Here We Sit Debating Math

So I have had the forthcoming new Low record for several weeks now, but have been holding out on posting anything because I like this blog the way it is... you know, online, as opposed to shut down by the wrath of Sub Pop. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised to see that an mp3 from the new record has finally made its way out officially. Unfortunately, it is "Breaker", a song that was better on the Retribution Gospel Choir EP. It's not that it sucks, its just that if you've heard the RGC version, you'll know what I mean. Let's just say I eagerly await the day I can post "Murderer" or "Dragonfly" or "Violent Past" here. Anyway, without further ado, here is the track. Definitely pick up the album when it comes out, or pre-order it now.

Low - Breaker



That Bazan / Iron and Wine post is coming, one of these days. I swear. Today, however, is not that day. I need my roommate to hook me up with his microSD card so I can get my pictures off my phone, and then it will happen.

Today's post will be about something completely different, namely, Jesu. If you don't know much about them, that isn't terribly surprising. Apart from a pretty favorable review on Pitchfork every now and again, they aren't too widely known. Currently, they're on tour with Isis, a combo I may go see in DC next month if I remember and have the money.

Isis actually isn't a terrible point of comparison. Both are a little metal, a little hardcore, a little ambient, but ultimately, not quite any of those things. Tool (for whom Isis have opened) is a band to which both Isis and Jesu clearly owe a great musical debt.

You wouldn't necessarily know it from hearing frontman Justin Broadrick (who, by the way, played in both Napalm Death and Godflesh, not that there is any similarity whatsoever between those bands and Jesu) talk about them, though. He is fond of comparing the tone of his work to Red House Painters (who are perhaps my favorite band of all time). I don't really see the parallel, honestly, other than perhaps in tempo. Jesu writes mostly sludgy, heavy songs in major keys. RHP are... well, not that. I will post about them one of these days when I have the time to put something worthwhile together.

I seem to be a little all over the place, so I'll get to the point. The new Jesu album, Conqueror, which is due out Tuesday, is something you should listen to. The entire thing is available as a stream here. Alternately, I am putting the title track up in mp3 form here since it's available from the band's MySpace. I can't really say it's my favorite of the songs on the album, but you have to take what's available, I suppose.

Jesu - Conqueror



This has been a pretty lame week. I will try to get a post up about the Bazan/Beam show tomorrow.



Drunk was a Jagjaguwar band fronted by Rick Alverson (now of Spokane, who are also signed to Jagjaguwar). They were probably the first "indie folk" band I had ever heard, dating back to my high school days of browsing Epitonic for random bands that seemed interesting. To say information about them is hard to turn up would be a pretty huge understatement. They sort of petered out right around when the internet was really taking off (their last release was 2000's Tableside Manners), and as such, there isn't much in the way of web history surrounding them.

In an interview with Alverson from 2002, he describes a number of reasons that he chose to stop recording as Drunk. Former collaborators were gone, he no longer liked the name, and decided that a fresh start with a new name was the best course of action.

The music is fairly typically Jagjaguwar: quiet, folk-inspired, slightly out of tune, and very sad. It was one of my first glimpses into a world of music like it, and though I wouldn't say it influenced my own songwriting directly, it certainly influenced the way I think about arrangement and mood. Both tracks here come from 1998's Raised Toward. Enjoy.

Drunk - A Mere Passerby

Drunk - Chatter



I have a feeling that for half my audience, a bio of who Slint are/were is going to be insulting, and for the other half, pretty necessary. In a nutshell, Slint pretty much invented post-rock, the dynamic-focused largely instrumental brand of music best exemplified today by Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, and Tortoise. The band formed in 1985, releasing a debut, Tweez, in 1987, and their landmark Spiderland for Touch and Go in 1990. Not long after that, they broke up. Of the founding members, only David Pajo has had any significant degree of success in subsequent years, playing in Tortoise, Papa M, and Zwan (though it's probably worth noting that Brian McMahon played in Palace briefly, as well).

The band reunited for a brief tour in 2005, which I was fortunate enough to get to see at the TLA in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, after the tour, it seemed like they were done again for good, as news broke that they sold a significant portion of their gear. However, on the heels of the relatively recent news that Slint will be playing Spiderland in its entirety at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona in a few months, it seemed like a good time to post about them.

In some sense, they are much more conventional than what post-rock has become today. You won't find any Tortoise-esque jazz influence or any Mogwai-style programming on a Slint record. The basic elements of the genre are there though: long tracks, few vocals (and mostly spoken vocals, at that), and a strong sense of dynamics and tension.

The two tracks that accompany this post come from a recording of the band's March 2005 performance at London's Kentish Town Forum. Though I didn't intentionally choose them this way (in fact, they are the set opener and set closer, respectively), they also have happen to be the fifth and sixth tracks on Spiderland. The first is the slow, brooding "For Dinner...", and the second is the band's best known track (which, strangely enough, appeared on the soundtrack to Kids), "Good Morning Captain." Enjoy.

Slint - For Dinner... (live 2005)

Slint - Good Morning Captain (live 2005)