These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower and Dove

8 11 2008

These Arms Are SnakesTail Swallower and Dove
2008 – Suicide Squeeze

You know, I like math rock. I’ve come to terms with it. That particular taste is largely a product of my age and the kind of music that was popular when I was record shopping every weekend and buying the CDs of every single band my band ever played with or every show I saw. Though I haven’t listened to them in a while, The Owls were fairly big in my musical sights in the early 2000s, as were Cap’n Jazz, Battles, and to a lesser extent, Don Caballero. Looking back on it now, those were much more earnest musical times, or at least what I saw was, and I may have missed a lot.

Anyway, I’ve bought all of TAAS’s albums, but I haven’t liked any of them as much as I like this latest, unexpected (by me, anyway) release. Math rock (well, lots of music from the early 2000s) is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. My husband is something of a rock purist and has no patience for instrumental music or complicated mathy noisy stuff. Though I dno’t define my musical tastes based on his, I do respect his musical knowledge and opinions, so I’ve been harbouring kind of a guilty affection for math rock, which, I’m now thinking, Husband would say sounds “emo.”

Anyway, Tail Swallower and Dove brings me back to those days when I was just starting to really figure out the music scene outside of my hometown but under the radio radar. There are mathy breakdowns and strange time signatures, but they don’t sound requisite in this record; instead they sound like a fond memory, and I like ’em. TAAS use electronic noises and guitar loops to achieve some almost industrial-sounding sonic backgrounds and then throw distorted vocals and hooky, odd-signatured guitar riffs into the mix, and the whole thing just makes me incredibly nostalgic in a way I’m having a hard time really explaining in any kind of effective way. Sorry.

So, where TAAS’s firt album was a bit noisy for me, and their second was a bit industrial-sounding, this latest album hits it just right for me. Take a listen!

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Pig Destroyer – Phantom Limb

3 06 2008

Pig DestroyerPhantom Limb
2007 – Relapse Records

Pig Destroyer sound kind of like what a math-rock band would sound like if that math-rock band was actually a grindcore band. At first, it’s easy to get caught up in the sheer volume of sound and notes that come at you following the opening sample on Phantom Limb, but it hits you a couple of tracks in that this band probably actually listens to a lot of Shellac and Don Caballero. Actually, the really cool thing Pig Destroyer seem to be able to do is play math/grindcore without making the mathy stuff sound really obvious and obnoxious. It probably seems like a stupid thing to describe a grindcore band who clearly take a page from the book of Discordance Axis as having good “flow,” but when I think about it, that’s exactly what Pig Destroyer have. They’re loud and really fast and have fucked-up-sounding vocals, but they also have soul, and they make it all sound easy.

That probably sounds really stupid to some of you, who are thinking, “uh, what you’re describing is called ‘mathcore’ and Botch invented it.” Yeah, mathcore and math rock are generally seen as being two different things, but listening to this record in particular (and yeah, I’ve heard Botch – who I really like – and Dillinger Escape Plan and Ion Dissonance and The End and The Locust and Hella and Converge and even Protest The Hero, etc. etc. etc.) made me think that really, all that mathcore bands do is speed up the math rock concept. Where math rock superimposes weird time signatures on more traditional rock ‘n roll formats and tropes, mathcore does the exact same thing but with metal/grindcore. The thing that, to me, makes this album stand out, though, is that that it does all this mathy stuff so stealthily. Where Botch and the like have made careers out of being insanely technical and doing all this crazy time-signature stuff, Pig Destroyer just slip it in there and don’t make a big thing about it.

Oh, and the last track, “Track Numero Quince” is really creepy.

Sorry, again, for the short length of this post. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to expand it tomorrow, but I’m fighting some kind of Canadian Death Flu here, and I have to work in the morning.

Also Listened:
Ray Davies – Working Man’s Cafe
Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
Various Artists – When Rhythm Was King
The Sonics – Psycho Sonic
Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
Rank and File – Long Gone Dead
Alejandro Escovedo – The Boxing Mirror
The Sainte Catherines – Dancing For Decadence
The Ramones – Subterrainean Jungle
Russian Circles – Station