Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Album of the Week - Wax Idols' "Discipline & Desire"

Wow, so this feature is only in its second week, and I'm already throwing its "conventions" out the window. But who cares, when there's so many good albums to cover, and not enough words for me to summarize them... <rhetorical question>

It's funny to think of the term, "punk rock" in 2013... it's not to say we don't have anything to be pissed off about; the foundation of punk rock is/was an idealistic anti-establishment mindset, and making music to coincide with it. But in 2013, genres have faded and blurred, and the most brilliant groups and musicians work their way around them; not to mention the fact that every major label has about 16 sister labels that feature indie bands, making it nearly impossible for any band to make money while standing up against "the establishment."

What does this have to do with Wax Idols?

All of this adds up and eludes to my point: the Wax Idols are representatives of the "new punk" and represent it respectfully by utilizing elements of old punk rock while highlighting some invigorating new ones. Sure, the fuzzy lo-fi sound has been cooked and prodded at so much it's basically a chewy, over-dried piece of meat that gets fed to the dog under the table. But Wax Idols take this sound to new levels, aggressively putting a mindset behind it, and creating an album that is haunting while balancing atmosphere and melody to move past simple hooks and awaken a beastly tonality that is far more new wave than their previous effort.

Led by Hether Fortune, Wax Idols hail from Oakland, and have a completely contrasting sound to their surf punk counterparts based out of neighboring areas; focusing instead on dark, heavy, and intense musical elements while incorporating slightly pop elements, to give the songs the ability to get stuck in your head for days. But this isn't to say the band isn't without a sense of humor, the group's Tumblr page (curated by Fortune) features a plethora of Billy Idol and 80s punk throwbacks, and the group's Facebook page features video and review links, my favorite being to lead single "When It Happens" with the caption "Who the fuck watched this video 48,000+ times already?! MOM?"

Discipline & Desire, as an album, is incredibly sleek and powerful, hitting you with enough edge to make you feel like punching something when listening. Tracks like "Dethrone" "When It Happens" "Ad Re:Ian" and "Sound of a Void" all stand out as well-constructed performed songs, but I find it hard to name a disappointing track on the album. And not only has the band put out an amazingly well-produced album, but lyrically, Fortune is at the top of her game.

All of this melds in to an album that is on the short list of "Must Listens" for 2013 thus far. Discipline & Desire is dark and gritty, while still being invigorating to those who still have a little bit (or a lot) of punk left in their hearts. Groups like Wax Idols, Parquet Courts, and Iceage are on the forefront of a wave of punk music that will redefine what we know the "genre" to be.

Purchase Discipline & Desire here

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