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 V.23 No.11 | March 13 - 19, 2014 

Sonic Reducer

Oh, for the day when filmmaker Gregg Araki contacts Toronto band Trust to score one of his movies! It would be a logical match, given Araki's sonic penchant for the dark and resonant yet floaty. In the meantime, he should license songs from Trust’s latest release Joyland. Once a duo affiliated with fellow Canadian synth lovers Austra, Trust is now a solo project with Robert Alfons at the helm. Alfons’ vocals sound effete and inebriated; at times it sounds like he’s trying to sing around an ice cube in his mouth. Still, “Geryon” and “Rescue, Mister” are both exquisitely danceable goth-pop tunes, while “Are We Arc?” is the come-down, chill-out number. This one’s for fans of Perfume Genius, Xiu Xiu and Stephin Merritt’s glitchier projects. (M. Brianna Stallings)

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Ben Asbury’s noisy, psychedelically triumphant foray into el rocanrol as Axxa/Abraxas once again proves the old adage that former art school denizens sometimes make decent rock and rollers. On this eponymous debut, Axxa/Abraxas joins the ranks of folks like Michael Stipe, Thom Yorke and Kanye Westplus some dude named Lennon and a lady named Joniwho turned away from the studio and plugged themselves into the mystical world of the damn good jam. Music was always an accompaniment to Asbury’s creative output. This recording serves as an official leap forward, putting sound at the center, but there’s still an important visual aspect to the work. (Think R.E.M. or Radiohead’s incorporation of album art in their oeuvres.) The overall effect is not so much derivative as it is heavily informed by the history of the genre’s spacy boundaries. The album’s first single, “I Almost Fell,” would still sound groovy without knowledge of past glory. (August March)

Eagulls gave a swaggering performance on David Letterman’s show a few weeks ago, reigniting fierce debate about the state of British rock. Somewhere between overwrought, orchestrated glitchiness and frequent nods to dance hall tradition, punk rock of the sceptered isle variety has apparently reappeared in a healthy, cocksure variation emanating from Leeds. Thrashy yet oddly melodic, the first full-length recording by the five-member group, fronted by George Mitchell, is full of reasons to abandon Brit pop forever in exchange for the working class outrage and shadowy redemption evidenced on tracks like “Nerve Endings” and “Soulless Youth.” Although this record sometimes veers craftily toward dark pop under the influence of early Cure singles and the vocal stylings of Urge Overkill, the image on the album’s cover is enough to remind listeners where the heart of this group really dwells. (August March)

 

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