Sun Coming Down changes but also enhances the sound that Ought worked with on their debut. This album is faster overall–with fewer slow and mellow sections. It is jittery and sometimes hostile but very much alive.
And yet as with the debut you can hear inspirations from The Fall and trippier Sonic Youth throughout the album. And there’s more than a hint of No Wave sprinkled throughout.
Notice that Tim Beeler is now known as Tim Darcy. But the band is the same and Matt May’s fuzzed-out keys often sound like a second guitar. And drummer Tim Keen and bassist Ben Stidworthy keep the pace perfectly.
“Men for Miles” has a very Mark E. Smith feel–especially in the chorus–a kind of spoken/shouted style. But that’s not the only way that Ben “sings.” There are actual sung parts like the “tear to your eye” section. The music is kind of like Protomarytr–aggressively, slightly angular but mostly fast and propulsive. I love the guitar riff which is surprising and yet catchy at the same time. And amid a quieter moment, he asks, “Excuse me, did you say there’s a chance of bringing this whole fucker down?”
“Passionate Turn” is a but less intense, but it has a nicely sung verse and a cool, unusual chanted chorus. There’s also a nifty guitar riff right after the chorus. The steady rhythm of the bass really keeps the song moving along.
“The Combo” has aggressive guitars and a lumbering bass and drum line combined with some noisy guitars and more of that Mark E Smith chanting vocal. The middle section grows almost pummeling with the noisy guitars and jackhammer drums as he chants “it’s a little bit strange” in a voice that sounds like he’s almost mocking punk singers. It’s a surprise about 2/3 of the way in when the vocals grow almost positive: “Jubilation coming.” It’s one of two songs on the disc that are just over 3 minutes but which still pack a lot of music in.
“Sun’s Coming Down” opens with a ringing feedbacking guitar and some noisy soloing. “I am talking out of my ass because my heart is not open.” About half way through, he starts saying “just like that, it changes” and the music follows suit–it changes to a slower thumping drum with some vocals “oooh oohhoohhoooh.” The song reaches its end with a guitar that sounds like a police siren before returning to that calming “oooooh.”
I love the way “Beautiful Blue Sky” opens. The guitar riff sounds very familiar in tone, and when the other guitars and noises come in it has very Sonic Youth feel, with a pretty guitar riff. And then some spoken words enter over some abrasive scratchy guitar “warplanes, condo” that morph into a series of clichéd phrases: “beautiful weather today, how’s the family, how’s your health been, fancy seeing you here.” The middle section slows things down with “I am now longer afraid to die because that is all I have left. Yes. I am now longer afraid to dance tonight because that is all I have left.” And the ecstatic way he says “Yes” is surprisingly powerful as it sounds so different–almost ecstatic– from the rest of his delivery
“Celebration” is a much shorter piece with a sort of angrily chanted “Celebration.” There’s buzzy guitars and a feedback-seeming drone behind the music. It all leads up to a slow down where he chants, “All right, I’ll take it!” in a rather louche voice.
“On the Line” begins with the vocals sung quietly over a buzzing drone. Slowly a synth line comes in. The song sounds like nothing else on the disc until the drums and guitars come bursting forth and the song blisters along. And then it settles back to the quieter section with spoken word recitation. The changes are abrupt and switch between a mellow poetry and garage rock.
“Never Better” opens with an aggressive riff and keening vocals. It has a quieter chorus but the song never flags in intensity.
Even though it is obviously the same band, their three discs really explore many different facets of their sound. I’m really looking forward to what the come out with next.
Matt May: Keys, Vocals
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums, Violin
Tim Darcy: Vocals, Guitar
[READ: September 24, 2016] Assassination Classroom 3
I looked up this series online and saw that there are currently 21 volumes in it! (11 are translated into English so far). I can’t imagine how he can keep this story going (and at a pretty fast pace until the Earth will be destroyed) for so many more books!
This book begins with the students still on vacation in Kyoto. Two of the girls have been captured by other students. It’s a disturbing chapter with the implication that these boys have done things to girls before. But Koro Sensei’s book about field trips actually covers the event of a kidnapping! So the rest of the class is on it. It even suggest where they might find the culprits (how did he know?). It’s also a really big book and can be used as a weapon. And our class comes out unharmed.
In the next chapter a new assassin named Red Eye is sent to take out Koro Sensei. Red Eye is a sniper but he is baffled by Koro Sensei–who is able to stop a bullet with a dumpling. Koro Sensei proves to be such a good teacher that even the Red Eye can learn something from him.
After a light episode in which the kids try to learn about Koro Sensei (and Irina’s) past girlfriends/boyfriends, a new student is added to the class. But this student is a computer named Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery. It is a fast learning computer (with a pretty girl as its avatar). And it is designed to learn from its mistakes. It estimates that bu the end of the day it will have a .03% chance of killing Koro Sensei but by the end of the month it will be 90%. So it begins class by opening fire on Koro Sensei (despite the fact that it breaks the class rules and disrupts class). And then the kids have to clean up the mess of BBs. In fact the kids are so annoyed that they tape the machine up so it’s guns can’t come out. Eventually Koro Sensei teaches it that it needs to respect the fellow students or it will never blend in. Koro upgrades the machine who actually seems to enjoy learning. This is pretty fun sequence of chapters.
In the next section, Koro Sensei is affected by humidity–his head swells to a crazy size. But that proves to be a diversion compared to the real plot that follows–revenge on a cheating girlfriend and her jerky boyfriend. It’s very funny and quite elaborate.
The final chapter of the book is all about Irina. She is trying to teach them to speak without an accent but the kids can’t seem to get their Ls and Rs correct. She says that if they can’t get them straight, she will have to French kiss them (totes inappropes–although the previous chapter revealed that she was 20, which is much better than the mid 30s I assumed she was). But we soon see that Irina’s “handler,” the guy who sent gave her the assignment, determines that she is no longer the right assassin for the job. She is pissed but her services are no longer useful.
The book end with Koro Sensei proposing a test between Irina and her handler to see which one is the better assassin!
This manga is written in the traditional style of right to left, which is fun. It is translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki with an English adaptation (whatever that means) by Bryant Turnage.