Deftones – Ohms
It’s been a long time coming, but finally, Deftones have shared Ohms: their first full-length effort since 2016’s Gore, and a menacing reminder from the alt-metal veterans as to just how good they’ve gotten over time. Spilling over with urgent down-tuned riffs and ambient synthesiser backdrops, Ohms seeks to unify all corners of the Deftones fanbase, fusing aspects of the band’s previous escapades into nu-metal, post-rock and the more experimental Gore to masterful effect. On ‘Ceremony’, the band toy with a hypnotic groove that’s almost semblant of Can, while the album’s middle stretch of ‘Error’ and ‘The Spell Of Mathematics’ proves to be an emotive highlight of the record, both instrumentally and vocally. Meanwhile, Chino shreds his vocal delivery in the chorus of ‘Pompeji’ to make for an all-out stomper of a tune, while the title track ‘Ohms’ wraps everything up at the end and ties it all in a neat little bow. Ohms may well be right up there among one of the best heavy releases of 2020 so far.
Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down
It seems that Public Enemy have always got something to say, and in the lead up to the US presedential elections this November, they’re making their voices heard across their fiery return to form, What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down, out on Def Jam today. Linking up with some of the biggest names in old-school hip-hop, What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down sees Chuck D, Flavor Flav and DJ Lord team up with everyone from Nas, Ice-T, Cypress Hill and DJ Premier through to old Def Jam label mates Beastie Boys and Run DMC, making for one of the funnest throw-back rap moments of 2020. Nostalgia aside, however, Public Enemy are still just as political as ever here: Chuck D’s observant lyricism still hits like a hit to the nose, and the noted presence of Flavor Flav and DJ Lord makes it feel like Public Enemy have put their dicey history aside for the greater good here.
Sufjan Stevens – The Acension
Emotional times call for emotional records, and isn’t it a good thing that Sufjan Stevens is back to dish one out! After following up his critically acclaimed 2015 release Carrie & Lowell with a string of collaborative releases, Sufjan Stevens has finally released a follow-up solo effort in The Acension, and what a record it is. Spanning a whopping 80 minutes, The Acension sees Sufjan span more sonic territory than ever before, bouncing between the Autotune-inflected synth-pop singles like ‘Video Games’ to droning ambient compositions and scitterish electro freakouts like ‘Atvian’ to show off his audacious nature as a composer. While it’s disconcerting at first to hear Sufjan dealing in so many bangers – there’s more than few to contend with on The Acension – the true highlight of the record comes in the form of its epic 12 minute closer ‘America’, a bombastic synth anthem which sees Stevens aim to find a sense of self that he’s lost through the toxicity of US culture. An intruiging album, to say the least: I feel like this one will be polarizing, but we’re fans.
Thurston Moore – By The Fire
Sonic Youth legend and noise guitar pioneer Thurston Moore is back for another solo outing with By The Fire, his sixth official studio release under his own name. With Jazzmaster in hand, Moore still proves to be a titanic force: across By The Fire, his guitar playing is dynamic as hell, packing in all the obtuse fuckery you’d expect from him alongside some incredibly gentle instrumental passages for a striking contrast. Accompanied by his former Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley and My Bloody Valentine / Primal Scream bassist Debbie Googe, Moore turns his attention towards topics like desire and escapism and channels them into both his lyrics and guitar playing, with the ten minute highlight ‘Cantaloupe’ seeing him deliver one of the most unlikely solos to ever yelp out of his guitar in years.
IDLES – Ultra Mono
After a tumultous album rollout that saw the Bristol punks embroiled in online beef with fellow UK acts Sleaford Mods and Fat White Family, IDLES have stepped out with Ultra Mono, their follow-up to 2018’s critically accclaimed Joy As An Act Of Resistance. On this new album, Joe Talbot and co. are just as fiery as its predessecor depicted them to be, forging post-rock effects pedal wizardry with a raw, urgent songwriting style on cuts like ‘Mr. Motivator’ and ‘War’ to sublime effect, with US hip-hop producer Kenny Beats joining the band on various tracks to add his trademark tightness. While you can’t help but admire Joe Talbot’s impassioned persona and undeniable charm as a frontman, his lyricism does feel contrived and even condascending at times on tracks like ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Ne Touch Pas Moi’ with Jehnny Beth – even if his heart is in the right place, it’s easy to see why Talbot upsets his fellow UK contempoaries so much. Nevertheless, Ultra Mono makes for a fun and engaging listen, and even if its impact pales in comparison to that of Joy As An Act Of Resistance, it’s still worth adding to your collection.
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