Join me as I continue to get caught up on some of the many new releases that came out over the summer.
Slugmilk – Volume XII: Skin Conditions
What is a concept album anyway? Does an album have to develop an overarching storyline to be considered “concept”, or can it just explore a single theme like say, Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads or Old Blue Eyes’ Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely? If the definition is in fact open to interpretation, then Volume XII: Skin Conditions, the latest from Slugmilk, may someday find its place in history among the most ambitious concept albums ever written. 45 songs about – you guessed – skin conditions. Hits include Gaze Into My Pink Eye, A Winter Night’s Rash, Skin Tag Woman and More Mole Than Man. And like the conditions they sing about, the songs on this album are equally varied, crossing genres and possibly creating new ones along the way. Is Cold Sore Core a genre? If it wasn’t before, maybe it is now.
Les Moon Tunes – Live on the Moon
Les Moon Tunes may just very well be the best live band in Atlantic Canada right now. Don’t believe me? Check out their full-length, self-titled debut and then give Live on the Moon a listen. Sure, this recording was done as a deliberate live album – meaning it’s not a sidestage bootleg or audience recording or something – but still, when you account for the range of instrumentation, the depth of arrangements and then of course the group’s collective ability to pull this material off in a one-shot setting, it’s hard to imagine any other seven piece ensemble doing what this band does as well as this band does it. Bring on the hate mail.
Elevate The Virus – Fear Pandemic
One of the biggest challenges facing a lot of heavier bands these days (who seem to all produce great sounding recordings) is how to make an album that presents something unique in a way that it will cut through the hundreds of similar recordings that get released each and every month. For lack of a more precise genre description, modern metal bands tend to be a pretty homogenous lot, often unified in their use of indistinguishable vocals, noodle-laden lead lines and complete lack of traditional dynamic delivery. That said, there’s an audience for everything. Afterall, that’s how pop-country exists, right?
While tropes in metal are somewhat unavoidable, I love hearing bands who willingly explore these well-worn ways deliberately looking for sideroads or an area to cut a path of their own. With their latest EP, Fear Pandemic, the Saint John-based experimental metal band Elevate the Virus continue to find success in playing with the format. Numerous stops and starts, unexpected melodic turns and dramatic changes in tone keep these five songs exciting while also serving to create a sense of dynamic range without ever dropping the volume from 10 to say, 9? Well, that’s not completely true. There are enough breathers throughout these tracks to offset listener exhaustion somewhat. Even the trying vocal delivery gets a few refreshing takes on tracks like Knucklemeat and the rhythmically pounding closer, Ancient. Overall, a highly complex EP that will leave you feeling like you just ran a 10K – physically drained, but satisfied.
Harbourview – Drone Days
Here in Fredericton where I live, Drone Day was a thing for just a short period of time. Somewhere between its founding in 2014 and 2016, I remember Connexion ARC hosting a 24 hour drone event where anyone could bring an instrument and take part in the fun. And dozens did. It was at times loud, noisy and chaotic, but also completely beautiful in its concept and delivery. It was a noise mediation created by a loose community of artists.
As the title of this release alludes, Drone Days, consists of recordings made by musician Jeannot Boudreau for their project Harbourview. These two recordings, one from 2020 and one from 2021, are perfect examples of drone and how one musician chose to mark this annual, joyous occasion. Drone Day 2022 doesn’t arrive until May 28. Hoping to hear more from Harbourview before then.
Send us your Music!
If you are a New Brunswick artist or group, have new music on the way and would like to be considered for a future edition of Midweek Music Mix, send us the details at gridcitymagazine(at)gmail.com