Frank J Fischer – Vocals
Ryan Mahan – Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Programming
Lee Tesche – Guitar, Piano, background vocals
Algiers – (5 / 5)+
A furious and original band worth hearing in 2015, Atlanta’s Algiers have unequivocally made the greatest debut album of the 2015. Mixing the fury of a hundred post-punk bands of the 1980’s with the holy gospel of the south, a new sound is born that goes beyond mere soul music imitations. Algiers are political in scope for sure, chanting about horror’s of the past (“Blood”, “Black Eunuch”) and present (“Old’ Girl”, “In Parallax). An old fashioned, soul-fused approach singer in Franklin J. Fisher makes a huge difference, especially in the gut-wrenching “Claudette” where he sings about a lost love or in “Games”, where an otherwise traditional spiritual is turned into an impassioned soliloquy.
When talking post-punk styles, noise rock always comes up and it is prominent in the beginning of the albums greatest tune “But She Was Not Flying”, a tune soaked in the buzz of guitar feedback where the background vocals that seem to come out of machines are as important as the frontman (who wisely refuses to hog the spotlight and shares it with scary ambience). “Old Girl” is also a song about the dangers of modern society sung in the style of Public Enemy’s “She Watch Channel Zero”. Lastly, the backbeat used on songs range from live to often dated and referential, the prime example being “Irony.Utility.Pretext” which sounds like a 21st century version of M.C Hammer’s “2Ligit2Quit”, but you know in a good way!
Their website cracks me up as well, as it is a montage of artists and music and political ideas they love and aspire to be like. Influences as diverse as Nick Cave, Gun Club, Popul Vuh, Boogie Down Productions, Fugazi, TV on the Radio….the list is never ending. The best thing I could say about Algiers is that this album does indeed live up to the promise of their vast influences, and I am glad someone is using the old touchstones correctly. I see a bright future for this band because every song on their debut record is amazing.
Greatest Tracks: But She Was Flying, Old Girl, In Parallax, And When You Fall
Underside of Power – (5 / 5)
With only their second record, Algiers have established themselves as important as Arcade Fire was for the 00’s for defining the sound of the 2010’s. Their music is rebellious in lyrics and timely in sound, which is the reverse of many great rock bands. There is an arc to the album, and it plays in perfect track list sequence opening with the blistering “Walk Like a Panther” and ending with the thoughtful soul cry of “Cycle / the Spiral”. As a record that creates great singles, “Underside of Power”, “Cry of the Martyrs” and “Cleveland” each have their own take on radical rock music, with the title track especially giving a new breath of fresh air to its radical 1960’s soul / rock hybrid.
In between the singles we have tunes that expand their template such as instrumentals as “Plague Years” and “Bury Me Standing”, both of which work very well at perpetuating the album dark aura but the former is for sure the more dominant track. We also have as the crushing “Death March” that has echoes of the post punk acts of the early 80’s and the punky “Animals” that shows the band has lost nothing in terms of ferocity from the debut record. Ever expanding the band’s sonic pallet, the piano sonata “Mme Reiux” slows things down ever so gracefully that we think we are being taken to church. New drummer Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party, is a amazing addition to the 80’s inspired programmed drum machines and the two play in tandem very well together, but the album has a leaner sound because of Tong’s presence no doubt. Much like the bands amazing 2015 debut, The Underside of Power collides post-punk era angst with 21st century angst, that both recalls the incendiary 1960’s and ignites the future of music.
Greatest Tracks: Underside of Power, Cleveland, Death March, The Cycle / The Spiral