Live USA 17 – The Fierce and the Dead. This is a great primer to a post-rock band that draws more on punk energy than sludgy metal for its animating force. As one of the members calls out after frantic opener “1991”: “We’re the band you can dance to.” And while there’s a bit of self-deprecating humor there, there’s a real sense where tunes like “Spooky Action” and “Truck” could be credibly accused of being “fun” in addition to rocking. I mean, there’s community clapping in “Flint”. People are having a good time. And you could be too! There’s a lot to explore on this record, and that’s a joy.
Moon Preach – Sun Speak. This album resists easy definition, but I’ll give it a go anyway. This is a guitar-and-drums duo, but this is not a garage-rock outfit or a math-rock beast; instead, it’s a cross between a down-tempo trip-hop album, a post-rock album, and an introspective slowcore record. It’s unlike much else I’ve heard in the instrumental-duo realm; Sun Speak doesn’t try to sound like more people than it is or amplify the minimalist aspects of their set-up. Instead, they create a whole universe to inhabit of subtle grooves (“ALASKA,” “ROOST”), jazzy experiments (“FOXON,” “OFFHUE”), and even a calming acoustic folk-like track (“DAVLIN”). Along the way, Sun Speak paints a picture of a dense, carefully constructed, evocative space that Sun Speak clearly know every inch of. This is great, great stuff. Highly recommended.