When it comes to new releases, summer is pretty much the worst. Not every quality act avoids the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day—alt-metal act Neurosis, for example, released its excellent new full-length, Given to the Rising, back in June—but, as a rule, it’s a bad time of year to be a music writer.
Which is why I spend much of the season investigating releases that went uninvestigated when they came out. This year my favorite overlooked record of the summer is—drumroll please—Mouth of the Architect‘s Ties That Blind.
The 2006 recording is the Ohio band’s first full-length (an earlier release was long but technically an EP), and it’s easily overlooked. Like many acts in the alt-metal underground, M.O.T.A. has cribbed a big chunk of its sound from Neurosis, the abovementioned cult act that, though unknown in the mainstream, has more or less inspired a whole metallic subgenre (see also: this band and this band).
Further investigation shows that M.O.T.A. is—if not exactly original—at least contributing some melancholic originality (and post-Bill Evans humidity) to the whole slow, shout-y ‘n’ epic scene that sprung up in response to Neurosis classics such as 1996’s Through Silver in Blood and 1999’s Times of Grace.
Which brings me to another favorite topic of the summer months: humidity music. This is tough to describe, but usually involves mid-to-slow tempos, plus some kind of broody, mopish vibe. Keith Jarrett’s Facing You has it in spades. So does Brightblack Morning Light’s self-titled double album from last year. Music such as this is more or less the antithesis of what most people think of as a summer jam (see: Rihanna’s upbeat “Umbrella”), but seems to be a much better soundtrack to the arrival of the cicadas and syrupy air.