Staff Picks: November

John Beringer
Senior Contributor
Artist: Zulu Pearls
Album: No Heroes No Honeymoons
Comments: No Heroes No Honeymoons is the debut full-length album from Zulu Pearls, the newly minted musical project of songwriter Zach Van Hoozer. He reportedly wrote the record between bar shifts and throwaway jobs while living in both Washington D.C. and Berlin, so his transnational music is often correctly labeled as DIY and defined by its existence in a country (Germany) where rock music plays second fiddle to electronica. Zulu Pearls is gritty, industrial garage rock with psych influence and enough pop sensibility to hearken back to the solo work of Paul Westerberg, especially Come Feel Me Tremble. Check out “Keep It Cool,” the seductive opening track, or “Magic Tricks,” a rocker that fully reveals the Westerberg comparison. When you’re ready to dive a little deeper spin “Two Thousand Whatever,” a song that reveals the lyrical theme of this record: rock and roll is dead. But is it? Listen to this record at least twice before you make up your mind.

Justin Wesley
Senior Contributor
Artist: Zeus
Album: Busting Visions
Comments: While digging through my records for my favorites of 2012, I keep coming back to Busting Visions from Canadian rockers Zeus. Their sophomore album is a fourteen-song stunner stuffed with the sorts of enthralling rock gems that consistently thrill on every level. Zeus are a band who embrace the riches of past giants (The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin) and pay homage to those bands’ storied legacies while crafting original tunes of pop perfection on the strength of layered anthems brought to vivid life on the strength of soaring three-part harmonies. Zeus followed up their Polaris-Prize-nominated 2010 debut, Say Us, with an album that showcases their unparalleled skills even more transparently. From the infectious McCartney-meets-Big Star opener “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” to the tremendous closer “Now That I’ve Got You,” Busting Visions is nothing short of a rock and roll manifesto from one of today’s best bands delivering a grossly underrated collection of songs that live up to The White Album scale of versatility and songcraft Zeus have damn near perfected.

Janey Criss
Artist: Silent Rider
Album: Silent Rider
Comments:  Influenced by my peers, maybe, I decided to not pick Crystal Castles’ (III) this month because, well, everybody else is doing it [it is fantastic]. Instead, I’ll point you to Silent Rider – aka Brooklyn producer Reed Kackley – who released a self-titled, 12-song LP two months ago that I find myself revisiting this week. Kackley gives the darkwave, electronic touch to some simple, but thoughtful arrangements as Silent Rider. Barring some of that Friendly Fires-ish vocal inflection style, I think the record is more cohesive because Kackley did it all himself (with some production assistance, I believe). It nods to Chris Corner’s (Sneaker Pimps) immediate post-Kelli Dayton style, vocally. Musically, it flows exactly like Splinter, in that driving, downtempo sort of way. There’s a trip-hop underbelly in Kackley’s beat production, the solidity and simplicity of which leaves room for some playful melodic elements, like the light guitar work on “I Was A Bomb,” which might be my favorite track for this reason.

Matt Fox
Senior Editor
Artist: The M Machine
Album: Metropolis Pt. 1
Comments: I occasionally find myself in a mood that can only be satisfied with electronica that bridges the gaps of house and ambient, and The M Machine have come to save the day. Found on Skrillex’s OWSLA label, the San Francisco trio stay far away from their labelhead’s brand of abrasive dubstep and focus more on working around vocal samplings and producing a new form of house music. Tracks such as “Immigrants” can be compared to the consistent beats of Deadmau5, whereas “Faces” serves as the perfect companion to The Glitch Mob’s “Between Two Points.” While only a six-track EP, Metropolis Pt. 1 packs a heavy punch and spans a number of genres while retaining an original identity that keeps us on our toes for Pt. 2.

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