Fucked Up

Fucked Up have the most perfect name for any band in rock history. In two words it bluntly states the truth that lies at the heart of the white noise maelstrom – things are different from what you expect.

Right from the start this Toronto band has been pushing musical and conceptual boundaries. Forming ostensibly as a punk band, they swiftly took on hardcore and twisted it into their own version, with a psychedelic edge, unexpected instrumentation like flute and keyboards, and songs stretched to perverse lengths.

They initially released a series of impossible to find 7" singles, all with related artwork that sometimes landed them in trouble, and sometimes looked like they came from the late 60s, when minds were melting with possibilities. There were also albums that continued this theme, each one more bold and adventurous.

Meanwhile, the band's gigs took on legendary status. Frontman Damian Abraham's nude stage dives and blood-strewn face were becoming a lunatic motif for a take on the hardcore genre that constantly upended assumptions: lyrics about plants and rebirth, moneys to charities for battered women. All the time, there was a sense of a narrative, and even in their loudest moments there was a deep intelligence to their music.

The narrative itself has come to full fruition on their new album, the 78-minute David Comes To Life rock opera, an album set to a play.

In the punk wars the rock opera was held up as the ultimate example of decadent capitalist-pig rock, the kind of opulent, navel-gazing fodder of faded rock dictators clinging onto power by their filthy fingernails and their tediously long records. It breaks the strict rules of punk and is precisely the reason why Fucked Up have presented this mammoth work.

Their whole history has been mashing ferocious but highly thought-out music with brilliant concepts and Situationist philosophy. They have now made their ultimate statement, tying up all the loose ends and question marks in this sprawling, yet consistently brilliant album.

In anyone else's hands, David Comes To Life might be a disaster, but Fucked Up are in a different lineage – the concept album, after all, was invented by the Kinks or the Pretty Things and even the Who's huffing-and-puffing Tommy and Hawkwind's Space Ritual. You could even include some of the Crass albums as concept albums if you really thought about it – darkly powerful works that let you enter a parallel universe.

Though no less monumental, it is far more melodic than their breakthrough The Chemistry of Common Life. There are more female vocals, which work in perfect contrast to Abraham's highly effective wounded bull growl. The band sound tighter and with more space for the flourishes and imaginative songwriting that entwine their love of fey British indie pop with heavy riffing, and some genuinely twisted turns. Perhaps most grippingly, the triple-guitar interplay between Mike Haliechuk, Josh Zucker and Ben Cook has risen to symphonic levels. They channel musicians from Angus Young, Pete Townshend and Noel Gallagher to Bob Stinson and Lyle Preslar with ease and grace.

The result is better than Sham's That's Life, less desperate than SF Sorrow, a finer cultural self reference than Arthur and Village Green, a better tribute to plants than Dopesmoker, and more a unmixable album than Loveless. But you can hear all these musical touchstones in David's multi-layered melodic filigree.

And then there comes the story…

David Comes To Life is a story of lost love, global meltdown, depression, bombs, guilt and madness. Or is it? A modern day morality tale set to the dour backdrop of a British industrial town in the late 70s, it's a four-part play that follows the dark moods and inner psyche of the titular hero. At the same time, the reliability of the narrator gets called into question, the tables are turned, responsibility shifts, and the story goes meta.

David loses his lover in a bombing during an undisclosed war . The story then turns into an internal dialogue between David and the narrator, Octavio St Laurent. The ensuing plot sees the roles and characters shapeshifting as the dialogue about love and hate battle it out. It's a fantastically complex concept that somehow works. The mind-altering subject matter sits perfectly with the intense and at times gorgeous music.

Of course you could always ignore the backstory and just listen to a fiercely imaginative, powerful 78 minutes of blistering, melodic rock'n'roll crossed with all manners of psychic weirdness. Your choice.

Twenty-two-year-old musician Dom is the leader of Worcester, Massachussets pop-rock trio Dom. Dom has a last name, but he will not reveal it because he owes "a lot of money." Which sounds sort of ridiculous. But Dom is ridiculous-- in the best way possible.

He has dreams of making artful pornography and playing video games with Lil Wayne. He writes hockey stadium anthems about his cat. He does not give a shit, and it's awesome. Along with guitarist Erik and drummer Bobby K. (who also have some debt, apparently), Dom makes sunburned guitar pop with fat hooks and stargaze synths that sound triumphant, heartbreaking, and totally immediate

Big Troubles

"A dreamy, head spinning blast of fuzzed-out bliss, like my bloody valentine on minimal budget but some idiots left big black's drum machine pummeling away in the background. totally damaged and beautiful, big troubles grab the reverbed-out U.S. underground and rip it a new one. gotta be heard to be understood."
- Rough Trade

Caged Animals

"Vin Cacchione's songs sound thick, like a muggy summer afternoon haze. This is a new track he just dropped from his base in Brooklyn… heavy doses of shoegaze and dreamwave while keeping its active pop ingredients.

Pick up the ltd white vinyl with this track and the B-side 'Transparent Castle', available from UK label Lucky Number Music." -yvynyl

Frankie Rose (DJ Set)

As a founding member of the Vivian Girls, and a drummer/vocalist in both Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose has been an integral part of Brooklyn's still vital music scene for years. Her highly anticipated solo project not only reflects the aesthetic earmarks of her musical past, but reveals her as a fully-formed artist in her own right.

Haunted by the ghosts of Brill Building, and equal measures of 80s and 90s pop, Frankie's music evokes a spooky, lovely charm. Her ethereal, yet affectation-free vocal melodies, swirling in a sea of church-like harmonies over a bed of tambourines, bells, and propulsive drumming, recall such artists as Eilzabeth Fraser and Black Tambourine. It is both timeless and immediate; deeply personal and completely universal.

Ms. Rose's self-debut titled debut, which hit the streets in July of 2010, is moody and subtle dream pop, as if Cocteau Twins and Spacemen 3 tracked a split LP with some help from Phil Spector. The record receive much acclaim, making it onto Rough Trade's top 100 of the year. Cited by Pitchfork as "lean, elegant music that practically glows in the face of exceptional fuss," and named one of New York Times Style Magazine's "Ones to Watch," Frankie Rose is truly a force to be reckoned with.

DJ Bill Pearis

Brooklyn Vegan's Bill Pearis djs between sets.


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