Hello friends, welcome to The Listening Booth. Today’s choices are, well, varied. I can’t imagine there are many articles out there diving into TripSitter and Hank Williams Jr. at the same time, but fuck it. What’s the worst that can happen?
If you’ve ever come to the opinion that Converge were too heavy for your taste but Touche Amore too melodic then I have a treat for you. First off, there is a hell of a lot of bands that are not those two, so em, listen to one of them? Or, if you’d prefer to stick with this tentative bridge I’m building, why not give TripSitter a chance?
The Other Side Of Sadness is metalcore for the sad boys. And not modern metalcore. Let’s make that clear. The older stuff that retains the hardcore edge, the kind Converge play. And, as hinted at above, there is a shitload of Converge on this album. I don’t want to describe them as a stepping stone to that band because it sounds insulting, but that’s almost what TripSitter are. If you’ve bounced off of Jane Doe, then it’s possible this album is for you.
And I don’t mean that to sound like I’m saying it’s not heavy. It is. Right from ‘The Illusion’ this is a heavy album, but it’s not Converge levels of heavy. The unclean vocals are understandable, and while it’s dark as fuck, it never goes off the edge into the territory that band do. It’s easier to pick up, put on and appreciate during the first listen, which is no bad thing.
Because there are some fantastic songs on The Other Side of Sadness. It was recorded live in a cabin, and that brings with it a rawness which rips out your speakers. Nowhere is that more clear than on ‘The Flower’ as it opens with an acoustic guitar and the vocals being sung away from the mic. From there it gets heavier and heavier as it goes, building on that base as the vocals are dragged kickign and screaming out of lead singer Meinhard Taxer. It’s very close to being a masterpiece, and this is the band’s debut album!
We also get a few hints that TripSitter have even more tricks in their arsenal. There are hints of shoegaze littered throughout, but they come to the fore on ‘The Dreamer’ and ‘Remains’. You get the impression that this band will only push at what they’ve done already, expanding out and finding fresh directions to wander in.
So, yea, if you’re looking for that album, you might just have found out. But TripSitter won’t be getting prepared to the bands that came before them for long. If they can build on this fantastic debut, we’ll be talking about a wave of musicians who sound like TripSitter sooner rather than later.
If you go down to the woods this Sabbath, you’re sure to be in for a surprise. You’ll find witches spelling, rituals brewing and Satan dancing in the corner with an old billy goat. And, hm, is that pot I smell? Don’t worry, though. You can avoid being next on the fire. Play them all a bit of Green Lung, and they’ll soon accept you as a peer.
For Woodland Rites is music born from Sabbath, and this time I’m talking about the band. It’s riffs, paganism and yes, one suspects a little bit of marijuana. The only altar that Green Lung might place higher than that of Iommi and co is that of the riff, and when you get down to it, are those altars not pretty much the same thing?
But let’s not pretend that Sabbath-worship is a rare thing in the world of heavy metal. It’s not. Throw a stick, and you’ll hit a band plugging into the men who invented it all. It’s kind of what happens when, you know, someone invents it all. Copying them is a bit inevitable. So, what helps Green Lung stand out?
Well, the simple answer is, they do it well. The more complicated one is, fucking hell they do it well. I caught them last weekend supporting Puppy, and while no-one was competing with the headliners on that form, they went damn close. These motherfuckers shit out riffs, and there are enough on this album to feed the most riff-hungry of rock fans. It doesn’t take them long to get started on it either. ‘Initiation’ may begin with an acoustic guitar, but it very quickly finds its way to something you can headbang along with.
It’s not just the riffs, though. It’s the guitar work around them too. The intricate work on ‘Let The Devil In’ or the slower ‘ballad’ style of ‘May Queen’ (it’s most definitely not a ballad). Green Lung don’t just know how to write big chunky hard rock guitar parts. They can do all the others bit too, and it’s that which elevates these songs past their peers.
And it turns this into an album that makes that trip to the woods sound exciting. You want to go and hang out at the ‘Ritual Tree’ no matter what might go on there. Or even vanish ‘Into the Wild’ with Green Lung although one suspects you’d have to bring plenty to smoke for them to accept you tagging along. As I said, Sabbath worship is a staple of our genre, and it ain’t going away. But if bands are going to do it this well, why the fuck should it?
I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a soft spot for country, and this week I went to see Wild Rose which has got me in the mood for more of the stuff. So, after some Googling, I’m working my way through what various websites inform me are the kind of country albums I am likely to enjoy, the first of which came from Hank Williams Jr.
Now, I want to make some things very clear. While you could argue I am not qualified to talk about any music (a few people on Twitter certainly seem to think so), that is most definitely true when it comes to country. A soft spot doesn’t mean I have a clue about this stuff, and while I can pinpoint the Sabbath worship of Green Lung, I have no reference point for Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound. I’m embracing my ignorance when it comes to this album.
And in my ignorance, I think it’s pretty damn good. In the UK, where country is most definitely not cool, it’s easy to forget that it’s a whiskey-soaked genre of music. This album makes that very clear, though. As Hank sings about ‘Outlaw Women’ or tells the story about the time he ‘OD’d in Denver’ you get the impression that he’s talking from experience. You can almost hear the Jim Bean on his voice and the cigarette tucked in the corner of his mouth. These feel like outlaw songs, and it’s easy to get caught up in the cool factor that brings with it.
However, it also ages this album. It’s impossible to listen to some of these songs and not cringe at the inherent sexism in their heart. Look, a lot of the genres I listen to are fucking awful when it comes to their treatment of women. I’m ashamed to say I own Motley Crue albums (although that shame does also come from them being shit) and have a signed Zeppelin album cover on my wall. You won’t find me cancelling Hank Williams Jr.
because of what he said back in 1984. However, you can’t deny that ‘Women I’ve Never Had’ is cringe in its obvious flaws. I’m not accepting different times as an excuse because it would have been icky no matter the year.
Even with that, though, I still enjoy this album. From the swinging rock and roll of ‘White Lightning’ to the, well, conversation of ‘The Conversation’ (it’s a song come chat between Hank and Waylon Jennings about Hank’s daddy) there are songs on here that have wormed their way into my brain and I suspect they shan’t be leaving for a while. The name Hank Williams is engrained in country’s DNA, and judging by this, you can see why.
Click the names of the artists above to check out their websites and buy stuff from them! Musicians need money to live, and Spotify is not enough.