CIMS Indie Fresh
The Nude Party – one of 2018’s most groovy and dynamic rock records is produced by Oakley Munson of The Black Lips and recorded in Woodstock, NY at Dreamland Recording Studios, the circa-1896 former St. John’s Church. The self-titled album finds that formidable music machine cranked all the way to cosmic. Maybe it’s the electric waters of Lake Norman, NC where the band spent a primordial summer, or the upstate New York vibes that have beckoned American spiritualists and storytellers for a dozen generations, but something gives these cats a glow. At very least the numerology scans. Even when heartbreak crashes the party, like on the hilarious “Records,” the buoyancy of the band’s demeanor negates the inevitable bummer. From the self-aware irreverence of “Chevrolet Van” to the apocalyptic resignation of “War Is Coming,” The Nude Party surfs heavy wavelengths with elegance and grace.
There’s an inherent flaw in the perennially alternating “rock is back” and “rock is dead” arguments: they are based on the idea that rock music is a logic-based choice a person consciously chooses to make. Contrary to the critics who are looking to suss out cultural trends and movements, the decision to play loud, distorted, unabashed guitar-rock isn’t a strategic move but a higher calling (or curse, depending on one’s point of view). Some might say the pursuit of rocking out via deafening amplifiers, crusty drums and a beer-battered PA is a spiritual one, an affliction that either strikes or doesn’t. Few groups today embody this sentiment like Melbourne’s aptly-named Deaf Wish. They’re more likely to ask a fellow musician what they do for their “real” job (for one, guitarist Jensen Tjhung works as a builder) than talk shop about publicists, ticket counts and online promotions. They’re a grisly rock group and they’ve already signed to Sub Pop, which is to say they’ve already succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, so anything that comes after (performing in strange new cities, meeting like-minded souls, maybe even selling a t-shirt or two) is a bonus. And if they come to your town, you would be wise to clear your calendar. Lithium Zion is their fifth full-length album (and second for Sub Pop following 2015’s Pain), and, while it’s a rare case that a group’s fifth album is their best, it may in fact be Deaf Wish’s finest. Their previous albums were recorded in makeshift studios - a wise choice for capturing the hazardous riffing, chemically-stained vocals and fiery rhythms conjured by a group such as this - but this step toward a slightly more professional sound only enhances their power. The record opens with “Easy”, a languid rocker in the rich Australian tradition of groups like X and The Scientists. From there it’s onto “FFS”, a moody downhill rocker sung by guitarist Sarah Hardiman that confirms Deaf Wish’s relation to fellow Sub Pop employees like feedtime and Hot Snakes. “The Rat Is Back” is tense and epic; “Hitachi Jackhammer” pays a brief and noisy tribute to Hitachi’s second most notable device (you’d be forgiven for assuming this song is about vibrators). Lithium Zion is a veritable buffet of garage-punk energy, post-punk pathos, sardonic wit and the fearlessness that comes with Aussie rock, a natural consequence for anyone living on a continent teeming with grapefruit-sized spiders and man-eating mosquito swarms. As has always been the case, the whole group shares vocal duties, even drummer Daniel Twomey (you know the band is slightly unhinged if they’re letting the drummer sing). Hardiman and Tjhung are as ragged and hairy as ever, chugging along as though krautrock was trying to speed past the late ‘70s but got caught in the sticky grasp of punk. Such is the way of Deaf Wish, a group destined to write songs that are simultaneously stupid and sublime, vulnerable and ferocious, and play them with the unbridled intensity they demand. Anyone serving a life sentence to rock will surely concur.
4-panel digipak w/ 8-pg booklet.
You may not be able to see the gorgeous landscapes behind Baby Grand, Stuart McLamb’s fourth record as The Love Language, but they’re so essential to the picture you’ll feel them in every note. Started in, of all places, a cavernous Virginia hammock factory, fragmentary demos came alive when splashed by sunshine during a move across the country to California, where the album was completed. “It was something just about being in a new city, and a new light,” McLamb says, “and reopening the sessions, and this demo that I thought was a throwaway, suddenly I’m really feeling it….” You can hear the freedom kick in when the backwoods country shuffle of “Castle in the Sky” explodes into a full-on aughts anthem, equal parts outstretched arms and pumped fists.