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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tonight in Music: Death Songs, Blood Owl, Cold Cave

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM

(Rontoms, 600 E Burnside) Nick Delffs concurrently worked on his Death Songs project while fronting the Shaky Hands, but with that band currently on hiatus, Death Songs—now the duo of Delffs and Justin Power—takes front and center. Delffs' expert songwriting is still to the fore, as evidenced on their new four-song 7-inch, out this week. NED LANNAMANN

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Blood Owl knows what it's like to have a broken heart, and they're not afraid to scream about it. With their cerebral, well-crafted double album, Raised Like Wolves/Released Like Whales, Blood Owl raise their flag in allegiance to the roots of emotional hardcore punk, before it became watered down, decorated with eyeliner, and shortened to "emo"—whatever that means. Like all purists, they won't endear themselves to everyone, unburdened as they are by any hint of the ironic or self-referential. Blood Owl's best songs are those that pair screamo vocals with soft, pretty guitar melodies and delicately arranged drums, as on the beautiful and appropriately named "Dirt Eats at the Heart." But these guys are just as at home with rage as they are with agony, with at least half their songs ("Merry" and "Grand Rapids") devoted to unmitigated aggression. REBECCA WILSON

(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) With the release of 2011's Cherish the Light Years, Cold Cave's second full-length for Matador Records, the urge to shrug off a Wesley Eisold identity crisis has gotten a little stronger. Once the frontman for ferocious Boston hardcore group Give Up the Ghost (nÉe American Nightmare), as well as grindcore crew Some Girls, Eisold is now a brooding, dark-synth overlord, a metamorphosis that hasn't come without its fair share of detractors. But keeping in mind Eisold's well-documented penchant for slashing the creative envelope, Cold Cave's gloomy new wave shouldn't be that big a shock. Still, Cold Cave's obvious affinity for British synth-pop mainstays veers eerily close to outright mimicry; Eisold's voice becomes an amalgam of throaty English intonation and cadence over dark dance jams. Sound like pretty much every other '80s new-wave rehash project? Yeah. RYAN J. PRADO

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