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 (three months ago) Permalink

oh shiiit

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

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

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

How does it compare to their debut?

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

um wow

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

Okay I'm ready for this

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

A new snippet from the title track...

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

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

YES YES YES!!!

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

seriously, this has made my day

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

holy shit that song's incredible

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

Nice track.

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

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

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

I'd feel very happy for the band.

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

xp the song (hence the quotes), but lol

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

pre ordered the vinyl

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

Yeah, no big deal, I was just hopeful

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

nice series of opening gigs they've got there

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

two weeks pass...

this has leaked. holy shit.

Cyborg Kickboxer (rushomancy), Thursday, 18 May 2017 15:40 (three months 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 (three months 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 months ago) Permalink

^^^^tune

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

this rocks

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, 23 June 2017 17:30 (two months 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 (two months ago) Permalink

it's too good and they're scared

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

Well this is a thing isn't it.

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

okay so this album...

Shat Parp (dog latin), Tuesday, 27 June 2017 13:34 (one month ago) Permalink

...yes?

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 27 June 2017 13:38 (one month ago) 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 (one month ago) 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 (one month ago) Permalink

What he said.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 27 June 2017 15:21 (one month ago) 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 (one month ago) 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 (one month ago) 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 (one month ago) Permalink

I fucking adore that NPR article, great job. I put off reading it until I familiarised myself with the album a bit, because I didn’t want to have any preconceived expectations before listening. But boy, this piece (and the track-by-track analysis) really does give another dimension to this already complex record. Especially for a person like me—English is not my first language, so it really helped me catch some nuances/references in the lyrics. Thanks.

mthrn, Thursday, 29 June 2017 11:14 (one month ago) Permalink

You're most welcome. Complex is the word, but it's definitely a very immediate release too -- it's an obvious comparison point (so obvious I didn't bring it up in the article in the end, though I batted it back and forth) but in terms of ambition and layering and hooks all at once, there's more than a hint of PE/Bomb Squad circa It Takes a Nation of Millions (not to mention in terms of documenting the wider context of its creation). It's also obviously not the only album since then that's taken that as a cue, but it's a hell of a strong example.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 June 2017 12:59 (one month ago) Permalink

Credit to that (one of those) piece(s) that referenced this, which I had never heard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frKJee1zwS0

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 29 June 2017 13:18 (one month ago) Permalink

This is immense.

Matt DC, Thursday, 29 June 2017 13:41 (one month ago) Permalink

It's a big step up from the debut

imago, Thursday, 29 June 2017 13:56 (one month ago) Permalink

Hymn for an Average Man feels like Portishead's ideal next direction

imago, Thursday, 29 June 2017 16:07 (one month ago) Permalink

Good interview in the Quietus

http://thequietus.com/articles/22709-algiers-interview-the-underside-of-power

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 June 2017 16:22 (one month ago) Permalink

the chorus to the title track is just so ludicrously good

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 29 June 2017 19:12 (one month ago) Permalink

this on amazon + depeche mode 2cd deluxe edition of spirit = £20.97.

i.e. 97p over the free postage requirement.

seems like a rather good deal to me.

i have suspect this band were always going to win me over.

mark e, Thursday, 29 June 2017 19:17 (one month ago) Permalink

I went to check out the LP in a Toronto record shop and it was $34.99 :/

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Thursday, 29 June 2017 19:20 (one month ago) Permalink

ok, a few tracks in ..
this is what the second age of chance album should have been like.

mark e, Friday, 30 June 2017 09:15 (one month ago) Permalink

ok wtffffff pitchfork

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Saturday, 1 July 2017 06:26 (one month ago) Permalink

imo this is their dumbest pan since....idek when?

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Saturday, 1 July 2017 06:35 (one month ago) Permalink

this sounds like the black keys or something... who knew the combined forces of bloc party and portishead could fail to excite...

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Saturday, 1 July 2017 07:16 (one month ago) Permalink

I like it. Title track particularly.

michaellambert, Saturday, 1 July 2017 11:13 (one month ago) Permalink

Weird missing the point apex of the (tbf not really a pan) review: "Algiers have produced a record that is timely and necessary but also scatterbrained and messy."

Well, yeah.

Just the list of proper names and other references in the review underscores the album's achievements: Black Panthers and Fred Hampton, Che Guevara, Camus’ The Plague, T.S. Eliot, Italian zombie exploitation flicks and horror film disco, PiL, Michael Stipe, Walter Benjamin, Jamaican soul, Dominick Fernow’s Vatican Shadow, Geto Boys, Afrika Bambaataa, grime, footwork, Portishead, Wendy Carlos, Donny Hathaway, the Shangri-Las, Delia Derbyshire, Bad Brains, the Clash, Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, Fishbone, Dicks. That's one heck of a RIYL.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 1 July 2017 14:54 (one month ago) Permalink

this sounds like the black keys or something

What in the absolute hell

I think it's fair to call that a pan. There's no unqualified praise for even a single track.

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Saturday, 1 July 2017 15:02 (one month ago) Permalink

It's a pan only in the not generic 7.8 or BNM sense. Reads to me like a mixed review, no unqualified praise or no. There's also no unqualified dismissal of anything either, is there? Anyway, if I were Joe Wannabuyanalbum, I'd be more inclined to listen to this one based on this review than listen to something more positively received.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 1 July 2017 15:57 (one month ago) Permalink

yeah but joe wannabuyanalbum only looks at the score these days

black covfefe in bed (voodoo chili), Saturday, 1 July 2017 16:02 (one month ago) Permalink

idk even if i thought this was an ambitious album that didn't quite pull off what it was aiming for, i wouldn't have slapped it with a score under 6, that's some contrarianist bullshit

black covfefe in bed (voodoo chili), Saturday, 1 July 2017 16:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Sort of what I mean. If anything, the review (the words) does a pretty good job explaining all the album has going for it, even if the writer doesn't think it pulls it off. That's what the review is for, and why (as silly as numbers are) the review reads (to me) more like a 7.x that explains why it's not higher than a 5.x which doesn't quite nail why its arbitrary number is so low.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 1 July 2017 16:06 (one month ago) Permalink

First listen to this a few weeks ago damn near blew me away but returns felt like the individual songs were lacking a bit, especially Walk Like A Panther as an opener. Title track and Animals jumped out as being more than just polemic and bluster, but wasn't convinced by the rest.

However, going back to it this morning on the walk to work, it's stronger than I remember. Maybe not quite hitting me as hard as some so far, but getting there. The placement of the two instrumental tracks near the end feels strategically strong to me; it gives enough pause for things to kick back in so you don't feel bludgeoned (even though you are being!).

I think Black Eunuch and Blood are pretty much as good as anything on here, but other than that this is definitely a step up.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Monday, 10 July 2017 09:31 (one month ago) Permalink

Yeah I was blown away and now I've given it a bit of a break and ready to go back to it soon. Still think the title track is an absolute worldbeater. Animals is the one that sounds like Ministry (in a good way) and overall it's really great. There are just one or two tension-diffusing moments towards the second side that aren't interesting enough to keep my mind from wandering.

Shat Parp (dog latin), Monday, 10 July 2017 10:23 (one month ago) Permalink

I'm trying to think of what specific 80s band Mme Rieux sounds like. Not sure how much I like it. There's something just slightly cheesy or obviously melodramatic about that one.

Shat Parp (dog latin), Monday, 10 July 2017 10:24 (one month ago) Permalink

Full video for "Cleveland"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FhcJTqJm98

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 12 July 2017 13:42 (one month ago) Permalink

This is quite an improvment on their debut, huh?

chap, Wednesday, 12 July 2017 13:54 (one month ago) Permalink

Hymn For an Average Man is a highlight.

chap, Wednesday, 12 July 2017 14:40 (one month ago) Permalink

I would kill for them to hit TO but it doesn't seem to be in the cards

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Tuesday, 18 July 2017 13:28 (one month ago) Permalink

Hell, Chicago isn't even currently on their tour schedule.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 13:41 (one month ago) Permalink

It's possible they're avoiding places they hit with Depeche? idk

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Tuesday, 18 July 2017 14:13 (one month ago) Permalink

DM is touring with Warpaint in Chicagoland

mh, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 14:16 (one month ago) Permalink

Nope, Warpaint opening here. So no idea!

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 14:16 (one month ago) Permalink

xpost!

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 14:16 (one month ago) Permalink

Direct quote from their publicist when I asked about Chicago: "I know wtf!?"

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 July 2017 14:39 (one month ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Bunch of new tour dates. They're playing a tiny square box in TO (the Baby G) and I could not be more excited.

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Tuesday, 22 August 2017 20:49 (two days ago) Permalink

Go forth and rock.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 22 August 2017 20:51 (two days ago) Permalink


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