The music of Emma Ruth Rundle is nearly swallowed by darkness, but Rundle does not seem oppressed by it. Having toured with acts like Deafheaven and Earth, Rundle made her name performing mournful, minor key compositions, swelling with gothic drama. But to classify her music as macabre is to deny its cathartic, even uplifting qualities. On Marked for Death, the follow-up to 2014’s Some Heavy Ocean, Rundle upgrades that album’s gothic folk with a more colorful palette. Here, she strengthens the atmospheric guitar work that comprised her instrumental solo debut, Electric Guitar One, and enlivens her songs with anthemic, weightless choruses. And while her two previous solo releases, as well as her work in the noisy LA trio Marriages, set a precedent for Marked for Death’s more ambitious material, it doesn’t make the record feel any less thrilling. Each of its eight tracks showcase a songwriter testing the limits of her sound and redefining herself in the process.
Emotions hold a vast amount of movements and transitions. They can drop to a somber internal echo or rise to an explosive vengeance in the blink of an eye. A spectrum of feelings all of humanity experience in life, music…
Empty Houses’ early summer release, Daydream, is one of the warmest records of 2016; their Motown-inspired retro-pop, led by the splendid vocals of Ali Shea, will you having dancing wherever you are until the album’s 10…
Reverb soaked, exasperated vocals open Blis’ sophomore EP, Starting Fires in My Parent’s House. Gosset begins each line as if the wind got knocked out of his chest with the previous guitar chug. “Time…slowed…down,” each word breathed with what feels like Aaron Gosset’s last.
The entire 2014 EP is a whirlwind. Clean guitar melodies turn into long drawn out rhythmic build ups before exploding into distorted noise and chaos. Blis uses dynamics, contrast, and beautiful melodies throughout the less than fifteen minute EP.
Helms Alee will be rocking out at The Complex in Glendale Oct. 12, offering up their signature blend of sludgy genre-bending hard rock. Their new album, Stillicide, has been widely lauded as their most hooky and melodic effort to date, a more accessible blend of the beauty and brutality that has become their calling card.
In the midst of touring with The Melvins, Ben Verellen (Helms Alee’s guitarist, singer, and Verellen Amplifiers founder) caught up with Concert Guide Live, to talk about the new album, nervous poops, and why metal bands are so darn sweet.
CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: How’s The Melvins tour been so far? BEN VERELLEN: So fun! This is the longest trip we’ve done, so I think we were all a little apprehensive about how we were going to feel at this stage, smack in the middle of it, but everyone seems in good spirits. Nothing negative to report.
CGL: Jody Stephens gave you guys a tour of Ardent Studios in Memphis. What was that like? BV: What the hell, right?! It was crazy. They reached out and asked if we wanted to come check out the studio. We had no idea. It wasn’t until we showed up that the receptionist was like, “Oh yeah, Jody Stephens from Big Star is going to be doing the tour for you.” He popped out and introduced himself. Dana [James] is probably the most familiar with Big Star, so she was really trying to contain her excitement about hanging out with that guy.
That’s an old Irish saying that I came across years ago, while I was dating a patient Irishman with a superhuman threshold for my often wandering mind. “You’re away with the fairies again,” he’d say with a grin, startling me out of whatever reverie had momentarily captured my imagination. I asked him what it meant the first time he said it, and he obligingly gave me a quick Celtic mythology lesson. That common phrase has its roots in the doings of the “little people,” the parallel universes said to be contained within their innocuous-looking hill mounds, and various examples of the eldritch mischief that’s allegedly plagued the long-suffering Irish people for centuries.
The Celtic folk tradition is far darker than a leprechaun-loving public would like to believe, and bleeds over into the rest of the British Isles, who host their own versions of that shadowy netherworld. This is the world that Dylan Carlson—renowned musician, recovered addict, and forever controversial ex-friend of a famous dead man—moves within. Best known as the riff-wielding cornerstone of Seattle drone gods Earth, Carlson is also an accomplished solo musician, having released a variety of albums and EPs under the moniker Drcarlsonalbion.
His solitary compositions speak the language of drone, but as we hear on his most recent work, Falling With a 1000 Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion, there’s a certain gentleness at play, manifested in quiet, dusky, looping melodies. The album—which he funded via a successful (but stressful) Kickstarter campaign—is not altogether dissimilar from Earth’s latter-day work (the wavering, pastoral sunshine of The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull leap to mind) . However, it is a wholly personal effort, and one that springs from an unexpected source—the faeries.
That’s not the whole of it, of course, but I was surprised to find out just how large the little people loomed in Carlson’s creative process. I sat down with him and his wife, London-based artist and dancer Holly Carlson, to get to the root of the album’s otherworldly inspirations. In an aside, he mentioned the strange legacy of his friendship with Kurt Cobain (he told me that he still gets sent death threats to this day, especially when he announces a new tour) but that’s not what we’re focusing on in this piece.
Our focus here is less… terrestrial, shall we say. He brought up how his Scottish grandmother’s stories got him interested in eldritch matters—and in the privacy of our dark nook, with voices low, we also ended up talking a lot about ghosts.
Long-time devotees may still favour the sparse, acoustic fervour of earlier Wovenhand records, but it’s undeniable that David Eugene Edwards’ band have benefited hugely from becoming noisier and more muscular in recent times. 2014’s Refractory Obdurate was almost universally acclaimed…