CD Reviews

New Album, Free All the Monsters and Keep Your Dreams


Boris New Album (Sargent House)

I picked up the vinyl disc of Boris’ latest, the prolific Japanese avant-drone trio’s third full-length release of the year. To my amazement, the blandly named New Album is studio-lacquered, a brazen, commercial-sounding retake of much of the band’s earlier material. The introduction of computer software typically used in creating synthetic animé pop stars in Japan is enough to change my perspective on just how far doom metal’s limitations can be stretched. The soaring hook and melodic burst of “Flare” was enough to floor me, leaving me dazzled and dazed in its pyrotechnical aftermath. The textured guitar-generated waves of “Looprider,” meanwhile, recall Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) at his loveliest. “Spoon,” on the other hand, is pure twee-punk adrenaline, guitarist Wata’s heavily processed waif-ingenue vocals somehow sitting comfortably in the chime-doubled, white-noise hiss of her riffs. Unlike anything else, and a great release to cap off a great year in music. ★★★★☆


The Bats Free All the Monsters (Flying Nun)

New Zealand’s the Bats flew into the late-’80s alt-pop scene at the perfect moment, just as Trans-Tasman music began exploding with moody, existential bands such as Midnight Oil (“Beds Are Burning”) and The Church (“Under the Milky Way”) that landed singles in the Top 40. For whatever reason, the Bats never quite made it out of the belfry, even if critics heaped laurels on the band. Monsters marks the band’s eighth album in nearly 30 years of performing together, and it matches, in terms of songwriting quality, the ’87 full-length debut Daddy’s Highway. The three-chord title track, which argues for leaving Godzilla’s rogues gallery alone so they can be themselves, is a nostalgic paean to B-movies on one level and a clever message of self-acceptance on another. Even at their simplest—the pledge of fealty titled “Simpletons,” for instance—the Bats bury a dark, secondary meaning buried under every sweet, upbeat verse and chorus. Monstrously delectable. ★★★★☆


Canyons Keep Your Dreams (Modular)

Not to be confused with the similarly named D.C. slowcore band, Australian duo (Ryan Grieve and Leo Thomson, who’ve remixed Ladyhawke and released Tame Impala on their own Hole in the Sky label) known as Canyons embraces a wider array of influences—disco-sax, Ibiza-beat, darkwave—to arrive at its exquisitely crafted debut. Dreams delivers a unique take on the retro-electropop currently being pioneered by Canyons’ Aussie peers Cut Copy and France’s M83. Still, there’s no predicting how far into the valley of sound Canyons will carry you. Consider the African chant crossed with the horn-hitting house-rave of “Blue Snakes,” an epic and spiritually penetrating track that will slither its way into your central nervous system. “Fire Eyes” is entirely different, a toucan-enhanced (yes, the bird), handclap-happy, conga-cracking jam blessed with earthy female vocals. Then there’s the New Order-derived, piano-propelled, hallucinatory “My Rescue,” the album’s pop standout. Electronic fans will relish a strange, new ravine to explore. ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

Beat Box


Beat Box

Purple Krown Clothing has been instrumental in bringing hip-hop shows to Las Vegas. In the last few months, they’ve brought Dom Kennedy, Dilated Peoples’ Evidence, California indie rhyme-slinger Fashawn and Young Jeezy’s newest signee, Freddie Gibbs. Purple Krown is targeting the Hard Rock Café on the Strip on Jan. 14 for its next event, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary and feature Diggy Simmons (the son of Reverend Run of Run DMC) and Y.C. of “Toot It and Boot It” fame.