Sunday, March 26, 2017


I'll admit, I've been laying low, planning and scheming so far this year, so I haven't really put any time towards even thinking of writing record reviews.  Actually, there hasn't really been all that much new music so far this year that has blown my hair back.  But now that winter is drawing to a close and people are actually coming out of hiding and doing things I'm starting to catch wind of some exceptional stuff making it's way into the world.  So yeah, here's some stuff to investigate.  Make it so.

FALL SILENT, “Cart Return” 7”
Reno’s Fall Silent are a band that have sort of been lost within the cracks of hardcore-metal history, even though their contribution to metallic hardcore is massive.  Bands such as Every Time I Die and Ed Gein owe a large debt to their fine-tuned thrash metallic assault.  Their second full length, “Superstructure” is one of the heaviest records ever, replete with all sorts of interesting technical twists and turns, huge plodding layers of heaviness, that were able to blast and groove all at once with vocalist Levi Watson’s screaming socio-political lyrics backing it all up.  After that they simplified their sound a little, opting for speed and a little less technicality.  And then, they vanished.  It’s been something like 15 years and all of a sudden the band just ups and decides to record a new 4 song 7”.  So naturally, I’m curious.  The lead-off track is straight up what one might expect (who is familiar anyway) from Fall Silent- super fast thrashy parts, followed by a technical groove and chunky riffing, and those Rorschach-styled vocals.  The first song on the B-side is in a similar vein.  But the other two tracks on here are more of the “Drunken Violence” style of keeping things a little simpler riff-wise and just going for quickness.  It’s certainly a worthwhile effort from this group who may have let their instruments collect dust over the last decade.  But will people take notice?  (Revelation)

FUCK YOU PAY ME, “Dumbed Down”
The band with easily the best name in hardcore returns for 10 more songs (well, one is a cover) of absolutely zero bullshit, fast and ruthless punk fury.  And they do it all in under 18 minutes.  There is really not much that needs to be said about this.  If you get off to hardcore that’s really fast and really fucking angry, with lyrics that are snarky and to the point, then you will enjoy this.  Otherwise, go shit in your hat.  The title track is my favorite (with a line like ‘if you got that PMA then stay the fuck away from me’ gives an indication of where they’re coming from), but, I gotta say, “Douche Chills” might take a close second.  Despite the apparent lack of any empathy whatsoever, there are a few topical songs that clearly hit close to home for the band- “Dark Side Of the Spoon” deals with friends and acquaintances lost to hard drugs and “Steubenville City Limits” is a rally against suburban jocks that get a free pass on rape, as long as they know the right people.  If you don’t have a chip on your shoulder about something after listening to this you probably don’t go outdoors much.  (Tankcrimes)

OK, I’m obviously super partial to both these bands since I released material from each.  So, ya know, the fact they have teamed up for a 7” makes my groin area just a little bit moist.  Is that too much information?  Well, try to visualize it while you’re at it.  That thought might be just as ugly as the filthy, riff-laden noise rock of Grizzlor.  Or, if you’re some sort of pervert, it might be just as sweet as the soothing sounds of Godstopper that ultimately crash down on you like the weight of age (aging moist groins at that).  No, really, I can keep going here.  Anyway, Grizzlor, with a handful of singles already under their belts toss out a couple more of their weird grooving noise rock with those wretched, reverb-y ‘man in a tinfoil hat yelling about reptoids’ vocals, and quick to-the-point sludge riffs.  Godstopper return with pop songs disguised as Disembodied.  Down-tuned monster riffs and Queen-level choruses on the first song.  The second song, “Cellophane”, could be a deep cut from an early 80’s Genesis record (and I mean that in a good way) as it weirdly meanders through a creepy-quiet sung bit, bereft of distortion save for all of about five seconds.  My description does it little justice.  To know the band’s M.O. you gotta understand they just like catchy and clever hooks and often bury that love under piles of distortion.  But sometimes they just bare all and let that love show minus heavy guitars.  A great, if not a little weird, pairing.  (Corpse Flower)

HAWKS, “No Cash Value”
I feel like this long-running Atlanta band never quite got their just due.  Maybe it’s because they have a very bland name?  I don’t really know how much they toured.  This is their final LP and in their time they were quite prolific, releasing 5 LPs and several 7” records.  My own interest in them involves tracking down their various releases (some of which were only released on European labels) and having an incomplete collection of their material.  So I might be off with their progression, but on this last LP it feels the most restrained of their releases.  Earlier material was awash in tons of feedback, plenty of drunken howling and growling, and a total love of Jesus Lizard’s rock-your-fucking-face-off mentality.  “No Cash Value” reins in the feedback a bit, has learned to pace their drinking, but still loves the Jesus Lizard.  And the singer still sounds like he’s reciting his death wish from underneath a barstool.  So there’s that.  “Wash and repeat”.  (Learning Curve Records)

MUMS, “Land Of Giants”
OK, I’ll admit, this actually was released in October of last year and I’m just getting obsessed with it now.  So it’s not exactly new, but I really wanted to gush about this a little bit so deal.  This is a UK trio that has dropped some kind of sonic bomb in the form of incredibly fuzzed-out muddy riffing in the vein of Floor (for the dual down-tuned guitar attack, no bass), KARP (for the thunder and sense of absurdity), and fellow UK noiseniks Todd (in the nihilistic over-the-top sludge and feedback).  So ya know, it’s right up my alley.  Still, they manage to toss in some of these ultra-quiet restrained parts to the mountains of heavy to make for some very accentuated dynamics.  It certainly adds a bit more variety to the music than their last outing (under the moniker Aeroplane Flies High), an EP, that had cleaner production, catchier Torche-inspired riffing, and moved along at a pretty steady pace.  A noteworthy release, for sure.  But this is just kind of next level good.  I like that it’s mixed up a bit more, it sounds a littler slimier, more fuzzy and crazy, but somehow manages to be quite catchy, no matter how much they might slow it down.  It’s generally kind of tough to keep up with international bands and generate interest on this side of the pond, but I’d strongly suggest giving this band a try if you dig your sludgy noise rock with lots of catchiness and weirdness.  (Super Star Destroyer)

OAK, “It’s Your Mess As Much As Mine”
Not to be confused with the metallic drone-sludge band that released stuff with A389 Records, this band opts instead for hardcore dudes trying to get a bit noisey and weird, but ultimately end up sounding more hardcore than Botch-y, if you get my drift.  There’s a large dose of that sort of Indecision style of keeping the music simple, heavy, yet meaningful.  However, the second half of this record (it’s only 5 songs) tries some different things and veers off into some more interesting territory, particularly on “Elsewhere”, probably the best offering here.  If you dig your hardcore just a bit off the beaten path, as well as emotionally cathartic this would be a decent record to check out.  (State Of Mind)

A couple years back Dan Yemin (of Paint It Black, Lifetime, etc) had mentioned to me that he was working on a new project that he described as sounding like Torches To Rome.  Always a good thing.  He mentioned the pieces weren’t all in place yet, but it was getting there.  So, if this is the same project, it appears that it took a bit of a turn because it doesn’t really sound like any Mike/Sarah Kirsch project.  It sounds like a band that Dan Yemin plays guitar for.  Which he does.  The guy has a fairly distinct style to his playing that certainly gives nods to 80’s/early 90’s Dischord melodic hardcore, catchy punk, and shades of early emo.  Along for the ride is Chris Wilson, who drummed for Ted Leo for years, Andy Nelson (also of Paint It Black) and Rachel Rubino (of Bridge and Tunnel) handling vocals.  When I first heard about this band I thought maybe Yemin was on vocals and I secretly hoped Rubino was on guitar because she might be one of the shreddin’-est guitarists I’ve ever seen.  But her strained and gruff vocals do the job nicely here.  Musically, it is along the lines of what I might expect from all these people making music together.  The overall feel has a bit more of the melodic bent that was present on “Paradise” (Paint It Black’s second LP) that, again, evokes shades of Dischord luminaries (distinctly, the Swiz-like momentum of “Brother, I’m Getting Nowhere”, and the J. Robbins style of playing on “Sofa Drugs”).  However, it’s the almost-midway point on the noticeably slower “Black Veils” in which Rubino really shows that she has some serious pipes, and lays the emotion on thick.  Heck, it even kind of sounds like it could have been on a Bridge and Tunnel album.  I know its kind of an easy out to compare this music to the members other outfits, but the combination of all those parts makes for something truly special and this is one heck of a debut.  (self-released)

PISSED JEANS, “Why Love Now?”
Pissed Jeans has obviously carved their niche within the punk/noise rock scene over the course of four LPs.  Finally, on their fifth outing something feels different.  They’re trying some other weird shit, messing around with song structures and production values that are not quite what one might expect from the suburban Philly grown-up’s who throw around guitars and convulse on stage on the weekends.  I can’t really nail what feels out of place about this record as compared to others.  Songs like “Ignorecam” are right up there with the best of the band’s canon of ‘take one lumbering riff and repeat ad nauseum’, and “Waiting On My Horrible Warning” lines right up with awkward and excellent opening songs where a first time listener might have second thoughts about what they’ve gotten themselves into.  But maybe it’s that Pissed Jeans is in better control of their chaos these days.  Whereas in the past they wrote great songs that were completely unhinged at every angle (despite all being good musicians), tracks such as “Love Without Emotion”, “The Bar Is Low” (which, if you haven’t seen the video for yet stop reading this and check that immediately), and “It’s Your Knees” are of the fast/heavy sort, but executed with slick precision (as much as a band that is often filed under ‘noise rock’ can get away with).  Perhaps it’s the lyrics?  Past efforts have managed to describe the mundane details of adult life that were chock full of deadpan humor, the intentionality of which was ambiguous.  On this record I can’t really tell most of the time if vocalist Matt Korvette is attempting to be serious?  Maybe?  Regardless of all this, my first listen of the record was a bit on the reserved side of appreciation.  After a couple more spins now I’m enjoying it almost as much as their past efforts.  (Sub Pop)

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