New releases from The Melvins, Swans and case/lang/veirs 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge The Melvins
  • The Melvins

The Melvins

Basses Loaded

Ipecac Recordings

File next to: The Sword, Black Sabbath, Sunn O)))

Although loosely — and really only geographically — associated with the Pacific Northwest grunge scene, The Melvins have long stood apart from Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the like. For a while now they've played live gigs with two drummers, but in reality that has been all about locking in the sonic bottom end. So building Basses Loaded around the insistent throb of the bass guitar is in keeping with their aesthetic. The punning title refers not only to the four-string instrument, but also to the appearance of every Melvins bassist — past and present — on this delightfully thudding record. A left-field Beatles cover ("I Want to Tell You") is a highlight, and borders on being a piece of ear candy. The disc ends with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," a playful poke in the eye to listeners. — Bill Kopp

click to enlarge case/lang/veirs
  • case/lang/veirs



Anti- Records

File next to: New Pornographers, Margo Price

It was k.d. lang who took the initiative to bring together her studio friends Neko Case and Colorado Springs native Laura Veirs for a pop trio that's spent two years crafting this supergroup album. Of the three, Veirs has kept the lowest profile of late, so it's encouraging that her contributions, including "Best Kept Secret" and "Georgia Stars," are among the album's strongest. Nevertheless, the contributions of both Lang and Case are among those writers' best work. Meanwhile, Veirs' husband Tucker Martine provides exceptional production values, and musicians such as Wilco veteran Glenn Kotche and classical composer Rob Burger make everything shimmer. This is not a circulating round of personal showcases among three divas. All 14 tracks are highly integrated pop gems that make the listener hope the project is not a one-off. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Swans
  • Swans


The Glowing Man

Young God Records

File next to: Coil, Sonic Youth, Xiu Xiu

This final studio release from the current incarnation of Swans maintains their lush and majestic style, but with more folkie overtones. Like all recent Swans releases, The Glowing Man is a double-disc suite with several songs weighing in at more than 10 minutes. But unlike recent star-studded albums, the only guests here are cellist Okkyung Lee and banjo/mandolin player "The" Gerald Jones. There's also no attempt to echo the near-metal howls of bandleader Michael Gira's earliest work. Instead, he opts for acoustic and orchestral mixes that recall the Swans' 1988-92 period, when chanteuse Jarboe was still in the group. For a band gestated in dark corners of the NYC underground, subdued tracks such as "People Like Us" and "Finally, Peace," make for an odd evolution as well as a worthy last will and testament. — Loring Wirbel


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