Thursday, April 24, 2014
It seems like all I've been talking about is splits lately so here comes another one from Hip Replacement Collective Records, this one putting together two bands connected by more than just the colors in their names (although they couldn't have planned it better) Black Market from North Carolina and Red Money out of Richmond, VA. Both sides are taking post rock in completely different directions but spin out from that hardcore origin point.
Black Market opens their side with "Tune In/Tune Out". A solid slick sounding distortion builds in with Jesse Reaves on vocals who has a real snot snarl delivery from the beginning of this ending the verse in 'Honey-eah!' They hit a hyper chorus with everyone singing along everyone on the mic. They keep switching rhythms from that hardcore quick stomp to a more measured alternating tom beat. The melody breaks through towards the end of this in a kind of clean accomplished punk like 7 Seconds or SOA updated for the 2000's. "Bad Scene" is a fast one immediately that kind of Obits quickness and an intermediate vocal through a telephone line while the rest of the guys this tine are harmonizing in the background, slowing down for a sunday choir sound right before blowing up again. It's like a dreamy misdirection while they prepare to collapse the whole thing on itself. It eventually breaks into a Helmet sounding piece with bursts of random signature bits taking this to the end.
"Thirteen" has a groovier more pop sound with an ensemble vocal again this time with 'whoa oh oh's' , this one is a little more playful but eventually breaks into a hardcore pop, the beat of this thing twisted into a high level BPM ending. But that's how they manage three songs on a single after all.
Red Money's opening track "Baby Comes Alive" loops an atmospheric slowed down chime to introduce the tension filled solo kick and snare beat that gets torn right open with huge sustained windmill chords. They go right to that Dischord place for me sounding a lot like Lungfish or later Fugazi with that melodic post punk sound. The era that hasn't become too obsessed with the math of post yet, just attempting to keep things interesting without getting technical. The weird extension that punk would go from musicians that are talented and always looking to push themselves. Not that Red Money doesn't explore all kinds of changes and rigid tempos. Taking it even further back parts reminds me of Tool's heavy darkness and post metal. This back and forth vocal from Matt Neagle And Billy Davis are a perfect complement for each other, that low howl and higher controlled tremolo trade verses stepping on each other. "And You See Dollar Signs" starts right out with a high distortion melody, like something from At The Drive In, that at first isn't immediately intuitive in progression but that's the chance they took on this and eventually you won't have it any other way. Completely distinctive and even the vocal starts to follow along with it's scale. It's a massive sound that reminds me of those guys as well, it's like a chorus of hardcore with polished edges, shining and bigger than anything human scale. It's just run out of track but keep barreling towards you. They master that thundering crunch opposite the vocal working the final moments of this into a complete frenzy.
Get this from the Negative Fun Distro. Look at the giant numbers on the center label to see what speed to play this at. 45 would be dangerous.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Good Grief / Eureka California on Rok Lok, Strictly No Capital Letters and Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records
This is a great split that brings together two bands thousands of miles apart, Good Grief from Liverpool and Eureka California from Athens, GA. The single also brought together three labels, Rok Lok, Strictly No Capital Letters and HHBTM. I'm glad my previous brushes with Rok Lok had them want to pass this one along as both sides are filling that late 90's indie hole that's been empty for a long time now. A time when keyboards were utterly shunned, you could name the alternative labels on one hand and all it took to be friends was seeing someone crossing the street wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt.
Good Grief's first track, "Rusty Nail" opens in shrieking feedback that slides right into the thick indie chords, to me it's got a Husker Du punk sound through a real pop lens or the sensitive stuff written by Grant Hart anyway. It's got the same guitar focus, the same warping strings into harmonized melded tones. Maybe it's their gritty massive sound or this Robert Pollard vocal, with maybe even some Sebadoh Harmacy in structure. It's got that polish but the sheer velocity and inertia of this plows right through any question of mainstream ambition, the landscape has changed. It's scrappy but really just relying on that speed while being so shiny that it's a single you come across randomly once and they sink their teeth right in. You can hear the camera shaking, shot slow and played back at normal speed, completely dizzying. All of the fourth of july in two minutes. "Another Round" comes on with straight forward jangle that blows up again, deliberately holding back with a great vocal doubling completely different from that first track which now gets into later Husker on me. The guitar here is taking a bit of the back seat and they remain hyper, with some aspects of the Swirlies or later Replacements even. The optimistic, anything-could-happen-today-is-going-to-be-pretty-great, soundtrack.
Eureka California's side opens on "Turn on Autopilot" in a similarly huge sound but a little rougher and with more separation in channels, completely different fuzz distortions with a little bit bleeding over into the vocal. They hit on a similar catchy groove and ride it like some kind of spazzy Pavement track. Not garage but fired up indie jammed through static valves, blown out the other side. The same vocal and static party as Times New Viking, a similar underwater plaster texture to this. They aren't trying to question sonic taste as much as this texture just happened during the recording. Towards the end of this the bass really rumbles in on vinyl with major banging on the kick.
"DC Sniper" has me thinking these guys sound more like GBV especially in track name, buried vocals and the guitar. Bass and hiss piles up into that turn shoegaze took in the early 2000's? The lessons of shoegaze were turned into faster melodies the way that hardcore started to get faster and faster testing the limits of the genre. Or they just hit all those nostalgic notes for me.
If you're in the UK, get it from Strictly No Capital Letters, or locally from Rok Lok or HHBTM.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Bruiser Queen is a duo from St. Louis, home to one of the first bands I ever bought a single from, Bunnygrunt. They must have been passing through NYC and played the basement of Acme, a weird southern food place in the lower east side, for some reason they had a venue under the restaurant. I must have been there with friends but loved this band immediately and bought Family Notebook at their mercy table. Ever since I've been picking up their singles here and there over the years - all from seeing them once. That's really what singles are all about for me, a random night, a couple of bucks, a band you're surprised by but even more it's about everything that surrounds that tiny record sometimes. Bruiser Queen are more than just from the same city, they happen to be super friends with the other St. Louis duo who are still releasing records twenty years later and have played shows together. Not that they sound remotely similar to the singles I've picked up, but any friend of Bunnygrunt is a friend of mine.
A-Side's "In Your Room" rips into the always huge sound of a duo and immediately reminds me of The Hussy's pounding reverb garage combined with Shannon Shaw's impressive vocals. Morgan Nusbaum has similar pipes with real bite and serious snarl at times in a lower end bellow. Completely comfortable to run this up the register and ditch the control she has and it's all recorded within range, not one piece of blown out, unrecoverable rock here. They deliver this loud but keeping within that solid bar of sound, her jangle distorted guitar and Jason on drums keeping a solid metronome beat. Morgan is her own waoooooo backup and this has something to do with the '60s jangle garage sound, especially the hot rod harmony stuff but it's so fast with punchy caveman energy that would just destroy anything else even in range. Morgan gets right up to the edge of almost losing control but it's so good it doesn't even have to be doubled to make you stand up and pay attention. Completely related to The Hussy in similar smash beat and party vocals, not in content, it's just the kind of thing that makes you happy, even if she's singing about some shitty situation.
B-Side's "Ms. Everything" has a squashed down guitar tone like that stretched reverb rubber band finally collapsed. This one gets far away from that garage prom sound and opens up into back and forth straight huge pop punk. Morgan lets go a little more in yelps at the end of her verses but still absolutely meaning business. I can't get over her crazy natural talent, like Karen O, a riveting personality in every lyric while those No Age sounding thick guitar layers plow ahead. This drops out to just a handclap and a cappella verses from Morgan as if you weren't already sure this all revolves around her.
On purple bruise colored vinyl, sold out from Certified PR, get this from the band's bandcamp page direct, deservedly not many left.
Monday, April 21, 2014
These two are bound by more than just sharing this split. In checking out Die Rotzz's tripod page the bio section mentions Marvin Hirsch on bass. It seems that the B-Side is a skate punk duo of his bastard children. All grown up, making Dad proud....sort of.
I also noticed the guys in Die Rotzz were also in the Attack of the Cockface Killers. The movie equivalent of the scuzzy punk single, I'll take heavy doses of this homemade insanity of either kind any day of the week.
On the Die Rotzz side "Can't Stand It" has the sticks count off to hollow sounding guitar punk with scratchy high distortion. Sticking to the easily reached clusters they work a back and forth thuggy dynamic of blazing power chords and drawn out bent three note melody. Something of a Ramones rhythm, not with the vocal quality of Joey and a more amped up party heavy rock. The way those guys pushed surf harmony to its limit Die Rotzz are their southern swamp rock equivalent that's been cranked up into an uncontrollable riot. They're scrawny and mean sounding, nothing but thin scrappy skeletons, the vocals straining to meet the volume of everything else. "Rott & Roll" sounds like a different band completely, the room space is totally different and I wondered if they split this up with a song from each band on both sides? But it's definitely the New Orleans trio with a punk blues sound this time. Andy is howling, sounding like this track was captured live, Marvin on bass works that classic scale in the most mellow tempo they could probably manage. Guitar solos wreck throughout in your basic standard love letter to the thing you're playing. How many songs about Rock and Roll are there? This is Rott and Roll dummy. Holy shit their drummer Paul was in Angry Angles with Jay Reatard?
The B-Side opens on The Bastards playing "Lock Me Up" and what exactly is skate punk? It's a tricky thing to differentiate from any other punk I would bet and these two play and deliver vocals as snotty as possible with a narrow range distortion in a slow gut punch, begging to be locked up. That attitude says it all really, they aren't even satisfied playing on the record. The drums attempt a cavernous thickness but its the sound of a Suicidal Tendencies demo. I want to think these guys just got together, started a facebook page and then got to work writing a couple of tracks that made it on this single. Still wondering how they know Marvin but they've played a few shows with those guys. I really hope they actually are his kids and it's two generations of punks united on a 45. I'm getting emotional. "Skate & Destroy" gets the tempo plowing right along singing that title lyric over and over boiling things down to those essentials. You hope things won't be more complicated than that. Slow down the tempo for a sec, take a break, bang on the snare and get ready for that punk speed to come back. The literal sound of picking up instruments and being jerks for nobody but themselves. The story of every band. Record Store Day has me feeling sentimental.
Get this from Go Ape Records.
Friday, April 18, 2014
There are those people who come up with a personality to deal with performing live on stage and those that have always had it lying in wait for the day when they would start a band. Radio Shock's M*P* Lockwood probably has always been a performer, getting weird from day one in every part of his day. Traveling to gigs via a greyhound, the band is made up of whatever equipment he can carry along, he doesn't use a mic and the audience usually ends up finishing the set playing the setup while M*P* looks on. It's a crazy mess of a sound that changes every show, to even commit this to vinyl is impossible, nailing down the performance and vocals to this time and place and you only get a small window into the process and performance of this conceptual project.
A-Side's "Trapper Keeper" is a jacked up mixed bag of riffs, the guitars seem to be falling apart and slightly coming back together in ever devolving rhythms. It's looped, slapped together pop chaos with a drum machine just blindly flailing away in perfect time. Throw in bass, low end no effects and M*P* on vocals is way off in the distance with a cheap mic here, making an appearance but this chorus of thundery cheap chords blowing in saying TRAPPER KEEPER makes perfect sense. It's the very song manifestation of that office supply object. Shiny, injected with gel glitter and smacked right out of your hands the first day. The crowd from the Savage Weekend audience gets involved to provide that crazy riot sound of the masses praying to the TRAPPER KEEPER! Like some kind of blood crazed gladiator, this pulse continues to pound while they jump around yelling the name of this essential middle school item.
B-Sides "Imagine Yourself As Me" is a Wolf Eyes cover which clued me in as to where this whole single would be going checking out the reverse of this sleeve. Regular machine beat and who doesn't want this kind of regularity? He's probably going more minimal than Mr. Dilloway with his heavy, guitar as loud as possible in the mix with pieces of feedback and high pitch squeals of electronics . It's palming chords right down the neck over and over in a maddening primal way with a beat that will continue to thump away in a plastic broken speaker for the rest of its days. Guest vocal from Admiral Grey's high falsetto while the guitar breaks into junkyard scrap, spiraling in finger dynamics. Crazy glitches buried in here. He's got a snarly growl behind this hypnotizing beat, overcompensating for the monotony. It's dark in an unintentional way like if you raised a child in a dim cave with the first drum machine and guitar on Killing Joke and Digital Leather.
On dark green clear vinyl and cover art of the year from Decoherence Records.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Roburt Reynolds is the man behind Room 101. He recorded and played everything on this five song EP and even tours by himself from the looks of it. How the hell he's putting together these hardcore bursts live has to be worth catching, it's weirdly intricate even mathy at times but loud while sounding buried back in late '80s hardcore.
"Recognize You" is hard out of the gate, real rough with treble guitar bursts chopped into pieces, Roburt is delivering these lyrics before they even have time to settle into meaning. Jangle spazzy guitar, this hits a double time section that gets him going even faster, vocals breaking. Low end chords that ramp up to high ones, he's programmed this drum machine to completely malfunction and then rehearsed for a LONG time to get these changes...a serious exercise in complexity. "Popularity" speeds in an off kilter rhythm, Roburt includes a little melody in this and it's almost garage if it weren't so crazily buried, so muddy it must have been ripped straight off the cassettes. The speed is also something you don't expect from this kind of catchy pop punk. He's got a manic tongue biting mental breakdown delivery of early Dead Kennedys combined with an almost late '90s industrial sound.
"Soul Finger" weird klunky chords with heavy echo in that 4track scary style, the presence of those recordings this is exactly what worried you a little bit, the punk that seemed to be right up to the line of too extreme for the guys in the garage. The bass line takes over revving this up and grinding to a hault in a free jazz vocal, screamed over the meltdown of guitars and out of tune chords.
B-Side's "Fascion (with XVC)" has a dirge style slow krunky opening, the drums even sound slowed down a bit - wait this side is pressed at 45? Still slow but with an groove hard edge kept in line with the the guitar that's off on its own anti-melodies. Something like the mathy powerhouse parts of Unwound. His wife yelling "FASCION!" is a nice touch, everything direct into a 4-track and teased out vocally. Echo damaged guitar, the bass trying to keep this on a solid even keel, but the whole thing keeps careening around completely off course and it doesn't take long to just sink directly to the bottom. "Los Desaparecidos" is the shortest protest, super spazz hardcore, kick snare machine gun style, stops for a second for a bassline to break this up, but it's got to be a ten second song tops. Maybe this one is supposed to be at 33?
On purple vinyl with lots of insets, like the 0 dollar bills with US Treasury facts on the reverse. They aren't fun but as long as this paper buys me more single then I don't CARE.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Darian has been running Edible Onion Records since founding the label over five years ago. I've always been impressed with the hand crafted details of his releases like in a Br'er single a while back that had cutout windows on the sleeve with layers of vellum underneath. Handpainted and numbered they were tiny artifacts themselves reminding me of Sam from Eau Records mix of singles and art, Darian takes the packaging as serious as the tracks inside. It doesn't matter this is his own project with Benjamin Schurr from Br'er and Gabrielle Smith of Eskimeaux, tiny records should be given this attention from the day they're conceived to finishing each one of these 220 with a handpainted sleeve. The incredible amount of work that goes into each one makes you want to spend a little more time with them while the record is spinning.
A-Side's "Pirouette" opens on a warm reverb electric melody and plotted out bass that's referencing a lot of that '60s girl group harmonies and phrasing until this outer space synth sound warbles in running it straight into today. Darian and Gabrielle have a perfect combination of wandering harmonies in their deliberate, soft delivery. A quivering synth takes over it's every appearance, like an emulated saw but there s a massive range of understated electronics going on here, a dense mix of instrumentation. It's a dreamy kind of indie with echo's of the Vivian Girls and Magnetic Fields in the use of unique elements that drive the tracks and give them character. Just when it might be too beautiful or sweet, these odd tones remind you of reality that might not always be as beautiful as it seems on the surface.
B-Side's "Holey Bones" cranks up that reverb distance with wet springs in a slow trembly rhythm. Vocally it's wading through the molasses of this thick haze with triangle strikes, shuffling brushes on the snare and Gabrielle's ahhh's from the rafters of this prom. I like that these bones are full of holes and not the sacred kind. Minimal compared to the A-Side until sharp feedback shreiks come in breaking the spell with an orchestration of various synths piling into a jagged slippery wall, droning out the tenderness we started with. An unsettling piece hinting again there's always more to the siren call.
Get Still Sweet's single from Edible Onion Records. Head over there for samples of the tracks.