The quintessential example of an album that can’t be assessed on hearing just one track, the self-titled debut from The Unsemble blurs the lines between soundtrack noir, new wave, musique concrète, chamber drone, experimental jazz, and rock with deceptive ease.
Now on its third full-length album, A Place to Bury Strangers — previously called “the loudest band in New York” — remains fastened to its style, offering a modern take on European noise rock, post-punk, and shoegaze of the 1980s.
With Worship, the band’s core attributes still define it, emphasized by buzz-saw guitars, blistering feedback, Oliver Ackermann’s airy vocals, and a special dichotomy between noise and melody. But these 11 tracks, following the slightly poppier (but equally loud) Onwards to the Wall EP of February, might best capture the inherent tension in that balance.
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 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.