By Michael Henningsen
American Music Club Love Songs for Patriots (Merge)
Being a self-professed alcoholic is a cliché lost on AMC's Mark Eitzel. There are gobs of songwriters regularly crediting their insights to booze and drugs, but few of them actually write from that place between reality and sad, slow death. Eitzel, unquestionably, is one of them. The pain, loss, heartbreak and sadly accurate worldview he crafts songs with can't be faked. As a result, AMC's first studio album in 10 years bristles with passionate suicidal tendencies and the kind of yearning that'll reduce you to tears—proof that giving up may well be the first step in starting over.
Wolf Eyes Burned Mind (Sub Pop)
Beginning with 69 seconds of silence that gives way to pink noise on acid, Wolf Eyes' debut for Sub Pop evolves slowly from there, coalescing into a menagerie of mad-scientist electro-blasts, radio dial noise and pulsing bass frequencies. There are lyrics, too, but good luck trying to break them free from the cybernetic mishmash they're squeezed into. It's almost as if the Borg had partially assimilated Hella and John Cage, birthing a strange two-headed monster with a propensity toward analog keyboards, heavily distorted guitars and compressors. Fucking intense, but fucking cool. God is not here today.
Feels Like Sunday Follow the Signs (self-released)
Although Follow the Signs doesn't move along any single lyrical theme, it's a concept album in more ways than one. For one thing, Joni Rhodes-Orie's vocals have matured to the point of becoming a melodic element of the music rather than merely a vehicle for lyrics. And the addition of a second guitarist has solidified the band's sound significantly, giving the songs a unique signature—there's no mistaking them as anything but Feels Like Sunday songs. Songwriting is tight and terse, and there's passion to spare both lyrically and musically. Follow the Signs is a near-complete triumph.
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