Monday, January 11, 2010

Apocalypse Later


The Sound of Cold Cave, Telepathe, and JJ

Cold Cave. Telepathe. JJ. These three bands are without a doubt the best of the best out there right now. Comparisons between all three can be drawn, although they are all of course like nothing else past present or future. Three bands that have everything going for them and the whole world against them.

Cold Cave has to be the strangest and most random signing for Matador since they started releasing stuff by the likes of Pole, Burger/Ink, and Two Lone Swordsmen back in the '90's. A shifting collective from Philadelphia made up of mainstay Wesley Eisold, and currently Dominick Fernow (aka Prurient and Hospital Records- the label and the shop), author Mark G. Morton, and Caralee McElroy (formerly of Xiu Xiu). Calling what they do synthpop or industrial or darkwave is to completely miss the mark on these guys. There is such a sense of time-delay/lost-in-time/uncertainty/living for today/last moments/gates of the great beyond that is really just impossible to describe. Cremations compiles a much darker and noisier side of the band, whereas Love Comes Close is melodic, lush, and even celestial. Cold Cave seem to be playing from the ruins and for the end of time, and they have this beautiful sense of terror and true dread running through each song. Total brilliance- I just can't say enough.

Telepathe are hands-down the best black cauldron girl-group of all time. The way they totally nail the whole angel/devil dichotomy is completely unbelievable. They easily have the best lyrics anywhere right now, and I'm still shocked every time I hear certain words or phrases come out of them. Telepathe come across so earnestly and seem so genuinely dedicated to their sound. Their first major release was Farewell Forest in 2006. Their sound at this point seemed to be more similar to other worldbeat Social Registry bands at that time such as Gang Gang Dance and Blood Lines. The Sinister Militia 12" found them incorporating heavier percussion and more prominent vocals. But nothing could have prepared the world for what was to come with 2008's Chrome's On It and Devil's Trident singles and the total monster that is Dance Mother. Telepathe completely shattered everything with this sound.. the truly gorgeous, heartbreaking, and evil vocals, imagery to die for, the most hard-hitting percussion since The Downward Spiral, and the most drifting and on the farthest ocean furthest from the shore guitars since The Cocteau Twins. Telepathe is one of the most exciting bands I've ever come across and a year+ on from Dance Mother, I still get weak in the knees every single time I hear them.

JJ's biggest strength just might be their mystery. It is not a mystery like Jandek or all those dumb bands that refuse interviews and look away in photos or wear animal masks to hide their faces, but a deep mystery. A mystery that once revealed will become even more mysterious. JJ are part of Sweden's Sincerely Yours inner circle (that includes the equally staggering Memory Tapes and Tough Alliance). Their debut single My Life, My Swag/My Swag, My Life has got to be one of the finest singles ever released. The b-side is exactly what a b-side should be: the a-side turned completely upside down, inside-out and backwards, the dirt beneath the grass, like an x-ray in the dark. Their debut album Nº 2 is Balearic in nature, but so much more. If you listen casually you can hear St. Etienne, Madchester, and bits of Ibiza, but it's all done in such a bold way, there is no mistaking them for anyone else. Like the previous two bands, JJ also has a real darkness, but also a deep sadness and a sense of longing that hasn't seen the light of day since Postcard and Sarah Records. It is also the sound of discovery, of finding yourself, leaving everything behind, and embarking on a journey from home to homeless. The whole album feels like a vacation, like someplace far away and exotic, someplace you might never return from. The vocals are incredible, so full, confident, and warm, but somehow leave you feeling like you just got punched in the stomach. JJ is on tour now with The XX and has been picked up by Secretly Canadian in the US for the release of their forthcoming album, Nº 3.

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