by Michael McCarthy
I recently interviewed the insanely talented Nikki Yanofsky about her Solid Gold album and EP and I’m happy to report that the EP is out now. While I would consider its six tracks to be pop songs, her jazz, soul and R&B influences all shine through at various points. The first four of its songs will be on the Solid Gold album due out next year, but it’s worth grabbing the EP from your favorite digital music store for the two tracks that won’t be, an acoustic version of the gorgeous single “Young Love” and lovely piano ballad called “To No1.” Besides, you don’t want to wait to hear the songs that will be on the album, as they’re all quite stellar. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the infectious “Miss You When I’m Drunk,” a highly relatable mid-tempo song Nikki wrote about the brief time she and her boyfriend of six years were broken up. All of the songs on the Solid Gold EP – and album – chronicle their relationship, Nikki never failing to wear her heart on her sleeve.
I’ve been listening to Skold’s The Undoing a lot this week, preparing to interview him today. If you like industrial music or electronic rock or both then you’d likely fall madly in lust with it. Skold was Marilyn Manson’s producer and multi-instrumentalist on Eat Me, Drink Me, and also produced, co-wrote and played bass on The Golden Age of Grotesque. If you like either of those albums, I think you’d like The Undoing. Songs like “Escape” and “Chasing Demons” practically sound like Marilyn Manson anthems. It’s really too bad the two aren’t still making music together. Then again, we probably wouldn’t have the gift that is The Undoing if they were. In any case, Skold can really do no wrong in my book. He’s the reason so many of KMFDM’s albums from the second phase of their career were so good. If you’re bored with much of the metal music that’s come out this year, give The Undoing a spin and see if it doesn’t do you right.
In the indie pop rock department, I’m digging Jacuzzi Boys’ Ping Pong album. Warm fuzzy guitars and wonderful vocal harmonies abound there. Opener “Lucky Blade” makes me think of Brian Wilson and I’d be very surprised if The Beach Boys aren’t one of the Jacuzzi Boys’ big influences. Another thing I like about Ping Pong is what a fun album it is. The guys must take their music seriously, or else it wouldn’t be so expertly played, but their colorful riffs and upbeat lyrical content will make you want to dance and drink and have a blast. There’s no self-indulgent philosophizing here. Songs like “Seventeen” and “Boys Like Blood” should go over well on your next party playlist. They’ll get the crowd dancing for sure.
If melodic death metal is your thing, the one album that’s crucial right now is Starkill’s Shadow Sleep. Their last album was heavier than their first, but this one is more on the melodic side in my opinion. That said, I love these guys because they just write their songs without worrying about fitting in any particular box. They’re just making metal music. Sometimes they like death metal vocals, sometimes they like clean vocals, whatever they’re inspired to do, they do it. Ditto for their guitars, which can change styles three times during the course of one song. Their mix of brutal rhythm parts and virtuoso solos is exquisite. Suffice to say they do a lot of different things on Shadow Sleep and they do them all well. Definitely one of the year’s best metal albums, period. The album drops on Friday, 11/4. Check out the lyric video for “Through The Darkness” below.
Starkill Tour Dates:
w/ Dark Tranquility, Swallow the Sun, Enforcer
11/4 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
11/5 Worcester, MA – The Palladium
11/6 Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
11/9 Montreal, QC – Foufounes
11/10 Quebec, QC – Le Cercle
11/11 Ottawa, ON – Mavericks
11/12 Toronto, ON – The Opera House
11/13 Westland, MI – Token Lounge
11/14 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
11/15 Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom
11/17 Crest Hill, IL – Bada Brew
11/18 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
11/19 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock
11/20 St. Louis, MO – Fubar
11/21 Merriam, KS – Aftershock
11/22 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
11/23 Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
11/25 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater
11/26 Seattle, WA – El Corazon
11/28 Reno, NV – PB & J’s
11/30 Anaheim, CA – City National Grove
12/1 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick
12/2 Las Vegas, NV – LVCS
12/3 Tempe, AZ – Club Red
12/5 Dallas, TX – Trees
12/6 Mac Allen, TX – Cine El Rey
12/7 Houston, TX – Scout Bar
I’ve been listening to STRFKR’s Being No One, Going Nowhere a lot. It’s mix of warm, smooth vocals, twitchy drum machine beats and airy synth slabs is pristine. A lot of the sound effects on songs like “Tape Machine” and “Interspace” remind me of ’80’s video games. You’d swear they were sampling Nintendo sometimes. Then there are other songs, like “Never Ever,” that sounds like they came from the ’80’s, period, no flourishes of sci-fi necessary. If they’re looking for a group to contribute songs to the soundtrack of next season of Stranger Things, they should definitely enlist STRFKR. I could totally hear a song like “In The End” on there. This album is out this Friday 11/4 as well.
STRFKR TOUR DATES:
11/09 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom ^
12/02 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel ^
^ w/ Psychic Twin