstances, instead of the intimacy we were promised. But I suppose it all depends on what it is you’re looking for to begin with. The closing track Guest House is a chopper; chopping and hacking away at the forest of the mind. Some old forgotten fruit may shake down and bring old wounds to the light. You might be expecting something, but there are no guarantees for what it is you will actually remember.
You Won’t Get What You Want is an important album. In a time of inflated certainty, where everyone and their father knows what’s best and what’s what, Daughters have raised their hands in protest. They don’t like what they’ve been told and the answers just aren’t good enough. With enough time, there may be an opportunity for Daughters to find their own answers to the questions pressed upon them. Until then, let them in!
Arabrot – Who Do You Love (Pelagic, 2018)
Just when you thought it was safe to leave the 70’s! Here comes Arabrot with their new album Who Do You Love. The Grammy winning Norwegian band that lives in an abandoned church are bringing you new formulas of fuzzed out aggressions with all the necessary questions attached. With an arrow pointing between Zeppelin and Sabbath, on their best days, Arabrot brings a new flavor to the classic sound.
Pygmalion might be my favorite track on this album, actually. There’s a somber quality that cuts through the force and aggression of the previous tracks. It comes around like a moment of reflection after a storm, when you still see more trouble on the horizon. What can I say? I’m partial to bummers.
Who Do You Love by Arabrot is a good driving album; preferably on a long stretch of road with 200 miles between your starting point and your destination. This is an album that requires time to digest. Time to consider where you are without dwelling too much on where you’ve been. That can be a trap of the mind that seems all too inviting.
Cherubs – Short of Popular (Trance Syndicate, 1996 / Sonic Surgery, 2018)
You hear that? The sounds like angels taking LSD and operating a demolition site? Sounds like Heaven to me. It also sounds like the new remaster of the 1996 compilation by Cherubs called Short of Popular. The band from Austin, Texas, that never quite made it have remastered their collection of singles, b-sides, and rejected songs for the first time on vinyl to be released in October. Equal parts timing and luck, Cherubs were shamefully neglected by their scene in the 90’s. In a time of cutsie pop hooks and with the looming boy-band typhoon on the horizon, Cherubs sort of faded into record store obscurity. If you knew Cherubs, you were damn glad to know Cherubs. I was too young in ’96 to find em on my own. Raised in a religious household, I wasn’t privy to most popular music of the time, much less the obscurities.
Cherubs are crazy aggressive; aggressive in the best possible way. With each track picking up where the other left off, Short of Popular is a seamless collection of their work. Some bands can get stuck in the problem where there are too many similarities in their songs. Every band has a “type”. Cherubs definitely have a type, but they rip it off before it gets stale. Foregoing the traditions of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/verse/chorus/end, every song on Short of Popular is mania.
Trying to visualize a live Cherubs show is like trying to imagine an avalanche. Watching one on TV is very different from being in the middle of the fucker. I’ll bet they were a blast. This will be the first vinyl release for the Cherubs compilation and I’m pretty damn excited. I may have missed the initial ride, but I’ll try to catch up. I suggest you do the same.