I don't think I've ever heard an album come from this far out in left field and still come together flawlessly. The general consensus seems to be that you can either have a totally bizarre album or a catchy, cohesive album, but you can't have both. But Pittsburgh, PA's Microwaves is living proof that they don't have to be mutually exclusive. This band is obscure enough to impress all of your hip, indie friends, but at the same time, it's something you can actually sit down and listen to over and over.
Microwaves has been called "no wave," but that doesn't seem to give a good idea of how they actually sound. The sound of Microwaves is a wacked-out whirlwind of skronky guitars (that sound like a more focused version of that one guy who did the Space Ghost: Coast to Coast theme music), synth-laden bass, and powerhouse drumming. When you take the delirious vocals into account, they sound to me like a less high-pitched version of Arab on Radar crossbred with the noisy, mathy freakouts of Daughters. This is complimented by a nice, lo-fi production. What really propels the songs is the happily noisy bass, played through all sorts of effects by mad scientist Adam MacGregor (former guitarist of Creation is Crucifixion and current guitarist of Conelrad). And while Contagion Heuristic is crazy and off-kilter, what really sets it apart is that it's genuinely listenable.
I'm sure it's been said before, but somewhere along the line, my generation (college-aged kids) came up with this nonsensical idea that for a band to be heavy they have to have over-distorted, down-tuned guitars and the same boring, repetitive groove. Microwaves should be required listening because it proves what a laughable idea this is. This album is way more intense, jarring, and insane than just about every album labeled "metal" or "extreme" that was recorded in the last fifteen years. Contagion Heuristic oozes with the kind of energy and chaos that makes metalcore sound like a bunch of diluted crap.
The bottom line is that Contagion Heuristic drew me in because it is so unconventional and clichÃƒÂ©-free, but I still can't stop listening to it because the songs are so solid. Trust me, this behemoth of a thirty-minute album will suck you in and you won't want to listen to "regular" music for weeks.
9.0 / 10
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