More Short Reviews

I’m In a bad mood and I don’t feel like doing a god damn thing today except listen to a shit load of music. I downloaded a bunch of new stuff recently so I am going to listen to shit and review it as it comes, again. If you don’t like the process, the reviews or the manner in which I do things, kindly, go fuck yourself. I don’t fucking care.

Music is the Enemy
Hollywood Finally
Self Released (free)

I love watching this local quartet (quintet? I don’t know if they have five members still) thrash faces. Music is the Enemy is one of those bands that has it going on. They rock hard, sometimes just thrashing about in chaos, sometimes delivering pummeling riffs ripe with dirty execution. It doesn’t hurt that the band drenched it’s persona in a bit of Nation Of Ulysses worship. Some might find it childish and cliché, but I think it serves a purpose and a point here in the small city in the middle of a desert surrounded by nothing and so isolated in culture creation. It’s clear that Music is the Enemy wants back as much as they give, singing “Nothing in this city ever changes and every dead artist is a poor man’s vindication” on “I’m Danny Tanner Material”. The thing is, despite the cynicism, they deserve the praise and glory. But the bottom line is this is some great punk music, filled to the top with vitriol, piss and gasoline. This five song EP is enough to sustain, but not quite satisfy my need for more stomping. Especially since it’s a step up from their debut full length. It packs a punch while still having that homemade feel, but rather than being owned by drums and vocals the bass and guitar finally get their push in the mix. They lose nothing and gain everything. Not only that, but the riffs herein are fantastic. Karie Morgan is just as much fun to listen to as she is to watch stamp and stomp all over the place. Her rock and roll inspired shredding turns this into a driving ruckus. They’re bringing it all down, singing “This is Hell/But We’re Still Dancing” but having a good time destroying everything.

The Mountain Goats
Transcendental Youth
Merge Records

I’m not gonna lie, I like John Darnielle more as a public figure and as an interview subject then I do as a musician. It’s not that the Mountain Goats (his musical moniker) don’t make great tunes that I find rather pleasant, but  the music mostly just songs the same to me. After the last two albums, All Eternals Dark and The Life of the World To ComeI couldn’t really distinguish what I was listening to. After one listen of Transcendental Youth I think I’m back on board. At least I am with this album. You know, John’s just a great artist to be interested in, even if he isn’t hitting home runs with every album. But this album packs a bit of that great punch that Heretic Pride did. It’s like a twin album or a really close companion. It’s not subdued and subtle, instead it’s full and rich and even has moments of grandeur, like the big horns on “Cry for Judas”. It also feels like they take some rhythmic risks that pay off. I love the groove in “Counterfeit Florida Plates”. It’s got this Paul Simon on Graceland feel to it. It’s so good it’s probably gonna be in like ten shitty indie rom com movies starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zoeey Deschanel or who ever we get to replace them next year. Further, there feels like a bigger use of electric organ, keyboard and piano throughout. Really, these choices just make the album sound fuller and gives them energy. I honestly don’t have much memory of the last two, but Transcendental Youth will be filling up the halls of my home for a while.

The Ambulars
Dreamers Asleep at the Wheel
Self Released (Free)

I’m pretty sure that indie pop is making a big come back. What with all this Swearin’ and Big Eyes and like nine hundred bands that Mikey Erg is probably in, pop punk with that indie swing is the shit. This is a late summer album that’s gonna help bring you into fall. It’s catchy, but light and soft. It’s total cuddle music. Michael Cantor has about the sweetest voice that just drips with syrupy love and sad dog eyes. It’s a dreamy kind of awesome rock.The slinky Fender guitar solo on “Teenage Hate” comes at you like some of the best rippers Superchunk ever throw at us. In fact, this is another one of those great bands that really understood the awesome power of the ‘Chunk. Over all, Dreamers Asleep at the Wheel is filled with great song writing, not wasting time and getting you right into. Recorded by Joe Mitra who is the sleeper engineer. I just wish there was a bit more Jen Twigg on this (she did a really great zine or something in a zine that I can’t find or totally recall, if someone wants to jog my memory). But other than that, this is pop perfection.  It’s too bad this band is in two cities (Chicago and Philadelphia) and made of kids going to school. Hopefully the public catches on and they can get an opening slot on a good tour next summer cuz people need to hear this. I’m sure Swearin’ will be huge by then, they should hook these DC ex-pats up!

The Blank Fight
House Band Feud (Reissue)
Silver Sproket Records

So the Blank Fight was a superhero band that has now been launched into mythical proportions. Including zinesters Cindy Crabb and Aaron Cometbus along with future This Bike is a Pipe Bomber Rymodee, all three would go on to different projects and bands that would gain much more acclaim in the DIY punk world. And so this album, released in various formats with various songs gets itself a proper vinyl release. It’s chock full of anthems and dirty rockers knocking people in the faces. This album would serve as a bench mark for a shit ton of Florida bands, The Tim Version doing the best with this sound. Some of Rymoedee’s future is present here, and his style as a guitar player and song writer becomes more defined. We even get a little harmonica on “Old Trick” which has a very Avail style riff. That makes total sense since Avail was kinda like the common language when this band was around. House Band Feud is slightly dated in sound and style, but the updated treatment makes it quite an awesome treat. It’s a history lesson and a great reminder, plus seriously, Cindy Crabb and Aaron Cometbus are like zine heroes playing music together. If that doesn’t get you excited then you should re-evaluate being friends with me.

Busdriver
Arguments with Dreams
Self Released (Free)

If Busdriver isn’t your favorite, motor mouth MC on this odd planet then you clearly aren’t paying attention to hip-hop. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this guy on a big stage where he felt like an alien and on the floor of a DIY space where he seemed more like a professor schooling a group of college kids. Both times his rapid fire vocals which are more like an instrument then a lecture. And so, here he is once again giving his fans some crazy space shit and he brought along Das Racist to get weird on a track with him. Busdriver he’s one of those dudes that pretty much every other rapper things is amazing but somehow the kids don’t seem to get him. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit political and abstract at the same time. Like the best of Picasso, fucked up faces, wide spreads of colors, rich in content but hard to handle, Busdriver gets it done on Arguments With Dreams. The cover says it all, this dude is running on some kinda rocket fuel that’s so crazy he’s gotta wear a dog on his t-shirt.

Noisear
Turbulent Resurgence
Willowtip Records

When I listen to grindcore I don’t even know why I bother to talk to people who don’t. I don’t even know why I bother writing about it on a blog that like only a few people read and no one cares about. When I listen to grind core I don’t know why anyone talks to me or tries to relate with me or any of that shit because Grind is fucking brutal and smashes faces in and I just don’t think the rest of the world really understands how FUCKED UP everything is like a good grindcore record. Everyone is psyched for the new Pig Destroyer, but I have been eagerly awaiting this new Noisear album with just as much ferocity and blood lust. Turbulent Resurgence does not disappoint with its 23 tracks in under twenty minutes, it does what grind is supposed to do, beat in your brain until it slides down the back of your rotten skull and slides down into your neck, past your spinal column and out your stupid ass. Why am I even bothering with this review. You don’t care that Noisear took a turn away from the tech-grind and went super heavy. You don’t care that the vocals are more vicious and perfectly sit just underneath the pulverizing riffs. You don’t care that the drums are fast and furious but sound more natural and ass kicking while still being totally weird and all over the place. You don’t even care that there are a lot of great brutal metal albums out this year worthy of your attention but that Noisear belongs in rotation among Cattle Decapitation, High on Fire and Municipal Waste. I don’t even know why I bother with you.

Well, that’s all I feel like doing for now. Got some other albums I haven’t even heard yet that I am gonna play here in a minute. I honestly hope that today, I insulted you. If you read this in the future, I am sorry for any bad, mean things I said that hurt your feelings. If you read this today on 10/4/12 and don’t go listen to some awesome music, especially Noisear, then I hope you have a rotten day and fuck off and cry. Shit head. 

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Quick Music Reviews

This is a list of stuff I am listening to at present. I am going to jump around a lot here. Short or long or whatever. Like the back of a punk magazine. You know, you should read one.

Bad Banana – Crushfield  – Self Released (FREE). I downloaded this ages ago and just listened to it now, tonight. It’s one of them Crutchfield sisters projects you’ve read about in the NY Times and shit cuz being a hipster treasure now makes you news worthy (not a diss on them or their music, but I bet a lot of dick heads are already talking about what sell outs they are). Anyway, the production on this demo sounds pretty low fi, and if you like that stuff, then you’ll love the syrupy pop-crunch punk with almost 90’s indie sound. For me it worked better for Waxahatchee, the low fi production made it intimate. Here it sounds like something they’ve already grown out of and forgotten.

Propagandhi – Failed States Epitaph Records. I want to love this album like I love the last three albums by Canada’s greatest export (next to toothless hockey players) but I am having a hard time with it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the Prop, so it hits all the points you’d expect. But that’s kind of the problem, it started out with a soft little intro and got all melodic and explosive just like I thought it would. It’s a predictable listen which is not what one expects from these angry anarchists from the north. I love the licks, the riffs, the vocals and the lyrics, but it sounds like the corresponding b-sides to Supporting Caste rather than a fresh effort. I’m trying to find its voice, but I’ll never give up on this band.

Big Eyes Back From The Moon 7″. Grave Mistake Records. There is a comic in Razorcake #69 by Liz Prince who writes the most crush-worthy comics ever. She loves pop punk. She wrote this comic about seeing Big Eyes in NYC. I hate NYC, but I checked out this single and I love it. It’s got that fresh but familiar energy of The Ergs. All the best parts about pop punk and indie rock that makes bands awesome. I also checked out there LP from 2011 (Hard Life) but I like this a bit better. The two songs on this 7″ have a great bit of energy and are just a bit crisper. But you should get into this band if you like to bounce around your living area in your underwear listening to music singing into a hair brush or at yr cats.

White Lung Sorry Deranged. This album smokes. I love this band. This is what music is supposed to be. Energetic, frightening, desperate. White Lung takes you to the edge. I don’t know if I want to kill or cry when I listen to this album. I feel alone, wandering the streets with no purpose, desperate for anything, hand on my pocket knife. No rules. No Cell Phone. Nowhere to go. A lot of bands get recognition outside of punk that is often unwarranted. There are bands that people who have listened and dedicated themselves to the genre know are just temporal and luke warm. White Lung sounds like nothing else and deserve to break the genre ghetto of appreciation. Devastating times call for damaged music. This is what I will be listening to when they finally start that war that ends us all. It’s coming. Here is your soundtrack to die to.

Kamikabe Abberation of Man Unique Leader. This is pure fucking awesome Death Metal and I love it. Working on a metal show I’ve gotten into death metal again and have been revisiting lots of Obituary. This band sounds nothing like them, but reminds me of what it is I first loved about Obituary (who isn’t just one of my favorite metal bands, but one of my favorite bands and Allen West is one of my favorite guitar players). Anyway, Kamikabe kicks it in the face. The kids would probably call this technical death metal. It has some great elements that remind me of Dying Fetus, Cattle Decapitation and Pig Destroyer. But make no mistake, this Pittsburgh five piece is their own band. It’s hard to stand out and be distinguishable in a genre of music that has so many rules and where being tech is so important, but Kamikabe stand out from the crowd.

Aesop Rock Skelathon Rhyme Sayers. It’s an Aesop Rock record, alright. You can’t really say this guy sounds like anything. I don’t even know if it’s hip hop. The musical language that Aesop Rock speaks is his own. And this truly is his album. Almost all the beats, lyrics and sounds are his. Aside from a few vocals from a few other people, he did it all. And it’s a sad sounding album. The Ian Curtis of rap. The Joy Division of hip-hop music. I worry about Ian Bavitz, then he puts out a record and goes on tour.

Swearin’ S/T Salinas Records (FREE). This is a first listen review. Literally listening to it for the first time. It did not come with a download code when I bought the record so I had to find this on the internet, which I was able to over at http://www.ifyoumakeit.com for donation/free. There is a lot of hype about this record and it’s not unfounded. It reminds me off some Discount, Superchunk, The Promise Ring, and a lot of pop-rock indie music that I don’t listen to that much anymore. It’s got that same feel as early Lemuria singles before they went all weird. Swearin’ might be a braver bet, making music that is catchy and accessible. It can be hard to wade in waters already tread and try to find new, interesting stones, but Swearin’ here seems to have confidence in what they are doing. Great work on the warbling vocals too. Someone earns a gold star on mixing for this one. Best aspect of the production that is otherwise straight forward.

Stop Breathing S/T No Idea Records. CHUGGAGHUGGAGHUGGAGHUGGAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Are you looking to have your mind blown or are you looking to pedal your ten speed bike as fast as you can down your street like you did when you were ten? IF you want the later, this skate rock inspired, three chord SOCAL punk rock will make you wish for those endless summer days when you didn’t care about anything but 50-50 Stalls on the curb and building the worst launch ramps in history. Nothing fancy, just the essentials. Dated but still timeless. Get those rat bones out kid, yr gonna need the big wheels to grind those curbs.

Post-Teens The Heat No Idea Records. Post Teens has the guitar player from Asshole Parade/Dead Friends +more so I thought this was gonna be heavy, but it’s more like the sloppy, low-fi, pop punk for drunk old dudes that my man Todd Taylor is all into. Oh yeah a dude from Shitstorm/Torche is in this band too. But like they all switch up on instruments and shit. It’s just punk rock music. Six songs, six minutes, it’s a good quick fix. I still wish it was a grind record, but I get the point.

Low Culture S/T Dirt Culture Records (FREE). Ex-member of Shang-A-Lang from Las Cruces New Mexico where they have a place where bands come through and tour instead of Albuquerque because Duke City is a weird town with a weird scene. Jangly guitars, catchy little ditties with a bit of space in there to build some excitement. Gets a little late 90’s pop-emo (the break down in “I Didn’t Know”) for a moment. Bryan Adams would be proud. Or maybe Ryan Adams would be cuz I think these dudes would just be like fuck it. It’s kinda all over the place, kinda like the Ergs because they had a lot of influences. I think they are still exploring all the sounds they are capable of. There’s enough here to make me check them out in the future.

Dan Padilla Sports Fans Dirt Culture Records (FREE). Dan Padilla (the band, not the man) has once again put out an album you can get free. Which makes two in a row. Davey from Tiltwheel/Too Many Daves plays in this band. This album, not quite as exciting as As the Ox Plows. It’s a little too Tim Version without the grit and grime. I liked the hints of sounds and influences of the last album. But I’m just kind of luke warm to this one.

Heathers  Kingdom Aunthill Records. I’m pretty sure that Heathers are the biggest thing in Ireland now and it’s well worth it. Kingdom finds the Macnamara sisters reaching way far out from their humble debut Here Not There. Luckily for me (or them?) I am a huge pop diva fan, because they get in some territory I did not expect, but I love. The bare sound of  an acoustic guitar and vocals are all but gone here. Instead they go all out, relying on a heavy dose of piano and dance beats to make their music now. But the root of what makes Heathers a band that I love is the vocals of Ellie and Louise. The melodies and harmonies are beautiful and striking. So when the duo makes this obvious move to go bigger, they don’t really sacrifice what makes them great, empowering lyrics, solid songs at the core and great singing. I mean masterful singing. This album has been on constantly in my home over the last week and probably will be for quite some time. It’s proof that pop music can be big and grand and sound slick and still be good, if you know how to write a damn song. Ellie and Louise do. I can’t wait to see them rise to heights as great as their talent.

XX Coexist Young Turks. I haven’t been lucid enough before going to bed to really listen to this album the way I want to. But what I have heard so far, I love. I shouldn’t love this. It’s too pretty, weird, soft and subtle for a man in his mid thirties who still thinks BEING LOUD AS FUCK is a good idea. Other reviews that I have read call this record even more minimal than their self titled debut, but I don’t find it that way at all. I think there is a subtle quality to the production that is amazing. It also helps that this trio fell in love with Sade, whose work I am both familiar with and a fan of. The influence shines through on some of their “bigger” songs (“Swept Away” and “Reunion”). This album also has a shit load more space in which the band finds a grove. The debut, while beautiful often felt restricted. For all its empty space, Coexist sounds like a big record. I need to spend more time with this, I feel like it’s getting lost in my collection and I’m pretty sure I love it as much as the first album, just like everyone else.

Tooth Soup Casting off Curses Plan-It-X (only $.66). Chris Clavin is back with a new punk band, but it sounds more like a collective effort then many of his previous works. He’s letting the influence of the other members into his music, songs and lyrics and it’s refreshing. He does what he always does best with the boy/girl vocals of hope, optimism, angst and disappointment wrapped up in a cutting but pleasant bit of pop punk. Tooth Soup probably won’t be your instant favorite, and it wouldn’t be the album I would use to introduce Chris’s work to others with. But it shows maturity in sonic range and will grow on you quickly. The other thing I like is that each member gets a track to share their individuality. All the members have other projects and each gets to display their singularity. It’s a great way to show how it all comes together, how each members sensibility and perspective comes together through insight, communication and compromise to make a whole. That’s pretty damn daring.

Verse Bitter Clarity,Uncommon Grace Bridge 9. I’m not really sure how I feel about this band. I must like them because I keep finding my way to this album. I haven’t looked at a lyric sheet yet, but it feels like that awesome La Dispute record that came out last year that I am in love with (Wildlife, get it here for $8 you won’t regret it if you like stories and came of age in the 90’s). But it feels like this dude has something to say, I just wish I would take the time to figure it out. It’s definitely an album that’s all connected and shit. The songs don’t stand on their own, but become something as a whole piece. There is something distinct and exact about this album that I can’t quite put my finger on. Lots of guitar solos too, which seems weird yet weirdly works here.

Gaza No Absolutes in Human Suffering Blackmarket Activities. From Salt Lake City, Utah, I was really stretched (and still am) how a band could call themselves Gaza. I haven’t done my research yet, but a few people assured me this wasn’t a bunch of straight edge mormon dip shits playing at hardcore and considering my tastes for metal and grindcore I would probably dig this. It’s not the most slaughtering music I have ever heard and it gets a bit metalcore at times (which is a BAD THING) but when they decide to be brutal and awesome and dig the grind, it’s something my ears and angry heart are attracted to. The verdict is still out (two songs reach over six minutes, which even at pummeling speeds seems excessive to me) because I just can’t blindly trust a bunch of privileged white boys who call themselves Gaza. That’s some heavy geo-political implications they are making there. Takes balls. Lets see if they have the ovaries to back that shit up.