Thursday, February 7, 2019


Fresh for 2019, or considering we're already two months into the new year maybe more like 'close to expiration date'.  Amirite?
Between announcements about new records coming out and doing the weekly retrospective series there has not been much time to dedicate to posting up new reviews.  And to be blunt, I do not expect to dedicate as much time to them this year as I have in the past.  But some stuff has come my way and I don't want to be a jerk and ignore it.  So I wrote what came down and here we are.  It's a real mixed bag, I'll tell you that much.  But that always keeps things interesting.  So here you go.

DARK BLUE, “Victory Is Rated”
This is my first time really listening to Dark Blue, though I have been aware of their existence for awhile now.  This is actually their third record and it comes as a great surprise to me because I’m more familiar with the members past work, most notably Clockcleaner, who were one of the most abrasive and purposefully annoying bands I’d ever heard.  I quite liked their take on Big Black-meets- Arab On Radar-meets Jesus Lizard stylings.  But Dark Blue is nothing at all like that whatsoever.  This sounds more like early Interpol, but a bit more somber and straight-laced.  They like Britpop, but their sound is a little more developed and mature.  It’s like they’re all really excited to go to the soccer (that’s football to you, chump) game but they’re sure as hell not going to let you know it.  And they’re certainly not going to show it.  I’m not sure what led to a radical change from one incredibly abrasive style of music to a very accessible and pleasant one, but I respect the ability to transition like that and do it well.  (12XU)

GREAT FALLS, “A Sense Of Rest”
I know I should have gotten to this earlier, but life, things, plans, busy doing my own record for this band, etc kept me from doing a proper write-up on it.  So anyway, this is the third proper full length from Seattle’s most punishing trio Great Falls.  They also have about a thousand other splits, comps, and other assorted bits and pieces to their vast catalog.  But “A Sense Of Rest” feels like their most ambitious effort.  It’s one of the only times they haven’t done the artwork themselves, it’s a double LP, and it’s so ridiculously heavy and painful that if they all just exploded after this record came out it wouldn’t be a surprise.  I’d go on to say that if you have heard any of their full lengths prior to this one you know what you’re in for.  It’s the same ground the players here have been treading, going way back to Demian being in Nineironspitfire and Kiss It Goodbye, him and Shane pulverizing faces in Playing Enemy, and now (for at least 8 years) that continuation of sound with Great Falls.  They have an incredible way of consistently sounding utterly tortured and legitimately pained, and it never sounds stale.  Their music is emotional and vicious, combining the weight and tone of Neurosis with the gnarled dexterity and ugly menace of Rorschach (of which this band also has a shared lineage through one degree of separation).  They can transition with ease from creepy melodies to destructive off-time sludgy beatings and slide into a quick blast beat before the whole thing collapses into a storm of feedback and broken instruments.  Great Falls do what they do very well and I hope to see them continue to do this for a long time to come.  (Corpse Flower/ Throat Ruiner)

GREAT REVERSALS, “Stalactite” 12” EP
This record starts with the vocalist awkwardly screaming “trepidatiously” out into the void.  It’s a weird way to start things off.  My Word program doesn’t even recognize it as an actual word (it is).  However, I also think my Word program kind of sucks.  All that aside, on Michigan band Great Reversals seventh (holy shit, that’s a lot of material for a very part-time band) release there’s really no re-invention of the wheel.  They continue to worship at the alter of the slower, moshy hardcore Trial excelled in.  In fact, the only song here that has a faster, more traditional sort of fast hardcore approach would be closing track, “Little Did You Know”, which also happens to be the best song on this EP.  Once again, Dropping Bombs comes correct with some inventive packaging as this clear 12” has a screenprinted b-side that looks pretty cool. (Dropping Bombs)

ILS, “Pain Don’t Hurt” demo
A handful of old-school Portland guys got together, proved that age don’t mean shit, and have laid out a handful of burly rocking heavy stuff that is 100% legit.  I don’t really know where to place this in the never-ending expanse of sub-genre labels.  But I will say it leans hard into noise rock territory, and the vocals sort of remind me of Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan (more of the screamy side, and less of the singing side).  That still doesn’t tell you much.  OK, how about a list of like-minded distortion freaks who would pair well with Ils like a complimentary side dish?  Let’s see…  maybe some Great Sabatini, Cellos, Will Haven, and maybe even a little Unsane.  How’s that sound for you? (self-released)

LIFT, “Harsh Light Of the Truth” 7”
Total Snapcase, “Progression Through Unlearning” worship.  To their credit, Lift do it very well.  I mean they really got that groove and driving feel down pat.  The three songs on this record are very strong and despite their obvious influence Lift have a good thing going.  Additionally, these days hardcore lyrics don’t generally move me all that much just because I’ve kind of heard it all before, but I think the lyrics here are very well-written and are compelling.  So if my ‘heard-it-all-before’ old ass can find some inspiration and motivation within the words here than I guess this band must be on to something.  As an added bonus this three-song 7” is one-sided and has a cool screenprinted B-side, so if you’re into art and all that I recommend picking this up.  Ya know, for hardcore.  (Dropping Bombs) 

Two of the best new(ish) bands out of Texas team up for this split, which was intended primarily for the tour they did together late last year.  Pinko come correct with two more spazz freak outs that combine all the best elements of chaotic, yet rhythmic, groups like earlier Frodus, Forstella Ford, and some Ebullition hardcore, and then mix in screamy Guy Piccioto (Fugazi) vocals.  It’s excellent stuff.  A little on the rougher side of recording than their previous material, but I’m still all about it.  Exhalants, who put out one of my favorite LPs last year, also give up two new songs.  While these were recorded by the same person who did their LP they have a bit of a cleaner sound to them and emphasize the faster side of the band.  Their two tracks go by quick and roll with an inventive take on upbeat…  whatever it is that Exhalants do.  It’s part noise rock, part catchy as hell punk, and lots of Unsane and Unwound love rolled into this really cool package that I can’t quite put a finger on.  All I know is that they’re one of the more interesting bands to come around lately and pretty much anything they do is worth checking out.  (Self Sabotage Records)

TALK WRONG, “Feral Bearings” 12” EP
Some of the guys from Mayflower, and other Syracuse usual suspects, have come together to start this new band, which is essentially a continuation of what Mayflower was doing…  which was some very Fat Wreck-influenced Dillinger Four love.  I mean, Syracuse doesn’t have much of that going on so someone has to make it happen right?  There’s a lot of ‘man, fuck this shit, let’s go have a beer and not pay our taxes’ kind of looseness to it all and if you have ever been to Gainesville Fest you have seen at least a dozen bands that exemplify this style, and likely not on purpose.  You could throw a rock there and hit at least three bands who love this sort of stuff.  I got no beef with it.  It’s fun, and easy to roll with, and yeah, sometimes you do want to just say ‘fuck it, I’m quitting my job and not paying my taxes’, and you do it to the sound of fun music like this.  Also, once again, this is a record with just an A-side and a screenprinted B-side.  This is the third record I’ve received very recently like this.  Are B-sides dead?  Is everyone required to not put music, only screenprints, on the B-sides of records now?  (Ersatz Reality)

TUNIC, “Complexion” LP
I know this band is going to hate this, likely because they get this a lot, but there’s some parallels that Winnipeg’s Tunic share with Metz.  First off, they’re both trios.  Secondly, they both hail from Canada.  But more than anything, they both tend to go with simple, punk noise blasts, played quick, (objectively) catchy, and aggressively.  The differences lie in Tunic not only playing in a different tuning, but also almost making an effort not to be catchy, even though to this listener it comes off that way regardless of all the skronk and feedback happening.  They exist in a jarring, hyperactive space filled with cold sweats and nervous panic where post-punk, noise rock, and art-damaged punk rock cross paths to blow through ten tracks and a couple interludes.  They even resurrect some lyrics from their last 7” and re-apply them to the closing bit on this record.  Bonus points for the addition of some wailing saxophone noise on the next to last song.  It works well.  This is a damn fine debut LP for these touring machines after a few 7” efforts and worth your attention.  (Self-Sabotage)

USA/MEXICO, “Matamoros”
This is the ugliest sounding record you will hear all year that still somehow manages to be ‘music’.  Recorded in such a way that focuses completely on the grimy, harsh, feedback-encrusted, raw-as-fuck filthiest aspects of their molasses-like crawl through fucked-up songs, and not an ounce of polishing to be applied anywhere, this Austin trio return from the cultural apocalypse on their second outing to further demolish eardrums.  Imagine Harvey Milk with an ever-present buzzing of a malfunctioning distortion pedal and recorded in a moldy, flooding basement, or perhaps early-era Cherubs slowed down to 16 rpms (in fact, Cherubs vocalist Kevin Whitley guests on a cover of his own band here made somehow even more fucked up than Cherubs material already is).  Some of you may be reading this and thinking me a hypocrite as I tend to get bored by sludgy doom-y stuff like Primitive Man, and I’m not really swayed by bands looking to be edgy by purposefully having recordings that sound like shit.  But this is a different animal.  I will say, I am a bit partial because this features members of the band Todd, whom I was quite fond of and that band sounded legitimately crazy and super weird.  Add to that another member of the Butthole Surfers within the ranks and it starts to make sense as to why USA/Mexico sounds so completely off the rails.  The band is composed of lifer weirdos who have spent decades completely warping the minds of freak maniacs and drug fiends with absolutely no regard to conventional music.  Yeah, there’s riffs.  But they sound so completely overwhelmed with fuzz and noise that scraping your way through to the surface is an exercise in futility, followed by the sense that you’ve drowned in weirdness.  I can respect that.  (12XU)

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