This Friday, Swiss experimental post-grunge outfit Disco Doom will release their fourth album with Mt. Surreal also marking their first full-length since 2014. The release’s first two singles were characteristically experimental recordings working within the tail end of grunge and lo-fi indie rock as churned out by Deerhunter (although marked by the unexpected left turns of Deerhoof). But the final single before the record arrives later this week takes a dissonant turn—“Patrik” ambles along for nearly five minutes like a rat in a maze unable to find the exit, leaving the listener with a sense of unease the band was intending to impart.
“The song was written and arranged directly in the studio,” the group shares. “Its immediate recording was important to us to not lose that nervous feeling which we were fascinated by. We wanted to keep the freshness of the new idea in the recording.”
To heighten that sense of nervousness, the track arrives with a visual that sees the band having a normal one, placing themselves motionless in various positions that recall familiar iconography ranging from Wyeth’s Christina’s World to The Blair Witch Project. Check it out below, and pre-order Mt. Surreal here.
There have been plenty of artists signed to Exploding in Sounds Records who preceded Jobber’s fuzzed-out grunge-pop sound (in fact the band boasts former members of Speedy Ortiz, Ovlov, and Maneka), but none of their predecessors can claim they’ve based their existence on amateur wrestling. Taking their name from the wrestling term for the figure used as a pawn to make the crowd favorite look more desirable, the project founded by Kate Meizner and Mike Falcone is gearing up to release their debut collection of songs through the label with Hell in a Cell scheduled to arrive October 21.
Appropriately, the first track we’re hearing from the EP is titled “Entrance Theme”—an apt name for the song that introduces the band, while also alluding to the hyped-up music wrestlers take the ring to. According to Meizner, the song was penned before the band was conceived and was, in fact, an exercise in crafting walkout music for a fictional wrestler. “I challenged myself to go against my natural intuition to write songs with lots of twists and turns,” she shares, “and instead pen a cohesive, fuzzed-out pop song in the style of The Cars and The Rentals to be an entrance theme for a babyface wrestler —which is wrestling jargon to describe one of the ‘good guys.””
The buzzing single also arrives with a visual by Zev Magasis—who’s recently also worked on videos with Alex G—comprised of scenes of amateur wrestling. “The video was filmed at a backyard wrestling event hosted by the Backyard Wrestling Organization in Milford, Connecticut, close to the towns where Mike and I grew up,” Meizner explains. “I love watching YouTube videos of backyard wrestling matches from the ’90s and early-’00s shot on handheld camcorders. It’s visually exciting and inspiring to see how much passion and care wrestlers pour into developing gimmicks and storylines in DIY wrestling.”
Watch the clip below, and pre-order the album here.
Switzerland-based band Disco Doom has returned after an eight-year hiatus with the title track from their forthcoming album, Mt. Surreal, out Sept. 16 via Exploding in Sound. The song arrives with a mind-altering music video directed by Rudem and featuring graphics by Martin Woodtli.
Over the past 20 years of playing together, Disco Doom has shed any form of convention, instead opting for a songwriting style that’s more akin to stream of consciousness. A free-form arrangement, the song oscillates between wiry guitars and sparse percussion, a pattern that continues to flicker even as the track dims into a slow burn. Insisting “it’s the same as it ever was,” that proposition implodes under the unpredictable twists, turns and headtrips of “Mt. Surreal.”
“‘Mt. Surreal’ was a lot about finding a balance of simplicity and complexity. It took us a lot of time to find the right arrangement, mixture and balance between all parts,” the band explains in a statement. “We merged sounds of different instruments to get a new sound that matched the deserted, bleak mood of the song—we used a bass, an arp synth and pitched drum sounds. It’s easy to feel lost in today’s uniformity. The song rejects the familiar and goes its own way—to the surreal.”
Check out the visualizer for “Mt. Surreal” below and find the details of the album further down.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Kal Marks broke up—sort of. After a decade together, the three members of the Boston post-hardcore outfit packed it in and went their separate ways. And if the last document of the band left to seal the group’s legacy was 2018’s Universal Care, furious and explosive album of noisy rock anthems that it is, it still would have been a remarkable close to a catalog—a catalog not enough people have heard, certainly, but one to be proud of all the same. But vocalist/guitarist Carl Shane wasn’t ready to retire the name just yet, and it didn’t take long before he found a brand new set of musicians for a second phase of Kal Marks—drummer Dylan Teggart, bassist John Russell and second guitarist Christina Puerto—marking the dawn of a new era with their best album yet, My Name Is Hell.
The frenetic, driving rhythms and abrasive, distorted sonic approach of Kal Marks’ past records still define the sound of My Name Is Hell, but the group employ these elements in the service of bigger, more sophisticated rock anthems. With a new lineup comes a new set of skills, and where there’s more than enough chops and piercing volume to go around, the agitation and tension of Kal Marks circa 2022 translates into a set of songs that feel more commanding, even soaring.
While Kal Marks often opt for subtlety or slow burn, that almost never translates to something quieter. Where a track like “Everybody Hertz” employs a kind of Springsteen-like, larger-than-life urgency, it still squeals with feedback and roars with a thick blanket of fuzz. There’s a similar tug-of-war between the easygoing strut of the title track and the squall of guitars that cascade over its intro, like a black metal band jamming “Werewolves of London.” There are also moments like “New Neighbor,” which emit a transcendent glow, bypassing punk and more grounded rock sounds altogether as they pull off an act of shoegaze levitation, or the ominous slow burn of “Who Waits,” an icy chill in the eye of a searing storm.
As the band aims to bring both more nuance and grandeur to their muscular noise rock rippers, those songs still carry the inescapable sense of anxiety and dread that often lingered on previous Kal Marks records. Within the first verse of “My Life Is A Freak Show,” Shane laments, “We’re all fucked from the start.” It doesn’t get much more optimistic from there; he wrestles with religion and ideas of a less-than-charitable greater power on “Ovation,” singing, “I know the wrath of God, like the tracings in my own palm,” while the song’s arrangement is much more hellacious than holy. And “The Future” seems to represent a tomorrow that brings something other than greener pastures: “The future came today, hope it don’t scare you.”
My Name Is Hell doesn’t exactly offer comfort in a literal sense—Shane is just as confused and afraid as any of us are, and Kal Marks operate best when stirring up a ruckus so imposing that the void would complain about the noise. That urgent, agitated sonic assault might not soothe, but it offers a form of catharsis that feels more like a form of strength. Reborn, with a new lineup and an even more powerful approach, Kal Marks sound more ready than ever to weather the storm.
Bay Area indie folk trio Sour Widows put out one of 2021's most promising EPs with Crossing Over, and now they've followed it with a new single, "Witness," via Exploding In Sound Records, and confirmed that their debut album is on the way. It's a sprawling, six-minute song produced by Maryam Qudus (Toro y Moi, SASAMI, Tune-Yards, etc) and it starts out drifting and folky before reaching a crashing rock climax. Susanna Thomson says:
This is the first song we finished since I lost my mom in June 2021. When we started playing together again last fall after being on hiatus for several months because of my mom’s illness, I was feeling easily overwhelmed by most things, and playing and writing were very difficult. Returning to this existing instrumental we had written together before everything in my life changed felt comforting and supportive. Monumental loss creates a very clear divide between those in your life who can understand the depth of that kind of pain and those who can’t. ‘Witness’ speaks to that experience.
Sour Widows are also beginning a tour this month. All dates are listed below.
07/29 - Oakland, CA @ Eli's Mile High Club ^ 08/05 - Los Angeles, CA @ Silver Lake Lounge ~ 09/08 - Burlington, VT @ Radio Bean 09/10 - Providence, RI @ Holiday Inn 09/13 - Boston, MA @ O’Briens * 09/14 - Brooklyn, NY @ Trans-Pecos * 09/15 - Philadelphia, PA @ Ukie Club * 09/17 - Richmond, VA @ Gallery5 * 09/18 - Baltimore, MD @ Joe Squared *