Last Friday (February 8), Loma Vista Recordings, the label that’s home to a diverse roster of artists like St. Vincent, Andrew Bird, and Iggy Pop, along with Local Natives, Sylvan Esso, and Manchester Orchestra, released the fourth proper studio album from Los Angeles electro art noise punkers HEALTH.
The record, “VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR,” is their greatest accomplishment to date, and expands the band’s unique, indelible sound palette into a natural and logical extension of the musical styles that influenced them to begin with. There are further sonic explorations into industrial, electronic, electro punk, and proto punk, giving the record a weight and an apocalyptic heaviness that is a clear and apt reflection of the time that birthed the album. This isn’t a departure, but an upward trajectory for HEALTH.
The heavy, abrasive beats are still accompanied by stark, propulsive drumming, thanks to the impressive rhythm section of John Famiglietti (bass) and BJ Miller (drums). Still present are caustic art noise drones and squalls of guitar with the omnipresent vocals of Jake Duzsik, which add a blanketed warmth and, if you can believe it, softness to the record that is welcome to established fans of the band. The real beauty, complexity, and nuance of the trio’s compositions on the album are best absorbed with close, dedicated listens. Different textures and subtleties become apparent with subsequent listens through headphones and I highly recommend doing so.
On Monday, May 6, the band will be appearing, along with applicable opener Youth Code, at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. The venue holds a tight 300 or so fans, so get your tickets now. Even if you are on the fence about going (please allow me to push you off), I highly suggest purchasing tickets and figuring out the rest later. Sure, it’s on a Monday, but I am a firm believer in making time to see the bands you want to see, day of the week be damned. I do get that it is easier said (or written) than done, but if you purchase the tickets, you’ll be more motivated to make it happen. And I’ll tell you what – if you are unable to attend, I’ll gladly sell the tickets for you on your behalf.
If it just can’t happen, perhaps one or more of the following shows can/will: STRFKR along with Kansas City’s Shy Boys play on Wednesday, February 27. Indie stalwarts Low play on Saturday, March 9. Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst just released a record as Better Oblivion Community Center and will be performing with Lala Lala on Friday, April 12. A week later, Tim Showalter, aka Strand of Oaks, play on April 19. That means I am either having to make a difficult decision of what show to attend or figuring out how to stay in Santa Fe for an entire week.
Girlpool returns on Friday, May 10. MONO and Emma Ruth Rundle play on Saturday, June 1, and PUP, Ratboys, and Beach Bunny are a month later on Monday, July 1. These are ALL at Meow Wolf and are ALL worth your time, energy, the drive, your hard earned dollars, and all of that. And these are just the acts announced as of now. Stay tuned, as plenty more are sure to book. Remember: wherever you are, wherever you go, support live music.
Which shows are you most excited for this summer? Not just at Meow Wolf, but in Durango, the Southwest, the state, or wherever. Feel free to email me at [email protected] and let me know. Questions, comments, or criticisms are always welcome.
— Jon E. Lynch