Dig Your Jncos Out From the Basement and Give the New Narrow Head Album a Listen
Also, introducing 5-9's Album of the Month podcast!
Music keeps me pretty busy between Check This Out! and running an indie label. I can never get enough, though, which is why when I was asked if I’d be interested in joining a podcast discussing, you guessed it, music, it was an easy “yes!”
Album of the Month is a new podcast from 5-9, started by Andrew Belt. When he asked if I was interested in joining fellow music writers Karl Blakesley of New Music Weekly UK and Matt McLister of Blinded By the Floodlights, I knew it would be a great way to get to know these guys better and try a new medium - with members in Reading, Nottingham, Glasgow, and Santa Fe, we cover some ground. Plus, who doesn’t have a podcast these days?
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Each month we’ll be listening to five records chosen by our panel members, plus a toss-up vote for the final album in which listeners can select their choice. After McLister’s introductions for each album, we play a song from the record and talk about what we all think about it - with a final vote each for our favorite album, and we’ll select the Album of the Month.
January's episode has already kicked things off, where we cover a few of my favorites you’ve read about here, like patchnotes and Billy Nomates. Others I am indifferent about, like The Murder Capital’s latest, and I still have no interest in visiting d-wave aughts indie with We Are Scientists and Circa Waves.I’m excited about this as I generally try to keep things positive in the newsletter and recommend music I love, but this is already making me listen to things that I would have skipped over otherwise. It’s also a chance to test whether your most-anticipated records are as good as you hope.
You can listen to the full episode here:
With February’s upcoming episode, we’ll review Young Fathers, Paramore, Nile Marr, Caroline Polachek, and Shame - you can vote for the fifth record here.
Thanks for listening!
Listen on Apple Music 🎧
This past Friday was the first of the year to include a bunch of new stuff I was looking forward to. Despite this, I spent the entire weekend listening to one I wasn’t even looking for - Moments of Clarity, the newest offering from Narrow Head. It’s the third record for the Houston-based shoegaze/alternative/post-hardcore/enough-with-genre-labels outfit and the first in quite a while to really slap me with some damn good chugging detuned guitars.
Let’s get the comparisons out of the way: yes, the massive churning riffs could be pulled straight from older selections in the Deftones catalog. The trio of guitar players in singer Jacob Duarte, Will Menjivar, and touring member turned full-timer Kora Puckett provides a lush wash of six-string perfection, whether melodic turns under layers of Siamese Dream-esque Big Muff pedals or pushing dangerously close to nu-metal adoration.There’s also a lot of pre-Deftones stuff going on here, and with each listen, I keep hearing more along the lines of Sunny Day Real Estate and Hum, with the opener "The Real" kicking the album off with an homage to the latter band's biggest "hit" in their 1995 college radio classic, "Stars."
What Narrow Head accomplishes here goes far beyond comparisons to those that have come before, though. Moments of Clarity comes from a time of significant loss in Duarte’s life, and Narrow Head is determined to shred its way out of it. Their gift lies in that elusive space where much of Moments of Clarity is downright heavy. Still, the pop-sense melodies on early songs like the title track and “Sunday” would slot in comfortably on any nineties alternative station. This is partially thanks to co-producer Sonny DiPerri, who has worked as a producer and engineer with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, DIIV, and My Blood Valentine, who Duarte says pushed them past the heaviness into writing legit pop songs. DiPerri’s effort also pays off sonically, as this is the lushest record from Narrow Head so far.
While still managing to sound fresh, Narrow Head’s Moments of Clarity will have you digging your Jncos out of the basement to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Oh, and “Breakup Song” is more emo than anything found on that new Paramore album.
Moments of Clarity is available on Run For Cover Records.
My notes for Circa Waves Never Going Under include this nugget: “Why are artists worried about AI when everything on this record sounds as if I entered old Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, and The Wombats into a prompt and this is what the computer wrote?” I did not like this album.
Deftones are the only nu-metal band I will endlessly defend. Let me know any others from that scene that are nine albums into a career where each is almost always better than the last.
Much of this record, like “Trepanation,” also reminds me of My Vitriol, a one-album wonder I was obsessed with in high school. If you’ve never heard “Always: Your Way” or the Finelines album, get on it.
I missed Narrow Head the first time around, but am really digging this record. “Caroline” made this week’s heavy rotation/playlist.
Also: looking forward to hearing 5-9!
I missed them as well and took a quick trip back to some of their earlier stuff and think this new one is still where it’s at.
And thanks for listening! First ep is kinda long with the intros but I think we’ll have it tightened up a bit next month.