This Week in Badass: The Nightwatchman Goes Electric
This Week in Badass is going to take a look at all the killer music that has reached my ears in the current week, whether it be music that was just released or items coming out in the near future. You might even get some vintage badass to get you through your weekend as well. Music will be ranked on the badass’ness scale — which of course goes to 11, the only true way to measure if something kicks ass. So throw your horns up and get ready to headbang along. Bands are bolded the first time they are mentioned if you want to scroll through to see if there’s someone you like.
As mentioned last week, I’ve been really into Spotify lately. If you don’t have an account, go sign up for a free one at their site. You can listen to so much music for free, it’s simply amazing. And, you can share playlists with others – so each week I’m going to put together a playlist of things I’ve been listening to in the past week and if you have an account, all you have to do is click on the link below and it will take you right to that playlist to listen to the tracks. If you subscribe to it, it will get updated every Wednesday, so you’ll get the playlist two days before you see it here.
I’m at an odd point right now. I have 30 albums in my queue waiting for a review, begging for one even, and not one of them is spectacular enough to get my writing juices flowing in full. However, almost all of them deserve some mention so I’m going to use my words wisely this week.
The best of this bunch is the new album from Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, titled World Wide Rebel Songs (badass’ness: 8/11). You of course should already know Morello from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave but he’s also put out a handful of records as The Nightwatchman at this point. He started this project back during the Audioslave days to be able to share his political views which is something his former band wasn’t really about. All his records have been mostly acoustic in nature with guest stars contributing to songs here and there.
World Wide Rebel Songs is mostly an electric album featuring The Freedom Fighter Orchestra (Dave Gibbs on bass, Carl Restivo on guitar and piano, Chris Joyner on keyboard and Eric Gardner on drums). Morello isn’t shy about his views and has always opened up very honestly. For this record, he’s created anthems to start a fight and get shit brewing. The first single, “It Begins Tonight” is a rocker and has that distinct RATM/Audioslave guitar sound to it. While it’s excellent, it doesn’t represent the album very well. After hearing it, I was expecting for the whole to be somewhere between Rage and Audioslave and it’s not at all. Instead, while electric, most of the tracks are pretty mellow yet biting with only the first track, “Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine” really coming close to that rousing rock vibe.
Just because the album doesn’t rock like the single doesn’t mean it sucks though. In fact, it’s probably the best Nightwatchman album that he’s put out. Fantastic songs like “Facing Mount Kenya” and “Save the Hammer for the Man” (which was co-written and performed on by Ben Harper) are the highlights of the disc, due out August 30th. You can actually check out all these tracks and almost the entire album already on Spotify. Tom Morello: the Nightwatchman – World Wide Rebel Songs.
“It Begins Tonight”
The complete opposite end of the spectrum belongs to the fantastically named Squash Bowels. Back in 2000 they released their six track debut, Tnyribal (badass’ness: 8/11) on Obscene Productions. Now Selfmadegod records has just re-released the album giving the world a chance to hear these goregrind experts at their most primitive. For whatever reason, the disc is split into six tracks, though they all contain anywhere from three to five unique parts each with a stated pause in between which gives the illusion of their being 25 songs in the 26 minute runtime. What makes this record so damn good is that it’s not just grindcore. Tnyribal puts a chaotic noise-filled landscape behind the grind so the album feels like it’s industrial grind at points. They’ve had four other LP since this point with 2009’s Grindvirus (badass’ness: 9/11) being their best work but even that isn’t able to recreate the pure experimentation and uniqueness they bring to their debut.
While they aren’t grindcore there are three other releases coming out on August 23rd that make me want to break shit as well. The first two are part of the Candlelight reissues package, this week consisting of Disensitize (badass’ness: 8/11) and War Is Hell (badass’ness: 8/11) from legendary punk-metal band Discharge. These guys formed way back in ’77 and were known as one of the first hardcore punk bands to mix in some metal with their sound. They’ve changed members a ton of times but the original lineup reunited in 2000 like they’d never taken a day off. These days the singing is done by Rat and the drumming by Dave Bridgwood.
Both these albums were released in 2008, Disensitize being self-released and War Is Hell on Unrest records so this will be the first time they are really going to released to a bigger audience. Both records are simply brutal. Fast, furious, insightful lyrics and screamed anarchy. Disensitize gets released with two bonus tracks and War Is Hell has three, so there’s something new from each one to hear even if you already own them.
“Spoils of War”
The other crazy album is courtesy of Ipecac – Ugly Animals (badass’ness: 7/11) from Retox. The band features two of the guys from the even more chaotic The Locust and members of The Festival of Dead Deer. Ugly Animals ends up being difficult to put into a specific genre. They are extreme for sure and have a punk-ish feel overall. Any picture taken of them probably has them in motion, jumping in front of a drum set while random colors flash across the picture – you know, everything a blur. And that’s even more understandable that the album clocks in at just under 13 minutes for 11 tracks. With pretentious titles such as “Ten Pounds of Shit in a Five Pound Bag,” Thirty Cents Shy of a Quarter” and “Sorry We Are Just Not Compatible” I wasn’t expecting a whole lot but instead got something to bash skulls to. Yeah, a little length would have been nice but I guess it doesn’t take even 13 minutes to beat someone into a bloody pulp. Nothing can quite be as fucked up as The Locust but it’s definitely somewhere between them and Dead Deer. Fans of either band should enjoy.