Regarded as one of the greatest graphic-novel writers ever, Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) has delved into the world of biography with Unearthing, an expansive narrative art-book. With photography by Mitch Jenkins, Unearthing “maps the lifetime of author, orientalist, and occultist Steve Moore, while simultaneously investigating the extraordinary history of South London with which that life has been intertwined.”
The 19th installment in John Zorn’s Masada Book 2: The Book of Angels is a doozy. As with the rest of the series, these are Zorn pieces given to an extraordinary talent (or set of talents) to perform, re-imagine, or demolish, and acoustic/electric bassist and oudist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz has done all three with his batch of songs.
“I’ve Seen Footage”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/06-Ive-Seen-Footage.mp3|titles=Death Grips: “I’ve Seen Footage”]
This February, Epic Records signed Sacramento-based aggro-rap trio Death Grips in a WTF? move that caused an industry-wide double-take. As if fearing for its own major-label life span, the trio subsequently announced two new albums to be released within the year, the first of which — The Money Store — drops today. As Death Grips’ follow-up to last year’s acclaimed mixtape Exmilitary, its first official debut finds MC Ride, Hella drummer Zach Hill, and producer Andy Morin once again crafting one of the most out-there, if not polarizing, hip-hop releases of the year.
Zorch: 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.
Marnie Stern: “For Ash”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Marnie_Stern_For_Ash.mp3|titles=Marnie Stern: “For Ash”]
Give Marnie Stern some credit; she’s been asked the same questions about being a prominent female guitarist so many times it’s amazing she hasn’t flown off the handle. Yet the New York native, known for her furious finger-tapping guitar style, just shrugs it off with a coy smile. Stern’s shredding proficiency, however, cannot be overstated. Many will notice Stern’s giddy falsetto first, but it’s her mesmerizing finger taps that usually earn her the respect and attention of everything within an earshot. She doesn’t so much as play guitar as she does attack it, molesting the fret board with two hands like a zealous sculpture on an out-of-control pottery wheel or a Rubik’s Cube expert frantically searching for the perfect combination of rotations.
As if she was unrelenting enough, Stern has employed Hella drummer Zach Hill on her last two studio albums, This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That in 2008, and Marnie Stern in 2010, both on Kill Rock Stars. Together, Hill’s thrashing and Stern’s shredding offer a brainwashing musical diet that’s virtually incomparable — thrash, shred, repeat. Recently, she took time before her two-month US tour to answer a few questions for ALARM.
What was the last thing you did where you felt like you failed, and what, if anything, did you learn from it?
I feel like I am constantly failing in so many areas of life, and that is the only thing that keeps pushing me forward to try and do better. I’ve never had things go smoothly, so I don’t know what kind of person or artist I would be if that was the case.
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.