|Freshkills – Raise Up The Sheets (2012)|
Freshkills – Raise Up The Sheets
Location: Brooklyn, New York City, USA
Album release: March 13 (UK), March 14 (US), 2012
Record Label: The End Records
01. Raise Up The Sheets 3:38
02. Why Are You So Unforgiving? 3:26
03. The Child We Almost Had 4:09
04. Frankie And Johnny 3:31
05. Positive Vibes 3:31
06. The Wolves That Raised You 3:20
07. Hotels 3:23
08. Bigger Man 4:20
09. Try To Be Kind 2:58
10. New Folksongs For New Buildings 6:04
Description: Freshkills is a Brooklyn-based five piece as poisoned and poisonous as the famed landfill from which they take their name. No, they didn’t form a couple months ago, following their glo-fi dreams from Ohio to Bushwick. They’ve slung bitter, prickling riffs, sinewy grooves and basement punk poetics since the rebirth of Lower East Side rock and the critically-endorsed coronation of Julian, Carlos and Karen O.
Freshkills’ first self-released EP Here For the Backlash was a sharp stick in the eye for snarkier-than-thou internet hype mongers. The band built a tight local following on the backs of two LPs (2006’s Creeps and Lovers produced with Joel Hamilton, 2008’s Freshkills with Alex Newport) and a notorious live show reminiscent of when rock ’n’ roll was the most confrontational art form around. Singer Zachary Lipez doesn’t carve his arms with broken bottles of Bud or assault the audience with his mic stand. He breaks down that fourth wall psychologically, whether it means stopping dead in his tracks and staring down the front row, or shouting out friends and foes by name.
For their latest offering, Raise Up The Sheets, Freshkills tapped ‘elegant degenerate’ Jim Sclavunos, the No Wave icon who performed with Sonic Youth, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and the Cramps before hopping behind the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ drum kit. Sclavunos: “Freshkills inhabit a dark but thrilling underworld in which relentless machine-like rhythmic intensity hammers ear-anvils at the bidding of wryly louche after-hours philosophy. They’re the visceral embodiment of power and poetry.”
Raise Up The Sheets attacks on every front like a pandemic. The songs are prettier, darker, more concise and more expansive. Lipez is wounded and acerbic, the rhythm section both tight and monstrous with military precision and vulgar swing, the twin guitars frantic, chaotic and dangerous as a sharpened screwdriver. The whole band sounds like they’ve been cornered and will have to fight their way out. It’s anyone’s guess who will win, but either way, it’ll be worth watching.
Freshkills has toured the US and UK, sharing the stage with acts like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleigh Bells, TV On The Radio, …Trail of Dead and Mission of Burma. Raise Up The Sheets attacks on every front like a pandemic. The songs are prettier, darker, more concise and more expansive. Lipez is wounded and acerbic, the rhythm section both tight and monstrous with military precision and vulgar swing, the twin guitars frantic, chaotic and dangerous as a sharpened screwdriver. The whole band sounds like they’ve been cornered and will have to fight their way out. It’s anyone’s guess who will win, but either way, it’ll be worth watching.
Produced by Jim Sclavunos
Engineered by Andrew Schneider at Translator Audio in Brooklyn
“Taking its name from the vast old landfill in Staten Island, Freshkills, appropriately enough, injects a degree of trash rock into its post-punk hybrid. The band’s painstakingly constructed hooks put them at the top of the heap.”
— The New Yorker
“I love this band because they remind me of the way I thought of New York before I lived here. It’s hard-hitting and infectious, but the frantic desperation is always palpable. It’s dark in that way.”
— Vice Magazine
“Cool and crass, detached and desperate, dissonant and darkly sarcastic, the quintet specializes in a sound alternately slashing, hypnotic, urgent and controlled. They deliver both live and on vinyl (yes, vinyl), all without the benefit of anything resembling a guitar solo or a vocal harmony. They also have one of the best drummers in the business.”
— The Deli
By Cole Waterman 27 March 2012
With the Freshkills, darkness isn’t something to wallow in, but a state worth reveling over. After all, why be mopey when you could be celebrating? Isn’t nihilism more interesting, and thereby more liberating? Embracing the dark and transcending the light is something The Freshkills exemplify with aplomb in their third LP, Raise Up the Sheets. Hell, the group directly acknowledges such an approach with the record’s opening lyrics, “Step into the light / Come out on the other side,” an asson-rattling voodoo romp carrying the message forward.
It’s fitting that the Brooklyn quintet is named after a Staten Island landfill, as the ambiance set by green flames burning up methane emissions seeps through the stereo. They’re truly ingrained in the muck, carrying on the tradition of New York sleaze and grime typified by the Velvet Underground, Television, and Richard Hell & the Voidoids. The stamp of the Birthday Party’s frenzy is all over the new record, albeit reined in to a more palatable form. Come to think of it, maybe a New York-styled Gun Club is a more appropriate description. It’s surely no coincidence that leader singer Zachary Lipez’s distinctive voice is a pitch-perfect synergy of Nick Cave’s feral croon and Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s barbaric yawp.
Lipez’s lyrics are defined by witticisms and self-deprecating turns-of-phrase. On the surface, there’s the standard woe-is-me, but it’s delivered with tongue firmly in-cheek; it’s clear Lipez is enjoying himself through the gloom (“Let’s not pretend / That death’s the worst of all our options / Is it? / No!,” he hollers dementedly on “The Bigger Man”). His approach almost comes off as a commentary on the dour motifs innate to so much of the post-punk subgenre. Nowhere is the band more self-conscious than on lead single (and poppiest number) “Positive Vibes”, equal parts gothic love song and a snarky renunciation of such conventions. “I don’t want to have fun / I had fun before / I want to lie in the dark all day / With you,” Lipez sings in the ridiculously catchy chorus, Mishka Shubaly’s throbbing bass pulsating beneath the vocals. And there’s scarcely a more cocksure come-on this side of Greg Dulli than “If I’m gonna go to hell / I’ll take the entrance through your thighs.”
Musically, the album features quite a variety of textures, though they all seem conjured from some nocturnal netherworld. The interplay between guitarists Tim Murray and Jonny Rauberts is a feat to behold, ranging from jangly (“Frankie & Johnny”) to a staccato menace (“New Folksongs for New Buildings”). “The Wolves That Raised You” flows with urgency, evoking the yellow streetlight glow of a midnight drive. Drummer Jim Paradise shines on “Hotels”, alternating from a subtle rhythm in the verses to hammering with wild abandon in the chorus as Lipez sings of the solace afforded by fleeting companionship in the face of nothingness (“There is no future / No resolution / Until there is / Baby, I’m your man”). The aforementioned “The Bigger Man” is an anxious ditty, sounding like the interior soundtrack of a madman’s psyche, somehow merging discord with melody.
About the only shortcoming of the record is that at times it sounds a bit too ‘80s, the homage bordering on derivative at times. Sounding like an anachronism can have its charm, and that is the case for most of Raise up the Sheets, but the effect can and does wear thin over prolonged duration. This aspect is probably simultaneously to the credit and blame of producer Jim Sclavunos, indie rock royalty as a drummer for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Grinderman, the Cramps, Sonic Youth, and others. This one flaw is hardly insurmountable, though. With a little ironing out of the cosmetic kinks, there’s no reason the Freshkills won’t proceed to deliver on the promise of inheriting their influences’ mantel. Rating:
|Freshkills – Raise Up The Sheets (2012)|