Photo: Mynxii White
5 Songs To Get Into Health, Ahead Of New Album 'Rat Wars'
The experimental rock landscape is a far different place than it was in 2015, but HEALTH's range, imagination and songwriting acumen have helped them endure. Ahead of 'RAT WARS,' here are five key tracks by the electronic/noise stalwarts.
If you want to make heavy, intense music of any stripe, there's a balancing act when it comes to ferocity.
There's no ceiling nor vanishing point for how wild and crazy your creations can get; there's no gold standard for "heaviest music." HEALTH understand that's not even a goal worth pursuing — and that creating something truly unsettling might mean embracing gentility — even pop instincts.
As their bassist, John Famiglietti, once pointed out, HEALTH's dictum is to create "relevant music that sounds new" — plain and simple. And in a statement from the band, they declared they wanted their vocals to "have an even, unaffected feel. A softness, like a Zombies melody, or even a Gregorian chant.
"We aren't just interested in being a noisy screaming band," they continued, and that bears out across their core discography, as well as their DISCO remix series. And the Angelenos' new album, RAT WARS, marks another step in their captivating evolution.
Described in press materials as "The Downward Spiral for people with at least two monitors and a vitamin D deficiency," songs like "DEMIGODS," "HATEFUL" and "SICKO" feel more full-blooded than ever — and this was an act that seemed to come out of the gate fully formed.
Here's a quick look at five HEALTH songs to know — focusing on the core catalog, and leaving aside the (very rewarding) DISCO series, as that's a can of worms deserving of its own article.
"Crimewave" (HEALTH, 2007)
Back on the cusp of the Obama years, HEALTH got wind in the sails via a Crystal Castles remix of their song "Crimewave," from their self-titled debut.
As such, that defunct duo (as to why they disbanded, you can Google it) played an critical role in HEALTH's rise — but Castles or no Castles, HEALTH remains a rewarding, thrillingly alien listen 15 years later.
And along with other key tracks like "Triceratops," "Crimewave" easily passes muster as a calling-card HEALTH track; you have pulverizing rhythms, an eerily docile vocal, and the threat of the whole enterprise detonating before your ears.
"Nice Girls" (GET COLOR, 2009)
A cemented HEALTH's second album, GET COLOR, developed on their earlier ideas masterfully — the songs felt more like songs this time around. Plus, a splash of snake venom in the production rendered their bite even more debilitating.
Highlights are all over the place, from "Die Slow" to "Death+" and beyond, but "Nice Girls" might be the centerpiece.
My Bloody Valentine is over-cited when it comes to swirling, abstracted music, but here, the comparison fits: it's like Kevin Shields with a serrated edge, commensurately tranquil and destabilizing.
"Stonefist" (DEATH MAGIC, 2015)
DEATH MAGIC leaned heavier into pure dance than HEALTH had previously; by selecting that tool in their toolbox, they honed their range of influences and moods into a fine point.
Where other HEALTH songs might butter you up and then deliver the K.O., DEATH MAGIC opts to grind you into dust like a diesel engine; the atmospheric yet unsparing "Stonefist" is Exhibit A for this approach
Founding member Jupiter Keyes left after DEATH MAGIC, but the crew soldiered on as a three-piece.
"No God in Thunderdome" (Grand Theft Auto Online: Arena War OST, 2019)
Despite not appearing on a proper HEALTH album, but in a "Grand Theft Auto" game, "No God in Thunderdome" threatens to be their time-capsule song.
As with their other career highlights, the track thrives on simplicities layered on simplicities until they form an entirely new beast; their blend between warped pop and outré everything is perfectly proportional here.
"Feel Nothing" (VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR, 2019)
As HEALTH have continued their creative ascent, their embrace of pop has only swelled.
And "Feel Nothing," from their first post-Keyes album VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR, shows that tiptoeing up to that precipice doesn't compromise their essential chaos and aural extremism.
Not that it's a linear path to alternate-universe airwaves — RAT WARS brings the darkness and heaviness from entirely new directions. But "Feel Nothing" illuminates a path they could embark on if they wanted.
But as always, it's not that simple; with this long-running act, you'll get jostled to and fro on the journey, but the destination is more than worth it. What might that be in the long run? HEALTH only knows.
Positive Vibes Only: Wande
Positive Vibes Only: Wande Strikes A Courageous Note Of Resolve With “Wakande”
After a compassionate message from functional medicine practitioner Dr. Will Cole, the devout Nigerian-American rapper elevates her mind above self-loathing
Wande won’t abide the haters and gossipers attempting to drag her down. However, that’s not a product of a swollen ego—it’s a directive from her Creator.
"God done flipped my story, alright,” she raps in her thrilling, Yoruba-inflected tune “Wakande,” which she performs as part of this week’s Positive Vibes Only: “I ain't trippin' what they say 'bout me / Even when they throw shade on me / ‘Cause the shade on me put shades on me.”
In an era where tearing down those more successful than oneself is fashionable, self-actualization is the best medicine—in more ways than one. Despite what the weight-loss and beauty industries might tell you, achieving better physical and mental health doesn’t come from whipping one’s body into submission. As Dr. Will Cole says at the top of the video, physically restoring oneself begins with loving oneself.
“You can’t heal a body you hate,” the bestselling author of "Intuitive Fasting," "Ketotarian" and "The Inflammation Spectrum" explains. “You cannot shame your way into wellness. You cannot obsess your way into health. When there’s this stress and striving when it comes to wellness, that is the antithesis of sustainable wellness, [which is] born out of self-respect.”
Watch the elevating performance of "Wakande" by Wande above, and explore more episodes of GRAMMY.com's encouraging Positive Vibes Only series.
Positive Vibes Only: Blind Boys Of Alabama Perform Soul-Soothing Cover Of “If I Had A Hammer”
Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images
Kenny Rogers Cancels The Gambler's Last Deal Tour Citing Health Challenges
Doctors advise the 79-year old country legend to forgo all shows through the end of the year to focus on recuperating
GRAMMY-winning country music legend Kenny Rogers he has been advised by doctors to cancel all performances through the end of the year. Rogers is reportedly facing "a series of heath challenges" that will keep the singer from carrying out the dates on his The Gambler's Last Deal tour.
A release delivered to venues regarding the cancellations notes that doctors expect a positive outcome, though they recommend Rogers cancel all tour dates to focus on recuperation.
Rogers, 79, was honored in Nashville, Tenn., last October at a special tribute concert, "All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration," featuring performances by an all-star lineup of artists including GRAMMY winners Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Lionel Richie and Rogers' famous duet partner, Dolly Parton.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/qLu67s1jnb">pic.twitter.com/qLu67s1jnb</a></p>— Kenny Rogers (@_KennyRogers) <a href="https://twitter.com/_KennyRogers/status/981682834912919552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 5, 2018</a></blockquote>
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When the tribute concert was announced last summer, Rogers told Rolling Stone, "This is all I've done for 60 years, but my mobility has gotten kind of strange, and I don't like to go on stage and have to apologize. It's one of those things – you make decisions based on what life gives you. I've had a great life, I can't complain, but it's time for me to hang it up, I think."
Refunds are being offered for the canceled dates as fans and members of the music community everywhere wish Rogers a full recovery.
Photo: Ellington Hammond
Erick The Architect Steps Into A New World On 'I’ve Never Been Here Before'
The Flatbush Zombies' member says his debut double album is more than catchy introspections: 'I’ve Never Been Here Before' is the arrival of a new persona and sound.
Rapper/producer Erick The Architect is no stranger to reinvention.
The Brooklyn-bred MC cut his teeth over alt-East Coast beats as Erick Arc Elliot before forming psychedelic rap trio Flatbush Zombies with childhood friends Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice. But after multiple mixtapes and two albums with the group, Erick is returning to solo form and venturing into new creative ground.
Following 2021’s Future Proof EP, Erick is embarking on new musical travels with the release of his official debut album, I’ve Never Been Here Before. Out Feb. 23, the double album explores Erick’s flowy instrumentation, poeticism, and artistry at full scale. The project is fueled by singles "Shook Up" featuring FARR and Joey Bada$$, "Ezekiel’s Wheel" with funk forefather George Clinton, and the breezy "Instincts" with Westside Boogie.
Erick says I’ve Never Been Here Before is more than a collection of catchy introspections, melodic monologues, and '90s-inspired jams. It’s the shedding of one persona — and sound — and the beginning of a new: the Mandevillain.
"This album is an identity of a new person," Erick the Architect tells GRAMMY.com, noting that the moniker is an ode to his father’s hometown of Mandeville, Jamaica. "A lot of people may have thought there was a ceiling to what I’m capable of, but I think this album will showcase a brand new artist and identity, which is really hard to do when people think they already know you. But I really think this is unique."
The switch isn’t just in name — he’s taken on a new approach to music, too. For the first time in years, Erick says he’s prioritizing himself and his specific musical world. "It’s the first time I have created with the headspace that I’m free," he says. "I find that other artists don’t listen to other people’s music when they’re in a creative space, but this is the most locked off I’ve been from things."
As much as I’ve Never Been Here Before signals new creative ground for Erick to fertilize, it also represents his collective efforts to limit distractions and break free of any barriers — personally and sonically.
While it was difficult to stay so focused and inward-looking while creating his debut album, turning to some of his legendary collaborators provided some clarity. After having conversations with James Blake, George Clinton, and other artists as part of the project, Erick no longer feels forced to fit a mold or address outside criticism.
"This album is about sacrifice, and I’ve Never Been Here Before is me being okay with losing things," he says. "I think that losing has always a negative connotation because nobody wants to lose, everybody wants to win. But it's the first time I'm losing stuff and it’s better being lost. Whether it's a habit or a person in your life, you don't need to hold everything."
I’ve Never Been Here Before lives up to its title in both theme and creation. Where Erick previously wrote songs in moments of vulnerability, the rapper says he "doesn’t feel that way anymore."
Citing the work of Keith Haring, Miles Davis and Pablo Picasso as inspiration, Erick says he was driven to write more high-spirited songs, rather than ones tethered to struggle and hardship. As a result, the album is more accessible than some of his previous work.
"I’m tired of writing from a perspective of just being like, 'I’m sad today, bro,'" he says. "I haven’t made a project that I feel like you can just put that joint on and just play it, don’t even think about anything else because it’s commanding an energy that we all need."
In transforming the project, the "Die 4 U" artist pieced together a blend of new and older songs he recorded five years ago. And while a double album is a "death sentence" in the eyes of most rap fans, Erick says he’s prepared for both heaps of praise and hurls of "he’s overrated" from listeners. He would feel more anxiety only if the music never came out.
"I’ve always believed that I had another special part of me that I think people didn’t witness because I didn’t put it out in the forefront," he says.
While getting a new release across the finish line can be a heavy weight to bear, Erick says he’s determined to prove his doubters wrong and own his legitimacy as a solo act. "I didn’t get lucky or sneak in here and steal beats from somebody’s laptop," Erick says. "This project is great to defeat people who have perceptions about me that are incorrect."
With the momentum of I’ve Never Been Here Before, Erick is set to test his new music and moniker on the road during his upcoming Mandevillain Tour, which kicks off in Austin on March 25.
Now that he’s fulfilling his ambitions as a solo act, the artist has a few more mediums he plans to explore – TV and film. After being a rapper/producer for more than a decade, Erick says he’s ready to take grander creative leaps. "I’m just trying to take this to the highest caliber," he says.
Photo: le3ay Studio
It Goes To 11: DPR IAN Unveils The Drumsticks That Inspired His Musical Dreams
Korean artist DPR IAN shares the story behind his Ahead 5A Drumsticks, the nostalgic piece of gear he discovered while watching Joey Jordison's Slipknot performance videos as a teenager.
Korean artist DPR IAN might have abandoned his drumming days, but that doesn't change the fact that it planted the roots for his artistry — which is why he still names his Ahead 5A drumsticks his favorite piece of musical gear.
"I remember my friend showing me a video on YouTube by Slipknot — Joey Jordison," the singer/songwriter, whose birth name is Christian Yu, recounts in the latest episode of It Goes to 11. "That was the first time I got absolutely shook."
Because of his hours of watching the band's videos, he could quickly recognize the tools they used on stage in any instrument shop. After convincing his mom to buy the same drumsticks as Jordison's, Yu drummed everywhere, including his car dashboard, which still has dents today.
Eventually, it was time to perform on the drums live. Having never been in front of an audience, the nerves were so high that he remembers he "blacked out" on stage as soon as the song started playing. "It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life because I froze."
However, DPR IAN says it taught him a valuable lesson: not to become a drummer. But it also showed him that one negative experience shouldn't ruin his entire perspective on music.
"The greatest success is actually from a failure," he declares. "You have to learn how to be bad [at] things."
Press play on the video above to learn more about DPR IAN's history with the drums, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of It Goes to 11.