Body/Head – No Waves

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This album was released on Nov 11th but I’ve been waiting to give it a good listen on my home stereo* before writing about it.

Not to be confused with the really lame looking Roy Jones Jr. album, Body Head Bangerz Vol. 1, Body/Head is a collaboration project between Kim Gordon (vocals/guitar) and Bill Nace (guitar) and this is their 2nd LP. No Waves was recorded live at the Bijou Theatre during the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 24th 2014. One of the tracks, Sugar Water, is brand new. The second is the title track from the single, The Show Is Over. The final track is a combination of two tracks, Abstract and Actress, off the duo’s debut album Coming Apart. (They did a few smaller releases before that, but Coming Apart is their first major release)

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Kim Gordon was never my favourite Sonic Youth singer on album. However seeing her perform live was another story. I first saw them live when they headlined Lollapalooza at Molson Park, Barrie in 1995. I only had one more chance to see them again in 2010 at Massey Hall on what would become their final tour together. Indie bands can seem somewhat small when playing a large venue but Kim brought a lot of energy to the huge Molson Park stage. I still remember her playing Swimsuit Issue and being captivated by her stage presence. I attended that concert with a bunch of friends who had never listened to Sonic Youth before and quite a few went home as converted fans. Seeing them perform The Diamond Sea live is one of my all time favourite concert memories.

Now most people reading my blog are not going to be familiar with Noise Rock at all and just to warn you, it’s not your typical Pearl Jam or Led Zeppelin. Body/Head and other Noise Rock bands don’t follow typical pop music song structures. It’s well, noise. Walls of feedback and distortion. Body/Head makes haunting, minimalist, droning, violent, spooky soundscapes. Creating noise with their guitars in ways you’ve never heard before. It’s a lot like Free Jazz but mostly with guitars. If you’re interested in other Sonic Youth/Noise albums take a listen to Lee Ranaldo’s album East Jesus or any of the Sonic Youth SYR records.

I don’t like No Waves as much as Body/Head’s first album Coming Apart but it’s still a really good album. It is a great recording of a live show but there are some parts where the distortion doesn’t sound as hard hitting as it should. There are also a few spots where the vocals get buried in the noise. Not sure if this is on purpose or a result of a less than perfect audio recording. It does sound much better on my home stereo compared to my headphones. Which i find odd since I love listening to Coming Apart with earphones on. This is a great album, but if this is your first experience listening to Noise Rock I suggest you give Coming Apart a chance instead or the Sonic Youth album – SYR1 Anagrama.

Here’s a preview in iTunes?and Spotify.

*Thought I should talk a bit about my setup. When away from home, I usually listen to music on my iPhone 7+ with a pair of Parrot Zik bluetooth over ear headphones. The battery life on them isn’t that great, so I also have a pair of PowerBeats 2 in-ear headphones as a backup. The music is downloaded from Apple Music so the files are in AAC format.

At home I have a Technics sl-1200 MK2 turntable with Ortofon SL-120 cartridge. This hooks into a Marantz NR1604 receiver and KEF T-101 speakers. I’ve just ordered a new Graham Slee Communicator Phono Pre-amp that should be arriving soon as well. I’ve owned this turntable for 20 years and recently had it refurbished with lots of parts changed on it and the rest cleaned up. Note this is the classic MK2 and not the newer, more commonly seen MK5. I prefer the “concorde” style Ortofon cartridges as there is no need to align the head shell. For music I don’t have on vinyl, I have an AppleTV that hooks into the same receiver and speakers.

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