Boris – Heavy Rocks (Sargeant House Records)

Heavy Rock seems like Boris’ attempt to confuse as many people as possible. First, it’s being released the same day as another Boris album,  Attention Please (which I prefer) guaranteeing that less people will hear it. Second, Boris already released an album titled Heavy Rocks in 2002. You could also confuse it with the band’s excellent Japanese Heavy Rock Hits vinyl single series (which I was hoping Heavy Rocks would be a collection of). The music itself is pretty confusing too. The album begins with a Sabbath-y psych-metal stomper called “Riot Sugar” (featuring Ian Astbury on  backing vocals) but then an identity crisis ensues. Just who are Boris on this album? Are they Dinosaur Jr.-esque guitar manglers heard on the quizically titled “Leak-Truth,yesnoyesnoyes-“? Are they the manic thrash titans heard on  “GALAXIANS” (yes, all capital letters) and the 90-second gonzo Bay Area speed blitz of “Czechoslovakia”? Are they purveyors of lengthy drone-rock as heard on the lengthy songs “Missing Pieces” and “Aileron” (which, in keeping with the theme of confusion, is also the title of a completely unrelated song on Attention Please)? Or are they all of these things, and don’t care about making an album that sounds unified? Perhaps the answer lies in the song “Window Shopping”, which combines ripping Melvins-esque grunge with answering machine messages and a chorus of Wata singing “Doo-Doot-Doo”? Then again, perhaps there is no answer.

Boris – Attention Please (Sargeant House Records)

Boris are a band that likes to mix things up. Pick up any of the Japanese group’s many albums from the past fifteen years and  you’re just as likely to hear shoegaze and hardcore as you are to hear sludgey doom metal or a 20+ minute drone instrumental. Attention Please finds some new areas for the band to explore by giving the spotlight over to their guitarist, Wata, who sings every song on the album. Musically, there are two songs one the  album, “Hope” and “Spoon”, which sound like typical Boris in hard rock mode, just with Wata’s vocals (which remind me of Kazu from Blonde Redhead). The rest favors dark and claustrophobic sounds not too far removed from something you would hear on a Tricky album. On “Party  Boy”, “Tokyo Wonderland” and the title track, this approach works well.  However, when the songs are more formless, like “You” and “Hand In Hand”, the album drags.