Guest Playlist: Eugene S. Robinson’s top 10 songs to accompany surrender

Oxbow: King of the JewsOxbow: King of the Jews (Reissue) (Hydra Head, 5/10/11)

Oxbow: “Daughter”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01-Daughter.mp3|titles=Oxbow: “Daughter”]

With his band OxbowEugene S. Robinson has become known for his simple, primal lyrics howled over increasingly complex arrangements, and for his fearsome live performances. The band’s most recent studio album, The Narcotic Story, was released in 2007. More recently, its second full-length, King of the Jews (released way back in ’91), was reissued this year on Hydra Head. Though the band’s avant-punk music is aggressive, and Robinson’s vocals powerful and howling, even they need dial things back and unwind with a little quietude once in a while.

Music to Put the Gun Down to

The world is sometimes a hectic place. People running back and forth, screaming, diving under cars. All of this modern hubbub and these frenetic and shouted cries to “put the gun down” will sometimes just drive you crazy. And so, as a tonic or a salve to the savage soul, Oxbow’s Eugene S. Robinson suggests 10 songs that go well with surrender. Enjoy.

1. Johnny Mathis: “Open Fire” from Open Fire, Two Guitars

Jesus Christ, this is just a great stocking-feet, throw-pillow paean to fine “bachelor” living. In front of a fireplace. With a glass of sherry.

2. Johnny Hartman: “The Day the World Stopped Turning” from The Voice That Is

Listened to this record once for a week straight. Without leaving the bed. That says it all.


Guest Playlist: Neurosis’ most vital predecessors

Neurosis: Souls at Zero (Reissue)Neurosis: Souls at Zero (Reissue) (Neurot, 2/15/11)

Neurosis: “To Crawl Under One’s Skin”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Neurosis_Souls_To-Crawl-Under-One-s-Skin.mp3|titles=Neurosis “To Crawl Under One’s Skin”]

Earlier this year, pioneering sludge-metal band Neurosis reissued its third studio album, Souls at Zero, on its own label, Neurot. Though it sounds just as fresh today, it has been nearly 20 years since that influential mixture of heavy grooves, diverse folk instrumentation, and mammoth metal riffs first cropped up. We asked frontman Steve Von Till to compile a playlist for us, and he came up with 11 bands that were instrumental in Neurosis’ formation and development.

Bands Integral to the Origin of Neurosis
by Steve Von Till of Neurosis

This playlist may contain the secrets to the origin of thousands of bands who became inspired to give it all.

1. Joy Division: “New Dawn Fades”

The driving bass. The melodic yet primitive guitar. The empty and bleak space as large as the riff. The words, “Me, seeing me this time, hoping for something else.” The emotions left behind.

Justin Bartlett

Guest Spots: Doom artist Justin Bartlett’s current favorites

Justin Bartlett has created art for some of your favorite bands and labels: SUNN O))), Intronaut, and Southern Lord, among many others. A self-described “black-ink warlock from the grim and frostbitten raven-realm of Southern California,” Bartlett knows metal and doom aesthetics. It’s only natural that he knows of a few bands you should hear too.

Bands and Artists You Should Know
by Justin Bartlett

Constructing a cohesive theme for my guest column at ALARM was not forming in my skull. Top Ten Album Releases for 2010? Top Ten Favorite Artists? Top Ten Fish Tacos? Hmm…nothing.

Perhaps this needs to be more KVLT and underground…Top 10 Cassette Releases? Nah, the tape thing has been played out enough. Bear with me….Top Six Uses of Upside-Down Crosses on Album Artwork? Ah, fuck it, here’s a list of nine bands and visual artists that I enjoy, find inspirational, or simply think are interesting and who you should check out for yourself. All of the visual artists I’ve listed have created artwork for bands, but some of the musicians/bands do not necessarily have outstanding album aesthetics. Either visually or musically (and sometimes both), they weave together textures that are dark, grim, and, to a person with a penchant for the negative, often cathartic.
Blessure Grave

1. Blessure Grave

Blessure Grave was one of the best things to come out of San Diego’s rather lackluster and safe indie music scene for years. Although its post-punk sound gives a nod to some of my favorites — Joy Division, Death In June, The Cure, and The Chameleons — the band played with enough conviction and creativity to avoid being too derivative. Structurally, the band has a very strong pop drive to its material with an underlying bedroom black-metal atmosphere. Blessure Grave released a ton of EPs on vinyl and cassette, and Judged by Twelve, Carried by Six was one of my favorite releases of 2010. Unfortunately, the band broke up recently, but luckily I was able to work on a cassette cover for When I Die before its demise. Blessure Grave’s mastermind, Tobias [Grave], started a new band called Soft Kill.