Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Deep Cuts: February '18

Welcome to the tenth installment of Deep Cuts, a new monthly segment highlighting standout tracks that weren't given a spotlight to blossom. All songs listed below have been released in the month of February on albums where they weren't previously released as a single. The only condition I've imposed upon myself is that no artist can have more than one song. 

Efrim Manuel Menuck - Pissing Stars
Pissing Stars | Post-Rock

While by name a virtual unknown, Efrim Manuel Menuck's contribution to music is quite significant. For he is one of the original three members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the preeminent Post-Rock collective. Pissing Stars is Menuck's second solo album outside of the group, and first in seven years. What's perhaps most interesting about Pissing Stars, a mostly organic Post-Rock record, is that Menuck sings, answering the question: what would GY!BE sound like with vocals? Flashes of the group's latest project, Luciferian Towers, can be seen throughout Pissing Stars, but the album tends to reach its peak when Post-Rock is substituted for Art Rock, Noise, and even Neo-Psychedelia. The three come together eloquently on 'Pissing Stars,' the epic closing track. Reaching over six minutes, the track fails to deviate from its current ascent upwards, gathering a slow head of steam as the droning guitars and sheer noise build and build and build. Skipping ahead and you'll be hit with a wave of distortion, but experiencing it in one fell swoop the beauty will soon grow. As for Menuck's soft, edgeless vocals, comparisons can be drawn towards Spacemen 3's constant abstract fixations, or even The Chemical Brothers' overt psychedelic period with tracks like 'Dream On' and 'Where Do I Begin.' Just substitute their Big Beat drums with even more Noise.

Son Lux - Surrounded
Brighter Wounds | Art Pop

'Surrounded' should be retitled the Ian Chang special. Son Lux's drummer who, previously, was little more than an additive to Ryan Lott's usual minimal Electronics, turned his expertise up a notch during the recording's of Brighter Wounds. Son Lux is known to have top-notch production, one that relies on a crisp and sleek look at the future. What Chang was able to do with his drums, seen most prominently on 'Surrounded,' was accept those necessary parameters whilst incorporating an emotionally-wrought backbone. Through his drums alone, you can feel the tension, panic, anxiety, and fear pouring out of 'Surrounded.' They basically function the same as tribal drums, but without the unpredictability and muck. This all culminates in the intense and riotous grand finale, one that is entirely founded by Chang's drum set. Even Lott's weary vocals step aside to allow for one to feel the dread, rather than be told it. Best of all, towards the end of this drum solo, the instrument itself begins to fracture, crack, and deteriorate, something Son Lux has only selectively utilized to convey a pertinent message ('Enough Of Our Machines').

U.S. Girls - Incidental Boogie
In A Poem Unlimited | Progressive Pop

Regardless of the sounds given to her, Meghan Remy always succeeds at making them her own. Her Lo-Fi and inherently Experimental origins allowed for the Art Pop powerhouse to find use out of anything. See to U.S. Girls On KRAAK, an LP that finds eery late night Synthpop ('Island Song') competing against tropical hallucinations ('Si, I Mean Oui') and born-rugged Country westerns ('Peotone'), amongst other, equally divergent ideas. Theoretically, the only thing that changed by In A Poem Unlimited was the crisp sheen and rich high-fidelity. 'L-Over' is a scrupulous, Noir-bent crooner, 'M.A.H.' a bonafide Disco hit, and 'Incidental Boogie' a coarse Industrial smash. Through vicious guitars that break the feedback buster, Remy shakes and scants over cruel and unusual dance rhythms. Given the topic of 'Incidental Boogie,' a track that finds abusive lovers, one physical and one mental, being swapped out at the glance of Remy's alluring eyes, the dominant/submissive style of aggression seems apt.

Vince Staples - Opps
Black Panther: The Album | Hip House

It's 'Yeah Right' part two, what else do you want? Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar, and a barrage of hellbent Hip House intent on defining a stylish, extremely loud industrial future. This time around they're joined by Yugen Blakrok, a South African femcee who not only competes against two of Hip-Hop's current greats, but conforms to the African empowerment ubiquitously found all throughout Black Panther. Tribal drums power thunderously beneath all three rappers, which, along with the alarming sirens and jagged synths, presents a futuristic motherland that's indebted to the history and traditions of its past. Which, not coincidentally, is the exact aesthetic beaming through each wardrobe and technological artifact in Black Panther. Best of all though, 'Opps' needs no movie to enhance its greatness. It's not on the level of Big Fish Theory's 'Yeah Right,' but the complimentary piece provides yet another factoid of evidence towards Vince Staples' visionary advancement of unorthodox Hip-Hop.

MGMT - One Thing Left To Try
Little Dark Age | Psychedelic Pop

On another day I'd pick 'She Works Out Too Much' as Little Dark Age's necessary deep cut choice. The early album of the year contender needs one after all, and it's truly a testament to the quality MGMT mustered that I'm having difficulty deciding between the two. Not because they're the cream of the crop, but that they're the fourth and fifth best songs on the single-heavy LP. Whereas one, 'She Works Out Too Much,' embodies the quirky aesthetic of Ariel Pink, 'One Thing Left To Try' features a glorious middle embankment that resembles the autotune-hollering work of Dan Deacon circa Gliss Riffer. Once one gets past Andrew VanWyngarden's weepy falsetto, the breadth of 'One Thing Left To Try's' soundscape is truly a marvel of modern music. Layers upon layers, representative of Neo-Psychedelia, only resembles the genre in approach as the style itself, with an aggressive batch of guitars, synths, and drums, nears the pandemonium of Art Rock. But it all comes back to the breakbeat bridge that VanWyngarden flourishes in, one that brings Deacon's maximalism, as seen on 'Learning To Relax' or 'Sheathed Wings,' to the forefront.


  1. "What's perhaps most interesting about Pissing Stars, a mostly organic Post-Rock record, is that Menuck sings, answering the question: what would GY!BE sound like with vocals?"

    Efrim Manuel Menuck's first solo album released 7 years ago has vocals on most tracks. Efrim is the main vocalist of Thee Silver Mt Zion (currently on hiatus) and has been for the best part of 20 years. They've recorded 7 albums, all of which contain vocals and the last 4 of which are made up of vocal tracks with no instrumentals.

    1. Thanks for the knowledge. This was my first album of Menuck's, and up to that point I hadn't heard anything else from the GY!BE camp that had vocals. Been meaning to check out Thee Silver Mt. Zion though.

    2. They're great. At their core they share 3 members with GY!BE and several more have been involved through the years. Horses In The Sky is a good place to start.