Search results for: bow & spear

Reviews – March 2018

Agnes 012016002001 12″ (Chained Library)
Yet another non-female techno artist opting for a female pseudonym. I have to wonder if it’s kinda like how they name tropical storms at this point – is there some sort of Techno Name Authority where you submit your tracks and they tell you if you’re Ethel or Jennifer? Thankfully the groaning, endless monotony that inhabits both sides of this record was just the fix I needed to snap my brain out of any such philosophical thought. Agnes gets right to the heart of the matter, essentially locking into two corrosive grooves and remaining there with only the slightest of textural changes for each track’s duration. If Vomir is doing “harsh noise wall”, I’d consider this “harsh techno wall”: the a-side’s speedy clatter is at once soothing, transcendent and maddening. One could conceivably dance to the a-side, too, but the b-side (I don’t believe either track is titled) flutters at a speed somewhere between a helicopter and a hummingbird, nearly (but never quite) flattening into a drone as the creak of unsustainable metallic pressure is the only aspect that confirms it’s not actually a locked groove. Plenty of industrial-techno experimentalists are pushing things to the extreme but the singularly-minded and minimal approach of Agnes is distinctly gnarly.

The And Band Outhern LP (Spacecase / Selection)
Go on, shout the phrase “late ’70s New Zealand DIY” and see if I don’t come running over, or at least pick up my gait a bit. The And Band’s split 7″ with Perfect Strangers has been sitting on my want-list for a good number of years now (little help anyone?), so it was a nice surprise to find out that they also actually released a cassette called Outhern back in 1981, now put to vinyl for modern consumption. It’s pretty much right in line with the scattershot pre-punk / post-punk DIY music of that era, mostly avoiding punk in favor of unique musical circumstances and unusual instrumentation. Through these fifteen tracks, one will encounter freewheeling guitar jangle, unplugged and re-plugged electronics, unorthodox percussion, a nicely buzzing Farfisa, the occasional eruption of an autoharp and a cello played more than one way. There’s a surprising amount of tenderness in these songs, replacing the more frequent tones of bitterness, rage and sarcasm that one might find in their early ’80s DIY underground groups – maybe that’s just New Zealand for you? If This Heat grew up among bright green lagoons and cuddly kiwis instead of London’s unwelcoming factory grime, I wouldn’t be surprised if their turmoil morphed into the loosely melodious clatter that comprises Outhern.

Bodykit / Drippy Inputs split 7″ (Acid Etch)
I’m not a record shop, but a split 7″ that comes without a cover or insert, just a stamped dust sleeve, strikes me as a particularly hard sell in today’s vinyl economy. Most shops don’t even have a section for new 7″s anymore, it seems, and while that breaks my heart, I have to wonder how Acid Etch are going to make it through with this design model. The power of online sales? I certainly wish them luck, as they seem to be exploring a specific strain of underground, punk-orbiting, DIY electronic dance music, and it’s generally pretty cool. I dug Bodykit’s debut LP from not too long ago, and this track maintains a similar pace, bleeping and blooping like a Nintendo cartridge on the fritz with more of Rich Ivey’s sneered vocals commanding center stage. It goes by pretty quickly and makes me want to throw on that Bodykit album again, so that’s a good thing. Drippy Inputs are new to me, and they’re traditionally acid by comparison, reminiscent of a poor-quality live bootleg of Jeff Mills or Robert Hood circa 1993. I perused the rest of the Drippy Inputs discography and it has that sort of raw, weird-techno aesthetic going on, not unlike Animal Disguise Records, and I kinda wish I would’ve seen some of that art here. The Drippy Inputs track on this split didn’t interest me enough to actually buy a tape, but it came close!

Bow & Spear Bad At Fun LP (What’s For Breakfast?)
This Bow & Spear LP arrived at the YGR compound with label-penned comparisons to Fugazi, My Bloody Valentine, grunge, Unwound and post-punk. Those descriptions always make me a little nervous – imagine someone saying “try this, it’s like tacos, pho, Thanksgiving turkey and smoked salmon!” before handing you a home-cooked dish. I guess it can happen when artists (and labels) don’t want to feel pigeonholed, but at the same time, unless you actually are reinventing music in a stark new configuration, those wide-ranging comparison lists doesn’t seem overly enticing (to me at least). Thankfully, the music of Bow & Spear is so distinct and clear, all those other comparisons melt away. I’ve simplified it for you: imagine a Stone Temple Pilots / Hum side-project album from 1995 produced by Billy Corgan and boom, you’ve mentally created Bad At Fun. Now I don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of Core and Purple, not to mention Siamese Dream, and Bow & Spear wear it well, dipping into the moodier side of ’90s major-label grunge via extended guitar effects and appropriately portioned loud/heavy trade-off. They don’t have a ton of memorable hooks, but they’ve got a few, and the title track feels like some Columbia House-funded cocktail of Sponge and Jeff Buckley (in music, not voice). I’m trying to grow a soul patch so it’ll sound even better.

Des Demonas Des Demonas LP (In The Red)
DC really seems to have one of the most vibrant underground music scenes today – there’s the “new wave of DC hardcore”, the Sister Polygon empire and all associated activities, the Future Times crew and their various future-disco offshoots, and that’s just off the top of my head without going to the library to research further! Maybe the abundance of great music from DC is my excuse for not having heard of Des Demonas, although I take it that they’re a fairly new group. They play a pretty traditional form of organ-guided garage-rock; not the sort of thing I’d associate with DC until I remember that The Make Up and Chain & The Gang are DC stalwarts, and Des Demonas would be a fine touring companion to either. Des Demonas have a powerful vocalist in Jacky Cougar, towering over bandmates and audience and shaking one of those sticks with jingle bells as though performing an exorcism, while the rest of the group press onward through their Back From The Grave-esque numbers. And as is often par for the DC course, Des Demonas fill their music with overt political messaging, such as opener “The South Will Never Rise Again”, and the grueling strut of “There Are No Vampires In Africa”, recalling a Fat White Family that was hooked on anti-imperialist politics instead of street drugs. Like I always say, “if I can’t skank to it, it’s not my revolution!”

DJ Lycox Sonhos & Pesadelos LP (Príncipe)
I’ve always admired the Príncipe label and its associated artists for their stark refusal to cater to mainstream dance sounds, European or otherwise. Rather than smooth things out for the lowest common denominator, they’ll gladly inject their beats with all sorts of wild clatter, or test the limits of post-punk dub through their distinctly Portuguese mindset. DJ Lycox is an integral part of the crew, and on his debut full-length, he leans the closest to main-stage dance music that any Príncipe release has yet, all without sacrificing his unique approach and flavor. Sonhos & Pesadelos is full of acoustic percussion loops, shimmering keys and hypnotic bass. I’m hearing Fatima Al Qadiri in some of the synth tones and melodic progressions, and Kyle Hall in the way the beats leap forward precariously, as though it could all fall apart and out of time at any second, but there’s really no misplacing any of these tracks as the work of anyone else. I’m a big fan of the “DJ Lycox!” shout-out that occurs in essentially every track, too – at first, I thought it was “bring in the drums!” said in a heavy Portuguese accent, but the meaning and intent seem to be the same either way.

Exek Ahead Of Two Thoughts LP (W.25th)
Exek’s first album snapped my head around back in 2016, and I’m happy to say that their follow-up is even more tantalizing. Here’s the formula: heavy-dub bass and drums interplay (almost directly cribbed from the playbook of Anika), a sneering vocalist somewhere between Native Cats’ Chloe Escott and a sleepy John Lydon, feebly piercing guitars and a small selection of stunningly appropriate sonic accoutrements. It’s mighty cool, but the first lyrics of opening track “U Mop” are “I’m sick / Of every bit / Of your shit / You mop”, in case you had any concern that Exek were all pretentiousness, no fun. Whatever level of pretentiousness Exek have, I’d say they’ve earned the right to it, as Ahead Of Two Thoughts is a fantastic entry into the overstuffed world of post-punk (particularly modern post-punk). They work out a variety of motifs, from numbing repetition to dare-I-say-energetic rhythms, and it all works so smashingly well… “Punishment” could be an Interpol arena hit if they wanted, followed by the soaking wet dub of “Weight Loss (Henry’s Dream)”, recalling an alternate history wherein Nick Cave sought punk-dub powerhouse Mark Stewart as his muse instead of Blixa Bargeld in 1984. Whatever the case, Exek are a true gem and I share this record with the highest recommendation!

Girl Ray Earl Grey LP (Moshi Moshi)
Had I discovered this North London indie-pop trio’s debut album last year when it came out, it surely would’ve placed among my year-end favorites, but I was late on the draw. I’m too enamored with Earl Grey to feel bad though, as it’s a fantastic album I’m glad to have heard at all, a record full of sweet and tender songs that instantly connect, as if they’ve always been a part of our musical vocabulary, merely waiting to be revealed. They’re a guitar / bass / drums trio, and their sound is undeniably British indie-pop, drawing distinct similarities to Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Allo Darlin’. But whereas there is a distant majesty to groups like Belle & Sebastian and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, who almost seem like impenetrable orchestras of musicians that inhabit some different form of society, Girl Ray are approachable and relatable, people you would expect to be familiar with cool local demo tapes and the minuscule DJ nights at which to play them, putting them in closer lineage to Marine Girls or DIY indie-punk. The songs are great, but it’s the voice of Poppy Hankin (how British is that name) that confirms Earl Grey‘s instant-classic status, her soothing tone and advanced melismatic abilities combining as successfully as Nutella and chocolate. Only difference is, you can consume Girl Ray at mass quantities without any possibility of stomachache.

Governess Governess LP (Radical Empathy)
It’s pretty cool how Governess got together as a band – the three of them met while organizing a preschool co-op for their kids! It’s never too late to rock, and I’d actually argue that it’s often far too early to rock (I’m looking at you, teenaged millennials). Anyway, this self-titled debut was originally released on cassette care of the wonderful Sister Polygon label in 2016, now given an attractive vinyl upgrade. Musically, it’s mostly mid-tempo indie-rock that finds a nice contrast through airy, harmonized vocals, beefy guitars and tom-heavy drums. Very moody tunes, dare I say bordering on goth if it weren’t for their angelic gang vocals and the surfy twang of the guitar. One might think a group of women who get to escape parenthood via playing in a band together would opt for harsh grind or free-noise as their aesthetic of choice (okay maybe I’m projecting), but the songs here are quite tuneful and analgesic, useful as bedtime lullabies if lowered to the proper volume. It’s evident that these songs come from an honest and immediate place, and I hope they’ve got more on the way.

Gaute Granli Animalskt LP (Drid Machine)
Fans of unattractive anti-musical nonsense, you’re in luck! I stumbled upon this Gaute Granli on the strong recommendation of mysterious WordPress fanatic Roland Woodbe, he a master of all unappealing musics, and I want to spread the good word to you, too. From what I gather, Granli is a Norwegian artist who may or may not have played in a group called Freddy The Dyke (uhh), and I may have to investigate that soon because Animalskt is really doing it for me. The opening cut is a long-dwindling guitar note with some muttered accompaniment, and it leads into a track that sounds like a broken accordion brutalized in rhythm, at least until the electronics show up, if you want to call their appearance “showing up”. I’m hearing something between the lonesome guitar-led misery of Jandek, the foolhardy electronic antagonism of Null & Void and Severed Heads, the alternate-dimension approach of Reynols, and the single-minded lunacy of Kraus and Hartley C. White, although Gaute Granli is clearly beholden only to his own particular whims. Not much of an emphasis on rhythm or percussion through the album, but rather a focus on the strained insistence of continuing forward with these songs, bilious and fragile as they may be. For all the singing, I can’t understand a word, but I get the impression that even if I was a native Norwegian I still wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of what’s eating Gaute Granli.

Job Sifre Bestaan 12″ (Knekelhuis)
Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis label has really been tickling my fancy lately (records by EYE and As Longitude in particular), and this new one by Job Sifre might be my favorite of all. It’s delirious, dungeon-friendly EBM, uncomplicated by design and gracefully striking all the right notes. It’s kind of amazing to think that Galakthorrö hasn’t scooped them up yet, as the aesthetics are a near direct match (maybe the disqualifying trait is the color-printed record jacket?), but a bright future awaits, or a dark and gloomy one if preferred. “Bestaan” is a wonderful slog, complete with male vocals bellowing in German, and it’s the hit, no doubt. I can picture the zombies from the “Thriller” video marching in half-time to this one, loving every minute of it. “Zodiak” is another standout, strongly recalling the sticky-wet synth from Matthew Dear’s “You Put A Smell On Me”, and the rest of the EP works similar motifs – picture Beau Wanzer in black pleather pants and a ruffly pirate shirt listening to Clock DVA on headphones and the vibe of Bestaan will reveal itself. The EP culminates with the nine-minute “At Least We Try”, another barely-conscious electro-groove that twists down narrow darkened hallways, a maze I hope to never escape.

Kundan Lal Periodic Perciotic LP (YNFND)
I’ve been trying to piece together some info on Kundan Lal, so that I might provide you with an informed review of his debut album Periodic Perciotic, but the internet isn’t giving me much to go on, and I have a feeling my local research facility would offer even less. What I can tell you is that this album comes from the German experimental / techno label YNFND, and the music of Kundan Lal is distinctly Indian, or at least initially borne of Indian music (although my suspicions are that it’s the work of a white German guy). Ragas are chopped into head-bobbable beats, as upbeat Bollywood dance numbers rub shoulders with forlorn banjos, dusty tablas and indeterminate sounds, all mingling over coasting tempos. Tracks are relatively short, averaging at three minutes or so, each with a specific musical idea, like a Sublime Frequencies compilation chopped and screwed (many of these tracks are just waiting for an excitable rapper to spit bars upon). The cultural tourism vibe is pretty strong here – a track like “Driver” recalls WWE wrestler Jinder Mahal’s theme song – so if that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, I noticed it too, but if you’re willing to take these tunes merely on face value, Kundan Lal’s knack for looping beautiful and mysterious samples is undeniable.

Mouton / Prahnas split 7″ (Wee Rock)
Intriguing split 7″ here, with cover art that reveals no obvious genre association, so let’s dig in! Mouton are obvious and enjoyable from the very start – it sounds like Julian Casablancas singing over The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner”, but for kids (although I guess there’s really nothing that would prevent children from enjoying such a collaboration in the first place). Mouton’s other track has a similar “Strokes for kids” vibe, circa Is This It of course, and it’s a sound I generally always enjoy, Mouton included. Prahnas are a fitting partner, similarly chugging on archetypal down-picked melodies but with flange pedals cranked, adding a fun nauseous twist. Prahnas’ vocalist opts for more of an everyman singing tone, oddly buried in the mix but nonetheless self-assured across these three tracks and tempos. Mouton are from Springfield, MO and Prahnas are from Fayetteville, AR, and now I know who to casually namedrop if I ever find myself at a hip cafe in either of those sure-to-be prepossessing towns.

Original Pranksta Off The Hook LP (Almost Ready)
Wanna take this moment to thank Almost Ready for providing this website with a long overdue first: finally, a crank call album! Not sure who Original Pranksta is, but Off The Hook is pretty quintessential prank call material, stuffed with angry characters who do their best to keep their unwitting victims on the line for as long as possible. Misconstrued want-ads are a typical conceit: black guy responds to “black metal guitarist wanted” ad and proceeds to berate the white guy for not being evil enough; old guy calls escort service to come clean his garage instead of engage sexually; dumb guy answers ad to host a “sex toy party” and completely misunderstands the concept. When properly executed, this form of comedy never gets old, and Original Pranksta is quick enough on his (their?) feet to keep things moving in bizarre and often hilarious directions, although not every track is a certified side-splitter (the “gay guy who wants to put a hamster in his butt” gag would’ve been better left in the previous century). If it’s the work of just one guy, his ability to change voices is impressive, although I get the impression Original Pranksta is a small crew of dudes, Jerky Boys style. Can a Longmont Potion Castle box-set on Last Laugh be far behind?

Pendant Make Me Know You Sweet 2xLP (West Mineral Ltd.)
Crossover techno/ambient guru Huerco S. has undergone a metamorphosis into 2018, shedding the name Huerco S. (I can understand how a person might get sick of having to introduce themselves as “Huerco S.”) for the tidy new moniker Pendant. Surprisingly to me, Huerco S. kinda blew up for a minute with 2016’s ambient opus For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have), and he continues that momentum with the airy electro-ambient that inhabits these two slabs of wax, full of both natural and artificial flavor. There hasn’t been any shortage of ambient drone music over the past couple decades, but Pendant is playing it how I personally like it best: long unfurling shades of harmonized drone sprinkled with unusual glitches and faint hints of rhythm, deeply rinsed with textural washes and left to move with the casual nature of jellyfish, either mildly contracting some internal muscle or simply drifting along with the greater current. I’m reminded of some of the Pop Ambient comps that came out in the mid ’00s, but Pendant is less sentimental and baroque, more pleasantly tweaked and susceptible to the gravitational pull of dub. I only need a new record like this once every two years or so, so now I’m good ’til at least 2020, assuming humanity makes it that far.

Preening Greasetrap Frisbee 7″ (Ever/Never)
Never thought of a 7″ record as a “greasetrap frisbee” before, but Preening found a poetic new way to self-depricate, and I dig it. Ever/Never was wise to reach across the US to squeeze a few new tunes out of them, just in time for some sort of US tour this spring (because nothing supports continental automobile travel quite like the sale of a 7″ EP!), and as much as I enjoyed their debut, I think I like this one even more. Five songs here, still the work of drums, bass guitar and saxophone, but with a little more fire in their belly, finding not just the misshapen angles of no-wave but the explosive aggression, too. Lyrics are often gang-shouted, and feature topics that I’m certain drummer Sam Lefebvre knows all too well (“P.O. Box” and “Associated Press”), with some agitated moves that would almost be Load Records-appropriate, like a spiky young cousin of Tropical Trash more interested in patterns of social movement and exposing fascism than acid and weed. That’s not to say it doesn’t still have the awkward delivery of classic The Cranium, which Preening thoughtfully freshen up for our current unfortunate reality. My copy came with a small poster, and I bet yours will too!

Profligate Somewhere Else LP (Wharf Cat)
Profligate (aka Noah Anthony) has years of banging, manic, live-action techno under his belt, the sort of thing that sort of blends together after a while but is irresistible nonetheless. I thought that Wharf Cat was an interesting fit for him, and scooped up this new album, only to be thrust into an alternate dimension, far, far away from any disco lights or thumping sub-woofers – Somewhere Else indeed! Rather, this is a record of quietly brooding electronics, filled with patient, breathy vocals, a melancholic sense of melody and a magnetic charm, which is a feat considering how depressing the music frequently sounds. I feel like he’s really breaking new ground here, not just for himself but for anyone making weird personal electronic music, and it’s quite fantastic. I’m reminded of the electro-infused slow-core of the ’90s, groups like Duster and Her Space Holiday, given a rotten jolt of early ’80s industrial ala Nocturnal Emissions or Zoviet France. The pensive mood unites those two disparate musical cultures, with the soft churn of industrial patterns giving way to hushed melodic vocals (from both Anthony himself as well as poet and musician Elaine Kahn). I really can’t get over how good this is, how it can be so menacing and sinister while also so sweet and disarming, not to mention that Profligate traveled into previously uncharted aesthetic territory and struck gold. Really hope he continues in this direction, but even if not, Somewhere Else is a gorgeous gem worth coveting.

Rik & The Pigs A Child’s Gator LP (Total Punk)
Rik & The Pigs have been tearing up the punk underground for a couple years now, throwing out 7″s like shuriken into the heads of jerks, cops, squares, adults, whoever, really. I’ve even got another new single in the bin waiting for some attention, but I’ve been too busy enjoying the debut LP by Rik & The Pigs, A Child’s Gator, to give it enough time. Their singles are great, but if you haven’t already tapped into this audacious punk outfit, this is where you should start, and start you should! They’re a great band, honing in on the nihilistic goofball / endless-detention vibe of early punk rock, bands of teenagers that would rather flick a booger on the principal’s forehead than shoot up heroin or smash the state. Rik is particularly suited for the role of front-person, as he truly brings these songs into vibrant technicolor, his voice comical and sneering, like a nerd who freaks out the jocks by laughing even after he’s beaten to a pulp. I’m reminded of Doc Dart as well as the semi-fake vocals that inhabit Peer Pressure’s That’s Why They Call ‘Em Moms 7″ (a teen-punk essential), but Rik is steadily carving out his own signature squeak, full of constant chattering and bizarre asides. I’d gladly watch a new animated series starring Rik and his misadventures with the Pigs… I’m picturing a reverse Scooby Doo, where each episode ends with Rik unmasked and thrown in jail.

Schlammpeitziger Damenbartblick Auf Pregnant Hill LP (Bureau B)
Casually surpassing twenty-five years of existence, Schlammpeitziger marches onward, the work of Köln-based Jo Zimmermann. I’ve heard a few but not all of Schlammpeitziger’s albums to date (one of which was even featured on a “cheap Discogs finds” feature here!), and while he’s by no means an everyday listen, sometimes Schlammpeitziger is just what the doctor ordered. This new one, Damenbartblick Auf Pregnant Hill is particularly intriguing, located in a sparsely-inhabited corner of contemporary electronic music, far from any prevailing trends. Rather, this record sounds like if Kraftwerk were tasked with soundtracking a G-rated Playstation 2 game back in 2000, full of artificial colors, sanitized computer rhythms and a deeply plastic form of happiness. These mostly-instrumental tracks reach a “powerwalking through the mall” tempo, floating with the unsettling optimism of James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual, but in a distinctly German way. My favorites are the vocal tracks, like “Ekirlu Kong”, wherein the vocalist casually flirts with an imagined “girl” in English, using lines like “your hair is like a hazelnut helmet” for presumably intentional humorous effect. It’s a great mix, certainly a palate cleanser from all the industrial techno and ambient cold-wave everyone else is pumping out, a casual reminder that right now someone, somewhere, just reached a new high score in Animal Crossing while neglecting their real human relationships.

Straight Arrows Out & Down 7″ (Spacecase)
Sydney garage-rock stalwarts Straight Arrows haven’t done an album in a few years, but they pop out new singles on occasion, like this sprightly two-songer. “Out & Down” flips the old phrase around, and while the meaning mostly remains the same, you wouldn’t know that Straight Arrows were having a hard time from the way they pump through this tune. The drums are skipping briskly, the guitars are ringing out, and it comes with a nice choral refrain (I’ll let you guess the words), taking their bad luck as cause to celebrate rather than sulk. “Franchisee” is even more pumped-up, a chant-along anthem about, well, franchising a business, it seems? Easily the best financially-minded punk song I’ve heard in a while, although I can’t recall any other recent competition. Which one of you is gonna step up and write the first cryptocurrency-based punk song? Why do I even have to ask?

Swiftumz Game Six / Honey 7″ (Fruits & Flowers)
No, it’s not a vegan laxative, Swiftumz is a Bay Area indie-pop act, sometimes a full-on band with various guitars and synths and live drums, and sometimes just Christopher McVicker tracking it himself. You get a little bit of both on this new 7″, and I can’t imagine either variety will let you down, so long as happy-mellow grooves and softly shy vocals tickle your fancy. “Game Six” appears on an uplifting melody, a familiar up-and-down riff that sounds particularly pleasant through this mixture of acoustic and electric guitars and the remaining integral parts of a rock band doing the heavy lifting. “Honey” slows things down considerably, still ostensibly “indie-pop” but sounding a lot like The Band or The Flying Burrito Brothers or something else you may have pulled out of your parents’ records because you liked the cover art. All this along with a striking painting of a famous dunk on the cover, just in case you were on the fence about taking one home.

Very Mental Misconstrued 7″ (Total Punk)
How mental, you ask? C’mon fool, this is Total Punk, you know they don’t skimp! Very Mental are a newish punk group outta Olympia, and unlike much of the Olympia punk/hardcore scene that prides itself on being so incredibly extra, Very Mental are pretty sturdy and time-tested in their sonic approach… no frills, as opposed to frills. “Misconstrued” sounds as if hardcore never happened in LA, but rather Masque punk turned immediately into glam-rock, or something like that. You can’t really pogo or slam to it, unless you really wanted. Maybe we could classify it as post-Sheer Mag punk? “In The Morning” is a little harder and sassier, like one of Sin 34’s mid-tempo bangers or the New York Dolls at their absolute toughest. Pretty cool stuff, although I can’t help but shake the suspicion that Very Mental is more of a side-project group for musicians focused on their other projects, or at least that’s how these songs feel. It’s possible I’m just suffering from punk fatigue, but Very Mental didn’t even come up with some crude drawing or random collage for their cover art. Maybe they’re saving that stuff for their other bands.

Beau Wanzer Issue No. Twenty 12″ (Jealous God)
I’d been feeling like some new Beau Wanzer was overdue, so I approached this new 12″ on the chic Jealous God label like the arrival of an old friend. It’s really quite great, and the perfect record for someone first acclimating themselves to the sound of Beau Wanzer as well as hardened fans (like me). There are six tracks here, and they are particularly grody, even by Wanzer’s already-filthy standards. Synth-lines buzz deep into the red, drum machines utilize only the rhythmic necessities (kick, snare, chain, whip), and the tempos remain perfect for dance-floor flexing and dungeon lurking. Most notably, Wanzer’s vocals are a constant presence, and they’re processed beautifully, somewhere between an ’80s cartoon villain, Robocop and Attila Csihar. I’m painting a bleak and industrial image here, and while that’s entirely appropriate, there’s plenty of barbed-wire funk here too: “In One Ear” is like an exhumed Cybotron cut, whereas opener “Speaker Sisters” resembles a Mantronix album melted in the lab. All crucial listening for my home and presumably yours as well.

Whip Whip 7″ (Neck Chop)
Whip are yet another punk band from some frozen Canadian province (in this case, Winnipeg) who are making their vinyl debut care of Neck Chop Records. Like most of the recent Neck Chop batch, Whip are quite enjoyable, saving up their best cuts for this 7″ EP after numerous demo tapes dating back to 2015. When it comes to their namesake, they’re more “Cool” than “leather”, offering a spunky, hyper take on juvenile punk. No mosh parts, the guitar is mixed way up front, and the songs follow the same instinctual patterns of punk rock that have been there since the beginning. Kind of a charming early Mystic Records sound, but you can replace the casual teenage-boy sexism and homophobia of that time and era with the righteous messages that are in focus today: bosses are awful, horrible dudes suck, women are paid too little and forced to put up with too much. Sounds pretty good with single-string guitar leads and no-frills drumming, although I really could’ve gone for an anti-ice hockey / anti-maple syrup song, too. Maybe those’ll be on the follow-up record.

Search results for: bow & spear

Reviews – May 2015

Joey Anderson 1974 12″ (Dekmantel)
Been on the hunt for more Joey Anderson ever since his Head Down Arms Buddha Position 12″ ruffled my feathers earlier this year, and this new one on Dekmantel is a delight all its own. Gotta say, I’m absolutely infatuated with the cover art for no good reason – it looks like some weird Happy Hardcore bootleg CD, really a nice visual, and it suits these three tracks nicely. The title track is over ten minutes of methodical electronics: heavy Manuel Göttsching E2-E4 vibes but with the jilted techno acumen of Kassem Mosse. “Under Water” is like watching an 8-bit sunset slowly consumed by darkness, with a warm layer of fuzz touching all synths and a Morphosis-esque improv solo toward the end. “Back Draft” finishes off the 12″ with poison spears of various sizes aiming straight for flesh, all while a basic clap and hi-hat give the green light to the dancers waiting on the sidelines. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the many records this fine producer has under his belt, and I’m jubilant just thinking about it.

Asda Three Tracks 10″ (FuckPunk)
Is anyone else paying attention to the fantastic FuckPunk label? This new one is a 10″ (in what appears to be an 11″ bag, although I didn’t have a ruler handy), with a couple random pieces of paper stashed inside the it. No paper sleeve for the vinyl, but it comes with some info hand-taped to the b-side center sticker and ferocious post-techno, post-grime nonsense music within the grooves. Asda (whose name comes from what I believe is the English equivalent to Walmart) is Seb Gainsborough (Vessel himself) and his chum Chester Giles. The a-side features two crusty, melody-free beats, somewhere between industrial and drum n’ bass, with Giles calmly ranting about consumption and the anomie of modern life, like an alternate version of Sleaford Mods who only ever released a tape on Hospital Productions. The b-side track comparatively floats, a few corroded hi-hats clipping through a mournfully descending melody and Giles reciting a brief and glum homily. The music is great, feeling kind of tossed-off but in a way that still seems potent and crucial. Top that off with the purposely-horrible packaging (and another limited pressing – 325 copies of this one, or so I’ve read), and I will continue to proudly ride the FuckPunk train.

Blaxxx For No Apparent Reason 12″ (12XU)
As if he wasn’t busy enough with Obnox (and the semi-functioning Bassholes and This Moment In Black History), Lamont Thomas has put together Blaxxx, teamed up with the esteemed Orville Bateman Neeley III (of OBN IIIs fame) and Tom Triplett (I don’t know his deal). I’d imagine Blaxxx is more of an occasional deal, though, as Neeley and Thomas live states away (if my stalking skills are accurate). It certainly feels like a side-project, but not in a bad way, as this trio lets loose on some in-the-red rock damage, like High Rise courting a Third Man Records contract. The guitar sounds like a rocket taking off, an echoed vocal cuts through the smoke, and the bass and drums remain permanently locked in chastity together, all build and no release. Some sweet soloing on the part of Thomas too, even more impressive assuming that they probably just talked about these songs for a few minutes before letting it rip onto tape. It’s only a matter of time before Dave Grohl steps down as American Ambassador of Rock and Lamont Thomas is rightfully appointed.

Chris Brokaw The Periscope Twins 2xLP (12XU)
Chris Brokaw has as respectable of an indie-rock guitarist’s career as one can have, playing with Come and Codeine among other groups that probably would’ve reunited at an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival were that company still in working order. This lengthy double-album is taken from a friends-only cassette of the same title, two uninterrupted sides of a 90-minute tape edited down into four sides of vinyl. The first two sides consist of “The Periscope Kids Are Out On the Skids, My Love”, which is basically an extended fuzzy ripple, like a fart capable of circular breathing or a distorted kazoo left to wander into outer space. I kept waiting for something to happen, and at one point on the second side it sputters out for a second – a move that normally wouldn’t be noteworthy but felt like a shock in this context. Reminds me a bit of the strange drone minimalists Nmperign, as far as content, delivery and lengthy song titles are concerned. The second LP is a bit more musical: the two tracks on sides C and D (whose combined titles would be as long as most of my reviews) are fragile and intimate sessions of chords, finger-pickings, musical phrases and wanderings, Brokaw’s guitar smouldering like an ancient candle that refuses to burn out entirely. Honestly, nothing really ever happens on the last two sides either (the extended title track is a real patience-tester), so this is one to be enjoyed in the way you might go through a sketchbook in an artist’s home studio rather than view their finished work on a gallery wall. I’m more of a gallery guy myself, but I can still appreciate this glimpse into Brokaw’s artistic process and use of spare time.

Broken Prayer Misanthropocentric A.K.A. Droid’s Blood LP (Sorry State)
For as much as I love Chicago as a city (I’ll even go to bat for deep-dish, and I say that as a born New Yorker), I’ve only truly loved a couple dozen or so of the hardcore bands to have come out of it. Broken Prayer are a newer group, and while I appreciate that they put effort into their records (this one comes with a nice book of mostly-legible lyrics) and poke little holes in the somewhat regimented hardcore aesthetic, I dunno… it’s just okay. They remind me of a cleanly-recorded Brown Sugar with synths instead of horns – stumbling, time-changing hardcore with a vocalist who pays no mind to the beat, ranting and raving as his mood dictates. I usually like when hardcore bands are total messes, but this isn’t that – Broken Prayer clearly spent time writing these songs, organizing parts, penning lyrics and deciding which synth settings to flatulate, but none of it really congeals into anything with lasting appeal. Probably fun live though, so maybe one day I’ll catch them and it’ll make perfect sense. Or, just as likely, not.

CCR Headcleaner Cokesmoker LP (Pollen Season / Stale Heat)
I’ve enjoyed the music of CCR Headcleaner since first checking out their 7″ on Caesar Cuts, where I knew them as an unhinged, acid-fried hardcore group. They’ve moved into a new realm on the subtly-titled Cokesmoker, essentially splitting the difference between two of my favorite Californian ex-punk bands, Los Cincos and (early) Comets On Fire. Through this record, they bash through classic garage tropes like a drunken chaperone at the high school dance, viciously shred their guitars as though trying to start a forest fire, and generally cause a self-righteous ruckus of which I wish I could’ve taken part. Things get a little more chaotic on the b-side, venturing into improvisation, extended audio samples and even a little acid squelch, and I honestly love every minute of it. There’s something about CCR Headcleaner’s delivery that makes it feel as though every member of the band is fully on-board with what they’re delivering, that there is zero hesitation or concern that what they’re doing might be a little too out-there or unlistenable, so I applaud these folks for finding each other and releasing this cosmic gem.

Davidians Night Terrors 7″ (Sorry State)
This Davidians 7″ is part of the Sorry State Records “North Carolina Singles Series”, which of course means uniform/generic 45 sleeves/center stickers. Not sure a singles club really suits hardcore, particularly with such a limited focus (no offense to North Carolina, as I can’t think of many states that could really sustain a hardcore 7″ singles series), but this Davidians record is cool enough for what it is. “Night Terrors” goes through a number of different parts, all of which are pretty frantic. The bass-line jabs all over the place, the guitar winds through a few different effects and the singer manages to make sense of it all. The b-side song is named “Gimme All Yo’ Dope” and it has the same general sound as the a-side, although it slithers more than skanks. The vocalist reminds me of some ’90s pop-punk band I can’t recall (30 Foot Fall, maybe? Falling Sickness?), and while that might be a red flag for most of the hardcore intelligentsia, it fits Davidians nicely.

Dogs On Acid Dogs On Acid 7″ (Ranch)
Dogs On Acid sounds like it should be some new anonymous techno release on L.I.E.S., but it’s actually a poppy, punky Philadelphian group, its members fresh from time in Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing (both also poppy and punky). Clearly, these folks know what they’re doing when it comes to good-time, post-collegiate indie-punk, as these two songs are both expertly crafted and easy to enjoy. “Make It Easy” has traces of later Pavement, hints of earlier Whatever Brains and the ghosts of Dogs On Acid’s previous bands wandering the halls, and “Waiting For You To Come Home” comes across like a punk band pretending to be Better Than Ezra for a Halloween basement gig. I’m impressed at how good it all sounds – Dogs On Acid borrow from all sorts of historical alt-rock articles and breezily spin it into something I want to hear all over again. The simple-yet-attractive packaging has me hoping people still buy 7″s and not just Bandcamp downloads these days, as this is one you won’t be shy to leave around the house.

Future Punx I’m So Inspired EP 12″ (Dull Tools)
Perhaps appropriately so, I’ve been hearing about Future Punx via the internet, and while photos of their live show never look quite as 2029 as I’d hope (I’d give their personal style a 2017 at best), lots of people seem to be sincerely enjoying this Brooklyn indie-punk group, which isn’t always the case with Brooklyn indie-punk groups. The “Ford & Lopatin trapped in the Matrix” cover art had me expecting Future Punx to sound like the Svedka vodka robot doing Blondie covers, and while I suppose I can still see it, this record mostly just sounds like classic 99 Records worship care of DFA and its affiliates circa 2002. I’m picturing Thomas Dolby fronting Liquid Liquid, The Stick Men on sedatives, The Faint if they never tried to hide their dorkiness (particularly in the lead vocal), or DEVO with a New York groove – live dance music to nerd out to, if not necessarily something worthy of the self-proclaimed “Punx” moniker. There’s at least one Ferris Bueller chase scene on here (I’ll give it to “Plus Side”), some funk guitar to round it out, and a vibe as fun as it is retro, like when you’re absolutely craving an Oreo milkshake for no good reason and end up parking next to a Johnny Rocket’s. If they work hard enough at it and tour, I could see Future Punx becoming the !!! of their generation, and there are far worse things to be.

Gay Kiss Preservation Measures LP (Sorry State)
Last autumn, I saw Gay Kiss perform in their hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. They came out, wearing mostly black and looking supremely pissed, and after the singer announced “we are The Gay Kiss” into the mic, a lone voice in the back of the crowd let out a “Ha-ha!”, Nelson-style, injecting their tense and negative demeanor with a splash of idiotic levity. There’s no knuckleheaded humor to be found within Preservation Measures, however, as the cover-art, resembling one of Mark McCoy’s fever dreams, ushers in a dark, menacing album. The riffs are ugly, the vocalist never goes below a full-on scream (or gurgle), and the liberal use of noise/samples/guitar effects goes a long way in distinguishing Gay Kiss from the pack. At times, it feels like Hoax if they intended to be artsy, or perhaps one of Will Dandy’s hardcore groups (Ritual Mess? Bucket Full Of Teeth?) after a particularly nasty breakup. Elements of Gravity-style screamo, Swans worship and the Youth Attack aesthetic all rear their heads at times, but it’s a sturdy and practical hardcore album through and through, the sort of record where blood, sweat and tears mix into one clear pink liquid (you can only hope it comes out in the wash).

Helmer Roccale 12″ (Valcrond Video)
Helmer’s debut EP shook me with its savagely fudgy bass-lines and sophisticated grit, and my enthusiasm continues through his second EP, this one for the upstanding Valcrond Video label (owned and operated by Mr. Torn Hawk himself). “You Say I For Me” is the a-side track, and the bass revs like an engine, calling to mind a patient, seductive Blawan mix, although this track swings through different peaks and valleys far more than an original Blawan production ever would. It’s like you can tell Helmer would love to make some crazy Aphex Twin-inspired soundwork but he loves a solid 4/4 too much, and as a sometimes-DJ myself, I love that I could just let this track play and stand there doing nothing but looking cool, knowing that Helmer already did all the work. “Corrib Chun Mask” opens the flip-side with the Knight Rider theme caught in Helmer’s helicopter blades, like a car chase across the Al-Jafr desert between two sexy cybernetic beings. “spry->Env” has the most Autechre-y name and wraps things up in a slightly different fashion, with warped Middle Eastern strings giving way to a muffled beat that could have as easily been born in Vessel’s laboratory as Black Rain’s dungeon. Bravo!

Home Blitz Foremost + Fair LP (Richie)
Daniel DiMaggio’s Home Blitz seems to be the last-man-standing from the mid-’00s weird-punk explosion, and on Foremost + Fair, he’s not standing around with his hands in his pockets so much as striding in on an armored stallion fresh from slaying a dragon or two. I don’t know how he does it, but there has been a continual and constant rate of improvement among Home Blitz records, consistently getting stranger and more unique. This one is particularly crazy (and decidedly hi-fi) – DiMaggio injects his pop-rock with a healthy dose of keyboards (pianos, synths, it seems like anything with black and white keys was played here) and an unexpected Medieval Renaissance vibe, like he’s been kicking around New York City with both Tom Verlaine and Robin Hood. Some of these tracks (“I’m That Key” in particular) almost have an emo-pop vibe, calling to mind The Anniversary and the first-wave of Vagrant Records-styled emo-punk, whereas others feel like they were written by John Renbourn after a Monty Python binge. Crazy, right? And through all this (and another minute-too-long field recording track), Foremost + Fair is his most enjoyable, complex and user-friendly record yet, mastered loud as hell to boot. I love it and you’d be crazy not to.

The Insults Stiff Love 7″ (Last Laugh)
Last Laugh already provided us with a faithful reissue of The Insults’ Population Zero EP, and they’re back again with Stiff Love, the other 7″ The Insults released back in 1979. I feel like I am just following a script with these reviews of obscure-classic punk 7″s, as the band hasn’t existed in decades and these songs (like the vast majority of Last Laugh’s reissues) are unassailable punk rock stupidity. The other Insults 7″ had a song about loving zombies, and on this one the love they describe is far more X-rated (I’ll leave it to your imagination). Speedy, jangly guitars, vocals that must’ve been recorded with a clothespin attached to the singer’s nose (no voice is that naturally nasal), safety pins and razor blades, it’s all here for your proto-pogo-punk enjoyment, forever and ever amen. These reissues might feel like a formality at times, but it doesn’t take away from The Insults’ appeal.

Jam City Dream A Garden LP (Night Slugs)
Jack Latham gave his project Jam City a pretty generic name, almost impossibly generic, and it knowingly betrayed the sheer outlandishness of Classical Curves, the debut album under this moniker. I absolutely love that record – it’s like it was composed purely out of sounds other producers discarded (dribbled basketballs, Polaroid cameras, asthmatic breathing), those unloved ingredients alchemized into a music so futuristic and singular it still sounds fresh if I put it on today. Not one to duplicate himself, Latham has changed his style dramatically for Dream A Garden, an album that leans heavily on ’80s roller-rink pop and prominently features his singing voice. I’ve listened to it a bunch, and while there still are plenty of unexpected, discordant moments, it does two things I’m not crazy about. One, it looks to the past in a way that countless other chill-wave / retro-futuristic / trendy artists have been doing for a few years now, and two, his voice (which has sort of a passive Toro Y Moi / Washed Out sheen) reminds me that this is music made by some indoor-dwelling nerd guy, rather than a sentient malware program making music as an ironic joke before it destroys society’s infrastructure (which is what I assume was responsible for Classical Curves). I want to like Lathan crooning on “Black Friday”, and I do, but I can’t help but think about how much I’d rather be listening to Classical Curves, again and again.

Kappa Chow Jump / SBTD 7″ (Kiss The World)
Look at Kappa Chow, all bundled up and ready to shovel some snow on the cover of this, their second 7″. Just like the first, it comes in a slightly-oversized sleeve with cool hand-drawn art, but musically, Kappa Chow seem to have calmed their hyperactivity, preferring a reserved cool over manic carousing. “Jump” is a gutsy title to roll with, standing in Van Halen’s shadow and all, but it’s a pretty nice tune, pairing a sassy bass-line with pop-ambient horns, scraggly guitar and a confident vocal (all leading to a solid hook, where they yell, you guessed it, “Jump!”). “SBTD” stands for “Something Better To Do”, and it’s another fun slice of peppy indie-punk, taking cues from Tyvek, The Clean and Protomartyr without losing any sincerity or naiveté in the process. If something feels slightly off when you are listening to Kappa Chow, allow me to remind you that they’re Canadian and it’ll all make sense.

Mad Virgins I Am A Computer 7″ (No Good)
The obsession with classic Killed By Death / Bloodstains 7″ reissues isn’t exclusively an American one, as the No Good label is reissuing a few choice cuts from Belgium’s Romantik Records, arguably that country’s first foray into punk rock. It’s not always the case with reissues like this one, but I am already deeply versed in the glory of this Mad Virgins 7″, as they aren’t just another quality punk band, but rather an entity that exists without contemporaries. The drummer is entirely foreign to the idea of modern rhythm, and it somehow propels the two-note riff of “I Am A Computer” and Crackerjack’s barely-post-pubescent vocal sneer, like Sid Vicious fresh out of the 6th grade. It’s easily one of the best rock songs I’ve ever heard, and I mean that sincerely. “Fuck & Suck” is the b-side and it’s a beaut as well, although it mostly just makes me sad that these are the only two studio-recorded songs that exist from Mad Virgins’ punkest moment (by 1981 they sounded like a polished mix of Bay City Rollers and The Undertones). I’m not one to promote reissue vinyl, but we all need Mad Virgins in our homes, one way or another.

Melchior Productions Meditations 4-6 12″ (Perlon)
I missed Meditations 1-3, and while I have no valid excuse, allow me to divert by saying that I’m digging hard on four through six, collected here. “Meditation 4” is the long one, a solid twelve minutes of an extended vocal moan and Thomas Melchior’s trademarked percussion: snares and hats and claps that sound like tiny air puffs, delicate and crunchy. The twists and turns are subtle, but each rapidly-echoed vocal clip is like a fresh fluffing of my pillow. “Meditation 5” had me thinking it was gonna be full-on ambient until the scissor-y hi-hats kicked in and I realized I was actually at an after-hours club in Barcelona where whiskey sodas are fifteen Euro. “Meditation 6” mixes random radio-scanned vocals much like certain tracks on Ricardo Villalobos’ Sei Es Drum, all with the incessant minimal-techno snap that puts my body into motion. Probably not a game-changing EP for me or you, but Melchior Productions has provided me with so many great moments (No Disco Future was a game-changer for me and “Different Places” is a personal top-ten dance track) that I’m happy to settle into this one like a leather couch still warm from the body of its previous inhabitant.

Mystic Inane Eggs Onna Plate 7″ (Lumpy)
Mystic Inane’s name has been popping up on my radar over the past year or two, but through a variety of errors this 7″ is the first time I’m hearing them. And I couldn’t be happier! This is exactly the sort of slimed-out sludge-punk I need in my diet, operating from the Flipper / Bobby Soxx axis with just the right amount of Mutha Records-informed suburban angst. “Eggs Onna Plate” is the a-side for good reason, a simple and effective mosh part dosed in bacteria and left out in the sun, with the singer ranting off-time about eggs (on a plate, as it were). “Polite Society” is a mid-tempo punk banger, somewhere between Bad Noids, early TSOL and The Mad, complete with a grunt-based chorus, and “Manhood” continues to increase the tempo over the shortest cut on the EP. “Eggs Onna Plate” is the clear and present anthem, the sort of song I hope is played while my casket (or decorative urn) is carried to my final resting place, but the b-side cuts don’t slouch around either. Thanks a lot, Mystic Inane – it’s late, but now I’m hungry!

No Love Dogs//Wolves / Bad Things 7″ (Sorry State)
This No Love 7″ comes care of Sorry State’s “North Carolina Singles Series”, and while I was hoping to find out that they’re a So Much Hate tribute band, I was reasonably pleased with their actual aesthetic, a tuneful and speedy, rock-oriented punk sound. “Dogs//Wolves” feels like the halfway point between the classic-punk infatuation of No Hope For The Kids or The Vicious and the modern streamlined poppy-punk of Big Eyes. “Bad Things” reminds me of White Lung, the drums running overtime while cascading riffs and a disinterested vocal snarl hurry by. No Love certainly put effort into writing these songs, with multiple guitar parts, at least ten changes per track and some form of soloing. It goes down noticeably smooth, perfect for the easy-going hardcore-punk fan who may not sport an Off! hat but likes them just the same.

OD / MB Shplittin’ The Shtones LP (no label)
Record of the month right here! This one pits my new favorite Morgan Buckley alongside his friend Olmo Devin, hence the OD and MB in the title (these folks don’t make it easy for us, do they). According to some credits I’ve found, Buckley plays on at least one of Devin’s tracks, so I’m not sure if this is a traditional split or a collaborative effort or what, but I’m going to stop worrying about how to categorize this record and allow its utter beauty to wash over me. Both sides carry the essence of Morgan Buckley’s 12″ debut, as they casually blend Arthur Russell, Deodato, Blues Control and La Düsseldorf into something entirely new, relevant and stunning. OD’s side tends toward the glossier, groove-based side of their spectrum, dropping rocks (or shall we say “shtones”) into Brian Eno’s pond and letting them ripple in beautiful rings, both controlled and wild, whereas MB’s side leans experimental, chopping up a spoken vocal, teasing various noises over a stoic beat or vibing out on backwards loops. Something about Shplittin’ The Stones is just so perfect for me, as it manages to be calm and hypnotic and brash and weird all at the same time, all effortlessly so. I’m crazy about it!

Person Of Interest Person Of Interest 12″ (L.I.E.S.)
Stepping up from the L.I.E.S. minor-leagues of Russian Torrent Versions and L.I.E.S. white-label editions, Person Of Interest steps it up with an official L.I.E.S. 12″, replete with actual cover art (and it’s cool – a blurry image of a dude somehow performing a fade-away dunk). The music has a decent dose of character too: “What You Think You Want” isn’t just another anonymous basement-techno jam, as it rides a wiggly arpeggio over a well-worn house beat and a Beau Wanzer-esque vocal (is that a Yak Bak he’s using?). “Keep It Moving” kicks off the flip with a similar punchy vibe, presided by a seasick theremin and a swinging low-end. I’d guess that “My 97’s” refers to sneakers (as opposed to the Old variety), and it’s the slowest of the three, sounding nicely tweaked as it pairs a stern string section with an 8-bit squeak, like Actress sneaking onto the set of Dr. Who. A keeper for sure, and while I enjoy the plain uniformity of L.I.E.S.’s black DJ sleeves, this Person Of Interest 12″ makes me want to hit the courts and vigorously box people out.

Pinkwash Cancer Money 7″ (Sister Polygon)
Pinkwash are a mighty new Philadelphia duo, sporting drums, guitar through a big mess of amps and vocals with just the right layer of spittle. I hadn’t really heard them before, but I trust Sister Polygon to place only the sweetest sounds on vinyl, and there’s no disappointment here. “Cancer Money” is so revved-up, beefy and KARP-like that I swear the singer Joey was going to go into that “ding dong I’m fucking with your head” line from KARP’s “Bastard Of Disguise”, but instead he repeats a couple of his own angry lines over steamroller drums and methodical two-note riffing. “Skin” opens with a soothing tone-poem before entering a slowed form of rock catharsis, summoning a rhythmic progression somewhere between Rush and Sleep before riding out on a couple thick notes ala the title track. Both tracks showcase a nice confluence of beauty and brawn, and with a Pinkwash album in the planning stages (or so I hope), I plan on enthusiastically enjoying Cancer Money while waiting on more.

Quttinirpaaq Dead September LP (Rural Isolation Project)
Upon opening this one up, my first thought was, “I love the first two Quttinirpaag LPs, but do I really need a third one, particularly so quickly?” I hate to admit that now, as all it took was two seconds of listening to Dead September to realize that I need as much Quttinirpaaq in my life as possible. It opens with a killer Nine Inch Nails / Guns N’ Roses “You Could Be Mine” drumbeat and doesn’t quit, even as layers of guitar feedback and sonic irritants are splattered all over it. And then the next track feels like Suicide trapped inside Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, which should make your brows perk up upon reading if you are at all a fan of this website. The rest of the record is just as heavy, relentless and captivating, veering into Vatican Shadow-esque techno, Ramleh-esque noise guitar and Con-Dom-esque power-electronics with equal amounts of dedication and glee. I’ve never had the urge to carve anyone’s name into my body, but I’m starting to think a “Quttinirpaaq” logo in Old English lettering across my stomach might be an attractive first tattoo.

Sex Snobs Lonely LP (no label)
Was hoping for a Sex/Vid collaboration with The Snobs here, but sadly the chances of that happening are slim. Rather, this is an Oklahoma City-based group (someone cool’s gotta live there, right?), and while I was expecting hardcore of some sort (they even go the Old English band-name-font route), this is chugging, groovy, heavy rock music. I’m quickly reminded of Halo Of Flies, Drive Like Jehu, or any band that once played a show with Big Drill Car. They’re really pushing the negative vibes here, with songs like “Sick As A Dog”, “Pissin’ The Bed” and “The Idiot Room”, which boasts the lyrics “I am a professional at making people frown”. Definitely the type of band with guys who say stuff like “we bummed everyone out, it was so great” as though it were some sort of accomplishment. I for one am not bummed out by Lonely, though, as Sex Snobs have proved to be quite capable with their driving, beefy rock songs, favoring tuneful mean-spirited rock over hissing feedback and distortion.

Soft Shoulder Fabric 7″ (Alien Summer)
Holy Moses, Gilgongo continues to run up their credit card bill with three new Soft Shoulder 7″s, each released on hilarious fake-label names (this being an Alien Summer release). I’m a Soft Shoulder fan, so I liked checking these out, although the superfluousness of multiple short 7″s released at once by the same artist does seem a little silly, even to a fan of the format like me. “Fabric” is a good way to kick things off, chugging along like Black Time or Tyvek trying out for a Troubleman Unlimited contract. There are two tracks and an interlude on the flip, sounding like a paper-thin A Frames (“Set It Down”), a quiet jazz practice tune-up (the aforementioned interlude) and then another tom-heavy lo-fi punk stomp (“Set It Down”). Good band for sure, and I hope at least someone out there is filing these Soft Shoulder 7″s next to that Rancid forty-six 7″ box-set.

Soft Shoulder Stair 7″ (Weird Machine)
Here’s the second of the three Soft Shoulder 7″s that just came out, and I’m not gonna write about the third one (it’s cool too) simply because no band deserves three reviews in a single month. This one is also really good, some more tuneless punk crunch on the a-side, flowing into an even crunchier “interlude” and then a slowed-down version with horns (“Stair” appears twice on the a-side). It’s a gnarly enough riff that I’m down to hear it at two different speeds, so why not? Flip it for “Wyld Parrots” which is a Wounded Lion cover (remember them?) but through sonic texturalization it sounds like any other Soft Shoulder track, and the EP wraps up with “Happy Birthday, Iggy”, a personalized tune that is dear to my heart as I also know a delightful young boy named Iggy. Clearly Soft Shoulder had some tracks in the basement that needed clearing out, and it’s been one yard sale I’m glad I stopped by.

The Spirit Of The Beehive The Spirit Of The Beehive LP (Ice Age / Ranch)
The Spirit Of The Beehive’s self-titled debut album is covered in adorable childhood photos, images of cute trick-or-treaters and birthday-cake-eaters who presumably make up some of the membership of this group. Throw on the record and these images are quickly framed in a nostalgic gloom, care of the layered guitar tracks, stacked effects and despondent melodies that fill it up. Generally, modern shoegaze-pop isn’t my bag, but something about The Spirit Of The Beehive seems so carefully considered that I fall into its dusty beanbag chair quite easily. Occasional moments of Weezer and Radiohead (especially Radiohead) fandom pop up, but the album’s flow is orchestrated in such a way that the falsetto-vocal woe-is-me moments crop up right when they have the most impact, just as the occasional power-chord hooks do. I’m not sure if The Spirit Of The Beehive is depressed or delighted when they look back at these old photos, but it’s been fun trying to figure it out.

Talker Talker LP (Downwards)
The mysterious Talker is back, following his/her/its/their debut 12″ with a full-length on the formidable Downwards label. It’s more of the same, but in a good way, as this self-titled album (also called “Hari” in some locales) is a solid mix of techno-derived industrial music. Demdike’s endlessly rippling ride cymbal is present, alongside Raime’s glacial pacing and Concrete Fence’s penchant for noise, leading to a decidedly modern and referential industrial-techno record. One of my favorite tracks is the Kerridge-produced “Meniscus” (which also features his now-trademarked rusty-bullhorn vocals), not just because it’s simple, spacious and monotonously heavy, but because I like to imagine that all these foreboding, shadowy producers hang out together, showing off new runes they found near the river’s mouth and discussing cryptic hand tattoos they’re thinking about getting. The beautiful packaging sets this one off too, and while I may be a sucker at some point, I’m too busy enjoying the world of Talker to care.

Timeghost Cellular LP (Load)
I can’t help but associate Providence, RI (and Load Records in particular) with crazy hand-made artwork – besides the Wolf Eyes crew, this is the town that gave birth to the “CD-r packaged in six different hand-screened paper inserts” vibe that left such a mark on the ’00s underground. Anyway, this Timeghost LP really ups the ante with some of the most attractive LP packaging I’ve seen in a while, a screened and die-cut outer sleeve with bizarre printed insert beneath, and it’s the perfect home for this set of outside-the-box electronic experiments. It’s a hard record to place, which I dig – the music is often frantic in nature, what sounds like homemade noise-boxes and modified VCRs transmitting gobbledegook and alien morse code. I’m reminded of Irr. App. (Ext.), Panicsville and Ultra, but you could just as easily file this one under “IDM” or “Dark Ambient” (as evident on Cellular‘s Discogs page) and I would have little room to argue. While listening, I often feel like I’m inside a busy bus terminal, although the terminal is actually just the magnified inside of a microchip, and then Timeghost starts up with his unhurried whisper of a vocal (it’s as if he’s right over your shoulder) and the discomfort suddenly becomes all too real. Load’s still got it, no doubt about that!

The Zoltars The Zoltars LP (Happenin)
Third Zoltars album in four years, and while statistically my interest should decline in this mellow, wounded indie-rock band (the uniformly drab cover art doesn’t exactly shock the senses), they just keep getting better (and I enjoyed them from the start). On this self-titled record, they pick up the pace a bit, as if vocalist Jared Leibowich finally changed out of the clothes he slept in and ventured outside, even if it’s just to sit at a coffee shop for a few hours. Leibowich still sounds like he’s calling out from the inside of a locker some jock just stuffed him in, and it provides his simplistic-yet-thoughtful lyrics with a depth some normal-voiced guy would be unable to attain. It works well with the simplistic garage-rock tropes on display here (light-hearted Monks riffs, 13th Floor Elevators progressions, that sort of thing), pushing The Zoltars into a more listener-friendly direction without compromising their eccentricity. It’s like they finally got a date, resulting in an artistically-appealing cocktail of confidence and awkwardness.

Hardcore: Gimme Some More compilation 7″ (Beach Impediment)
Gotta give it up for Beach Impediment going with a 7″ compilation EP release, the likes of which are pushed further and further into obsolescence due to the internet making any/all music instantly available for listening (not to mention the slow death of the 7″ as a format people are actually willing to purchase). I was raised on hardcore compilations, so the very concept touches my heart, not to mention the funny title and fittingly prerequisite “random photo of destruction” cover art. There are six bands on this one, probably all Chaos In Tejas alumni: S.H.I.T., Peacebreakers, Mercenary, Impalers, Violent End and Ajax. Great lineup for this EP, as none of the bands turn in throwaways (and you may already know I’ve got much love for Impalers and Ajax in particular), and aesthetically it’s a winner, as all six bands have a very similar mindset for what works in hardcore and what doesn’t. If it wasn’t for the vocalists, this could be the work of one single band, and for raging modern hardcore, it works perfectly.