on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2017 5 Dez

The Underside of Power (The Best Indie Rock of 2017)

von: ijb Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off

Looking at PopMatters‚ top 10 list of „The Best Indie Rock of 2017″, I am happy to find Algiers at the top spot:


„The Underside of Power“, Algiers‘ follow-up to their 2015 self-titled debut, is everything that debut promised and more. The album fine tunes the balance between their dark, post-punk sounds and their soul and gospel groove. The group truly turns the post-punk genre on its head with double-time rhythms, bass grooves, and soulful vocals that come together like an AME church service in the Blade Runner universe. Vocalist Franklin James Fisher sings throughout the album about rising up, upsetting established power structures. It’s brimming with political fire and rage that’s tempered just enough with hope and youthful energy. The combination of elements is dense and seamless and reveals more with each listen and takes on new meaning. „The Underside of Power“ is an album of resistance music and music for the people into the tradition of soul, folk, and punk. This album stands as one of the most unique and powerful examples of protest music in recent memory. (Dan Kok)


Other albums in their list may be of interest to some of you around here as well: #2: Fleet Floxes („a jarring journey from beginning to end“), #3: The War On Drugs („breathy Dylan-like vocals float yearningly above vast soundscapes of expertly textured guitar solos and shimmering synths that transcend time and trend“).

„Musically adventurous and spiritually redemptive: this is what the music of our time should sound like.“ said PopMatters‘ original review of the album.

In July, Robert Loss wrote an extensive, interesting piece about the album: Algiers and the Political Structures of Noise, which draws connections between politics, history, noise and pop and is a nice addendum to my text about the issues raised in the movie Detroit. A few quotes from the article about the music:


„Cry of the Martyrs“ slips right into the album’s title track, a propulsive blend of soul swagger and the band Suicide’s drones until the chorus bursts into a beautiful pop melody. It’s Algiers‘ version of pop: a catchy hook fighting against backing vocals so delayed they sound like ghosts trying to drag the song back, an alluring but harsh noise from the past. „The Underside of Power“ sounds like „Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“ covered by a post-punk band unconcerned with irony or cultural capital and instead trying to find some truth hidden in the song all these years.

(…) In 2017, we’re rightly suspicious of music that claims to be revolutionary. The normalizing forces of commerce, the spectacle, cultural institutions, and government as they relate to popular music are powerful, so I don’t blame you if you’re skeptical. But the possibility still exists. Small actions may play their role in the structure of noise—the voices of the oppressed and their allies, the voices of people who are just sick and fucking tired of being run over, shot, suppressed, arrested, buried, abandoned — a structure which might replace the old with a new order.

(…) It seems to me that revolutionary music today has to draw connections between the past and the present in order to point to the future. In this way we sense a history that otherwise is forgotten to us; we understand ourselves as historical creatures capable of replacing one structure of noise with another. Of the potential noises, sound hits our bodies first. How can there be a movement if we’re unwilling to move?

Can sound alone make us pay attention to the political, force us to hear a subject like racialized violence, or sway us into seeing the atrocities of the past and the present? Can it really rewrite the codes?

Algiers seem determined to find out, which is one reason why they’ve quickly become so important.


Here’s a short one of a their energetic live performances, live in the studio for Seattle’s KEXP.

Much like the sometimes psychedelic nature of their music is also firmly rooted in an often grim reality, the melodrama of their set creates a dense and intoxicating atmosphere, but never at the expense of truth and pragmatism. Their music rages against inequality and fascism, but as heavy as their themes are it’s also heady, rousing and danceable. By the time they bust out their latest album’s title track the room is fully plugged into the band’s irresistible groove, and with that comes immense hope, because as Fisher sings „I’ve seen the underside of power / It’s just a game that can’t go on.” Algiers’ unifying set at the Moth Club allowed no room for figureheads – rock star, religious, or otherwise. As their sign at the back of the stage reads, all the power to the people.
(Bekki Bemrose, musicOMH)

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