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Hot Stuff: From New York City to Halifax to Spain to Alabama

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: good band, bad name. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: good band, bad name.

Hey growers, it’s time again for Hot Stuff, in which we present to you, our good reader, the records that have been rocking our socks off in the Rosebud Magazine office this week. We’re an eclectic bunch, so as usual, we bring you a range of goods. This week we’ve got everything from the indie-pop of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart to the alt-country of Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit to the militant grindcore of Looking For an Answer. Along the way, we check in with Canadian rockers Sloan, as well as Jesu, the project of extreme music old-schooler turned folksy post-metal artist Justin Broadrick (best known as a founding member of Godflesh). Oh, and the new Moving Mountains album might be the best of this bunch. So let’s get to it:

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

The New York City indie-pop-rock band gets some notoriety for their much-maligned name, but on Belong, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart show they’re ready to take their music to a level beyond their silly moniker. They’re easing up on the childlike style of previous releases and starting to rock out a little more, and the result is a collection of great songs recalling something between Brit-pop and ‘80s New Wave. The execution here is just right, and finally serves their hooks some justice. After all, those melodies were always there, but the twee-heavy style made them hard to appreciate. Belong changes all that.

Sloan – The Double Cross

You pretty much know what you’re going to get from Halifax’s Sloan, who led the explosion of music out of Canada’s East Coast in the ‘90s. Two decades since they got started, Sloan are still pumping out catchy-as-hell rock n’ roll tunes with a minimum of pretense. The Double Cross is filled with the types of harmonies and hooks that left many people wondering why Sloan’s success in the Great White North never translated into them becoming superstars on the US charts. 20 years after the hype, Sloan keeps delivering infectious albums, and for those in the know, that’s all that matters.

Moving Mountains – Waves

Powerful and emotive, Moving Mountains blends captivating vocal melody with guitar-based energy, and comes up with something between indie-rock and post-hardcore that hits the mark on track after track. Waves is a rocker, no doubt, but the passion of Moving Mountains is laid bare with a comingling of tender vocal moments and all out heart-on-the-sleeve bursts from both band and singer. This record has it all. A very impressive outing from a band hitting its stride.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Here We Rest

Jason Isbell translated his experience with Southern-fried country-rockers Drive-By Truckers into a warm and back to basics alt-country project a few years ago. On Here We Rest, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit continue to show the songwriting and light touch that made their earlier work so good to listen to. On the lastest record, you get a track list of tunes decorated in organ, twanging electric guitar, and the unmistakable stamp of the South. There’s a melancholy thread throughout Here We Rest that never keeps you from tapping your toe. It takes a special songwriter and a good band to achieve that effect.

Jesu – Ascension

Justin Broadrick made is mark on the music world as a founding member of industrial-metal pioneers Godflesh. But on the new Jesu record, Broadrick seems a long ways from those roots. Ascension is an album of long, oppressively down-tempo, lo-fi, shoegazing post-metal songs. The tunes sound like dirges for angels, mixing garagey buzz and distorted guitars with soft vocals buried in the mix. The effect is haunting. Ascension is a record that needs to grow on you, but once it does, it sticks.

Looking For an Answer – Eterno Treblinka

Grindcore is the most pissed-off music on planet earth, and Spain’s Looking For an Answer bring that fact to light in blazing, undeniable fashion on Eterno Treblinka. These guys keep it simple and heavy with straight-up guitar riffs and punishing guttural vocals that come off like shotgun blasts. Add to the fact Looking For an Answer’s militant vegan/eco-warrior/anti-religion/anti-humanity lyrics (sung entirely in Spanish) are radical and uncompromising, and you have one of the most intimidating releases of 2011.


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A classic song from Godflesh, Justin Broadrick's pre-Jesu industrial metal band.
Last modified on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 13:34

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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