Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Aug. 7

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SUMAC, Faith Coloccia

Every week, there’s a plethora of new music at our fingertips.

Artists on platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp are plentiful, and the radio offers a steady deluge of new singles, but who has time to sort through all that? RIFF does!

We pooled our resources to find some of the best new singles from all genres and backgrounds, so you can find your newest earworm without all the drama. Enjoy this week’s hidden gems:

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Drug Church, “Avoidarama” — If Turnstile formed in Seattle during the mid-’90s, there’s a good chance Drug Church would have emerged. This Albany, New York group has all the stomp riffs hardcore kids like to flail around to. But there’s a distinct flavor of slacker rock in the mix, as well. A title like “Avoidarama” isn’t exactly apologizing for the decade from which it borrows. With riffs this infectious, it really doesn’t have to. Never fully singing or screaming, vocalist Patrick Kindlon leads the band in a celebration of the more aggressive side of grunge and the moodier side of hardcore. Drummer Chris Villeneuve and bassist Pat Wynne’s moshable grooves, and the almost bluesy leads of guitarists Nick Cogan and Cory Galusha, seamlessly combine no-nonsense mosh parts and alt-rock hooks.

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Alex Winston, “Tourist” — Not all brutality comes from death growls and blast beats. Detroit singer-songwriter Alex Winston has some choice words for an unfortunate scoundrel, and she doesn’t hold back. Break Winston’s heart, and you’re in for a four-minute roast with witty punchlines and catchy melodies to boot. She leaves room for levity in the visual accompaniment of her wandering through Hollywood with a giant slice of pizza. But behind the Disney font lies lyrics that bite. The song’s swaying rhythms and powerful melodies swell passionately over Winston’s unrelenting delivery, making the song as tasteful as it is scathing. It’s hard not to fall in line with the song’s tempo as it becomes a serious condenser for “break up song of the year.”

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Uniform, “Alone in the Dark” — After rattling the industrial metal scene with 2016’s blunderbuss Wake In Fright, New York’s Uniform looks beyond drum machines on its forthcoming album, The Long Walk. Vocalist Michael Birden referenced the slasher flick of the same name while writing “Alone In The Dark,” incorporating the film’s violence into an examination of his own existential turmoil. While more rooted in metallic punk than electronic music, the absolute filth covering every aspect of the song keeps Uniform one foot in industrial music. Birden’s distorted bellows take on a more Henry Rollins-like role as explosive Liturgy drummer Greg Fox allows multi-instrumentalist Ben Greenberg to assume a more traditional rock form. While Aug. 17 may see Uniform leave industrial behind, it hardly means the group has finished its frightening din.

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Sumac, “Attis’ Blade” — Alongside Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook and Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn, Sumac continues Aaron Turner’s push to redefine heavy music. Embodying avant-jazz rogue Cecil Taylor and Japanoise madman Merzbow as much as it does post-metal and progressive metal, “Attis’ Blade” was recorded live by Jeff Feinburg for maximum viscera. This song remains on the verge of complete pandemonium. Awe-inspiring heaviness abounds, but only for those with patience and open ears. Proper navigation reveals the method to every feedback solo and crushing crescendo. The subversive sonics coincide with Turner’s lyrical dissection of shallow lust: “No hope for healing/ Seen by eyes grown dim/ Still he throws himself on clustered thorns/ The lonely throne of he who seeks the paltry arms of pleasure.” His menacing bellows foreshadow how the upcoming album Love in Shadow furthers the struggle of rock to transcend its stereotypes.

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Delta Sleep, “Soleil” — The term “math-rock” doesn’t have the punch it did when American Football entered the picture, but Brighton’s Delta Sleep prove that there’s more to the style than adding a weird time signature to standard indie rock. “Soleil” uses syncopation and unorthodox songwriting to service catchy hooks, not to lazily cover them up. These guys aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. They simply write well and play well. Whether it’s the whimsical lyrics of self-discovery or its culminating jam, the results make too much sense for anyone to ignore. Odd timing flows in and out of straightforward grooves so seamlessly that you might not realize the complications until actually trying to play it.

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Windhand, “Grey Garden” — With doom metal on the rise, it’ll get increasingly difficult for bands to stand out in a sea of copycats. Virginia quartet Windhand has the advantage of taking its style beyond Black Sabbath worship. It’s harmonious juxtaposition of ultra-heavy riffs and witchy melodies by Dorthia Cottrell’s  earthy, yet witchy, delivery. This band encapsulates doom metal’s most oppressive weedian riffs and atmospheric explorations. A celestial psych-rock interlude and a soaring guitar solo from Garrett Morris make for a promising taste of Windhand’s upcoming LP, Eternal Return.

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Max’s Pick: When it’s done right I like to think of challenging music as a maze. Getting through it reveals the forethought put into its construction, while losing one’s way will only frustrate and confuse. It’s a worthy labor when listening to Sumac’s “Attis’ Blade.” In no way can I recommend this to someone with a preexisting interest in extreme music of all kinds, but its hideous glory transcends its incomprehensibility and reaches a sort of beauty. This song takes from the darkest corners of several styles of music, creating an engrossing aberration of jazz, metal and noise music. The fact Sumac manages to encourage a healthy revisiting of love as a primal urge in the midst of this sprawling insanity speaks to Sumac’s artistic intentionality.

Follow editor Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995 and Instagram.com/maxlikessound.

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