The title of KEN Mode’s upcoming album, Success, feels at least a little sarcastic. Even to the extent a discordant, abrasive noise/hardcore/metal band can achieve “success,” it’s of a tenuous sort. But in many ways, KEN Mode are the model of that success: The band’s two constant members — brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson (vocals/guitar and drums, respectively) — were working as accountants till 2011, at which point they decided to quit their day jobs and make music their full-time gig. Success! That means near-endless touring, playing small venues with similarly loud, unwashed bands, broken up only by the occasional chance to record a new album, followed by more touring. Success! But as accountants, KEN Mode know how to work with lean margins, and as Muay Thai practitioners, they’ve developed almost superhuman discipline, and they’ve survived by living frugally and producing maximal yields from scant resources.
As such, KEN Mode were ideal candidates to work with Steve Albini — and that doesn’t even take into account their sonic similarities to such Albini-assisted artists as Mclusky and the Jesus Lizard. Success is the Matthewson brothers’ first collaboration with the minimalist engineer. (This time around, the band’s bassist is Skot Hamilton — he’s at least the seventh person to play that role over the last 15 years.) As you might expect, it’s a paint-peeling, concussion-inducing assault, introducing tiny elements of pop into the band’s backdraft-surge sound. The title’s sarcasm matches Albini’s worldview, of course, but so too does the title’s idealism. The defeated-looking dude on the album’s cover looks like he makes pretty good money as, say, an accountant. He also looks like he’d be a whole lot happier in a van, playing in a punk band. Success is what you make it, right? We’ve got KEN Mode’s new album for you to stream in full today, a week ahead of its release. Listen.
KEN Mode are touring with Fight Amp, whose new album, Constantly Off, we streamed last week. Here are the dates:
06/16 – Toronto, ON @ The Shop (Parts & Labour) w/The Great Sabatini
06/17 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus w/The Great Sabatini
06/18 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus w/Pyrrhon, Couch Slut
06/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
06/20 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups w/Lo-pan
06/21 – Chicago, IL @ The Burlington
06/25 – Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club w/Zebulon Pike, Buildings
06/26 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Goodwill w/Pop Crimes * no Fight Amp
Success is out 6/16 via Season Of Mist.