Reviews – August 2018

Joshua Abrams Excavations 1 LP (Feeding Tube)
If you’ve ever played in a punk band, you’re probably familiar with the mix of disgust and confusion that comes from your family’s reaction upon hearing your music. I can only imagine, then, what the parents, children, cousins and relatives of Joshua Abrams must think when they hear Excavations 1, an uncompromisingly irritating solo acoustic bass album that eschews even the faintest sense of tolerable musical behavior. He can’t be allowed to play this stuff in the house, not even in the basement, can he? This is an album of deliberately creaky squeaks, aggressive shuddering, atonal chalkboard scrapes and furious acoustic raspberries, all laid out in a single line across seven lengthy tracks (no overdubs or post-production effects). He plays his bass with a bow (and what must be some sort of hand-held drill at one point?), so if you’ve got an ear for the most extremely unpleasant pitches audible by the human ear (and I certainly do), Excavations 1 is an advanced-level excursion into such territory. Parts of “Buzzards” almost recall Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck in its severe state of panic – if a stand-up bass could dry heave, this is what it’d sound like. It’s a very bold and brutal album… I can think of only maybe one or two of my friends that would tolerate Excavations 1 for more than a minute, so I should probably get them together for a mighty listening session.

The Art Gray Noizz Quintet A Call To You / Won’t Say it To My Face 7″ (Robellion Music)
The Art Gray in question here is Stuart Gray, whom you may have enjoyed in such knuckle-dragging Aussie noise-rock units as Lubricated Goat and Beasts Of Bourbon. I wasn’t sure what he’d be up to today (it’s not uncommon for rockers of a certain age to be charmed by old-timey blues or rockabilly motifs, as we all sadly know), but I’m pleased to announce that his Noizz Quintet are stomping mud-holes with the vigor of a pimply-faced teen. “A Call To You” is a prime chunk of gothy noise-punk, which strongly calls to mind the mean n’ spooky sonics of TV Ghost (who were, as it turns out, actual teenagers for much of their career), and it’s Captain Gray at the helm, speaking with a voice that’s saltier than any sea dog I know. The sharp dual-guitar interplay is executed perfectly, too – excellent track indeed! Gray’s voice is even frothier on “Won’t Say It To My Face”, which feels like a classic Cramps song infused with Birthday Party guitars and Stooges chug – if that sounds enticing, that’s because it is! I think there’s one guy in the Noizz Quintet who mostly just plays tambourine or cowbell with his shirt off, too – if you’re not currently scrambling over to Stubhub to pick up tickets to see these guys live, I implore you to re-read this review.

Blawan Wet Will Always Dry 2xLP (Ternesc)
Let’s face it, Blawan made probably the best hard techno track of the decade with “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage”, and it’s been hard for me to reconcile that with his ensuing 12″s over the past few years, as he’s since opted for a more textural and grittier sound at the expense of hooks. I appreciate that his style is always evolving, though, and I’m glad I checked in with this, his debut long-player. It rules! His synths have progressively gotten heavier, and the sounds he utilizes here are domineering, as though he’s equipped with the hardware needed to assemble a thousand-foot steel suspension bridge while his contemporaries are merely fashioning metal folding chairs. Though his sonic pressure is extreme, Blawan leads a path to memorable hooks in the form of his voice throughout Wet Will Always Dry; they’re either sung or noisily deconstructed, and it’s a nice touch, adding some vague sense of humanity to his Terminator: Salvation hellscape. Much of the material fits in well with the most commandeering works of T++ and Kerridge (“Kalosi” and “Stell” both feature a particularly T++-esque cyborg swing), although the snappy, flickering snare/kick rhythms are entirely his own, a signature that runs through the majority of his work. In case Blawan is taking stylistic suggestions, a pal of mine was hoping he try singing like Tom Delonge over his beats, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a path worth exploring.

Citric Dummies The Kids Are Alt-Right LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)
Feeling some sympathy for Citric Dummies here, as no sooner did they release this album than Bad Religion released a song called “The Kids Are Alt-Right”. It’d be like if my aunt opened an Etsy store for her embroidery and called it Yellow Green Red. Anyway, I really enjoyed Citric Dummies’ debut LP last year, and this next one is stupidly sharp and sharply stupid too. They play a speedy and melodic form of early hardcore-punk, in line with seminal groups like Really Red and Angry Samoans, and they seem to be a little more tuneful here than last year’s Tearing Out My Nails, albeit in a good way (there’s nothing aspirationally commercial here in the slightest). I’m also reminded of the grotesque childish joy exhibited by The A.G’s, an underappreciated proto-nerd-punk group if there ever was one, but Citric Dummies are savvier than “I Like Boobs” or “Fudge Pack”… if only slightly. It’s Citric Dummies’s wit that sets them apart, straight-facing themselves through various jokey song titles that they somehow elaborate into full songs (“We Don’t Care Who We Sound Like”, “I Made Love To The Internet”, “Kill Everyone (Who Dies)”, and “I Am Going To Suck Your Dick” to name a handful). I don’t think Circle Jerks or Code Of Honor would’ve ever written a song boasting that they are going to win the Super Bowl, but Citric Dummies make it seem as naturally punk as tossing a brick through a cop’s windshield.

Cold Meat Pork Sword Fever 7″ (Static Shock / Helta Skelta)
Excellent news, a new Cold Meat 7″! They’re one of Perth’s finest punk bands, and I’m pleased to report that their sonic sophistication and technical abilities have made no leaps since their 2016 debut. Their agitated punk rock continues to plod mightily, recalling Good Throb’s vinegar-soaked attitude and the pogo sensibility of Vice Squad or Abrasive Wheels. One of the natural bonuses of being born and raised in Australia is that when you shout, you sound kinda British, which is pretty much the best way for this style of punk to sound. I’m a sucker for angry Riot City-style punk-core where the song title gets repeated four times in a row as the chorus (ala “Lazy Anarchy” here) – it’s a rudimentary songwriting method that simply cannot be denied. Rather than singing about boots and braces, however, Cold Meat opt for a prescient misandry – I’m not sure any other band could write a song like “Maternity Stomp” and have it succeed on levels both stupid and profound. Might be the best track here too – if they offered instructions, I would gladly maternity-stomp along with ’em.

Counter Intuits Vietnamese Lighter / Edge 7″ (Total Punk)
Total Punk has covered a lot of stylistic ground under in its day, but I wouldn’t have guessed to see Counter Intuits join their ranks – they strike me as too old and too competent. Kudos to both of them for agreeing to work together on this new 7″ single then, as I’ve been waiting on some new Counter Intuits material and these two songs are a nice little taste. “Vietnamese Lighter” hangs around with a bad attitude, meandering around the room until one of the hosts asks the song to leave. I was hoping the b-side was a tribute to everyone’s favorite Irish guitarist, but it doesn’t seem to be… I guess the Homostupids’ The Edge EP will have to suffice for my Ohio punk U2 worship. Anyway, “Edge” is another slower tune, marching along with a memorable chorus and the various lo-fi production glitches that come part and parcel with any Counter Intuits recording. Kinda surprised they didn’t blast through a couple fast tunes on here, in Total Punk fashion, but Counter Intuits are nothing if not contrarian, which of course is the punkest way to be anyway.

The Dead C On The Outbreak Of Civil War / Good Consul Is Punished 7″ (I Dischi Del Barone)
I love The Dead C as much as the next guy, but I have to wonder, do we really need more Dead C records? There are already more out there than any one person has heard, and if that one person does finally hear them all, well they’ve got a whole new challenge in the form of tapes, CD-rs and lathe-cuts, and don’t even get me started on side projects! Still, I’ll happily spin any Dead C within walking distance, and this new 7″ is unmistakably them. “On The Outbreak Of Civil War” goes through a few emotions in its brief run time, from a noisy rhythmic jam to morose tones overrun by some sort of electro-phased space pistol. “Good Consul” opens with a frazzled tantrum and then dips into a zombie march that is sustained through the rest of the track, with at least one guitar imitating Marduk in case you thought they were slipping. I’d like to revise my previous statement and clarify that okay, maybe after this one we’ll have enough Dead C records.

De Leon De Leon LP (Mana)
This De Leon album has been a real summertime treat, the sort of thing that sounds just as good alongside a shaded mid-day breeze as a humid midnight drive. Not sure who “De Leon” is, or even how I came across it to begin with, but I can’t keep it off the turntable. De Leon certainly fits in closely with Beatrice Dillon and Rupert Clervaux’s Studies I-XVII For Samplers And Percussion, another album I absolutely adore, as it’s an entirely percussive record, but a calm and tuneful one at that. It’s essentially gamelan edited and constructed with the sterile touch of techno, with any sense of drama or cultural significance scrubbed away in the name of minimalism. So what you get are circular rhythms played on melodic percussive instruments that drift in for a few minutes before drifting out. No filler, although I suppose the entire record could be considered filler to less patient ears. I’m also reminded of Joe Mubare’s work with One Tongue, or even the various modern artists following in Jon Hassell’s “4th World” footsteps, but De Leon is so refined and single-minded that it really only generates six variations on one specific theme, and does so beautifully, might I add. Recommended!

Devious Ones Plainview Nights LP Hold Fast / No Front Teeth)
The vibe of Detroit’s Devious Ones is summed up pretty adequately by their Discogs promo photo: three guys hamming it up (including the use of props) and one guy in a pork pie hat slugging a bottle a beer. They are here for fun and good times, like the sort of good times people had in the ’90s, proudly sitting on a couch just like you or I would do. You might be wondering what they sound like, which is poppy, upbeat punk with an emphasis on melody and groove, not unlike Marked Men, The Hi-Fives, Ted Leo and maybe let’s say the UK Subs. They’re pretty good, and clearly just doing it for the fun – don’t expect any overt seriousness or professionalism, as a carefree and smiley attitude permeates every crevice of Plainview Nights. My favorite cut here is “Djarum Summers”, which is a slight bummer since I already heard it on last year’s 7″ of the same name, but that shouldn’t dampen the experience for anyone not already familiar. Pop-punk has always been an effective tool for transforming suburban ennui into zany, neighbor-rattling fun, and Devious Ones continue in that proud tradition.

Dirty And His Fists Demo 2016 7″ (Negative Jazz)
The debut Dirty And His Fists 7″ was a hit around here, a top-notch slab of scabby-knee Cali punk, so unlike most demos pressed to 7″, I was excited to check this one out and see what Dirty And Co. were up to back in 2016. 2016… seems like a lifetime away, before our spirits were collectively broken, doesn’t it? Anyway, turns out Dirty And His Fists were ready to rumble right from the start, as this doesn’t sound like a rough demonstration of newly-formed songs so much as six pressurized punk torpedoes ready for launch. It’s tuneful but aggro, certainly in that Adolescents or TSOL frame of mind, but not entirely removed from the present day. They don’t rep chains or eggs, just general discontent, unfocused aggression, frustration and a short fuse – timeless punk feelings like that. I don’t think Demo 2016 is quite as good as their self-titled debut, but it’s all superb thus far, the work of a group who understands what needs to be done and has the proper facilities to do it.

Edward Fortune Teller 3xLP (Giegling)
Really, truly can’t get enough of these triple-LP releases coming from the Giegling camp and its satellite players. Edward has been one of my faves over the past couple years, so I eagerly dug into this ten-track collection and it’s hitting all the right spots. Using my keen sense of observation, I can’t help but pick up on the similarities between Ricardo Villalobos circa 2007-2010 and Edward circa now: they both favor richly detailed synthetic textures and apply them to elastic tech-house grooves, pulling from all sorts of unexpected sources, like Brazilian folk, British soccer chants, bored socialites mumbling at a party, cosmic krautrock, Latin percussion, and so on. Villalobos has since ventured off to sonic realms that are notably more esoteric and less grounded, and while I appreciate his forward-thinking abilities with regard to sonic architecture and cutting-edge software, Edward really hits the sweet spot of funky tech-house with full kitchen-sink accessorizing. These tracks cover lots of different sounds and styles, from lively rainforest jams to cruise-controlled forays into modular synthesis, and while the sounds aren’t uniform, Edward’s sense of adventure and sharp sonic curation ensures a particularly high quality. It’s a rare techno artist that can deliver a triple 12″ set and have me immediately ready for three more, but I’m already stashing all spare change in a jar labeled “EDWARD” next to my bed.

Evol Ideal Acid 12″ (iDEAL)
Evol have been deconstructing acid techno for a number of years now, usually in the most maddening ways possible. My first exposure was with 2015’s Flapper That 12″ on Diagonal (which was easily the most room-clearing, “please take this off immediately” record of the year), but I think they’ve reached a new peak with Ideal Acid. Like all Evol records, there’s a concept, and here’s what’s happening here: snippets of varied acid loops glued together across two sides of vinyl. They dug deep in their archives, sampling 303 records (that’s a quantity, not a description), letting each record run for one to four bars. The result is dizzying, as your brain is forced to follow the bouncing ball in constantly changing but deliberate patterns, never sure of what is coming next, only that it is coming. It only takes one side of this 12″ to fully exhaust me, but in a great way, as if I speed-read a novel and somehow retained it all. The whole thing is quantized too, so you could throw it on at a party, make a bunch of quick hand motions behind the DJ booth and trick your friends into thinking you’re the next Jazzy Jeff. Plus, if you actually have the ability to think while listening, you might find yourself marveling at the infinite musical possibilities the Roland 303 synthesizer has provided. Great concept, great execution, and without a doubt the greatest new record with which to annoy your friends and neighbors.

Holiday Inn Torbido LP (Maple Death / Avant!)
Ever since Throbbing Gristle decided to title an album Twenty Jazz-Funk Greats, there has been an underground post-punk fascination with repurposing harmless and ubiquitous names into something sinister and malevolent. Like this Italian duo calling themselves Holiday Inn, for instance – I’m honestly wondering how long until I see a harsh power-electronics tape by a group called Denny’s. Holiday Inn seem to fall under the “industrial” tag, and while their use of a rudimentary drum machine and buzzing synth as the extent of their instrumentation certainly comes with industrial roots, Holiday Inn recall the ’00s garage-punk fascination with noisy synths more than anything else. I’m reminded of Black Bug, Cheveu at their most electronic, Scorpion Violente, the Catatonic Youth 7″ and perhaps most strongly, Sewn Leather. It’s a style that I inherently find appealing, and Holiday Inn do a fine job of it, never taking themselves too seriously, nor do they not take themselves not seriously enough. I appreciate that the vocals are sung, not screamed, but in a perfectly annoying pitch, in case you were concerned these songs were insufficiently irritating. Kinda surprised they didn’t go with the name Ibis instead, though: you haven’t seen a miserably bare-bones hotel room until you’ve stayed in an Ibis. The half-size bed basically buffers up against the shower drain!

Kid Chrome I’ve Had It 7″ (Neck Chop)
Kid Chrome is the solo work of Chad Bucklew, he of Lysol and Freak Vibe (and surely many others). I have to wonder, is he holding out the good stuff for Kid Chrome, or is this the material that the rest of his bands refused to play? I’ll never know, but I will bob my head along to these simple, upbeat rockers. “I’ve Had It” has a hard bop not unlike Hank Wood, with a greasy little guitar lick riding on top… not your typical drum-machine-punk, for sure. That same attitude and sound carries over to “Pall Mall 100’s” (a possible Milk Music beef, if I’m interpreting the lyrics right?) and “Don’t Walk”, more slobbery vocals and slobbery guitar over a punchy beat, presenting the good times that hard rock has to offer in a punk context. The repurposed cartoon imagery cements I’ve Had It‘s presence in the contemporary punk realm, and while these three cuts are quite enjoyable, they’re lacking the distinctive qualities that would be necessary to elevate Kid Chrome above the legions of punk Mickey Mouses, punk Felix The Cats, punk Family Circuses and punk Garfields. Maybe if he went with a punk Beetle Bailey I’d be more apt to remember.

Kinski Old Gold / Loved By You 7″ (These Are Not)
There’s gotta be a band called Herzog at this point, and if so, these two should link up for a split! Kinski are a long-running psych-rock / indie-rock sorta band out of Seattle, and they are taking it so easy this time around that they didn’t even bother to write their own tunes. Rather, “Old Gold” is a Love As Laughter song, and “Loved By You” was written by David Kilgour for his band Stephen. As far as being a cool obscure cover band, Kinski do a fine job with it. “Old Gold” chugs with a fuzzy quality not unlike Mudhoney’s last decade of work, and “Loved By You” has a sun-streaked jangle to recall The Lemonheads. Apparently both tracks were digital-only bonuses that came with Kinski’s most recent album (back in 2015), so These Are Not Records quite literally turned what was not a record into one. There you have it!

Alek Lee Colors 12″ (Antinote)
Alek Lee’s Sfarot 12″ was my favorite EP of 2017, so I jumped off my chaise lounge the moment I discovered he had a new 12″ for sale and purchased it immediately. Colors isn’t as stunning or unique (honestly, how could it be), but now that I’ve settled into these four songs a bit, it’s really hitting the spot as summer gets into swing. Whereas “Sfarot” was a slow-motion cinematic strut, much of this EP is easier to categorize: deep house with live instrumentation, lush melodies and Mediterranean breezes. “Time” is a high-quality house groove with zipping bass and sparkling vibes, music suitable for island resorts but only really forward-thinking ones. That’s as energetic as it really gets, as “Kesef” slips into a downtempo mode, with an airy melody, suavely shuffling drums and an unhurried path to romance care of dub effects and a slurred vocal. “Colors” is closest in attitude to Lee’s debut EP, a hypnotic bongo-based stride with more ‘tude than Garfield in sunglasses. “Dark Colors” concludes the record with a little more techno energy but essentially as a direct continuation of “Colors”, same pace and presence with a different suite of melodic overtones. If you’re exclusively a beer drinker who scoffs at bay breezes and mai tais, this might be the record that changes your perspective.

Erik Nervous Assorted Anxieties LP (Neck Chop / Drunken Sailor)
After polluting the underground with a handful of cassettes and vinyl EPs, Erik Nervous worked with the fine folks at Neck Chop and Drunken Sailor to collect all of it onto one full-length LP. That’s what Assorted Anxieties is! Nervous’s home-recorded punk music seems specifically built for the enjoyment of obscurity-craving punk obsessives, so I’d have to assume his fans must already own at least some of this material on their previously-released formats, but maybe he’s breaking through, and everyone seems to hate 7″s these days (shame on all of you), so maybe there actually are a few hundred people planning to buy this. Considering his traditional setup of guitar/bass/drums/vocals, Nervous manages to mix things up, from Coneheads-styled speedballs to herky-jerky no-wave to stately power-pop. None of it sucks, but nothing really stands out to my ears as a “you gotta hear this” moment, either – maybe it’s because his vocals are merely there, as if they are a placeholder for a more charismatic singer to replace at a later time. Still, if you are absolutely hard-up for some modern bedroom punk that doesn’t bludgeon you with neon colors, cartoon scribbles and an intentional void of songwriting, Erik Nervous welcomes you to join him on his journey.

O$VNV$M O$VMV$M LP (Idle Hands)
This is the third self-titled LP by O$VMV$M, and I really hope it’s a trilogy in the way that The Fast And The Furious is a trilogy, meaning there are actually endless iterations released on a steady schedule. Bristol-based Amos Childs and Sam Barrett are part of the Young Echo crew (and most certainly contributed to that big Young Echo collection a few months back), and their productions as O$VMV$M are a big part of why I liked that release. This new album features more of what I’ve come to expect from them, but their aesthetic covers such broad territory that it feels like they’ll never run out of fresh ideas. These instrumental productions play like brief vignettes into fascinating alternate timelines – a warped slice of Stranger Things-esque tension will follow a crusty break that could’ve been plucked from MF Doom’s dank-smelling tote, or a ghostly Tri Angle-style séance might buffer a lonesome digi-reggae beat or a dramatically-slowed jazz loop. That sense of insulated, cozy withdrawal (along with a strong weed scent) permeates most of the album, moving with the same crisp efficiency of DAF’s 1979 debut. Sometimes I wish I had access to extended versions of these tracks, or that some rapper or vocalist would give them a run, but that might negate some of the intimacy that O$VMV$M have instilled in their music, so I quickly let that thought pass.

Outer Spacist Illness Is Creepin’ On A Come-Up LP (Heel Turn)
That’s some title, right? I generally applaud anything that makes me think about Bone Thugs, so Outer Spacist are in my good graces right off the bat. I recognize their name as one of the many bands that were part of Columbus Discount Records’ burst of activity around the mid-to-late ’00s, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them until this album. I’ve spun this record a few times now, and while it’s not my cup of tea, they seem to be having plenty of fun – I mean if you’re naming your album that, how could you not? They play a pretty agreeable form of indie-rock, one heavily informed by late ’70s proto-punk – I’d expect to see records by Rocket From The Tombs, Love, Pere Ubu, The Stranglers and 13th Floor Elevators crammed into a cardboard box next to their turntable. Guitars and keyboards weave with a hard-edged psychedelia as the vocalist pleads and moans like an imprisoned Mark Arm. They’re quite capable, but I’m not hearing any hits, and they never get heavy or weird enough for my liking, always just kinda teetering on normal acceptable bar-band rock music, which of course lots of people enjoy. Maybe the Bone Thugs reference actually worked against them, prompting unreasonably high expectations.

Parquet Courts Wide Awake LP (Rough Trade)
Prior to Wide Awake I’d only heard Parquet Courts in passing, but I’ve admired their ability to exist as a fairly plain and unobtrusive indie post-punk group without a slick command of social media or some blatant gimmick and still somehow sell tens of thousands of records, significantly more than any of their sonic peers. I am baffled as to why that is, and also fascinated by it – why is Parquet Courts selling out thousand-cap venues across the US and appearing on Ellen but Tyvek are lucky to sell 500 copies of an album over a few years’ time? Let’s face it, these guys aren’t notably handsome or cunning or outrageous, three boxes I thought you needed to check if you wanted to live off your rock music in 2018. After spending some time with Wide Awake, I think I’ve come up with some answers to my questions. First off, the art here (made by vocalist/guitarist Andrew Savage) is spectacular – the funky-swinging bodies, the bold color palette, the hand-written text, the sweet gatefold that opens into a dazzling lyric-book – it all builds a distinct world, one that enhances the listening experience, taking it from 2D to 3D. The music seems streamlined for enjoyment, too – these songs run a gamut of moods, from excited and spastic to solemn and stoned, but they all belong to the same universe, often held together by Savage’s cool voice, simultaneously big-mouthed and well-enunciated. They clearly realize the importance of not wasting a moment. There’s a hit (the titular dance-punk earworm), plenty of silly-but-smart garage ala Jonathan Richman or the first wave of Sire Records punk bands, and forays into soft-edged pop-rock that explain the Beatles and Sublime fans I saw in their live audience. I’ve now determined that they’re a great band, and this is a pretty great album, but that can’t be the secret to their success, can it?

SabaSaba SabaSaba LP (Maple Death)
There’s an evil cave-dwelling invertebrate apparition on the cover of SabaSaba’s debut LP, and it’s an appropriate advertisement for the music within. This Italian duo go full creep throughout this self-titled album, dipping their ritual candles into early British industrial music, ’90s dark-ambient drone and probably a Demdike Stare 12″ or two. These songs are slower than slow, as viscous and dark as molasses and all the more satisfying because of it. A synth pulse will throb at the lowest pre-set tempo, vocals will ominously infer, a mysterious stringed instrument will be plucked as a prayer bowl is rubbed and a djembe tapped… if this is your kinda zone, SabaSaba do right by it. They manage to pick and choose their influences wisely (think of Current 93’s most psychedelic rhythmic maelstroms without any of the Ren Faire corniness), with just a hint of left-field dub grounding the proceedings. I can’t imagine a Coil fan would sneeze at SabaSaba either, unless sneezing is part of the magic spell they’re trying to cast. Alongside recent personal discoveries of A.T.R.O.X. and FP & The Doubling Riders, Italians are proving themselves to be a lot weirder than I ever imagined.

Seraphim Rytm Prayers By The Lake 12″ (Mirae Arts)
Does the genre of “Ansel Adams techno” exist yet? If so, I’d like to file this 12″ by Seraphim Rytm under it. This Belgian techno producer gravitates toward somber and moving images of mountain ranges and foggy fields for his art and internet presence, and his music, soothingly repetitive techno, is the perfect backdrop for extended contemplation of these images. These four tracks sparkle with the same sort of texture I’ve come to associate with Donato Dozzy, and not just because Dozzy has a project called Voices From The Lake, quite similar to the title of this EP. These tracks feel effervescent and weightless, but there’s a gravitational pull at hand to ensure a steady and secure orbit. Not far from some of my favorite Zadig productions too, although there are probably dozens if not hundreds of people trading in this sort of meditative techno sound. It’s been quite a while since I prayed, let alone by a lake, but these four elliptical tracks make it a tempting proposition.

S.H.I.T. What Do You Stand For? LP (Iron Lung / La Vida Es Un Mus)
The first thing you’ll notice about S.H.I.T.’s debut LP is the extravagance (or wastefulness, depending on your point of view) of the cover – a pro-printed color jacket is wrapped in a black-and-white OBI strip that’s as wide as the jacket itself. Not sure what’s going on there, but it’s a bold move, and a bold move is just what this absolutely ripping hardcore LP deserves. I’d heard S.H.I.T. before and never thought a whole lot about them (they seemed to be standard-issue faceless hardcore-punk at first), but What Do You Stand For? is really special. I’m not sure how they did it, but the recording is phenomenal, harnessing that intense mid-section heaviness that I thought only Japanese crushers like Crow and Nightmare were able to attain. Everything kinda merges into one solid column of sound (only the hi-hats and crash cymbals cut through for the drums) but it works in S.H.I.T.’s favor, particularly as they seem to be playing these songs with an intense level of energy and a speed that’s slightly faster than everyone else. Vocalist Ryan Tong has the perfectly pained caterwaul for the job, and at 45 RPM this album is in and out fast, with nary a dirge or outro or moment of introspection, just steamrolling megaton hardcore. Impalers are the only other modern group to lay forth such a mighty hardcore sound – I’m surprised that feeble capitalist politicians haven’t already put forth a law prohibiting these groups from playing the same gig, lest society be fractured beyond repair.

Parrish Smith Sex, Suicide & Speed Metal 12″ (Dekmantel UFO Series)
Sometimes I’ll get folks who tell me they like reading my reviews (I’m blushing just remembering those moments), but they don’t really “get” the techno that’s discussed here, or why I’m into it. This new EP by Parrish Smith is a great example of why! Parrish Smith has previously put out some excellent dungeon-level industrial-techno (his L.I.E.S. EP is a real bondage scorcher), and then he comes out with this, a new EP on the hip Dutch techno label Dekmantel, only to open it with “Sex, Suicide & Speed Metal”. Just listen to this track – it’s a slow-motion sex affair with truly outrageous guitar soloing, as if Slash stepped off the set of an after-hours Cinemax movie and got down n’ dirty with a wah pedal. Truly ludicrous music, and yet this is how Parrish Smith sets things off! See, rock music is great, but even new sounds quickly become formulaic, whereas with techno freaks such as Smith, it’s always about moving on to the next insane idea, pushing yourself to some hitherto unexplored realm without stylistic limitation. “Mute” and “Fall Into Sin” follow the mind-boggling opener, two enjoyable varieties of throwback electro fist-pumper (Nine Inch Nails fans take note), chains swinging and black PVC pants sticking together as we walk through the rave’s entrance tunnel. “Skin” wraps it up with another mid-tempo cobwebby banger, but it’s really the title track that has blown my mind; I can’t get over Smith’s audacity to do something so inappropriate and great. May all artists and musicians share that sense of unbounded freedom!

Suck Lords New Lords Music 7″ (Stucco)
Yet another cool new hardcore band that understands how to do it right – I’m talking about Portland (Oregon)’s Suck Lords! Following their 2016 demo, this five-song EP is a delight for anyone who ever found themselves moving in the opposite direction of the circle pit and loving it. It’s my understanding that at least one member of the defunct NASA Space Universe is in Suck Lords, and I’m not surprised, as both bands understand the visceral nature of hardcore. Whereas NASA Space Universe would get a little out there at times (not in a bad way), Suck Lords are straight to the point, even if their point follows a fierce and jagged path, not unlike a human body falling down a rocky mountain slope. Poison Idea, Wrangler Brutes, The Bug and Neos all come to mind for various reasons, but Suck Lords are on their own trip, looking to add their own distorted tag to The Bathroom Of Hardcore rather than simply aping the greats. Not pretentious enough for Youth Attack, a little too weird for Painkiller, too anti-social to join up with Iron Lung, and perfect for you and me!

Table Sugar Collected Acknowledgements 12″ (Stucco)
The breadth of Olympia’s underground music scene is infinitely expanding, and I’m all for it, particularly as it has enabled Table Sugar and their debut 12″ EP to exist. They’re a sincerely classic-sounding post-punk group: vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and it sounds like they’ve been comfortably playing this form of music with each other for years. These seven quick songs are charming, nervous, pretty, catchy and just a little spazzy, calling to mind The Raincoats and Rosa Yemen at their most economical. I’m honestly stunned at how British Collected Acknowledgements sounds – I’m not sure which member is singing, but her voice has the same natural timbre as what I’ve come to expect from the United Kingdom (definitely picking up a Petticoats vibe), which leaves me a little confounded. She’s clearly not trying to sound British… maybe was born there and just moved to Olympia? No one “from Olympia” is actually from Olympia anyway. Regardless, I’ll have to get over my incredulity, and continue to enjoy these playful, skittish post-punk tunes in all their early Rough Trade glory. I’ve heard they share a member with Gen Pop, whose vocals occasionally sound Australian, so clearly anything is possible at this point.

Tongue Party Looking For A Painful Death LP (Learning Curve)
This November, I’ll be casting a write-in ballot for the Tongue Party! They’re from Minneapolis (seems like a large number of bands are these days) and while I’ve enjoyed their aggressive post-hardcore previously, this album is a nice step up. They basically take the sonic sludge of Floor or Cavity and play it at KARP-like speeds, as if they’re racing through their songs before the cops come to shut things down. It’s a decades-old rock tradition at this point, but Tongue Party really cut to the chase, so if you find this style appealing, there is scant filler to wade through here. I’m particularly partial to a back-and-forth burner like “Service Please”, which I swear recalls Korn and System Of A Down in a way that the underground would tolerate (as would fans of Tile and Metz). Looking For A Painful Death is definitely an album that, when blasted, will increase your ollie height by at least six inches. For full effect, I need to transfer Looking For A Painful Death to a blank TDK 90 for playback in my Reliant K, parked but idling in some empty township parking lot while me and my buddies grind a waxed curb.

Tough Customer Darlene 7″ (Sweet Rot)
Sweet Rot has been a reliably off-kilter punk label for a number of years now, never getting bogged down in any one particular trend and content to release just one or two records a year (or none at all?) unless they’ve gotten their mitts on something special. Tough Customer’s debut 7″ EP certainly fits the bill there, a cool Canadian post-punk group who work a lovely dislocated dance sound. They have the peppy attitude of Delta 5 or Kleenex, with minimalist drums and only-when-necessary bass bringing the funk, but the guitarists seem to operate on a different level. Rather than replicating punk or post-punk, they seem to be playing various folk and classic-rock melodies, as if they sought inspiration from The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers instead of The Slits and The Mekons. All these elements together make for a great combination, recalling a more manic Household, a more sophisticated Holy Balm, or more likely, something fresh and original entirely. Like, “Mash” could be a Sea & Cake song, but it’s clearly post-punk, so who knows. Recommended, even when taking Canadian postage rates into consideration!

Trash Knife / Dumb Vision split 7″ (Kitschy Spirit)
I literally chuckled out loud when I picked up this split 7″ and saw the band names – I can’t think of a clearer case of punk names made up from random punk adjectives and nouns pulled at random than these two. Trash Knife? What does that even mean? Dumb Vision? Like, as in you need to wear glasses? I’m truly fascinated by the lack of purpose or thought in these band names. Musically, it’s pretty par-for-the-course modern punk from these two, which I guess is to be expected from those names. Trash Knife are snotty hardcore-punk, captured in low fidelity and with an odd lead guitarist who just kinda noodles over these solid if typical tunes. Dumb Vision are pretty similar, maybe a little fuzzier and more melodic – less basement slime and more skateboard rash, probably more likely to secretly own a Screeching Weasel record than anyone in Trash Knife (who probably just listen to punk YouTubes on a phone with a cracked screen). I think I prefer Dumb Vision of the two, but they’re both perfectly competent lo-fi punk rock bands, ripe for inclusion on a comp with bands named Negative Piss, Sick Minds, Crimson Boys and The Shit Wires.

Aaron Troyer Lone Offender LP (no label)
First thing I noticed about Aaron Troyer’s Lone Offender album is how much I liked the cover print of a house falling off a cliff – turns out Troyer is a teacher by trade, and designed it himself! Lucky kids, whoever is getting his instruction. He also decided to release an LP of his own music, a tantalizing proposition for any musician, big or small, and here it is. Troyer’s music is pretty basic, low-risk rock, nodding to classic ’80s new-wave rockers like Elvis Costello or Tom Verlaine, you know, nervous white guys in skinny ties who skipped the prom to hug their guitars in their basements instead. I’m reminded of Home Blitz too, from the way that Troyer appropriates some grand rock moves for his humble aesthetic, but his work is far more by the books than anything Dan DiMaggio ever left his fingerprints on. “Operational Deal” is particularly charming in its vintage bridge (and cool guitar non-solo), certainly the track I keep coming back to. Lone Offender is a pleasantly harmless record, surely to be enhanced if Troyer were to come over and teach me how to draw while we sat together listening to it. Just saying.

Wax Chattels Wax Chattels LP (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun)
First thing’s first: I caught New Zealand’s Wax Chattels live a couple weeks ago, and I’m going on record right now that it was the best rock band I’ve seen this year! Just absolutely pummeling and unfathomably tight, with inventive songs, memorable hooks and a cool manic intensity, each member committed to playing their instrument faster than legal limits. It was like a godly mix of Psychic Paramount, Shellac and Clikatat Ikatowi (no kidding), so I had to grab the album from their merch table. Listening at home now is a nice experience, but it pales in comparison to their mighty on-stage performance. The songs are all played a tad slower here, and with less energy, which of course makes sense, but after giving me a taste of that transcendent live show, I’m still adjusting to this lesser dose. It’s nice to hear their songs again though, that’s for sure: on drums (barely half a normal kit), a keyboard and a bass-guitar, Wax Chattels craft some expressive and thrashy post-punk, akin to early no-wave as well as the more experimental side of ’90s Gravity Records (I swear the drummer is an Antioch Arrow fan). They navigate a variety of moods with panache, from spacey explorations to rapid-fire morse-code blasts, in a way that I thought only This Heat would ever be able. Very cool album, but I worry what my life will be like if I don’t get to witness them live again soon – I’m still recovering.

Milan W. Envelope LP (Ekster)
In case you’re wondering, the W stands for Warmoeskerken, so Milan W. can be forgiven for going with the shortened moniker. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon his music, but I’m certainly glad I did, as Envelope is a rich and cunning album of low-key Belgian electronics. Discogs categorizes it as “Ambient”, but there’s far too many moving parts and processes going at any given moment for that label to really stick, as far as I’m concerned. Honestly, “Electronica” is probably what I’d file it under, if such a genre still exists – Milan W. seems to be working in the spirit of Autechre and the Mille Plateaux label, but there’s a particular warmth at play here that belies the cold, clinical aesthetic one might associate with those two. I think the secret’s in the melodies – even though the sounds are coming from state-of-the-art software with tones twisted and altered, there seems to be the old ghosts of folk-song or jazz-standard melody buried within, revealing some sign of tenderness under the indeterminate electronics. Regardless of how you’ll file it in your make-believe record shop, Envelope is a highly pleasurable experience, no matter what distance you’re listening from.

Wolves Of The Dry Ravine Play With Matches Near The Powder Keg LP (Stepdads)
First the wolves got into the throne room, and now you’re telling me they made it into the dry ravine? It’s an epidemic! Wolves Of The Dry Ravine are from Washington, DC, and I swear I could’ve told you that just by looking at the typefaces and design of Play With Matches Near The Powder Keg – something about it strongly smacks of Fugazi or Bluetip or Dag Nasty or something. I’m sure they’d love to be on Dischord (who wouldn’t?), and their upbeat, punchy punk comes close to something I would’ve expected from that label ten years or so ago. Their songs are no-nonsense and lightweight, not unlike Ted Leo, Milk N’ Cookies or The Pointed Sticks – expect a cutesy little organ, tambourine and spirited hand-claps sprinkled throughout. The thing about Ted Leo though is that he has that inimitable voice and presence, which is really what any mod-inspired power-pop punk requires to rise to the top, and while Wolves Of The Dry Ravine make a good go of it, they’re lacking that special something to really make their music stick. Maybe a slight foray into psycho-jazz would do the trick?

Wound Man Prehistory 7″ (Iron Lung)
Here we go, a 7″ EP of doomsday-prepper power-violence care of New Bedford, MA’s Wound Man. Hardcore dudes in the New Bedford and Boston scenes have been stridently refining their approach to classic power-violence since the mid ’00s or so, and Wound Man are the latest distillation of such (featuring at least one ex-member of Breathing Fire). Now they’re all bearded and grizzly, wearing the same tattered t-shirt for days, and that sort of anti-social distance permeates these nine tracks – I’m a little surprised they haven’t written their own manifesto yet. Prehistory follows Crossed Out’s fine use of unexpected blast-beat stops/starts, the stoner-y dirge segues utilized by Infest and Neanderthal (maybe a little taste of Noothgrush in there too?), and the manic frustration of Despise You. There’s even one part during a respite between blasts on opener “Dive” where the vocalist (possibly the guest listed as “The Torturer”) sounds like Rick Ta Life with his dreads on fire. It’s pretty much a textbook replication of power-violence, but if that’s what you want to hear (and I certainly do), allow Wound Man to set things straight in their severely negative way.

Reviews – July 2018

Alienation Bitter Reality 7″ (Warthog Speak)
You think Alienation has any time for your pissing and moaning? Think again! They hail from the remote Canadian province of Halifax (it’s so far up the eastern North American coast I think Reykjavík is actually the closest neighboring city) and they are fully aware that life ain’t all its cracked up to be. This is their third EP on Warthog Speak and while I’m not overly versed in the first two, I’d imagine they are also full of screaming-mad hardcore with sonic ties to Negative Approach and Necros as well as slight nods to No Comment and Capitalist Casualties (and not a long jump from modern hardcore like S.H.I.T. and Glue, either). It’s a classic ten-song 7″ EP (you can’t mess with that model), perfectly raging but also without any pretense or mysterious/shocking vibes shoehorned in. Only gripe is that I wish it came with a lyric sheet, as titles like “Johnny Coffee Shop” and “Squirrel Bait” (presumably not a tribute song?) raised my brow. The little colored “availability” bar on the Bitter Reality BigCartel page appears to be roughly three quarters completed – it warms my heart to know that people are still buying 7″ EPs of high-quality by-the-books hardcore such as this.

Alexander Arpeggio Streng Geheim EP 12″ (Neubau)
As promised, I’m tearing through Neubau’s newest releases as if they were a life necessity, and maybe they are? These raw techno 12″s are hitting the spot, including this one, the debut from Alexander Arpeggio. He runs the Mond Musik reissue label, digging up rare electronic jams from the ’70s and ’80s, but don’t expect his own productions to follow a retro frame of mind. Sure, he’s clearly using old drum machines and synths instead of modern software, but Streng Geheim sounds fresh for today. The title track is a double-digit BPM strut, colored with some Middle-Eastern melodic flair. It feels like an impromptu dance breaking out in an arid open-air market bustling with goods being bartered and sold, or perhaps a non-ironic corollary to Men’s Recovery Project’s Bolides Over Basra album. Geier aus Stahl remix “Streng Geheim” on the flip, looking up toward the night sky with their interpretation (and as hoped, they leave the lead melody intact). “Du Hast Kein Gesicht” closes it out in high fashion with a chugging arpeggio (how appropriate) that recalls Petar Dundov at his meanest with an airy synth melody not unlike something you’d find on a Bone Thugs N’ Harmony CD from 1995 and a tauntingly unintelligible vocal. With each new release, my love for Neubau only grows stronger and more intense.

Bad Times Streets Of Iron LP (Goner / Nuthin)
Alright, now this is the Goner Records we all know and love! Here’s a welcome reissue of Bad Times’ 2001 debut self-titled LP. They were a short-lived (and by short-lived I mean apparently less than 48 hours!) “supergroup” featuring Jay Reatard, Eric Oblivian and King Louie. It’s the stuff garage-punk dreams are made of, and Streets Of Iron lives up to whatever hype that may imply. This album is clearly the result of a “first thought = best thought” songwriting mentality, just throwing together simple and rugged riffs the way these three punks knew best, and I’d say that’s exactly how you’d want these guys to operate. It’s really great stuff: a song like “Trapped In The City” is a shoulda-been hit, as visceral as anything off The Pack’s 1978 LP, but with the manic urgency that comes from being in a band destined to implode before next week. This version comes with a couple original tracks restored (and a couple live tracks removed), a thoughtful enhancement that maintains full acerbity. It’s a truly rabid gem (“You’re So Lewd” feels like Bobby Soxx with his pants on fire), a testament to the ferocity and intensity of the pre-Y2K Memphis / New Orleans garage-punk scenes.

Black Panties Dirt From The Mop / Dreams Of My Teeth 7″ (Total Punk)
You just can’t keep a good pair of panties down, as evidenced by this new Black Panties 7″ on Total Punk. In the past, I could take or leave this guy, kind of just another modern slimy punk band (like so many, forever to exist in Lumpy & The Dumpers’ shadow), but these two songs are pretty on the mark. “Dirt From The Mop” starts with a drum solo (accurately described in the liner notes as a “short, impressive drum solo”) before kicking into some furious garage-y hardcore punk, lo-fi and loving it. “Dreams Of My Teeth” is kind of a psychedelic title, but it’s a mid-paced meltdown of a similar style, far slower than the a-side but equally full of semi-humorous misery. Black Panties is a band (I’ve witnessed them live myself), but I guess it’s also a guy (kinda like how “Alice Cooper” works), and he recorded this single entirely on his own, playing every instrument, from the choked-out guitar solo on the b-side to the drum solo that opened the a-side. Sometimes punk is best experienced in self-imposed solitary confinement, and it does the trick here.

Brown Sugar Long Strange Drip LP (Feral Kid / Loki Label)
Buffalo’s Brown Sugar put out some great records in their day (2011 – 2014, more or less?), and this LP is jam-packed with most of them. Collecting prior singles and comp appearances and outtakes, Long Strange Drip is a solid compendium of this band, detailing their evolution from a snotty, delinquent hardcore-punk band to, well, basically the same thing except they figured out how to write some of the most memorable songs of their time and peer group. At 21 songs on the a-side alone, the actual vinyl looks like a damn Hellnation LP… I have to wonder if a curated selection of their best tunes would’ve been more effective for casual listening, but at the same time, I realize the concept of the CD discography is a relic of the past now (I actually miss ’em) so this is probably the best way to memorialize a group in 2018. I recommend you start on the b-side for the Tropical Disease EP, one of my favorite Brown Sugar releases, which combines the manic energy of their Toxic State contemporaries with the bite of Cleveland hardcore (Inmates, Puncture Wound, Bad Noids maybe?) and their own distinct nonchalant charm. Great liner notes too, outlining the inhospitable atmosphere of Buffalo, NY and their struggle to have fun in a place where fun was frowned upon. Not entirely sure if Brown Sugar are still a band or not (they seem to fade in and out, breaking up then immediately playing a fest and putting out a record, touring and then canceling a tour, etc.), but Long Strange Drip is excellent proof of their existence.

Daytime Cleaners Daytime Cleaners LP (Commuter)
This LP came from Daytime Cleaners’ bassist Earl Kunkel, who’s responsible for the great / truly weird label Vwyrd Wurd, so I was expecting something gelatinous and psychedelic like Daywand or indeterminately blackened like Nocht The Only Ghouls. Instead, Kunkel and his friends did the weirdest thing possible by playing in a completely normal, easily-approachable indie band! Out of Bethlehem, PA, no less – who knew? I kept waiting for something to jump out from Daytime Cleaners, revealing that the whole thing is a miserable hoax or a Negativland-style social experiment, but nope, seems like Daytime Cleaners are in fact simply a regular band, four white guys with mustaches and glasses, just the way white guys like to wear ’em. It’s slightly disappointing, as there isn’t nearly the same level of creativity on display here as on Kunkel’s label, just classically-crafted indie-pop with soft psych/garage leanings, ala Elf Power or I dunno, maybe Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, with a touch of Promise Ring in the vocal department. Daytime Cleaners are certainly as pleasant as those three… different shades on the khaki scale, but on that scale all the same. I guess no town is complete without one of these bands, and Daytime Cleaners are perfectly fine, perhaps even finer than Bethlehem currently deserves.

Dint Hooker 12″ (Horo)
Say what you will about Limp Bizkit but I think we can all relate to the occasional need to break stuff. Good thing there are producers like Berlin’s Dint out there, dropping overly aggressive, dare-I-say-macho records like this, perfect for putting a ball-bat through a box-screen TV, or fist to mirror, Rollins-style. Normally, I bristle at electronic guys invoking sex workers in an attempt to add some sort of edgy coolness to their music, and I guess I still did when I first saw this record, but the title track is so outrageously gnarly that I can’t help but tip my hat. Picture Raime’s slow and minimal repetition as deployed by Pantera’s rhythm section – it’s that good! Definitely in the same league as Andy Stott’s remix of Batillus, as well as Demdike Stare’s “Past Majesty”, one of the slapping-est tunes in their significant catalog. Second cut “Shovel” almost verges on power-electronics, but the underlying tension is too tuneful (and the harsh noise is deep in the background), hitting that sweet spot between Haus Arafna and The Haxan Cloak. We head back to the club (albeit a pitch-black, grim and frostbitten one) for “Skewer” on the b-side, with various electronic alerts, sonar pings and bass throbs slowly gathering intensity until unexpectedly fading, as if the pack of grim reapers chasing you through a concrete maze were all just a dream. Or were they?

Elephant Rifle Hunk LP (Humaniterrorist)
Elephant Rifle begin Hunk, their third album, with a stomp-down – gotta hand it to any band who cuts immediately to the chase like that, getting the ignorant hillbilly mosh-pit started without hesitation. From there, they explore various forms of heavy, belligerent rock, calling to mind AmRep, Harvey Milk, Melvins, KARP, that strain of underground post-hardcore that flirts with butt-rock and metal but never quite goes in for a kiss. Thankfully, they’re not overly serious about it (see the oil(?)/mud-coated male abdomen brandishing the word “HUNK” on the cover), and seem to truly have fun administering their pounding riffs and aggressive rhythms. The kind of band that would musically attract Mudvayne fans while simultaneously mocking them for being Mudvayne fans. Elephant Rifle certainly aren’t the first group to adopt this musical approach and attitude, and I don’t see much within Hunk that really stands out beyond the shadow of their forefathers… that said, their ideas are certainly that of their own (as opposed to a direct homage/rip), and while I may not want to sample their body grease up close, I am happy to admire it from afar.

F.U.K. Road Kill 7″ (HoZac)
Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night, wondering if Roger Miller of Mission Of Burma ever had a good ol’ fashioned punk band in the late ’70s with Sue Rynski of Destroy All Monsters? Allow this archival 7″ of F.U.K. (short for “Fucked Up Kids”) to ease your mind, as it’s true, they did! And this is it. Now, I’m not usually desperate to hear every little scrap of punk rock ephemera that’s unearthed (although I appreciate that it all exists), but I have to say, “Road Kill” is pretty timeless and amazing, in that there are still young punk bands with a Burger Records cassette tape and a dream wishing they sounded this good. I’m reminded of a stompier Loli & The Chones, although they never had a molten lava guitar solo quite like this! It’s kind of stunning that this track somehow remained undiscovered for so long, as I can say with confidence that this is top-shelf material. There’s no way “I Got A Head” on the b-side could match the primal righteousness of the a-side, but it’s by no means a throwaway. It’s stupider (your average second grader could write smarter lyrics, and is that someone singing through a kazoo?), but stupid in the way that all great punk classics are stupid, simplistic and pure. If this actually came out in 1977 in a pressing of 300 copies, it’d be on Ryebread Rodeo for $2,995.00, but instead it came out in 2018 and we can all snatch it up for whatever new seven-inches cost these days. Ten bucks? Can’t think of a better use of my money.

Jayda G & Alexa Dash Diva Bitch 12″ (Freakout Cult)
While so many electronic producers are retreating to their home studios for the sake of meticulous electronic editing, clicking their mice thousands of times to ensure their dance music is eviscerated beyond recognition, there are still people like Jayda G, for whom music’s main function is to bring a party to life, to tap into the eternal party euphoria that dwells within us all. She’s interested in the basic classics that are classic for a reason, and on this new EP for her imprint with DJ Fett Burger (another party essentialist), she gets down to the bare bones of early house. “Diva Bitch” is basic vogue music in the form of a minimalist Chicago house groove and a guest vocal from Alexa Dash, the “Diva Bitch” in question. She uses the track to diss inferior men and praise those who are worthy of her time, essentially turning a highly-demanding dating profile into an uplifting spoken-word rant that eventually leads into a Diana Ross-inspired chorus. It’s a little ridiculous, but so is life in the club, and if you’re not being at least a little ridiculous, why are you even there? This 12″ comes with a “Jayda G Get Down On Ur Knees Mix” which edits things a bit, as well as an acapella version if you just want to spend some private time with Ms. Dash. You better be looking extra fresh!

Gen Pop II 7″ (Feel It)
Feel It aren’t slouches – they knew Gen Pop had a great thing going on and wanted a piece. It’s a good pairing, one of the most thoughtfully-curated new hardcore labels and Olympia’s Gen Pop, a hardcore band writing thoughtful songs. Maybe smart is a better word for it than thoughtful – these songs are immediate and direct rather than studious and brainy, consistently following the shortest path to success. Opener “Oh No” is a prime example, essentially working two back-and-forth notes for rapid ‘core satisfaction, and it’s followed by the even faster “No Change”, which throws a third note in the mix. I could go for a hundred of these forty-second blasts of nascent hardcore jams, but Gen Pop demonstrate a sly versatility too – “Plastic Comb” might be my favorite, a weirdly slow groove with belligerently British vocals, this time coming from the drummer, I think? It’s like Jeff Geggus of the Cockney Rejects stumbling through a post-punk hangover, quite beautiful indeed. At other times I’m reminded of classic Boston hardcore ala FU’s or Gang Green (check “No Identify”) but Gen Pop are too smart to be either drunk or straight-edge, and the last song feels like something The Thought Criminals would’ve done had they stuck around long enough to get into hardcore. Each band member sings (it’s pretty fun to watch live, wondering who’s gonna handle the next tune), but even if you missed ’em on their recent US tour, these eight minutes of music bear much repeating.

Danny Graham Danny Graham LP (Xerox Music / Sinsemilla)
Seems like Australia has an equally endless cache of rock rarities waiting to be reissued as the US, and I guess that’s probably equally true for any first-world country dating back to the mid ’70s or so at this point. This is Danny Graham’s debut privately-pressed LP from 1980, now brought back to life care of Xerox Music, complete with folded lyric sheet and collage insert. I can count at least five times that obscure Australian music has shocked me to my core (Slugfuckers, X and Victims to name the first three), but this isn’t one of them. Graham’s music falls somewhere on the non-punk side of the late ’70s / early ’80s rock underground, calling to mind the queer rock of icons like Lou Reed and David Bowie alongside the glam-rock sparkle of T. Rex and probably at least a little Bee Gees influence (spin “Early Morning Heat Wave” and see if your straight-leg jeans don’t turn into boot-cut polyester slacks). Maybe a little folk-jazz fusion ala Larry Coryell in some of the instrumental passages, too? It’s one of those records that I can understand why people are eagerly shelling out $300+ for original copies, but I can also understand why it never took off in the first place, and why no one besides elite collector fiends really care. No unabashed, shoulda-been hits on here, just a nice collection of thoughtfully-composed songs that clearly soaked up the rock, glam, disco and folk of its era.

Grouper Grid Of Points LP (Kranky)
I got on the Grouper train inexcusably late: 2016’s Paradise Valley 7″ single. I’ve still got a lot of catching up to do (blame it on my avoidance of artists named after animals in the ’00s, aka Raccoo-oo-oon Syndrome), but I picked up this new one and have been enjoying it plenty. At first, I was expecting more – maybe some big sweeping orchestral moments, the inclusion of noise or drone techniques, a little post-rock heaviness, perhaps a startling field recording or two – but Grid Of Points is stark and simple, just Liz Harris and a piano in a rustic cabin in some faraway land. I was hoping for more than just this, too, but after acclimating myself to these soft, tender, drifting tunes, they started to take shape in my mind, the extent of their beauty and depth revealed. In particular, a track like “Driving” is oddly hummable after a while, and Grouper’s talent at blending the ambiance of sustained piano chords with her vulnerable-yet-distant voice is unparalleled. Grid Of Points is a quick eight songs, half of which are under three minutes a piece, which lends itself to repeated full-album listening and the development of a familiarity which really helps connect the listener to this sparse and melancholy music. Or at least this one listener in particular.

Twig Harper & Bill Nace Live At Dreamland LP (Open Mouth)
Bill Nace is more or less tied with Chris Corsano as the friendliest face in American underground improv. They’re equally busy too, and Nace has been doing a fine job documenting it on his Open Mouth label. Nautical Almanac, on the other hand, were one of the first groups I ever saw do that thing where various wires enter one performer’s mouth as they convulse onto the floor (a staple move in early ’00s noise), so they’ve got a special place in my heart, all of which led me to snag a copy of this collaboration between Nace and Nautical Almanac’s Twig Harper. They’re both credited with “voice”, with Harper on electronics and Nace on guitar, and it’s just the sort of dank sonic stew I was hoping for. The majority of the tones deployed here come from unidentified origins, with high-end that isn’t ear-piercing so much as ear-confusing – is Nace using a guitar pic made of dry ice, or is Harper providing wireless connectivity to a pile of old aluminum foil? They drone a bit too, but it’s always moving, hovering between tones like a restless (and stoned) hummingbird. Live At Dreamland is surprisingly pleasant, or at least not abrasive, with plenty of breathing room even at its most frantic. Perfect summer record for when the A/C in your window starts to vibrate uncontrollably and the mice run clumsy laps in the walls – it’s like you’re all jamming along!

Francis Harris Minor Forms 12″ (Scissor And Thread)
A fresh-cut arrangement of pink roses rests within an elegant vase, overlooking a hazy foreign city through drawn velvet curtains – such is the scene Francis Harris sets for us with Minor Forms. It’s a new 12″ on his Scissor And Thread label (ran in conjunction with the Brooklyn-based Halcyon record shop) and it’s a luscious, velvety dive into deep-house grooves. “More We Cannot Do” is kind of a Bruno Pronsato-ish title (y’know, tech-house Yoda speak) and it’s a very comfortable entry, complete with vibraphone to give off the flavorful scent of Mr. Raoul K. “Minor Forms” is next, upping the ante not only with more vibraphone but some tasteful trumpet as well. It doesn’t feel like part of the horn-based techno trend I’ve noticed so much as part of the tradition of smooth jazz instrumentation carefully spread across hypnotic deep-house grooves. Notably more jazzy and not nearly as melodramatic as anything on Giegling, who I’d consider the current bar for this sort of thing. The flip holds two remixes by Valentino Mora of the title track, the first of which brings the 4/4 thump to the forefront alongside some tasteful electronic squiggles. The second gazes toward the heavens, a calming bliss-out with hiccup-pitched percussion added for taste. Harris might be spending his days on Clinton Street in Brooklyn but his mind has ran off to somewhere far more serene.

Healer / DJ Eons Dank Goblins 7″ (Warthog Speak)
Not that there’s much competition anymore, but this is the split 7″ of the year, no doubt! West Bay dank-core is one of the most distinct and stylish forms of extreme hardcore, and this EP pits Healer alongside DJ Eons (aka Dan Lactose from Spazz). Healer’s side is actually their 2017 demo in its entirety (a whopping three minutes!) but man, what a demo! Vinyl was a necessity, as this is the sort of prime-cut Bay Area power-violence that would’ve found a home on Slap A Ham were it released twenty years ago. Various hip-hop and soul samples (which are often longer than the actual songs) buffer blazing-fast grind, calling to mind No Less, Capitalist Casualties and Crossed Out, but with its own distinct flavor. Really hoping we can squeeze at least another three minutes of perfection from this unit. On the flip, DJ Eons throws together some mean-mugging loops with the help of Agents Of Satan’s Ramon Salcido on bass, meant to be played out of a trunk while driving 5 MPH through a school zone. If Madlib could recognize Plutocracy tracks by titles alone, his edits would probably sound similar to DJ Eons. Healer and DJ Eons compliment each other perfectly, friends supporting friends (which was always part of the West Bay scene’s allure, along with all the graffiti and weed) – it’s been out for like three weeks now but this 7″ already feels timeless.

Iceage Beyondless LP (Matador)
Way back when (2010), Iceage’s teenaged debut knocked my socks off, and amazingly, some five albums later they’re still reinventing themselves in wonderful and unforeseen ways. I saw someone say that Iceage are pretending to be cowboys now, and while there is plenty of drunken waltzing through a honky-tonk saloon on Beyondless (a logical continuation of “The Lord’s Favorite” off Plowing Into The Field Of Love), that’s only part of what’s going on here. Throughout, they provide some unique strain of slow garage-rock that never previously existed, a ’90s buzz-bin torch song (“Pain Killer”), some raucous Neu!-inspired choogle (the fantastic opener “Hurrah”) and the silky pelvic thrust of my personal favorite, “Catch It”. Vocalist/heartthrob Elias Bender Rønnenfelt continues to sound like Tim Armstrong in a Nick Cave wig (or would it be a combination wig/bald cap at this point?), singing surprisingly tunefully at turns but still immediately identifiable as the ex-teenager most likely to make smoking cigarettes cool again. And the rest of the band (all going by their first, middle and last names on the insert, in case you didn’t realize how serious they are) exhibit growth by actually playing the songs in time with each other, all the while still possessing their ramshackle je n’ais se quoi. Speaking of je n’ais se quoi, Rønnenfelt actually says it at one point in “Showtime”, and this time around I swear some of its unintentional humor might actually be intended.

Joy O & Ben Vince Transition 2 12″ (Hessle Audio)
The horn-powered techno just keeps on coming and I for one am living for it. What should we call this, two-tone techno? Or third-wave house? Anyway, Hessle Audio continues to churn out the hits years after their post-dubstep inauguration, and this new collaboration between Joy O and saxophonist Ben Vince is a delight. “Transition 2” is immediately gratifying: a deep-house groove underpins some heavily gated percussion as Vince volleys two sustained notes throughout. It’s as if you just boarded the ferry that goes to Techno Island and the captain (Ben Vince) is announcing the vessel’s departure. It’s a fantastic cut, but don’t expect the flip side, “Systems Align”, to be any less potent. This one segues through various electronic avenues, traveling along tight-knit techno grids that shift in momentum. Sounds like Vince is using his horn to emulate the tires of a race car Tokyo-Drifting across a cobblestone alley in some sort of sleek European chase scene. It’s really quite stunning how seamlessly Vince’s horn collides with Joy O’s artificial worlds, and both players are all the better for it, confidently sharing the spotlight. I’d say if you’re only going to buy one horn-centric techno record this year, you should consider this one, but I certainly hope you’ll join me in purchasing numerous horn-centric techno records this year, other genres be damned.

Matt Karmil Will LP (Smalltown Supersound)
British-born German transplant Matt Karmil must’ve made the move via air travel because Will is an undeniably high-altitude album. Karmil’s form of house music starts on the ground, utilizing downy-soft 4/4 kicks and soothing tones, but often floats away from the beat entirely, leaving only the vague imprint of dance music as melodies hover above. It fits in well with other modern chill-out house artists like Kettenkarussell (who by no coincidence are another personal favorite), Anthony Naples and Galcher Lustwerk, but Matt Karmil soaks his material in Pop Ambient textures and can easily switch from the Giegling-esque chug of “Can’t Find It (The House Sound)” to a rippling, beatific meditation like “Maffé”, as if Fennesz was tasked with remixing The Field. It’s not necessarily a new sonic proposition, but Karmil balances both ends masterfully, knowing when to leave an elegant loop on repeat and when to ease the momentum into an untethered drone. If you’ve ever wished to dance while entering a lucid state of hypnosis, Will is the perfect elixir.

Leda Japanese Key / The Silent Contest 7″ (I Dischi Del Barone)
Hell yeah, new Leda! Sofie Herner is one of my favorite current guitarists, or at least I think she’s playing guitar most of the time in her group Neutral and solo as Leda. It’s affected beyond recognition, of course, but in such playfully unusual ways – her music will trick me into thinking a broken washing machine is actually playing a Black Sabbath riff. These two new songs, both freshly recorded this year, are examples of her technique, and they’re great. “Japanese Key” is a slow throbbing pulse, origins unknown but it sure sounds sloppy, like you’re trying to walk through a darkened underground tunnel and can’t tell if you’re soaking your loafers in rain puddles or something far more repulsive. She rips out a sinewy solo(?) over top and kinda mumbles through it at the same time… it’s fabulous. “The Silent Contest” has kind of a similar momentum, relying on a stop-start pulse, but this one is more solemn, with grey-noise static blasts that end on a pitched tone and Herner’s vocal clearer in the mix, all resulting in an oddly noise-based devotional. Two very unique, very noisy, and very enjoyable new cuts from a clear master of her craft.

Liquids Hot Liqs Revenge LP (Neck Chop)
A pal of mine casually mentioned that Liquids have written something like 90 songs in three years, and while I haven’t verified (I don’t think it’s quite the case if you count re-recordings), it’s still pretty startling. This NWI punk band, featuring ties to Coneheads and CCTV, are clearly addicted to writing eighty-second-long snot-punk tunes, and Hot Liqs Revenge is their second proper full-length, featuring twenty new ones. It’s definitely up to par with the rest of their material, calling to mind Angry Samoans, Adolescents and Circle Jerks with a rough home-recording patina and a jittery, over-caffeinated feel similar to their modern Midwestern brethren. Songs are about how looking at you makes them want to throw up, and how they wish you’d shut up, too. Good stuff for sure, and oddly mastered for vinyl, as each track has a few seconds of silence between them, providing ample time to reflect on each tune (not unlike the Crossed Out 7″). I have to wonder though, what if these guys cooled it a little on the quantity, and tried instead to create The Perfect Punk Album? Really labored over each part and melody and vocal line, maybe stepped up the recording quality while still retaining that rawness? Angry Samoans, Circle Jerks and Adolescents probably didn’t have 90 songs combined by their first three years, and I feel like Liquids might be able to match their greatness if they worked on perfecting their tunes rather than quickly moving on to a new one.

Lysol Teenage Trance / Chemical Reaction 7″ (Neck Chop)
Seattle’s Lysol are back, after I think going away for a little bit, or maybe having to change their name? I remember the same thing happened to Tyvek, where they had to become TVK for a while… kinda funny that these mega-corporations actually care about their name being used for bands trying to sell three hundred copies of 7″ EPs, but I guess that’s what mega-corporations do. Anyway, Lysol are still rockin’ and rollin’ across these two brief tunes, a welcome return if they ever left us. “Teenage Trance” has the gruff, falling-down-the-stairs attitude of early Reatards with the energy of classic hardcore, let’s say Poison Idea. Cool breakdown that allows for some power-moves on the guitar, kinda like a messy younger sibling of that recent Fetish single. You could probably make a mix exclusively of songs titled “Chemical Reaction” and it’d be pretty good, Lysol’s included. I’m actually picking up a strong Hank Wood vibe on theirs, from the riff’s horizontal action and the vocalist’s huff-and-puff delivery (by the chorus, it’s uncannily similar). I could’ve gone for a full can of this stuff, but these two tracks are a refreshing spritz.

Patois Counselors Proper Release LP (Ever/Never)
If you told me the next great art-punk band was going to come from Charlotte, North Carolina, I’d probably choke on my iced chai, but I think that really might be the case! Of course I’m referring to Patois Counselors, whose debut 7″ I enjoyed back in 2015, but this is a mighty step up, a fully-realized vision of what cynical post-punk can be. I’m picking up strong vibes of Tyvek and Parquet Courts throughout, as Patois Counselors frequently utilize jumpy bass and drums alongside primitive and jangly guitars to energize the room, but they come across as more refined than the former and punker than the later. Certain oddball tracks like “Get Excitement” and “So Many Digits” recall The Rebel at his most successfully experimental, with any shock-jock tactics replaced by an understated lyrical wit. Patois Counselors are basically screaming “fuck society!” but with such elegant prose it might even please fans of Mars Volta. Some of the songwriting recalls The Makers Of The Dead Travel Fast in its baroque peculiarities, but it’s still simple enough to knock heads with the rest of the Ever/Never roster. Not a moment wasted, with plenty of memorable moments and weirdo charm (“Terrible Likeness” is the best song Men’s Recovery Project never wrote), and the first record of the year that I dug around inside the sleeve looking for a little download code (I found it!) because I need to take Patois Counselors with me wherever I go.

The Pink Noise House Of Cards LP (Sounds Escaping)
Yep, you read that right, The Pink Noise are back! You may remember them as one of the groups to help solidify Blank Dogs as a global trend in the the late ’00s, but I guess The Pink Noise actually never really went away, and just quietly got better over the years, becoming their own thing rather than another faceless lo-fi bedroom punk band (or solo project). This new one, unfortunately sharing names with a disgraced Netflix drama, is quite good, and bears little resemblance to the Pink Noise of old. It’s some sort of disjointed post-punk new-wave… drums come in unusual patterns (don’t expect the snare to keep 4/4 time), the guitar attempts glam-rock sass but trips on the cracks left by the drums, and vocalist/bandleader Mark Sauner kinda shout-moans over it all, recalling Black Eyes’ Hugh McElroy if he envisioned himself as a Killed By Death punk rocker. House Of Cards recalls Lou Reed’s The Blue Mask in some of its weird shredding, but it really covers so much ground – I’ll find myself thinking of ZZ Top, Rik & The Pigs, US Maple and The Contortions simultaneously and wonder how we ended up here. The influences are familiar but the end result is unique, a praiseworthy vision of overly-articulated punk riffing and laid-back retro set dressing, and certainly The Pink Noise’s finest achievement to date. Maybe they’re just getting started!

Potter Natalizia Zen Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out LP (Ecstatic)
Here’s a collaborative project that caught my eye: Colin Potter (the decades-long electronic artist who’s worked with Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Organum, etc etc) with Alessio Natalizia (aka Not Waving) and a guy with the intriguingly great name of “Guido Zen”. They lugged all their hardware to the studio and laid down Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out, a synth-heavy set full of meditative electronics, gentle techno thud and the loose vastness of kosmische. This sorta thing often gets the “soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist” tag, but PNZ avoid that sort of thing by withholding any sort of emotional gravitas or dramatic flair. Rather, Shut Your Eyes sounds like laboratory music, not so much experiments in sound but three talented people crafting exactly what they like. Think of a chef whipping up some signature dishes from old trusted recipes rather than first attempting to mix Szechuan and Mexican for the sake of seeing what happens. They’re also great with restraint, as these tracks are never overloaded – I have to presume at least one of these guys is sitting on his hands at any given moment, while one or two of the others twist their vintage knobs with studied precision. Masterful synth-work without any showy virtuosity, if that’s your interest.

Prime Minister Of Doom Mudshadow Propaganda 3xLP (Planet Uterus)
Alright, let’s just get it out of the way: no, “Prime Minister Of Doom” is not Insane Clown Posse’s DJ, and yes, I realize it’s an incredibly Juggalo-esque moniker. It would normally be enough to turn me off, but as mentioned last month, this triple LP was released in conjunction with the DJ Healer 3xLP, both produced by the same unidentified (presumably German) person, and as I’ve loved all of their other material, I had to check it out. It hasn’t disappointed! Whereas DJ Healer’s release was full of ethereal textures, open quiet reflection and extensive dialogue samples, Mudshadow Propaganda lands in the middle of the club and remains there for it’s equally lengthy duration. This is straightforward tech-house at its most efficient and durable, with many tracks led by hand percussion (bongos, congas, maybe even a marimba or two). Tracks are different from each other, so it’s not one homogeneous groove, but the tempo and energy remain steadfast throughout, quickly locating the proper zone and locking in. I’ll admit, if this was just some random Cadenza release I might not have given it the same amount of attention, but it’s an excellent addition to this producer’s bulging discography, the perfect rousing morning wake-up to follow DJ Healer’s delicate midnight epiphanies.

Quirke Whities 015 12″ (Whities)
I’m forever indebted to Whities for bestowing the work of Avalon Emerson, Minor Science and Reckonwrong upon me, so while some recent releases have taken a turn for eccentric modern-composition or cutting-edge electronic experimentation (not necessarily always my cup of tea), I will keep checking out whatever they do. I happen to really dig this new one by Quirke, the second Whities 12″ for this London producer. “Vatied City” opens it up with the frenetic push of some heavy-duty hi-hats, like a slightly less cryogenic Objekt. It’s a great rhythm, similar to something Bruce would cook up, and Quirke squeezes out some sour melodies over top; very nice. “Ttransport Craving” (his typo, not mine) is slightly less aggro, firing off some steam pistons with a chilly loop coasting alongside, not unlike something Kyle Hall would drop. “Hydraulic Deer” finishes things on a more abstract note, with an Autechre-esque take on bent melody, indeterminate scrapes and IDM clicks that eventually grow in strength and size. Not as singularly distinctive of a sound as Minor Science or Avalon Emerson, but Quirke cleaned my ears out nicely with this trio (well matched by the eye-catching cover design that comes with all Whities records).

Sashcloth & Axes M.A.R.K. -13 LP (Lament)
I can’t tell which comes first: the leather gimp mask, or the solo electro-dance project? They seem to go hand-in-hand these days, and that includes the work of Southern California’s Sashcloth & Axes. I get the impression that Sashcloth (aka Ricky Douglas) is coming at his music from a punk background as opposed to a Resident Advisor one, and while Douglas self-identifies as “synth-punk”, there isn’t a whole lot of sonic relation to say, The Screamers, Six Finger Satellite or even Suicide here. Rather, Douglas uses various synths and drum machines (often on the awkward “live drum kit” setting) to create rudimentary electro and new-wave tracks, filling them up with either a barrage of noisy samples (no shortage of meowing cats) and his own vocals, distorted beyond repair. I love a good outsider perspective on any given genre, but these tracks aren’t really doing it for me – too often M.A.R.K. -13 feels like low-budget haunted house music, and if I wanted haunted house electro, there’s no greater than Whodini (or the Fat Boys, or Fresh Prince… come to think of it, ’80s Halloween Hip-Hop is a robust genre). I’m not sure how shoehorning in the vague allusions to S&M help the project either, although there seems to be an abundance of Plack Blague fans out there (much to my confusion), so I can understand wanting to tap into that audience. It just doesn’t include yours truly.

The Sueves R.I.P. Clearance Event LP (HoZac)
If you’re into frills, I recommend you look elsewhere, as R.I.P. Clearance Event has none to offer. It’s The Sueves’ fourth full-length (and second for HoZac), and it makes this Chicago trio’s intentions clear: they are here to scorch, sizzle and drool through a dozen or so classically-indebted garage-punk tunes. Even their names are simple and effective: the back cover lists Joe on guitar and vocals, Rob on bass and Tim on drums. Does it get much more white-guy Americana rock n’ roll than the names Joe, Rob and Tim? Anyway, I should probably tell you whether or not I dig it, and I have to say that I do. Their songs are simple and tuneful, but delivered hot and crispy, as if one of those early Homostupids records utilized Back From The Grave-style riffs. The part that really won me over is the vocals of Joe though, who has the perfect croak for the job. I’m trying to think of exactly who he reminds me of, and it’s killing me because I can’t quite put my finger on it… not Mick Jagger, not Arthur Lee, maybe The Monk’s Gary Burger, or Cole Alexander’s earliest Black Lips recordings? Regardless, it’s the perfect voice to kick these tunes in the pants. Dare I say the best record made by a Joe, Rob and Tim you’ll hear this year?

Teenage Burritos Something To Cry About LP (Burger / Volar)
I saw Teenage Burritos play a show in their hometown of San Diego back in 2014 and promptly forgot all about them until this LP showed up. They were cool amateurish poppy punk band then, and they still are now, albeit with a firmer grasp on how to make it all work. Even so, there still seems to be a number of directions pulling at the ‘Burritos: sappy sock-hop pop, angular no-wave, ’90s pop-punk, HoZac’s garage-punk of the ’00s, even early hardcore in the form of their cover of Black Flag’s “Paralyzed”. Teenage Burritos certainly fit in with bands like Xray Eyeballs, Nots, Heavy Times, Hunx & His Punx, bands that gleefully enact a retro / party-centric take on punk. Not to mention of course all the other punk bands who reference junk food in their name, like Personal & The Pizzas, Miami Doritos and so forth (Weekend Nachos excluded). That’s a whole lot of band names I just dropped, and it’s probably because Teenage Burritos fit into that fray without necessarily establishing their own distinct presence. Not specifically the food truck you came for, but if the line’s too long at the Korean taco and Wisconsin cheese-curd trucks, maybe a burrito would hit the spot after all!

U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited LP (4AD)
I thought the prior U.S. Girls album came out pretty recently, that is until I realized it was merely an illusion due to my continued frequent listening. Half Free was gonna be hard to top, no doubt, but Megan Remy’s U.S. Girls project continues to unfold in startling new colors, like an exotic flower you thought had already fully bloomed that opens up to reveal a plethora of bold new petals. I know Public Image Ltd. came up with the term “Death Disco”, but I A Poem Unlimited seems to embody that more than any other piece of music – this album is full of throwback disco grooves scrubbed clean of corniness or irony (even the “house strings” are refreshingly cool) with Remy singing tales of lust, murder, murder-lust and its various complications, all with the candor and temperance that elevated Johnny Cash and Nina Simone to immortal stature. It blows my mind she isn’t a full-blown rock star at this point, and maybe I should blame misogynist Spotify algorithms for that, because these songs have immediately resonated with everyone I’ve played them for, man woman and child (especially child), in no small part to their bold and funky arrangements, slick recording, and Remy’s unmistakable voice driving it all. I’m just waiting for someone on the internet to put together an hour-long loop of album closer “Time”, the only modern disco song I’ve heard that desperately needs the Dopesmoker treatment.