Two last minute vinyl picks for your holiday gift-giving list, from Bill Adams, editor-in-chief of Ground Control Magazine.
Death From Above 1979
The Physical World
(Last Gang/Warner Brothers)
On The Physical World, it’s impossible to miss the difference between Death From Above as they existed in 2005 and this new, re-energized incarnation of the band. First, where once the beats that Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger constructed sounded impossibly rigid, stiff and programmed, there’s an ever-so-slight swing in the beat of “Cheap Talk” which ends up totally recontextualizing the way the music moves. Suddenly, there’s a new presence of personality pushing the trebly bass which has always been a mainstay of DFA’s sound and that difference gives the music depth; now, Keeler and Grainger aren’t yelping aimlessly anymore, there’s focus to the music and that focus is intoxicating in addition to propelling both the band and the music along. That focus carries through into “Right On, Frankenstein” and causes lyrical stanzas like “I dig my own graves lately/ I don’t need any help” and “All my life, I’ve been waitin’ for you/ Not waitin’ to find out that nothin’s new/ It’s the same old song, just a different tune” to jump out from the song and slap listeners in the face. It’s remarkable; DFA has never been so active as they are here and this new presence is intoxicating.
No Child Left Behind
It’s always difficult to give a hard, loud album to someone for Christmas because, as soon as they open it, they might want to play it (and play it loud) – and that would likely make for a potentially awkward moment with the other people inattendance (parents, in-laws, kids) or even just the moment of the day. Some metal fans may be indifferent to the comfort of others, but others will choose to wait – and the waiting will torture them. Even so, the decision to wait for the right moment to start listening would be wisest for recipients of No Child Left Behind by Old Lines because this album is a genuine, flat-out sensory assault. Clocking in at a hair less than twenty-two and a half minutes, No Child Left Behind waits no time and just explodes with molten, downbeat hardcore power and JUST NEVER STOPS EXCEPT TO CHANGE SIDES OF THE LP. There are no gaps between songs, just screeches of feedback before a count of four begins the next earbleeder; the result can (and does) feel like sensory deprivation because of the constant onslaught.
… And what an onslaught it is. The succesion of tracks on the first side (“Cold Teeth,”Traps,” “Remote Controlled” and “The Hunted”) trap and beat listeners senseless with little warning and no reprieve. Throughout each song, guitarist Mitch Roemer just dumps more layers of molten shred on the songs than the rhythm section of Jake Berry and Pat Martin should be able to sustain, but they defy expectation and manage to hold their own against him. Each track batters the idea of song dynamics to a pulp and then just flies into the next track with no concession made for any listener who might be trying to keep up; it’s violent agressive and dirty, and will leave listeners feeling all of those things as the side ends – but then the band just ups and does it again! Like No Child Left Behind‘s A-side, the B-side makes no concession for delicacy or craft as it just blazes through another five songs, closes and leaves listeners to try and figure out how much damage they incurred by the listening experience. It’s violent, savage and brutal: a perfect antidote for the “good will towards men” mindset of the holiday season. Those who need that can get it here, and then some.