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I live in the Seattle area and love searching out new and interesting music.

MAMMÚT – “Sun and Me” / “Fire” 7″ (2020)

MAMMÚT have been part of the Icelandic music scene since 2003. While they haven’t been the most prolific band, with four full-lengths and a handful of singles and EPs to their credit, it seems like they pop up fairly consistently. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve seen them live – I know the first time was at Iceland Airwaves 2010, and I’d guess probably another 3-4 times since then. We most recently caught them at Airwaves last year in the big room that is the Reykjavik Art Museum and they blew the doors off.

Their new album Ride the Fire comes out later this year, and in advance of its release MAMMÚT put out a limited edition (of 300) 7″ featuring the tracks “Sun and Me” and “Fire”. While early MAMMÚT relied heavily on the sheer power of Katrína Mogensen’s vocals, these new tracks are richly layered, less a sonic assault and more a warm embrace. “Sun and Me” is dream rock at its best, textured and undulating, the sound taking up every fraction of a second. That’s offset by the quiet, not-quite-acoustic “Fire”, it’s twangy western-style guitars providing a companion to the almost whispered vocals. The tempo picks up slowly during the second half of the song but the wave never quite breaks, instead just quickly shedding its momentum and coming to a stop.

You can listen to the two songs from the single on Bandcamp HERE, as well as order a copy of the 7″. Or you can go to the band’s website HERE and get both the single and the new album.

Captain Syrup – “Eyraland” Cassette (2019)

Get out your blender and put it on the counter. No, it’s OK, you don’t need to clean it first. A little leftover grime from those margaritas a few months ago is fine. Now put in some ice and some whiskey and some kind of non-carbonated fruit drink. Add some rock, a fistful of funk, and a dash of hardcore, blend and serve. Congrats. You’ve made a big pitcher of Eyraland.

I know, I know. Everyone wants Iceland to give us things like Sigur Rós and The Sugarcubes and Of Monsters and Men. But you know what, sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want. Sometimes it gives you filthy, funk garage rock. And when that happens you put it in the blender with a bunch of booze, get loaded, black out, and try to use your phone like an episode of CSI to piece your night together. Or a trip to the ER to get checked for SDIs.

This kinda-sorta new tape from Captain Syrup is the bomb. Funky and weird and fun and fresh and guaranteed to piss off the neighbors if you crank it up. When you want to have a good time just set your tape player to loop and hit play. Or if you’re not a luddite like me, just bring it up on Spotify, because you can stream it there too. Or better yet, kick the guys a few bucks and buy a digital copy straight from the band HERE and support the future of sleazy funk.

Jelly Bishops – “Kings of Barstool Mountain” (1988)

I scoured the internet looking for information about the Jelly Bishops. And by scoured I mean I went to Discogs and Googled. And I came up with surprisingly little information. Sure, I can tell you that one of the members was Jon Langford of The Mekons, and it appears that the 1988 EP Kings of Barstool Mountain was their only release. Basically the only other thing I could find was a 2012 review of this album posted on, of all places, Amazon, but a guy going by MrJM.

That’s basically it, as near as I can tell. All three members use pseudonyms on the jacket reverse, adding to the air of mystery. And with song titles like “Crushed Armadillo,” “Cannibals of the Highway,” and “Jelly Bishop Dance (Sword of Islam)” you just know it’s going to be weird. Oh, did I mention the picture on the jacket reverse that looks like a butchered pig head (maybe a cow?) with a cross drawn on its forehead? I mean, how could I not buy this?

I’m not sure how to describe Kings of Barstool Mountain. I guess psychobilly as close as I can do, like some mutant hybrid of rockabilly and death rock. I mean, this is some weird stuff. I feel like it’s something I wouldn’t listen to often, but then again, I’ve spun it three times already and just bought it yesterday, so I guess that says it all.

AfterpartyAngel – “Death Presence” 10″ (2020)

Created as part of a digital art exhibition, AfterpartyAngel’s four-song EP Death Presence is dark dream-pop, dripping in synths and otherworldly female vocals. The somber mood and languid singing fit perfectly in 2020, giving it a hint of claustrophobia and a fluidity that makes everything blend together, much like the days and weeks in this COVID nightmare we find ourselves living in. “In Love” manages to break free a bit with some faster tempo, albeit briefly, before giving way to the soulful closer “Sexy Death Presence”.

There’s a bit of info about the record and exhibit HERE. I learned of it because Reykjavik’s Smekkleysa Plötubúð posted about it on Facebook, so I ended up ordering my copy from Iceland because I couldn’t find a Bandcamp page for them… which was due to not realizing that the band’s name was one word and not two. So the good news is you, faithful reader, can go give Death Presence a listen HERE, as well as order one of these red vinyl beauties before all 200 copies are gone.

Nocturnal Emissions – “Viral Shedding” (1983)

Nigel Ayers of Nocturnal Emissions has resisted having the genre “industrial” applied to his work as Nocturnal Emissions (though did on occasion refer to it as “post-industrial”), but that seems to be how the music is generally described. While my only experience with the project so far is Viral Shedding, I get both sides of this. The songs have that strangeness combined with often sterile beats that have come to define industrial, even at times drifting into the more pounding and truly mechanical elements. But at the same time there’s a certain avant garde-ness to it, with elements of dub and dance thrown into the mix. Come to think of it, it feels like a more far out kind of On-U Sounds release (particularly “Suffering Stinks”).

Viral Shedding would be a good starting point for someone beginning to explore industrial and expanding their horizons beyond industrial dance. There’s enough of a thread here to hold onto, the songs maintaining coherence and structure, but with a lot of added flavor and nuance. This feels like the kind of album that would reward repeated and focused listening.