New Music | Friday Roll Out: Boris, Erasure, Pilot To Gunner, Kiwi Jr.

While this is the band’s 19th album, it seems the band is far from slowing down. This time Erasure has released its new full-length, Day-Glo (Mute), an album filled with more experimentation than I would think I’d ever imagined. Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have always been the core of the outfit creating pop masterpieces although this time around the duo offers up more instrumental-like tracks that offer a different look for the group. While the album is short on lyricism, Andy Bell’s voice is present, at times literally included as a sampled instrument like on the dance-friendly “Bop Beat” – which is sure to become one of your favorite songs – or vocal runs on the pop-infused “Now.” That’s not to say we won’t find Bell singing because we do find it within “Harbour Of My Heart” and the heady “3 Strikes And Your Out.” Clarke’s musical backdrops are offset wonderfully to Bell’s voice and I can’t help but think how many pop songs we’d hear on the radio if Erasure chose to do things differently on Day-Glo. But in any case, the album is close to perfection.

The bludgeoning factor should always be considered when rocking on the heavier side of the musical spectrum. That’s just a given fact everyone should be aware of. But with almost 30 albums in its 30-year existence, some things can be overlooked when Japan’s Boris is the subject at hand. We have to question if there is anything that is, in fact, louder, more chaotic, that falls through a psychosis of psychedelia with the utmost normalcy in appearance. ‘Normalcy’ takes some liberty when referencing the group’s brink-of-destruction identity.

Boris has delivered its latest, Heavy Rock (2022) (Relapse Records), and leaves no stone unturned, no stagnant movement while allowing listeners the full use of their imagination(s). With multiple sides to the group’s musical personality, the album storms across vast seas, harnessing the ghost of Lemmy while allowing its more experimental outlook room for growth. “She Is Burning” is a rhythmic masterpiece, allowing its freneticism to take control of cacophony but also leaving guitars room to breath as notes howl and feedback is controlled like a wolverine on a leash; it’s hard to manage but the band pulls the reins in. They thrust and pull across “Cramper,” a deserty rock effort that’s stony in psychedelic vocal cries. Again, the rhythm is unmatched by contemporaries, and hot damn it could literally obliterate paint off walls.

The group’s experimentalism gets the best of ’em and while “Blah Blah Blah” opens with free jazz like saxophone that could meander through self-indulgence, Boris emerges with a sonic fervor that’s impressive. The band allows the track to take on a life of its own giving way to flaying guitar notes & washes over an ever-present low-end rumble. Sax makes its way in once again but it delivers a solo matching the melodic edge. But it’s the other side of the band on “Nosferatou” that’s bound to pique your interest. Psuedo-Farrell cooing rips through the bass undertone that attempts to drag it under but doesn’t. It glides over it all as high-pitched horns spin lightly throughout before it turns into a ripping sludge fest reeking of toxicity. It’s the storm after the storm letting the world know Boris is not to be fucked with. And it really can’t.

Heav Rock (2022) may not be what we expected to receive but it’s exactly what we needed. A move away from the mundane, steps away from conventionality, and possibly the antithesis to straight pop culture as we know it. Boris is unmatched in its prowess.

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Within the last few years, Kiwi Jr. has weathered the storm of criticism and comparison, never straying and always staying the course. There have been the apparent nods to groups that have come before it but it’s no fault of vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Gaudet, he can’t be demonized for any similar vocal cadences or inflections. It is what it is. This year the band has released its third long-player Chopper (Sub Pop) hopefully removing any of those troubling comparisons once and for all.

For the new album, the band doesn’t seem to slow down at all, poignantly delivering punchy rhythms, catchy hooks, and unyielding melodies. This is what we expect of the Toronto outfit, hitting listeners where it’s deservingly needed. There’s obviously familiarity throughout the album but it’s still Kiwi Jr. The indie rock mood of “Unspeakable Things” is unmistakable as the jangly guitar is offset by keyboards with Gaudet’s vocals leading the way. It’s catchy AF but would you expect anything else? The dissonant guitar is cleverly executed, accentuating the melody. The band seems to step out of its comfort zone with “Parasite II,” led by its electro-pop melody, alluring piano notes tinkling away, and catchy harmonies.

It’s obvious the band is far from being a one-trick pony but “The Sound Of Music,” quite possibly exceeds expectations, cleverly incorporating lyrics around films and of course, Julie Andrews. But it’s the infectious melody and harmonies over the organ play that’s just a bit hypnotic. Yeah, it is. If that doesn’t convince you, hit the play button on “Downtown Area Blues,” as it moves quickly right from the start, punching through it with a bouncy rhythm drenched in keyboard washes. It’s a rocker that seeps its way in quickly leaving all reservations on the band right at the door.

Kiwi Jr. isn’t a group of hipsters with an attempt at pseudo-worldly charm, feigning boredom with its releases and live performances. Instead, we get a band that creates great song structures, pushing the proverbial envelope and evolving after every release. Chopper is no different and we hear the progression, one that surely will allow it to become one of the greatest bands in the world.

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Questions. This is what we sometimes have when a group vanishes without an inking or without a word. It sometimes happens; a group either ceases to exist or fades away. It’s been a decade since Pilot To Gunner’s last offering Guilty Guilty was released. The album is one we heard of but seemed to drift out of existence along with the band. While the pandemic wasn’t kind to many, it proved a pivotal role in the re-emergence of the band. With a shift in membership, the band now includes drummer Gregg Giuffre (Hunters) and bassist Eric Odness (Chariots, Primitive Weapons, Ageist) joining guitarists Scott Padden and Patrick Hegarty.

This leads us to the new LP Hall Hallucinator (Arctic Rodeo Recordings) the band’s third release recorded with J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Ok, the album truly is quite the banger, as both Giuffre and Odness hold down the rhythm without feeling like the band has lost or compromised itself. Their presence really does let this album feel like Pilot To Gunner. That’s not an easy task, but both Padden and Hegarty make it an easy transition, creating melodies they can sink their teeth into without issue.

The band plays with dynamics at times but it’s the guitar tones and Padden’s unique vocal cadence & delivery that makes Pilot To Gunner So unique. “Animal Control” offers it all within its mid-tempo beat and captivating melody. But for the most part, Pilot to Gunner is bestial in nature, an unrelenting beast that never lets up until the flesh from your bones are wiped clean. The opening “Drop The Sun” alone is proof of that as the group hits that beat right from the start with Padden’s voice almost becoming one with the guitars themselves. And then we’re hit with “Ship Jumpers,” innocent enough but slowly building into a monstrosity of a track, tossing in slightly dissonant notes around its melody and course guitar work. Again though, Padden’s voice is the point the musicians all seem to direct it all towards but it really is everything involved that allows the song to evolve of its own volition.

Truth be told Pilot To Gunner always seemed like the next big thing, intertwining its loud and melodic guitars with deep rhythms and Scott Padden’s gruff vocal delivery. Hall Hallucinator literally finds the band reinvigorated musically and holding tightly to its powerful sound. There’s no one that sounds like Pilot To Gunner at all. The band is unique and clever in its delivery. This album should find it hosting an assortment of new fans far and wide. It’s just that good.

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