100% Support – Iron Goddess of Mercy Compels You to Buy, Buy, Buy!
On June 5th, Bandcamp will once again waive their percentage of proceeds, so that 100% of the money goes directly to the artists. We’ll be spending the week highlighting some releases that you might want to throw money at to help the creators through these shittiest of times.
Laudare – Have Heart, Waste Flesh
Release Date: March 16, 2020
Most Violent Poem: “Exodus the Wayward”
I love music that makes me feel poetic. Walking around listening to Have Heart, Waste Flesh will inevitably lead one to take notice of the world, searching for the grace in it all. Look at the way that tree has fallen over that gravestone, balancing astride the grave like Godot. I just felt the imperceptibility of the instantaneous and eternal relief of a slight breeze brushing away the humid sweat of my closed eyelids. That car with the Confederate Flag license plate would look so divine turned upside down and aflame. Laudare inspires the lyrical flaneûr to such lofty heights as these.
On their lengthy three-song EP, Laudare blends the punk-tattered outbursts of turn-of-the-century Virginia screamo with the sprawling atmosphere of contemporary European post-skramz. A tinge of black metal glints out from some of the faster moments of the album, but just when you think you’ve caught a glimpse, Laudare drops you into a world of eerie emo melodies and raggedly haunting clean guitar riffs that both flourish and languish. Repeated listens will not diminish the surprising effect of Laudare’s clever songwriting and their flair for the dramatic. How else could they do justice to such a Bandcamp tag as “Violent Poetry”?
Thou & The Body – Everyday, Things are Getting Worse
Release Date: April 25, 2020 (Vinyl versions released in 2019)
Coolest Cover Song: “Well Fed Fuck”
Though I am not entirely sure that reviewing a collaboration from two such well-known acts is entirely in keeping with the spirit of ToH’s “100% Support” articles, this recording of ThouBody’s 2018 Roadburn set deserves inclusion. And this coming from a Goddess who rarely bothers with live albums! I do bother, however, with albums the proceeds of which are given to charities, and all proceeds from the sale of this album will go to www.electricgirls.org. That’s just part of my Aquarius nature.
I was in a record store in Gainesville, FL, sometime in 2015 when I found out Thou had collaborated with The Body to produce Released from Love (2014) and You, Whom I Have Always Hated (2015). Both bands have a habit of releasing material without warning or fanfare, so it’s fitting I was so surprised to find out in a real life record store that new records existed instead of from The World Wide Web. Nevertheless, my friend, who was clerking at the shop at the time, thought it was funny I hadn’t heard about them yet. Whatever, Sean!
Everyday, Things are Getting Worse is both a reminder that those two collaborations should not be lost amidst either band’s extensive oeuvre and a record that can and does stand on its own merit. “Beyond the Realm of Dreams…” and “The Devils of Trust Steal the Souls of the Free,” in particular, sound as massive live as they do on You, Whom I Have Always Hated, a credit to the bands and Roadburn’s top-flight sound engineers, while the two covers alone are worth the price of admission. Thou has a habit of making cover songs seem obvious, and we can now add Born Against’s “Well Fed Fuck” and Shellac’s “A Prayer to God” to the list of songs that were always already obvious for Thou to cover.
Buy the album, support Electric Girls, and get fuckin’ diaphanous.
Various Artists – Healing Sounds II: A Compilation for Those in Need
Release Date: April 10, 2020
Most Healing Sound: “At Peace With All That Is” (James Bernard)
You can only listen to Joanna Brouk so many times until you need a new infusion of ambient music to repair your frayed nerves, keep your hands from shaking, or slow your heartbeat to Mr. Burns’ or Professor Farnsworth’s pace. You can also only strike gold when Bandcamp tag-diving once in a Polar Moon. Fortunately, Past Inside the Present presented to me this past April some manna from Harold Budd heaven. I don’t know what I’d do without all the various quantum gemeralds PITP has to offer, and none are quite as priceless as Healing Sounds II.
A crass and craven individual would foist a track-by-track review of a 49-song compilation upon their esteemed readers, but I am no such person. I have difficulty even thinking about the tracks as discrete units, rather hitting play either at the beginning or at random moments throughout as if the 278-minute affair was all one cohesive disc of otic klonopin to broken into whatever size dose seems appropriate for that day. Healing Sounds II exudes a pacifying effulgence suitable for yoga, for reading, for walking (while wearing a mask), for sleeping, or for drifting out of yourself.
On May 1, Past Inside the Present reduced the price of their entire digital discography to something like $25. It’s possible they do something like that again on June 5. If they do so again, make sure to purchase Healing Sounds II prior to and separately from the discography, as all proceeds from this compilation go to Feeding America. Also, someone please buy me the limited edition 4-disc boxset. Or, you know, buy it for someone else who you think would benefit from it. Or, better yet, ask me, and I’ll buy it for you. (Seriously, y’all. I’ll buy someone a copy of that boxset if there’s a request.)
Awenden – Golden Hour
Release Date: March 13, 2020
Most Righteous Anti-Fascist Weapon: “Weapons of War / Bury ‘Em”
One of the joys of my 30s has been the unexpected return of my teen angst. I’m just a furious teenager all the time all over again! While I spent much of my 20s wallowing in apathy or desperately attempting to intellectualize my feelings, the first few years of my 30s have been marked be a delightful teenage ire. Everything is bad and everyone, including me, is stupid. I was right then, and I’m right again. Vindication!
But, if you’re going to strut around as some sort of 16-going-on-34 bubbling cauldron of high school rage, you have to be careful with your soundtrack. You can’t put on Jocko or Xibalba after walking by a house that, just this week, replaced its Trump 2020 flag with a Thin Blue Line flag. If you do, you might end up punching a stop sign while walking your dogs like an impotent, impudent doofus. That’s just an example, of course, and I’m sure I don’t know anyone who’s ever done that.
What makes Golden Hour so powerful—seeing as I how I’m supposed to be telling you why you should buy it and support Awenden—is that it channels anti-fascist fury through a carefully crafted copse of core’d-up Cascadian black metal that draws the listener out of their ire and into a wider range of emotional vulnerability. Golden Hour offers so much space to explore and breathe that you might find other ways to feel. You don’t have to lay down your anger; rather, you must keep it alongside resignation and resolve, hope and heartbreak, uncertainty and conviction, guilt and selflessness, fear and fortitude. We will need all of these feelings, and more, to have an “incalculably diffusive” effect on those around us. “For,” as George Eliot writes, “the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” Do what you must to replace the hollow idols of capital and the violent hierarchy of beings with a righteous and ceaselessly spreading compassion borne from an endless journey towards a moral and just life, whatever form that might take.