Thursday, April 12, 2018


"Back, caught you looking for the same thing, it's a new thing- check out this I bring"  No, it's not a Public Enemy song, it's a handful of some excellent new records springing forth in this most excellent of Springs!  Contained within are some returns from veteran acts, as well as a few new bucks.  I have to constantly check myself to ensure that I do not simply cater to bands from my youth making their unwelcome comebacks, but give a positive nod to the endless sea of new music making the rounds as well.  I am constantly checking out new music so I feel like I'm good.  And I think, all fanboy gushing aside, that some bands that I have enjoyed for the last 15-25 years are still making (or returning to making) worthwhile contributions to music on the whole.  So with that being said, here's what's up:

BREEDERS, THE, “All Nerve”
I have missed out on the other Breeders reunion records that have been released in the last few years for whatever reason.  I have no good excuse for this.  However, this record here is the first to feature the complete lineup from the fan-favorite “Last Splash”, so I was expecting good things.  At first I was thinking it would be an upbeat burst of catchy indie rock with a playful aggressiveness based off the first single “Wait In the Car”, as well as my preconceived notions of what a “Last Splash” lineup would produce.  But “All Nerve” is mostly a breezy and lackadaisical affair, complete with the Deal sisters particular style of songwriting- soothing vocals, strangely melodic riffs that sound like what I imagine smoking a bit too much dope and having a pretty good buzz going from a few too many cans out of the 12 pack feels like.  At first listen was lukewarm to it.  But after a couple more spins it really revealed itself to me as a pretty excellent record.  “Spacewoman” meanders through hazy weekends of the summer, not having a care in the world, sleepy yet full of vigor.  “Walking With a Killer” has all the subtlety and soft melody of a Roy Orbison song, yet the lyrics hint at a sinister tension (and scary subject matter) that transform it into a song you feel guilty for humming along to.  “Blues At the Acropolis” is another excellent Breeders closing track, slow and steady, kind of epic in a not-trying-to-be-epic sort of way.  But there are the upbeat songs too, like the aforementioned “Wait In the Car”, as well as “Archangel’s Thunderbird”, a cover by 70’s Krautrock group Amon Duul.  The original sounds so much like a Breeders song it makes sense for them to do it in their own way, infusing it’s own psychedelic/slacker/grunge bit amongst the reverb-y vocals.  Honestly, I had no idea it was a cover and immediately thought of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump In the Fire” (just look up the “Goodfellas” soundtrack) as a point of reference for the song.  OK, enough obscure sub-referencing.  It’s a Breeders record.  It’s fuggin’ good.  Get it and enjoy a little slice of off-beat heaven.  (4AD)

HOT SNAKES, “Jericho Sirens”
As a creative type of person that I am I am completely envious of people such as John Reis and Rick Froberg, who both seem to be an endless well of ideas, art, and songs that are so plentiful in scope and are always quality.  How many albums did Rocket From the Crypt release?  How influential are those two Jehu records?  How perfectly simple, yet totally rocking, were those three Obits LPs?  Let’s not even mention the plethora of side projects and one-offs Reis has spat out in the last 20 years.  And now, over 10 years since the last Hot Snakes record, comes their fourth long player and it’s some of the best material they have ever done.  I’d say, on the whole, it feels a bit more aggressive than previous output, but that garage punk rock n’ roll they do so well is in full effect and recorded in such a way that adds an extra whallop to the 10 new songs they have blessed us with.  It’s at once kind of dark and mean, and also a fun blitzkrieg of a ride through the respective members brains.  It’s a pretty damn near perfect record from a band that I’m very happy to see active once again.  The only thing missing is the trademark art of Rick Froberg, but I’ll settle for a bitchin’ reflective cover featuring a photo of bassist Gar Wood catching a killer wave.  (Sub Pop)

MONOLITH, “Two Wolves”
While I guarantee that there has got to be at least three other bands currently existing with the name Monolith (their bandcamp address is ‘monolith8’, just FYI), who likely play, as one might expect, glacially slow and heavy sludgy doom I’ll give this one- located in the Ithaca, NY region- points for doing what they do considerably well.  Yes, they cover that Neurosis/Isis style of heavy that has been done so many times by so many bands, and I really thought that whole thing was kind of done with at least 6 or 7 years ago.  But hey (upstate) Monolith carries the torch without concern for who is doing what, where, or with the same name.  They are all exceptional musicians and remind me more of Isis, circa “Mosquito Control”/”Red Sea” more than anything with their relentless crush and bleak, abrasive sledgehammering of sludge.  The band started as the studio project of one of the members, but grew into a full band and this is their first output with all members contributing.  Hats off to them committing to their method of destruction, regardless of trends. (self-released)

This came out a bit ago, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t show it some love.  Once again, the Birmigham, AL posse in Null brings forth that sort of meditative, yet thunderously massive sound they have been chipping away at as it becomes this masterpiece of sonic perfection.  Their side of this split contains a single, seven minute song, “Pedestrian”, that works in their brand of repetitious mantra and accompanying sung vocals.  It continues what the band has been doing so well thus far, and I look forward to anything and everything they do going forth.
The B-side is Nashville’s Husband Stitch, the meaning behind the name being quite uncomfortable and I’ll leave it to you to look up on your own.  They offer two songs, both quite incredible in their own right, yet pretty far removed from their 7” partners.  “Snowflake” reminds me of newer noiseniks like Plaque Marks with a slight garage-y feel.  “Sincere Ignorance” could be a B-side from Jesus Lizard “Down”, with it’s driving bass, hopping drum beat, and sharp guitar jabbings.  Add to it snarky/pissy vocals last seen exiting an L7 record back in 1993, and I mean that as a good thing.  Two different bands, both making exquisite racket.  (WarCrimes Records)

WILL HAVEN, “Muerte”
I have always been a pretty big Will Haven fan.  They have been around for a good 20 years and have turned out a handful of great albums full of Fudge Tunnel-meets-Neurosis, wrapped in a shiny Deftones gloss.  I’m not sure how anyone who has never heard this band may take that, but that’s what I’m picking up with what this band has excelled at for ages.  However, most of their records are kind of same-y to me, with the exception of “Carpe Diem”.  For whatever reason, that one will always stand out to me as the best.  I will listen to it on repeat over and over again and never get sick of it.  It’s a fucking incredible record and it sits in the middle of their catalog, but I keep coming back to it some 18 or so years later.  So on “Muerte”, which the band has hinted at as being perhaps their final endeavor there is one thing that has changed with this group and that is how they have progressively made their songs slower, sludgier, uglier, and taking their time.  Sure, they have pretty much always kept songs at a moderate pace (with a few exceptionally upbeat songs scattered over the years), melding their sludgy tendencies with heavy rhythms and groove.  But that Neurosis ethic has appeared to have more of a hold on their sound these days as the band will make you wait.  They’re taking their time damnit because they can.  They’ve been at this 20 years, they can do whatever they feel like.  So I guess best to go out in their own terms right?  This is not a bad way.  (Minus Head Records)

WRONG, “Feel Great”
To me, one of the most exciting recent bands these days is Wrong.  I mean, they appeal to most things I enjoy in heavy music- insane live energy, clever dynamics, gross amounts of feedback and distortion, and yeah, they absolutely love Helmet.  Some people dislike this band for how closely they resemble Helmet, but I’m all for it because they do it so damn well.  However, for those who are of the ‘dislike’ camp I’d encourage them to give this band’s second long player a try.  The guys in Wrong started out in another band that was extremely technical and those roots are a bit more apparent on “Feel Great” where they are throwing out some intricate changes, stop-on-a-dime transitions, and some unexpected melody to go with their iron slab riffs of musical demolition.  And for us lovers of things 90’s-era, Wrong still hit the spot.  These are clearly musicians who can pretty much play anything they set their minds to, and what it seems they are getting a better handle on (at least in a few songs here) is the best trick that Helmet had in their canon- making very complicated songs sound simple; the easy riff driven by a semi-elusive 5/6 beat, the stop-start timing…  Wrong pulls it off on the menacingly slow title track and then right after that the jump-start melodic (and very cleverly written) catchiness of “Upgrade”.  They’re two totally different songs, but are the best on the entire record.  They also mess around with some studio tricks with the strange two minutes of feedback closing out “Zero Cool”, as well the clanging drum parade opening and closing “Anaerobic”.  It certainly feels that Wrong are stretching their wings a little bit here and coming into their own as well.  They really can do no…  ah shit, caught myself in a cliche’.  (Relapse)

Sunday, April 8, 2018


It's been a quiet Winter around here, and elsewhere....  but things are starting to happen, as is common with Spring!
Some bands we don't hear from all that often are going to be playing shows after a long absence!
First off, the fellas in BLEAK will be playing their first show in over a year as a benefit for a local Syracuse friend.  BLEAK went on hiatus after their guitarist TJ had some seemingly insurmountable health issues.  Good news is he has mostly recovered, which is great news!  So maybe we will see them play out every now and again?  One can only hope.  At least for now we get a show out of them on April 15th in Syracuse.
Check the link for info:

Next, I will be making a visit back to Syracuse at the end of April and while there I'll be doing a show with DIALYSIS!  It will be our first show in 6 months and ought to be chock full of ridiculousness, furious grinding, and all-out hijinks...  or three sad old men farting our way through 'songs'.  You decide on April 29th.  Info below:

Finally, the dudes in PSYCHIC TEENS have not been playing as often as they put some focus into their alter-ego band Ex-Maid (which is pretty dang good if you ask me).  But they will reconvene as the gloomy force of nature known as Psychic Teens when they play this banger of a lineup in Philly on April 29th:

More news on fun things to come.  Also, Portland is great thus far.  I highly recommend visiting if you've never been.