Sometimes you struggle so hard to feed your family one way, you forget to feed them the other way, with spiritual nourishment. Everybody needs that.
“Joe Cardamone slanks in a room like some sick fuck who actually knows how to live on the street, instead of pretending that he still does,” writes Permanent Midnight author Jerry Stahl. “Walking down Vulnerable Hardass Ave – the one where OG rock’n’rollers, the early eat-their-arms screamers and bar walkers that paved the way for posers and haircuts to come, first started screaming out the truth that was eating them alive.”
In a time where The Frontman (let alone The Rock n’ Roll Band) is all but extinct, Joe Cardamone and his gang, better known as The Icarus Line, are still here fighting the good fight for all of us poor souls without a proper voice. You can call them the last rock n’ roll gang, or one of the last good authentic rock bands; either way, they are one of the last true originals, still making rock n’ roll relevant. The Icarus Line fill a sonic void that is just as important and American as apple pie. The Icarus Line have been deep in the rock n’ roll trenches since their debut album Mono in the late 90s, yet sound more significant now than ever. Compromise and giving up are not part of their story: sentiments that are (sadly) extremely rare for contemporary rock bands today. What is part of their story is continuing to survive as visionaries, despite the odds stacked against them. No one in this group came from a home of privilege. Crime or dead end life were both much more a distinct reality then say art school. In between chaotic bursts or cathartic orchestration you will find an aching sense that comes when the invincibility of your 20s fades away. Obstacles have been overcome and a visionary record was born despite living on the edge of poverty, original member Alvin DeGuzeman being diagnosed with cancer this year and various other members disappearing into the ether. The struggle is real, and from that place of uneasy discomfort this band has learned to thrive!
Over the years The Icarus Line have proved to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable live bands around, again and again. Their performances are explosive, dangerous and sexy all at the same time. Being in the front row of an Icarus Line show is an exhilarating experience, you never know what is going to happened. Sometimes it’s damaged gear, maybe a dive into the crowd, blood, sweat or a swinging mic buzzing your ear. You want to be close just to see what might happen next, like passing a beautiful carwreck. But yet not too close, cuz a guitar could take your head off at any moment. Unflinching and unchoreographed, The Icarus Line live are like a wild animal set free in their natural environment. This ain’t a trip to the zoo folks.
For their eighth studio album, All Things Under Heaven (October 02 / American Primitive / Agitated Records) , The Icarus Line have refined a sound that they’ve been calling "American Primitive." Recorded and arranged live as a g0up in Cardamone’s studio, Valley Recording Company in Burbank, the sessions “were very private and conducive to conjuring,” the frontman describes. “If you are lucky, you can capture something before it dies. I feel like all great music is a fleeting inspiration. You only have so much time to capture it before it either turns into routine or it turns its back on you.”
The album features a guest appearance from legendary outsider artist Joe Coleman who helped coin the album title. Also appearing is Bad Seed / Grinderman/ Dirty Three band leader Warren Ellis who helped pen the track "Bedlam Blue" with Cardamone. All of this follows the band’s most productive streak yet: Slave Vows (2013) and companion album Avowed Slavery (2014).
Art work for All Things Under Heaven was found during the making of the record. Veteran news photographer Randy Taylor was receiving attention for some works of his that were created out of destruction. During the Sandy hurricane his archive was flooded and many of his photos were “destroyed”. Out of that mess came some of the most beautiful fine art of our generation. The pictures that would make up the record’s sleeve were simply a document of a 4th of July cookout but after the waters of Sandy they became the american dream in a car crash with mother nature. The perfect visual to compliment a document about a melted american dream.
All Things Under Heaven packs the kind of swagger, raunch & ascent that would make Iggy Stooge and Sun Ra proud parents. It is a record that expands the vocabulary of what rock music can be without sacrificing the critical spirit that makes it Rock N Roll. The Icarus Line have summoned up the demons from the past, paid their homage and taken the sound in an entirely new direction; because this band are never ones to be caught on their knees. The album is a sprawling sonic landscape that has a timeless quality about it as it traverses between low valleys, towering skyscrapers and all the dirty alleyways that connect them. It’s a record that's as sprawling as the city of Los Angeles to which The Icarus Line have always called home. It’s a fuck you to the bite size society that has become music consumption. Life is bigger than that. And just like LA, this is a record that from the opening hollow echo swallowed pounding drums of “Ride Or Die” to the final free jazz funeral lullaby of “Sleep Now” is all its own world.
He would baulk at the compliment but The Icarus Line’s frontman/founder Joe Cardamone is one of the key figureheads of the 21st American underground. Where other contemporaries have come and gone – often crashing and burning while chasing the fast buck - he has never sold himself out. He has seen trends come and go. Joe Cardamone sings, screams, truth tells and virtually tries to claw his way out the speakers into your soul for refuge. His vivid lyrics paint a picture of a 21st century man trying to make right in a bleak post-apocalyptic record industry world full of lowlifes, broken promises, love lost and every kind of sickness imaginable. This is the sound of a band refusing to give up. This is the sound of a band refusing to be silenced. This is modern day tortured soul music. This is the perfect prescription for your acute adult pain.
“'Giving up on doing this' just doesn't need to be part of my vocabulary,” adds Cardamone. “There's a very narrow spread of reasons, as to why I do this music. Almost all of those are personal, and do not depend on the outside world for corroboration. It's like asking someone why do you breathe? I just do, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t exist anymore.”
"…feral and uncompromising…burdened, discordant blooze" "…every instrument is being physically wrestled and beaten into submission like rabid dogs…" Pitchfork
"Just when you think you’ve fallen out of love with The Icarus Line, they fuck you up all over again." 9/10 Drowned in Sound
"Six albums in The Icarus Line remain terrifying, riding a tsunami of malevolent noise, sweat and havoc while producing some of the most intense and exceptional rock music around." - UNCUT
"a perfect reintroduction to The Icarus LIne and an album which walks the wild side with instinctive ease and righteous fury." 4/5 Kerrang
"they never disappoint" 4/5 Mojo "This album captures all the raw power of one of their sweat soaked hard-hitting live shows. No mean feat. It’s music to kill to, or fuck to, or both." Trebuchet
"the most unified Icarus Line album to date, and their best since 2004’s breakthrough Penance Soiree." 8/10 The Line Of Best Fit
"It is what it is: a passionate, purposeful and wonderfully presented collection of combustive rock songs." 8/10 Clash
"Hold the Icarus Line close to your heart. Because although it feels like another Pyrrhic victory for Cardamone & Co. to make another record, this reviewer is glad they’re still out there, flipping over cars and flaming oil barrels, and doing double-time in the trenches when all of the planet’s previous rock heroes have phoned it in, expired on the battlefield or have simply lost the fire."
"Stupid to say this, six albums later, but this is the album we have waited for since MONO and and it is time that we paid these guys the attention, respect and time they deserve…They are our generations Ramones, our generations Stooges, and they are incredible". - Subba Cultcha Mag