Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Hey 2015, it's been a minute.  Let's catch up.  So what have you been doing since the New Year?  Freezing your tucas off?  Yeah, me too.  I've been kinda busy working on a new zine and getting my proverbial house in order, gearing up for a bunch of stuff this year.  But check this out 2015- you're less than three months old and already there's some great fucking music that has come out.  I know, right?!  Things are off to a good start.  OK, so a couple of these things are holdovers from late last year, but so what.  Listen, just sit back, relax, and enjoy what this young year has already given us all.

CLOAKROOM, “Further Out”
I know it’s only January but we already got us a strong contender for year end top 10 list stuff right here.  I’m hearing all sorts of wild shit on this Midwestern trio’s debut full length.  It’s as if a band has finally captured the exact sound of KARP’s lumbering over-the-top bass sludge (one of the all-time best bass tones), turned it into an anchor for melancholy dirges as opposed to rowdy demolition derby jams, and paired it with guitars that quiver and dispatch eerie feedback, like some near-extinct bird howling as it flies from a collapsing glacier.  Bring Morrissey down to 12 rpm and you get somber, yet melodious vocals (isn’t that what Morrissey is supposed to be anyway?  OK, well, this is like an octave lower) waxing poetic about swinging rusty blades through the night in service to Satan.  It’s such a weird, but wonderful mix and I’m hooked on it.  The transition into “Moon Funeral” is one of the heaviest moments on here, as is the upbeat and catchy (but still monstrously dense) “Starchild Skull”.  If I have to gripe, and I will dagblamit, making this a double LP is sort of over-indulgent as one song is just an almost acoustic version of “Moon Funeral”, while the D-side is just the interlude “Sylph” looped for about 15 minutes.  They could have cut those out and had a single, near-perfect LP.  Or, hell, add the B-side “Dream Warden” from the “Lossed Over” 7” (that song appears on here as well) instead of a repeat.  Or, shit, why not just write three more amazing songs before recording a double LP so they could properly fill 2 LPs worth of music.  Basically, I’m saying I want to hear more.  Much more.  (RunFor Cover)

I’ll admit, I picked this up because it looks awesome.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like this band’s music.  Diligent readers will recall their last LP was one of my favorites of the year.  But this 12” EP comes on this one-sided record that’s clear with a hazy neon green center and this crazy silkscreened back of a pig in a clown suit.  It looks fuckin’ sick.  Even the sandy shit that gets on the records (Pirates Press I presume?) fucking up my record needle making the sound all shitty does not deter me from enjoying the finished product.  As far as the music goes it’s really not a departure from their last record, which means it’s good- super riffy post-hardcore in the best way possible.  Quicksand with a bit more punk vibe?  Seaweed with breakdowns?  There’s some cross-pollination going on.  I have to admit, though, I’m not as swayed by Pat’s lyrics as I was last time.  There was a great sense of biting humor and cynicism present on “Paul Walker” that is somewhat lacking here.  “But Does It Work” has some underlying political themes, but comes across well and not heavy-handed, and I can dig on that.  As a continuation of what they’re already damn good at, and maybe some more depth in the melodies (pushed to the fore by the excellent engineering of J. Robbins), I’d say this is another worthy addition to the Drug Church discography.  (No Sleep)

GODSTOPPER, “Children Are Our Future” EP
I’ve been late to the game with this Canadian band, as they have several releases under their belt and I just came across them a few months ago.  As I was diving into their older catalog this thing was already hot out of the oven.  This is the most current material from the band, which stays true to form with the rest of their brilliant music.  Both steeped in lurching abrasiveness, as well as off-kilter singing Godstopper are an odd animal.  I’m reminded of the short-lived Northern brethren in Mare, who were adept at combining massively heavy riffs with an almost angel-like seraphim wail.  Godstopper are like the ugly cousin who still plays in the mud.  It’s got a fantastic quality to the heaviness that seethes, takes some odd stylistic turns, sings and grunts, and isn’t so caught up in it’s own unique nature that it can’t thrash around a bit and get rowdy as well.  To date this is only online.  Who’s going to be the lucky chap to empty their wallets and press this on to vinyl?  Hmmm?!  (Godstopper)

KRILL, “A Distant Fist Unclenching”
And then sometimes a record just emerges from the ether and lights up your fucking world and you wonder how you got by all these years without it.  I know Krill have been around for a minute, but this is my first experience with an entire record of theirs.  They have a couple other things out but this is the brand newest thing.  I decided to give them a try because it was weird enough that I couldn’t exactly place what they were doing, which ultimately makes it pretty interesting for me too.  What stands out most about this band are the odd vocals.  There’s a sort of nasally twang to them, but it’s more than that.  There’s a hard nod to Brandon Butler of mid-90’s greats Boys Life, but I’m not sure if this band (or readers) will know what that’s about.  Either way, that guy went on to do a more rocking band called The Farewell Bend and his vocals came to the fore a bit more in that group and that’s what I’m hearing with Krill.  And while their music does indeed ‘rock’ they have a bizarre, yet catchy, way of delivering it.  They use all manner of stop-start reverb-y guitars, a bit of off-time signatures, and generally take their time with building up a song.  There’s a hint of maybe The Pixies if they were a little more reserved?  And then they close out the A-side with enormous, shimmering wall of guitar sound, like an explosion of light engulfing us all (“Tiger”).  They bring us back into the fold going into the B-side and then end it all again (on a song called, strangely enough, “It Ends”) with a similar effect and repetitive riff backed by some tastefully used synths.  A gem of a record.  Investigate for yourself.  (Exploding In Sound)

LEMURIA, “Turnstile Comix #3”
Let’s get one thing out of the way- any band that includes a comic book with their record automatically wins.  I don’t know what they win.  Accolades, kudos, nods of approval, gushing praise.  Those are worth winning right?  So artist Mitch Clem has done this with a couple other bands (hence, this being #3), but I didn’t see those so this is a first for me.  Plus, it’s Lemuria and I always adore whatever this band does.  Lemuria singles, in the past, have been hit or miss.  Some are totally classic (“Ozzy”, duh) and others definitely throwaway tracks (anyone remember the Cheap Girls split?  Yeah, neither do I).  This falls into the awesome, memorable, eternally catchy side of the fence.  The two songs on the physical vinyl are both songs that have great vocals, hooks, and just a bit of swaggering rock riffs.  There is a third song on the download (“Courtesy Mercedes”), which is a quick and fun burner.  Very enjoyable.  The comic is over twenty pages of adventure that serves as a document of when the band toured Russia a couple years ago and all the insane experiences that came with it.  Would you ever expect a mob of Nazis to show up at a Lemuria (of all bands) gig and start clobbering everyone in sight, police included?  It happened.  And that’s just one of the crazy parts of this killer comic by an awesome artist about a great band.  It’s a winning situation all around.  (Silver Sprocket)

SICK FEELING, “Suburban Myth”
This is a weird collection of dudes making some weird-ass punk music.  OK, so the drummer of the Mongoloids is here.  And a guy from … And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of the Dead.  But so is fucking Don Devore, the mind-bending wild guitar genius from Ink & Dagger.  So right there you got a few different worlds meeting up.  I’ll admit, I picked this up solely to hear what sort of crazy shit Don Devore was conjuring up these days.  And I’ll assure you, this does sound fucked up.  It’s like all the songs come out of some eerie, dirty underground cavern, then explode into all out noisy punk anthems.  Suddenly, without any sort of warning they just disappear into quiet whispers, odd noises, bits of feedback, before leaping out for the attack once again.  A lot of it is in the production/engineering and I have to applaud them for taking some real wild chances between blasting you in the face with walls of sound and then almost disorienting quiet.  The opening track, “Gave Back” and “Liberal Arts” are the most vicious attacks on the record.  But between the weird intros and sudden drop offs I can’t figure out if this is a band just not sure where they’re going yet, or if they’re mad scientists who know exactly how to fuck with the listener and doing this all intentionally.  Either way, I dig it a lot.  (Collect Records)

SPRAYPAINT, “Clean Blood, Regular Acid”
Another one that sort of got away from me.  This has been out since, I believe, the fall?  I didn’t hear about this band until last summer when they played my town and threw me for a loop, bringing their crazy no-wave Texas strangeness with them.  By then they already had out two LPs.  This is their third and the band continues to grow, if only by small steps.  Essentially, if you enjoy their previous stuff this is not much different, although the recordings continue to get better.  Spraypaint offer up their dual vocals with nasally drawl, reverb-ed out guitars (no bass), and Spaghetti Western film score as played by nervous meth heads.  In short, it’s jittery and weird.  But it’s so fucking cool at the same time.  “Do Less Things” is early on in the record and displays a repetitive saunter before it breaks into a frenzied panic.  “Rednecks Everywhere” bursts forth with quick, raw power and blaring anxiety.  “Cory’s Theme” closes out the record with a herky-jerky riff that carries on for several minutes (with some added bass guitar for a change!) like some low-level criminals speeding away through the night after experiencing a David Lynch movie in real life.  And while I make this out to be total weirdo music (which it is), if you listen to the lyrics there is humor contained within reflecting on all manner of trashy denizens, probably lurking in the alleys of the members hometown.  A great addition to an already very unique catalog.  (Monofonus Press)

THARSIS THEY, “Formless/Shapeless” 7”
New-ish label Dropping Bombs once again releases a record with cool artwork and packaging, but I have to admit I’m not really wild about the band making the music.  It’s the sort of early 2000’s metalcore that was a step up from chug-mosh with stolen Slayer riffs, but before the total onslaught of stupid Dillinger Escape Plan wanna-be’s cramming as many parts as they possibly could into one song.  The band knows the value of a spastic and heavy part, but also doesn’t do anything to keep my attention either.  It’s a lot of screaming, a lot of chunky metal, but hasn’t quite found it’s niche yet and isn’t terribly memorable.  Four tracks on seven inches.  Mosh, headbang, forget.  (Dropping Bombs)

TITLE FIGHT, “Hyperview”
Bands that are somewhat popular tend to cause some fire on both sides of the isle when they decide to go and change the way they sound.  Purists turn into crybabies and long for things to just stay the same.  Smartypants who want to appear that they ‘get it’ applaud the change and point fingers at the crybabies.  It’s all kind of stupid and ugly.  I most definitely applaud Title Fight for the leaps and bounds sort of growth they have displayed over their last few records.  I appreciate that they get into a thing, figure out how to do it really well, and then make an album over it.  I thought “Floral Green” was an incredibly good representation of kick-ass Superchunk and Hum worship.  And on this new record…  I guess they’ve really gotten into Slowdive and The Smiths.  There’s a couple really good songs here that keep with that energy I enjoy about the band, but the majority of these songs are kind of boring to me.  Regardless of any changes they have made to their sound they always seemed to keep that sort of youthful energy in their songs.  That is lacking quite a bit here.  But whatever, if they want to make a mopey, phaser pedal-saturated shoegaze-type record that’s their bag, let ‘em go for it (or get it out of their system).  I’m just not really all that psyched on what I hear.  (Anti)

TORCHE, “Restarter”
Death to false sludge pop.  Torche are the one and only.  I’ve always been a bigger fan of their EPs than their full lengths, for no particular reason, it’s just what appealed to me more.  But I think this is the first LP of theirs that I’m 100% down with everything.  I’m sort of reminded of “Songs For Singles” when listening to this as it has a similar approach.  A number of tracks have a sort of slow, steady riffy vibe.  Some other songs are in upbeat, poppy mode (though not one has the sort of guitar acrobatics displayed on previous catchy songs like “UFO” or “Hideaway”).  And then you get the bomb string.  Oh yes, the glorious bomb string.  It is used more liberally on this record and I couldn’t be happier.  “Undone” and “Blasted” give a taste of that great power.  But then you get most of the way through the record and they present “Barrier Hammer”.  “Barrierrrrr HAMMER!!!” Everyone dies.  They get to that break and it’s like the band carpet bombs wherever they are with a never-ending riff.  I actually cranked this incredibly loud in my car HOPING to blow out the speakers.  It would be a fine death.  So yeah, Torche come back strong on this.  Mandatory listening/headbanging.  (Relapse)