New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9c/Not_the_Actual_Events.jpgBefore I begin to dig into this EP, I would first like to shout out a really great review done on big bad Pfork on The Fragile.

Onwards. I am enjoying the heck out of this record. It is certainly not a groundbreaking NIN album, but if you’ve got a good speaker system or some juicy headphones, treat yourself to the sonic delights of perfectly produced music. Reznor is really good at splitting channels in songs, which doesn’t come to it’s full potential until the listener pops on a headseat and is trapped in an aural teeter-totter. (Side note, this is also a way to hear some lyrics better. On many tracks the wall-of-sound is hard-panned to one side and then the lyrics come out crisp and clear on the other.)

I would also like to take a moment to address some oddities I found on the interwebs before I began: One of his grimiest records since Downward Spiral (wuh-hut??); blasé reviews on The Slip & Hesitation Marks (is. you. doin??); no one ever talking about Ghosts I-IV (bruh.) So for those in the back who weigh in when they feel like having an opinion on a record they half-assed listened to once: fuck all y’all. To me there are only two reasons to have these dumb ideas: you haven’t gotten over Downward Spiral and expect every album to be more of the same (ew) OR you hopped on the wagon because you thought With Teeth was awesome (double ew). The reason why Ghosts I-IV is so important to the catalog is that it concludes the content of the previous albums and ushers in the new era. Essentially, Year Zero is what With Teeth was supposed to be–the capstone to anger and desolation & in the same moment restored fans faith in Trent Reznor. So, everything that has been made since Ghosts I-IV is the new age of Nine Inch Nails. You will need to accept and enjoy complex electronic rhythms, exploration into new genres (world, jazz, funk), and letting your mind meditate in the atmospheric murk if you want to continue to appreciate their albums.

Now that the emotional vomit is out, let’s move on.

  • “Branches / Bones” really showcases the industrial-wall-of-sound that Reznor has been cultivating at least since The Fragile‘s “Starfuckers, Inc.”, if not much earlier. It’s sort of like screaming into a pillow before having a hard conversation and it works as a nice wake-the-fuck-up track.
  • “Dear World,” is so drum heavy it makes it hard to breath. When all the sounds are combined there is no pause, no rest. So when it breaks out into thinner layers it feels like a relief. And right when it stops and you can hear yourself think for a second, in pumps the 2-channel voice layers. It’s very The Slip and very tasty.
  • “She Gone Away” is so rad. I love nothing more than the gravelly bottom of Reznor’s range, yum yum yum. On a more serious note, both the music and vocal arrangements are very reminiscent of Puscifer songs; and I can’t help but wonder if this is what the never-materialized Reznor-Maynard album would have sounded like. The bassline is basic and mesmerizing. If Not the Actual Events is some sort of nostalgia tour then the drum and bass interplay on this track definitely reeks of The Fragile‘s “I’m Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally.”
  • The chanty/yelly vocal parts on “The Idea of You,” oddly enough, remind me a lot of Faith No More. And if Trent whispering in the background ala “Closer” and “I Do Not Want This” is your heaven, then welcome to your next favorite track. AND, for those of you who have been bellyaching about “too much electronic,” here is your bleedin’ rock track.
  • It’s very possible that “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” is my favorite song of the bunch. The opening stanza “I’m goin’ back/ Of course I am/ As if I ever had a choice/ Back to what I always knew I was/ On the inside/ Back to what I really am” feels like a lyrical home. And on a much more personal note, is really resonating with my ever closer return-of-Saturn. The music is grimey, crunchy and electric. There are also moments where the bass guitar and bass drum drop at the same moment and give that endlessly deep sound I most often associate with the most soul ripping Korn drops (I know, I know, who makes Korn references–but. it. applies.) I always feel a little blah about rock artists imitating fascist rallies ala NIN, Manson, Pink Floyd, etc. Mostly because I have a deep concern about/experience with this being turned by some less critically-analyzing fans into these bands condoning Nazism, which as far as I can tell is the exact opposite of what the artists are doing. But in this case, it’s faint enough that I can kind of stop and enjoy the journey instead of being worried about Reznor acci-encouraging neo-Nazi assholes.

Overall this EP is good. It does have a lot of compositional overlap with previous albums, but it’s enjoyable, not a drag. It feels kinda like a B-sides collection. Who doesn’t love B-sides? My bigger hope is that…does that mean we’re gonna get another tour?? Because man, oh man, does Reznor put on amazing. fucking. shows. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to cross my fingers, hold my breath, and wish upon a star.

4/5

 

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

March Mash-Up: On Repeat: “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen) (UK Release)” Eagles of Death Metal & “Fader” Temper Trap

March Obsessions was a double header. But unbeknownst to me, there would be another treasure for this blogpost. You see I have had this *totally legal ahem* copy of “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen)” by Eagles of Death Metal for like probably 10-15 years…it’s the only version I’ve ever known. When I sat down to write this post I went “Aha! There is a music video; how neat!” But…the music on the music video was different. I chocked it up to creating the video aesthetic, but my brain couldn’t let it go…why was it so different? All over YouTubes all the versions were this video version, which was distinctly NOT the version I had. After slaving through the interwebs, I found it–what I had was the UK version.

https://images.genius.com/7dbfd4b44c656c0aa319b5ec4d40b1a4.360x360x1.jpgSo onwards. This jam is downright grimy. If your task was to take the griminess of being an old-ass dude trying to/succeeding at getting with a barely-legal lady and turning it into music, and this is what you came up with–go ahead and call it a win.

But pedal effects aside, Jesse Hughes’ vocal style on this particular track…they way he half mumbles lyrics and then jumps suddenly into a confident yelp…it’s perfect. It’s the push and pull of tempered desire.

If I’m gonna be completely honest here, I like the UK version better. Sure, the US release it much cleaner sounding, but I would argue that in the process it loses some of its grit.

https://cbskroq2.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/tempertrap-fader.jpg?w=420And so apparently March was a strange, strange month for me because tied for overkill is “Fader” by Temper Trap. Temper Trap’s release Conditions as whole and this subsequent video for “Fader” just screams 2006-2009 in a way that, I think, only people in their youuuthz of that time can deeply understand. Arguably this is an exemplar of the infectious bittersweet alt-pop-rock that just pounds through your head because not-catchy is not an option ala The Killers, Passion Pit, MetroStation, Shiny Toy Guns, Matt and Kim, etc.

Really, the thing that makes this song and all their songs is Dougy Mandagi’s goddamn beautiful voice. The music is, as stated before, catchy as heck…but this band would’ve gone from my memory long ago if not for his siren voice. I really do mean siren, because lord knows I would not keep listening to this saccharine pop rock if not for him lulling me into submission. That’s it. This whole song obsession is just Dougy Mandagi’s vocals. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth it though! *sigh*

 

March Mash-Up: On Repeat: “I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen) (UK Release)” Eagles of Death Metal & “Fader” Temper Trap

New to the Library: “Rill Rill” Sleigh Bells

https://i1.wp.com/static.stereogum.com/uploads/2011/01/sleigh-bells-rill-video1.jpgEver wonder what that chick in A Perfect Circle’s video for “The Outsider” was doing before she qualified to join up with the Bikini Bandits? Imagine no longer; I present to you the video for “Rill Rill.” lalalala

Alexis Krauss’ vocals are reminiscent of Sharon Costanzo of Len (don’t know who the fuck Len is?…remember “Steal My Sunshine”? …yah that one). I just really needed to put that out there. Let’s move on…

This song is extra chilly. It never really -goes- anywhere, it just floats through. And then keeps floating through your mind. Remember that scene from High Fidelity where John Cusack’s character throws on “Dry the Rain” by The Beta Band and everyone just grooves? This could just slide right in it’s place. I’m making no statements here about equality of quality, but it definitely fits that same VIBE. So if you’re looking to add to your chill zone, give this track a whirl.

3.5/5

New to the Library: “Rill Rill” Sleigh Bells

New to the Library: “Scum, Rise!” Protomartyr

https://hardlyart-production-image.s3.amazonaws.com/asset/productable_images/attachments/000/000/141/square_620/protomartyr-lp1.jpg?1459899002Back in 2014, when the world seemed a smidge less shitty than now, Under Color of Official Right was a “must hear” album. Now that I have finally un-wish-listed this track with der monies, I will say, “This is nice.”

The music has a little flare of rah-rah garage punk-like rock ala hey-day The Strokes. All in all, I think the post-punk label is probably pretty accurate. The song definitely has grit and the chorus of “scUUUm, rIIIse” definitely gets the blood flowing. If you’re looking for some extra umph in your angry-cleaning playlist, this might fit the bill.

4/5

New to the Library: “Scum, Rise!” Protomartyr

New to the Library: “I Hope You Suffer” AFI

https://morganandrachelarethebest.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/afi3s.jpg?w=404&h=269

This song’s lyrics are over the top and the ending takes the GUTS out of the song. But, this is probably the best single AFI had put out since Sing the Sorrow. Even still, it feels put on much like its predecessor “Miss Murder.” (Although truthfully I think I would still pick “I Hope You Suffer” over that BS-I’ve never been able to stomach the pop-stomp, Green Day-esque style.)

I don’t think AFI is capable of achieving their former glory and, unlike their quasi-contemporaries Interpol, have not been especially great at re-inventing without alienating their current fandom. Ian Cohen of Pitchfork wrote a comically accurate review of their most recent album and critique of their recent years here. That review sums up my feelings of anything else I could have to say about this song.

On a brighter note, I had the glorious opportunity of seeing their Halloween, Portland show which WAS fucking fantastic. There is nothing quite like holding up your teen idol while he sweats in your face. So kudos for them old dudes still rocking out live.

3.5/5

New to the Library: “I Hope You Suffer” AFI

New to the Library: “Mister Main” Ty Segall

https://i0.wp.com/noisefull.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_main_580/public/main/articles/tysegall.jpg

“Mister Main” is so smooth. I have been ear-balling (?lol?) this track on my iTunes wish list for about a year and now it is mine, oh yes, it is mine.

Slinky guitar riffs, tambourine-lite, feathery layered falsetto. These are the reasons this song fills me with joy.

That’s about it. Check it out.

4/5

New to the Library: “Mister Main” Ty Segall

New to the Library: “Public Defender” Will Butler

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.sidewalkhustle.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/will-butler-friday-night-1400x600.jpg

Will Butler is always someone I’m ambivalent about. When everyone was like “Rahhh The Suburbs!!!” I was like “Nah” and when people got to being like “Suburbs is so last year,” I finally arrived at can’t-shut-up-about-it station.

So here we are again. When I hear his voice on this track I want him to just shut the fuck up already, but like can we play it again…?

This song is garage rock, plain and simple. It’s a bit like The Strokes on speed. And his insistence on saying something meaningful comes off like a track from Tommy.

If you’re missing a song for your upbeat-summer-angst mix; throw this on. That’s about what it’s worth.

3/5

New to the Library: “Public Defender” Will Butler