This Week’s Best Albums: February 12, 2013

This Week's Best Albums: February 12, 2013

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.

Pissed Jeans: Honeys (Sub Pop)

"Bathroom Laughter"


By naming your band Pissed Jeans and opening your album with a track titled “Bathroom Laughter,” you create certain expectations. On its fourth LP, noise-punk group Pissed Jeans confirms those expectations, then throttles them while using its teeth as guitar picks.

Honeys is loud, fast, mad, and heavy, only breaking stride for sludgy, half-speed songs — which, without losing their punch, let things simmer beneath the surface. With nigh-incomprehensible vocals, plenty of fuzz and squeal, and a bit more production than in the past, Honeys is a standout for those who like their musicians angry and their rock punk.

- Lincoln Eddy

Grayceon: Pearl and the End of Days (Flenser)

"Pearl"


As the art of the full-length grows weaker with the rise of the digital era, 30 minutes of music practically qualifies as a double album for some artists. Not so for cello-metal trio Grayceon, whose EP Pearl and the End of Days nearly hits a half-hour in just two epic tracks.

“Pearl,” the first of those two, is 10 minutes worth of tension, release, and riffs. Jackie Perez-Gratz’s transformative cello syncs with Max Doyle’s deep guitar licks and Zack Farwell’s double-bass and tom-heavy drumming to cut swaths through the moody intro. Meanwhile, Gratz’s and Doyle’s vocals alternate between delicate and brutal, giving “Pearl” a warmth to pair with the sheer metal aggression.

As for "End of Days," its 17 minutes are practically an EP unto itself, with long, ringing chords turning to somber yet busy melodies, alternately Rasputina-like vocals and metal shrieking, and, of course, massive metal riffs. Few releases can do so much with two tracks. Get this now.

- Scott Morrow

Foals: Holy Fire (Warner Bros.)

"Inhaler"


The slow swell of the opener on Foals’ third record, Holy Fire, is classic misdirection. After an indistinct psychedelic whisper that lasts for four minutes, "Inhaler" jars the listener with undeniable heft and groove — the sound of a band “shedding its inhibitions,” a liberating opening salvo.

It's a welcome exercise in heaviness before a slide into softer realms. But just because things are a little softer doesn’t mean they get any less dynamic; twitters and thunderclaps punctuate soft coos on “Milk & Black Spiders,” and atonal fuzz backs the drifting relaxation that is “Stepson.”

Nothing else hits like "Inhaler," but Holy Fire remains engaging, with tapestry-like songs and the occasional remembrance of the band’s mathy, dancey past (“Everytime”). Mostly, though, Holy Fire is relaxed, reflecting the looseness of a band that has played together long enough to be comfortable in its skin.

- Lincoln Eddy

PVT: Homosapien (Felte)

"Nightfall"


Homosapien, the new LP from experimental electro-rock group PVT, is an aural map of the body electric. Begun as an improvisational outfit, the band (formerly Pivot) has grown poppier and more structured from album to album. Homosapien, which leans on electronics, polishes everything to an even smoother sheen.

Beats drive much of this music, but they don’t overshadow the dark, retro feel (definitely some John Carpenter influence) that pervades the record. Though brightness, harmonies, and quicker tempos do show up, distorted vocals and musical minimalism deliver a melancholy experience. And despite a mostly electronic palette, an eclectic sensibility makes Homosapien a rewarding listen.

- Lincoln Eddy

Honorable Mentions:

Nataly Dawn: How I Knew Her (Nonesuch)

Integrity: Black Heksen Rise 7-inch (Indie Recordings)

Ulrich Schnauss: A Long Way to Fall (Domino)

Serengeti: Saal (Graveface)

Texas is the Reason: Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection (Revelation)

Veronica Falls: Waiting for Something to Happen (Slumberland)