This Week’s Best Albums: December 4, 2012

This Week's Best Albums: December 4, 2012

Each week, editor-in-chief Chris Force and music editor Scott Morrow choose ALARM’s favorite new releases for This Week’s Best Albums, an eclectic set of reviews presenting exceptional music.

Mogwai: Wrenched Virile Lore (Sub Pop)

"George Square Thatcher Death Party (Justin K. Broadrick Reshape)"

Nearly two years removed from its seventh studio full-length, Scottish post-rock quintet Mogwai has made another run at the remix album, this time gathering more underground talent to re-imagine Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will.

"Rano Pano," the original album's heavily distorted yet ghostly lead single, is the only tune to appear twice — given a rapid-fire, über-melodic MIDI treatment by Klad Hest (Matt Loveridge of Beak>) and then turned to pulsing ambience by Tim Hecker. Meanwhile, Jesu / Godflesh leader Justin B. Broadrick synthesizes "George Square Thatcher Death Party," horror-score enthusiasts Zombi space-ify "Letters to the Metro," synth-punk band The Soft Moon runs "San Pedro" through the rock-effects wringer, and acoustic guitarist / singer RM Hubbert offers a quickly finger-picked cover of "Mexican Grand Prix."

There's plenty more remix talent on board, including Umberto and Robert Hampson (Loop). Thankfully, with it all put together, Wrenched Virile Lore avoids the main two pitfalls of remix albums, which usually bear no resemblance to their source material or sound like the originals with dance beats behind them. This one is equally suited for dancing, chilling, and zoning out.

- Scott Morrow

Kowloon Walled City: Container Ships (Brutal Panda)


One might be tempted to compare San Franciscan sludge group Kowloon Walled City to its namesake, the dense, light-deprived enclave in Hong Kong that was demolished in 1993. The truth, however, is that despite the heft and layers of Container Ships, the band's sophomore full-length exhibits a healthy balance of space and mood.

Led by guitarist/vocalist Scott Evans, Container Ships mostly is straight-ahead sludge metal. But in the heavy, ringing chords and the lengthy riffs, the album thrives on repetition, allowing for a headbanging trance. Evans's scratchy, semi-screamed vocals pair well with the beefy guitars and bass, which often shift to half-distorted or clean, metallic tones. Between that and the changes in minor-key and dissonant progressions, Kowloon's sophomore album isn't quite as dreary and cramped as the former fort settlement seems — but it doesn't do a bad interpretation either.

- Scott Morrow

Honorable Mentions:

The Greg Foat Group: Girl and Robot with Flowers (Jazzman)

James Levy and the Blood-Red Rose: Pray to Be Free (Cooperative Music / Heavenly Recordings)

Memory Tapes: Grace/Confusion (Carpark)

Merchandise: Children of Desire re-release (Jagjaguwar)

Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD)