Sunday, July 19, 2020


I don't know what to tell you folks, things are kind of crazy- no closer to seeing a band play live than we were three months ago, gestepo out on the streets of the city I live in, and way too many people in complete denial that there's a public health hazard going on worldwide.  I've said it many times and I'll reiterate- I always try to look for the positives to remind myself there's some good in the world and amplify all that.  On the good news front, there is significant progress on the label end of things being released as expected.  Also, the good folks at Decibel magazine did a big piece on the importance of masking up to protect others that I was asked to take part in, and there's a bevy of new music out there to take your mind off the troubles of life and here I am to tell you about it.
I just want to add one last bit- musicians are often the brokest people out there and I'm humbled to have seen so many of them recently donating money they could desperately use to help out humanitarian causes.  Seriously, it brings a tear to my eye (of the joyous variety).  OK, ehough of that, here's what's making me dance around my house like a dummy.

This review comes at a bit of a mid-point of sorts for this records timeline.  It was released digitally some time ago by the band and got a little bit of attention.  However, the champs over at Dropping Bombs saw the crime of this not being on a physical format and are planning on releasing a 12” version of this beast of an EP later this summer.  So in one sense, I’m late to the review game here, and in another I’m giving you all a heads up to get on this while the getting’s good.  For those who care about physical objects Dropping Bombs always goes out of their way to make cool stuff- in this case, a one-sided 12” with a fancy screenprinted B-side.  For those who care not about format let’s get to the music.  These Florida amp-worshippers have come up with four songs (and one heavy duty interlude) that bridge the gap between Kiss It Goodbye’s final recording and Engineer’s first full length.  Think mountains of sludgy, math-y heaviness that refuses to relent until their guitar heads short-circuit, cause an electrical fire and burn whatever structure they’re in to the ground.  And even then there might be aftershocks from the seismic shifts caused by riffs.  Yeah, of course stuff like this is what I’m into, so hopefully you’ll give it a shot as well.  (Dropping Bombs)

DEATH EYES, “State Of Fear” EP
A group of San Diego-based miscreants have been churning out vicious weirdo punk for a bit now via several permutations.  At first they were known as Rats Eyes before altering their lineup and becoming Death Eyes.  It’s mean, weird, and creepy hardcore punk that unfortunately has come to a conclusion due to the untimely passing of their vocalist earlier this year.  In the case of Death Eyes I’m pretty sure this dude is irreplaceable as his manic, Cobra Commander-gone-HC frontman cantankerous scream really adds a vital component to how sinister this band sounds.  While the music has plenty of character on it’s own- Jesus Lizard-ish tumbling grit (“Management Is Not Your Friend”) and NoMeansNo-style aggression (“State Of Fear”), filtered through the lens of 80’s SoCal hardcore it’s the dearly departed vocalist Alberto Jurado who ties things together into the menacing juggernaut Death Eyes came to be.  Thankfully, we get this brief document (along with a decent back catalog) so we can bear witness to these crazy sounds. (31G)

The part-time rockers/full-time dads that are the Philly-based quartet Desperate Living have graced us once more with a new EP full of riffs sure to make you want to quit your job and take up smoking, or vandalism, or cussing as a full-time endeavor.  The family tree that branches out from Inkling, The Minor Times, Ladder Devils, Wives, Legendary Divorce, and plenty more maintains a common thread aside from membership that drives these songs.  If you take careful consideration of the players long histories of playing together you begin to see where their tones and execution remains perfectly dialed in while the songwriting has transitioned from more mathy hardcore to simpler, but just as skull-cracking heavy, punk rippers.  And there is definitely a strong lean on just beating the shit out of their instruments to make kick-ass punk music.  There’s no re-invention of the wheel, but things are executed extremely well and hardly derivative. It’s just good, heavy, catchy fast music with one slower song at the end.  Here’s to 13 minutes of time well spent.  (Brutal Panda)

Portland-by-way-of-Philly noisy boys get real lo-fi on this EP of short and wildly erratic jams.  It’s like they kind of made an effort to make this sound like a trash compactor with false takes, cut n’ paste interludes, and probably some holes kicked in walls, smashed bongs, and overturned furniture in whatever living room mics were set up to record this.  A little bit of rhythmic post-hardcore smashing face first into the spazziest of Gravity Records back catalog while a KARP practice tape plays in the background and a self-destruct button that won’t stop going off is what you may think upon spending all of about nine minutes with these five tunes.  (self-released)

HUM, “Inlet”
I never gravitated as hard to “Downward Is Heavenward” as I did to “Electra 2000” and “You’d Prefer An Astronaut” with the Hum catalog.  Some people think I’m completely nuts for this position.  I don’t really care.  But if you want an assessment on how Hum’s first recorded output in 22 years fares with the rest of their catalog, and if it’s a worthy endeavor, here ya go.  It definitely has more of the “Downward…” sound and yes, it’s an incredibly worthy effort.  I mean, they just fucking nailed it.  It has a very similar sound and production quality to “Downward…”, and hinges on a lot of slow, long riffs…  which is rather par for the course with Hum.  I think I enjoy their older output more because there was a bit more variety, things were a little more loose, rough and tumble, but had those gigantic, spacey riffs right from the get-go.  “Inlet” is still a great record because it’s definitely them.  They haven’t changed by any drastic measure- the rather milksop drone-y vocals, the tectonic plate-shifting riffs and tones, the otherworldly shegaze-y bliss, the million guitar pedals and drums that resonate deeper than the Mariana Trench.  Heck, if their contemporaries in Shiner and Failure can release recent exceptional recordings, and current torchbearers in Cloakroom or Kindling keep the flame bright, why can’t Hum- arguably the most commercially successful band championing the space rock sound- return on their own terms?  After all, they’ve only been working on this record for around 4 years and then surprise released it all at once.  So yeah, it’s friggin’ good.  (Earth Analog/Polyvinyl)

People are making a big deal out of this band because it’s ex-members of Deadguy, but it’s Crispy the guitarist on the microphone, so the musical output isn’t the sort of audio violence you might be expecting.  The remainder of the band is a New Jersey whos-who of sorts comprised of dudes from bands who probably owe a debt of gratitude to Deadguy from their own previous endeavors.  The result is that it sounds a lot more like the Noras, Every Time I Dies, and The Banners the membership is both culled from and the early 2000s metalcore those bands were responsible for.  I’m not saying that’s an altogether bad thing, because I was certainly part of that whole scene, for better or for worse.  It’s just that there ended up being a whole lot of bad metalcore coming up at that time and separating the wheat from the chaff was a bit difficult.  Second Arrows, for the most part, revisits the better elements of that scene and produces a worthwhile first effort.  If this were released on Ferret Records in 2003 you would never know the difference as you moshed with reckless abandon in your skinny jeans, right after dying a pink stripe in your hair and getting a tattoo involving a dagger and brass knuckles.  You might scrape fists with a dude in a Fall Silent battle vest, but you’re both aiming for the kid with the FATA t-shirt. (Hellminded Records)

TRVSS, “New Distances”
The debut full length from Pittsburgh’s TRVSS shares the same title as the first Narrows LP, and when the band is at their heaviest they share some sonically similar qualities to the Seattle-London supergroup.  But otherwise I’d say TRVSS have more in common with the weird and noisy, often sassy, dynamics of groups like These Arms Are Snakes, early Rye Coalition, and occasionally the drunken swagger of The Jesus Lizard (like on album mid-point “The Ventriloquist Always Has the Last Laugh”).  They do a good job of mixing things up a little with a couple short and distortion-packed rippers, including the quick, off-the-rails, “Tourettes”-styled “Malaria” and the clunky stumble of “Early Pornographers”.  Overall, TRVSS has crafted a good debut that touches on enough influences to keep it varied, yet has established an identity as a band.  Now to just figure out what the hell their name means.  (self-released)

V/A, “Quarantimes Vol. 1”
Everyone go and get this digital compilation right quick because we all miss the heck out of seeing shows, and you know venues are going to be the last frickin’ place to open back up after all this craziness, and those places got rent to pay as well.  That being said, every dollar from the sale of this comp goes right into NIVA, the organization helping to keep a lot of these venues afloat while we await the passing of the apocalypse.  So not only are you giving a worthy organization some much needed dough, you also get a bunch of noisy-ass bands submitting some jams to inspire your next dance floor fit when you can actually attend a show again.  My personal picks here are Super Thief throwing down “Dale Gribble”, a tune a bit out of character from their usual crazy fucked-up rock, but a change I find to be cool and catchy and weird.  Bbiggpigg follows a similar tack of snotty, wired post-punk/noise rock that sounds like a fire alarm having an anxiety attack. Obviously, I’m also partial to the Grizzlor dudes and their ultra-negative noise rock.  On the sorry/not sorry track “Playing Shows Blows” the CT trio offer their most straightforward rocking track to date and I’m really not sure if they just wanted to rock out, or if they’re playing a cruel joke on us all.  Disasteratti were a nice surprise as they submit a grungy rocker that would be right in place between Tad and Screaming Trees on a 1989 Sub Pop tour.  Moon Pussy gives what feels like a stream-of-conscious racket jam session intended to annoy even the most fervent fan of noise rock, while Liferaft possibly got wrong directions when getting to the gathering here as “Maim You” is a pulverizing metalcore jab more at home on a Beatdown Anthems Compilation.  A few others round out this 13 track comp so it’s worth a small stack of your bucks for a good cause.  (Learning Curve Records)

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