On the surface, the title track on SuperGiant’s latest On to the Stars bears a striking resemblance to Corrosion of Conformity’s “Albatross,” but the recording as a whole shimmers with galactic light surpassing the readily evident influences of its predecessors. SuperGiant accomplishes this lofty goal by systematically, continuously rocking out in ways unforeseen when COC recorded that late-20th century space-metal masterpiece. Starting with second song “Infinity,” SuperGiant shreds the light fantastic with a grace embodied by the otherworldly chops and vocal stylings of guitarist Jeremy McCollum and vocalist Joel Rodgers. McCollum’s bluesy foray on “Clear” is particularly innovative, given the genre the band has chosen to embrace. The rhythm section keeps pulsating pace with these fellows’ interstellar, instrumental gymnastics. The rim-focused snare playing sometimes distracts from an otherwise Plutonic journey. Closer “The Phoenix” finds the band ready to take their trip to the next level.
When experimental percussionist Kris Kerby becomes ICUMDRUMS, listeners should expect a metallic explosion that—while possible to analogize as the sonic equivalent of human orgasm—is far deeper in scope and effect than mere biological functionality. Kerby’s latest release as ICUMDRUMS, The Girdle, finds the artist in the realm of bona fide metal makers. Like some sexual relations, this is a sticky, organic affair replete with joy, regret and the power of memory. The limited cassette release on Sicksicksick Distro sold out quickly, but The Girdle remains available for download. Just like fucking, this full-length debut includes the transcendent and the unknowably numb. Tracks like “For Her,” “On the Way” and “While She’s Smelling” may seem transgressive on first listen, but repeated interaction with these pieces reveal a musical aesthetic that is convincing and controlled. ICUMDRUMS’ success doesn’t hinge on pre-coital or post-metal abandon as much as it does on Kerby’s innate sense of completion and cohesion.
Big Sad Guy II is a recording of tremendous beauty and strength. It’s the work of John Eric Johnson, a local man and musician who died of melanoma last year. Johnson’s output as a silvery rock-and-roller with a golden lo-fi heart is renowned for captivating attention to melody, harmonics and fantastic forays into fine art. This album’s no exception to that rule, featuring the collaborative efforts of Burque notables like Robert Darrell Sparks (Pawn Drive), Brett Sparks (Handsome Family), Ted Jurney (F.O.R.) and just about everyone else touched by Johnson’s large hands and formidable talent. From “Waterfall”—one helluva opener filled with confident guitar work and ironic, incisive lyrics—to hillbilly jam session “Hey There, Hidey Ho” and on through to the surf-tinged “Middle of Nowhere,” Johnson and company show off soulful style. It proves incomparable when gathered together and loosed on a land once trod upon by a giant of a man.