N0V3L – Falling In Line

I’m going to continuously post about these guys. The recent album NON-FICTION from N0V3L is a thoughtful, angular, and pointed critique. In hearing the full set, there is something wonderfully clinical in its approach. Bryce Cloghesy‘s production is clean and crisp, but with a detached ghostly edge that thoroughly aligns with vocalist/guitarist Jon Varley’s deadpan post-capitalist observations.

The new single “Falling In Line” continues their incisive dissection of the right now via a 40 year old post punk lens.

N0V3L – Group Disease

Sprung forth from Vancouver’s exhilarating Crack Cloud media collective, N0V3L‘s 2019 self-titled full-length debut established them as a savvy and stoic counterpoint to Crack Cloud’s more bombastic tendencies. Both pull from the same fabric of post punk sounds, but N0V3L lean more heavily into the domain of clean guitars, stark production, interlocking patterns, and introspective detached philosophical sketches that give nod to both Eno/Byrne and early Cure. This new single, Group Disease, seems to double down on the Seventeen Seconds-era Cure vibes. It’s totally welcome.

Their new album Non-Fiction will be available May 28 (Meat Machine) and is produced by Crack Cloud’s Bryce Cloghesy, A.K.A. Military Genius.

2020 Favorites – Songs

33 of my favorite songs from 2020, hand-mixed in an unranked fashion.

Are these the best songs from 2020? Likely not, but personally these are the tracks that most captured a mood, a time, a production tactic, or a hook that I couldn’t shake for days. In what was an undoubtedly miserable year, there was an abundance of quality music.

Cate Le Bon & Group Listening (feat. Ed Dowie) – Magnificent Gestures

Cate Le Bon is likely one of the most daring and singular art-rock-pop musicians from the past decade. From 2009’s freak folk Me Oh My through to last year’s epic Reward, her sound has been centered around an increasing clash between dissonant angular forces and killer melodies. An absolute master of the super-treble-attack guitar shred, she has consistently delivered hypnotic live shows that have made her a favorite to see live in The Time Before Covid.

Earlier this year she released an E.P. that radically deconstructs a handful of tracks from her Reward album in conjunction with ambient duo Group Listening. The results are drastic in their difference from the source material, rebuilding each arrangement entirely from scratch and two containing new vocals from UK vocalist Ed Dowie. It’s a bold and creative affair. My favorite take is the new spin on the track “Magnificent Gestures.” The original version (embedded below) is a herky-jerky stomper, while the new creation (linked above) shifts the beat and melodic sequence into a four-on-the-floor crazy-man carnival loop. There’s no singing from Le Bon on this new release, but Dowie’s deadpan reinterpretations provide a relaxed vibe that differ from Cate’s siren skronk calls. The collaboration on display here – as also shown on last year’s tag team with Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox – is inspiring in her willingness to hand control over to others to interpret the material as their own, yet still providing her producer’s hat to keep the boundaries within her sensibilities.

Both tracks are the definition of incessant, but in the best of ways.