Monday, September 24, 2018

REVIEWS FOR SEPTEMBER

OK, the NULL record is out and I have a moment of free time finally.  Time to gather up some stuff that has been making me think, stuff that cuts a pretty wide swath across the musical landscape.    As we cut to the final quarter of this incredibly quick year I think about the interesting variety of bands that have rolled the dice in this increasingly weird and lawless hellscape that is recorded music.  I attempt to navigate the terrain like some ancient cartographer.  The blue is land, right?

DEAD NOW, s/t EP
Considering this is ex-Torche personnel I don’t want to make too many comparisons, but between the harmonic vocals and crushingly heavy jams spewed forth on this debut EP it’s kind of difficult not to find some common ground.  Dead Now does manage to differentiate themselves enough though, with the addition of some prog-meets-groovy areas that will make your Yes-worshipping uncle take a quizzical double take, just as much as the Satan-worshipping co-worker who showed up late (again) leeringly mention that this does, indeed, rock.  Pair this with a band like Brain Tentacles to truly get some weird, heavy rock action.  It’s not landing on some end of the year list, but it’s certainly enjoyable.  (BrutalPanda)


EMMA RUTH RUNDLE, “On Dark Horses”
I’ll admit I’m new to listening to the music of Emma Ruth Rundle, even though I have heard her name a number of times over the last couple of years.  It turns out she is quite prolific and has an almost uncategorizable sound.  Of her several albums this definitely feels the most polished and well-crafted.  I’m not sure if it is the addition of members of Jaye Jayle as her backing band, or just her natural progression as a songwriter, but there is a great big sound happening here that leans on the quiet-loud-quiet aesthetic, but in a way that sounds fresh to me.  While elements of folk, goth, Americana, and sparse- yet melodic- ruminations meander through Rundle’s haunting and soulful voice it’s the giant swells within the choruses that really make this something special.  Hints of Mazzy Star, or Kate Bush, Diamanda Galas, Shannon Wright, or even Laurie Anderson may receive unintentional (or intentional, who knows) nods, but like other great solo performers Emma Ruth Rundle doesn’t really fall into any sort of specific subgenre.  She is who she is.  If you like songs with someone who has a really great voice, big melodies, and a sound as vast as the Grand Canyon this will likely appeal to you.  If you already enjoy stuff from Sargent House that doesn’t quite sound like this, but shares similarities in regards to artistic open-mindedness- say, Helms Alee, Russian Circles, Chelsea Wolfe, or even Jaye Jayle- chances are you will already be willing to make the leap to dive into this as well. I’m certainly glad that I did.  (Sargent House)
  

LAW BOSS, “Diminishing Returns”
Based on name alone I would expect Law Boss to be a group that deals in exclusively beefy riffs and walls of amps.  Something about sounding ‘boss’ and word association I guess.  It’s not to say this Portland trio don’t deliver, just in a slightly different way than I had thought.  Plus, the recording is a bit on the quiet end so I’m going to assume they make up for it by crushing it live or something.  They actually have an interesting combination of sounds that I’m picking up on- much of which is their uncanny similarity to a Gainesville band called Cutman that were around about 10 years ago, who definitely had a very ‘boss’ sound to them.  That probably means nothing to most, but the resemblance is really quite remarkable.  On a number of songs I’m hearing the more rocking end of mid-90’s Dischord stuff like Bluetip and Jawbox, in broad strokes.  But once they get to “Bite, Chew, Swallow” it’s all Jesus Lizard worship- slow, weird, and serpentine.  So feel this out: beefy post-hardcore with a mix of Dischord rock and a touch of Jesus Lizard.  Is that cool?  Follow-up: is it ok to address these guys as ‘boss’ or ‘chief’?  (self-released)


PIG DESTROYER, “Head Cage”
People are giving this a weird reaction, like it’s not up to snuff.  I don’t know what they’re talking about.  Metal fans are a picky lot.  This is a good release from Pig Destroyer.  I have given it quite a few thorough listens, compared it to their other output, and I think it holds up pretty well.  While their last release, “Book Burner” had a visual aesthetic that I really liked musically it didn’t really take hold as much as I thought it would.  This record is a good return to the semi-unpredictable and manic intensity of “Phantom Limb”-era material.  Some people prefer to go back further, but I’m of the opinion that most all Pig Destroyer material is upper echelon of metal/punk/grind/what-have-you, so older comparisons are kind of pointless (and you’ve read this far, huh?).  That all being said I feel like the variety covers a fair amount of ground without being too overwhelming.  Some songs keep a mid-paced tempo, while others go for the tried-and-true off-the-wall blasting and light speed delivery Pig Destroyer are known for.  “Concrete Beast” meddles with the band’s unabashed love for old Melvins by inserting slow stop-start riffs that stop and start in a lot of weird places while “Mt. Skull” and “The Torture Fields” both unload some of the more murder-spree-worthy breakdowns in the band’s career (though not quite as all-out-war as “Phantom Limb”, which will probably never be topped).  And much like other PD releases the art is top notch and worth plucking down some cash just so you can gaze upon its bizarre horror.  (Relapse)


REBUILD/REPAIR, “There Is No Place Left For Me Here”
I can only imagine that Edmonton, Alberta is not a hotbed of underground music.  I’m aware of a few musical forces of nature emanating from the middle-of-nowhere Canadian city, but by and large I’m guessing most well-known bands skip it over.  So when there’s not much, make something right?  I’m sure Rebuild/Repair live by this coda and that alone is worth something.  And when they drop some earnest and fast punk-tinged hardcore with some serious Black Flag “Damaged”-era vocals on their latest release one can be happy to know someone is indeed doing something in that town.  But that’s just the first few songs on this record.  After that they sort of lose the trail and veer off into a mid-paced instrumental and a slow, weirdly melodic track that goes on for way too long, a song that has way too much clean vocals and could be a throwaway from a Verse or Have Heart record, and a couple other tracks that go back to their faster style but go on for a bit longer than a fast hardcore song ought to.  My feeling on their style is that I appreciate it from the jump, but the rest of it is not for me and doesn’t quite retain a solid focus throughout. (self-released)


SHADOW SNAKES, s/t
Ed Gein got tired of being Ed Gein, brought in Steve Sindoni (vocalist from Breather Resist and Pusher) and emerged as a 4-piece with a new name.  When the first track of their self-titled, digital-only, record comes on it might be easy to think ‘how is this different from Ed Gein?’, what with it’s instant barrage of blasting.  But much of this release takes a decidedly slower, heavier turn, that certainly does recall some moments of sludgier Breather Resist material from way back and I quite enjoy it.  Focusing more on slower, ugly riffs there seems to be a blend of some mid-90’s hardcore (“The Children Are Full” is like a melding of Snapcase and Unbroken soaked in sheets of gross distortion).  That vibe continues on for a bit until we hit “Jesus In Leather”, which definitely recalls the blast beat/simplistic punk mash of later Ed Gein material.  It’s one of the more raging tunes here that comes across fast and direct.  But for my money I think my favorite track is “The White Coats”.  It’s the most differentiated of the songs on this as it alternates between a slow and creepy melody and an absolutely killer riff that would make Crowbar soil their cargo shorts.  Overall, I’m pretty excited about this effort, but I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a couple minor critiques- the first being that at times the recording of the drums feels a bit muddy and when Jesse is really blasting, or crushing the double-kick it, in turn, makes everything else that is going on sound a bit indiscernible.  Secondly, with a lion’s share of these songs being on the slower side, and barely pausing between some of the songs on the second half of this record it makes them run together a bit.  Perhaps sequencing to alternate between the faster and slower songs would be in order to vary it up a bit.  Otherwise, it’s a hot chunk of gross and massive ugliness from some seasoned vets trying out a new style of doing things that feels somewhat familiar, but different enough that it comes off as fresh and exciting.  (self-released)

 

SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, “Hypnic Jerks”
I had some preconceived idea of this group falling into a ‘throwback emo’ sort of sound and maybe that was some of their earlier material because they sure as hell are on some other stuff with this record.  Without question, there is definitely a trippy psych vibe happening here, down to the entire recording sounding as if it were played back slightly warped.  And I suppose if you’re dropping acid it probably just enhances the experience.  However, I’d like to clarify that it’s not a Manson family sort of trippy affair where death cults result from listening to this.  It’s a record awash in a dream where the Beatles and Sonic Youth sort of collide and traipse through fields, and I swear to you I do not do drugs.  Maybe give it a little bit of an Unwound, “Leaves Turn Inside You” feeling, but more sunlit.  It’s certainly not my typical fare, but I appreciate the variety, as well as the band’s venture into something unique. (Tiny Engines)


TRAGEDY, “Fury”
So out of nowhere Tragedy just decides they’re going to up and release a new EP and not tell anyone.  They actually played a show here in Portland several weeks ago, which surprised me because I wasn’t sure if they were even still together.  They announced the show a few weeks ahead of time but didn’t announce they had a new record.  I wanted to go to the show but it conflicted with another show I really wanted to check out so I opted out.  And then the record was already gone, or something.  So the band then did the unthinkable- they put it on bandcamp.  I mean it’s Tragedy after all.  They don’t really engage with the world at large, especially where the internet is concerned.  But, essentially, they do not live in our world.  If you like this band then you live in their world, on their terms.  And the six new songs here prove that despite staying off the grid, so to speak, the band hasn’t missed a beat.  I personally haven’t caught up with any of their records in a number of years (I still haven’t heard “Nerve Damage” or “Darker Days Ahead”), but I’m guessing not much has changed- the songs are fast, they sound harsh as fuck, the D-beats are plentiful, and the guitars are thunderous.  I was surprised to hear some gang vocals on the title track, which might be my favorite here, as it feels uncommon for them.  But yeah, you get the idea- Motorhead meets Discharge levels of speed and intensity, a love of Japanese crust, high contrast black and white images of war and desolation, vocals that will punch you in the face, and slow parts be damned.  “Fury” is definitely an apt title.  (Tragedy Records)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

NULL, "Act Of Love" OUT NOW! STREAM ENTIRE RECORD

After months of preparation the new album from Birmingham, AL band NULL is out today!  "Act Of Love" is their second full length overall and first for Hex Records.
The group offer a meditation on heavy psych, droning heaviness, and repetitive chants in 8 songs. Underscoring the haunting melodies formed by trance-like guitar lines and sung vocals is a swamp-thick sludgy bass tone, created by fuzzed-out synth and pounding drums. NULL feature members of punk champs Coliseum but appeal more to fans of groups like Lungfish, Om, and Cloakroom.
 
STREAM THE ENTIRE ALBUM HERE
ORDER YOUR COPY RIGHT HERE
INTERNATIONAL ORDERS GO HERE

Available on all major digital platforms as well.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

THE SUMMER IS OVER REVIEWS


That's right.  Summer's done.  It went fast. Get used to it.  But before that warm breeze gently blows across your brow one last time before it's time to bundle up a whole slew of crazy shit shoved it's way into my earholes and now it can cram it's filthy sounds into yours as well.  This stuff ought to keep you warm.
EXHALANTS, s/t
This is one heck of a debut LP from this Texas group.  They haven’t been together long, but their mastery of some serious mid-era Unwound vibes, combined with a “Scattered, Smothered.”-era Unsane sense of feedback/distortion cacophony is pretty fucking impressive.  They move from loose and scatterbrained angular melody to riffy punk, to all out blown-out chaos (like in closing track “And I’ll Take You To a Quiet Place”), and into rhythmic dirges (“Unshut”).  The first half of the record leans more on the noisy/melodic Unwound/Sonic Youth style, particularly on album halfway point “If Only”, a drawn out slow burner that twists and turns through areas of weird melodies and heavily distorted ring-outs.  Things pick up more steam on the second side with more chunky and direct rippers including album stand-out “Bow Yr Head” and the aforementioned “Unshut”.  Once again, I’m super impressed with this fairly new band coming right out the gate like this with such a strong album.  Well done.  Come tour out west please.  Bring all that wild noise with you.  (Self Sabotage Records)
  

HAAN, “By the Grace Of Blood and Guts”
It’s been four years since NYC’s Haan came charging out with their debut EP “Sing Praises”.  What have they been up to between then and their freshly released debut LP?  I would probably guess drawing and assembling the 100 page book that comes with the record.  I have no clue what they could do to fill 100 pages of a book when their LP clocks in at around 40 minutes, but they found a way, so hats off to them.  This band also plays music, so I should probably get to that.  Haan’s musical lane is probably sticking to the right because they play pretty slow for the most part.  They’re the 18-wheeler barreling down the freeway, carrying a trailer packed with drums full of sludge.  You can pass them, but give them plenty of space before doing so.  To be more specific though, Haan create dense and rhythmic sludge metal with vocals that fall somewhere on the more aggressive side of Clutch’s Neil Fallon.  It fits pretty well with the music and is quite front and center with the overall sound of the band.  Midway point “Zero Day” really drags out the slow and mean vibe before going into the more upbeat and slightly Helmet-esque ripper “The Woke”.  The next track, “Hangdog” kind of finds a good balance between some upbeat distorted sledgehammering and the syrupy sludge they roll with for the majority of the record and it’s probably the strongest track here.  In comparison to the previous outing this is a more polished, thought out record from a band that had a few years to work it out. However, I gotta say I’m slightly more partial to “Sing Praises” just because it sounds more raw and scrappy.  But hey, you get a fuckin’ book with this record, so why complain right?  (Aqualamb Records)
 

JESUS PIECE, “Only Self”
I was initially interested in Jesus Piece early on because they had a cool name and interesting imagery to go with their band.  However, I kind of wrote their earlier material off as being generally beatdown-oriented with a few random blast beats thrown in to mix things up.  I’m glad to see the band has grown a bit and have returned with a metallic-leaning moshy album of solid songs worthy of the hype that has been heaped upon them.  Once again there is cool artwork to go with this that looks like it could have come from some 90’s industrial band.  There’s even a few spots where some soundscape experimentation is going on, particularly in the last two tracks on the record.  Musically though, throughout the rest of the other 8 tracks you get a solid mix of a less technical Burnt By the Sun, a healthy smattering of Turmoil, and maybe even a little bit of Buried Alive in the few faster sections.  “Adamant” is a pretty killer track, but why did they have to go and name it after some 80’s pop icon?  (Southern Lord)


NOTHING, “Dance On the Blacktop”
I have not really found Nothing to be all that interesting after their first album.  And I certainly don’t mean that in a, ‘the demo was better’ nose-in-the-air cool guy sort of way.  I genuinely feel like since “Guilty Of Everything” all the band’s music sounds like what I assume taking a mega dose of valium and then nodding off in a white noise chamber feels like.  And I also imagine if the band were reading this they would take that as a compliment.  I feel like their output has become more flat and takes less chances musically, while the vocals are so washed out that the whole thing is akin to sitting through an all day work place training on blood borne pathogens, complete with a 100-slide powerpoint presentation.  At some point, you’re going to nod off and not feel all that great about it.  “You Wind Me Up” is about as energetic as the band gets here, with its upbeat tempo and play-by-the-numbers indie shoegaze rock formula.  It’s a pretty decent tune.  But I’ll be damned if I can tell anything else apart on this record.  It’s like having a snack of white bread with some water on the side.  (Relapse)


POST/BOREDOM, “Shaking Hands With Clients” cassette EP
Don’t be deceived by the way this Seattle-area band spells out their name.  This is not a split.  It’s just one band and I’m really not sure why they do it this way.  Disclaimer aside, this is a pretty exceptional second release, above and beyond their initial demo.  On here Post/Boredom knock out four new semi-long ragers and one instrumental/interlude.  “Cologne Jones” starts things off with a kick of grungy, sludgy, grimy post-hardcore.  The next track, “Enhance Your Calm” takes a slightly more melodic, sort of Majority Rule-ish approach before getting back into more rhythmic and chunky hardcore with “Kilometers Davis”.  The final track, “Hetfield/Ulrich”, takes a few turns by opening with a very close approximation of “Here Comes Dudley” by Jesus Lizard before going into a more chaotic early Breather Resist-style thing for the middle of the song and then closing out with a slow and epic dirge that wouldn’t be out of place in later-era Unbroken.  All this is carried by vocalist Rachel Lynch’s strained howl, reciting lyrics that read more like short stories about amnesia, unsolved murders, cowboys burning down towns before riding out into the dust, and transcendentalism (or maybe alien abductions?).  I very much look forward to whatever this group comes up with from here on out.  (Casino Trash)


PRIMITIVE MAN/ UNEARTHLY TRANCE split
I can get down with bands that play slow but Primitive Man plays, like, way too slow for my taste.  I get it though- tune really low, pile on distortion and feedback until the speaker cones in your stereo disintegrate, and then just punch a chord really hard for a few minutes.  Oh, and run your vocals through a woodchipper.  Do this for 10 minutes per ‘song’ and it equals really heavy right?  Ehhhh….  Harsh?  Most definitely.  But my personal taste involves truly heavy music typically having a bit more energy and a few more notes.  Seismic tremors being heralded by a tortured cave monster doesn’t really do it for me.  Unearthly Trance, compared to Primitive Man, may as well be the Bad Brains in ’82 in terms of speed and brevity of song length.  They still keep it fairly slow, but add a punishing groove to their metallic, sludgy onslaught, particularly on the track “Reverse the Day”, which adds disorienting psychedelic droning over the crushing heaviness.  They close out their side with a post-apocalyptic noise track that I could do without.  I dig Unearthly Trance but I can’t hang with Primitive Man.  (Relapse)


SEWINGNEEDLE, “User Error”
Despite owing a debt of gratitude to all J. Robbins bands past and present (particularly in the vocals), and some jaunty and pulverizing rhythms to pile on top of those surface influences there is still something distinctly Chicago about Sewingneedle.  I can’t really describe why because there are such a variety of excellent bands that have emerged from that scene.  And I’ve listened to a lot of them.  And still something about this band’s underlying sound says ‘Chicago’ without me even having to look up their residence.  Maybe it’s because I’m also reminded of their 90’s hometown brethren Traluma- that hard-rocking Midwestern indie style with a sort of dour and moody side to the otherwise upbeat and exciting rock.  I really quite enjoy this.  There’s enough angular and off-beat riffing to appease fans of Dischord and Touch and Go output as there is the occasional distortion-heavy sludge that closes out mid-way point “Feel Good Music” and the chorus of “Philistine”, not to mention the wait-for-it ending of closing track “Credits” to appeal to those hoping for something a bit more on the crushing side.  I’m glad to have found out about this group, it’s a pleasing surprise.  (Aerial Ballet Records)


TILE, “Come On Home, Stranger”
A fuckin’ crusher.  It’s been way too long since this band did a record.  And they have been hyping this one up for almost a year now, teasing (like in December) ‘new record… in August’.  So seasons pass, people grow older, other people die, and finally, like some distant speck on the horizon eking forward ever so slowly…  finally…  the new Tile LP is within reach.  Was it worth the wait?  That depends.  Do you enjoy the audio equivalent of a steamroller crushing your bones to dust as you’re melted into, and eventually under, hot asphalt, becoming one with all the dirt and rocks, and black tar?  If so, then yes, totally worth the wait.  Tile comes rushing into things with menacing opening track “Change the World” followed by the equally upbeat “Swing Away”.  Typically this band tends to keeps it slow and crushing so opening this record with two faster songs is quite the statement of intent for them.  Things settle more into sludgy and salty (and by that I mean East Coast grouchy) mode by the time they get to “Father”.  They turn off the distortion for a bit with “Flammable Human”, but then close out the A-side by straight up just killing you- I mean violently murdering without remorse- and everything within shouting range, with the aptly named “I’ll End You”.  If you happen to make it to the B-side without being mortally wounded you can experience the joy of the extremely Torche-esque ripper “Play Safe”.  You get a few more fast-paced songs before things slide back into neanderthal-riff territory with “Lard Rats”.  And then it just gets slower, uglier, and weirder from there.  The band really nailed it here.  They sound tighter, heavier, better recorded and realize their Pissed Jeans-meets-Floor style with more songs than their last record, each one a ripper.  An easy contender for favorite record of the year right here.  (Limited Appeal Records)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

NULL DEBUT NEW SONG AND PRE-ORDER FOR NEW LP!

NULL return with their second LP, "Act Of Love", a meditation on heavy psych, droning heaviness, and repetitive chants in 8 songs. Underscoring the haunting melodies formed by trance-like guitar lines and sung vocals is a swamp-thick sludgy bass tone, created by fuzzed-out synth and pounding drums. NULL feature members of punk champs Coliseum but appeal more to fans of groups like Lungfish, Om, and Cloakroom.
The band has spent a couple years honing the sounds on this record after their initial LP, as well as a string of splits with bands such as Self Defense Family and Husband Stitch. They have toured far and wide and will continue to tour throughout the summer and 2018.

They have debuted the first song from the LP, "Waste", which you can hear now at New Noise Magazine, along with a small write-up about the band and the song.  But if you don't like reading any more than you have to you can also get a listen to it right here as well:



Once you're finished getting zoinked out of your skull from that use your remaining facilities to order the new record, on LP (your choice of white or black vinyl), or CD, or digital by going HERE or HERE.

*If you're international try going ordering through MVD because you will probably get a better shipping rate than I can afford.  Just sayin'.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

TRANSLATE ZINE ISSUE #9 IS FINALLY OUT!



It's been a couple years, but here's a new issue of TRANSLATE, the long-running zine that occurs basically whenever I feel like it. This issue is primarily about moving to the Pacific Northwest and all the fun that comes with it. Stories of transitioning out of an entire life lived in New York and the months leading up to the big move, and the resultant story of the move itself, adjusting to life in a much bigger and less grumpy city, as well as the cartoons/visual art and jack-assery that accompanies basically everything else I do. 32 pages of stuff for your eyes wrapped in a two-sided, multi-layered letterpress cover.  Some of the covers were printed on reflective silver paper, the rest on a heavyweight yellow stock.  Fancy!  Roll the dice, see which one you get.  Order now:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

IT'S FUGGIN' HOT, READ REVIEWS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR RECORDS MELT.

So when I was back in NY I wasn't really all in on summer because it got so grossly humid.  But I dealt with it because it sure as hell beat Winter.  Now that I'm in Oregon, where the Winter really isn't rough at all can I just say I'm still not that into Summer?  Like, it doesn't get humid out here really at all.  But man, it gets hot.  So instead of actually going out and doing stuff I'm attempting to keep my fragile skin from getting flayed and just power-listening through lots of records/music/things/whathaveyou.  And that leaves me time to write about it all as well.  So yeah, take a gander at what's crossed my path these last few weeks and investigate it for yourself.

BULGING, “Spaces”
Composed of members of Birmingham’s stellar NULL, Bulging pines a similar sonic terrain though I’d say a bit more loose and weird.  While NULL basks in slower, repetitive heavy mantras Bulging works in angular melodies, a touch of late 90’s Dischord oddity, and a bit of lo-fi.  But they still keep it fairly slow and, at times, kind of heavy, with areas of vocal repetition.  It’s definitely a record that makes you a bit uneasy listening to, like there’s something kind of sinister and weird lurking beneath the otherwise cool songs going on here.  “Song #8” is the most upbeat of the bunch with it’s breezy melody that eventually breaks into a Hoover-esque sort of blown-out chorus.  I’m not sure what to reference with this as it reminds me of a few things that don’t at all go together, but it fits into it’s own little compartment.  Slow, odd, melodic, lurking, sorta heavy, some bits of slower no-wave weirdness, but still catchy and entertaining?  Bulging, look into it, get weird.  (self-released)


BUMMER, “Holy Terror”
Get ready to get pulverized by an endless barrage of riffs.  Bummer, who surprisingly do not come from some remote hellscape (well, maybe Kansas City might be hell-ish), sure do have a lot of pent up aggression for three seemingly easy-going Midwesterners.  However, this is music meant for totally directionless pothead heshers who stay awake for three days at a time raging as hard as humanly possible and want to explore the other end of aggressive music that isn’t Municipal Waste.  So before the inevitable tidal wave of vomit comprised entirely of stale beer, moldy pizza, probably some guys class ring swallowed on a dare, and a punch card eaten in protest of working comes spewing forth this record needs to be the soundtrack of everything that comes before that.  Every Time I Die minus the metalcore?  Breather Resist without all the math-y parts, but just as chaotic?  The soundtrack for smashing beercans on your forehead after power bombing on your skateboard off a parking garage and puking into a dumpster.  I fucking love this record.  (Learning Curve)


CHRMR, “Respective Orbits”
This is totally on me, but I just assumed this Rochester, NY band was named after the Breather Resist album of the same name, which lead me to think they sounded like that.  Nothing could really be further from truth and it’s sort of fucking me up trying to justify why this group sounds like something completely different.  I’m learning to live with it.  Featuring ex-members of local heavyweights Sulaco this group takes a somewhat different approach, which is primarily in the vocals. So imagine some of the more modern vibes going on with Baroness and Mastodon, sludge-ify it by about 30% and add completely sung vocals.  It’s overall pretty heavy music, but has a sort of mainstream-ish appeal at times because of those vocals and some of the melodic tendencies going on.  I’m going to say though, the vocals- they’re just not doing it for me. Not into it.  Some of the music is executed wonderfully and has a very epic, sludgy heaviness to it that reminds the listener of that Sulaco connection, and just good, heavy music in general.  This is only 6 songs but it clocks in at close to half an hour so it may as well be a full length.  (self-released)


HUNDREDS OF AU, “Communications Link Re-established”
You can take the boy out of New Jersey but you can’t take the New Jersey out of the boy.  That’s the classic old saying, right?  No?  So what.  I’m going with it.  For as long as I can remember my man Tom Schlatter has been hashing it out in numerous New Jersey bands, some more known than others, and he certainly has his own style.  Sure, it owes a lot to old Ebullition Records material and chaotic emo of the mid-late 90’s, but now when I hear modern bands that take a page from that style (think Touche Amore and certain parts of Converge for more well-known, albeit not-quite-on-the-nose, comparisons) I kind of think of various NJ miscreants laying the groundwork for a lot of that.  Having moved up to the wasteland of Albany, NY Schlatter started Hundreds Of Au with a different lineup that released a decent demo, but it kind of sputtered out fairly quick.  Enter a handful of dudes from New Jersey to re-invigorate the project and Hundreds Of Au now has this 9-song CD that races by in about 17 minutes, and it’s quite good.  So yes, if 90’s-styled fast, passionate, screamed aggressive emo that gets chaotic while still finding a hook and melody from time to time is your thing this ought to scratch that itch quite nicely.  And then you have to write a 9 page essay to HeartattaCk about how the ‘itch’ ‘scratched’ was ‘metaphorical’ and you would never really aim to do harm to your own skin. (Middleman Records)


INTEGRITY/ KRIEG split
Dom Romeo continues his reign over the Integrity camp with several more songs that focus heavily on the thrash/Japanese hardcore worship, mixed with some serious evil metal.  Sure, Integrity is already sort of known for that, but the more breakdown-heavy hardcore that comprises a lot of their material is pretty much abandoned on this split.  I’m not much of a metal guy really, but I think one of the songs on this side is a cover, but I’m not certain.  Krieg I’m not too familiar with because they’re typically considered a black metal band and I’m definitely not into black metal by and large.  However, Krieg sound more like just, ya know, regular metal with vocals recorded in some old cave or sewer.  They break out a new song, an older song, and a live track on their side.  Some of it works, some of it gets kind of dull after a bit.  But, you know, it’s evil.  Hail Satan.  (Relapse)


JAY JAYLE, “No Trail and Other Unholy Paths”
I’m always amazed at how Evan Patterson can work within a genre (or subgenre) and just completely master it, whether it’s the math-y hardcore of National Acrobat and Breather Resist, or switching gears to simplified heavy amp/pedal worship noise rock in Young Widows, and now something completely different with Jaye Jayle.  What started as a solo project that evolved into a pretty serious band, things started as primal dark, dusty desert tunes infused with bits of Americana and blues.  But man oh man, this new record just blows everything else they have done to date out of the water.  Things still retain a repetitive, trance-like simplicity, but mixed into the dark folk is almost industrial-sounding krautrock and vibed-out synthesizers, occasional saxophone bleating, plenty of back-up vocals and a confidence that sets a tone of eerie loneliness.  As David Yow would say, “like dust with boots on”…  this is kind of that and Jaye Jayle have really unleashed an excellent record that draws you in and leaves you all alone in the middle of nowhere.  They have really gained a mastery of whatever it is that they’re doing and with each stylistic change that Patterson goes through in his various musical outfits I’m happy to be along for the ride as a fan.  (Sargent House)


OVLOV, “Tru”
They were around for awhile, did some very Dinosaur Jr sounding records, split up hard, and now they’re back together doing more very Dinosaur Jr sounding music.  So there’s nothing wrong with that. OK, so that’s oversimplifying it a bit.  But it does have some strong Dino Jr vibes happening.  And there’s also plenty of lo-fi, fuzzed-out beyond your wildest shoegaze-y dreams jams, some chill indie rocking a la bands like Teenage Cool Kids, and just a hint of synth thrown in here and there for good measure.  While things feel all ‘coasting down a dream’ contemplative and driving on songs like “Stick”, and then get quiet-to-loud Sonic Youth freak-out on “Tru Punk”, and go full blown-out speakers with the speedy and dense “Fast G”, it’s album closer “Grab It From the Garden” which shows Ovlov in a form that very much suits them- slow and thunderous crushes of Hum-esque distortion and pretty melodies amongst the lush rock this band has turned out on past records.   It’s quite an excellent return to form for these Connecticut cats and I for one am glad to see them back in action.  They have made quite an exceptional return, even if the band was put to bed for only a couple years before re-emerging.  (Exploding In Sound)


PRETTY PLEASE, “Fur Model” CD
Heavy grunge.  Nirvana worship slowed down to early 90’s Melvins speed for much of the record.  Add to that some second tier picked-over forgotten grunge major label casualties in the melody department and you get a fair assessment of how Pretty Please sounds, whom I guarantee were barely kids when the era they are cherry picking from was occurring.  I’m hardly bashing this though.  I’m pretty into it.  I’m kind of surprised how well they get the era nuances down pat.  “Milk Steak” pines Nirvana’s “Big Long Now” hard for a dip into B-side territory, while “It Pays To Complain” moves fast enough to make up for the syrupy pace of many of the other tracks here.  “Valentine” goes for a creepy-late-night-stalker-creeping-in-the-bushes vibe that for whatever reason- and I swear I mean nothing negative by this- reminds me of Filter meets the Toadies.  Honestly, I think it may be my favorite track on this.  Really, this is good stuff.  I’m enjoying it thoroughly and you ought to as well.  (self-released)
  


SUPERTHIEF, "Eating Alone In My Car" EP
After some buzz with several releases over the last couple years Austin’s Superthief returns with a new EP of bizarre noise rock goodness.  Think the serpentine bass of Jesus Lizard, snarky, snarled vocals a la Albini, and grating, knotty guitar work that lurks as well as it annihilates.  Things start off with a tense, yet propulsive tempo on “Gone Country” before going into the more dirge-y and gruff “6 Months Blind”.  “Woodchipper” flies right by in just over a minute of damaged hardcore fury.  “Eating Alone In My Car” is a stop-start grooving piss take on, well, I guess the weird awkwardness of eating alone in your car.  It’s weird, pissed-off, and heavy and ya know, I guess I can relate.  “Swaggy” closes out the EP with an ultra-tense diatribe into a swampy mess before wrapping up with several minutes of a repetitive bass riff that will stick with you until you’re beyond annoyed with it.  I love the crazy tension, wild energy, and messy yet cohesive damage being created by this group.  (Learning Curve)

 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

WELCOME TO SUMMER, READ REVIEWS OF THINGS

I no longer have clever titles for these posts, my apologies.  Anyway, it's summer, what the heck are you doing reading this stuff?  Unless, of course, you're doing this outdoors, in which case, carry on.  Behold- some gross, ugly punk; some reading material in printed form; some thoughtfully-crafted thinking person's music.  It's all here really.  What more do you want?

CLOSET WITCH, s/t
Totally manic grindcore out of Iowa, which makes sense because if I lived in a flat, and vapid wasteland like Iowa I’d probably be compelled to play music this harsh as well given the wrecked mental state I’d clearly be in due to my surroundings.  With this release you get a good mix of standard fare blasting, but things move like a tornado, often a blurred and chaotic mess in the best way possible.  Other times less traditional aspects come into play, akin to their recent tour mates in Cloud Rat and their experiments with epic atmospherics and occasional sludgy breakdowns.  And other times there’s some bizarre Deadguy/Rorschach-styled noisecore leads mixed in with the whirlwind of sound.  It’s kind of messy, and there’s often a lot going on.  However, Closet Witch seem to be closing in on getting their thing, whatever that may be exactly, honed to perfection.  They haven’t been at it for too long, but they’re quickly getting real good.  (Halo Of Flies)


GUNK, vol. 1
Professional illustrator Curt Merlo takes a brief respite from his day job to throw together a small zine of his weirdo art and short comic stories that are heavily influenced by Charles Burns and 50’s comic book ads.  So, of course, I’m into it.  I dig the grainy print style of the zine and the limited use of color.  It definitely gives the whole thing a 60’s chapbook feel.  It’s rather short though and having a little extra content would be great.  But hey, I’ll take what I can get. Get slimed in the weird world of Gunk.  (Saboteur Press)

HEALER, “LP One”
And out of left field comes the debut full length from Buffalo’s Healer!  They have been tearing up faces for a few years now around the Northeast and, to date, they basically just have a 7” to their credit.  However, that is totally made up for with 22 rippers in all of about 25 minutes on this record.  If you hadn’t figured out already, Healer play short and fast.  Their music is a mix of powerviolence, some Negative Approach-styled hardcore, a few slow and sludgy parts, and raspy, guttural, nasty as a Rochester garbage plate that’s been left out in the sun for a couple days vocals.  Thus far, this album has been released digitally, yet I am assured it will also be released on a physical format.  I’m looking forward to that so I can read the lyrics to such eloquently titled tracks such as “Hammer Time”, “River Phoenix”, “Hairclub For Men”, and “Potato Salad”.  I know it sounds a little silly, but I’m pretty sure there’s some weighty topics behind those titles.  Get wrecked, Healer are no joke.  (Healer)


L.M.I., “IV”
There’s so much going on here that makes this a bit confusing.  And I don’t mean too much going on like some shitty tech-death wanna-be early 00’s metalcore band.  It’s like, in my own mind, collisions of influences that don’t make sense, but still, overall, sound sort of cool.  So there’s a NYHC sort of vibe to a lot of the songwriting in that you got some kind of groove-oriented, but punk-leaning, hardcore that brings to mind more modern NYHC bands.  And then there’s also a heavy post-hardcore style going on that some of the Long Island bands from the 90’s brought.  So far that doesn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility.  But then you get this weird tone to the guitars and all of a sudden a chaotic element, like early Drowningman comes into play and I start to think that none of this makes sense and I’m OK with it.  People under the age of 30 probably won’t know what to do with that description and they probably hear something totally different.  But you know, that’s what I hear, so deal with it.  This EP tosses out five more rippers for scratching your head while moshing.  The weirdest part- they’re not even from NYC or Long Island…  they’re from PENNSYLVANIA.  What the fuck universe do I live in? (self-released)
 

SELF DEFENSE FAMILY, “Have You Considered Punk Music”
This is a hilarious title considering this is such a soft record.  Even the title track meanders with some Americana-style twang and, if I had to take a guess, the band did not consider punk music when it was being composed (or maybe they did, and their answer was, ‘let’s not make ‘punk’ music’).  Honestly, my favorite material from this rotating cast of musicians was when they were at their Lungfish-worshipping apex.  The music was melodic, introspective, and still had a bit of heft to it.  Since then they have gotten way more mellow.  Hell, Patrick doesn’t even sound like a yelping dog anymore (that’s not a critique, I was cool with it), trading hoarse yelling for almost whispered thoughts on all the usual abstractions and point-blank ‘this is my life’ type lyrics he is known for.  So as much as the music doesn’t quite do it for me as much these days I very much respect what they do for always pushing in different directions, even if those directions are as gentle as playing wind chimes with feathers.  And I feel like I’m totally trashing this record, but it’s quite good in fact.  You just have to go into it knowing this is an ever-evolving band and while they may play very reserved and sparse music lately it’s not without a strong impact.  There’s a quiet tension, plaintive melodies where lyrical twists fall like bricks even though they are delicately spoken, and an underlying current of experimentation that is always willing to try something new and seeing if it sticks, and making it all sound natural.  Not a bad effort if you ask me.  (Run ForCover)


SLEEPLESS NIGHTS zine #3
As far as straightforward hardcore zines go…  um…  I’m surprised they still exist?  Get transported back to 1998 and check out this slick rag that is about 50% photos (full disclosure, I contributed a number of pictures to this) and the rest interviews.  Within those interviews you will find the always-amazing Greg Bennick going on about his insanely productive life and one incredible story about traveling to the Inside Out reunion shows in 1991, which pretty much is worth the price of the zine alone.  Ray from Taken/100 Words Or Less offers some interesting insight on growing up in SoCal and a couple rather basic interviews with fairly new bands Cutting Through and Big Cheese. In addition, a crazy story about some adventurous kids in Utah going cave diving and dying (I actually heard this story from Greg Bennick a few years ago), and some on-the-road shoplifting (hello, ‘youth’ my old friend).  Maybe 20 years ago I’d be a little nonplused by this since 10 zines a week came out like this in this style.  But since it is a rarity these days I was pleasantly entertained and informed by this.  Not too shabby.

TONGUE PARTY, “Looking For a Painful Death”
I don’t know how this band gets their tone but it’s so ridiculously gnarly that listening to it is like trying to walk through a wall made of slimy bees.  Yeah, that’s my analogy for the day.  Also, this band is named ‘Tongue Party’.  Let all this grossness seep into you and then you might be ready for the new full length from these Midwest garbage dwellers.  Lots of fuzzy, beefy, ugly riffs abound here, which stop and start on a dime while blasting between unbridled noise rock Valhalla and revved up speedy hardcore-thrash.  They did a split not too long ago with USA Nails (another amazing band that I’d just like plug as a sidebar) and that was my first introduction, and they kind of stole the show.  This record just comes full force tenfold from that and I’m pleased as punch that they sound as weird and ugly as they do. This record contains a song called “I Can Shit Anywhere”.  I respect their commitment to form.  Well done.  (Learning Curve Records)


YOB, “Our Raw Heart”
Yob has been an institution in Oregon, and in the doom/sludge scene, for over 20 years.  I had no clue they had been around that long.  I also had no idea this was their eighth album.  I’ve hardly listened to any of their other albums, but checking out this behemoth of a record (and believe me, it’s a task at 73 minutes, I had to break it up into two days of listening to get through it all) is a varied affair.  There is crushing heaviness, and slow atmospheric passages filled with melody and sung vocals.  But just as those parts come and go the doom that I’m sure long time listeners love is ever-present.  My understanding is that this is a sort of different record for Yob and, to me, that difference is song to song.  Some of it almost feels like different recording sessions even.  “The Screen” is easily one of the meanest and heaviest songs I’m sure I’ll hear all year.  And then the title track (which closes out the record on a mighty note) is big and lush and full of huge melodies as vast and scenic as the Columbia River gorge of the members home state.  I’m not sure what to make of it all as there’s a great variety throughout the record, and while it lacks a bit of consistency throughout, it certainly showcases what Yob is capable of on many levels.  (Relapse)