MEAT WAVE —
THE GOOD: Chicago punks Meat Wave return with a crashing, banging third.
THE BAD: “The Incessant” loses focus across its final third (the droning, drunken “Birdland” brings matters to a halt), but that’s not enough to crash the entire affair.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Thankfully, most of the album is an aggressive set born of frustration and built on pounding drums and slashing guitars. Recorded by the legendary Steve Albini (Breeders, Nirvana, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), “The Incessant” kicks into high gear with terse quick tracks such as “To Be Swayed” and “Run You Out” before the band smashes its way into more complex territories.
From there, the trio offers the slightly spooky yet still forceful “No Light.” Then there’s the jagged, post-punk title track (image the Strokes slamming into some vintage Husker Du). “Killing the Incessant” ends the record with an enormous thunderclap.
The album ends up showcasing that Meat Wave is NOT a one-note act. The music either breathes or burns itself out in an instant.
BUY IT?: Sure.
THE DRUMS — “Abysmal Thoughts”
THE GOOD: New York indie rock outfit the Drums comes back with a layered fourth.
THE BAD: No.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Frontman Jonathan Pierce is now the only remaining original and permanent member of the band. However, the Drums’ aesthetic hasn’t changed all that much. The band (the guy?) still churns out a mix of post-punk and surf rock, bringing together ’60s garage elements, the gothic ’80s and today’s do-it-yourself indie pop.
“Thoughts” also feels more experimental than past efforts. Tracks such as the haunting, slowly rising opener “Mirror” and the slightly soulful “Your Tenderness” use the standard Drums penchant for echo very effectively while delivering melodies more complex than usual. Pierce uses varying tempos and falls victim to fluctuating mood swings, ensuring the record never stays in one sonic place for too long (a slight drawback on earlier efforts).
Time will tell if the guy can keep this momentum going as a probable solo act. For now though, the act is on very solid musical ground.
BUY IT?: Yes.
WAVVES — “You’re Welcome”
THE GOOD: California garage punk act Wavves leaves Warner Bros. and releases a sixth album by its own damn self.
THE BAD: Stuck on repeat?
THE NITTY GRITTY: Wavves keeps to the formula. That is, slightly obnoxious but always catchy straight-forward, guitar-drenched rock songs. What could go wrong? Frontman Nathan Williams and his crew crank out a dozen jams that either do the quiet-loud-quiet-loud thing or simply stomp all the way through.
Tunes such as “Million Enemies” and “Stupid in Love” smack us across the teeth with big riffs and sing-along hooks. That’s never disagreeable. Then a couple of tracks dip their toes into “weirder” waters, such as the fractured doo-wop of “Come to the Valley” and the cloying, wobbly closer “I Love You.” For the most part though, Wavves keeps it tight and loud.
The group is going to have to take a step forward at some point, but that doesn’t happen on “You’re Welcome.” Maybe next time. For now, you get an engaging record, albeit one that’ll sound more than a little familiar.
BUY IT?: Your call.