Thursday, March 19, 2020

SHIT SUCKS, NEW MUSIC RULES

To quote the great Hector Elizando Mountain Dew Comancho, "Shit. I know shit's bad right now."  But unlike him I don't have "a guy whose gonna solve all our problems."  Here's what I got, and I'm choosing this specific time to do it: I got some written word about a bunch of new records I was either sent, or took upon myself to write about.  There's bandcamp links to all of them because today their platform is taking zero cut of any sales in order to help a bit with musicians and labels that could use a little boost in the wake of things being kind of hard for everybody.  So read on, take a listen, and maybe plunk down a little dough, even if it's just a couple bucks.  And big ups to bandcamp for regularly being a resource that puts the artists first

BULLS, “Then We Die”
This Texas band self-released this effort digitally back in January, but Reptilian Records is doing a vinyl version that has just been unleashed.  Label honcho Chris X described this group as having Unwound vibes, and while I can certainly tell that the trio probably has all their records in their personal collections they set out on their own path of musical noisemongering.  Sure, those rubbery basslines snake in and out and a sort of otherworldly weirdness butts heads against a grimy heaviness much like the Pacific Northwest legends.  But Bulls brings that sound into a current context that evokes it’s own regional weirdness (that being Ft. Worth) and gives the record it’s own shimmer.  “Odessa” might be the best example of that source of influence (which might not be completely out of place on a record like “Challenge For a Civilized Society”) coming together with their own panic-y tension and rhythmic crashing at the songs close. (Reptilian Records)


ESCUELA GRIND, “Indoctrination”
I feel a little biased talking about Escuela Grind (formerly just Escuela) because my band has played with them plenty and they have helped organize a number of shows that we have played.  And I’m going to give away the ending right now- this is pretty fucking good.  But if I may, I’d like to introduce a little historical perspective that leads to my opinion being a positive one based on merit, rather than influenced by personal bias.  The band has, from the get-go, been anchored by vocalist Katarina Economou and drummer Jesse Fuentes who got things rolling after they moved from Texas to Ithaca, NY.  They initially began as just a guitar-drums-vocals trio and as they began writing and playing out they all contributed significantly with pushing the metal-punk-grind scene more throughout the upstate NY region by booking and putting together wild shows.  They released a couple of split tapes that I didn’t really get too into, primarily because I thought the recordings were pretty hodgepodge and didn’t do justice to their live set.  Lineups rotated several times before the core of the group moved out to Western Massachusetts and reassembled there. They finally got a touring and solid recording lineup finalized with the addition of Ithaca/Syracuse guitarist Jason Balthazar Eldridge (who has played in a bunch of awesome regional bands over the years) and bassist Kris Morash, who I am unfamiliar with.  So the band has endured a number of changes and worked hard on their craft, and now they finally have a solid full length with the type of recording that does them justice.  So, what do I think of the record?  There’s a couple points- I never realized Katerina’s vocals got that low and mean, so that was a surprise, very Despise You/Infest influenced.  The music fucking rips.  Mashing together excellent elements of grind, powerviolence, and a guitar tone influenced by Swedish death metal the whole thing comes off as a love letter to the Slap-a-Ham school with a much better recording, and goofy samples replaced with otherworldly soundscapes popping up here and there (as well as mostly dominating the 10 minute outro track).  If you love fast blasts and ripping powerviolence I’d give this a shot.  (To Live a Lie/AarmageddonLabel)


FOTOCRIME, “South Of Heaven”
Fotocrime is a rather big leap, for me, musically to digest.  And it’s not because it’s some avant-garde, experimental think piece; or terrible music.  I just don’t listen to all that much in the way of post-punk, goth-y music.  I mean, Ryan Patterson (AKA Fotocrime) really goes all in here and his reference points are outside my realm of nerdery.  I’ve always had a great respect for his musical output and the leaps he is willing to make to satisfy an itch, rather than just play to what others know and/or expect from him.  Each Coliseum record was an evolutionary jump into new territory, but you could always tell who was playing the guitar and singing.  Fotocrime really abandons that familiarity almost entirely to the point where it’s almost like a completely different person behind the music, and I think that is very exciting.  Musically this is out of my lane, but I do find certain songs on here to be really interesting, using various live percussion (courtesy of guest drummer Hayden Menzies of Metz on a few tracks) and a drum machine, lots of different synths and effects that are used in tasteful ways, and haunting melodies throughout.  I was definitely intrigued by the variety of guests who show up (but do not expect their signature playing styles) including Janet Morgan singing on several tracks, Erik Denno, J. Robbins, and Nick Thineman all contributing parts, and, of course, Patterson who brings it all together.  Songs very from the relatively straightforward (“Love Is a Devil”), to a more grating thud (“Foto On Wire”), syncopated industrial machinery (“Never Fall Out Of Love”), and a vibe on “Hold Me In the Night” which I can only compare to a more quiet and subdued Peter Gabriel song between the distorted vocals and emotional heft.  It’s a truly wonderful song.  So yeah, this is a record a bit out of my wheelhouse in regards to coming up with astute descriptives, but I’m glad to give it a try and experience it for the creative and unique vision to puts forth.  It shakes my brain up a bit and is overall quite enjoyable. (Profound Lore Records)


GOUGE AWAY, “Consider” 7”
Gouge Away are one of the most exciting bands these days straddling that line between hardcore-punk and something else altogether and I’m so happy to see they have some new stuff after their exceptionally excellent last full length.  Sure, we’re only getting one new song here, as well as a Pixies cover (yeah, we already know they’re named after a Pixies song but anyone who does a cover of “Wave Of Mutilation”- easily in my top 5 Pixies songs ever- gets a nod of approval from me), but it’s a damn good new song.  “Consider” begs the simple question, ‘why be some nationalistic dick when people who aren’t like you are just looking for basic human needs?’  In this case, consider helping those who don’t have it good for the sake of just being a decent person.  Yes, the song is grungy, melodic, fierce, catchy, and all that good stuff that has me very interested in what comes next for the band.  (Deathwish Inc)


KINGHORN, “Short Stories” EP
You know I’m a sucker for stuff like this.  Ex-Prize Country come together to toss out five songs that sound a lot like Prize Country.  I’m definitely not mad.  Kinghorn got a way of hitting you with the post-hardcore heavy rock somewhere between the school of Quicksand and stuff like early Kowloon Walled City with massive riffs and huge, expansive choruses that come down like a godamn sledgehammer.  You really can’t go wrong with checking this out if you enjoy big, heavy, loud rock.  It’s just three dudes making all this racket.  If you regularly read my review stuff and err towards a similar interest in bands that I have than it’s probably a guarantee that you will enjoy this too.  (self-released)


LACITTADOLENTE, “Salespeople”
Here we got an Italian band, who are named after (insofar as my 30-second google search was able to produce) a silent Italian film of the same name, which translates to ‘city of woe’.  If this is accurate then the irony is that this band is anything but silent.  And if the translation is to be believed I can only assume that if Lacittadolente were released upon some happy-go-lucky prosperous town they would not be happy afterwards.  Cueing other European math-y metal bands such as Knut, Breach, or even Ananda would not be out of line, as all these bands share elements of that sort of math-noise-metal hardcore thing.  I’d say Lacittadolente lean a bit more on the metal end of things, but nothing feels overdone to the point of being indecipherable.  So it’s a decent effort.  Relentless, but not so technical that it loses sight of the song. (this isn't out yet so I'm including a link to their previous release)


SLOW MASS, “Music For Ears II” 7”
I was introduced to this band last year when they opened up for Super Unison.  Since that time it’s been tough to pin down their style as they slip in and out of post-hardcore, revved-up catchy Superchunk-ish indie rock, and expansive/some times experimental slow burners.  It’s a varied, but always interesting, experience listening to them.  If you haven’t guessed, this is part two of a seven inch series they have called “Music For Ears”.  This is the most recent one (released in January) and it includes one upbeat ripper that’s right where I really dig this band, alternating between different singers, and just plowing through a great song.  The B-side is a cover of Pygmy Lush’s “I’ll Wait With You”.  It’s an odd selection, but again, given Slow Mass’ eclectic vibe, it works for them. This is being released on the impressive Landland Colportage label, who always go above and beyond with a great sense of design style and fancy packaging, which is an added bonus.  (Landland Colportage)


THE WHIP, discography LP
Finally!  After years of rumors that the ‘lost’ (you could find most of this stuff with a cursory internet search prior to this release) Whip recordings would be unearthed, remastered, and given a proper release it has happened.  Oh, who are The Whip?  Let me back you up a bit.  When Olympia-based noise rock gods KARP called it a day after what was easily their crowning achievement (the “Self-Titled LP”) sadness prevailed.  But a bit later, bassist/vocalist Jared Warren and drummer Scott Jernigan teamed up with like-minded sonic guru Joe Preston (Melvins, Thrones, High On Fire) to start anew as The Whip.  It was essentially the second coming of KARP and sounded very similar.  They released a 2-song 7” that was a beacon of sonic hope of things to come.  The band began to play out and recorded some more material before the group was sadly cut short when Jernigan tragically passed away in a boating accident.  The group disbanded and the material that they had laid down was shelved.  Jared Warren eventually started Big Business, where he continues to slay on bass and vocals to this day.  The material The Whip recorded sat for around 15 years with bits showing up around the corners of the internet here and there.  But now you get everything they recorded- the 7”, another 5 studio recorded songs (one of which is a cover), as well as a live set with an additional couple unheard songs (and a couple aforementioned live versions of studio songs).  I wish it could have been more, but I am completely satisfied to have this gem of material unearthed from a very short-lived band that had a huge amount of potential.  One of the greatest bass tones in music meets thunderous rock, big choruses, and sludgy punk.  Riffs for days.  (WantageUSA)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

PINKO SPRING TOUR DATES

The tour dates for Hex Records bands continue to come in!  It was mentioned before, but here's the updated itinerary for Texan trio PINKO, as they make their way through the Midwest/West/West Coast in April!

3/27- Austin, TX @ Highland House
3/28- San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
4/1-  El Paso, TX @ The Monarch
4/2- Mesa, AZ @ TBA
4/3- San Diego, CA @ The Spot
4/4- Los Angeles, CA @ Non Plus Ultra
4/5- Oakland, CA @ Elbow Room
4/6- San José, CA @ TBA
4/7- Sacramento, CA @ The Colony
4/8- Bend, OR @ Soul Side Sound
4/9- Day Off
4/10- Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
4/11- Seattle, WA @ Substation
4/12- Boise, ID @ Regal Beaver
4/13- Salt Lake City, UT @ Gold Blood Collective
4/14- Denver, CO @ Rhinoceropolis
4/15- Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
4/16 Oklahoma City, OK @ Drunken Fry
4/17- Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza

Thursday, February 20, 2020

USA NAILS ON TOUR.... IN THE USA!

This Spring London-based post-punk noise rockers USA Nails will be doing a tour of the Midwest out to the East Coast with Chicago group Stuck.
It's not a very long tour, but if you live in any of the places below best get yr butts to the show because it's not like these dudes are able to get over here very much.
And if you haven't yet picked up their incredible "Life Cinema" record from last year what the heck is wrong with you?
USA NAILS SPRING 2020 TOUR w/ Stuck

4/3- Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
4/4- Kalamazoo, MI @ Shakesperes
4/5- Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
4/6- Columbus, OH @ Ace Of Cups
4/7- Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit Pizza
4/8- Washington, DC @ Comet ping Pong
4/9- Philadelphia, PA @ Cousin Dannys
4/10- New York, NY @ Alphaville
4/11- Boston, MA @ Greek American

Monday, February 17, 2020

HEY! CHECK OUT THESE REVIEWS

I have no witty title to add here.  It's been pretty busy, OK?  But here's an opportunity for me to shed some light on some late-comers from last year that I missed the boat on, as well as some stuff that's either just come out or arriving shortly.  So it evens out, right?

CHAT PILE, “Remove Your Skin Please” EP
Here’s one that slipped in at the end of last year and is now getting noiseniks all damp with excitement.  I mean, when you’re stuck in Oklahoma City you gotta make do with what you have and sometimes that yields some really fuckin’ bizarre music.  I’ll give Chat Pile this- they really don’t sound like anyone else.  Imagine, if you will, sludgy riffs similar to old Godstopper and Melvins, howled yet morose vocals, drumming recorded in such a way as to sound like a drum machine, and divergent post-punk riffs showing up here and there that shouldn’t work, but fit in just fine.  It’s utterly strange, exceptionally discomforting, and an awesome sound that is pretty one-of-a-kind (a tough feat to achieve these days).  I’d like to see these kids roll up to a venue with piles of amps and play as humanly loud as possible.  It’s really the only viable presentation for something this ugly, heavy, and weird. (self-released)


CHIEF TAIL, s/t
Get the Jesus Lizard at their most rowdy and unhinged and pair them up in a dive bar with the negative sluminess of Easy Action and you get an idea of what Chief Tail are going on about.  This is dirty, drunken, spiteful, and manic rock n’ roll that’s about as cheerful as finding out that you have a malignant brain tumor.  Most of this record whips right by, as over half the songs fly under two minutes.  But when your band titles a song “I Hate Your Face” it does not leave much witty lyrical exploration for meaning to be had.  They hate your face and they’re drunkenly shouting at you about it.  Whatever they hate I’m OK with it because Chief Tail is pretty awesome.  (Reptilian)


DENIAL OF LIFE demo
On the semi-local (regional, ok?) front Denial Of Life bring grimy thrash to your doorstep with some serious creeper vibes, likely making real estate developers think twice about further gentrifying Tacoma.  The band borrow more from older metal and crossover breakdowns than they do straight up thrash, but it doesn’t keep things from sounding any less antagonistic.  Four songs with titles like “Carnage” and “Escalation To Hell” (I really wish it were “Escalator To Hell” because that would just be funny) to let you know they mean business.  Their bullet belts are filled with live ammunition and their guitars are the guns by which to fire upon posers. (self-released)


EASY PREY, “Relentless Struggle” EP
I can’t think of this band without thinking of one of my all-time favorite Harkonen songs of the same name.  And while both bands share some similarities of being bombastic, riffy, heavy bands Easy Prey maintain definite elements that allow them to straddle the line between being a hardcore group and something altogether different.  They write punchy and energetic songs that go by pretty quick while inserting an overall texture that falls under that huge umbrella of ‘post-hardcore’ (as bland a description as that may imply).  The vocals tend to keep the band anchored in hardcore realm, as they are barked, growled, and direct.  A good deal of their music is somewhat reminiscent of what the post-Minor Times bands have done and are doing (Ladder Devils and Desperate Living most notably).  I bet these dudes are loud as fuck live and a song like “Steamrolled” implies just as much. (self-released)
 

EXMAID, “Sorcery”
The second full length from this group that appears to have moved on from being just a project to a pretty serious band.  Where their first record felt like friends just having some fun writing some rock songs, “Sorcery” finds the group adding more dynamics in their music, trying new ideas and sounds, and overall coming up with a substantially better-sounding, and more creatively diverse record while still maintaining a sort of garage rock-meets-Chapel Hill 90’s vibe.  Comprised of songwriter Miranda Taylor with the whole of Psychic Teens rounding out the group the only real traits one will find between Exmaid and PT is the simple, one-word (in this case, primarily four-letter) song titles and that both bands play rock music.  Although this is pretty far-removed from Psychic Teens brand of goth-y post-punk noise rock.  Exmaid at once sound fun, energetic, and daring to add some interesting sounds and parts that give them character.  It’s a solid follow up that deserves some attention.  (Bangs and Burns)


FAKING, “No Comfort”
I wasn’t quite certain if this Philly-area band was still in operation, but it appears that they made some changes (opting out of having a bassist in favor of synth/bass keys, which you can’t really tell the difference honestly) while moving forward.  Their music has always been moody, frequently taking cues from the precision noisemongering of bands like Young Widows, except Faking eschews some of the effects pedalboard wizardry of the former in order to lay down a simple and direct plodding of sound.  While their approach on this record is a little more simplistic it does show growth, which is displayed as really downer music.  There’s an overall feeling of sadness here, even though it remains riffy.  I feel like their substitution of synth for bass could be explored more and really add some texture, which is most on display in the closing, brutally cold “Not A God”.  For those familiar with the band “Hard Work” harkens back to their earlier material with a repetitive swing and a bit more upbeat.  Overall, Faking make good on this new EP by bringing you down, or as they say “hitting rock bottom feels like a sport”. (Slugthrower Records)


POSITIVE NO, “Kyanite”
Positive No has quietly built up a prolific catalog of music over the course of nearly a decade, self-releasing much of it, and acting as more of a studio project than touring live act.  This is due, in part, to the group of musicians comprising the band who have all done time in various indie touring bands and have likely settled into that time in life where the interest in playing a crappy venue in the middle of nowhere with one halfway-working mic, getting paid $25 after spending $60 in gas to get there, and then crashing out on some strangers potentially bedbug-infested couch sounds less like an adventure and more of a burden.  Oh, and this is apparently Positive No’s swansong recording, as they have decided to lay the project to rest.  That all being said, the music on “Kyanite”, the final offering from Positive No, sounds warm and welcoming, breezing through jangly rocking numbers with breezy and hushed vocals for the most part, giving everything an air of lightness.  It isn’t until “Non” is halfway through where the band picks up on a bit more of a post-punk vibe and adding a little more energy, a la Fugazi’s catchy riffing.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Positive No includes vocalist Tracy Wilson, who played in mid-90’s indie rock band Dahlia Seed, a band I thought was just wonderful and some of the music here reminds me of that group.  I’ve always admired the music Tracy has been a part of and her vocals are one-of-a kind.  So it’s a real treat to listen to them, and the joyous music that Positive No is giving us one last time.  This is a good record to go out on for sure.  (self-released)


PRIZE, “Beat In a Fair Contest”
There was a band from Albany, NY called Throat Culture at one point that I found to be pretty damn good.  They certainly didn’t sound like they were from Albany, and over the course of a couple years they developed their sound into a very solid gritty, grungy, post-hardcore unit before calling it quits.  Prize is at least one member from that band and regardless of who else is playing in the group they seem to pick up right where Throat Culture left off.  This EP is chock full of lumbering, sludgy post-hardcore dirges that seem to get more aggressive as the record goes on.  From the halfway point on it sounds as if Kiss It Goodbye got together with Glassjaw and decided to take downers together, which, come to think of it, would probably be a pretty cool combination.  Either way, if this is what feeling shitty in the Rust Belt sounds like in 2020 than I am A-OK with that.  (Fuzz Records)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

GAYTHIST PREMIERE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM+ PRE-ORDER!

Here it is, the first single and pre-order for the new Gaytheist album "How Long Have I Been On Fire?", streaming now at BrooklynVegan! Go check out "The Dark Deep" and then get yourself a record!
https://hexrecords.bandcamp.com/album/gaytheist-how-long-have-i-been-on-fire

Also, they got a bunch of shows coming up throughout the Spring, so take a look at those:
 
2/28- Chehalis, WA @McFliers
2/29- Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly
3/13- Portland, OR @ Kenton Club

4/10- Portland, OR @ High Water Mark (HLHIBOF record release show) w/ Pinko
4/11- Seattle, WA @ Substation w/ Post/Boredom, Pinko
4/16- Eugene, OR @ Old Nicks

7/17- Calgary, AB @ Palomino
02/28 Chehalis, WA @ McFiler’s w/ C-AVERAGE
02/29 Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly w/ PINK BOA, SMOOTH SAILING
03/13 Portland, OR @ Kenton Club w/ VIA VALE, INTERNET BEEF
04/10 Portland, OR @ High Water Mark w/PINKO, SEA MOSS, DUNZO
04/11 Seattle, WA @ Substation w/ PINKO, POST/BOREDOM
04/16 Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s w/ HOLY GROVE, RED CLOUD
07/17 Calgary, AB @ The Palomino

Read More: Gaytheist releasing ‘How Long Have I Been On Fire​?’ (stream a track) | http://www.brooklynvegan.com/gaytheist-releasing-how-long-have-i-been-on-fire-stream-a-track/?fbclid=IwAR2dOH3Me9X9Yz6DYRB_H2u5SMYN4qRbHtEVMVPd_JaN5qRI9eo5wI2M524&trackback=tsmclip
 
02/28 Chehalis, WA @ McFiler’s w/ C-AVERAGE
02/29 Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly w/ PINK BOA, SMOOTH SAILING
03/13 Portland, OR @ Kenton Club w/ VIA VALE, INTERNET BEEF
04/10 Portland, OR @ High Water Mark w/PINKO, SEA MOSS, DUNZO
04/11 Seattle, WA @ Substation w/ PINKO, POST/BOREDOM
04/16 Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s w/ HOLY GROVE, RED CLOUD
07/17 Calgary, AB @ The Palomino

Read More: Gaytheist releasing ‘How Long Have I Been On Fire​?’ (stream a track) | http://www.brooklynvegan.com/gaytheist-releasing-how-long-have-i-been-on-fire-stream-a-track/?fbclid=IwAR2dOH3Me9X9Yz6DYRB_H2u5SMYN4qRbHtEVMVPd_JaN5qRI9eo5wI2M524&trackback=tsmclip
02/28 Chehalis, WA @ McFiler’s w/ C-AVERAGE
02/29 Bellingham, WA @ The Firefly w/ PINK BOA, SMOOTH SAILING
03/13 Portland, OR @ Kenton Club w/ VIA VALE, INTERNET BEEF
04/10 Portland, OR @ High Water Mark w/PINKO, SEA MOSS, DUNZO
04/11 Seattle, WA @ Substation w/ PINKO, POST/BOREDOM
04/16 Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s w/ HOLY GROVE, RED CLOUD
07/17 Calgary, AB @ The Palomino

Read More: Gaytheist releasing ‘How Long Have I Been On Fire​?’ (stream a track) | http://www.brooklynvegan.com/gaytheist-releasing-how-long-have-i-been-on-fire-stream-a-track/?fbclid=IwAR2dOH3Me9X9Yz6DYRB_H2u5SMYN4qRbHtEVMVPd_JaN5qRI9eo5wI2M524&trackback=tsmclip

Monday, February 10, 2020

NEW GAYTHEIST RECORD OUT ON HEX THIS SPRING!



Big news!  We are beyond stoked to be releasing the next record from Portland's own GAYTHEIST!  Their new record won't be out until April, but here's a teaser for now.  Check back later this week for a new song.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

PINKO TO TOUR THE WEST THIS SPRING!

Ladies and germs, look to the future, as P I N K O will be touring the West in April in support of "You & You". Get in touch with them if you wanna lend a hand with a show in some of these places.
Here's the dates:
3/27- Austin, TX
3/28- San Antonio, TX
4/1- El Paso, TX
4/2- Mesa/Tucson, AZ
4/3- San Diego, CA
4/4- Los Angeles, CA
4/5- San Francisco, CA
4/6- Oakland, CA
4/7- Sacramento, CA
4/8- Reno, NV
4/9- Redding, CA
4/10- Portland, OR
4/11- Seattle, WA
4/12- Boise, ID
4/13- Salt Lake City, UT
4/14- Denver, CO
4/15- Lubbock, TX