The Underside of Power by Algiers
And now for something completely different. Algiers, from Atlanta, Georgia, blend a number of seemingly unrelated influences into inciteful, politically motivated, upbeat and most times angry rock and roll. They occupy the very tiny space in the center of the Venn diagram between TV on the Radio, The Dirtbombs, Gil Scott Heron and southern gospel.
The Underside of Power is the band’s second album. Their eponymous debut came out in 2015 and while it appears to have been critically acclaimed, I had not heard of the band until John in the Morning played them a few months back. Regardless of whether you like this music, it definitely calls attention to itself. The clash of sounds does its job beautifully, making you sit up and take action, even if that action is to change the station.
Give the album’s title song a listen above for an example of how they sound. Some of the songs on the album are slower, piano-led numbers with dark overtones, and some go the opposite way: hard, fast and loud guitar and drum-laden punk rock anthems. When reviewing the band’s debut album in 2015, Willamette Week called them “dystopian soul,” which sums their sound up perfectly, and puts them in a genre all their own.
“Dystopian” and “soul” are not words you can usually assign to one band or one sound, but Algiers manage to pull it off with aplomb. If you find yourself intrigued, I recommend reading this All Songs Considered article, where the band breaks down each song on the album, with references and background provided. There’s even an “influences” playlist at the end that is jam packed with interesting things.
19. What Now by Sylvan Esso
20. 50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields
21. Plunge by Fever Ray
22. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
23. Capacity by Big Thief
24. The Tourist by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
25. CCFX EP by CCFX
26. Woodstock by Portugal. The Man
27. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent
28. On the Spot by Hot 8 Brass Band
29. A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
30. Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, & James McAlister
31. A Moment Apart by Odesza