T. Cole Rachel
Iceage are currently trekking across the United States (and a bit of Canada) in support of their excellent new album, Plowing Into the Field of Love. The album, the band’s third, shows them moving away from the brutish punk pummel of their first two albums and expanding their sonic palette to include things like mandolins, violas, and discernible lyrics. Even though Plowing isn’t necessarily a feel-good record (or even a pop record, as some have called it), it does feel like a deliberate step forward for the band and a move toward a kind of more accessible songwriting. Tracks like “Abundant Living” and “The Lord’s Favorite” have more in common with old school country music than hardcore, and Iceage’s videos flirt with a kind of ambiguous sexuality and, dare it be said, amorousness that would have been hard to imagine if you’d seen the band play live a couple of years ago. And while there was definitely something to be said for the punishing nature of New Brigade, there’s something equally compelling about frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt stepping out of the shadows and commanding the listener to, “Come here and be gorgeous for me now.”
Tomorrow, Death From Above 1979 will release The Physical World, the band’s first new album in a decade. It’s hard to believe, considering DFA 1979′s enduring popularity over the past ten years, that The Physical World is only their second proper LP, the long-delayed and seemingly never-gonna-happen follow up to 2004′s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. If the band’s return is a surprise to fans, it’s an even bigger surprise to the band itself. Having split up rather acrimoniously back in 2006, both Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger assumed that their DFA 1979 days were long behind them, even though their noisy legacy continued to engender new generations of young fans. As the story goes, Grainger noted the band’s ten-year anniversary by sending Keeler an email at some point in 2010, which eventually led to playing some reunion shows in 2011 and the subsequent recording of a new album starting in 2012. As the album proves, the duo has not lost sight of the heavy-as-fuck bulldozer riffing that made people go apeshit about them back in the day. They have, however, totally shrugged off most of the industry-generated hysteria that caused them to implode so intensely. I talked to Keeler about how the new record came to be and just how much things have changed in the DFA universe since the last time they released an album.
If there were any justice in the world, Perfume Genius’ sophomore album, 2012′s Put Yr Back N 2 It, would have been a much bigger deal. As it was, that record, though critically beloved, drew attention for lots of weird reasons: The promo ad was rejected by YouTube for not being “family safe” (i.e., it showed two men hugging) and the album’s excellent “Hood” video became extra poignant and sad after one of the video’s stars, adult entertainer Arpad Miklos, later took his own life. The album’s somewhat harrowing subject matter tapped into relatively universal themes — the desire to love and be loved, how we choose to make peace with our past — but still so much of the conversation regarding the album centered specifically on its gayness. As an out gay music journalist myself, I found it sort of grimly amusing how many times I was told by my straight white dude peers something along the lines of, “You know, I actually really love that Perfume Genius record,” as if it were somehow surprising they might relate to something so queer, usually with the unspoken tone of “I’m not gay, bro. But I’m cool with this.” It’s the same thing I used to hear back when the Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs back in 1999, and older rock critics that I knew had to stop talking about Wilco for five minutes to admit that, yes, even I can relate to this.
Some of you were asking about my setlist. This is what I sent Nina and Louise. I included spots for them to insert some new songs.
1 – Get Back
2 – All Hail Me
3 – The Museum of Broken Relationships
4 – Straight
5 – NEW SONG
6 – NEW SONG
7 – Seether
8 – Don’t Make Me Prove It
9 – Shutterbug
10 – Forsythia
11 – Wolf
12 – The Morning Sad
13 – NEW SONG
14 – Fly
15 – Spiderman
16 – It’s Holy
17 – Celebrate You
18 – 25
19 – Shimmer Like A Girl
20 – Volcano Girls
I approve of this cat-oriented artwork. And the song.
With all due respect, I can only WISH that my name was Z. Cole Rachel Smith.
Thanks for your comments.
I generally enjoy that my Stereogum interviews are casual and conversational, but maybe you’re right–I probably could have cut some of our initial chatter. In any case, I hope there was at least something in the interview you enjoyed. I don’t want anyone to feel like their time is being wasted.
I wish. I would love to be able to take credit for writing “How Long Have You Known?”
Yes, total spellcheck malfunction. I could die a thousand deaths for not spotting that, as Icky Mettle truly is one of my favorite albums of all time. SORRY, FOLKS.
Yes, “When The President Talks to God” is a stand-alone single that Bright Eyes released in 2005. I didn’t necessarily mean to imply that it was included on “Wide Awake.”
I stand totally–and accurately–corrected. For some reason The Feelies have always felt like a predecessor to those bands, but clearly that is only a reality in my overcluttered brain. Thanks for setting me straight.