The Seer, the new double album that follows Swans’ productive 2010 reunion and studio return, is a space in which to wander in furious mediation — as songwriter Michael Gira puts it, a “total experience.” Dense without losing immediacy, the album stretches over two hours of constantly shifting aural landscapes. This is a work to be enjoyed second by second, losing your mind to its deceptive repetitions.
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Last year, sludge-rock band the Melvins released its 20th album (and third since linking up with Big Business members Jared Warren and Coady Willis). That album, entitled The Bride Screamed Murder, is emblematic of what the band has done its whole career: tweak its signature sound — part anthemic classic rock, part avant-garde heaviness — to present something entirely new yet quintessentially Melvins. That willingness to shake things up has been a major factor in the band’s longevity.
After last year’s release, the band undertook a tour in early 2011, playing a different album from its back catalog each night. As the saying goes, you get what you give, and in this case, the Melvins’ 30-year history of experimentation has continually rewarded the band with new experiences. Dale Crover, drummer and founding member, recounts the band’s some of the most memorable recent experiences below.
Endless Residency Tour by Dale Crover
The Melvins did a residency every Friday night last January in Los Angeles. To make each show unique, we decided to play a different record from our ever-growing catalog of releases. It seemed to go over really well, and since we took the time to learn all these records, we decided to take it on the road. Here are some highlights from the “Endless Residency” tour.
Austin Texas: Austin shows are always great, except for the heat. It’s 100 degrees out, and of course we’re playing outside! The show goes well, but by the end, the “costume” that I’m wearing feels like a soaking-wet sleeping bag. The next day we meet up with our friends from the band Honky to get lunch. Everyone I know that lives in Austin says that the BBQ downtown is average, and they know where the best is. We drive miles out of town to a place in Spicewood, Texas, called Opie’s BBQ. We’re greeted by a guy who opens a large trough with 10 different kinds of smoked meat. We let the Honky boys order for us, then sit down to stuff our faces. It was certainly worth the trip, and I highly recommend the spicy corn! After the feast, we stop by Willie Nelson‘s recording studio. Honky just recorded there. No Willie, but we got the full tour, including seeing the tape vault with Red Headed Stranger master tapes! I was also highly impressed by the nine-hole golf course next door. Maybe we’ll do our next record there!
Avi Zahner-Isenberg traded in his skateboard for a guitar at age 12. A short eight years later, his band, Avi Buffalo, is signed to Sub Pop and touring the world on the strength of its self-assured rock-pop debut.
Operating his printing and design practice under the name Crosshair, Dan MacAdam has taken a unique approach to poster art while working with the screen-printing medium for more than 15 years.
His recent work fully integrates the text — which is generally minimal — into the visual context of the image instead of displaying the text and image as two separate entities. Thus the image as a whole appears natural and undisturbed as it provides information to the viewer. In essence, instead of reading, the audience is viewing and absorbing the design.
After three albums that touch on personal topics, the scratchy, soulful material of folk singer and banjo player William Elliott Whitmore gets a thematic overhaul, angling toward subdued political themes.
On 12/31/00, dropped-D alt-rockers Hum played their final show in Chicago, appearing with the Flaming Lips at the Metro. Now, eight years to the date, the group reconvenes in the Windy City for a double dose of reunion performances.
ALARM intercepts transmissions from Hum singer Matt Talbott and bassist Jeff Dimpsey before these impending shows, the first of which is tonight at Chicago’s Double Door.
Pummeling mid-tempo rock icons The Jesus Lizard will briefly reunite; idiosyncratic rapper Busdriver performs live with a jazz band tonight; minimalist folk group Phosphorescent has recorded a disc of Willie Nelson covers. Read on.
The former Unicorns l’enfante terrible has grown up over the course of Islands last two records. The most recent, Arm’s Way is an assured work of pop craftsmanship, featuring soaring orchestral arrangements and dance-able melodies.