Ancient Filth Ancient Filth 7″ (Shock To The System)
Ancient Filth is a pretty great punk-band name (makes me think of a mummy’s gnarly wrappings or caveman poop), but there’s no way the members of this band are ancient themselves – this sort of fervid anti-authority punk rock is scarce among anyone over thirty. They open with “Too Young (Fuck Adults)”, so there you go. Six songs in total, all pretty crusty/thrashy punk rock that tastes like a smoothie consisting of dumpstered soy-milk, nutritional yeast and an old Profane Existence catalog. I can easily picture Ancient Filth going crazy in some basement, complete with their yelping singer’s perfectly androgynous scream (could be a man or a woman, I have no idea), but the recording of Ancient Filth is a little too clean for what they’re going for. Making their way into Crazy Spirit’s basement studio would probably lead to a better suited recording, but the songs are coherent, and the lyrics (and lyrical explanations) are easily accessible in the foldout insert, so all’s well that ends well. By no means a great record, but it warms my heart just the same.
Boddika & Joy Orbison Swims 12″ (Swamp81)
“Swims” seems to be the hyped dance track of 2012 thus far, and as I’ve been pretty lukewarm on Boddika, and found Joy Orbison’s discography to be spotty, I was geared up for a subtle disappointment. Nuts to that, though – “Swims” is truly a behemoth cut. It starts on a simple one-two beat, and then this perfect acid line rips in, about as obvious and infectious as any classic acid-house cut could be. It’s like the most normal arpeggio, but it just feels so right. Next thing you know, someone’s yelling “walk for me” and “serve” in a puffed-up cadence, and it feels like I’m in a perverse boot-camp with RuPaul as the drill sergeant. I have yet to hear this on a proper club sound system, but the overall appeal and utter need to dance that comes from Swims is undeniable, even on my modest home stereo. The 12″ comes with two slight variations of “Swims”, and while I prefer the a-side version, it’s great to just flip over and over, letting that beat move your body into infinity. Top shelf doo-doo right here, come and get it!
Bright Ideas Saturdays And The Turning Tide LP (Squirmy)
There are clearly no rules as to what can or can’t be reissued on vinyl these days: here’s the 12″ LP edition of a 2005 CD-only release from an obscure indie band, a record that couldn’t have possibly been in high demand. Don’t take that as a complaint, though – Saturdays And The Turning Tide looks like a pretty dorky record, but it’s got the goods when it comes to smiley-faced indie-garage. I’m hearing a scuffed-up Apples In Stereo vibe on many of these songs, but from a band that would fit better on a bill opening for The Four Eyes than Imperial Teen. Occasionally reminds me of Sicko’s slower material too, which I’ve always enjoyed. Clearly this is a record that will only survive on the merit of its music, as there is no other gimmick or draw to its existence, and that’s perfectly fine… Saturdays And The Turning Tide gets by on being the tight little pop record it is.
Brown Sugar Sings Of Birds And Racism LP (Feral Kid / Feeble Minds)
Seems like there’s been a gnarly hardcore scene bubbling up in Buffalo for a couple years now, but if there’s a band to break out onto the national “spotlight” (meaning more than just their friends posting about them on the internet) with any sort of clout, I’d expect it to be Brown Sugar. Haven’t heard any of their singles prior to the LP, but I’ll see what I can do about getting them in my clutches now – Sings Of Birds And Racism is a pleasantly raw and nihilistic take on the blurred overlap of garage and hardcore punk. Reminds me a lot of Homostupids, really, particularly in the way the first track kicks off. Brown Sugar’s calling card is undoubtedly the saxophone that frequently appears, but rather than just doing the whole “crazy improv” noisy bleating that most modern punk bands would opt for, this guy actually plays along with the melody or adds his own, and it works great. Just check “Total Fucking Garbage”, as they use a Lipcream riff to create a particularly ugly American anthem. I swear I hear so many records that sound like this, but through sheer force of will (and a nice touch of sax), Brown Sugar stand out from the pack.
Demdike Stare Elemental: Rose 12″ (Modern Love)
Third installment of Demdike Stare’s Elemental album (?) is out now, and the strongest thus far. The fourth is actually out now too, not sure why they couldn’t have just waited two weeks and dropped them at the same time… I can only assume Demdike have some sort of stake in the Royal Mail service. Double (and triple) shipping costs aside, this one is mandatory, even if you don’t own all those other Demdike Stare records – “Erosion Of Mediocrity” very well may be the jam of the Elemental collection. A thunderous set of locomotive beats adds ten pounds of gravity to the room, angry bleeps fire off in the background (you know, like when a dead old cyborg’s eyes flash red again) and house strings turn against you. You could probably even try to dance to this, so long as the building you’re in doesn’t start to crumble. “Nuance” follows, and is slow like Emptyset, but eerily calm, like you’re hiding in the sewer and hoping a Terminator doesn’t register your body heat through the steel pipe. And then there’s “Falling Off The Edge” to finish it off, the sound of your soul fleeing your body in some sort of tribal reincarnation. I know they’ve kind of run the Terminator franchise into the ground with that last awful movie and the cancelled television show, but seriously, just one more film with Demdike Stare writing the score, please. I’m at the point where I can’t picture a post-apocalyptic warzone without them.
Dichroics Dichroics LP (no label)
Dichroics is some sort of biochemistry term that my brain processes as “da chronic” every time I read it. It’s a fittingly difficult-to-pronounce band name for this egghead indie-rock group. Musically, Dichroics makes me think of Pavement if they were inspired by Xiu Xiu – simple, frolicking guitars jam kindly with bass and drums while some guy speak-sings snarky, oblique poetry over top, seemingly unaware of the band behind him at times. Lines like “Skanky diagonal Indian trails with the Bowery” and “Crispy creme, baptize me” are plentiful, celebrating today’s corporate-based America with a good dose of zany sarcasm. Dichroics clearly aren’t going for the big pop hit; certain songs seem almost entirely improvised, but that’s their sound, and it ain’t that bad. My favorite track is “Corpse Of Discovery”, where Dichroics just kinda jam while a friend of the band reads a prepared text from The Journals Of Lewis And Clark – I can guarantee you this isn’t the type of band that talks about off-season football trade rumors at practice. It’s almost as if Dichroics are taunting anyone in earshot to not like them, self-releasing their own LP as part of the challenge. I’m still not quite sure where I stand.
Drosofile Mal / Your Roberts 7″ (SDZ)
I swear, every record I get from the French punk underground these days comes with a random movie-still “person from the ’70s” cover image and a picture of the band members, always white guys pushing forty in aviator sunglasses, on the insert. It’s like an odd formality at this point, but so long as the music keeps sounding like The Anals or Scorpion Violente, I can overlook the weirdly regimented design. “Mal” consists of two foul notes, alternating back and forth, while some guy angrily accosts the listener from across the bus (and damnit, there’s only two stops ’til we get off). It’s great, and very much in The Anals canon of pigheadedness. “Your Roberts” is probably the song title of the month, and only slightly more melodic than the a-side, kind of taking a Country Teasers approach with some slide guitar (or some such approximation) helping Drosofile be the lousiest humans they can be. Imagine if Brainbombs were actually convicted for all their murders, served a decade in prison, achieved a mild level of rehabilitation, and now have jobs as dishwashers, semi-functioning in society. That’s Drosofile.
El Jesus De Magico Just Deserts LP (Columbus Discount)
Never got around to checking out El Jesus De Magico back when all those lo-fi Columbus bands burst out at the same time (2007?), and I can’t remember anyone having much to say about them either way, but Just Deserts is my kinda rock record. Not too far off from some of the better Negative Guest List stuff, like Low Life or Kitchen’s Floor or Degreaser, Just Deserts comes with a distinctly American perspective, like they actually live within a few hours’ drive of Neil Young at any given moment. If The Cramps are the oldest sibling, and TV Ghost the unplanned baby, El Jesus De Magico could be that ignored middle child with limited parental supervision. The more I listen to Just Deserts, the more I like it, and I liked it a whole lot on first spin, especially by the time “Inhuman” hit on the second side and the vocalist really started to spill his guts. Even the crappo screened cover art seems like the perfect home for this one. Go on and get it!
The Enthusiasts Sinkin/Risin / Joanne 7″ (Magic Sleeve)
The Lichtensteiny pop-art cover had me expecting bubble-gummy power-pop, but you can check your pomade at the door – The Enthusiasts rock hard, not soft. I kinda can’t stand the design (and the idea of staples right near vinyl makes me perspire), but if I close my eyes and just listen, I find myself in a little corner of Heaven… The Enthusiasts are chasing Mount Carmel to become today’s most sincerely-retro rock group around. The riffs smell like vintage corduroy pants, but this isn’t stoner rock for the Monster Magnet / Man’s Ruin set – both cuts sound lifted from some early Cream session. They recorded it on a 5-track in someone’s basement, and they really need to start selling this sort of golden sound to the millions of bands out there who could use it. Pass a whiff of The Enthusiasts to your local “classic rock record convention guy” and watch as he frantically thumbs through his Galactic Ramble in vain. I swear they’ve already got it down that good. LP soon, right guys?
Give Petal Pushing 7″ (Painkiller)
I’ve only seen them once, but Give really left an impression on stage – five longhairs, all grooving back and forth while blasting out their tuneful hardcore – it was as if Kurt Vile and The Violators just stepped out of Revolution Summer. They had the rare one-two punch of both looking cool and sounding cool, so I was psyched to check out this new Painkiller 7″. This one lives up to my expectations – these two songs balance melody and power, skillfully toeing the line between Soul Side and Side By Side. The b-side is called “Taste Of Smile”, which sounds like a song title Black Dice would use, but it’s a mature-by-hardcore’s-standards rocker than makes me wonder what it would’ve been like if Soundgarden’s early material came out on Dischord instead of SST. Give have the peace-and-love vibe, but they do it with such passion, and provide the quality tunes to match… it’s nearly impossible to feel jaded or sour with Give in your ears.
Ital Hive Mind LP (Planet Mu)
Daniel Martin-McCormick has always been a busy artist, but he seems to have reached a high point of activity lately – entering uncharted territory as a two-piece with Mi Ami, dishing out the mournful electro as Sex Worker, and releasing his dance-minded music as Ital. I’ve been a fan of his as far back as his “hardcore punk” band Black Eyes (I swear I’ve seen that description used for them a bunch lately, which cracks me up), and while I haven’t kept up with every new Ital single, Hive Mind seems to be getting a lot of attention and a good place to check back in. First thing I notice is how much better, technically-speaking, Martin-McCormick has gotten – Hive Mind isn’t a sloppy art-house attempt at house music, it is house music. At least some of it is: “The First Wave” is the straightest track on here, and also the best, ten minutes of tweaked house that recalls a restless Kyle Hall, or Tensnake without the pop aspirations, just full-on Detroit-styled house that could light up any room. The rest of the album either follows suit with psychedelic boogie that would make the Future Times posse proud (“Israel” and “Floridian Void”) or gets weirder, and for my money, less exciting. The drifting loop experiment of “Privacy Settings” doesn’t do much for me, and opener “Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him)” pounds that vocal sample like Wolfgang Voigt’s Kafkatrax or anything by DJ Nate, just rapid-firing the words until they become less of a discernible vocal and more of a buzzing annoyance. It’s still cool, and certainly expands the album’s palette, but Ital’s clearly developed some skills at this point that most of the hipster-house artists he’s often grouped with have not… if I were him, I’d let it shine all the time.
Loops Of Your Heart And Never Ending Nights LP (Magazine)
Since getting utterly hooked on Axel Willner’s last album as The Field, Looping State Of Mind, I’ve been going after anything else bearing his touch, like this album under his new moniker Loops Of Your Heart. I figured the different name would result in a different approach, and it does – Willner has removed himself from the dancefloor with And Never Ending Nights, instead pursuing a free-flowing rush of electronic flutter and hazy atmospheres. Can we just call it New Weird Ambient? Loops Of Your Heart clearly looks toward keyboard wizards like Klaus Schulze and J.D. Emmanuel for inspiration, fitting in alongside modern artists like Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never and Black Dice in his pursuit of new soundscapes crafted with vintage gear. A few tracks bust past the ten minute mark, while others act more as interludes. The album almost seems like a sketchpad that could be used to create the more pop-oriented, danceable material that The Field produces, like these tracks were vague ideas and experiments in search of the perfect loop. I don’t enjoy it as much as The Field, that’s for sure, but it’s still an entertaining (and often captivating) glimpse into the workings of a man so enamored by electronic loops in all of their cosmic and pastoral beauty.
Loose Grip Cereal 7″ (Bedroom Suck)
Cereal, skater kids and Australian punk rock are all relevant to my interests, so I knew right away that this Loose Grip 7″ was up my alley. It’s pretty cool – four songs of thrashy, youthful hardcore with a hoarse, throaty singer. Reminds me of Brain Handle’s earliest sessions, or if Nine Shocks Terror worshipped Nardcore instead of Jap-core, maybe. Definitely the type of record that’d be coming out on Fashionable Idiots if these guys were born in Minneapolis instead of Paddington or wherever. The spastic locked groove on the a-side is a nice touch, and “Maccy D’s” has a guitar solo so simple that even I could play it, but even so, Cereal never quite reaches the next level, planted firmly in the “forgettable yet fun” realm of hardcore singles. They’re probably smoking weed out of an apple right now, and I’m sitting here at a desk wearing slippers, so it’s difficult to say who the real winners and losers are anyway.
Mad Nanna I Hit A Wall 7″ (Quemada)
Mad Nanna is one of the few Australian acts with a handful of 7″s that I’ve yet to previously experience, so this I Hit A Wall single arrived just in time. It’s pretty much what I was expecting – barely functional guitar-strumming duct-taped to drums that sound like they’re slowly disintegrating as the song progresses (although “progresses” is probably the wrong verb for a song like “I Hit A Wall”). Rather, the a-side plugs away like a malnourished Swell Maps, groggy and annoyed. The untitled b-side moves faster, but it’s equally unpolished, telling a serious story that is just slightly too muffled to parse. I was expecting a real bare-bones, shambolic DIY thing, and I certainly got it. I find myself just as likely to hate something like Mad Nanna as much as like it – maybe it’s the killer nonsense artwork that’s all over the cover and center stickers, or just the combined vibe of both tracks, but I can truly say I’m on board with the Mad Nanna mission. Hoping to figure out what other 7″ or two are the essential ones, and that I don’t have to delve into the sad world of CDrs to properly sustain my fix.
Meager Sunlight / Skeleton Warrior Seasons Of Nudity 12″ (More / Hot Releases / Good God Energy Chronicles / Roofless)
And from the spout of noise doth the techno mightily flow… Meager Sunlight is the Lazy Magnet guy (heard good things but never heard Lazy Magnet myself) and one Daryl Seaver, and they offer two nice cuts of midi-synth electro with enchantingly detached vocals. Somewhere between Chromatics, Maria Minerva, Gary Numan and the Drive soundtrack do Meager Sunlight fall, producing music that makes things like cocaine and divorce seem downright sensual. I could easily go for a full 12″ of this. Skeleton Warrior are on the flip, and while I skipped their set when they performed on a bill I recently attended (sorry, just wasn’t feeling the name), I probably should’ve checked out a song or two. It’s a bit more self-consciously wacky, like if Meager Sunlight were remixed by a crew of jokers consisting of PFFR and Reggie And The Full Effect personnel. Can’t deny the inherent fun in this sort of neon hipster celebration, really, and if they played to a drunk crowd instead of a sober one, I have no doubt that Skeleton Warrior would leave the crowd sweaty and smiling, even if people over thirty-five have no chance of appreciating their music in any way. Four labels got together to release this – I would like to recommend that at least two of them put together the next Meager Sunlight record.
Dan Melchior Red Nylon Valance 7″ (SDZ)
Another quick two-songer from Dan Melchior, a musician who could probably lose both arms in an industrial farming accident and still release a couple new records per year. I’m curious to check out his new Kye LP (which apparently sounds nothing like any Dan Melchior you or I know), but this SDZ single is a pretty straightforward delivery of the goods we’ve all come to expect. “Red Nylon Valance” is quiet in the verse and loud in the chorus, dedicated to leaving one’s current location as the melody tip-toes around the ghosts of post-punk to avoid waking them in classic Melchior fashion. “Dogbite Meltdown #1″ on the flip is like the a-side’s backwoods cousin, adding fingerpicked acoustic guitar to create a tune more impish than bluesy. Not as demented and cool as Assemblage Blues, but there’s no fault to be found in either of these tracks. Who do you think would win in a fight, Agathocles’ discography or Dan Melchior’s?
Mole House Hey Come My Way 7″ (Quemada)
Really been coming to appreciate the Quemada label, an ostensibly American label with a distinctly down-under point of view. This Mole House single kinda pushes past my limits, though – this is the sort of quaint, feeble pop that practically gives the listener arthritis upon contact. Mole House do their best to make The Garbage & The Flowers seem like an arena-rock group by comparison, just strumming their little songs from their cramped front steps, quiet enough that the neighbors don’t mind. I realize it’s not too far off from Mad Nanna (and I believe a member or two are shared between groups), but Mole House are just a little too K Records-cutesy to really shake my tree, whereas Mad Nanna have none of that state-park hippie vibe going on. I keep thinking I want to hold onto this Mole House 7″ anyway, in case it clicks six months down the road, but then I listen to the b-side’s “Coming Back + Coming Over” and realize that there can’t possibly be any time in my life where I will find myself hankering for some Mole House.
Nocht The Only Ghouls Nocht The Only Ghouls LP (Vwyrd Wurd)
Got a note with this Nocht The Only Ghouls LP that refers to the music as “black metal”, but if this is black metal, that term is officially more meaningless and bastardized than “punk” or “emo”. When it comes to black metal, I’m a dabbler at best, but Nocht The Only Ghouls is a total up-my-alley surprise. No metal here, just hermetic, frequently-undistorted guitars and various collaborative sounds, but it’s utterly captivating – it’s like Jandek before anyone knew who he was, where you’re listening in fear of what might happen next. Just a completely divorced approach from any “spooky folk” songwriting I’ve ever heard – I really can’t get enough. And all this without any discernible vocals, although one member is credited with such. Comes with a booklet of narratives that describe each song, stapled in the top left corner like a 7th grade research paper. This could fit right in on the Kye roster without sounding particularly like any of their artists – it’s that singularly good. I just hope I don’t wake up tomorrow and realize that Nocht The Only Ghouls was just some aberrant dream – this record needs to exist.
Objekt Cactus / Porcupine 12″ (Hessle Audio)
Two tracks that are meant to poke you from Objekt, a smart new signing for the Hessle Audio label. Objekt kind of sounds like 2010 to me, before all the cool dubstep dudes got into ambient-drone or house music, but that’s not a bad thing – these two tracks have that near-reggaeton swing and work it well. “Cactus” teases the wobble-bass as the track progresses, tickling your ear with it like a feather, rather than Skrillexing it all over the bathroom floor. It’s almost as if Autechre attempted dubstep (if they haven’t already). “Porcupine” represents for the clubs, jackhammering a bass thump that sounds like what T++ would play in his body-piercing shop (were he to open one). It even floats away for a second before clicking back into that squirty, future-EBM groove. It’s the clear winner of the two, but both tracks make for an excellent pair, and another top-shelf outing for Hessle Audio.
Omegas N.Y. Terminator 7″ (Painkiller)
As much as I dug the Omegas LP, I kinda forgot about them, so this new 7″ came as a nice reminder that I should listen to the best current NYHC band not from New York more frequently. The record opens with “Nazi Rules”, a short burst of hardcore aggression that follows Hoax’s “Fagget” in the “songs with easily misconstrued choruses for someone who just walked into their live show” category. I love that they wrote a song called “N.Y. Terminator” though… “Canadian Terminator” certainly doesn’t have the same ring to it, and the song has a nice Agnostic Front-ish vibe that earns the title. Flip the record over, and “Fevered Freedom” is like a more muscular Warzone, or Unholy Alliance after completing the P90X training program. There’s even a meaty guitar solo that wraps up this metallic joint, followed by two more aggro-core cuts that would make Don Fury proud. Real good 7″ overall, even if the best way to experience Omegas remains in the live setting, where it’s likely you’ll catch a Doc Marten or metal chain with something other than your hands.
Richard Papiercuts A Sudden Shift LP (Pena)
From my exhaustive research (I read the one-sheet), I’ve determined that Richard Papiercuts is one of the guys in The Chinese Restaurants, stepping out on his own (which is to say, supported by a variety of musicians to sometimes include the other members of The Chinese Restaurants). While I certainly enjoy both names (particularly the French touch in “Papiercuts”), I can understand the decision to step out under a different moniker, as A Sudden Shift is a far cry from the filth-blown noise-punk of The Chinese Restaurants. In fact, I still can’t quite figure out what A Sudden Shift is all about – on the whole, it reminds me of Pere Ubu channeling some of the worst Sun City Girls albums, with a vocalist who celebrates his record collection by mocking it, singing in this over-extended goofball voice that somehow seems sincere. And just on the first side alone, you get a couple sleepy, early-indie-rock dirges, a Dire Straits-styled jam that Blues Control would probably sample, and a farty new rendition of “River Of Shit”, perhaps The Chinese Restaurants’ finest moment. There’s quite a lot to digest, and it seems like every time an eye-rolling moment compels me to take the record off, Mr. Papiercuts fires off some short blast of genius, forcing me to move away from the turntable and back onto the couch. Can’t even say for sure that it’s a good record, but I’ve certainly enjoyed myself trying to unravel the musical motivations and aesthetic intent behind it. Those who just listen to the first thirty seconds of an MP3 and then delete it need not apply – cancel those dinner plans, you’re gonna need to set aside some time for Richard Papiercuts.
Prurient In The Flame Of Illusion, Masked In The Clay Of Behavior 2×7″ (Dais)
Doesn’t Prurient have a few multiple-single sets out now? I guess if there’s a noise guy not named Ahlzagailzehguh to deserve it, it’s Prurient. I’ve stared at the grotesque cover collage more than I probably should, but I think the sensory-deprived, catheter-bag-to-plastic-hose-to-mouth bondage victim is a good representation of these four tracks. This isn’t Prurient at his most harsh, or most hilarious, or most techno; rather, these four tracks are slow, discomfiting productions of ambient depression. I can’t help but imagine myself as that cover model when these two records play, barely able to hear the television in the room adjacent to the dungeon as it plays Judge Judy or some other cultural crud while I succumb to a particularly brutal subspace. It really has that hazy, narcotic feel, but in an oppressive manner, not at all like one of James Ferraro’s silly Starbucks hallucinations. It’s like getting pelted with wet copies of People magazine when you’re just trying to get some sleep. Say what you want about Prurient, but I personally can’t get enough of his various progressions over the years – it’s like he’s found so many different ways to hit you with basically the same feeling, and that’s no easy feat. At this point, I bet he could do a rap record and still conjure the same unsettling emotions.
Rrose Merchant Of Salt 12″ (Sandwell District)
Out around the same time as that last Function EP, it seems like Sandwell District reached peak-output right as they decided to call it quits. Take Rrose’s Merchant Of Salt 12″, for instance – while it comes with the submarine / helicopter sound-palette that seems mandatory for any Sandwell product, this one is first-and-foremost a dance record. “Shepherd’s Brine” is a killer a-side – it’s sharp, vaguely acidic, and imposing its massive weight upon anyone within range. The intensity really builds in this one – be careful that if you’re at home washing dishes while listening that you don’t shatter a plate in your bare hands around the four-minute mark. “Waterfall” doesn’t paint a beautiful picture of nature’s majesty so much as position you directly under the water’s heavy flow… if you’ve ever stood under a real waterfall, you know the feeling, and it comes through that ever-pulsing sine-wave that Rrose blasts throughout the track’s duration. It’s amazing how Sandwell District managed to deviate so slightly from their basic template, yet with each new record it’s like I’m hearing that sound for the very first time. Grab this one while you still can!
Sewer Election Vittra Sönder LP (Throne Heap)
Quality double-sided slab of tape-based, scrap-metal bleakness from Sewer Election. It’s the work of one Dan Johansson, who has stayed pretty true to the industrial noise-collage approach for at least a decade now, and the experience shows here – each of the two side-long cuts are formidable forays into the dank, humid underbelly of any metropolitan area. “Att Falla” starts with a lulling tone and slowly gives way to a garbage-can fight in the alley, even as the mournful melodies look on from above. It later shifts into a cut-up, Jackass-style barf fest, guts retching all over each other. “Bilder Av Dig” has more of that Posh Isolation-y crunch, eventually working itself up into a full-scale pile-on that would make Government Alpha proud, really kicking up some dust before coming to a close. Sometimes quality noise records like this make me wonder why anyone would want to spend their time making anything else.
Slant Azymuth Slant Azymuth LP (Pre-Cert Entertainment)
Slant Azymuth is a new project featuring both members of Demdike Stare and Andy Votel, the guy who puts together all of their “precisely positioned mysterious objects” artwork. Since I’m spending more on Demdike Stare than my monthly cell phone bill at this point, might as well add this onto the pile, and I’m glad I did – side project or not, Slant Azymuth is a pretty keen new chapter in Demdike Stare’s tome. Sounds pretty much like Demdike Stare, for the most part… maybe not quite as heavy, and not quite as abstract, playing it a little closer to the “dying computer sends out its final request to the ancient tribe that is boiling it alive” sounds of early Demdike Stare, fastened together by lurching, persistent beats of some kind. And then of course they throw in the weird spoon n’ fork percussion improv of “Black Crolyn” just to throw us off course. I don’t know, there are plenty of groups I wholeheartedly enjoy that I couldn’t take more than a couple new records a year from, and then there’s Demdike Stare who have yet to bore me or leave me unsatisfied after 20+ sides of vinyl. I hate to say you need this one too, but…
Sopors Sopors 7″ (Margin Mouth)
Heard a rumor that Sopors no longer exist (something about the band members moving to different cities), and if that’s true, this self-titled 7″ EP makes for a fine eulogy. The sleeping John Lennon with teats and a tail on the cover makes about as much sense as any image could for the music of Sopors – the a-side starts with a pretty catchy Guided By Voices-styled rocker and busts into a stompy jangler that sounds like it was lifted directly from Tyvek’s Siltbreeze album. The two tracks on the b-side fall somewhere in between, making a sweet little sausage out of the entrails of ’70s hard rock and ’90s indie with a sprinkling of fresh ’80s art-punk on top. I can’t remember for sure, but I’m pretty positive I dug Sopors’ debut LP, and this cool little 7″ reminds me that I need to pay it a visit again soon.
Throat Pee 7″ (Kaos Kontrol)
Yeah, I laughed at “Throat Pee” too. I don’t think Throat are joking though, as most bands that go for a Buzzoven / Unsane level of heaviness don’t do it for the giggles. “Prison Shower” is the a-side, and has as strong an AmRep vibe as the title, attempting to shine a light on the darker side of human nature through heavy, lumbering riffs and grizzled vocals. Same goes for “Pet Peeves” on the flip; it’s got a much less frightening title, but is just as indebted to bearded testosterone-rock as the a-side. The back cover shows the singer and bassist rocking out, two blurred messes of sweat and hair… one guy is in a Kilslug shirt, the other wearing a wedding ring (way to throw off your image with a symbol of life-long spousal commitment!), pretty much the exact look you’d equate with this sort of sound. It’s kind of a hard style to really get wrong, though, and while Throat add nothing to the lexicon, they laid down a sharp recording and kept their riffs just dumb enough that anyone could headbang to these songs without error. Every country needs at least one band like these – it’s now safe to check Finland off the list.
TV Freaks TV Freaks LP (Schizophrenic)
I like to think that the readers of Yellow Green Red are a cut above the rest, so really, why don’t you tell me what a band called “TV Freaks” in 2012 sounds like? If you said “Aussie- and Killed By Death-inspired punk rock played with a hardcore frame of mind”, you’d be right on the money. It’s quite possible that the band’s template came from the manic strumming of their namesake song, and they pair that with a snotty singer who’s taken more lessons from the Career Suicide guy than anyone who ever went on to join the Hoodoo Gurus. I think the third track on each side has a guitar riff almost directly ganked from Eddy Current, and I have to say I’m a little surprised it took a band this long. I saw TV Freaks live, and recognized “Spilt Milk” from their set off the album, which is certainly a positive sign in this genre where many decent bands have trouble writing memorable songs. If you need this sort of music to survive, and I’d suspect that many do, by all means swipe a copy of TV Freaks, but those with only a passing interest in snotty garage-punk can rest easy if this album never quite makes it home.
Unicorn Hard-On / Container split 12″ (Hot Releases / More)
Pretty sure the woman behind Unicorn Hard-On and the man behind Container are an item, and I gotta say, I can always get behind couples making electronic music together (see Matmos, Blues Control, Innergaze, etc). Even the sugar-coated lady pursing her lips for a kiss on the cover says “let’s make love”. It’s with that sort of sweet implied monogamy that I dug into this split, each partner running their own quantized ideas on their respective sides. Two tracks from Unicorn Hard-On, which results in two simple, confetti-strewn beats and some indistinct moaning layered over top. Reminds me of a softer version of Viki maybe, or one of those recent 100% Silk artists whose names I’ve already forgotten. I hope I wasn’t too hard on Container last month, because I didn’t intend to be, and on his side-long “Cauterize”, he works a similarly easy-peasy path through house music; this track in particular makes me think of a novice Robert Hood, which is to say, still miles ahead of No Fun Acid. Nothing major here, just two people futzing with beats and arpeggios and doing a decent job of it. Maybe it’s just the love in the air, but I like it.
Useless Eaters The Moves 7″ (Jolly Dream)
Second release from the Jolly Dream record company, a label I’ve been wanting to like since first enjoying their logo and Santa-based aesthetic on the forgettable Creamers 7″. Useless Eaters make it an easy thing to get behind, though, as they crank out four traditional punk songs with the perfect balance of classic homage and hindsighted modernization. I hear The Undertones, The Ramones and a touch of The Dogs (the “Slash Your Face” one) in The Moves, all very calculated and precise, but cool enough that it doesn’t matter if this was a case study in punk or just the happy accident of a goober in a leather jacket. Seth Sutton is the main ‘Eater, and he’s just got that classic brooding city-punk look that nobody can deny. They were highly enjoyable live too – pretty sure the drummer had an afro or something, and none of them stood taller than 5’6″. It’s enough to make me overlook the blatant song-title typo that appears on the back cover and give this Jolly Dream a big fat stamp of approval anyway.
Warrior Kids Les Enfants De L’Espoir LP (Katorga Works)
Katorga Works continue to extend their empire in the realm of punk-based musics with this reissue of Les Enfants De L’Espoir, the 1986 debut LP of French skinhead band Warrior Kids. I like to think I know a thing or two about rare punk records, but I hadn’t heard of the band until this reissue, so I was psyched to give it a go. After a few spins, though, I think it’s safe to say that my life would’ve been fine without it – Warrior Kids have a nice youthful energy, and clearly work bits of The Jam’s tuneful Mod-rock into their gruff skinhead sound (with just a touch of Madness for good measure), but I don’t know, these songs don’t do a heck of a lot for me. Sure, I was hoping to hear some piss-raw teenage Oi!, like Bone Awl with crew-cuts and a cretinous sixteen year-old vocalist, but I was open to appreciating some melodic street-punk, too – these songs just aren’t that exciting. It’s really quite a tuneful, unassuming rock album, even with a ska song or two (clearly Warrior Kids looked out for not only the punks and skins but the herberts as well), but there’s no big hit to be found, and I can’t figure out exactly why this album was reissue-worthy. Surely some completists are psyched, but as for you and me, there are far more satisfying Katorga Works products to be enjoyed.
Woollen Kits Woollen Kits LP (R.I.P Society)
With Eddy Current on indefinite hiatus, some Australian band had to pick up their wide-eyed naivete, so why not Woollen Kits? Their 7″ didn’t do a heck of a lot for me, but this self-titled album sounds a lot better – they still shuffle through their shambolic indie-pop like shy nerds at a school dance, but now they come with the hooks that’ll earn them a chance at love. I’m still not crazy about the deep-voice singer, but the normal-voiced guy has his share of songs too, all of which stand out the most (opener “Sloan” perked my ears up right away – a truly great way to start an album). The bass guitar really drives the songs, and with the guitar chiming away on top, it makes for a pretty full sounding recording where so many others fuzz themselves out. If they stuck all the deep-voiced songs on one side (like “I Love You” in particular), I’d probably spin this one a whole lot more, but even so, Woollen Kits is a cute little treat.
Young Hunting The Night Of The Burning 12″ (Blackest Ever Black)
A blacker label? You must be mistaken, sir! Young Hunting’s new EP follows Blackest Ever Black’s excellent track record into electronic music’s morbid occult, this being the most ceremonial offering so far. Imagine “Tubular Bells” receiving the Shackleton remix treatment, right as Crash Worship barge into the studio and set the rug on fire. There are plenty of vocals too, male, female and supernatural, and they all sound like they are sung in the dark with flashlights held directly under their chins. The Night Of The Burning occasionally veers into drama-club territory at times, like a high school production of a black mass, but it’s kind of impossible for this sort of thing not to, and I never find myself questioning why I’m listening to it. Not my favorite Blackest Ever Black release, but that’s mainly because others are really great, whereas this dabbles a little too far into fantasy for me to really sink into it over and over. Someone who listens to Comus as a life choice and not just another band would be all over it, though. And anyway, I definitely needed to hear it, and I’m glad I did… come Halloween, any DJ would do right to have some Young Hunting in his or her case.