Denmark’s Iceage burst onto the scene two years ago with the full-throttle assault of New Brigade. The quartet of 19-year-olds offered a fresh take on hardcore, injected shards of New Wave synths, springy rhythms, and memorable hooks into short and fast songs. You’re Nothing proves they’re no fluke, delivering more nuance and variety without sacrificing the bludgeoning adrenaline rush that made their debut so special. The album is both heavy and fast, able to shift between the lacerating riffs of “Burning Hands” and the piano-driven accelerating march of “Morals.” Highlights include the indelible melody and tumbling beats of “In Haze,” the tandem chiming guitar lines and shouted la-la-la’s of “Wounded Hearts,” and the lurching tempo shifts and impassioned vocals of “Ecstasy.” “You’re running out of time,” the band warns toward the end. Hurtling by in less than 30 minutes, You’re Nothing is an urgent blur that begs to be instantly repeated.
Everything You Know is Wrong
An ArcMet record can make you feel, viscerally, like you’re floating in a sea of sweaty bodies at some 1969 Gong concert in San Francisco; the air smells like smoke, there’s a slightly metallic taste in your mouth, and everything’s starting to look really weird. Organs drone and analog synths fibrillate, while distorted, wah-wah- and delay-soaked guitars spray Hendrixian noodlings like machine-gun fire through progressions that are equal parts Deep Purple and Dr. Who. The architecture is solidly established by drummer Murph (of Dino Jr. fame), and Timothy Leary of the keyboard Paul Eggleston gleefully provides the metaphors, with some help from guitarist Greg Kozlowski. The title track represents a rare venturing into somewhat structured pop, and features the well-suited vocal talents of Andrea Aguayo, and a cover of Roxy Music’s “In Every Dreamhome a Heartache” is a pleasant surprise.
It’s Up to Emma
Scout Niblett offers something that’s vital to the health of rock ’n’ roll. Like the rockers dubbed “riot grrls” and their precursors like the bombastic Joan Jett, Heart and Fanny, Niblett offers a growling female anger. Though she often chooses not to, she’s not afraid of unleashing grungy wails and fat, distorted guitar chords; she offers nicely bratty, achy singing to go with it. She also offers ragged-edged balladry, always underpinned with guitar that seems about to veer toward full-on rock. In the video for album opener “Gun,” Niblett dons a Snow White costume and visits the carnival while the foreboding rock unspools. That unsettling effect sets expectations: there’s something interesting happening here. Her subject matters seems to be, exclusively, the rock default of relationships, and the soft/foreboding mood is par for the course. Still, if your mood matches, this is a rewarding wallow in relationship angst.