Algiers -- The Underside of Power

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New album announced a few days back, and here's a mere snippet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwxUiEiXpck

So here's the thing:

I was lucky enough to be sent an early advance about a month back. Of course I was very excited to hear it, that's one thing. It's something else to start listening to it and just spend the rest of the time just concentrating ON listening to it, which happens more rarely (for me at least) than you might think.

This is a vivid, immediate and deep album that I needed as a listen given the state of the world right now, and I needed it more than I realized. It would be very glib to call it, say, anti-Trump or anti-Brexit -- it is very much both these things but it's a lot more than that as well, it pulls off the trick of angry structural critique on many levels and thoroughly great, layered and thoughtful music in equal measure, and there are going to be inevitable comparisons to What's Going On and It Takes a Nation of Millions. For once, those will work, though. And Franklin Fisher is absolutely KILLING it vocally throughout.

More on all this later, but right now, my album of the year, because if something's going to be better than this, whoever it is will have to be working damn hard. And I am ridiculously envious of those European audiences that get to see them open for Depeche.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 15:53 (two months ago) Permalink

oh shiiit

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:12 (two months ago) Permalink

Looking forward to this, but the title is very hair metal/Spinal Tap.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:27 (two months ago) Permalink

The title is key to the album, and is not a joke.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:36 (two months ago) Permalink

Oh, I know it's not a joke. It's just funny. Very "The Smell of Fear."

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:43 (two months ago) Permalink

that's a lot of pictures of rappers

blonde redheads have more fun (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:44 (two months ago) Permalink

There's a reason. (Had a chance to read over some notes all four members wrote up for each song -- they are extremely perceptive and focused, I'll add -- and Fisher's own notes on the origin of the lyric are cutting as hell.)

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:54 (two months ago) Permalink

How does it compare to their debut?

MarkoP, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:56 (two months ago) Permalink

Absolutely next level. This is them building on their strengths brilliantly, taking them any number of different directions.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 April 2017 16:59 (two months ago) Permalink

Can't help but think that Matt Tong made the right decision.

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Tuesday, 25 April 2017 18:01 (two months ago) Permalink

um wow

Rachel Luther Queen (DJP), Tuesday, 25 April 2017 18:07 (two months ago) Permalink

Okay I'm ready for this

del esdichado (NickB), Tuesday, 25 April 2017 19:04 (two months ago) Permalink

A new snippet from the title track...

https://twitter.com/AlgiersMusic/status/857254074000998401

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 13:50 (two months ago) Permalink

Plus a quieter moment from elsewhere on the album

https://twitter.com/AlgiersMusic/status/856531455043915776

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 13:51 (two months ago) Permalink

Mental screwup on my part -- that one snippet isn't from the title track, but another song. Carry on.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 13:54 (two months ago) Permalink

YES YES YES!!!

Lennon, Elvis, Hendrix etc (dog latin), Thursday, 27 April 2017 13:54 (two months ago) Permalink

And here we go -- full video for the title track:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGZXzmM1smM

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 14:25 (two months ago) Permalink

Tracklisting:

1. Walk Like A Panther

2. Cry Of The Martyrs

3. The Underside Of Power

4. Death March

5. A Murmur. A Sign.

6. Mme Rieux

7. Cleveland

8. Animals

9. Plague Years

10. A Hymn For An Average Man

11. Bury Me Standing

12. The Cycle/The Spiral: Time to Go Down Slowly

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 14:31 (two months ago) Permalink

And now that they've announced this, you can kinda guess even further why this blew my mind when I got the first advance:

Produced by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Ali Chant, mixed by Randall Dunn (Sunn O)))), with post-production by Ben Greenberg (Hubble, Uniform)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 14:33 (two months ago) Permalink

this song is amazing... like, it's even more Algiers than Algiers. The Northern Soul thing is amplified but it threatens to be drowned under layers and layers of harsh noise. I fricking love it and it's easily better than anything off the first album (which is saying something)

Lennon, Elvis, Hendrix etc (dog latin), Thursday, 27 April 2017 14:43 (two months ago) Permalink

seriously, this has made my day

Lennon, Elvis, Hendrix etc (dog latin), Thursday, 27 April 2017 15:15 (two months ago) Permalink

And believe me, this is just a taste of the album's real range.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 15:49 (two months ago) Permalink

Damn, this song is so good. That bassline, my god...sounds like "Disco Inferno"

passionate plant-based athlete (voodoo chili), Thursday, 27 April 2017 16:56 (two months ago) Permalink

holy shit that song's incredible

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Thursday, 27 April 2017 19:42 (two months ago) Permalink

Nice track.

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Thursday, 27 April 2017 20:00 (two months ago) Permalink

The song is good enough I can easily imagine it becoming a left field hit and me hating everyone walking around listening to Algiers. (If I'm being honest.)

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 27 April 2017 20:21 (two months ago) Permalink

Personally I'd love nothing better than everyone walking around etc.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 27 April 2017 20:34 (two months ago) Permalink

I'd feel very happy for the band.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 27 April 2017 20:50 (two months ago) Permalink

Damn, this song is so good. That bassline, my god...sounds like "Disco Inferno"

― passionate plant-based athlete (voodoo chili)

not sure if you mean the song or the band!

i don't get the notion of resenting the popularity of a band i love. maybe because it's so rare. i'm never going to be like "oh god look at all these bandwagon jumpers listening to the insensible eggs".

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Thursday, 27 April 2017 21:40 (two months ago) Permalink

I don't resent it at all. But I do get tired of hearing stuff sometimes, and when everyone else is listening to the same thing it (selfishly) impairs my own enjoyment. Like, I can't think of the last time I played Phoenix. (sorry Phoenix)

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 27 April 2017 21:50 (two months ago) Permalink

xp the song (hence the quotes), but lol

passionate plant-based athlete (voodoo chili), Thursday, 27 April 2017 21:51 (two months ago) Permalink

Josh, when these guys blow up you can make fun of the song by calling it The Underpants of Power or something

passionate plant-based athlete (voodoo chili), Thursday, 27 April 2017 21:52 (two months ago) Permalink

many options available to you. including continuing to listen to them.

passionate plant-based athlete (voodoo chili), Thursday, 27 April 2017 21:52 (two months ago) Permalink

I don't resent it at all. But I do get tired of hearing stuff sometimes, and when everyone else is listening to the same thing it (selfishly) impairs my own enjoyment. Like, I can't think of the last time I played Phoenix. (sorry Phoenix)

― Josh in Chicago

man i can't remember the last time i listened to phoenix either. i think i will listen to "wolfgang amadeus phoenix" now. (honestly if they hadn't broken through i probably never would have heard them, considering i didn't mess with "buzz" indie during the time period in question.)

i guess i haven't ever really had that experience, of seeing a band where i'm the only person on the block who knows about them, to the point where i think of them as "my" band, starts getting played in chain restaurants as background music. but i also don't have that sense of possessiveness, of thinking of a band as "my" band.

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Thursday, 27 April 2017 22:02 (two months ago) Permalink

That said, there is nothing I like better than a good band that gets the success it deserves (like Spoon, Phoenix, the xx, etc., and hopefully Algiers). It's neat when meritocracy works. Though just a few years when the same five or so albums ended up on the top of so many year end lists, I presume for being good albums, many on ilx mocked them and the publications that praised them, but I suppose that's ilx for you.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 27 April 2017 22:08 (two months ago) Permalink

couple of uk tour dates announced as a warm up to the depeche mode shows:

Jun 06 Patterns / Brighton, United Kingdom
Jun 07 Shacklewell Arms / London, United Kingdom

http://algierstheband.com/

del esdichado (NickB), Friday, 28 April 2017 09:26 (two months ago) Permalink

this song is so so good.. I can't believe...

Lennon, Elvis, Hendrix etc (dog latin), Friday, 28 April 2017 10:57 (two months ago) Permalink

pre ordered the vinyl

Lennon, Elvis, Hendrix etc (dog latin), Friday, 28 April 2017 11:02 (two months ago) Permalink

i don't like this quite as much as Black Eunuch from the debut but this is very promising

ufo, Friday, 28 April 2017 11:31 (two months ago) Permalink

apaprently DM is touring with Warpaint and not Algiers for most of North America :/

a landlocked exclave (mh), Friday, 28 April 2017 13:59 (two months ago) Permalink

i don't get the notion of resenting the popularity of a band i love. maybe because it's so rare. i'm never going to be like "oh god look at all these bandwagon jumpers listening to the insensible eggs".

― increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:40 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I don't resent it at all. But I do get tired of hearing stuff sometimes, and when everyone else is listening to the same thing it (selfishly) impairs my own enjoyment. Like, I can't think of the last time I played Phoenix. (sorry Phoenix)

― Josh in Chicago, Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:50 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

um guys...like i wouldn't really worry too much about having to hear algiers from every passing car this summer

blonde redheads have more fun (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 28 April 2017 14:03 (two months ago) Permalink

nice song. The chorus has a "Get Ready" sound to it.

duped and used by my worst Miss U (President Keyes), Friday, 28 April 2017 14:09 (two months ago) Permalink

apaprently DM is touring with Warpaint and not Algiers for most of North America :/

Yup, that's what I've learned too. Pity, but I can't wait for the standalone tour. (And I like Warpaint so everyone wins.)

Ned Raggett, Friday, 28 April 2017 14:25 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah, no big deal, I was just hopeful

a landlocked exclave (mh), Friday, 28 April 2017 14:27 (two months ago) Permalink

I really like Warpaint but they were a muddled mess when I saw them open for Nick Cave

blonde redheads have more fun (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 28 April 2017 15:00 (two months ago) Permalink

nice series of opening gigs they've got there

a landlocked exclave (mh), Friday, 28 April 2017 15:09 (two months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

this has leaked. holy shit.

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Thursday, 18 May 2017 15:40 (one month ago) Permalink

Well that's highly unfortunate. (I mean, yes, it is great, but c'mon, a month out?)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 18 May 2017 15:50 (one month ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

New single "Cleveland" is out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xDDCxodgIs

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 13 June 2017 14:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

^^^^tune

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Tuesday, 13 June 2017 15:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Keep an eye on this thread Monday.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 16 June 2017 23:26 (one week ago) Permalink

love you ned but you've been following too many trump conspiracy theory twitter accounts :)

Frank Ocean is the Ultimate Solution (rushomancy), Saturday, 17 June 2017 00:59 (one week ago) Permalink

Yeah, not that funny.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 17 June 2017 01:38 (one week ago) Permalink

ned you posted rick wilson, you should expect some good-natured ribbing

anyway I'm looking forward to the NPR stream or whatever

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Saturday, 17 June 2017 01:48 (one week ago) Permalink

*scratches chin idly*

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 17 June 2017 01:50 (one week ago) Permalink

algiers set supporting depeche mode from this week up on dime now

Frank Ocean is the Ultimate Solution (rushomancy), Saturday, 17 June 2017 12:37 (one week ago) Permalink

Anyway, as I said:

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/06/19/533237337/a-band-apart-fractured-fury-algiers

So, I interviewed all four members, as well as Adrian Utley and Ali Chant, Ben Greenberg and Randall Dunn. Three months of intense work at times but I'm sure glad I did it; everyone was a pretty incredible interviewee -- a lot of terrifyingly smart people, in essence -- and this piece could easily have been at least three times as long based on their answers to questions alone.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 19 June 2017 13:02 (one week ago) Permalink

nice one . gonna read this later.

Shat Parp (dog latin), Monday, 19 June 2017 13:49 (one week ago) Permalink

Will definitely read the article later. That second track is a lot weirder/noisier than the first, which I liked better and which reminded me of The Heavy (who I like, so that's not meant as an insult). Ultimately, though, I know myself - this is the kind of thing I admire a lot, but wind up never actually listening to that much.

grawlix (unperson), Monday, 19 June 2017 14:09 (one week ago) Permalink

Fantastic, Ned. Since I tripped across these guys in your tweets I've had a lot of great listening and thinking.

popcorn michael awaits trumptweet (Hunt3r), Monday, 19 June 2017 14:32 (one week ago) Permalink

xpost You might surprise yourself when you hear the whole thing -- but I understand that impulse very well.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 19 June 2017 14:37 (one week ago) Permalink

Great read Ned! Very cool.

This is my album of the year at this point. And while we're talking about it, I wrote about them for CLRVYNT and also found them to be a super interesting bunch of people. Very smart, very interesting perspectives on... everything really.

http://clrvynt.com/elder-interview/

jterich, Monday, 19 June 2017 20:39 (one week ago) Permalink

Ah, sorry, wrong link: http://clrvynt.com/algiers-feature/

jterich, Monday, 19 June 2017 20:40 (one week ago) Permalink

Hey we can talk about Elder too.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 19 June 2017 20:40 (one week ago) Permalink

haha, both great bands!

jterich, Monday, 19 June 2017 20:46 (one week ago) Permalink

i really liked their first album & v hyped to see them live for the second time next month. thanks for the long article ned!

comey did deflategate (daria-g), Tuesday, 20 June 2017 01:04 (one week ago) Permalink

You're welcome! I hadn't realized how exhausted it would all make me but I'm kindly weirdly wiped out today.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 20 June 2017 01:08 (one week ago) Permalink

And now you can all finally hear it and judge for yourselves.

http://smarturl.it/TheUndersideOfPower

Still my album of the year, easy.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 June 2017 13:39 (five days ago) Permalink

This album absolutely rules and I'm definitely looking forward to exploring it further.

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Friday, 23 June 2017 13:44 (five days ago) Permalink

Can't help but think that Matt Tong made the right decision.

― The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Tuesday, April 25, 2017 6:01 PM (one month ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Friday, 23 June 2017 13:47 (five days ago) Permalink

yeah so this is incredible, *perfect* sequencing

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Friday, 23 June 2017 14:56 (five days ago) Permalink

I'm a minute into this and... DAMN

a butt groove but for feet (DJP), Friday, 23 June 2017 15:24 (five days ago) Permalink

this album really harshly reminds me of the fact that so many bands would benefit from having an actual singer

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Friday, 23 June 2017 15:32 (five days ago) Permalink

Ah, got an even better bonus for you -- so when the advances first came out, an incredibly detailed breakdown of all the tracks accompanied it, explaining specific points of inspiration, who wrote what song, what they were thinking of, created by all four bandmembers. (It was a big help for my piece, but also because it essentially answered a lot of my initial questions, and let me pursue other points of discussion.)

Anyway, NPR is now running an edited version of it along with links to all tracks -- this by no means covers everything they discussed but it's a hell of a lot of it.

http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2017/06/23/532904335/algiers-unpacks-its-kaleidscopically-dense-the-underside-of-power-track-by-track

And even more handily, they've included a playlist connecting not only to their own songs but a variety of the performers and songs referenced/sampled:

https://open.spotify.com/user/npr_music/playlist/0ZcfxhLxDzP3PsT0IZZIC9

Go nuts.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 June 2017 15:38 (five days ago) Permalink

haha this is the exact opposite of Vince Staples' "look, just listen to the music and make your own connections to it before you come back to me to ask 'what's it all about, man'" stance

a butt groove but for feet (DJP), Friday, 23 June 2017 15:44 (five days ago) Permalink

it's still not quite connecting with me on the same level as y'all but this is some impressive stuff. closing track is an especial treat (actually that whole run near the end is great)

between this and vince it's been quite the day for new releases

imago, Friday, 23 June 2017 15:48 (five days ago) Permalink

that one really, really industrial one is where dan will lose his shit the most, i predict

imago, Friday, 23 June 2017 15:52 (five days ago) Permalink

I've been waiting for a week when I can really dedicate myself to this, but my early reaction was this is the album TV on the Radio sometimes hinted at but never delivered. But maybe next time I listen I won't think/hear that at all.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 23 June 2017 16:06 (five days ago) Permalink

this album really harshly reminds me of the fact that so many bands would benefit from having an actual singer

I don't think this can be stated enough.

Also, I don't know if a side-effect of my reaction to this band/album should be "fuck off forever, Zeal and Ardor" but it's definitely popped into my head a few times.

a butt groove but for feet (DJP), Friday, 23 June 2017 16:16 (five days ago) Permalink

I'm still quietly amazed that Franklin considers himself -- as he said to me directly! -- much more of a guitarist than a singer. He's definitely not interested in being the perceived frontman/focal point of the group.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 23 June 2017 16:20 (five days ago) Permalink

Pitchfork putting DJ Khaled and Jeff Tweedy in their "new albums to listen to" roundup but not this has me deeply annoyed

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Friday, 23 June 2017 16:36 (five days ago) Permalink

Yeah, I've been wondering if there's any particular reason as to why Pitchfork has basically ignored this album.

MarkoP, Friday, 23 June 2017 16:52 (five days ago) Permalink

this rocks

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, 23 June 2017 17:30 (five days ago) Permalink

Yeah, I've been wondering if there's any particular reason as to why Pitchfork has basically ignored this album.

― MarkoP, Friday, June 23, 2017 11:52 AM (forty-three minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

it seems very "Pitchfork-y"

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 23 June 2017 17:36 (five days ago) Permalink

it's too good and they're scared

black covfefe in bed (voodoo chili), Friday, 23 June 2017 17:48 (five days ago) Permalink

This and Kendrick tied for my favourite LP of 2017 so far.

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Friday, 23 June 2017 18:09 (five days ago) Permalink

Well this is a thing isn't it.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Saturday, 24 June 2017 21:58 (four days ago) Permalink

okay so this album...

Shat Parp (dog latin), Tuesday, 27 June 2017 13:34 (yesterday) Permalink

...yes?

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 27 June 2017 13:38 (yesterday) Permalink

it's very good isn't it? i mean, very VERY good. If Ministry circa Psalm 69 had teamed up with the Four Tops and made a super-intelligent protest album, this would be it. The vinyl I got sent the other day comes with some lovely packaging and a free 7" too.

Shat Parp (dog latin), Tuesday, 27 June 2017 14:43 (yesterday) Permalink

If Ministry circa Psalm 69 sounded even half as good as these guys, I might still be listening to them.

a butt groove but for feet (DJP), Tuesday, 27 June 2017 15:19 (yesterday) Permalink

What he said.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 27 June 2017 15:21 (yesterday) Permalink

his album really harshly reminds me of the fact that so many bands would benefit from having an actual singer

I don't think this can be stated enough.

Also, I don't know if a side-effect of my reaction to this band/album should be "fuck off forever, Zeal and Ardor" but it's definitely popped into my head a few times.

― a butt groove but for feet (DJP), Friday, June 23, 2017 11:16 AM (four days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah he's a great singer

I've been waiting for a week when I can really dedicate myself to this, but my early reaction was this is the album TV on the Radio sometimes hinted at but never delivered. But maybe next time I listen I won't think/hear that at all.

― Josh in Chicago, Friday, June 23, 2017 11:06 AM (four days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

also agree w/this, the Young Liars EP (as corny it is to be "their early EP was the best" lol) had a rawness about it that changed as they went on, or honestly maybe it was just those songs stuck with him in a way a lot of their later stuff didn't (with exceptions)

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 27 June 2017 15:26 (yesterday) Permalink

just read Ned's article and the accompanying breakdown of the different tracks. so refreshing to read a piece that concentrates wholly on the creative process

Shat Parp (dog latin), Tuesday, 27 June 2017 20:45 (yesterday) Permalink

Too kind -- it helped that by listing who all was involved (and since I knew their work to one degree or another) that after I made the initial pitch and it was accepted, I followed up with "I'd really love to talk to everyone who worked on the album too" -- and the editors signed off. After that I was off to the races.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 27 June 2017 20:55 (yesterday) Permalink


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