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Category: Album Reviews

Proving WUOG can be your home whether you are really cool or still think 1977 was the best year for music (it was, ok, it was) we have both Dan Deacon AND the Pop Group playing on the radio these days.

Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer


Baltimore is really churning out some great music these days and Dan Deacon is one of the city’s very best artists. Since his stunning breakthrough, 2007’s Spiderman of the Rings, Deacon has put out the gorgeous, live-instrument focused Bromst (one of my favorites of that year) and the ambitious America, and now Gliss Riffer, which  feels like vintage Dan Deacon, while still experimenting with the ideas and forms that his fans are familiar with. The opener “Feel the Lightning” feels like the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to a Dan Deacon pop song. There’s a really discernible structure and catchy synth parts that augment Deacon‘s traditional joyful, electronic chaos. Gliss Riffer takes a really dramatic left turn is the last 2 tracks of the record. “Take It to the Max” and “Steely Blues” are two of the most experimental tracks Deacon‘s done since signing with Domino and display his masterful composition skills as well as his ability to create huge environments with his array of musical ideas.

-Andy Tabeling

The Pop Group – Citizen Zombie


The seminal post-punk band, The Pop Group has released Citizen Zombie, their first LP in 35 years, and they’ve picked up right where they left off.  When beloved bands reunite and  release new material, the new records often derided and met with skepticism, as it can never match the expectations presented by a legendary back catalog.  With their three short years as a band from 1977-1980,  The pop group seamlessly blended the noise of the Birthday Party, the political outrage of the Clash and the Sex Pistols, and the nerdy white punk funk of American New Wave, all the while lending more influences to these contemporaries.  On Citizen Zombie the Pop Group still have the raw political energy and the rage of a young band while still offering a mature, postmodern sound that seems wiser than their previous work.  The opener and title track, “Citizen Zombie” is funky and savage which somehow manages to include jazz inspired sounds, feedback and futuristic noise.  In contrast to their usual punk-funk, tracks like “Mad Truth” and “s.o.p.h.i.a.” are dancefloor ready snythpop tracks.  The Standout track is “Nowhere Girl” and its most reminiscent to their older material and verges on the anthemic, combining love song and atypical optimism with huge, blaring guitar riffs and U2ish backup vocals. Closer “Echelon” sounds like a synthed up Nick Cave song as its very pretty and eerie. Although the political lyrics can be bulky at times (see; “Nations”/ “Immaculate Deception”) they are still intriguing and give the album a dystopian vibe.  The Pop Group’s Citizen Zombie is a strong effort that holds up to the band’s impressive discography without sounding trite and overdone.

- Tom Jurgens

Title Fight – Hyperview


Title Fight’s third full length album, Hyperview, is an extreme departure from the aggressive punk of their previous releases, even the most recent  Spring Songs EP (which featured heavily in WUOG’s rotation last year).  They’ve replaced the loud, post-hardcore sound, with a lusher shoegazey guitar sound that still packs the punch of their previous albums.  Hyperview is still a killer punk album and it shows that Title Fight’s steady growth has paid off with such a rewarding album.  It may prove divisive to fans of their older material, but it’s as good a place to start as any for the uninitiated.  “Chlorine” still has guitars that swell and explode into softer, melodic vocals.  “Hypernight” is still firmly entrenched in post-hardcore despite the shoegaze inspired riffs.  “Your Pain is Mine Now” is beautiful and heart-wrenching with the refrain “Don’t cry your eyes out.” This song feels like the centerpiece of the album as it  strips away the noise and shows the strong influence of mumbling post-punk and nineties indie rock dressed up as punk.  The band stated that Dinosaur Jr. and the Beach boys were big influences on the record, and the transition from “Your Pain is Mine Now” into “Rose of Sharon” encapsulates those influences perfectly.  This record is glorious, go listen to it.

-Tom Jurgens

The Church – Further/Deeper


Further/Deeper is the newest release from the Australian outfit The Church, building on more than three decades of experience and 25 albums. As would be expected with any band that created 25 albums and gained and lost a few members along the way, there is a disparity between original Church from 1981 and Church in 2015. The loss of an essential member (Marty Willson Piper) and gain of another (Powderfinger’s Ian Haug), is one of the reasons for the shift into the Church of today. Despite this, their distinct sound carries through: emotionally searching, full of shimmering guitars and distant drums, but still wholly relatable. In Pride Before A Fall, Steve Kilbey’s pleading voice drones “And now you know that actual love / It goes further, deeper,” revealing the album’s namesake and staying true to the yearning songs of the band’s past.  This album brings forth new ground that is apparent from the lead track “Vanishing Man” through to the psychedelic “Globe Spinning.” Further/Deeper maintains the dreamy atmosphere reminiscent of past years while traversing new ground that is applicable to the 2015 music scene.

-Cassidy Reeser

Benjamin Booker – Live at Third Man Records


Benjamin Booker, relatively new to the music scene, has already made a name for himself with his interesting take on post-war blues.  His self-titled debut album, released last year, combined elements of blues with a DIY, garage-punk sound.  His raspy voice sung, or sometimes screamed, over that lo-fi guitar sound and punchy percussion create a truly unique musical experience.  While recording in a live setting sacrifices some production and overall sound quality, Booker more than makes up for it with his raw, energetic performance.  The live album also features arrangements with fiddle and mandolin, including his cover of Furry Lewis’ “Falling Down Blues”, which he takes in a much folkier yet equally (if not more) powerful direction.  Overall, the album is definitely worth a listen, and I am excited to see what the future holds for Benjamin Booker.

-Justin Johnson

Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass


Natalie Prass is a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, TN. I bet that made you think of what she sounds like, and odds are, you guessed wrong. Prass stands out remarkably among a crowded field of modern singer-songwriters by accompanying her songs with the most enormous arrangements I’ve heard from a folk-ish musician since Sufjan Stevens. All of the songs on Prass‘ self-titled debut are filled with gorgeous string sections, soft horns and delicate woodwind passages. The artist that comes to mind for me is the mid-period of Scott Walker’s career (Scott 1, 2, 3, 4) where the arrangements are massive, but only add to already great songs. Thankfully, like Walker, Prass knows how to write a song. The opener “My Baby Don’t Understand” has a gorgeous, addictive melody that weaves itself around some of the most interesting instrumental accompaniment I’ve heard in a while. Tracks like the previously mentioned 1st track and the following track “Bird of Prey” both refuse to adhere to the boring song structures many of Prass‘ peers rigidly follow. Her voice, which sounds almost tiny compared to the orchestral majesty of the songs, takes a little bit of getting used to, but can prove addictive and lovable like the songs it’s a part of.  -Andy Tabeling

Twerps – Range Anxiety


Twerps combines their reverb based riffs with lead singer Marty Frawley’s warm but slightly off key vocals to create a lo fi album full of breezy harmonies and playful guitar. Range Anxiety, their second full-length, can be energetic, but also sensitive. “Cheap Education” is upbeat, while “Empty Road” is sung as a monotone ballad of love. “Empty Road” is a perfect mix of Twerps’s slacker roots and their sunny guitar. Singing “I don’t mind if you stay, I don’t mind if you go,” Frawley’s ode to apathy is actually a well thought out song that utilizes the power of his guitar to form a chorus in itself. Range Anxiety is a cohesive album that combines the easygoing ambiance of Real Estate with the musical depth of Yo La Tengo.  -Camilla Grayson

You Blew It! – Pioneer of Nothing


You Blew It! have returned with the 7” Pioneer of Nothing after their sophomore album, Keep Doing What You’re Doing.  On these three songs, You Blew It! Offer more of the same, which is essentially a good thing.  Back in the summer they did an EP covering Weezer’s the blue album, honoring the geek rock gods that came before them.  On this EP, however their influences lean more to the nineties emo of Dismemberment Plan and American Football. Despite what Ian Cohen says, we’re in the midst of an emo revival, which  7” keeps it going strong with the opening two tracks offering textured and intricate guitars that soon give way to angst ridden pop-punk hooks.  On “Lanai”, You Blew It’s! vocalist is reminiscent of Travis Morrison. Slow burning, heavy and sad-emo is back and here to stay at least for a little while.  -Tom Jurgens

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love


No Cities To Love is punk outfit, Sleater-Kinney’s first album after a nine-year hiatus. No Cities begins with “Price Tag”, a punchy anthem to consumerism. From minute one of the short thirty-three minute (ten song) album you’re hit with the hard-driving tempo that carries it throughout. “Fangless” is a tad funkier than the rest with a more danceable tune. “A New Wave” conquers the dilemma of identity, as much of the album does, with some welcome harmonizing. “Surface Envy” is arguably the crowning jewel, featuring quite a bit of dual guitar play. No Cities To Love definitely follows on in the path of their previous work yet seems a bit more concise. There’s no respite for the listener, each song gets straight to the point and before you can recover you’re thrown back in.

-Sarah Guirguis

Viet Cong – Viet Cong


Death plays a major part in Viet Cong’s composition. Aside from being the title of the epic final track on their debut album, it is death that initially brought the band together. After the tragic death of Women’s guitarist Christopher Reimer, Bassist/vocalist Matt Flegel and Drummer Michael Wallace formed Viet Cong, continuing the creation of anxiety fueled post-punk. Since their Cassette Ep, Viet Cong have incorporated synthesizers and drones of Swans intensity, further expanding their sound. “March of Progress” begins with a repetitive drum rhythm over minimal synth chords and tape loops, leading to metallic arpeggiating guitars and a verse that builds with full intensity, highlighting Wallace’s precise drumming and their ability to interweave guitars. The presence of Christopher Reimer lurks through each track, inspiring much of the content lyrically and musically. On Continental shelf, Flegel sings, “Don’t want to reminisce” and “Don’t want to face the world, it’s suffocating”, further revealing his emotional angst. On the album’s closer “Death”, Viet Cong play with driving force, exemplifying their greatest strengths and abilities. At just over 11 minutes, “Death” takes many forms, patiently building up into a throbbing drone until a sudden shift, changing the pace and playing at unusual time signatures similar to Women’s “Heat Distraction”. Viet Cong is an incredibly consistent album that stretches the boundaries of their previous work, blending familiarity with a certain freshness.

-Ben Houston

What’s new on WUOG? Strangest collab of the year, Helium/Autoclave/Wild Flag’s Mary Timony’s newest band and a buncha Canadian garage punks!