New at Southwest Sound, April 6

by Cooper Stapleton

April 6Underoath, “Erase Me”Comeback albums are always a dangerous business. The band needs to be able to fulfill the nostalgic promises of their back catalog while adding a worthwhile addition to their sonic catalog for it to work.

Underoath is a band that means different things to different people. The band could simultaneously score a bad breakup, the trials of growing older, and the pain of losing friends, all within the same song. Often, it seems there are two concurrent Underoath’s vying for control – one defined by pop sensibilities, and the other with both feet firmly planted in their post-hardcore roots – and both sides are evident on “Erase Me,” the band’s first album since 2010. This album is the first since 2008 to feature founding drummer and singer Aaron Gillespie.

The first half of the record stumbles a bit, and seems unsure whether to embrace the pop or hardcore side. The album highlight, “On My Teeth,” rests squarely in the middle of the first half of the record, and features a ferocious chorus, along with what may be the first time frontman Spencer Chamberlain has cursed on record, to thrilling effect.

The second half of the record has a lot more of their “Disambiguation” sound, layering elements of post-rock and ambient mingling with the harder-edged stuff. I find it to be their most thrilling sound, and there are moments where Gillespie and Chamberlain harmonize over some really strange, haunting electronics. I hope that if the band continues in its current incarnation, they will continue to explore those avenues. The band has made it clear that the audience’s perception of what Underoath should sound like does not factor in to their writing, so maybe we will get some more experimentation in the future.

Flatbush Zombies, “Vacation in Hell”“Beast Coast” rappers Flatbush Zombies emerge again from their corner of New York with their second full-length album, and on it, they continue to prove that straight-up hip-hop hasn’t lost it’s edge in this autotuned age. Zombies have no gimmicks – it’s just three dudes who have honed their craft over two massive mixtapes and the 2016 full length debut, “3001: A Laced Odyssey.” Each member of the outfit – Juice, Meech, and Erick The Architect – brings a unique sound, tone, and experience to the mix. Meech has one of the most unique voices in hip-hop, a deep baritone with buttery-smooth flow.

The new record has some amazing moments on it, with “Headstone” being one of the standout tracks. The song centers around the idea of influences, with each line containing a reference to hip-hop history. The references fly by so fast that I can’t keep up, but I heard mentions of pretty much every major rapper, from 2Pac, to Biggie, to GZA and his liquid swords, and, of course, Old Dirty Bastard. It made me lock the track on repeat while I try to figure out all the other references. This is rap genius bait in its purest form. Not that all of the lyrics are referential to the game, though. “U & I” features somes smooth gospel and soul vocals as the backing track, with Meech’s baritone dominating the back half of the track, providing some candid insight into his upbringing, bipolar disorder, and the not-so-boastful side of the life.

Other releases include: Thirty Seconds to Mars, Doctor Octagon, Lil Xan, Blackberry Smoke, The Eels, Kamelot, Kylie Minogue, Son Volt.

Cooper Stapleton


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