HELL COMES TO YOUR HOUSE: Death-rockers Tears For The Dying just released a new album, Epitaph, that is undoubtedly the long-running group’s most laser-focused and satisfying work. This album features 17 songs, a handful of which appeared on the March 2020 EP release Memories. After nearly two decades as a project and band, Tears For The Dying is finally getting some much-deserved recognition, and the time it spent in relative, uh, darkness seems like exactly the kind of woodshedding opportunity it needed. All due praises should go straight to founder Adria Stembridge’s inbox for keeping it alive so long. The sheer aggression of this album is nearly tangible, and unlike other records by the band, much of this is turned outward. Key to Tears For The Dying’s overall sound and aesthetic is that they always keep at least one foot solidly planted in straight-up punk and hardcore, as exemplified on tracks like “ACAB” and “All For Nothing.” That said, I’m far more partial to the moodier and goth-ier material like “Monochopsis,” “Deadweight” and “Dazzle The Sun.” The record also features two remixes by Tom Ashton (March Violets, touring member of Clan of Xymox, guest player with Sisters of Mercy, et al.) so that’s a nice bonus. Stream and purchase this over at tearsforthedying.bandcamp.com and hoist your flag at facebook.com/TearsForTheDying.
COMING AROUND AGAIN: Get ready to open your hearts and wallets, people, because the next Bandcamp Friday is happening Apr. 2. This has happened on the first Friday of each month since March 2020. What it means is that streaming, hosting and downloading service Bandcamp will waive its revenue share (which is modest to begin with), and artists and rights holders will receive 100% of the proceeds from all purchases made that day between midnight and midnight, Pacific Standard Time. If you have a difficult time remembering dates, you can always bookmark this handy link for assistance: isitbandcampfriday.com.
GET UP, STAND UP: Camilla Sims, the artist and activist who produces and performs under the name Convict Julie, has stepped away from her signature smooth-tuned ballad-driven sound, at least for her newest single. The new hardcore rap tune “Drive Bys On Tractors” tells the story of her experiences during demonstrations in Atlanta and Athens in 2020. Sims’ lyricism is both personal and polemical. It seems the single’s cover art—Sims with a gun in her hand and her tongue poking out—might just be troll bait, and anyone upset by it will have failed to notice its orange tip which clearly identifies it as a toy. Musically, the track is constructed with a flat-slap keyboard bass and guitar lines and, vocally, Sims exhibits a sharp sense of clever rhyme with a few well-placed couplets and unexpected lyrical twists. It reminds me of more of early productions from the likes of Rick Rubin than anything else, but with a notable lack of samples. I can’t speak to the veracity of all that the track contains, but the accompanying video does appear to mistakenly identify Mayor Kelly Girtz as the person who ordered tear gas dispersed during a May 31 protest in downtown Athens. The mayor of Athens, unlike many other cities, has no such power. (In fact, the order was given by Police Chief Cleveland Spruill and approved by Assistant Manager Deborah Lonon.) Significantly, though, this track is quite unlikeable and deliberately so. It’s a sharply bristled declaration of rage. It’s not friendly, welcoming nor particularly persuasive. Importantly, too, it’s not supposed to be. It’s not designed to rally anyone to a particular side, which is a key flaw so many have when examining or experiencing “protest” music. There’s no requirement that they attempt to be persuasive. They are—by virtue of their very name—affirmative testaments, not negotiations. Their success or failure, artistically or popularly, is irrelevant. Sims is also a key organizer of the Finley Light Factory, the artists collective at 393 N. Finley Street which features performances, shared creative space and art markets. You can find her whole catalog, including this new track, over on Spotify and get more information via convictjulie.com.
NO ONE LAUGHS: As soon as I started playing the new EP Emigrant by Kishi Bashi, I knew exactly where the earworm in opening track “Wait For Springtime” came from. It may have been unintentional, but slap me silly if that hook isn’t straight from The Clash’s “Hitsville U.K.” The fact remains, though, that Kishi Bashi has one of the best ears for hooks and melodies in Athens, and he indeed makes this his own on the gentle song. You can hear all this, too, when the EP is released Apr. 2. While running a mere five tracks, it collects his first released work since his last proper album (2019’s Omoiyari) if we don’t count his massive collection of score tracks from the Stillwater soundtrack. It’s all much quieter than his immediately previous work, but it’s not reserved at all. It’s actually quite stark, and its bareness renders it all very up front. Further, it contains pinpoint-perfect renditions of both Dolly Parton’s “Early Morning Breeze” and Regina Spektor’s “Laughing With.” I’d listen to this alone before playing it for anyone else, if only to keep one’s own emotions in check. Set an alarm for Friday and check it out at kishibashi.bandcamp.com.
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