Normally, I’m a big fan of music without lyrics or much adornment for coding, but for the past few months, there have been a few albums in my rotation that are pretty heavy on the lyrics and complications. This edition has four guitar heavy albums, and three with way more singing than usual.
Antemasque is a newish project from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, from Mars Volta and At the Drive-In fame. While Mars Volta have long been a favorite for coding, thanks to the free form jazz and overall chaotic energy, Antemasque is significantly more straight ahead progressive rock. Busy guitars, with only a light coat of fuzz, push forward and provide a sonic landscape you can lose yourself in. Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s vocals are elegantly mixed in, riding right alongside the guitars. Most of album has a quick, steady drive, with only a quick slowdown for “Drown All Your Witches” and “Providence”.
I found this album through Crave Online’s Best Albums of 2014. I’m a huge sucker for a band with a big sound and a strong female front, having spent a lot of time listening to the Joy Formidable after seeing them at SXSW years ago. Ume (pronounced ooh-may) is usually a bit more of what I’m looking for, tempowise, in coding music. Most songs are a laid back andante, moved along by thrumming bass. What I like most is Lauren Larson’s silky, gently echoing voice over shiny, just shy of screeching guitar licks.
Gangs, And So I Watch You from Afar
As creepy as this band’s name is, they are anything but. Their more recent album, All Hail Bright Futures, was contagiously happy and comforting, but that’s for another post. Gangs, on the other hand, is certainly non-threatening, but has a big enough punch to kick your ass even through Apple earbuds. Both albums were instrumental, and as such have been a big part of my Spotify rotation. The standout track for me is “Search:Party:Animal”, with a desperate, machine guitar riff driving away, punctuated by mountainous bass guitar hits. Interwoven throughout are quiet, but perturbed bass interludes that eventually culminate in the band coming together for builds that drop into high jitter. The whole thing ends in a midrange modulation turned into a samba-esque power chord riff with an abrupt but tasty ending. The rest of the album presents the same mountainous walls of guitar distortion.
Gemini, Her Majesty, RX Bandits
The RX Bandits were a favorite of mine a few years ago, and Gemini, Her Majesty is their first record in five years. Again, big thanks to Crave Online for uncovering this one. What I like here is the relaxed, smooth, yet exuberant crooning over bright SoCal guitar riffs. There’s lots of forward movement, as most of the album has a quick pace, driving at times, but powerful riffs where the whole band hits together.