New Music: Friday Roll Out! With Daughters, Ian Sweet, Tropical Fuck Storm

Yeah, it’s Friday and I don’t have anything witty to offer up. It’s Friday and I know most live for the weekend but come on, live for every day of the week. We all understand life takes us in varying directions, dreaded work weeks, but let’s enjoy it all. There’s enough sarcasm & cynicism to go around. Just wanted to add, Draco Rosa‘s new album Monte Sagrado is also in rotation. Yeah, Robbie Rosa, formerly of Menudo. I don’t care if you hold it against me because if you don’t know, singing in more than one language isn’t an easy feat. So there you have it.

This isn’t Ian Sweet’s first go-around, not by a long shot, and the band’s sophomore full-length, Crush Crusher (Hardly Art), is banking on exploring more this time around than with the band’s previous release, 2016’s Shapeshifter. In the event you were unaware, Ian Sweet isn’t a person but the name of the band with vocalist/guitarist Jillian Medford, bassist Damien Scalise, and drummer Tim Cheney, who Medford once said she shares a psychic connection with. I’m not sure if I could even dispute that.

Crush Crusher isn’t an album that’s easily defined as soon as it begins. Medford’s wispy vocals may have one believe the group is heading in one direction, but it immediately hits a 90-degree angle heading off on a road less traveled. Or frequently roamed. It depends on one’s perspective. Don’t get me wrong here, I think I was about to toss Cold Crusher into the heap of unnecessary artists that have crossed my path, but I was patient enough to wait 30 seconds into “Hiding” for a change of heart. Initially, Medford may share a vocal cadence at times with someone with her Belly in a Throwing Muse but there much more to Ian Sweet than I would have initially thought.  The opening “Hiding” has Medford cooing until the rest of the band quickly changes the dynamics with loud and gorgeous guitar washes while Scalise & Cheney add the necessary bottom end here with perfect timing. The band unmistakably runs the gamut of playing with shoegazing tendencies but never succumb to its trappings.  They make moves, lushfully patterning themselves to none that came before them. Sure, there are semblances of influences heard throughout the band’s music, but they hold onto a self-made identity. Moving at a mid-tempo pace on “Holographic Jesus” you get a sense the band has no need of always moving quick-stepped, allowing every aspect of musicality to rise to the surface. “Borrowed Body” has a sublime melody that takes a moment to find but the way it slinks together, you won’t find anyone else piecing it together this way. It may seem oddly timed but it’s not. The melody is inviting but different. This is easy, it’s originality at its best. The strange, the odd, the beauty; Ian Sweet is able to combine all elements, merging together varying sounds, all the while keeping them separated. Just listening to “Your Arms Are Water” and you’ll find the something everyone can enjoy listening to. Crush Crusher is just good like that.

There’s always that obligatory “WTF” moment when encountering an artist, a band, a group of misfits, that strolls along to the beat of its own drum. In this case, Australia’s Tropical Fuck Storm rips to the malaise of everyone’s daily mundane with a piece of new music in the form of A Laughing Death In Meatspace (Joyful Noise Recordings). The irony of the album isn’t lost on me, and it shouldn’t be for anyone else for that matter but here, the quartet is a staggering look at what happens when one is left to their own devices and a conscious decision is made to reconstruct the construct of music for something…quite different.

The band, with former members of the Drones, has a captivating band name alone, capturing one’s attention almost immediately. “Tropical Fuck Storm,” it rolls off the tongue nicely, and musically the band immediately grabs attention with “You Let My Tyres Down.” It’s captivating with the constant start-stop guitar fuckery and  Gareth Liddiard’s lazy drawl. But don’t get it twisted because there’s so much more going on here, new things that you’ll find after repeated listens. The unassuming background harmonies are almost swallowed whole by the dueling guitars which are sometimes unrelenting. But these Tropical Fuck Storm-ers move in mysterious ways, taking cues from the Tom Waits school of imagination, confounding with musical serenades over oddly composed numbers. “Antimatter Animal” is a hellish apocalyptic ride through urban decay, and you can imagine the band heading on the A-Train to Harlem as worlds collide around them. It’s a harsh musical environment you won’t be able to get enough of. “Chameleon Paint” shows another side of the band as the experimental sound they’ve concocted wallows within blustery weather forecasts. Again, guitars trail off into beauteous tones with more gorgeous harmonies seeping in.

There are moments the group lets the groove take hold, driven by the fuzzed bass end on “The Future Of History” as instruments are filtered around it, creating a semblance of punk funk surrounded by noisy, shaky guitars. Filled with an extreme amount of blistering creativity, the band seems to barely be able to contain itself. There’s a restrained power on “Two Afternoons” while I’m not sure if the dread in “Rubber Bullies” is just Liddiard’s vocal inflections that shift dynamically to make me feel that way. But again, there’s so much offered by Tropical Fuck Storm here, and I’m not sure if the world is ready for it. They weren’t ready for Tom Waits, or Truman’s Water for that matter, so I’m not sure if they’ll just wait for the Storm to pass. If they do, it would be a crying shame as Tropical Fuck Storm could possibly be one of the greatest bands many will never get to know.

When a group comes to a definitive decision to end things, giving up the ghost of its cacophonic musical jaunt, it’s usually done with much thought given to it. 2010’s self-titled release saw the culmination of the Daughters sound come to fruition. Or so we all believed. Now resurrected, the demise of the band seems to have been overly exaggerated, reuniting in 2013 which has been credited to Andy Low of Robotic Empire. Fast-forward to 2018, and today we see the Rhode Island band’s latest offering You Won’t Get What You Want (Ipecac). One thing many will ask though is, “Was it worth the wait?”

Daughters have been forcefully tagged into a number of subgenres, from mathcore, noise rock,  grindcore, spazz-core, and just about any other core imaginable. Now while Daughters have always embraced its own musical stylings and influences, here the band plays more with dissonance and structured noise within the gloriously cacophonic din of music that is its sound. There are moments that leave uncertainty flaying in the distance, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Musically, Daughters blaze through tracks as if movements in orchestral pieces (“City Song”), flagrantly leaving space & silence, mechanical drum patterns, and playing with dynamics. The collective of musicians can sometimes be quite frightening creating what sounds like soundtracks to mysterious horrors (“Long Run No Turn”) where they wallow in the darkness of collapsing tenements. Surprisingly enough, the band can turn a creepy imagination into beauteous pieces (“Satan In The Wait”), which flows like bloody rivers to quench unrelenting thirsts. It’s a moment in time that’s completely fulfilling.

The band isn’t short on explosivity, blending unhinged instruments with chaotic dissonance, only to find a singular direction (“The Flammable Man”) only to once again play with dynamics & beauty together in one moment (“Daughter”). But the band has always found solace within the driving force of its songs (“The Reason They Hate Me” & “Guest House”) which can make one linger for the heyday of Chicago & Rhode Island noise of the late 90s. The band has much to offer with You Won’t Get What You Want, avoiding the trappings of the ‘comback.’ With this album though, hell hath no fury like the return of Daughters.

 

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