Release Radar: Death From Above

Posted by | September 29, 2017 | Song Discovery | No Comments
New releases continue to blossom as September wraps up – this has definitely been the biggest release month of the year.  New releases I will be checking out include (there are 10!) the 4th album from J Roddy Walston & the Business “Destroyers of the Soft Life” who are now based in Richmond after starting in Tennessee and time in Baltimore.  This legendary live band is hoping to capture some of that appeal on record  for this effort they have a new producer and spent much more time in the studio than previously.  North London indie rockers Wolf Alice have completed their always difficult second album “Visions of a Life”.  Innovative alt-metal S.F. band Primus who formed over 30 years ago are unleashing “The Desaturating Seven”, a concept album based on an Italian children’s book about color-eating goblins.  German retro psych-rockers Kadavar are sharing their 4th proper studio album “Rough Times”.  Switching over to pop, there are a number of releases this week but the only one I may check out is Miley Cyrus “Younger Now” since I’ve gained some respect for her from The Voice.  Indie rock vocalist Torres, with influences from Cat Power and PJ Harvey is dropping her third album “Three Futures” which is worth checking out.  Winnipeg punk rockers Propagandhi are getting some positive buzz for their 8th album “Victory Lap”.  Detroit indie rock band Protomartyr are presenting their fourth album “Relatives in Descent” – I haven’t been able to get into this band in the past but I will continue to make an effort with this new release since they are so highly regarded by many others.  The last two new releases are probably the most polarizing – violent noise rockers Unsane are unleashing album #10 titled “Sterilize” and saxophonist Kamasi Washington, one of the leading progressive jazz musicians/composers is sharing a new EP “Harmony of Difference”.
 
Death From Above, formerly Death From Above 1979, have just released their 3rd album “Outrage! Is Now”.  If you’re not familiar with the duo, they infuse elements of punk, rock and dance music into their heavily distorted bass and drums sound.  Jesse Keeler handles the bass/synth duties while Sebastian Grainger mans the drums and delivers the vocals.  When their debut album came out in 2004 their unique high-powered sound made an immediate mark on the music scene and help them nab opening slots for high profile bands like Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age.  The following year the duo released a remix album and then called it quits – primarily due to musical differences.  Keeler went more to the dance side, with his more recognized project being MSTRKRFT and Grainger attempted a solo career.  Five years later near the end of 2010 they reconnected personally and then a few months later in 2011 they announced that the band had re-formed.   Their comeback started at Coachella that year and they began to play more concerts over the next few years.  In 2014 they released their second album, which charted in the top 40.  That brings us to a few weeks ago when the band dropped album #3 and also dropped the “1979” from their name (I guess the previous issue with using the name “Death From Above” has been resolved).
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I’ve been a fan of this band since day 1 and this new album is no exception.  I jotted down six tracks to possibly highlight and there are only 10 on the album, which shows a very high quality of songs.  In fact, there’s not a song I don’t like on the record.  These guys are all about giant hooks, big sounds and mostly urgent vocals.  There’s an occasional piano or horn thrown in the mix, but mostly just drums and bass generating the  catchy cacophony.  That’s what sets these guys apart, they have hooks imbedded in their noise which I find to be a great mix of poppy bombast.  Royal Blood owes a large part of their current success to Death From Above.  When an album has such an immediate impact, I worry that I will quickly grow tired of it.  So far that hasn’t been the case with “Outrage! Is Now”.  In fact, I’m probably liking it even more after repeated listening.   So it’s difficult to pick just three songs to highlight from the album.  So I’m going to take three right from the middle of the album, tracks 5,6 and 7.  That also says a lot when the songs placed in the middle of the album can hold their own.
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Never Swim Alone – This track hits me in a visceral way, that riff is just in your face.  Since this is easily the shortest song on the album, it ensures you don’t get tired of it before it ends.  There’s really not a whole lot to the song, beyond the riff and the propulsive beat that drives it along.
 
Moonlight – The little interlude at the end of “Never Swim Alone” allows this song to kick in with a bigger impact than it normally would have.  This track sort of jitters along precariously, like a Jenga tower that could fall at any second.  But it keeps pulling it back together before continuing along again.  Maybe that’s the appeal?  I hear a little bit of Muse in this track.
 
Statues – Big-time hooks in this track.  Maybe a little glam-rock elements.  The sound is HUGE on this one.
 

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