KOWLOON WALLED CITY finally bring us their long-awaited new full-length. Grievances, their third album and first for Gilead Media & Neurot Recordings, finds the San Francisco band at its artistic peak, having moved even further away from its sludgy, post-hardcore origins and toward a sparser, noise-rock heaviness.
This shift began with 2012’s Container Ships, which received universal praise from both listeners and writers. On Grievances, the band takes these elements to even greater extremes. The strings rattle. The guitars crackle and blister. The notes ring out turning bleak and beautiful — sometimes both at once.
“We dug into this expansive, less distorted vibe. The songs are mostly slow and bummed out but we still want them to push, to have energy,” says vocalist/guitarist Scott Evans.
Evans, together with guitarist Jon Howell, bassist Ian Miller, and drummer Jeff Fagundes spent over two years working on the seven songs for Grievances. The intense editing process weeded out about two albums’ worth of material. Howell’s unusual and discordant chord changes channel the familiar feel of angular indie rock. Miller’s gritty bass adds a surprising layer of depth and melody, while Fagundes’ drums resonate in what sounds like an impossibly large room. Evans’ shouted vocals are raw with frustration and disappointment, but without the typical veneer of aggression.
The concept of work forms the thematic foundation of the entire record, from the cover art to the title and the lyrics. Whereas previous KOWLOON WALLED CITY releases were largely inspired by the band’s hometown of San Francisco, Grievances focuses its attention on our complex relationships with work and the power our employment — and employers — have over us.
As with KOWLOON WALLED CITY‘s previous releases, Evans engineered and mixed the album, starting at Sharkbite Studios and finishing at his own Antisleep Audio, both in Oakland. Griveances was mastered by Carl Saff. The LP edition released by Gilead Media will be presented in a gatefold jacket printed on reverse stock and will include a download code.