Rarely does a band’s second album have so much baggage to deal with. In Preoccupation’s new record, “Preoccupations, the group may as well work for check-in at LaGuardia. Preoccupations, formerly named Viet Cong, is a Canadian post-punk outfit comprised of two members of now-defunct group Women. Singer and bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace released two albums as Women, before combining with guitarists Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen—whose previous experience included performing in a Black Sabbath cover band—to form Viet Cong. After low-key public outcry, the band changed its name to avoid further controversy. Despite the lineup iterations and name changes, however, Preoccupations’ modus operandi has largely remained the same: fuzzy and cavernous post-punk clearly aping genre standards such as Joy Division. Their 2015 album “Viet Cong” (how many differently titled eponymous albums can a band have?) was marked by psychedelic synths and chiming guitar work over thunderous drums as Flegel’s throaty and distinctly British-sounding vocals rang from two rooms over. “Preoccupations,” however is a departure from the haze and unrefined nature of “Viet Cong,” with pop synthesizers playing a huge role in the album, often replacing the rich guitar interplay that so often characterizes post punk—a change that brings parts of the album closer to new wave than the punk the band has built its brand on. “Anxiety” opens the album, and initially sounds like old-school Preoccupations, with some kind of guitar effect beginning the song before endless drone and bass pedal back up Flegel’s singing. His singing, however, here seems to have a range of roughly three notes—all of which unfortunately seem to fall below his comfort level, leading the song to be dominated by what sounds like three verses and choruses of vocal fry. A cheap-sounding synth line appears after every chorus, though, diminishing its effect as an intimidating and ominous opener. The next song continues with the synthetic theme, and is led off by either a drum machine or highly altered studio drums before a comparatively clear and unaffected guitar line brings in the body of the song. Flegel’s voice travels into a more comfortable range for this track, and complements the drums in a strong back-and-forth, allowing the guitar to fill the gaps between verse and chorus. The song seamlessly flows into “Zodiac,” which is dominated by Flegel’s snarl over primal, almost snare-less drums. The album is centered around 11-and-a-half-minute opus “Memory,” which features an aimless outro so long that by the end the listener has no memory of a melody existing in the first six minutes of the song. The song starts with a syncopated keyboard line that forms the base of the first three minutes before manipulated drums raise the tempo to almost LCD Soundsystem-esque dance punk. Waves of guitar effects wash over the vocals, obscuring guest vocals from Dan Boeckner, before all sound fades out besides a wash of shimmering guitar rides the last four minutes of the song out. Even with the relative fogginess of “Memory,” “Preoccupations” is, as a whole a much more refined work than “Viet Cong.” “Stimulation” features drums almost crisp enough to sound like a machine, and the guitar is so minimal that almost every word of Flegel’s verses can be heard—a rarity. In album closer “Fever,” guitar is almost an afterthought to the synthesizers that haunt the music of the 1980’s. “Preoccupations” is more conventional and melodic than “Viet Cong,” for sure, yet suffers for it. The band is not original enough in its approach, drawing heavy-handedly from its influences—including Swans, Joy Division—and failing to leave its own impression by the end of the album, something no one could blame the band in its past versions to have done.
Despite its up-and-coming technology, music and art scenes, Durham doesn’t exactly seem like it would be the perfect location for the next Coachella— and it’s not; because this May, the Bull City will be hosting an event even better: Moogfest.
"American Idiot" - what's it about? Who's doing it? How good is it gonna be? let's find out
Damián Pachter did not imagine that he would be forced to flee his homeland and settle in Israel a few days after twitting that Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in his house in Puerto Madero late in the evening of Jan.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will take place this weekend, from April 7th to 10th. Bringing Durham nonfiction cinema its nineteenth year, this year’s Festival will include over 90 films from around the world.
Love is definitely a major theme in our music. So is sunshine. It’s really unintentional in a way, but I think we all really are inspired by life and the world and those themes just come through in our lyrics a lot.
Duke students are aware of all of the changes taking place on Duke’s campus, but they may be less informed about those happening in Durham.
Valentine’s Day has the power to inspire a variety of emotions in people. For some it can be one of the most meaningful and romantic days of the year, while to others it’s simply another opportunity for the capitalist system to take people’s money.
The Carolina Theatre will host the Nevermore Film Festival this Valentine’s Day weekend—forgoing mushy romance films for something a bit more macabre.
“It’s been very interesting to try to figure out how to develop this style,” Sipp said. “We’ve been in the process of developing a style that we can’t watch anybody else around here do.”