My lord, what amazing album art! It's hard to distance the music on 31Knots' seventh album, Trump Harm
, from the record's shirtless, bong-water constructed, Photoshop-gone-horribly-awry cover image—and the back cover, which sees bandleader Joe Haege, um, getting off to some New Age-y sunset shit. But longstanding Portland trio 31Knots isn't a joke band, even if its art—and many of its songs—embrace an absurd sense of humor. You laugh going in, and then a song like "Candles on the Water" hits you straight in the chest, a monster of hyper energy and incredible restraint. After opening with a disorienting set of clipped, stereo-panning, acoustic guitars, the song gradually opens up and turns into another 31Knots jam, but you can tell that Haege and the band (the excellent rhythm section of Jay Winebrenner and Jay Pellicci) are holding something back: Instead of straight-up fury, you get some of the layered textural maturity of Tu Fawning, which allows Haege's voice to really shine. How Haege found time to record Trump Harm
—and his upcoming solo joint as Vin Blanc—while touring with Menomena 2.o, Tu Fawning and acting in a film and music video is certainly an act of superhuman fate. But hey, would you expect anything less from an eight-armed head?