New at Southwest Sound: Jan. 20

by Cooper Stapleton

Jan. 201.AFI, “The Blood Album”Confession time. Ya boy, Mr.-Hardcore-Makes-Fun-of-Jam-Bands here was pretty big into emo music in middle school. My Chemical Romance, AFI and even Pg. 99 were my jam for a long time. I remember back when Davey Havok looked like a punk rock elf and I loved it. I was sad and I loved it. The sadness has been replaced by more of a annoyed eye roll, and, apparently for AFI, they have been replaced by five copies of Jared Leto pretending that Thirty Seconds To Mars still matters. The new songs are good in an inoffensive punk rock kind of way, but with the resurgence of the pop punk I loved as a teen, I was hoping for something more.

2. Tycho, “Epoch”The culmination of a trilogy built in the last six years, “Epoch” treads territory similar to “Awake” and “Dive,” while bursting with new energy and darkness. The most notable difference in sound here is the prevalence of percussion. In the past, drums were subdued and mellow, but now they careen off each other, breaking, starting, stopping, all faster than the ear is prepared to hear. Tycho does a brilliant job of eschewing the new synthwave trend while feeding off the nostalgia that so much electronic music fails to capture. Also, the album cover is so simple yet evocative, conjuring the warmth that Tycho’s sound captures so effortlessly, while still allowing for a hint of darkness.

3. Austra, “Future Politics”Pop with character is one of the strongest forces in all of music. And Canada’s Austra has character in droves. Austra is the goddess of light in the Latvian pagan belief system, and the group’s name could be no more fitting. They masterfully blend folk, pop, synthesizers, and ambient music to make something truly special. The album seems to stray from the folk side to sit comfortably at the pop table, but still brings enough intrigue to keep someone like me (the uppercase Opposition to pop music) enthralled.

4. Aversions Crown, “Xenocide”The self-dubbed “Australien Core” deathcore act is back. These guys are one of my favorites from this new era of deathcore, bringing in dynamic harmonies to their chuggy guitar lines and strangled water buffalo vocals. Seriously though, their vocalist has some chops. If you admire the art of the gurgly scream, you will find something special here. If you’re into fast drums and headbanging you will like it. If you like the idea of the entire population of the earth being converted into fuel for omnipotent alien overlords, then you’ll probably like it.

5. Foxygen, “Hang”Foxygen’s new album is so full that I was baffled to discover that only two people make up this band. The album sounds like it was recorded on the set of a spy movie with a live orchestra; it’s so vibrant that listen to it kind of hurts my eyes. The half-whispered vocals started to irk me by the end, but that is more personal preference than anything. This sounds like music that people who like Wes Anderson films would listen to. If that idea makes you smile, then good! You will like Foxygen.

Cooper Stapleton


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