Music

Jucifer: If Thine Enemy Hunger

Faster Amber Valentine, Kill! Kill!


Jucifer

If Thine Enemy Hunger

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2006-09-05
UK Release Date: 2006-09-11
Amazon
iTunes

Although Athens, Georgia's Jucifer has been putting the rock duet gimmick to good use longer than Jack and Meg have, and have been combining beastly Melvins-style guitars and sumptuous melodic vocals long before Boris became cool, singer/guitarist Amber Valentine and drummer Edgar Livengood have been plying their trade in relative obscurity, wowing audiences with Livengood's frantic, flailing performances and Valentine's astonishing stack of amplifiers, while only generating a minimum of attention from both the punters and the press. The fact that it's taken the band more than a decade to put out three full-length albums, and that their new disc has been released by an extreme metal label, certainly makes it all the more difficult to sway the fickle indie rock nerds out there, but if Valentine and Livengood have to win over fans one blown-out eardrum at a time, they're more than capable of doing so.

Normally the home of some of America's finest death metal and grindcore acts, Relapse Records has taken a bit of a gamble with Jucifer (indie kids might think the label's reputation is too extreme, metal kids might think Jucifer isn't metal enough), but the band has certainly held up its part of the bargain, putting together an album that, while not without the odd stumble, shows us all why Jucifer is often so darn cool.

It's all about Amber. Without Amber, Jucifer is useless. Looking like a cast member of Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! gone metal, Valentine hammers away wicked, tinnitus-inducing chords from her mega-amped Flying V while batting her garish false eyelashes, luring us with her girlish, cooing vocals, which offer a brilliant, enticing contrast with the massive roar of guitars and explosions of drums. Like the great, immortal Tura Satana, Valentine wins us over with her undeniable sexuality, and then proceeds to snap our necks, just because she can. And when Jucifer is at its very best, we can never get enough of it.

With a whopping 15 tracks and a rather tiring running time of nearly an hour, If Thine Enemy Hunger would have benefited greatly if 15 minutes had been snipped off, but for its heavy indulgence in plodding distortion, it's hard to dislike. Jucifer doesn't help the album's cause by opening with 13 minutes of monstrous doom metal, and it's the same schitck they've been doing for ages now, yet "She Tides the Deep" and "Centralia" are hypnotic in their stoner methodicalness, the former unleashing a melodic yet punishing riff that King Buzzo would be proud of, the latter delving deeper into darker territory, as if decending from one ring of hell to another.

Thankfully, the album has a lot more to offer than the same old chords, quickly gaining momentum around the midway point. "Lucky Ones Burn" is an unabashed White Stripes garage rocker, Valentine's compressed vocals managing to display more nuance than on the first two tracks, while the cutely-titled "Hennin Hardine" (and no, the song isn't about tennis) hearkens back to the early-90s shoegazer/dreampop-inspired indie rock of Velocity Girl and Throwing Muses, the lively (dare I say, lilting) verses giving way the kind of vicious chorus that Valentine excels at. "My Benefactor" and "Medicated" offer respite from the noise, Valentine's voice teetering between soothing and creepy, and conversely, "Luchamos" features a serpentine guitar lead underneath Valentine's seductive Spanish lyrics, and "Pontius of Palia" delivers the kind of female-fronted rawk that Veruca Salt attempted and only sporadically pulled off. The Civil War-inspired sludge of "Antietam" is the strongest song on the disc, Livengood laying down a terrific groove on drums, a sinister-sounding banjo plunking away an eerie melody during the verses underneath Valentine's hushed vocals from the point of view of an overwhelmed teenaged nurse, the song exploding during the choruses, Valentine letting out horrifying screams of, "Make it stop... I'm only 17!"

Despite its tendency to revert to predictability ("In a Family Way" and "Led" bring the album to a rather bland conclusion), Valentine holds everything together with her deceptively muscular guitar work, and especially her charisma, which translates well on record. It's enough to make us visualize a monochrome Valentine careening across the alkali flats in a hot rod, laying waste to any unfortunate sap who gets in her way.

6

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image