Archive for the ‘2010s’ Category

Best Singles/EPs/Demos of 2018

Monday, January 14th, 2019


Brutal Birthday
Brutal Birthday
 - Commotion 7″ (Total Punk)
You can always rely on Total Punk to dredge up the ugliest punk from around the globe and spew it forth upon the world in bite-sized 7″ chunks. 2018 brought one of the gnarliest yet in the form of Italy’s Brutal Birthday, who pound out 3 simplistic, noise-addled hate ditties that are more fun than Brainbombs, livelier than Drunks With Guns, and nearly as hideous as Flipper.

Listen to Commotion on Bandcamp

 

Des Demonas
Des Demonas
 - Bay of Pigs 7″ (Slovenly)
Washington DC’s Des Demonas debut LP slipped past me last year but I’ve been catching up with this solid 45, their sole 2018 release. With two songs of churning punk soul accented by a Farfisa organ and a righteous swagger, this will spend some serious time on the turntable.

Listen to Bay of Pigs on Bandcamp

 

Ecstacy
Ecstasy
 - 7″ EP (Digital Regress)
The proper vinyl release of this Oakland band’s 2017 5-track digital demo is one of the tightest and punchiest hardcore records I heard in 2018 and it earned a number of spins on the turntable and iPod. With a go-for-the-throat sound that doesn’t let up, bleeding from track to track with propulsive riffs that have a Black Flag urgency played with the intensity of more recent hardcore groups like Kim Phuc. Hoping to hear more from this group in 2019.

Listen to Ecstasy on Bandcamp

 

Erik Nervous
Erik Nervous
 - Nervoloid 7″ EP (Digital Regress)
Another gem in the growing oeuvre of Hoosier state’s greatest bedroom punk star, Nervoloid pays proper homage to some of Devo’s deep deep deep cuts. The 5 tracks on this EP sound fantastic and fresh and hardly have a whiff of being over 40+ years of age. It’s a thing of beauty to see young blood putting some new life into proto synthpunk delirium.

Listen to Nervoloid on Bandcamp

 

Gumming
Gumming
 - Human Values Cassette (Not Normal)
Vicious, knuckle dragging noise from Richmond, Virginia that has the relentlessness and mentally unstable frame of mind necessary for making this plodding strain of hardcore punk essential. Human Values features 13 punishing tracks with painfully no-frills percussion, snaking buzzbomb bass and tense, warbling guitar that’s just a few clicks out of tune. Featuring many of the songs from their 2017 8-song debut recorded with fuller production values, shifting some of the treble to their pounding rhythm section.

Listen to Human Values on Bandcamp

 

Hologram
Hologram
 - Build Yourself Up So Many Times Only To Be Brought Down Again And Again 7″ EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
The psychotic strain of hardcore that bubbled up in the 1980s midwest with Die Kreuzen and Spike in Vain has few contemporary equivalents in 2018, even though those bands get cross referenced to many current groups. Truth is, many of them don’t have the creative what-the-fuck fire that Hologram has demonstrated on this 5-song ripper. It’s creative, confusing and full of unexpected contortions, but doesn’t trade in any of those qualities at the sacrifice of velocity and fury.

Listen to Build Yourself Up So Many Times Only To Be Brought Down Again And Again on Bandcamp

 

Lithics
Lithics
 - Of You, Photograph 7″ (Thrilling Living)
In addition to their cruicial sophomore LP, Mating Surfaces, Portland’s Lithics bestowed 2 more essential tracks of their austere angular postpunk on this 45. They continue to fine tune their distinct style with a detached yet catchy sound that proves the strength in a “less is more” approach that makes the most of perfectly executed, cleverly sparse songs. Mandatory listening along with their other releases.

Listen to Of, Photograph on Bandcamp

 

Natural Man & The Flamin' Hot Band
Natural Man & The Flamin’ Hot Band
 - 7″ EP (Neck Chop)
Channeling the spastic energy of early punk skronk from The Deadbeats’ Dangerhouse 7″ through the modern rolling punk lens of Oakland’s The World, KC’s Natural Man polish up four tracks from their demo for your listening pleasure. And what a pleasure it is, full of hooky choruses and sax blurts wrapped around jerky rhythms that would make James Chance and The Contortions slip a disc.

Listen to Natural Man & The Flamin’ Hot Band on Bandcamp

 

The Shifters
The Shifters
 - Just Sat Down 7″ EP (Digital Regress)
The four tracks on Just Sat Down have a scrappier feel than the tracks on their Have a Cunning Plan LP, charming with instantly catchy Fall-esque tunes that lodge themselves into your brain as head bobbers and minor key earworms of the highest caliber.

Listen to Just Sat Down on Bandcamp

 

Witch Jail
Witch Jail
 - Music for Magic Moments demo (Self Released)
After a handful of digital singles, a single vinyl single, and a digital album, this KC band signs off with a demo tape capturing their best tracks yet. Always one of the more interesting groups around the garage punk scene, this 7-track swan song haunts their mutant rockabilly with a detached cool that grabs hold with the first track “Saucer Season Revisited” and never lets go. The non-digital cassette version also includes their first album Spellcasters Anonymous as a bonus. Snag one today and hope that Guy Slimey (aka Scary Manilow) has something else brewing for 2019 and beyond.

Listen to Music for Magic Moments on Bandcamp

Best Albums of 2018

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Blac Kolor

Blac Kolor - Awakenings (Hands Productions)
Like metal, it takes a bit of digging to find buried treasure in a music genre that’s as formulaic and derivative as industrial music in 2018. So when something interesting finally rises above the mediocre glut of Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails replicas, it’s time to open up your fleshy ear holes and let some sublime synthetic sounds drill their way straight into your psyche. After the solid 24U Vols. 1-3 digital singles in 2017, Germany’s finest dark ambient/industrial/techno DJ producer Hendrick Grothe assembles a thoroughly engaging listen with Awakenings that keeps an oppressive beat woven through waves of deep atmosphere texture. Sample the title track if you’re skeptical, as it literally connects that best elements of prime ’80s industrial music to a contemporary space, featuring grunting guest vocals by Front 242′s Jean-Luke De Meyer over a thunderously unrelenting pulse. You hear people complain about electronic music having no soul, but I’d argue that there’s soul at work here — just a really dark and fascinating form of it.

Listen to Awakenings on Spotify

 

Bummer

Bummer - Holy Terror (High Dive/Learning Curve)
Kansas City’s noise rock kings have been building their aural assault arsenal over the last 5 years, fine-tuning their high-velocity, gut-punching riffs with relentless, scientifically-engineered doses of volume and aggression. Holy Terror follows the cumulative trajectory of The Stooges through Black Flag through Unsane on the endless quest to perfect the most explosive riffs possible, crackling new life into an ugly form of rock that has long been plagued by half-assery and imitation.

Listen to Holy Terror on Bandcamp

 

Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt

Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt - Brace Up! (Palilalia)
The cover photo on Brace Up! perfectly captures the crackling electric energy of this duo, whose telekinetically improvised guitar and drum explorations/explosions burn a 10,000MHz bolt of punk jazz straight through your liquified skull. Being familiar with Orcutt’s solo guitar work and the infamous Harry Pussy discography, which still manages to baffle after 25 years (!), it’s great to see that his high-voltage angle on guitar abuse has continued to mutate into wild new forms. Being unfamiliar with Chris Corsano, a quick Discogs search yields a slew of records due for investigation that feature his drumming talents, which on this album absolutely throw a spastic fireball right through all 12 tracks here, sounding something like Weasel Walter’s drum tracks being spliced and reassembled in a blender. Brace Up! is one of those records that exists well outside the margins of any particular genre yet connected to a handful just enough to not be ignored.

Listen to Brace Up! on Bandcamp

 

Constant Mongrel

Constant Mongrel - Living in Excellence (La Vida Es Un Mus)
The steady flow of killer slabs-0-vinyl coming out of Melbourne in the last few years shows no sign of waning, as The Shifters, Terry and the contagious spawn of related bands continues to hurl killer shit into the northern hemisphere to make the US/UK mass of musical mediocrity painfully apparent.  Constant Mongrel tread in similar sonic ground as Ozzie heavyweights Eddy Current Suppression Ring (whose Mikey Young mastered this excellent LP) but with a bit more snarl and swagger (and sax!), sounding something like Total Control covering a warped Dangerhouse 45 for an Adolescents tribute show. Living in Excellence offers instant hooks to pull you right into their universe, as well as unexpected flourishes executed to perfection to keep it interesting for years to come. A classic in the making.

Listen to Living in Excellence on Bandcamp

 

Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer Head Cage (Relapse)
It’d be hard to imagine spinning Pig Destroyer’s debut release, a split 7″ with Virginia screamos Orchid, way back in 1998 and see the progression the band would make from a standard-issue 3-piece to its current 5-piece lineup and the boundaries they’d breach within the genre’s perceived limitations. Like the Rush of grindcore (OK, with 5 now instead of 3) each player not only brings technical prowess and skill to the table, but a unique way of bringing it all together into something much more compelling than a bunch of showboat exercises in musical endurance. From J.R. Hayes’ and Blake Harrison’s vocal noise venom to John and Adam Jarvis’ full throttled, precision-tooled rhythm section and mastermind Scott Hull’s monsterous guitar tone, Head Cage covers more than the recommended daily requirement of heavy chug and blazing grind in a single 30 minute dose.

Listen to Head Cage on Bandcamp

 

Priors

Priors - New Pleasure (Slovenly)
Thanks for Slovenly for introducing Montreal’s Priors to the world with this blazing slab of highly concentrated, primitive garage punk. Despite the riffs being brutally efficient and unadorned, there’s a level of songwriting skill here that makes the most of these basic tools, providing a much more flavorful set of songs than your typical 1-2-3-GO punk. There’s some great synth accents sprinkled in, but it’s used to focus the songs and hardly the ordinary rally cry of a Screamers-worshipping band trying to be all synthpunk and new wavy in an ironically unironic way. It’s crafted perfectly for the vinyl format too as each side begins with a lightweight synthy intro track (“Life Pt. 1″ on side A and “Life Pt. 2″ on Side B) that gives way to an ass-smoking set of ripping punk rock. Bravo to Priors for becoming one of the best newcomers of 2018. It’s truly been a New Pleasure.

Listen to New Pleasures on Bandcamp

 

Sauna Youth

Sauna Youth - Deaths (Upset! The Rhythm)
If I weren’t so fickle, I’d probably declare this the best album of 2018, but I’m reluctant to declare anything yet despite my ongoing infatuation with this record. I remember hearing the first track “Percentages” for the first time, totally being pulled in and surprised to learn that it was Sauna Youth whom I’ve always dismissed as a bit of a novelty due to their moniker. After digging further into the album, each song, like effortless angular riff chopping of “In Flux” and the breakneck track “Problems” bolstered my respect for London’s most deadly trio. Taking the sharpest stomp of The Ex and somehow mutilating their skronk into something almost as catchy and memorable as the finest grade garage punk without losing any of the sting makes every track compelling and memorable. Even the spoken word piece “Swerve” is a dazzling example of their brilliance, pulling you into a nearly-lucid headspace while mangling our shared reality into something new and uncomfortable — and captivating. Long live Deaths.

Listen to Deaths on Bandcamp

 

The Shifters

The Shifters - Have a Cunning Plan (Trouble in Mind)
The Shifters join Constant Mongrel and barely edge out Terry’s also excellent I’m Terry to represent Melbourne’s next-level scene because Have a Cunning Plan proved to keep permanent residence on the NFZ turntable with 10-tracks of brilliant, ambling post punk that almost fills the void left by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith’s passing in January 2018. While less ragtag than their supreme demo and 7-inches, the cleaner production doesn’t smooth over this quartet’s scrappy charm and musical personality.

Listen to Have a Cunning Plan on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Wasteland - (Rise)
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats is one of those bands that took a while to pull me in since the world truly doesn’t need another Sabbath-inspired doom metal band, unless, of course, it can be done this well. Ever since The Night Creeper made a convert out of me, I haven’t been able to get enough of Cambridge’s finest doom riders and their latest LP once again delivers the goods. A written explanation of what Wasteland and Uncle Acid’s previous records sound like can’t really explain how they’re so much more effective than the hundreds of thousands of bands that cover the same territory, but you might start with Kevin Starrs’ otherworldly vocal style and guitar work that gives the music a sinister edge that no other band, save Black Sabbath, has been able to achieve.

Listen to Wasteland on Spotify

 

Warm Drag

Warm Drag - Warm Drag (In The Red)
Being a fan of Paul Quattrone since his Pittsburgh days drumming in fantastic groups like Rot Shit, The Modey Lemon and Midnite Snake, it’s been great to see him become part of the latest version of the Oh Sees as well as engineering whatever genre-defying musical realm Warm Drag exists in. His talents beyond the drum seat are apparent here as he and Vashti Windish of Golden Triangle and The K-Holes conjure up loads of atmosphere that sounds something like Portishead and Tricky playing Suicide covers with Dick Dale in an impenetrable fog of bong smoke. Song titles like “Cave Crawl”, “Cruisin’ the Night”, and “Parasite Wreckage Dub” set the tone for the echoey headtrip Warm Drag charts out in ten smooth steps, along with spot-on production by Spacemen 3′s Sonic Boom. Without question the coolest album of 2018.

Listen to Warm Drag on Spotify

 

Wet Ones

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Wet Ones LPWet Ones LP
Black Gladiator, 2016

For too many years the musical exports of the Kansas City area rarely captured the quality and quantity of what this midwestern mecca in the middle of the swollen gut of the United States has had to offer. For all the good shit tearing up sketchy, short-lived clubs and out-of-control house parties, the only groups ever to get much attention outside the sprawling expanse of the I-435 loop tended to be on the tame and conventional side of the rock ‘n roll spectrum. And while that’s probably how things should be, it’s always disheartening to witness how little of the crazed energy buzzing around the KC/Lawrence area ever gets adequately captured on wax. Thankfully that all changed early this year when the ace Slovenly offshoot label Black Gladiator unleashed this 13-track wrecker delivering frenzied garage punk every bit as vile as its predecessor Fag Cop. With the in-the-red burn of The Fatals and the panicked contagious energy of The Reatards earliest excretions, this record has slowly festered into the feel-bad hit of the summer. That’s fitting too, since the Wet One are a lot like summer in KC: hot, nasty and ready to beat your ass.

Wet Ones on Slovenly.com

The Chewers

Monday, September 14th, 2015

TheChewersDead Dads CD
Self Released, 2015

Right as the July heat began to simmer the sickly humid air and warp the atmosphere into a sweaty stew, the latest collection of madness released from this Nashville duo became an unexpected soundtrack to summer, permeating the psyche with tales of madness and absurdity told through the most weirdly seductive freak bungle. Plodding, lopsided, and spacious, The Chewers have honed their oddly odd sonic stew on Dead Dads, their third album, with disciplined songwriting that forces every pit and peak of their idiosyncratic music and madcap storytelling to shimmer in the haze. While they’re completely in a league of their own, those who are susceptible to the spaces between Tom Waits and King Missile, or in league with indie oddities like The Guinea Worms or The Country Teasers, may also be attracted to this lumbering freak feast.

LINKS

The Chewers on Bandcamp

The Chewers on Facebook

The Chewers on Soundcloud

The Chewers website

Threes and Will + Huerequeque

Friday, November 28th, 2014

blue thirteen C30
Blue Tapes, 2014

Threes and Will + Huerequeque

The UK’s Blue Tapes cassette microlabel (that now also serves vinyl, books, and film!) has steadily released noteworthy releases in small batches, each capturing wildly inventive takes on diverse genres. Acapella death metal, sound art, rock improv and whatever fits between, they’re always up to something interesting and always worth a listen, even if they end up being a bit of a novelty or one of those “challenging” listens you partake in when the mood is right. Their description of this mysterious Estonian duo links their expansive rock noise sound to the most focused LP from the long-running UK group Skullflower, IIIrd Gatekeeper, and holy fuck does it ever deliver on that promise. Starting from that sonic reference point, this 5-song (a solo track by each artist and 3 collaborations) tape stretches buzzed riffs into hypnotic, transcendent sounds that twist, turn, and drift for just over 30 minutes of blissed-out heavy psych. This link is not really a reference to Skullflower as much as a mark of quality on par with the greatness of that essential album, or the sublime quality of Skullflower’s 15-minute mind-melting “Diamond Bullet” from Obsidian Shaking Codex, a track so expansive that it could almost be its own genre. If you like your noise rock to push beyond the predictable and formulaic trappings of the form, prepare to meet this true form destroyer.

LINKS

Threes and Will + Huerequeque on Blue Tapes website

Watch “Sea Fourth Pt. II” by Threes and Will on Vimeo

Sex Scheme

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Self-Titled 7″ EP
Puppet Combo, 2014

If The Fall were hardened by the pummeling misanthropy of the Brainbombs and fueled by Big Black’s dynamic of jarring guitar shards slashing across throbbing, propulsive bass lines, you’d find yourself on the receiving end of something like this Brooklyn trio’s excellent vinyl debut. The repetitive and tattered anti-songs on this seedy 4-track stumble through the gutters of Gotham, detached and rambling, barely coherent enough to wrangle enough tortured notes together to make any sense of the mess. In other words, brilliant.

LISTEN

LINKS

Sex Scheme on Bandcamp

Sex Scheme on Tumbler

Basic Cable

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

I’m Good to Drive LP
Permanent Records, 2013

There are a number of higher profile groups pulling from the AmRep handbook of knuckle-dragging pigfuck noise rock, but this Chicago unit (with members of Heavy Times, Loose Dudes, and Running) plows deeper and harder with a dose of dark humor that draws a line of influence from groups like Scratch Acid to Mudhoney to Tractor Sex Fatality. Featuring vocals that oscillate from David Yow-style mumbling lunacy to full-throttled Mark Arm wails, backed with the lowbrow gut-punch of Tractor Sex Fatality, Basic Cable delivers the goods in a manner that won’t get them pixel plastered throughout the blogosphere. Heartily recommended for those with refined tastes for the unrefined.

LISTEN

LINKS

Basic Cable on Bandcamp
Permanent Records

Stone Titan

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Scratch ‘N Sniff LP
Safety Meeting Records, 2013

Despite an endless parade of doom metal bands crisscrossing the globe in mutilated Econoline vans reeking of weed and spilled PBR, there are only a few bands that can actually deliver the low-end punch in the gut that makes the genre worth your time. This gnarly two-piece from the wilds of Connecticut is one of the few bands that’s channeled enough generalized misanthropy into 7 slabs of steaming downtuned Doom to make it well worth the tinnitus Scratch ‘N Sniff dishes out by the pound. With the bile-infused rage of squealing feedback-ridden southern sludge like Eyehategod and Buzzov*en, fused with the epic inertia of riff riders Noothgrush and Damad, topped with a tinge of psychedelic stonerisms alá Bongzilla, Stone Titan deliver the goods and put themselves at the top of the doom metal heap.

LISTEN

LINKS

Stone Titan on Bandcamp
Stone Titan on Facebook

Lore City

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Absence & Time CD
Self-Released

Last spring when this album was released it was easy to escape the pull of this haunting disc. Now, as the last leaves fall and the palette of midwestern life is reduced to lifeless grays and browns, the soothing ache of Absence & Time is nearly impossible to ignore. There’s a sparseness and detached cool to Lore City that’s really seductive, as well as the sustained atmospheric haze that weaves through the 8 tracks on this Chicago duo’s debut. But there’s also an edge to what Lore City does that keeps them interestingly intense where most bands would be content to reflexively play by heart without pushing the envelope in any real way. With a monolithic, plodding pace that swells with occasional wave of exhilaration, Lore City has found a sound that fits somewhere between the preciousness of Zola Jesus, the warmth of Low and the severity of Swans. While the shock of Laura Mariposa’s haunting voice escalating to shrieking visceral growls is a bit unnerving, the deliberate manner by which they’ve inserted this texture into their sound gives Absence & Time depth and an experimental bite that refuses to be ignored.

LINKS
Official Lore City website

Kabul Golf Club

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Le Bal Du Rat Mort EP
Uproar for Veneration, 2012

It’s taken about a year for the five tracks on this deranged EP to saturate into my thick skull, and I’m grateful to finally make some sense of it. While this Belgian band’s own points of reference make sense (Dillinger Escape Plan, Jesus Lizard, Blood Brothers) their sound twists that source material into frenzied shards of raging hardcore served up in obsessively measured chunks that takes their sound into uncharted territory. Their balance of warbling, frayed-at-the-edges guitar and electronics to forcefully calculated, angular song structures make this record a beast sounding something like The Locust playing TFUL 282 covers of Coalesce songs. It’s a spastic, tendon-ripping good time that’s a few notches above the standard issue hardcore record. A new EP is in the works, so get acquainted with KGC before they unleash the next level of hardcore.

DOWNLOAD
Kabul Golf Club – “Demon Days” (3.9mb)

LINKS
Visit the Kabul Golf Club website
Buy Le Bal Du Rat Mort at iTunes