BUT HAVE YOU HEARD is our occasional music recommendation column in which we dare to dive into the murky depths of Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube (and more) to bring you our most choice audio selections, new and old. Sometimes obscure, sometimes mainstream, but always interesting, find out what The Grumps are listening to this week!
INFINITY METER FEAT. BOY JR., “LOOK AT ME I’M COPING SO FUCKING HARD”
Yesterday we dropped a new podcast episode featuring guests Tim Lake and Erica Lubman, Infinity Meter and Boy Jr. themselves. The episode is a lot of fun, so you should definitely check it out, but you’d be foolish not to also check out the pair’s collaborative single, “Look At Me I’m Coping So Fucking Hard.”
Released in March 2021, we interpret the song as a reaction to a year’s worth of worldwide pandemic; a doom pop hymn about staying indoors and having not only to deal with the outward stress of Covid-19, but with the feelings of dread and unease that self-isolation brings. The song is a cynical look in the mirror that asks us to evaluate how successful we think we are at coping with “partaking in [our] own bullshit,” possibly made worse by a forcible lack of meaningful engagement and fruitful social interaction.
If you notice at the bottom of Infinity Meter’s bandcamp entries, Tim Lake has tagged them all with the term “bathroom grunge.” It’s a term coined by Tim as a play on the already-kinda-known “bedroom grunge,” so if you’ve got a sly sense of humor and enjoy the moody music young people make alone in their bedrooms, this track may definitely be for you. — ELBEE
LACE SHAWL, “THE SECRET BOTANIST”
There is no better indicator of what underground music in America is hip than to see what Japanese audiences are tweeting about – because, sadly, US audiences are piss poor at supporting our own DIY arts. Given this model, the NorCal label Grime Stone Records is the most important record label in the US right now and their latest release is a wonderful place to start learning about them. Lace Shawl does exactly what GSR is best at: Absolute Zero-Fi Black Metal with a unique sort of ’90s K-Records bedroom charm. But while this K aspect has mostly been a production vibe on previous releases, the melodic and arrangement aspects here foreground the reference point. Then again, maybe that is why this is doing so well in Japan, where Babymetal originateS. Babymetal is such a distinctly Japanese solution to the “black metal but make it cute” riddle and Lace Shawl is so distinctly American. — BRIAN MILLER
ANTONI MAIOVVI & ANTA, CHURCH OF THE SECOND SUN
What makes Church of the Second Sun, the recent digital release and upcoming Death Waltz Originals vinyl album from Antoni Maiovvi & Anta so hypnotically amazing? Is it because it’s proggy as all hell, and hits the sweet spot recently itched by a combination of Zombi’s upcoming Liquid Crystal EP, Gentle Giant’s double live LP, Playing the Fool, and a deep dive into random Yes albums to which I haven’t listened in years?
Also, yes: it does swirl around for a solid minute at the end of the first track, “On Rel,” with drone and eerily disembodied voices before pausing just long enough for the haunting organ which kicks off “Escape from the White Room” to almost freak you out. I’m a big fan of progressive rock which leans harder, rather than into the ethereal. I want “March of the Black Knights,” where the guitars are almost doom-like with their riffing, and where the bass work sounds kind of funky, but also evil.
The fact that Anta and Maiovvi’s album is instrumental is also a big part of it. While I’m a big fan of fast tempos with odd time signatures, it’s when the lyrics kick in that I usually lose it with most progressive. I do not want to hear the audiobook version of your fantasy novel, Neil Peart. Please just groove and let me enjoy it.
The pairing describes Church of the Second Sun as “a mix of Goblin, Black Sabbath & Beyond The Black Rainbow,” and they are not wrong. I am 100% down to play these ’70s-style jams over and over and over again while sitting in a comfortable chair with headphones, because this is the hynoptic kind of stuff into which I can get lost repeatedly. — NICK SPACEK
PAVEMENT, WOWEE ZOWEE
I don’t want to be that guy, the one who refuses to embrace new music, but if the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that uncertainty has made me embrace the things that give me serenity, including ‘90s indie rock. I need the comfort of the things that keep me sane and feed my soul, so I lean on bands like Pavement. Succinctly named, the indie quartet from Stockton, California made five near-perfect albums from 1992 until the band’s demise in 1999, shortly after the release of Terror Twilight. In a decade where many music aficionados embraced indie music labels (thanks, Sub Pop), Pavement helped Matador Records become known as an indie label with diverse, exquisite sonic taste. I love all of Pavement’s albums dearly, but I’m here to wax poetic about the band’s third album, Wowee Zowee. Released in 1995, I admit to feeling disappointed as I spun the CD for the first time: while the band was known for very laconic, nonsensical lyricism and slurring guitars, this new album sounded almost too lazy and formless. In a time when one couldn’t pre-sample music online, taking a chance on a band’s album without hearing it first was a thrilling rush of excitement and nausea; I can remember crushing disappointment (Elastica’s sophomore album, The Menace) and elation (Sloan’s One Chord to Another). Rather than admit defeat, I kept playing Wowee Zowee, convinced I would find something to enjoy. The album doesn’t have much in the way of a catchy single worthy of constant MTV rotation like Crooked Rain Crooked Rain’s “Cut Your Hair” (perhaps the band’s most popular song), but I persevered. When I first heard the slide guitar in “Father to a Sister of Thought,” I fell in love with the album. Taking an instrument I equated with hokey K-Tel ads for country artists of yesteryear, like Boxcar Willie, during afterschool reruns of Alice, and giving it new life in a sprawling, elegiac song is pure genius. The song feels like it ought to be played while sitting on a porch in the New Mexico desert, watching the early-morning sun spilling out from the horizon. There are some additional highlights, such as “Serpentine Pad” and “Kennel District,” two of the album’s fast-tempo songs (but don’t mistake them for being fast), but think of the whole album as an experience. With today’s hyper-accelerated, multi-tasking world, we often don’t take the time to shut off all external stimuli and simply listen. When I think of albums that are best played in their entirety while lying on a couch in the dark (and that means not looking at your damn phone, you addicts), Wowee Zowee is always at the top of the list. It might not be Pavement’s greatest album or a finalist on someone’s “Greatest Albums of the ‘90s” list, but Wowee Zowee will always have a special place in my heart. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a couch to lie on and a ball of stress to dissolve. — JAY ALARY
dead coyote, APPARITIONATA
A 13-minute rock opera with the flavor of Dresden Dolls mixed with a Richard O’Brien musical (like Shock Treatment or the classic Rocky Horror Picture Show), the latest entry from Portland’s Dead Coyote is accompanied by a schlocky, campy music video that encompasses all four tracks on the EP. Lead man Zach Retzl embodies a glam rock vampire of sorts, as he dances and sings in the most melodramatic of manners, which the pianos, guitars, and synthesizers paint a unique gothy backdrop.
While it may not be the first music I run to on a daily basis, Dead Coyote is a fun and unique diversion from the ho-hum pop music world and a welcome addition to my musical diet. May I suggest you give these weirdos a chance yourself? If nothing else, you’ll be entertained for 13 minutes of your boring day. — JUSTIN HARLAN