• Deafheaven

    Deafheaven: San Franciscan Metal Alchemists Make Peace With Their Inner Softies

    Who: The blur of black metal, shoegaze, and post-rock that is Deafheaven began in the imaginations of two San Francisco–area buds, vocalist George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy, in 2010. Since then, they've evolved their sinister sound and played up its unpredictability, a feature that earned their recently released second LP, Sunbather, heaps of critical praise. Over the course of the album's 60 minutes, the duo (plus drummer Daniel Tracy, who joins bassist Stephen Clark and guitarist Shiv Mehra live) weaves the harsh histrionics of black metal seamlessly with lighter fare, which they punctuate with trippy, sometimes serene interludes. "When we were writing Sunbather, we stopped second-guessing ourselves," says Clarke, 24, speaking from the van in the middle of a 12-hour drive to Seattle.

  • Iron Men: Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler Answer the Hard Questions

    Iron Men: Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler Answer the Hard Questions

    Thirty-five years ago, Black Sabbath released the frenzied, drug-addled Never Say Die! ... and then decided to fire frontman Ozzy Osbourne, ending the first period of the band's career. Now, the brass-knuckled Brummies who were responsible for "Paranoid," "Snowblind," and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," and who have spawned umpteen metal micro-genres, have re-upped (minus drummer Bill Ward, replaced after contractual haggling by Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk) for the dark, haunting, and, yes, heavy 13. Even though the metal deities released ten studio efforts in the years between their Ozzy-fronted outings, the new Rick Rubin-produced album shows why Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler, and guitarist Tony Iommi always have been one of the most unfuckwithable forces in music.Interviews, though, are another story.

  • Kylesa

    Kylesa, 'Ultraviolet' (Season of Mist)

    Lately, droves of metal bands seem to be letting go of metal a little, while somehow still getting heavier. Torche, who began life as sludge-metal miscreants employing a "bomb string" for extra terror, went full-on "alt" on last year's Harmonicraft, emblazoning its cover with pink dragons, no less. Meanwhile, those one-time throat-torturers Baroness, whose guitarists were always as rigidly rhythmic as their drummer, transformed into an almost-ready-for-prime-time hard-rock band on the widely celebrated double-dip Yellow and Green. You may remember it as SPIN's favorite metal album of 2012.And then there's Savannah, Georgia's Kylesa, which began life in 2001 as a coed collective of Accüsed-loving crust-metal outliers, and have dwelled on the fringe ever since.

  • Bleecker Bob's / Photo by Jolie Ruben

    Broken Records: The Final Days of Bleecker Bob's Golden Oldies

    The aromas of must and dust were what stuck with you when you exited Bleecker Bob's Golden Oldies Record Shop, the dumpy yet iconic LP store in New York City's mercurial post-boho Greenwich Village. The scents wafted out the door, where they lingered in that no-man's-land between Ben's Pizza and Village Psychic. The collected fetor of decades-old cardboard, vinyl, and plastic all comingling, the whiff of oldies begging to be rediscovered.It was unforgettable.For the past 32 years, Bleecker Bob's shared its air at 118 West Third Street, and it amassed a downtown New York legacy that dated back to the early '70s. The store hosted any number of notable events — it's where Patti Smith met Lenny Kaye, where Joey Ramone directed New York magazine readers in their 1994 "Where to Find It" issue, where Newman on Seinfeld insulted its (fictional) surly store owner, and on and on.

  • Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

    Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, 'Mind Control' (Rise Above/Metal Blade)

    Plus: Ghost's Infestissumam and Purson's The Circle and the Blue DoorIn the years between Black Sabbath's 1970 debut and Judas Priest's galvanizing late-'70s ascendance, critics dubbed practically any band that turned their amps up past "4" and played heavy-handed chord progressions as "metal." Even poor little guitar-talker Peter Frampton and his bluesy Humble Pie bandmates suffered the description "heavy metal-leaden shit rock" in a 1970 issue of Rolling Stone. And now, over the past decade, scores of groups have surfaced, all owing an unabashed debt to the quasi-boogie shit-rock of yore. Although it's questionable whether the members of recent metallurgists Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Purson, and Ghost B.C.

  • Kvelertak / Photo by Meghan McInnis

    Kvelertak, 'Meir' (Roadrunner)

    The best extreme metal bands want to be electrifying, terrifying, putrefying. Rarely, do they want to be fun. So when the unapologetically free-wheeling Norwegian group Kvelertak, whose name translates to "stranglehold," blindsided headbangers with their rollicking self-titled 2011 debut, it was unexpected and refreshing. Their blend of dog-bark vocals, garage-rock riffs, and genre-leaping, progtastic song structures created a perfect maelstrom, and even though it didn't exactly hang together — intricately festooned sensory overload is still sensory overload — the result was undeniably entertaining.The fact that the record came with votes of confidence from tastemakers like Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou (who produced it) and Baroness frontman John Baizley (who handled the artwork) made Kvelertak a shoo-in for praise, too. But it didn't end there.

  • Photo by Matthew Eisman

    Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly Light Up Their Proggy 'Planetarium' in Brooklyn

    Lasers! Orchestral strings! Brass! A violin bow sawing an electric guitar! A giant, floating planet! Cloudy, trippy lights! Auto-Tuned space voice! More lasers!Although Sufjan Stevens has been blurring the lines between the visual stadium-rock bombast of Floyd and Zep and Phish and his own indie-folk-electronic experiments for some time now, the distinction seemed even more obscure at Planetarium, a downright proggy collaboration between Stevens, the National's Bryce Dessner and contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly that opened at Brooklyn's BAM theater last night. The piece, which showcases the trio respectively playing samplers, guitar, and keys, alongside a string quartet and seven(!) trombones, features a song for each of our solar system's planets. Not to mention the sun, our moon, and the disgraced dwarf planet Pluto (included "out of pity," according to the program).

  • Not a Downer: Tool's Adam Jones Talks 'Opiate' Reissue, New Material

    Not a Downer: Tool's Adam Jones Talks 'Opiate' Reissue, New Material

    "I grew up with double-gatefold vinyl, and I didn't use the cover for cleaning my pot," deadpans Tool guitarist Adam Jones — who incidentally doesn't smoke weed — about why album art still matters to him. "The visual element is something we're losing. I think our society is going into a forced minimalist period and people don't care."The more pressing subject, though, is the limited-edition, art-jacked 21st-anniversary reissue of Opiate, his band's swelling, heavy debut release. For an outfit that has gone to painstaking lengths to impress its fans with eye-popping visuals, including the lenticular jewel case for their 1996 album Ænima and stereoscopic goggles for 2006's 10,000 Days, the group's guitarist-art director isn't holding back this time.

  • Chelsea Light, Eating / Photo by Carlos van Hijfte

    Chelsea Light Moving, 'Chelsea Light Moving' (Matador)

    To the outside world, it looks like Thurston Moore's whole Daydream Nation has fallen apart: A year and a half ago, he split with his wife and muse, Kim Gordon, putting Sonic Youth on indefinite hiatus. But Chelsea Light Moving, the eponymous debut by one of his new groups (yes, only one of them) indicates that indie music's favorite guitar-string-stretcher and walking encyclopedia is carrying on with business as usual. Musically, the album sounds like harder-edged SY, full of post-post-punk riffing, countercultural history lessons, noisy Interzones, (off-)beat poetry, and, of course, Moore's noodle-y fretboard terrorism and vocal snarls.

  • John Flansburgh and Symphony Sid / Photo by John Flansburgh

    Meet They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh's Murderous Cats, Symphony Sid and Suzzy

    My wife and I got both of our cats relatively recently. Our previous set of cats lived to impossibly old ages. I guess we've had Symphony Sid for about four years and Suzzy for about two. They're both from a shelter, so I have no idea how old they are. We named Suzzy after Suzzy Roche, a folk-rock musician from the '70s. The name just seemed to suit her funkiness. She's kind of dirty. Symphony Sid is named after a jazz DJ in New York City in the '50s. He was a major popularizer of beatnik lingo. He used the term "daddy-o" and "groovy." He's a funny character, and the name just seemed to fit our cat because he is so elegant, but at the same time, he's a killer.Symphony Sid is a paradox. He's just an impossibly handsome cat, and he's very benign. If you try to hold him, he's okay with it, but the truth is he is a killing machine.

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