STILL SINGLE
Burnt Skull – Sewer Birth LP (12XU)

RECOMMENDED

Mechanized death unit out of Austin, TX, and check out these odds: one of them was a relatively OK person left standing from the band Total Abuse, AND these same two guys were responsible for that iPod cuddle party synth BS vibe duo Best Fwends. Let’s push that all aside and get stuck into this mess. Burnt Skull (great name, by the way) turns the guitar/drums duo into an apocalyptic nightmare, guitar approximating caked-on layers of gore and filth to a militaristic rhythm, and the only thing I could think of at first was Streetcleaner-era Godflesh for scope and delivery. To test this out, I actually saw Godflesh perform live last week, and listened to the Burnt Skull record again the next day. Godflesh obviously has a fuller sound, but they’ve also got some 20 years on these guys. They’ve got a bass player as well, which at some point Burnt Skull may need to accommodate – after being pummeled for an hour with the closest approximation to their sound, Burnt Skull only came up lacking in one area: not enough low-end (though a few tracks make up for this with unspecified “programming”). Thankfully, they leave Godflesh’s implied tendencies towards hip-hop beats by the wayside, and concentrate on the one intangible quality of that era: dreary, miserable grief as passed through a wall of amps and searing aggressiom. Dustin Pilkington’s guitar tone is plenty corroded, just huge, terrifying reams of treble and mid-range being thrown around in dangerous proximity to the living, and coupled with Anthony Davis’ metronomic SLAM drumming and Pilkington’s processed, horrifying scream, most of the record – at least the parts not meant to play as interstitial noise/atmosphere setters – makes for an incomparable, almost industrial roadhaul through blackened valleys of Hell. Lyrics don’t necessarily offend much either, leaning more towards inhuman settings of endless flesh and actual monsters (somewhere between Bosch and the video store), rather than the whole transgressive crud that got some of these bands in trouble in the first place. Though on the fringes of metal, hardcore and the like, Burnt Skull will find a home with anyone looking for an extreme-sounding band that holds up beyond whatever imagery and characters they surround themselves with. Buy it before their music becomes evidence in a court of law (or ends up on Relapse or Sargent House…) (http://12xu.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Good Throb – Fuck Off LP (Super-Fi/White Denim/Sabermetric)

RECOMMENDED

Where the first two singles by London’s Good Throb sort of set a mission statement of rusty-sharp musicianship, stumbling ardor and seriously pissed-off invective, their debut album Fuck Off brings all of these elements into tighter focus, channeling the fury of these women (and male ally on drums, who plays like the sort of guy who’s been growing hair out of his forehead) into a concentrated statement against men in general, and takes a butcher knife and a hearty swing to the Gestapo-like oppression constantly cast off of dudes onto women. Songs like “Crab Walk,” “Central Line,” “Psycho Disco” and incredible opener “Acid House,” with its half-recognized key change in the chorus, examine the safety and chart the exasperation of our narrator Ellie against social situations involving punk, public transportation, dance music and/or booze, caked in filth even when they’re not, dodging unwanted affections from men and the environment (drugs, cat shit, potential walks of shame, and the like). That disdain towards the male gaze and everyday harassment seeps into songs like “Mummy I’m Ugly” (self-image repair), “No Taste” (dismissal at the hands of men in your scene for whatever reason), “You’re Shit” (bad moods), and “Jealousy,” a particularly dark stalker tale lifted right out William Atherton’s role in Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Every chord bashed, every bass note plunked, every thud of the drums, and every wound-up ounce of berating anger coming off of the vocals creates a new angle jutting out from these 11 songs, making them more dangerous to handle with each passing moment as they grind along. No long tracks, either – this is stick-and-move pugilism, with the target being anyone who dared try to fuck with this band, or the loathsome targets of those who adopt this message. Can’t take it? Check yourself or get the fuck out of the way, as you’ll find no sympathies from Good Throb, their records, or this reviewer, lest you suffer the same fate as the laddish prick in closer “Dog Food Dick”: “Tear off your cock/Pedigree chum/Feed it to the dog/You imbecile scum.” Completely bulletproof record from stem to stern, seeping caustic vibes of misandry and misanthropy from every inch. If ever a record deserved a “sawblade” pressing a la that Acrid/Left For Dead split, this would be the one. Repress forthcoming as the initial 572 copies are all but spoken for. (http://www.superfirecords.co.uk) (http://whitedenim.com) (http://sabermetric.tictail.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Protomartyr — Under Color Of Official Right (Hardly Art)

thoughts on the new Protomartyr record, which is very, very good:

dustedmagazine:

Joe Casey tells it like it is, and in the case of Protomartyr’s second LP – their first for Sub Pop JV squad Hardly Art, and also their first since their hometown of Detroit filed for bankruptcy – he’s telling it like a victim of recent history, contained and eloquent, letting his aggressions out through well-considered phrases and an extended set of nuances. He explains what it’s like to be in his band (“some sort of confrontation/between me and these three men,” he croons in “Ain’t So Simple”) in language resembling a playful treason.

He rattles off a list of people deserving classical punishment, Roman-style, flung from the cliffs of “Tarpeian Rock” (“rich crusties … adults dressed as children … neon bands on laptops … do-nothing know-it-alls … alt-weekly types” and so on, which probably makes for an extemporaneous drubbing every time they play this song live). He laments the actions of imprisoned former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the pugilistic “Bad Advice,” locking his initial verses into the polyrhythmic gearteeth of the band as the trick unfolds and goes sour.

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Action Swingers – “Miserable Life” b/w “Losing My Cool” 7” (Total Punk)

Unlike the Live Fast Die 7”, I know why this came to exist. So long as Ned Hayden has a recording of an argument through the basement stairwell with his mother, he will find a way to commit it to vinyl and promote it through delusional word-vomit in the worst backwaters of the message-board/comment-section wasteland. I feel sorry for all of the ESL students who still believe this band’s legacy to whiff of something like “legend”, though I don’t feel sorry for a label that calls itself “Total Punk” when I should be a better person and stop poking at lumbering targets. (http://floridasdying.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Animal City – See You in the Funny Pages LP (Sophomore Lounge)

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Lots of already embarrassing word-age has been given over to a topical crop of “notable” emo bands – some of it by way of venues that should know better – as a clarion whisper that said new/current movement isn’t going anywhere, but that it does like to piss and moan about more mainstream and clueless factions of the music press making or causing surface/co-worker/clueless associations with garbage like My Chemical Romance or Dashboard Confessional or, you know, any one of the long-forgotten bands that somehow continues to “ruin” the perception of some integrity-packing underground concern. I have no idea how Animal City fits into this, or into any pocket of rock music history worth retelling for real-time or future audiences. Emo pushed by a limp engine without dynamics and with a yawning chasm where the songwriting skill should be is interchangeable with any other rock-based form that suffers from the same absences of character. But if this band wants to live in the funny pages, it is indeed the “Curtis” of emo/indie/nothingness. (http://www.sophomoreloungerecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Golden Torso – Broken Extra Arms 7” EP (25 Diamonds)

 

Four pissed off quickies in the style of grizzled hardcore that I feel would attract the “trad” tag elsewhere, when what I hear is more of a rock-informed (as in bringing it in from the outside rather than from the first three years of American hardcore) thing going on. Damnit, just two days ago I created a writing self-exercise that forbade me from ever comparing ANY band to Black Flag, but whaddya gonna do when the will is weak and the butt cheeks still have teeth marks left from the influence’s blindside? It does rock, I will give it that. Oh, and that’s pre-metal B.F., to end with that duty done. (http://25diamonds.com)
(Andrew Earles)

High Aura’d / Blood Bright Star – split 7” (Anti-Matter)

RECOMMENDED

The thing with a split 7” is you only get one chance to make your point; if you miss, then your aim really must be questioned. High Aura’d (AKA John Kolodij, of Massachusetts) is one dead-eyed dude. He has taken one idea and nailed it bulls-eye. “Remain In Light” is essentially a five minute crescendo, dominated by a cloud of guitar ‘n’ pedal fuzz that accumulates girth like a cartoon snowball rolling down the mountain. The wordless female voices that bob around the looming buzz are like tiny comets orbiting some massive star, barely noticeable but just present enough to split the rays hurtling your way. Blood Bright Star (a/k/a Reuben Sawyer, who is less forthcoming with his geographical coordinates), on the other hand, needs to spend a bit more time at the range. His track, “Golden Blood, Part II,” starts with a beat that I can best sum up as a motoric canter that would be fine for pacing walks down long hallways, but is far too peppy for the Jodorowskyan slog that the Earth-lite guitars seek to portray. It isn’t bad, it’s just incomplete — there’s nothing wrong here that couldn’t be fixed with a slower tempo or a sufficiently assertive vocal. The cover could well be the clincher here, though. It’s a rough black paper gatefold liberally adorned with silver and doublemint green ink so easy on the eyes, with an ultra-detailed image by Sawyer of a pair of bats in the wilderness that puts more of a chill up the spine than his playing. The record comes with a download card, spins at 45, has a small hole, and is pressed on green vinyl that matches the cover ink. 250 were pressed. (http://www.anti-matterrecords.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Kremlin – Drunk in the Gulag 12” EP (Beach Impediment)

The irritating label name is about the only sign of life on what could have been a parody of ‘90s squat-core had it come out 20 years ago. No heaviness or chaos, just HC so boring it descends to points below mediocrity, which in turn buries this release with its long and seemingly unending history. There’s not one element here that the principles won’t grow out of or that could contribute to a community college class on popular culture (“hardcore lesson”). (http://beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Live Fast Die – “Practicing for the Gang Bang” b/w “You Ruin All My Fun” 7” (Total Punk)

There’s nothing more pathetic than depravity without an iota of any other musical building block of note to prop it up. It doesn’t surprise me that this band gained some degree of traction within the “neo” (now that’s a fucking laugh) garage-rock/punk idiot’s folly of a sub-cultural congregation that rose up around Y2K and might be seen or heard shuffling along like a convalescent home residence today. Live Fast Die didn’t rock, rage, or offer anything that couldn’t be had by shifting to centimeters in either direction to endure any of their innumerable contemporaries. I’m a firm believer in a correct and exhaustive representation of underground rock history, but I can’t even use that crusade as defense for Live Fast Die in the posthumous sense. I guess it’s “totally punk” to indulge in an effort of complete meaninglessness, but that feels even a bit too smart for the record in question. (http://floridasdying.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Montag – Phases LP (Carpark)

I first attempted to listen to this while writing and watching Spike Jonze’s film Her in the background (to save time). I got none of the writing done and I think the record and movie canceled one another out. The music on Phases (collected and twerked from a year’s worth of singles releases, one every month, complete with video) showcases an electronic pop musician’s attempts to branch out, reflecting different moods and modes, from twinkling drone/ethereal cloudbust to your late night carousing on an indie Montreal dancefloor, with lots of structure in between. But, like the movie, it just didn’t sell me on what was happening. I felt a distance from this material when I attempted to revisit. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, but Montag certainly isn’t any slouch when it came to cutting all of this material. PERHAPS THE PROBLEM IS ME. Not to make this review useless or anything, but there is a new Notwist record out that cancels out this effort in a lot of ways, so go check that out instead. Yes, I’m copping out on this. (http://www.carparkrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Nerve City – Asleep On The Tracks LP (Sweet Rot)

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It’s been over three years since we last checked in with Jason Boyer’s Nerve City project. In that time, I saw him on “SNL,” playing with Sleigh Bells, so somehow his no-fi Mississippi Gary bloozeman shtick shtuck somewhere that an industry could take a look at it … but since duder is back with the fine, albeit non-major media industry team at Sweet Rot, the chemistry didn’t take. All the same, Boyer got Memphis pud Scott Bomar (Hustle & Flow soundtrack, making him three steps closer to the EGOT than I’ll ever come) to spray the BBQ sauce all over this sesh, and the results are pretty much what you’d expect: a guy who thought he was gonna get signed falling flat on his ass with the sort of blues-rock that couldn’t even function as background music at a TGI Friday’s, ‘cuz it’s got a bootful of Bob Dylan’s geriatric, twice-a-week shit caked on its soles. I can’t imagine what this record cost to make, only to have it show up on Sweet Rot, which is a fine label, but seems like an agent of last-ditch efforts to get this thing out in the world, presumably so that Boyer can move on and at long last make his Honkin’ On Bobo. Aggressively awful music, the horrifying reality of one of the most pedantic of Blankdoggers attempting to go pro. (http://www.sweetrotrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sweet Talk – Flash Of Light 12” EP (12XU)

I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’ so hard to see what the big deal is with Sweet Talk. And there may be no big deal at all, but even the small beer leaked out across this six-song EP isn’t telling much. This Austin power pop outlet, led by the Mind Spider who’s not a Marked Man, specializes in below-the-fold sounds ready to be appraised and filed by those types who collect such music. It shouldn’t be such a struggle to see what someone whose opinion I regard in high esteem seems to see in this band. Presumably this individual does, indeed, get to see this band, and regularly, which could make all the difference, but on Flash Of Light I’m not even getting the “one song” vibe Sweet Talk pushed on their debut LP. (http://12xu.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Transfix – s/t LP (Dutch Tilt)

Tie-dye Goth mopers from an Olympia, WA band that knows when to turn it on (“emphasis tracks” for sure) and other times plays as if they were just looking to fill space on their first full-length. They project that combination of lazy mall Goth b/w cool 4-H teenager who gave her goats “alternative” haircuts, thrift store sour milk smell, self-applied ear piercings, and art class notebook that should be a bit more winning than the music laid down here approximates. When they’re on, they do a decent 3rd string Nu Romance painted face move, all smoke machines and lacquered hair/nails, kinda reminiscent of the Chameleons UK. Outside of that, it’d be easier for you to find new-in-box 12-hole vintage UK-made green Doc laceups than you would anything worth visiting more than once here. Good ideas need other good ideas to support them, and the gaps in this record and the effort put into making it are too apparent not to notice. Locals only. (http://www.dutchtilt.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Video – “(Join The) Hate Wave” b/w “Captivity” 7” (Total Punk)

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RECOMMENDED

Hey, some Total Punk records are more Totally Punk than others. And few are as strong as this one from Austin/Denton band Video, grown out of the same dish as the Wax Museums and Wiccans. Much like the LP they put out a few years ago – and maybe even more so – Video maps the degenerate energy and thousand-yard stare of Texas punk with the full-on totality of Killing Joke. “Captivity” has the slam, “Hate Wave” the message, and when someone asks me why a new 7” single costs $10, I’ll shove this fucker right up their nose. (http://floridasdying.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

WV White – West Virginia White LP (Anyway)

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RECOMMENDED

WV White – that’s West Virginia White, named after those little mothlike butterflies that proliferate around the Rust Belt, moreso than the kind of Caucasian that lives in the namesake state, presently sprinting towards Conservatism despite itself – presents a debut album so long on ideas cribbed from music of the ‘90s that many others can’t stop from referring to them as “slackers.” But the songs and general presence of upset they push forth on this debut album speaks to a sort of collective mindset that’s carefully put together a sound from a veritable scrapyard of broken jewel cases and markdown-bin 7” singles in such a way that it speaks to all the lost hopes and stabs at profundity contained in such media-turned-clutter. Hardly the work of those who seem to be drifting through their lives, they have manipulated these influences to the point where their songs evoke feeling over reference. Their sound is one that’s so steeped in misery and cheap beer that its occupants have grown tired of averting their glances and push their sadness outward, crying at the table. In a time where the vox populi indie rock calls for warmth and safety, here is a peal of defiance, a refusal to take the medication prescribed in order to bask in the sickness of the self.

These ten songs are a fine start for any young band, a calling card for what they have accomplished and what they could become. Starting with the seven-minute dirge of “Alison Lapper, Pregnant,” guitarist Tyler Travis’ stompbox tone is so corroded and unseemly, it’s almost a surprise that he sticks with it through the length of the song, which couches somewhere between the Dead C. and Bailter Space – depressive riffs like freezing rain, and a hangdog vocalese that screams “hick” but edges closer to Eric Bachman circa Archers of Loaf (or, if you’ll have it, Mac from Superchunk trying to approximate Jonathan Richman). Nothing about these two elements brings any sort of comfort to the proceedings, and the plasticky church organ drone of Caeleigh Featherstone’s keyboard colors the atmosphere further with flushed, melted blues and grays, akin to Mick Alborado in the Terminals. If you’ve ever been too hot and too cold at the same time, particularly as a passenger in someone else’s car on a miserable day, you know where this is headed. And if you believe in the underground tunnel that connects Ohio to New Zealand, well, it seems as if these folks do as well.

As the record crawls on, WV White tries out a number of other sounds, too: the last call honky-tonker “Macha,” penlight anthems of grandeur (“The Mess,” “Multiple Bathrooms”), even sustained, low-key cinematic sweep in the beautiful “Mastercraft.” Throughout, one notices the conviction of sticking with certain tones and modes of play as an attempt to build a signature around this collage of ideas, which occasionally strikes against them – the thoughts of what this band could do with non-preset organ tones, a second guitarist, a more sympathetic studio environment, even artwork that looks less like a Magic Eye picture – are kind of staggering, and hopefully they can garner the support needed to make these things happen. Right now, though, this is the band, these are their songs, and it’s on, making for the kind of audacious downer not unrolled since The Young bummered my summer with Voyagers Of Legend some four years ago. May many more discover the chiming of their chains. (http://www.anyway-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)