It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring the psych’y darkwave industrial pop of Jagged Baptist Club, and the dingy new wave of Lathe of Heaven!
Jagged Baptist Club – TEMPTATION DEATH HOUSE
Genre: Industrial, Psychedelic
Favorite Tracks: “Temptation Death House,” “Master Pyramid,” “Inside the Coffin”
Near the close of TEMPTATION DEATH HOUSE, a ten-minute track entitled “Inside the Coffin” begins.
Everything before this song has been a jarring pop trip, a loose but meticulously crafted fusion of no wave aesthetics, soulless Los Angeles goth energy, and 70s rock pastiche; in one moment it’s heady dancefloor darkwave (“Temptation Death House”), in another it’s dazzling glam rock (“Clerks, Bookkeepers and Accountants”). Jagged Baptist Club throw a very specific kind of party—one that you’re nervous to be at but will talk about for years to come, where you swear you’ll swing by for ten minutes but stay until the sun comes up. It’s exhausting, and yet it’s brilliant, a drugged out, heavy eyelid form of industrial psychedelia and garage rock that has a remarkable amount of pop momentum.
But then that momentum comes to a halt. Here begins “Inside the Coffin,” the album’s bulkiest track. As a distant, hollow, foot stomping drum pattern emerges, a loose-wire synth tone quickly emerges. What is to follow can best be described as the Lounge Lizards performing AC/DC’s “Ride On” or Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up To Dry” from the smokey depths of an illegal, after hours gambling ring. If you weren’t ready to exit the TEMPTATION DEATH HOUSE, the L.A. band push you out the door strung out while the sun is high in the sky. It’s a remarkable composition, Michael Gira-esque both psychologically and musically. When Blake Stokes coolly drops the age-old musical adage “I don’t wanna go home / but I can’t stay here” on closer “Bent by Satisfaction,” you get the sense both you and Jagged Baptist Club will be back soon enough. Go drop by the party over on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]
Lathe of Heaven – DEMO
Genre: New Wave, Post-Punk
Favorite Songs: “Genome,” “Breaking Strain,” “Moon-Driven Sea”
I don’t know much about this Brooklyn band, but they’ve got some damn fine taste in literature. For those non-readers, THE LATHE OF HEAVEN is Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 novel about a man whose very dreams can alter reality, and it’s a profound meditation on the unmitigated damage (socially, spiritually, mentally, etc.) that arises when someone tries to exert control over others. It sure beats any band calling themselves, like, TWILIGHT: NEW MOON or something. Aside from touting my book knowledge, I think this name choice matters for one big reason: Lathe of Heaven seems to be really big into a kind of aural reality-warping of their own across the three tracks comprising their demo.
“Genome” builds from a sleek, almost sultry soundscape into something with more grit and heft; it feels almost like every post-punk song you’ve ever heard, remembered in the midst of an extended fever dream. Meanwhile, “Breaking Strain” manages to both perpetuate that formula—an overt passion bordering on the erotic in the shape of a rock song—while also blurring the lines between taking place in a UK dive bar in the late ’70s and a dingy Brooklyn club circa 2013. Finally, “Moon-Driven Sea” manages to pull back quite a bit and the resulting sparseness and reduction in energy makes for a song that can’t properly decide between overt intensity and a playful sense of mystery.
But, the question begs, is all of this any good? Uh, yeah, for sure. I don’t think they’re necessarily breaking new ground here, and if you’re a post-punk faithful you’ll get your money’s worth and almost nothing else. But, like the novel they’ve chosen to name themselves after, Lathe of Heaven excel in blurring things: sentiments, objectives, timelines, etc. All of it feels at once exciting and familiar, robust, and deeply personal. I liked it not because it dropkicked me into some unseen realm of post-punk glory, but rather because it pulled the wool over my eyes and left me to explore this aural land without shape or scope. In that sense, the music does its job by letting the listener craft their own reality, one where you can celebrate something pure about this genre with your own history and sense of personal context. It’s very much an EP that’s focused on sentiments and moods and it excels because of what it theoretically offers as opposed to any concrete innovations or profound accomplishments. Making such a powerful and playful record is, in and of itself, an accomplishment–one worthy of celebrating like some great piece of literature. Now, go read THE LATHE OF HEAVEN (and listen to DEMO, before, during, or after, over on Bandcamp). [Chris Coplan]