Too twee for me.
November 20, 2009 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Draw a line from the 1981 release of This Heat's album Deceit to today. What do you get?

A little while ago I realized that all of my favorite bands are at least twenty years old. I'd like to fix this, but I haven't heard anything rock-related recently that's grabbed me. Most of the new bands I've heard seem to fall in a few orbits that I'm not too interested in: Man Man, Girl Talk, The Antlers, Beirut, Devendra Banhart; all different styles that I can't muster much enthusiasm for.

My problem is that it all feels very safe to me. I don't want polite music. I don't even want impolite music. I want something seething, like the This Heat album I mentioned above, or The Fall, or something wild like The Red Krayola. I've had a little luck with Angels of Light, Michael Gira being someone I can rely on for transgression and Swans being one of the aforementioned 20 year old favorites. Still, it's not quite what I want. Come to think of it, things outside of rock are very welcome, too. Help me, AskMefi.

(Note: I'm probably not interested in anything metal or hardcore or etc., but if you can make a really good case for it I'll give it a whirl.)
posted by invitapriore to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome question here. There's precious little in music like Deceit.

Keiji Haino/Fushitshusha
Scott Walker: Tilt and The Drift
AM: It Had Been an Ordinary Enough Day in Pueblo, Colorado (much more rockist than their usual improv)
posted by porn in the woods at 8:05 PM on November 20, 2009

CRAP, that's AMM not AM
posted by porn in the woods at 8:05 PM on November 20, 2009

Primal Scream's XTRMNTR and Evil Heat might be up your alley (links are singles from each).
posted by Burhanistan at 8:09 PM on November 20, 2009

Can. Pretty much any.
posted by rhizome at 8:15 PM on November 20, 2009

Can hasn't really had an album in 30 years, though (they can't be beat at any rate).
posted by Burhanistan at 8:18 PM on November 20, 2009

Oh, and just to add a few recent and semi-recent things that I do like to help you, prospective answerer, help me: The Boredoms, anything John Zorn related, Comets On Fire, and Ground Zero.

(porn in the woods, my roommate introduced me to Scott Walker and I agree, it's great stuff. rhizome, Can is totally along the lines of what I'm looking for, though like Burhanistan notes, I'm interested in finding something more recent.)
posted by invitapriore at 8:21 PM on November 20, 2009

My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:22 PM on November 20, 2009

posted by escabeche at 8:30 PM on November 20, 2009

Musica Elettronica Viva - The Sound Pool
Musica Elettronica Viva - Spacecraft
AMM - AMMusic 1966,The Crypt, Generative Themes
posted by porn in the woods at 8:32 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Because I basically recommend it in every music AskMe I post to, The Wrens' The Meadowlands. I'd bet at least 2 other people will wander through and reiterate that recommendation, because that's what always happens. Take note: that probably means we're onto something, here. It's basically all things to all people.

Also, Modest Mouse (esp. the older stuff where Isaac Brock's loony crazy-man hat gets put on more, like The Lonesome Crowded West or This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About), Menomena's I Am the Fun Blame Monster or their second one whose name escapes me, Broken Social Scene's You Forgot it in People, The Appleseed Cast (I'm thinking Low Level Owl, though may be too chill), Cold War Kids (Robbers & Cowards or Loyalty to Loyalty, doesn't matter), and um... Xiu Xiu's Fabulous Muscles for just plain noisy weirdness.
posted by axiom at 8:38 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

LCD Soundsystem reminds me a lot of The Fall. On paper, not so much, but regardless.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:40 PM on November 20, 2009

...And I can't believe I forgot Cursive. A lot of their stuff is good, but for seething, you can't beat Domestica, a 9-track concept album about Tim Kasher's divorce.
posted by axiom at 8:43 PM on November 20, 2009

I'm with you totally. And I don't feel I'm biased in this in any way, since I came from Bosnia fifteen years ago and appreciated almost anything I could get when I was there - from the Monkees to This Heat to the sevdalinke of my youth, Turkish folk music, Gypsy music, classical, jazz and so on. Coming to America and learning lots about music (I make a good living from my knowledge of it), I was rather disappointed to learn how weak a lot of contemporary stuff actually is - at least in genres I particularly like. There's great stuff in ambient / dubstep / techno and other genres, but I tend to enjoy song-based stuff more, and contrary to how many people may see it, artists like This Heat were actually fine songwriters.

So how do I fill the gap?

1) Relentless pursuit of stuff I've missed. Sadly, there's not much of it left, and what's being reissued is increasingly not-too-crucial. I just bought a CD reissue of the two Manicured Noise tracks from around 1979, flushed out with unreleased stuff . . . an interesting band I'd missed. I like that a lot of the Object Music (early Manchester postpunk label) is being reissued, though it's hit-or-miss and hasn't yet tackled anything more than a few stray tracks by Steve Miro & the Eyes, my faves on the label.

2) 'Village' music. That is, the intensely intense and often bewilderingly strange music still alive (often just barely) in central and eastern Europe. I love Polish, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Romanian (especially from Maramures) village music. There's *tons* of great Gypsy stuff out there too. And there's a surprising amount of it available on CD . . . but I spend a lot of time looking for this stuff live, when I'm over there. That involves trawling around a lot of weird places, hanging out in decidely non-touristy places, hitchhiking and some risk-taking. Worth it, though. By way of example, I am reminded of the Hungarian 'folk' band Muzsikás. They had a wonderful lead singer, Márta Sebestyén and did (do, I guess) a fine job of keeping alive various folk music traditions. But they seem really tame to me. That said, Dutch anarchist band was enthused enough by their discovery of Muzsikás to 'cover' their "Hidegen Fújnak A Szelek." Imagine something twenty times as intense. Hurray!

3) Folks still making great records. I love the Fall, but I'm more enamored of the great, early Blue Orchids stuff (which featured three very early Fall members.) They're long gone, but now leader (and ex-Fall guitarist) Martin Bramah has a GREAT new band with two other early Fall members, Paul and Steve Hanley. Recordings forthcoming. Davy Henderson from the Fire Engines also has a killer new band, Sexual Objects - and I imagine you'd dig a band he had in-between, Nectarine No 9, which also featured Gareth from the Pop Group. And few "reunited" bands have ever made records as great as the Nightingales. I just got, by coincidence, their EP "Insult To Injury," recorded in 2007. It's brilliant . . . at least as good as their crucial Rough Trade / Cherry Red period stuff.

4) All sorts of non-NPR world music, beyond the limits of "village" music above. Lots of African music lately, but also Eskimo singing, Indian street music and more. This is where a lot of people from the postpunk era end up - Lu Edmonds (of the Damned, Mekons, Public Image and many more bands) was one of the first people to 'import' Tuvan throat singing to the West.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:46 PM on November 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

I don't think my list is necessarily in the same zone as This Heat, but I love This Heat, so I'll just throw some stuff out there, even though it's not really that similar. If you like the Boredoms and Zorn, you might dig stuff like Ruins, Melt Banana, Marc Ribot. I love Battles, Aucan, Don Caballero, Cheval de Frise, Four Tet. If you like heavier stuff, some of the stuff on Southern Lord is pretty interesting (and heavy!) especially Ascend and Eagle Twin and Wolves in the Throne Room. Not contemporary, but if you haven't dug into 60s/70s avant-garde jazz, that might be a direction to head, too.
posted by drobot at 8:50 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you want something shoegazey: Boo Radleys early '90s stuff (Everything's Alright Forever and Giant Steps.

You probably know about Stone Roses.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 PM on November 20, 2009

You mention Rock but then listed a bunch of non-rock bands you don't like so I'm gonna take Rock to mean something more vague...

I love Michael Gira and recently saw him play. James Blackshaw (who is on Gira's Young God label) opened and he can be excellent.

Other not im/polite music I've been listening to lately:

Uke of Spaces Corners
Black To Comm (try track 5 if you only have time for one)
Blonde Redhead
Svarte Greiner
Gang Gang Dance
Lightning Bolt
Future of the Left (x McLusky)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:17 PM on November 20, 2009

With some iconic music, sadly, it's best to accept that there will never again be something in the same ballpark. Just like with This Heat, no one has even come close to the brutality and slowness of Swans' Young God EP. I was going to post an AskMe the other day, looking for music in the same league of the first four tracks on Walker Brothers' Nite Flights, but there's really nothing in music that I'm aware of that can approach that level of abstraction.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:22 PM on November 20, 2009

You mention Rock but then listed a bunch of non-rock bands you don't like so I'm gonna take Rock to mean something more vague...

Yeah, this is a deficiency of the term "indie rock" that I haven't really figured out how to get around. Ultimately, it seems like a more reliable term for describing a particular audience than for describing a particular group of performers (that is, for the groups I listed, I would expect most people familiar with one to be familiar with the others).
posted by invitapriore at 9:45 PM on November 20, 2009

This Heat is such a singular band, so this is a tricky question. But here are some bands with a similar feeling:

Wives were the This Heat of hardcore for one album.
Lenin I Shumov were a short-lived Toronto band that sounded like a Russian wedding band imploding.
Magik Markers have started writing actual songs since their album I Trust My Guitar Etc, as far as I'm concerned this is a negative development and that aforementioned album is perfect.
Yowie were haaaaairy.
Antifamily are mean and smart.
The Dirty Projectors' album The Getty Address has a really amazing hermetic quality to it that This Heat also has, it's nothing like the other DPs stuff.
Nifty is a guy with an album called A Sparrow! A Sparrow!, and he makes songs with looped MGM music, the sounds of lids, strange vocodering, and vaudevillian lyrics about going to watch documentaries, he is very very good.
posted by voronoi at 10:50 PM on November 20, 2009

Seconding the last two Scott Walker albums. They have a similar dissonance to This Heat, and are a bit difficult for the first dozen listens or so.

You might also like some of Tim Kinsella's projects - any of the Make Believe albums, Joan of Arc's The Gap, or maybe the Owls and Friend-Enemy self-titled albums.
posted by indeterminacy at 12:18 AM on November 21, 2009

Indie rock does not cover what you're looking for -- I haven't liked anything with that tag for at least five years.

Somehow the recent artists that most resemble This Heat et al to me are in electronic noise and ambient -- not even too obscure is Fuck Buttons' Street Horrrsing. Fennesz, and a like-minded dutch guy called Machinefabriek (check out Zwart, Stottermuziek, and Dauw). Battles would do it but they're still aiming to please in all their difficulty.

Lightning Bolt sound like my washing machine just before it exploded and flooded my basement. impolite is not really it, more like completely unaware of civilization around them. They're one of a kind.

Seconding Boris (and old Melvins stuff as a corollary)

Yes they've been a hype and have too much of an attitude, but some tracks on A Place To Bury Strangers' first album have stuck in my playlists for well over a year now.

Japandroids are two kids from Vancouver on drums/guitar that couple a 1980s SST style defiance to a sweet melancholy that they seem way to young for.

On another note: I just bought The Antlers album and love it.
posted by gijsvs at 12:41 AM on November 21, 2009

the Ex Models (especially Chrome Panthers)

maybe Shining's Grindstone (though it's on the proggy side)
posted by gijsvs at 1:00 AM on November 21, 2009

Aluk Todolo are a French band. Their background is in Death Metal but both This Heat and classic Krautrock are very prominent influences.
posted by metagnathous at 4:12 AM on November 21, 2009

Indie rock does not cover what you're looking for -- I haven't liked anything with that tag for at least five years.... On another note: I just bought The Antlers album and love it."

I don't think that tag tags what you think it tags.

For the OP: Coachwhips is good sludgy anger from San Francisco.
posted by escabeche at 8:37 AM on November 21, 2009

Shellac, Jay Retard, The DC Snipers, Pissed Jeans, Fucked Up
posted by Andy Harwood at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2009

Bands producing music along that spectrum tend to get shoveled into subgenres of rock (though I'd still put everyone you've mentioned except maybe Zorn under the broad category of "rock). So, going through some of the subgenres I can think of that might appeal...

The new weird psychrock (related to Comets on Fire and the Boredoms):
Acid Mothers Temple - though more psychedelic - covers the guitar freakout aspect of Comets on Fire pretty well, as do the Major Stars. (There's a whole movement of this stuff; if you like it, browse through the list of bands that have played Terrastock for more ideas.) Acid Mothers Temple is Japanese; they've got some similarly experimental peers in Keiji Haino/Fushitsusha, Ghost, maybe LSD-March? Some of the bands I'd lump with this movement aren't actually new; F/i started with tapeloops in the '80s and somehow became space rock over the past few decades. Others are psych-influenced experimental or noise: the Yellow Swans probably fall under this category.

Drone rock:
There's a pretty active drone scene these days. Nadja, Aidan Baker, Growing, Fear Falls Burning, and Sunn O))) (and early stuff by Earth, the band that started the current drone movement) are names you might want to look up. I'm also a fan of 5ive, though they're not very active these days. There's also some stuff that has more of an overlap with stoner rock - OM and Sleep are the two best in this direction. There's also an overlap with doom metal, though it doesn't sound like you want to dig into metal at the moment.

Noise rock and noise (related to earlier Boredoms):
On the noisy (though arguably indie) rock side, you might like the Liars, Oneida, the Magik Markers, White Hills, etc. On the more pure noise side, Load Records is sort of ground zero for American noise; Lightning Bolt, the Sightings, Forcefield, USAisamonster, etc., though this scene was more active at the beginning of the decade. For Japanese noise rock, I second Boris and Melt Banana; there's also Merzbow, who is more or less noise incarnate.

You've got Einstürzende Neubauten and Throbbing Gristle, right? Coil, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire? The other early industrial bands are probably closest in spirit to the Swans, though the sound varies a lot. Most of these guys were at their most active in the '80s and early '90s, though some are still producing great stuff today.

Power Electronics, an offshoot of industrial (n.b. like in metal, the lyrics and songtitles in this genre can cross the line from musically impolite to actually being explicitly hateful and offensive; you may or may not be OK with this):
Whitehouse and Sutcliffe Jügend are two of the biggest names; there are other groups that might get lumped into subgenres today, like the Grey Wolves, Prurient, and Brighter Death Now.

Less classifiable:
No one's quite like the Swans, but I follow Michael Bower's projects sort of like I follow Michael Gira's. Bower's got Skullflower (noisier than Lightning Bolt, if more abstract) and Sunroof!, among other things. Vaguely connected is Nurse With Wound. The Hafler Trio, Wiseblood, Foetus, some of the side projects by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore or Jim O'Rourke (who actually worked on some Red Krayola projects), etc. There are some standalone bands like Cerberus Shoal or Need New Body that are just bizarre all on their own, without explicit connections to any current broader movements.

There's also quieter experimental (but still rock-based) stuff. Current 93's Dave Tibet has done a lot of stuff with Steve Stapleton from Nurse With Wound, so there's some overlap there. The whole post-rock thing - Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion, Hrsta, Sets Fire to Flames - could go under here, but I'm not quite sure if it's a direction you want to explore. Circle, a Finnish band, deserves a category in their own right; they can't decide whether they want to play jazz, krautrock, or metal.
posted by ubersturm at 11:28 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Dead C
US Maple
the Ex

They all seethe.

Maybe Sun City Girls or Deerhoof?
posted by minkll at 3:02 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Psychedelic Horseshit
thee oh-sees
times new roman
the carlsonics

The early-mid 90s in dc were good for fall imitations.
Monorchid, Cupid Car Club (the makeup, weird war etc etc), candy machine, the shivers
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:26 PM on November 21, 2009

H.N.A.S. (ok, so not that contemporary)
Volcano The Bear
posted by hototogisu at 10:44 PM on November 21, 2009

This is, as others have mentioned, a fantastic question, although as others have mentioned This Heat really was in a class of their own (sigh). That said, I totally know what you're getting at, the dearth of this certain kind of...meaty, serious, take-no-prisoners music that is mindblowing and...substantial. I have the same frustration; music these days seems so damn wispy or just plastic, ugh.

The problem with how much I love this question is if I knew the answer maybe I wouldn't be so into it in the first place, but I don't! So I'll be reading this entire thread with keen interest now...

The other thing is, it's easy (for me anyway) to conflate two things here: lyrics that are conventionally considered transgressive or taboo (some might just say frank n' honest) and unusual, pioneering and brawny notice-me actual sound. The two often often go together, but not some of these are one or the other, not both...

I know this is not truly answering your question, but you mentioned the Swans as well as the basic problem that it's not that there aren't other bands you like, it's that they're all 20+ years old. That's been my husband and my problem too, the time thing. But just in case you missed any, here's some in that some dusty time period, but that I love in a similar way: Some more that don't feel so old, but I also don't think the bottom half really fits so much as it's vaguely enjoyable in a similar way for reasons I don't understand myself:
  • Savage Republic - please oh please find the song "Sucker Punch" and listen to it; I think you would enjoy it. None of their albums sound like each other at all, by the way, and they have an amusing story of getting stuck by customs in Greece and therefore off-the-cuff recording their album Customs right there, hence the bouzouki playing...but if you just buy "Sucker Punch" the song alone, I think you'd really like it
  • Liars, in that there's some transgression (albeit in a goofy tone) as well as a genuine desire to do things differently sound-wise, which you might find captivating or you might be bored to tears with (I suggest trying the songs "Broken Witch," "A Visit From Drum," and "The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack")
  • Xiu Xiu - Genuinely fucked up kink sex art lyrics and a novel approach to soundwriting. I like "I love the Valley OH!," "Fabulous Muscles," and "Bunny Gamer." His E.P. of covers, Tu Mi Piaci, is also...interesting.
  • Unwound
  • Jesu/Godflesh
  • Ike Yard (track down "Cherish 8" and "Cherish"...phenomenally creepy)
  • So obvious, but Shellac/Big Black - "Passing Complexion," "Copper Song," "Kerosene," "Jordan Minnesota," "Precious Thing," "Bad Houses"...
  • S PRCSS - the first album only, please. They do some awesome po-mo lyrics in the vein of "The Fall of Saigon" and "Makeshift Swahili," by the way.
  • Poem Rocket
  • Whitehouse maybe? For the jaw-flappin' controversy maybe? Huh, I dunno...
  • B.E.F.
  • Turing Machine (only the first album)
  • Trans Am
  • Add N to X
  • Fly Pan Am - can only vouch for that album, and "Et aussi l'éclairage de plastique au centre de tout ces compartiments latéraux" off of it is my favorite

posted by ifjuly at 11:00 AM on November 22, 2009

I also agree with the upthread mention you might want to check out drone and noise--it's REALLY not my thing personally, and I honestly have no idea why the correlation, but every dude I know who loves the kind of music you seem to has "settled" lately and coped with the dearth of it these days by getting really into these totally unrelated (to my non-musician mind anyway) genres. Earth, Sunn O))), whatever...maybe 'cause any fey notions of pop plasticity are similarly collapsed? Hm.
posted by ifjuly at 11:10 AM on November 22, 2009

Hot damn, this is great. I don't think I'll mark favorites, because everybody gave long lists that will take me a while to get through.

There are a bunch of individual things I want to respond to, but I think I'll do it by MeMail. Thanks folks!
posted by invitapriore at 12:52 PM on November 22, 2009

one more source worth checking out: mike patton's more off-kilter stuff. when not in faith no more, he's a zorn disciple. "adult themes for voice" is him solo, and freaks me out completely. he's also made a record with merzbow(?) as maldoror. the first fantomas album is kind of naked city lite but a lot of fun in places
posted by gijsvs at 1:11 AM on November 23, 2009

nthing xiu xiu, though I find Fabulous Muscles to be more "safe" than some of his/their other records- I would say Knife Play, A Promise and the Chapel of the Chimes EP are my favorite Xiu xiu records. I know you said you like experimental music, but I think it's worth saying that Xiu Xiu is an acquired taste.
Other recent music not yet mentioned- 7 year rabbit cycle, Erase Errata, ex-models, noxagt, cLOUDDEAD.
posted by brevator at 2:04 PM on November 23, 2009

Brise-Glace was a one-off project from the mid-90s Chicago axis involving Jim O'Rourke and friends which is close to This Heat in sound and maybe spirit. In general you can't go very wrong with many of the bands from that scene, including the David Grubbs / O'Rourke marriage that was Gastr del Sol, influentially combining references to guitarist John Fahey and musique concrete composer Luc Ferrari ("Brise-Glace" itself is the title of a Ferrari piece) in an avant-rock context.
posted by galaksit at 3:01 PM on November 23, 2009

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