Icarus Line Release 5th Album 'Slave Vows'; Touring West Coast
The Icarus Line
Los Angeles hellions The Icarus Line are celebrating the release of Slave Vows, their fifth album with West Coast dates in October. Slave Vows boasts the Stooge-ian roar of a band that refuses to die, capturing lead singer/producer Joe Cardamone and his charges at their most alive, across songs that slither, lash and rise into venomous crescendos, dark and heroic and seductive and seething. Recorded at Cardamone's own Valley Recording Company studio in Burbank, California, Slave Vows was released last month in the U.S. on Agitated Records. I'm hoping you'd consider advancing this show with a feature, CD review or preview. Please let me know if you need the music.
Slave Vows distils The Icarus Line's past, present and future into 8 tracks and 45 minutes of profoundly uncompromised rock'n'roll; it hurtles from the malevolent glower of opener 'Dark Circles', to the slow, corrosive ooze of "Marathon Man," to the savage explosion of "Dead Body," to the Sabbath-plays-Funkadelic writhe of "Rat's Ass." "Rock'n'roll has been turned into this, like, Motley Crue charade, a parade of fucking dicks," sighs Joe Cardamone. "It's the 80s again. It's crazy how everything I love has been driven back into the underground. That's where we came from, and that's where we've ended up, and anything else good is back down there too." The new album's gotten some great press:
Very little has been written about the Icarus Line without some mention of Iggy and the Stooges, and it's no wonder. Visit the band's official website, and you'll find a show flyer featuring a shirtless Cardamone lit in a very familiar orange fluorescence. But to fault Icarus Line for aping seminal punk, garage and no wave acts is to discount just how good they are at translating and nourishing these touchstones. If you could convincingly pull off an approximation of the Stooges frenzied fusion of sex and danger, then why the hell wouldn't you? Only on the final three tracks do the band go full Wild Child, which instead of sounding, well, slavish are instead nothing but a pleasure. The closest they get here to an actual bite is "No Money Music", which sounds almost exactly like Suicide's "Ghost Rider", right down to those piercing, echoed screams. In less capable hands it would feel cliché; here it's convincingly harried and frightening and nuts. Zach Kelly/Pitchfork.com
The Icarus Line's sixth album is scarred, clandestine and alluring, much like meeting a stranger who has the capabilities to turn you on-or turn you off, dead. The slow-motion, 11-minute opener "Dark Circles" captures all of the visceral danger of the best '60s psychedelia while merging with all the bad darkness of 21st century living. That track alone covers the bounced checks Primal Scream and the Cult have written over the past few years. Cardamone frantically reminds you during "Don't Let Me Save Your Soul" not to look to him for answers, but only the keys to bust out of whatever cell is holding you. The bad-trip desperado drawl of "Marathon Man" is teeming with desperation and the kind of squealing death-ray feedback that would make MC5 veteran Wayne Kramer weep in adulation. The cacophonic two-minute tantrum "No Money Music" finds our leader in a world where Suicide's Alan Vega did all the vocals on the Jesus And Mary Chain's Psychocandy. "Laying Down For The Man" is the best sonic stem-cell project of Loop and the Stooges the planet has seen in a long time. Simply put, Slave Vows is the true follow-up to 2004's blistering Penance Soiree, only with more revenge against the status quo, cloaked in shades of opaque black. Jason Pettigrew/AlternativePress.com
The bad-boys of internet 1.0, the Icarus Line, have abandoned the nü-romantic/Birthday Party/shoegaze sexiness of their last few records and have dove headfirst into broken glass for something a little more feral and fanged. Fifth album Slave Vows welcomes you to the Funhouse, with seven- and 10-minute long dirges that cycle with crusted-over riffs, desperate yowls, interminable drones, and at least one song that devolves into the type of Albert Ayler-fueled noise breakdowns beloved by the Stooges and MC5. Recorded live in the studio, this is an album bursting at the seams with disgusting feedback and no-fun vibes, crashing a Wooden Shjip into Suicide-al freakouts, bringing a little Detroit grime to blot out the warm California sun. Grab a jar of peanut butter and stream the whole thing before its August 6 release date. Christopher Weingarten/Spin.com
Work on Slave Vows began after a 2012 spent mostly on the road, including a sortie across Europe in the company of Killing Joke. "We got home and said, let's make a record," remembers Cardamone. "I had enough money saved up to spend two months working solely on the album." The songs were written during the first month, and recorded during the second, Cardamone favouring an old school approach. "Apart from a couple of vocals and some keyboards, it was all recorded live. All we do with ProTools is fucking press 'record'. It's about capturing performances. We'd just come off the road, and none of us could face putting on headphones. Wasn't gonna happen."
This 'live in the studio' approach pays dividends, especially on the glorious slow burn of the aformentioned "Marathon Man" and "Dead Body," capturing this latest line-up of The Icarus Line in perfect simpatico. For Slave Vows, the group number familiar faces Lance Arnao and Alvin DeGuzmann on bass and keyboards, with new drummer Ben Hallett, a Londoner who stepped aboard for the Killing Joke shows and has yet to step off. The lion's share of the guitar is played by Cardamone himself, and he plays like a badass motherfucker holding his ax like a murder weapon.
"I've always played guitar on our albums," Cardamone says, "But only as a guide; whoever was our guitarist then would record over it. But this time, I had no one else to play guitar... My guitar is like the conductor's wand, across this whole record." The method allowed Cardamone to arrange songs on the fly. "The songs didn't have any set cues or lengths, and when stuff happened, the tapes were rolling to catch it. I knew I wasn't going to get the sound I wanted by planning anything. If you plan shit, it won't happen. And I don't really wanna hear anything that sounds like that, because everything sounds so fuckin' pre-meditated these days.
"Anger," John Lydon said, "is an energy," but energy counts for nothing unless you know how to wield it correctly. The Icarus Line have spent a decade and change mastering that energy, manifesting it via retina-scarring, pulse-quickening live performances ever on the edge of total collapse and often tumbling into brilliance, as well as notorious pranks on corporate rock's sacred cows (the times they graffiti-ed The Strokes' tour-bus, stole Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar, published Fred Durst's cellphone number on the affiliated website Buddyhead for instance), and - most crucially - via four albums of sleek, sulphurous punk-rock that stoked their rage into a righteous, seductive party.
ICARUS LINE TOUR DATES:
Thursday, October 17, 13 Las Vegas, NV Triple B
Friday, October 18, 13 San Diego, CA Void
Monday, October 21, 13 Seattle, WA El Corozon
Tuesday, October 22, 13 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre
Wednesday, October 23, 13 Eugene, OR WOW Hall
Thursday, October 24, 13 Reno (Sparks), NV The Alley
Friday, October 25, 13 San Francisco, CA Café DuNord
Sunday, October 27, 13 Pomona, CA Glasshouse