Category: Single Review

Shiner — currently, comprised of Jason Gerkin (drums), Paul Malinowski (bass) Allen Epley (guitar) and Josh Newton (guitar) — is a Kansas City, MO-based post hardcore act that initially formed back in 1992. Shortly, after their formation, the band signed to DeSoto Records, owned by Jawbox’s Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot, and had a prolific and busy six year run that included some relentless touring and a handful of well-received albums of hook-driven, power chord-based material that ended with 2001’s critically applauded The Egg.

The band broke upon 2002 but the The Egg was re-released on vinyl for the 10th anniversary of its release, and the band reunited to play a handful of sold-out shows to support it, including stops in Los Angeles, Kansas City and Chicago, which were some of the biggest shows of their careers. Interestingly, in 2018 the members of the band’s current lineup decided that the act wasn’t finished yet — and that their story should be continued onwards. After a handful of recording sessions over the next 18 months at Paul Malinowski’s Shawnee, KS-based Massive Sound Studios, the band emerged with their self-produced, forthcoming album Schadenfreude, which is slated for a May 8, 2020 release. We’ve always been extremely hands-on, even when working with someone else technically ‘producing,’” the band’s Josh Newton says. “With The Egg we ended up remixing and adding things to almost half the record on our own. At this stage in our existence, we know what we should sound like.”

Reportedly, the album not only finds the band not missing a beat despite the lengthy hiatus, the album’s material manages to stand on their own. “A lot of themes on the album are pretty dark but always with a silver lining around the edges,” the band’s Allen Epley says in press notes. “The title itself is a commentary on the most common human trait of enjoying your rivals’ demise. Or your apparent enemies.”

Last month, I wrote about “Life As A MannequinSchadenfreude‘s first single, Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age and One by One-era Foo Fighters-like dirge, which featured some arena rock friendly hooks. “The song came together very quickly; we had the arrangement laid out literally the second time through the tune,” the band says. “The simple kind of Willy Wonka vocal melody on the verse belies the heaviness of the lyrics and the urge of pure elation of giving into your worst tendencies, like scratching under a cast you know you really shouldn’t but it feels so good. Or the recovering alcoholic having a hard day and just deciding to really turn on and say ‘fuck it, i’m getting drunk tonight.’” Schadenfreude‘s second and latest single “Paul P Pogh” is an explosive track centered around enormous power chords, thunderous and angular drumming, arena rock hooks and plaintive hooks that sonically sounds like a sick synthesis of Superunknown-era Soundgarden and Thrice. But underneath the studio polish and self-assured performances, is something much darker.

“The name Paul P Pogh was a name I chose for my fake ID when I was in high school for buying beers at liquor stores in Louisville, which surprisingly worked,” the band’s Allen Epply explains in press notes. “It seemed appropriate for this song about ‘acting nets out to the liquor signs’ and a life spent chasing addiction.”

 

 

 

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Deriving their name from a playful, Anglophile nod towards the famed physicist Issac Newton, the Paris-based electro pop act Isaac Delusion —  founding members and creative core Loïc Fleury (vocals, guitar) and Jules Paco (keys) — was formed back in 2010. With the release of 2014’s self-titled debut effort, the act received attention for a sound and approach that meshed the acoustic instrumentation with a bold use of electronics — while nodding a bit at dream pop.

The duo then toured exclusively across France and the rest of the European Union to support their full-length debut. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Rust & Gold found the duo’s sound shifting from the ethereal and atmospheric dream pop of its immediate predecessor with the material focusing on tangible emotions, soulful rhythms and insightful observations on one and the human condition.

The Paris-based electro pop’s first two albums have managed to amass over 500,000 Spotify streams a month. Building upon a rapidly growing profile across their native France and elsewhere, the act played Pitchfork Paris, as well as sold-out headlining shows at venues like  L’Olympia and Elysee Montmarte.

Microqlima Records released the French duo’s third album uplifters last year. Thematically, the album was centered around misplaced nostalgia for one’s long-passed youth, As a result the album’s material is imbued with a longing for the freedom, simplicity and unguarded honesty of their younger selves — and regret for the missed opportunities you can never get back. And much like its predecessors, uplifters‘ material was written and sung primarily in English with a handful of songs written and sung in their native French.

Album single “pas l’habitude” was one of the few album tracks written and sung in French. While the song is a breezy synth pop song, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, plaintive and dreamy vocals, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook — but the song’s breezy and easygoing nature is superficial: the song is actually an achingly bittersweet ode to the proverbial loss of innocence and getting older. Life and its ambiguity after all, will break your heart countless times over. It’s up to you to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Franc Moody is a London-based electro pop collective, centered around its core duo and creative masterminds Ned and Jon. Jon comes from a family of classical musicians and as  result, he grew up surrounded by oboes, cellos and violins. Ned grew up listening to the music that his parents played on car trips — classic soul, 50s/60s New Orleans music, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. “I loved the melody and the groove of that music, but I think really I loved the energy of it as well,” Ned explains in press notes.

The London-based collective’s core duo met when they ere part of a a collection of bands and musicians, who took over an abandoned warehouse in North London back in 2014. “It was called the Arch,” Jon recalls. “When we moved in, it was bare bones concrete walls. A horrible place basically. We built these two analogue recording studios. There were old microphones, hammered organs, and beaten up guitar amps. It was quite craggy.”

The Arch quickly became known for raucous and packed live shows and parties that went well into the night, with live bands frequently getting on around 3am. We’ve all been to similar parties: there’s no bouncer, one port-a-potty with a line of being desperately waiting to pee but the vibe is amazing. Interestingly, Ned and Jon cut their teeth as live musicians in that environment. “We learned to love performing music that made people dance, in the same way those old funk and soul artists used to,” Ned explains. “In fact, what we were doing at the warehouse was sort of in a similar tradition to the Zydeco sessions and crawfish boils around South Louisiana, purely focused around dancing. It was quite simple.”

Franc Moody started in earnest when the duo moved out of The Arch and began to focus on a project that meshed their various influenced. No longer living in the warehouse, they struggled to find a space big enough to fit a drum kit. Instead, they stated programming drums and an electronic aesthetic began to permeate through their older influences.

Their debut effort, 2016’s self-titled EP consisted of a series of Giorgio Moroder-like instruments; but their breakthrough single, the critically applauded “Dopamine” found the band truly establishing their sound: a disco-tinged sound that was subtly indebted to Prince. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released their sophomore EP, 2018’s Dance Moves which eventually amassed over 20 million streams.

They’ve also developed a mesmerizing live sound, inspired by the warehouse rave scene that they came up in — and those live shows find them surrounded by a cast of collaborators and friends as their backing band. In fact, they’ve opened for Friendly Fires  and a number of other acts. Recently, the London-based electro pop collective remixed “pas l’habitude.” And while they retain Loïc Fleury’s achingly plaintive French vocals, they turn the song into Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk like club banger, centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios and four on the floor drum programming.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Other Lives Release an Intimate and Gorgeous Tribute to a Lost Friend

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed Portland, OR-based indie rock act and JOVM mainstays Other Lives. Initially formed in Stillwater, OK in 2004, the band wrote, recorded and released an album under the name Kunek but a decided change in sonic direction and songwriting approach necessitated a re-branding.  Since the band renamed themselves, they’ve released their critically applauded sophomore album, 2015’s Rituals, which helped establish their sound — a lushly cinematic and orchestral sound that frequently draws comparisons to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen among others.

Now, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, self-produced, third full-length album For Their Lives is slated fro an April 24, 2020 release through ATO Records. Deriving its title from one of the earlier songs the band wrote for the album, Other Lives’ third album reportedly finds the members of the band reconnecting with the rural life they had known as children. Before the writing and recording of For Their Lives, the band’s frontman Jesse Tabish and his wife Kim Tabish left Portland and rented a friend’s A-frame home in Oregon’s Cooper Mountain region, surrounded by towering trees — and no neighbors in site. “Something about the title feels both inclusive and also of a larger scene,” explains Other Lives’ primary songwriter and frontman Jesse Tabish. “The song also embodied the direction we wanted to take.”

Naturally, the bucolic setting wound up heavily inspiring the album. “My wife, Kim, and I moving to this house and making a new life and music together was a huge part of this record,” Jesse Tabish says in press notes. “I found there was too much distraction in Portland, but here we could dedicate ourselves to work. I found that I returned to my music vocabulary in a natural way, using certain types of chords or keys, and also the way I sing. Living with roommates in Portland, I was too shy to sing in front of them. But here, I felt free.” Interestingly, that sense of freedom and togetherness carried over to the way the album was written and recorded: the album is arguably the most collaborative effort they trio has written to date — and it includes contributions from drummer Danny Reisch, who appeared on Rituals and backing vocals from Jesse Tabish’s wife Kim. “We really set out to make a band record,” Tabish says.

As the album’s material came together, they went towards a much different creative approach than its immediate predecessor: the band avoided re-working and refining tracks, instead choosing to record different arrangements of songs “to capture the vibe of something more instant,” Tabish explains. “We were adamant that For Their Love would have no tricks and nothing to hide behind, which we’d been doing psychologically, as well as as musically. We wanted ten songs that held up by themselves.” This was partially inspired by Jesse Tabish’s personal efforts to emerge from “hiding” and re-engaging with the outside world by “getting real with myself.” as he puts it. Before and during the writing and recording sessions, the band — who are also lifelong friends — had a number of ongoing conversations about the current state of our world. And as a result, the album’s material thematically questions, observes, laments and hopefully finds the slightest hope in the individual and ourselves. “Characters sometimes venture into spiritual, religious or institutionalized endeavors — though I’ve personally found that self-worth is more important than any teachings or preaching,” Tabish says.

Last month, I wrote about the rousingly anthemic album single “Hey Hey I.” Arguably one of the most politically charged songs of their growing catalog, the song is a forceful commentary on our contemporary world: at the core is the realization that the American Dream that so many hard-working Joes and Janes have bought and sold for generations is a lie. For Their Love’s latest single “We Wait” continues a remarkable run of cinematic material, but centered around a fearlessly unadulterated intimacy. It’s one of many songs in which Tabish digs deep and gets uncomfortably real, with the song finding Tabish publicly confronting one of the darkest corners of his life for the first time. 

“When I was 15, I formed the All American Rejects. This was my high school band,” Other Lives’ Jesse Tabish writes in an statement on the song’s backstory. “Always there in our everyday life were Tommy and Jennifer, a member’s older sister and brother-in-law. Tommy was the older brother I never had. Kind and wise, he was my mentor and family to me. 

Tommy was shot and killed at the age of 25, on the morning of 30th November. Jennifer, his wife, had hired his murderer.

This event completely devastated and shattered my reality. I quit the Rejects and was very lost. I soon found the piano and started moving towards a deeper place inside, artistically, which has shaped me to this day. For many years, I had avoided this trauma and couldn’t touch the subject. I pushed it out, only for it to haunt me more recently.

Writing this song is the way for me to heal and remember my old pal, Tommy.” 

Much like Reliant Tom’s “Never Mind the Garbage,” “We Wait” manages to be more prescient in a way that its creators could never have imagined. These are dark and very dire times. Many of us are aware of the fact that the end result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a new and terrifying reality of profound and inescapable loss, economic destruction and hopelessness that will force us to look deep within ourselves. 

Founded by Crammed Discs label head Marc Hollander, the Belgian experimental act Akask Maboul can trace its origins to when Hollander was commissioned by producer Marc Moulin to write and and record an album for Moulin’s short-lived label Kamikaze Records. Hollander (keys. reeds, percussion) recruited his friend Vincent Kenis (guitar. bass, keys) to join the project, and the duo went on to write and record their full-length debut, 1977’s Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine, which featured guest spots by Chris Joris (percussion, keys) Catherine Jauniaux (vocals) and a list of others. The band’s sophomore album Un peu de l’âme des bandits was released in 1980. Both albums firmly established the act’s sound — a genre-defying primarily instrumental-based sound that playfully shuffled between experimental jazz, pop, electronic music, and contemporary classical music.

Shortly after the release of 1980’s Un peu de l’âme des bandits, Hollander devoted himself to his label Crammed Discs. And since the label’s formation, the label has released over 350 albums from an eclectic array of forward-thinking artists including TuxedomoonAcid Arab, Konono Nº1, Carl Craig, Yasmine Hamdan and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina among others. Interestingly, in 2014 Hollander returned to writing and performing when his label released the lost, third Akask Maboul album Ex-Futur Album, which was written and recorded with Véronique Vincent between 1980-1983 and left unfinished.

Encouraged by the response to Ex-Futur Album, Hollander revived the band with a new lineup that featured Véronique Vincent (vocals), Faustine Hollander (guitar, bass, vocals), and Amatorski’s Sebastiaan Van den Branden (guitar, bass, synth) and Christophe Claeys (drums percussion) — and in early 2015, the band began playing their first live shows in over 30 years. Adding to the growing interest in the band, an album full of re-interpretations, covers and reworks of the Ex-Futur Album16 Visions of Ex-Futur was released the following year with contributions by Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Aquaserge, Laetitia Sadier, Forever Pavot, Flavien Berger, Nite Jewel, Bullion, Burnt Friedman, Hello Skinny, Marc Collin, Bérangère Maximin, Lena Willikens and others, as well as two “self-covers” recorded by that year’s Akask Maboul lineup. They also created a live up show, Akask Maboul Revue in which they were joined by Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Laetitia Sadier and members of Aquaserge. Additionally, vinyl re-issues of the band’s first two albums helped to confirm that they were avant-garde classics.

At the end of 2018, the Belgian avant-garde act announced that they were working on a new album. Late last year, they announced that the new album, Figures would be a double album. Slated for a May 22, 2020 release through Crammed Discs, the album will feature the band’s current lineup — Hollander (keys), Vincent (vocals), Faustine Hollander (bass, production), Lucien Fraipont (guitar) and Erik Heestermans (drums) and guest spots by Fred Frith and Aquaserge’s Julien Gascon, Audrey Ginestet and Benjamin Gilbert, former Akask Maboul members Michel Berckmans and Sebastiaan Van den Branden, and a list of others.

Written by the band’s writing duo of Hollander and Vincent, the album consists of 22 tracks and interludes, which results from the flow of creative ideas after a lengthy hiatus, and the material sees the band drawing from the same influences that inspired their earliest releases — electronic music, pop, experimental jazz, minimalism and contemporary classical among others — while continuing their long-held reputation for an indefinable, genre-mashing sound. As a whole, the album’s material finds the band seamlessly weaving electronic and acoustic instrumentation, programming, beats, found sounds and sound collages to create a labyrinthine sound, full of twists, turns, secret passages and interconnections that requires deep and attentive listening.

Figures‘ second and latest single “Silent Silhouettes” is a mostly-instrumental track with a tango-like tempo, centered around shimmering keys, atmospheric electronics, a sinuous and strutting bass line and brief vocal passages spoken in a sultry and smoky French before a wobbling fade out. The end result is a track that’s mischievously anachronistic yet cinematic.

 

 

Fold is a Leeds-based collective currently centered around its core quartet Seth Mowshowitz (beats, keys), Kane Rattray (drums), Ben Walsh (bass) and Sam Hutchinson (guitar) with contributions from collaborators like Emma Johnson (saxophones), Simon Dennis (trumpet), Rosie Nicholl (trombone) and Kieran O’Malley (violins). The act’s sound is informed and influenced by hip-hop, trip-hop, downtempo, soul, Brazilian and funk and others — and as a result, they employ as many organic instruments as possible, avoiding the use of click tracks or pre-sequenced material in any context.

The act explores different ways in which narrative and poetry can be interwoven into music — with the aim of honestly reflecting out contemporary world, to speak truth clearly and to represent diverse perspectives across space and time, encouraging a sense of empowerment, understanding and unity among listeners. Focusing on diverse voices and perspectives has allowed the rising British collective an opportunity to collaborate with an eclectic array of emcees, poets, vocalists and historical figures. Since their formation, the act has quickly developed a reputation as a rising act in England: BBC 6 Music‘s Lauren Laverne chose the collective to represent Leeds and the region for a special Record Store Day eve broadcast at Huddersfield‘s Vinyl Tap Records

Fold’s forthcoming album is a concept album that pays tribute to Civil Rights activist and acclaimed playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Hansberry is best known as the author of A Raisin in the Sun — and as the first Black woman to have her work performed on Broadway. As a result, Hansberry’s voice and ideas is the heart and core of the album’s material. Featuring some old-school turntabilism and scratching, a sinuous bass line, stuttering boom bap-like drumming, soulful horns played through delay and reverb, the  track is centered around Hansberry’s husky voice imploring the listener to use their cognitive gifts to steer themselves towards the light. But perhaps more important, as the band notes, Hansberry reminds us that in order to progress — hell, even to survive at this point — that we must always be adaptable. Sonically, the track reminds me a bit of Makaya McCraven‘s bold reimagining of Gil Scott-Heron‘s We’re New Here but with a J. Dilla-like swagger. Both efforts put each visionary’s voice and work in a new and very different context but while reminding contemporaries that their work is even more vital and necessary than they could have ever imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concrete Things is the first track from a wider album concept paying tribute to a great visionary author and activist named Lorraine Hansberry. Her voice & ideas are its core. Released in defiance of these dark times Concrete Things exalts the importance of using our cognitive gifts to steer ourselves towards the proverbial light. Lorraine reminds us that in order to progress (or in this case survive) we must remain adaptable in our thinking; we must drop the crutches that we’ve made for ourselves once we find that we can walk without them.

 

With the release of their debut seven inch through Third Man Records, the Los Angeles-based indie supergroup Oozelles (pronounced oo-ZELZ) — Dante White Aliano (vocals, guitar), David Orlando (drums), Jada Wagensomer (bass), Samuel Banuelos (guitar, keys, percussion), Gregory Marino (sax, flute, electronic wind instrument) and Philip Minning — exploded into the local and national scenes, receiving attention for a sound that the band describes as “a stickier sub-tropical Birthday Party, Contortions or CAN ghost writing for The Gun Club or The Flesh Eaters.”

Thematically, the band which features former and current members of Warpaint, Starlite Desperation, Dante vs. Zombies, Sex Stains, Detroit Cobras and others, focuses on the dark and murky — and touches upon or makes references to human trafficking, secret doors at weddings, war criminals in mental hospitals, hippie arson, premature burial, vampire sugar parents, pathetic, blood soaked manifestos and pit-bulls attacking pizza deliver drivers.

Building upon a growing profile, the rising Los Angeles-based act’s Dante White Aliano-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a May 1, 2020 release through ORG Music. The album’s first single is the Phosphene Dream-era Black Angels-like “Refill The Swamp.” Centered around propulsive, tribal-like drumming, reverb-drenched guitars, shimmering organ arpeggios, Aliano’s expressive howls and an enormous hook, the song manages to be evoke a creeping and shadowy late night dread — but with the sort of campiness that reminds me of Roger Corman‘s adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe starring Vincent Price and Troma Films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Audio: Rising Norwegian Producer Wiese Releases an Upbeat and Infectious Single

Trygve Wiese is a rapidly rising Norwegian DJ, producer and songwriter, best known as Wiese. Hailing from Bergen — the same block that Kygo and Alan Walker once lived — Wiese’s sound manages to draw from similar sources. With his work amassing several million Spotify plays, the rising Norwegian artist quickly caught the attention of Warner Music, but he recently decided to release things through his own label. 

2020 has been a weird and terrifying year for all of us — but in the meantime, the rising Norwegian DJ, producer and songwriting plans to release a batch of new material over the next few months, including his latest single, “I Fell.” Centered around Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, cowbell, synth arpeggios, an infectious hook with chopped and pitched vocals and Wiese’s plaintive vocals, “I Fell” is a rousing, two-step inducing club banger that hints at house music. 

New Audio: Simon Lewis’ Gorgeous and Uplifting New Single

Simon Lewis is an emerging Austrian singer/songwriter, who according to his Facebook fan page cites William Fitzsimmons, Coldplay, Damien Rice and Kings of Leon as influences on his songwriting and sound. Lewis’ latest single, is the slow-burning ballad “Heaven Only Knows.” Centered around a seemingly simple arrangement of twinkling piano and Lewis’ expressive, pop star-like vocals, the gorgeous single manages to subtly nod at John Legend — but as he explains in press notes, “this song is about this particularly harsh feeling of loss we feel whenever we have to leave the ones we love — but it’s also about new beginnings and the hope that lies beyond. It’s not just about loving someone, it’s also about allowing yourself to be loved.”

New Audio: The Legendary Mavis Staples Teams Up with Jeff Tweedy on a Much-Needed Anthemic Bit of Uplift

Throughout the course of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the legendary Chicago-born singer, actress, and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. Going into a deep dive into her career as a member of the Staple Singers and and a solo artist will be a bit gratuitous — but throughout her career, she has received commercial and critical success, as well as a proverbial boatload of accolades. Stapes has received eight Grammy Awards nominations with the Staple Singers, winning one — a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004. She also received a Grammy nod for a collaboration with longtime friend Bob Dylan. And as a solo artist, she’s been nominated for five Grammys, winning two — Best Americana Album for 2010’s You Are Not Alone and a Best American Roots Performance for  2015’s ”See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”

She also has been nominated for 11 Blues Music Awards, winning nine, including Album of the Year for 2004’s Have A Little Faith, which featured Song of the Year and album title track “Have A Little Faith.” She’s also won three Soul Blues Female Artist Awards — one in 2004 and back to back wins in 2017 and 2018. Staples was also inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Staple Singers in 1999, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2016 and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017.

The legendary Chicago-born singer, actress and civil rights activist turned 80 last year and with her achievements, it would be understandable if she had begun to slow down; however, over the past handful of years, Staples has been remarkably busy, releasing three critically applauded albums with Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy and last year’s Ben Harper written and produced, We Get By.

Fittingly, Staples’ latest single is the hopeful and upbeat Jeff Tweedy-produced, “All In It Together,” which also features Tweedy contributing backing vocals and guitar. Centered around a shuffling, Chicago blues-like arrangement of twinkling keys, strummed guitar, a rousing hook and Staples’ imitable vocals, the track speaks directly to our current sociopolitical moment, while gently reminding the listener that at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And that if we don’t get together at this most important moment in our collective history, then we’re all doomed. 

“The song speaks to what we’re going through now – everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” the legendary vocalist explains in press notes. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live…it can still touch you. It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this but we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.”

The song is available on all streaming services and Bandcamp. All proceeds from the song will be donated to My Block, My Hood, My City, a Chicago-based organization that ensures seniors will have access to the essentials needed to fight COVID-19. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays El Ten Eleven Releases a Mosh Pit Friendly Ripper

Since their formation in 2002, the Los Angeles-based post rock duo  El Ten Eleven — Kristian Dunn (double-neck bass/guitar) and Tim Fogarty (drums) — have released eight full-length albums and four EPs, which have helped to establish their reputation for a steadfast DIY approach and for using a dizzying array of effect and looping pedals to create a dense, complex and incredibly cinematic sound. 

As we all know, experiencing an unexpected and tragic loss often inspires a period of deep self-reflection — a time in which one may contemplate their own mortality, as well as their own place and purpose within the larger world. El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn found himself in a similar situation when a beloved family member of his died. And his own reflections on his life wound up emerging in the music he had started to write at the time. The end result is the band’s epic album Tautology, a sonic meditation on the arc of human life, composed in three parts starting from the teenage years, through middle age and then death. 

Sonically, the album echoes Dunn’s own personal experiences, veering from aggressive metal riffs to gorgeous and blissful ambient soundscapes. And while there are shared melodic and harmonic ideas throughout the album, each individual album has its own distinct qualities and character: Tautology I, which represents adolescence is reportedly angsty, aggressive and occasionally depressive; Tautology II, which represents middle aged reportedly features mid-tempo, head-nodding grooves; while Tautology III, which represents the golden years, is reportedly quiet and ambient. As a result, the 3LP album reportedly finds the duo pushing their sound into new territory, experimenting with a range of textures and soundscapes not heard on any previous El Ten Eleven effort. 

Dunn explains in press notes that there’s no right or wrong way to listen to Tautology, suggesting that a deep dive into the full project will yield rewards. “I think someone could listen to any one of the discs by themselves and have a really great experience—even if they didn’t know about the others. But if they do want to go deeper, I think there will be a lot of interesting stuff to discover. It works symbolically and it all connects. I think this is the best record we’ve ever done.”

Tautology I’s first single “With Report” is a decidedly aggressive song — and arguably the most aggressive of their catalog to date. Centered around a subtly expansive song structure, the song features buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming, a propulsive bass line and a rousing, mosh pit friendly hook, the track evokes the energy, and the piss and vinegar of foolhardy youth, “I wanted to represent what my teenage years were like, when I was full of testosterone and depression,” Kristian Dunn explains in press notes.  “When you’re a teenager everything feels so grandiose and dramatic.”