Billy’s Top 5 — 10.12.16

We’re back with the second installment of whatever this is! Continuing with the musical theme, here’s what I’ve come across since our last encounter:

1. Carpenter Brut– “Turbo Killer

I only became aware of this outfit after being informed they would be the opening act at the Ghost show I was attending (which was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed). This is the first track I sampled as it’s what YouTube told me was their most popular. After experiencing the video I was hooked and had to hear more by these French fellows. I haven’t heard anything I don’t like by Carpenter Brut. They have this sound that makes you feel like you’re in the 80’s experiencing the best synth-wave music that era has to offer while simultaneously being aware of 80’s over-the-top cliche’s, references, and nostalgia. Imagine the best 80’s arcade game with the most action and extra cheese that never existed. The soundtrack to that game is half of what makes Carpenter Brut what they are. The other half is a love of 70’s and 80’s exploitation horror films. So, an amalgamation of a penchant for nostalgic synth sounds and a love of these cult (and sometimes occult) films gives us the intoxicating concoction of their riveting, and gripping music. Some of this stuff gets so creepy that it wouldn’t sound out of place in Stranger Things. Whereas, some of their tunes sound like they’d be fine in an R-Type or Out Run game. I can’t get enough of ’em, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see them live in Mid-West USA.

2. Phantogram– “Answer

Another act I’ve only recently been made aware of. If I had to give an elevator pitch for what I’ve heard from Phantogram, it’d be this: Phantogram is a combination of Yeah Yeah YeahsSleigh Bells, and Metric with an emphasis on the electronic aesthetic. I’m not completely in love with what I’ve heard thus far, but it’s interesting enough to keep me curious. There’s a simple beauty in what they do, but it doesn’t always pay off melodically for me, and they seem to have a handle on the “start really quiet, minimalist, and sparse, then build and add layers in the third act of the song” construction. I’ll probably spend a little more time looking into their back catalog, as I’m really hoping to find some more of the avant-garde pop sound I get a taste of in their latest effort.

3. Meshuggah– “Clockworks

These dudes are coming up on 30 years of metal! And they don’t show a lick of aging. If anything, this album is one of their more driving collection of songs (now, just add “Bleed” to this album and it would be easily) they’ve pooled together their entire career. “Clockworks” does an amazing job of representing who Meshuggah are, and who they were, and who they want to be. There’s a little bit of every era of Meshuggah in this one track, and that usually doesn’t work out well for most artists. But this is one cohesive piece of metal art, here. What’s not to love? Awesome, down-tuned, thunderous guitars. Intricate drum beats mixed with different strumming patterns. Even their vocalist, Jens, seems to be more on top of his game than ever with rhythm and delivery. I’m excited to absorb more of their latest album, “The Violent Sleep of Reason” over the coming weeks.

4. Twins– “Hot Stepper

There’s something going on in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A musical movement that’s clawing, tooth and nail, to bring back the sounds of yesteryear in the best ways possible. I talked about SIRES last week being a throwback to old-school pop/rock a la the Beatles meet Blur meet the states of California. Twins, however, take a different time machine trip that lands them in different territory. Their new album, “Square America” is a collection of songs that sound like they could have been an alternate score for Dazed And Confused. The Twins ingredients are something like Foghat, The Band, and Tom Petty all mixed with this undertone of 90’s nonchalance of bands like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., and Sebadoh. If you’re into any of that in any capacity, or have a nostalgia itch you wanna scratch with something new, Twins‘ “Square America” is for you.

5. The Black Queen– “Ice to Never

Jumping back into the electronic field, this group consists of ex-members of Nine Inch NailsPusciferKe$ha, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. If that’s not weird enough, the sound on their July 2016 debut album, “Fever Daydream“, feels heavily inspired by 80’s electronic acts, and in the best way possible, sounds like a cooler Depeche Mode. In some instances Greg Puciato (of The Dillinger Escape Plan) even seems to channel Michael Hutchence on INXS‘ “Need You Tonight“. A part of me wonders if this album is what Chino Moreno of Deftones wanted his side project, ††† (Crosses) to sound like. For the most part, this album is a very chill blend of electronic/pop songs with somewhat sinister or at least darker undertones than general listeners are used to in this genre. FKA Twigs comes to mind as a comparison, but The Black Queen harnesses more traditional song structures with fuller sound that I think pays off more for the listener. I wasn’t expecting to like this project as much as I do right now, but I’d gladly listen to more if they continue after the break up of DEP.

That’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed! Anything new you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

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