Weekly Recs is a column where our writers, editors, and other creative types tell you what they’ve been loving this week, and why you should be loving it too!
Electric Eternity-Dangerous Muse (Album, 2017)
The New York-based electro-pop band Dangerous Muse was originally formed primarily by Mike Furey and Tom Napack. The duo caught some attention between 2005 and 2006 with the EPs The Rejection and Give Me Danger, both of which featured strong arrangements that fit just right with Furey’s mellow vocals. The sound was appropriate for a pre-Lady Gaga era and continues to stand out today.
Fans have been rumoring their debut album for many years, especially after the release of the single “I Want It All”. Although Napack left the duo to pursue another project, the name Dangerous Muse was far from dead with Furey in the lead. As Dangerous Muse, he released the EP Red in 2012, a five-track collection that further enhanced the band’s tone. And then what? It’s been years since Give Me Danger and the only relevant news we had was the bizarre music video for “Fame Kills” in 2014. Despite the lack of mainstream attention, Furey was far from done with the project.
Then came February 2017, and the surprise digital release of Electric Eternity, Dangerous Muse’s official 17-track debut album. Counting with most of the band’s rumored songs such as “Take Control”, “Friends To Love”, and” Too Much To Ask”, Electric Eternity keeps up with Red‘s overall tone and improves a few arrangements while staying true to some demo versions. It might not be a revolutionary LP and yet it stands out thanks to its grounded melodies, bold instrumentals, and Mike Furey’s mesmerizing voice. Unfortunately, the catchy “I Want It All” and the entirety of the Give Me Danger EP aren’t part of the package, but that’s understandable given the musical maturity of tracks such as “Forget”, “Mr. Strangelove”, and “Homewrecker”. (Gabriel Cavalcanti)
Electric Eternity is available on most online storefronts (including Google Play) and streaming services such as Spotify.
Swan Song-Robert McCammon (Novel/Audiobook, 1987/2011)
At this point post-apocalyptic stories have nearly become they’re own sub-genre, and it isn’t terribly difficult to ascertain why. With the huge amount of possibilities to draw from when crafting a post-civilization world, including zombies (The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later) vampires (I Am Legend), plagues (The Stand, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and nuclear holocausts (Fallout 3, The Road) just to name a few.
Though Robert McCammon’s novel may draw a lot of inspiration from Stephen King’s towering achievement, The Stand, it finds itself instead falling firmly into the nuclear holocaust category. While the story shares similar elements to The Stand, like a group of chosen ones who survive the apocalypse and go on long journeys to meet one another, and a stalking supernatural stranger who seems intent on keeping the horror going as long as possible, Swan Song does enough to differentiate itself that it never feels like it’s aping The Stand directly.
It’s central strength lies in its horrifyingly vivid depiction of what a nuclear holocaust would actually be like. In this world nearly every character that survives wishes they were dead at least once. However, as characters like a small circuit wrestler, a mentally ill bag lady, and a little girl with a special skill for making things grow, begin to band together, small specks of hope make themselves apparent, even as another force is building itself up for one final war in the waste lands of humanity.
In sub-genre that is far too crowded today, Robert McCammon’s novel stands among the best post-apocalyptic stories ever put to paper. Having both read the book and listened to the audio book, I can heartily recommend both. (Mike Worby)
Swan Song is available at book stores like Chapters, on Amazon in its physical format, and on Audible in its audio book format.
Crimson Cord-Propaganda (Album, 2014)
I’ve listened to a lot of Christian hip-hop/rap in the last few years, and I’ve observed the genre’s maturation from the obscurity of the early 2000s to the multifaceted, gritty albums of the 2010s. No album quite demonstrates this dramatic shift more than Propaganda’s Crimson Cord, an iconic, redefining piece of art that has made me reconsider what I consider quality Christian rap and quality social commentary.
Propaganda discusses race ingeniously. While other artists (both Christian and secular) have never had an issue discussing the difficulties of life in America’s myriad of ghettos, Propaganda doesn’t pull any punches. Discussions of broken society, broken people, and a broken sense of true religion fill out his album. Propaganda’s picture of Christianity is one devoid of centuries of racial, economic, and societal divisions, a Faith made up of equally broken people, made whole not through stale doctrine, but through faith.
He deftly avoids the oversimplification that has come to define modern racial dialogue, careful to articulate the problem without resorting to stereotypes. His song, “Three Cord Bond,” is emblematic of this very approach. In it, he empathizes with the racial struggles of African-Americans and Hispanics, but also the struggle of modern Caucasian society to deal with the horrors caused by their forefathers, an interesting approach to a radioactive topic.
Propaganda’s points strike home, a refreshingly honest take in an environment too often tainted by talking heads and talking points. He doesn’t take sides, but explains things simply and refuses to let an increasingly toxic debate determine the blame for racism, a plague that he views as a societal issue. In that way, he is a breath of fresh air, his poetry a symbol of the mature discourse needed to tackle tough issues such as race and poverty.
If you’re a fan of rap, whether Christian or not, you owe it to yourself to give Propaganda’s Crimson Cord a listen. It’s maturity in dealing with topics as sensitive as race and religion proves refreshing. This is a welcome break from the Smackdown-esque posturing of modern debate on both sides of the issue. (Izsak Barnette)
Crimson Cord is available on Spotify, iTunes and Google Play.
Into the Ether by John Cal McCormick (Playlist)
The ’80s was a decade of excess. Hair metal, synthpop, and the new romantic movement were all as much about image as they were about the tunes that the bands were playing, in a lot of cases. Naturally, as is always the case with new trends in music, musicians began to rebel against the flamboyance, face paint, and pyrotechnics, and we wound up with more grounded, misanthropic, and real music as the next big thing. While Nirvana were America’s proverbial middle finger to the previous decade, over in Britain we had a different thing going on that wasn’t anywhere near as popular as grunge was, but arguably produced more quality albums over a relatively short time.
Shoegaze is my favourite name for any genre of music because it’s simultaneously an apt description of the on-stage performance of most of the bands that fall into the category, and an insult directed at them. In the late ’80s and early ’90s a bunch of indie rock bands began experimenting with feedback and noise while retaining some of their pop-sensibilities. Since messing around with feedback pedals required an awful lot of looking down, the bands performing on stage would often appear to be gazing at their shoes, coming across entirely disinterested and lethargic in stark contrast to so the bombastic gigs that a lot of people were used to, and thus, shoegaze was born.
Shoegaze features walls of noise – the musical instruments, and sometimes vocals, blend together until they’re indistinguishable from each other – combined with catchy tunes that are easy to hum along to. This is a playlist of some of my favourite shoegaze tunes from the late ’80s and early ’90s, as well as some more recent ones paying homage to a sound of the past. My personal pick of the bunch is ‘When The Sun Hits’ by the legendary Slowdive, which is easily one of my favourite songs of all time. (John Cal McCormick)