This Week’s Best Albums: August 10, 2010

This Week's Best Albums

Divinity: The Singularity (Candlelight)

The Singularity is the second full-length album from Divinity, a Calgary-based extreme-metal quintet that combines machine-gun beats, impossibly fast harmonizing guitar scales, Meshuggah-ish syncopations, and alternately death-metal and epic vocals (akin to Strapping Young Lad).

Like the band’s first album, The Singularity was self-released before being picked up for European and American distribution.  The wait between release and distro was much longer this time around, however, due to Nuclear Blast (seemingly) inexplicably dropping the band after its debut.

This one is a thoroughly crushing and assailing effort, and it should appeal to many metal fans on the “extreme” end of the spectrum.  It would be great to hear more moments like the start to “Embrace the Uncertain,” when a melodic piano intro and synth accent lead into metal chaos, but it’s hard to argue with The Singularity as it is.

Divinity: “Monsters Are Real”

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Dreamend: So I Ate Myself, Bite by Bite (Graveface)

Dreamend is the work of Ryan Graveface, the man behind Graveface Records and the guitarist/bassist of Black Moth Super Rainbow.  Unlike the solo efforts of BMSR staple Tobacco, though, the sounds of Dreamend are markedly different than Graveface’s “full-time” band.

Graveface has been releasing solo material for the better part of a decade, and So I Ate Myself, Bite by Bite continues the direction of his 2008 album The Long-Forgotten Friend, which had the least emphasis on shoegazing guitars.

Melodic, bluegrass-infused instrumentals and singer/songwriter pieces comprise the majority of this one, again using banjo, bells, guitar, organ, and overdubbed vocals to establish a warm, low-key vibe.  A companion album is expected in 2011, and it will be interesting to see how that complements this one.

Dreamend: “Magnesium Light”

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The Budos Band: III (Daptone)

Self-described as “afro-soul,” The Budos Band is one of the instrumental staples of the Daptone roster.  Afro-beat, heavy funk, and soul are the tentet’s main influeces, as deep horn grooves, wailing organ riffs, and funky percussions pave the way for dance-floor gyrations.

Like its predecessors, III delivers more danceable Budos jams with a few slow-tempo numbers mixed in for good measure.  Bouncy bass rhythms, guitar hooks, and flute solos all complement the baritone sax and other horned members of the front line.

III doesn’t tread much new ground for The Budos Band, but it’s another solid entry in the band’s catalog.

The Budos Band: “Unbroken, Unshaven”

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Street Sweeper Social Club: The Ghetto Blaster EP

When Tom Morello and Boots Riley released Street Sweeper Social Club‘s debut last year, it was the closest thing to Rage Against the Machine to appear from Morello since the political rap-rock group disbanded.

Riley’s sociopolitical lyrics — a staple of his work in The Coup — made the comparison pretty apt, even if he didn’t have the same fiery urgency as Zack de la Rocha.

However, with a stated mission to make “anthems for the revolution,” the vibe has been one of partying mixed with anti-establishment messages (like “every banker is a fucking thief” in “Everythang”).

The Ghetto Blaster EP is not as overly anthemic as the self-titled debut, and it feels like a stronger rock effort.  But the release is being pushed with a few radio-hit cover songs, most notably an uninspired hard-rock take on MIA‘s “Paper Planes.”  It’s strange that the band would be pushing this as a single so shortly after the original left the airwaves, but it’s stranger coming from Morello and Riley, who have established musical voices.

A rendition of LL Cool J‘s “Mama Said Knock You Out” is better, but it lacks the power or immediacy of a cover like Anthrax and Public Enemy‘s “Bring the Noise.”  But it does have a killer dueling harmony from Morello’s overdubbed guitars midway through, and we can only hope that SSSC captures this full potential going forward.

Street Sweeper Social Club: “Ghetto Blaster”

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Honorable Mentions

Lost in the Trees: All Alone in an Empty House (Anti-)

Guillermo Klein: Domandor De Huellas (Sunnyside)

Memmaker: How to Enlist in a Robot Uprising, deluxe edition (Artoffact)

Negura Bunget: Virstele Pamintului (Aural)

Yaotl Mictlan: Dentro del Manto Gris de Chaac (Candlelight)