New Music: Friday Roll Out! With Jett Brando, Cave In, Pelican, Team Dresch

Sitting here listening to Miles Davis’ The Complete Birth Of The Cool which is out today and the complexity involved within some of these sonic sculptures are sometimes beyond mind-boggling. Some may think it’s just a bunch of musicians jamming, fluidly coalescing with one another but the beauty in which Miles handled his instrument was transcendent. Side A and B of the first LP are the studio sessions while the additional LP hold live recordings that include all-out jams. We could sit here and listen to this double LP all day long but unfortunately, there’s so much more to dig into in this roll out. But it’s a good segway into where we’re heading from this point on.

There’s a lot of history behind Pelican and its music. They’ve been called so many different things, from stoner rock to doom metal to post-rock. I think the band is comfortably described as post-metal, but regardless of where fans believe they fit in, Pelican has established itself as a forward-moving unit that simply does what its most secure in doing: creating a thunderous sound everyone’s parents have grown to dislike.

Pelican has just released its sixth long-player with Nighttime Stories (Southern Lord) and it’s rife with blistering excursions of cacophony as the group moves closer to musical hedonism. It’s been six years since the group released Forever Becoming, with Dallas Thomas replacing Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and the new album proves, his introduction on that release wasn’t a fluke. With the lengthy numbers here, once again the band expresses itself well, eschewing lyricism as they normally do, instead layering tracks with loud dueling guitars and unrelenting rhythms. “WST” is misleading, letting us believe Pelican has moved away from the oblivious and sonically challenging for something much quieter with it’s lightly plucked guitars but then halfway through, the rhythm begins to louden as do the guitars which allow the haunting aspects to rise to the surface. But redemption comes swiftly with “Midnight and Mescaline,” a driving force the band again shifts, adding beautiful melodies to its pummeling rhythms. The sound? Grandiose in any and all aspects. My own imagination runs wild picturing Pelican’s explosive sound in massive arenas, keeping those watching and listening completely enthralled.

The group’s penchant for loud, controlled, and cataclysmic music continues to play out through the rest of the album and I’m not even sure where to begin from here on end. “Abyssal Plain” is tense and inviting at the same time, while the title track is an explosive beast of a song allowing the hypnotic rhythm to take the lead with dense guitars overlaid. There aren’t any shortcuts the band takes through either “Arteries of Blacktop” or “Full Moon, Black Water” (The latter shifting towards the end for something quite remarkable.) Pelican keeps the same aesthetic from track to track although each one remains identifiably different.

No one can traverse a musical path faking it as they go along. With Nighttime Stories, the quartet has peaked, reaching an echelon many fail to achieve throughout their existence. For Pelican, it’s only the beginning.    

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All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors released a few albums back in the 90s and were active from ’93 to 2000. After a few albums, ANLLF didn’t receive the accolades it should have, considering the music they played with were creative and catchy AF! But it was also the tail end of a style of music that would fall within crevices and become an artisan endeavor. 2000 didn’t only serve as closing the chapter of the band, it was also the year when guitarist Jeremy Winter, recording under the pseudonym Jett Brando, released his solo debut long-player The Movement Towards You. While the band reliance on a wall of sound, normally that of guitars wailing in shoegazing fashion, was the basis in the group’s sound, Brando opts for a more varied approach. After more than just a few albums, EPs, and singles, Jett Brando releases a new album Songs Of The Valley (deadverse recordings) co-written by dälek. 

Listening to the album repeatedly, I’ve come to just one conclusion here about this collection of songs: while Brando holds onto his influences and style of play from his younger years, he has his feet firmly planted in 2019. He opens this release with “What Good Would You Do Me Now” and to the naked ear sounds like just a pop number with distorted guitars, but to the discerning individual, there’s much more. Peel this one away bit by bit and there’s are layers here. Whether its guitar effects for altered percussion, it’s laying in wait but you can’t avoid Jett Brando’s hypnotic melodies. But the layers to Jett Brando’s music is as expansive as his palette of influences, which one can be sure he’ll carry to the grave. “Every Other Day” showcases his obvious love of the Beatles, drenching much of it in washes of guitar with keys added in for good measure. Although, it’s “Give Yourself Away” is the one track that I keep gravitating towards. His vocal melody strays from the distorted guitars a bit, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition and “The Picture” fills empty spaces with shoegaze-inspired guitars in the distance.

But Brando seems to alter things to his own liking which makes things better for everyone. “There You Are” opens solely with a naked bassline hitting just a few notes, and everything eventually builds around it as it gets swallowed by guitars that are mind-numbing for the next minute and a half. That’s when Brando’s haunting vocals enter and hints of psychedelia permeate throughout the track’s 6 + minutes. Surprisingly though, “I Give My Heart Completely” is thrown in the mix where Brando’s falsetto throws a monkey wrench into the mix. He can sing with the best of them and it will leave everyone as awestruck as I was.

One has to wonder if the world ready Songs Of The Valley, but I’d have to give a resounding and emphatic “yes!” to that. Will it welcome Jett Brando with open arms? We can only hope it does because this album right here? It truly is what music should sound like today.

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So this probably isn’t fair and I’m sure I’ll hear about it but reviewing this one single, this is what it’s all about right now. Back when bands first surfaced taking over music and doing it their own way, those were good times. Those were days when people were bad ass just for being who they were/are. Queercore and Gay Punk bands like The Butchies, Pansy Division, Le Tigre, Tribe 8, all did their thing and were all comfortable in their own skin. But Team Dresch? They rocked as well, if not better, as just about any other band. Lead by Donna Dresch, the band just reissued its catalog and this week dropped “Your Hands My Pockets,” a new single that’s my new favorite song. Indie Rock? Rock? Queercore? It doesn’t matter because the song is thunderous, melodic, and catchy AF! The band fills it with backing harmonies that one might miss if not listening closely, but it’ll be those frenetic guitars that’ll reel you right in. Now to sit and wait for the album…

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It’s been 20 years since Cave In released its sophomore release Until Your Heart Stops and 19 years since the group’s opus Jupiter. Members of the group had gone on to work on a variety of projects (Mutoid Man, Old Man Gloom, Nomad Stones, Zozobra) and hadn’t released an album since 2011’s White Silence. Losing a friend is difficult, and bassist Caleb Scofield was also an integral part of Cave In.

The band’s new album Final Transmission (Hydra Head) was originally intended to be demos and listening to the album, you’re able to hear it as well. It’s not to say the album is merely a shell of what they were, but there just seems to be something missing here. It’s difficult to put your finger directly on what that might be but what made the band special was its ability to pull from both its hardcore and prog styles for something amazing. On the group’s Final Transmissions, it seems the energy is simply, missing. It’s unfortunate because I’ve always been a Cave In cheerleader, tights and all. But the album may leave some fans wondering if they should have left it alone and moved on.

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