Known Johnson

May 21, 2007

Overlooked Alternatives: Battles, Killing Joke

Filed under: Music,News,Overlooked Alternatives — Tom @ 8:58 pm

Whew – the past few weeks have felt like a barrage of too much stuff, so a couple of quiet weeks were in order, and we’re going to be getting that this and next week. That’s not to say that nothing’s coming out, but the schedule’s just not as jam-packed as it had been. Rest assured that most music geeks, me included, will find plenty of ways to occupy ourselves in the quiet times.

Battles – Mirrored: Three years after a single and two EPs, it was about time Battles finally put out their debut album. And, from the sound of things, the wait was more than worth it. Where the EPs hinted at what was to come, they suffered a bit from a band struggling to define themselves. Mirrored proves that Battles has discovered who they are: the bastard children of Animal Collective and Don Caballero. With guitarist/vocalist Tyondia Braxton (son of avant gard sax great Anthony Braxton) and drummer John Stanier (ex-Helmet, current-Tomahawk) on board, it’s easy to see why such a sound would emerge – it’s just not so easy to imagine when listening back to those EPs, which sounded more like a lost Tortoise. Believe it or not, this could be the surprise indie breakout of the summer. First single “Atlas,” with its nonsensical, pitch-shifted vocals, glitchy synth, and driving, pounding drums, is the kind of freak-out, weirdo song that leaves listeners divided, for sure, but it sure makes an impression, and those that like it, love it. Serious fun. Watch this one – it will likely end up placing high on year-end lists.

Killing Joke – Bootleg Vinyl Archives 1 & 2: For Killing Joke fans, the past month has been pretty cool. First their was Inside Extremities which offered a previously unreleased 1991 concert, and now there are these two releases: two three-disc sets (at a very low price-point) of live material from the band’s career throughout the 80s and early 90s. From what I read, the sound quality varies, but the name should warn you – “bootleg” is a pretty apt title, and just like back in the old days, you never knew quite what you were going to get. The price helps make this more fun than it used to be – I remember regularly plunking down $25 for a single-disc bootleg only to find out it sounded like it had been recorded in some guy’s armpit. It’s not all perfect sounding, but for the most part, you fair much better here – especially with regards to your financial investment. Essential? Probably not. Fun? For fans, yes. For anyone else, I’d suggest sticking to the studio material.

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