Friday, January 23, 2015

The End Times - self released

Since their last single The End Times have expanded on their sound with this orchestral country A-Side but if you were looking for some optimistic, uplifting tracks to start the day...just don't pay attention to the lyric. The End Times are sharpening their sickle out back by the shed, waiting for someone to make that very mistake.

A-Side's "Days of Plenty" goes right into a complex finger picked high strung acoustic with a rim shot shuffly rhythm. Jennifer Green's vocal is doubled up in a twin harmony delivering the bad news that (spoiler alert) the days of plenty are over - perfect for The End Times - but that's just coincidence I'm sure. Sounds like the days of plenty are how good we've all got it now in this country and it's got to end sometime. If anything though they deliver the message in a catchy disarming way that twists the knife once they got it in. Listen to the lyric? What? A pedal steel solo is inherently beautiful and it continues into the electric getting distorted. After the tornado rips through the dustbowl they go back to that somber opening verse and it's just Jennifer hanging out by the drum kit waiting to be the bearer of bad news almost enjoying this 'I told you so' sentiment.
B-Side's "Cursed with hot blood" could have been the name of a Slayer bootleg but instead The End Times recorded a thunderstorm off in the distance and played foot tapping acoustic in a tiny room just off the porch which continues through the track. Jennifer sings her own harmony again, not only in different keys but with a different vocal quality entirely like a country sister act. The 'hot blood' leads this character to a lot of bad decisions involving beds but she's cursed. It goes from a quiet folk stomper to more energetic pleading number in hopes of stopping the nymphomania. I'm beginning to think that it's the most appropriately titled band in existence (besides Slayer) and these are tracks from a yet to be named conceptual full length.

Get this from the band direct at their bandcamp page.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Balcanes on Discos Humeantes Records

It's nice to be reminded there are extreme sounds in other places of the world that might even be as universal as the sludge that Balcanes from Leon, Spain have cut into two sides of this single from Discos Humeantes. Not much to go on except google translations but this is housed in a serious slick textured sleeve and insert with cryptic black and white photos of...a car crash? I'm trying not to look too closely.

A-Side's "Plataforma" opens into a number of different feedback textures, some direct, messy cables right into the box, others mic'd from the squealing amp in this cavernous open room. The drums slowly start to build up force under this constant droning hum of guitars and bass rumbling cabinets. Leading off like Harvey Milk I expected the vocal to let loose like this but not so much in the background or with this kind of echo. Summoning the same kind of force with no time to stop or start those rolling tones, it's too late to get off this thing, they have an impossible momentum. Nightmarish amounts of noise, expertly controlling this chaos and rattling brown notes, adding to the mystery but chest vibrating is universal, we didn't even need the liner notes. I've been obliterated into a million squashed pieces.
B-Side's "Autopista" opens on hum and sustained processed notes already belching. This one bows down to Helmet math and thick distortion and a rock beat. More vocals on this one with massive delay and echo the guitar going to high arty places like early Liars stuff only to quickly return to an extreme barre chord metal place crafted out of deep chasms of riffs. Following the lyric sheet this must be the A-Side track "Plataforma" and the gutter of the disc is wrong? Doesn't really matter in the slightest, you get the idea of what you're going to be in for with these guys.

All black vinyl with blank black center label from from the import source - Discos Humeantes Records

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

So Sexual "Transient Scenes" on Bleeding Gold Records

Post punk can mean a lot of things. Wikipedia says it emerged parallel to punk and "is a more experimental and arty form of punk". To me including the word 'punk' feels the opposite to the cool, detached feel of post-punk. Instead of a nihilistic railing against the system, post punk feels like it works from within or at least with modern elements like synth to reflect a modern dystopian present because, let's face it, things are always going to be really fucked up. So Sexual from Liverpool are a four piece of solid post punk in the way I think post punk sounds like towering entire block public housing on an overcast day. I think they've since gone on to record as People//Talk one of the titles on this double single.

A-Side's "Dear Sweetheart" opens in that chorus guitar that is essential for this kind of stark, minimal atmosphere. A high synth melody plays over this bass line sounding riff and Peter comes in over with an expressive, skilled vocal. He can sing almost too well for this cold, defeated world. The drums have that tight, mechanical quality, never getting out of control especially when they switch to another time signature for this chorus and Peter starts laying out an even more impressive delivery about the loss of someone of course. Lots of time to explore this harsh cubist landscape like Pylon or The Embarrassment.
B-Side's "Slow" has that slow watery chorus guitar set the tempo which everyone doubles coming into this including a off center slap bass. Reminding me a lot of Turn on the Bright Lights Peter starts out more reserved and indifferent until this chorus draws everything together in that Interpol style. How much energy they can repeatedly create out this brief flash of melody keeps me coming back to this side, like the motion blur of lights in a dark tunnel, it's an elegant representation of that unfeeling modern life.
The C-Side (that's right) "A Place Unknown" has Peter starting right in against that quivering chorus for this to expand with synth again. Taking liberties with his own melody in this early verse they nail the chorus sections as if they build this dark catchy break for the rest of this level ride to be nailed to. That chorus is getting real dark with the cathedral sounding toms and snare in a 'hanging garden' style rhythm and I think they draw as much from that suicidal sound as they do from The Feelies. The D-Side "People Talk" has a quivering electric melody intro slow synth and Peter's vocal this time has a bit of that Depeche Mode feel, the almost crooning vibrato comes through in this chorus pulling it back for this blank verse. They really seem to be nailing that contrast in every song; holding everything back to sum up in the surrender of the chorus. Has a little bit of that post punk Smiths feel the Organ used to have and they explore distortion in this end piece letting go of the melody...getting arty.

Get this on splatter grey/black gatefold vinyl from Bleeding Gold Records.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Moderns on Ut Records

I'm reading that Richard Hell book and how he describes a very close group of friends playing in each others bands with early days of Television and no one at the time seemed to care about any of the bands playing CBGB's. It was a very small scene that ended up in the right place at the right time with enough record company hustlers selling it to the rest of the world. It made me think about bands from that time period in other parts of the country like Southern California where the guys from The Moderns were from. According to Ut Records this reissue has been lost since the late seventies and I really didn't know what to expect after hearing Jim Bemis' later project, Modern Warfare but it wasn't this polished, dark new wave that's for sure.

A-Side's "When she gets back" has a really clean and precise '80s sounding chorus on the guitar and Jim Bemis delivering this vocal in an affected style with a smirk. Half talking and half sliding into a melody for the title chorus. Really genius in the efficiwncy of this riff, the slick changes while the guitars pile up in tight melodic lines behind this clear vocal, absolutely perfect songwriting. Poppy and dark in the idea of this guy hoping his girl comes back and how he's hoping she'll stay. Frantically deluding himself in those tight spazzy snare fills and complex jangle stuff. A contemporary sound that's come full circle. Tight punk in a Jay Reatard, Adverts style. Too catchy and sounding nothing like 1979.

B-Side's "Escape Velocity" enters at ridiculous speed and Jim's got a big echo with more attitude, instead of pining for that relationship the band is jaggedly chopping up this chorus sound, and Jim's singing as fast as hell his vocal nailed to the front window of this mix. Way too much melody to be punk but way to fast to have any hope of being played alongside of radio pop of the time. Ridiculous solo with no room to breathe, every second of this is efficiently working to deliver catchy, memorable punk. "Run" has the brutish simplicity of the Ramones with the guitars running through a little bit of a phaser and adding an extra chord. The track is talking about getting out of this town and Jim even adopts Joey's dopey yelling style vocal that awkwardly leaps octaves and ends up snarling in your face. The rest of the band adds that harmony to the chorus part but this Jim Bemis character seems to have been a natural at this kind of thing. Looking forward to the reissues of the Modern Warfare stuff.

Pick this up from Ut Records, Buffalo, very cool heavy chipboard screened sleeve very much not like anything they would have come up with back then.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fax Holiday "Brang in Blood" self released

Fax Holiday isn't easily defined, they don't necessarily have a defined sound or even members that appear with regularity on their recordings so far. The seven inch is the perfect place to work out ideas that don't have to be linked together or only resulted from the current lineup. I also like that they reference Slayers album title in their own, "Brang in Blood" because I could weirdly see that showing up on a band members influences alongside '90s indie rock and alt-country references. Hard to pin down, I already don't have a clear picture of what a longer release might sound like and that's a good thing.

The reel to reel winds up on A-Side's "Blood" with a Joanna Newsome childlike feel over harpsichord from Zoe Dale before fully building up to a the thick folk rock studio ensemble sound complete with bass and unbalanced moody drum open room sound, dropping out for that live feel. The chorus seems to push these players and instruments juts beyond the safety into the red in the moment kind of way. Zoe has a preternatural Chan Marshall style texture as this picks back up into an alt-country Wilco end. Completely different from my impression of the lathe cut single these guys put out a little while back. The hidden track after this one is actually really interesting, a ducktails sounding loop of organ with a chorus effect that doubles up and a super high electric plays slow and deliberate over top of this like some kind of sorrowful outer space soundtrack. One of those moments perfect for a seven inch, a comet that passes once every thousand years.
B-Side's "Brang" stumbles in with a disjointed, off kilter rhythm in super weird timing with a jankily tuned guitar carving out it's own logic in this repeated structure. Zoe is quietly adding to this junkyard blues pop before the track expands into multiple layers of mic'd acoustics with that slow explosive tension of the 4-track demos of PJ Harvey. The chords all hit on the same down note with multiple tom's stomping this into a primal place. It quiets down just to give that unhinged chanting feel even more power when it cycles back around. The heavy power chords start bending out into a new math structure with Zoe starting to reach up into the top of her energy and range. Multiple guitars layer in to change direction to a Swirlies instrumental in the vein of that A-Side hidden track. No obvious structure to this and they seem to be working in multiple camps at once, from folk to four track bedroom rock, the perfect material that would find a home on the tiny records.

On blood red vinyl of course, from the band direct.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The NV's on Big Neck Records

I remember an earlier single featuring Sal Go, Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb which came about at a Jay Reatard show. That project may or may not still be active but like Jay immediately another project, The NV's was already in the works featuring members of Electricutions & Lady Cop. Washington DC is the beginning of some of the greatest hardcore and it's almost impossible that this wasn't going to turn out well if you haven't guessed already.

A-Side's "Trust Fun Suicide" fires guitar blasts to open up the four chord power punk flying up the frets. Sal on vocals has a snarling lower register Corin Tucker sound, but those guys might just be on my mind these days. There's an almost similar vibrato in the delivery that elevates this beyond just screamy punk. It's simultaneously more accessible and catchy while being impossible to sing along to. Bashing away it's got an impossibly fast rhythm that barely stays on the rails. I also keep thinking she's saying trust FUND suicide which sounds even better.
B-Side's "Ice Cream Vs. Gasoline" cranks in a stretch chord with more strum space for the bass to fill in the space here. Sal has a talky delivery here until they hit the chorus where she goes melodic and doubled up in a nice contrast to the frantic buzzsaw of the verse. The pop punk huge sound of The Hot Snakes is somewhere buried in the past. A lot like that title, they have a deceptive volatility of things that you couldn't imagine going together but make sense now. "Cut by a Hog" Sal gets jokey in this bellowing deep delivery in the voice half mocking this character. The best kind of personal vendetta punk. The sort of day to day truth like "I don't wanna go down to the basement' or "Now I wanna sniff some glue", these are the simple things in life. This dick needs a song spelling it out. They manage to switch rhythm right in the middle of this rush for a snare march fill and these weird breaks that allow for the long drop back in are worth waiting for.

Get this from Big Neck Records

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Peliroja on Chulo/Peace & Rhythm Records

The thing I find myself appreciating about the latin funk singles like this one from Peliroja from Peace & Rhythm is the number of players it takes to end up with this naturally layered sound. The subtle building up and subtracting of elements that are all carving out their own tiny niche somewhere in this rhythm. It's the opposite of rock with a communal sound, a natural jam session allowing for the ranges and variety of percussions to all have their own unique place. I think a score of this stuff would be pretty overwhelming - it's almost meant to not be broken up into that kind of math. You have to gently nudge this in the right direction but not try to dissect it like that.

A-Side's "Situaciones" weaves a guitar line around gentle stabs from an electric piano slowly working the up to tempo. The jerky see saw sway starts making sense as the horn section starts working this up to speed. I love this glitchy solo from a warbled keyboard that juts in with no context. If these guys are willing to experiment with that sort of ugly than they're going to end up in a new place. The live choir sound calls back to the vocals and end up joining them as this becomes a full on street party. They seem to be playing with convention like the deep woodwind that picks up the bass part, flipping the roles that traditionally these instruments play. Peliroja is making room for new sounds and putting old ones in new places.
B-Side's "Cuidad de nadie" introduces the wah guitar and an even more live room sound with instruments coming from different directions. Conga is captured on this side while that stacato guitar heads in from the left. Horns bursting in on the whole thing sticking themselves into any available opening - every pause is filled by those shiny blasts. You notice their absence but start to appreciate the organ and catch a background YEA from someone caught up in this rhythm. The call and response returns from a sweeter, more refined background chorus and a sultry baritone sax solo which may have been that woodwind sound from the first side now that I think about it. But there I go thinking to hard about this stuff, Peliroja has that all covered.

Get it from Chulo Records or Peace & Rhythm Records.