Music Releases 08-09-19
Bottom heavy open chords that resonate strong enough to shake the core of the earth. Skyrocketing bursts of oscillating guitar leads layer an ominous and dark undercurrent of rhythm. While hardcore punk may be the sound that rules the day in The Contortionist hometown of Indianapolis, it is the band’s signature brand of forward thinking heavy
Whenever Corrosion Of Conformity release a new album, folks take notice. But their latest is a true event. It’s been a dozen years since C.O.C. recorded new material with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan at the helm. In that time, there have been rumors, whispers and outright allegations that the legendary Southern rock outfit would reunite to blow the doors off the whole damn scene again. In 2014, after nearly a straight decade traversing the globe as a guitarist with New Orleans supergroup Down, Keenan reconnected with the core C.O.C. trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin to hit the road hard and write & record “No Cross No Crown”.
“hand solo,” “blow,” “conventional ride”—these are just a few of the cheeky offerings off Any Human Friend, the new album from rock provocateur Marika Hackman. “This whole record is me diving into myself and peeling back the skin further and further, exposing myself in quite a big way. It can be quite sexual,” Hackman says. “It’s blunt, but not offensive. It’s mischievous.” There’s also depth to her carnal knowledge: Any Human Friend is ultimately about how, as she puts it, “We all have this lightness and darkness in us.” Hackman lifted the album’s title from a documentary about four-year-olds interacting with dementia patients in senior homes. At one point, two little girls confer about their experience there, with one musing on how it’s great to make “any human friend,” whether old or young. “When she said that it really touched a nerve in me,” says the London-based musician. “It’s that childlike view where we really accept people, are comfortable with their differences.” Such introspection has earned Hackman her name. Her folky 2015 debut, We Slept at Last, was heralded for being nuanced and atmospheric. She really found her footing with her last release, I’m Not Your Man—which earned raves from The Guardian, Stereogum, and Pitchfork—and its sybaritic, swaggering hit “Boyfriend,” which boasts of seducing away a straight guy’s girlfriend. “Her tactile lyrics keep the songs melodically strong and full of surprises,” remarked Pitchfork. “I’m a hopeless romantic,” she explains. “I search for love and sexual experience, but also I’m terrified by it.” Hackman is a Rid of Me-era PJ Harvey for the inclusive generation: unbounded by musical genre, a preternatural lyricist and tunesmith who isn’t afraid to go there. (Even her cover art, which finds Hackman nearly nude while cradling a baby pig, is a nod to Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra’s unfiltered photos of mothers just after they gave birth.) To that end, “hand solo” extorts the virtues of masturbation and features Hackman’s favorite line, “Under patriarchal law, I’m going to die a virgin.” The song “blow” paints a picture of social excess. And “conventional ride” thumbs its nose at heterosexual sex through “the trope a lot of gay women experience: sleeping with someone, then it becomes apparent you’re kind of an experiment.” Marika wrote the album over a year, recording a few songs at a time with co-producer David Wrench (Frank Ocean, The xx). The longer recording process meant that Hackman had the time to experiment in the studio, especially with electronic songs. She was inspired by Wrench’s vast synth collection, many of which she used throughout Any Human Friend, notably on “hold on,” a deep dive into ennui expressed as ethereal R&B. She also switched up drum rhythms and wrote songs on the bass, such as the upbeat, idiosyncratic “come undone.” Hackman bookends Any Human Friend with some of her most unexpected musical turns. The first song she wrote, “the one” (technically its second track), is “probably the poppiest song I’ve ever written,” she says. “It’s about that weird feeling of starting the process again from scratch.” To that end, it features a riot grrrl Greek chorus hurling such insults at her as, “You’re such an attention whore!” The title track closes out the album and explores how, “when we’re interacting with people, it’s like holding a mirror up to yourself.” It’s a weightless coda that’s jazz-like in its layering of rhythmic sounds as if you’re leisurely sorting through Hackman’s headspace.