8 awesome album covers from March 2014

We scoured our music library and judged the shit out of last month’s album covers, compiling a list of releases that make us want to click play without even hearing the first track.


Review: Liars’ WIXIW

Liars: WIXIW (Mute, 6/5/12)

“No. 1 Against the Rush”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Liars_No_1_Against_the_Rush.mp3|titles=Liars: “No. 1 Against the Rush”]

Once you pair an image to a sound, it’s difficult to scrub away. Like having an actor’s face thrust onto a character from a beloved book, a music video can forever alter a song, and so anyone who saw the Todd Cole-directed video for Liars’ “No. 1 Against the Rush” will always associate its sparse beats and drugged-up synths with the midnight vistas of a derelict city, sprawlscapes illuminated only by the headlights of an unmarked van.


Video: Liars’ “No. 1 Against the Rush”

Liars: WIXIWLiars: WIXIW (Mute, 6/5/12)

Experimental rock trio Liars is releasing its fifth studio effort, WIXIW, this June, following its acclaimed album Sisterworld from 2010.

To give you a glimpse of what’s to come, the band has recruited director/photographer Todd Cole, who provides an eerie visual interpretation of “No. 1 Against the Rush.” Watch as the video chronicles each band member’s abduction by a mysterious man whose dry-cleaning day job isn’t quite what it seems once darkness falls over Los Angeles.

Young Widows

Q&A: Young Widows

Young Widows: In and Out of Youth and LightnessYoung Widows: In and Out of Youth and Lightness (Temporary Residence, 4/12/11)

Young Widows: “Future Heart”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/young-widows-future-heart.mp3|titles=Young Widows: “Future Heart”]

Though not a strict departure from previous material, the new album by post-hardcore outfit Young Widows displays a different phase of the band’s career. Calling it a “progression” might apply regressive traits to its first two albums, but In and Out of Youth and Lightness turns down the Cro-Magnon wallop and continues the band’s history of accomplished noise rock.

Its last album, Old Wounds, was a mostly live recording by Kurt Ballou (Converge, Coliseum, Pygmy Lush). In contrast, the new album was produced by the band and Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket) at The Funeral Home in its hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Guitarist and vocalist Evan Patterson joined us to answer a few questions about the band’s songwriting process and what bands people should check out.

How do you describe your music?

I don’t, but if you were a clerk at a gas station, I would tell you that we are a rock band. That’s as far as I can go.

On the new album, there’s a bit of a weird blues influence — less Jesus Lizard pummel and more of a Liars atmospheric vibe. What did you want to do new or different? What did you want to keep the same?

Music has to progress. There are no specific influences. The goal with this album was to find my voice, and that was wholeheartedly achieved. Lyrically, [they’re] the heaviest and most affective songs that I’ve created. Old blues has that same effect on me. It speaks to me. The bridge between modern rock music and blues is a short one, and it’s inevitable that those characteristics will be riding in the same vehicle to achieve certain goals.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Zorch’s Demo EP

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Zorch: DemoZorch: Demo (3/8/11)

Zorch: “Zut Alore!”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Zorch_Zut_Alore.mp3|titles=Zorch: “Zut Alore!”]

Morrow: Zorch is a frantic instrumental-rock duo that used its debut EP to present swirling keyboard arpeggios, baritone synth grooves, and hyperactive beats that ever-so-slightly recall Zach Hill (after he comes down from speed).  Originally recorded and released on a small scale in 2009, Demo is seeing a re-release and new press push, thanks to a series of SXSW dates and some love from NPR.

Hajduch: “Zut Alore!” the opening track, actually fails the “instrumental” test with its four-bar chant that closes the track out.  There’s a nice riff backed with some big drums and a “bass line,” as it were, provided by a Fender Rhodes.  It’s simultaneously hooky and spastic; they find a way to nail that delicate balance that Lightning Bolt has made its wheelhouse.


Guest Spots: Disappears explains its key components

Disappears: GuiderDisappears: Guider (Kranky, 1/17/11)

Disappears: “Halo”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Halo.mp3|titles=Disappears: “Halo”]

Chicago-based rock band Disappears feels pigeonholed. After having just released its second album, Guider, in January, the same words seem to keep popping up like shampoo instructions in various descriptions of its music: echo, fuzz, psych, kraut. The terms aren’t off base, but the band would like to think that it has a few different tricks up its sleeve. Here to address this limited vocabulary, vocalist Brian Case (formerly of The Ponys and 90 Day Men) breaks down the most recycled lingo while explaining the band’s key elements.

The Basic Elements of Disappears’ Music
by Disappears

Roland Space Echo

Used by everyone from King Tubby to KISS, the Roland Space Echo (specifically the RE-201) is a not-so-secret weapon for us. Every vocal track this band has ever recorded has been run through one of these — as well as every instruments on our recordings at one point or another. The RE-201 is a simple system in which a small loop of tape records an incoming signal and immediately plays the recorded sound back over a couple playback heads before being erased over by new incoming audio. Being an analog-tape effect, the results are usually unpredictable. It’s the cool sounds you hear on dub records and the crazy sci-fi sounds in Twilight Zone episodes. We try and tastefully split the difference, although I really want our next record to be super dubbed out, so we’ll see.

100 Unheralded Albums from 2010

Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.

Pop Montreal

Contest: Win tickets and a Pop Hopper wristband for Pop Montreal

From September 29 to October 3, the ninth annual Pop Montreal international music festival runs in dozens of venues and involves more than 400 musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, and independent cultural entrepreneurs.

This year’s five-day festival includes performances by Swans, Marnie Stern, Gotan Project, Holy Fuck, Municipal Waste, Menomena, Liars, Arrington de Dionysio‘s Malaikat dan Singa, The Budos Band, Portico Quartet, Xiu Xiu, Buke & Gass, Mount Kimbie, Immolation, and many more.

Liars: Channeling Overlooked Urbanism on Sisterworld

In the past decade, there have been few bands more surprising or compelling than Liars. Ruthlessly innovative and committed to constant evolution, its defiant attitude toward the expectations of its audience and the prevailing trends in independent rock has set it apart in a big way.