Browsing Category New Albums

Future Punx

Future Punx are riding the high of 70’s post-punk in a way that few are with such pure immersion these days. Plenty have found ways to incorporate the trappings of the genre into their work but the Punx divine the nervy, jerky dance and smash of influences with the same palpable excitement of their forebears; sounding ripped out of time. They’ve admitted to a love affair with Fear of Music and David Byrne’s fingerprints are fresh in the heart of This is Post-Wave, but they also capture the raw funk hangover and stark minimalism of other luminaries of the era, namely ESG and Medium Medium. The mood is celebratory, but in a way that seems less purely joyful and more in the mood of dancing to spite the forces that told them they couldn’t. Its a dark, cathartic grind that’s more for your chagrin than for their levity. And this is certainly a good time to dance it off in someone’s face. Its a perfect time and place for the raw nerve of post-punk to rear its head amid the social rot to our collective teeth.

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Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp

The second matchup between these two purveyors of experimental headspace proves that there’s some definite aural chemistry between the pair. This time the two brought their collaborations together quicker, recording over a weekend at the shore rather than a full year of tinkering. The result doesn’t sound rushed, rather it crackles with the kind of excitement that’s born out of two minds bouncing off of one another. The first track rushes headlong into electronics, but its squelchy tones prove the exception on the album as the rest settles into the sand of strums and slides of guitar with just the setting sun of hum weaving throughout. Truthfully this does sound like a thoughtfully composed record, especially songs like standout “Long Beach Idyll” and the meditative crunch of “Alternator.” Then they tie it all together with a ten-minute workout of rippling, hypnotic strum that melts like last days of summer.

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Bill Horist

Guitarist Bill Horist, long a member of psych collective Master Musicians of Bukake, crafts here a score for Calgary choreographer Davida Monk’s piece Dream Pavilion. The score and accompanying dance piece set out to bring life to Netsuke, tiny Japanese sculptures that often depict gods, animals and people in moments of extreme emotion. As such the pieces vary by the type of character they convey, from slightly playful to, more often, dark and foreboding. Horist’s use of prepared guitar and a Vietnamese lute called đàn nguyệt were the mainstays of the live performances but here he’s further augmented them in studio with the addition of bass, percussion and electronics that further serve to bring out the usually frozen emotions that are caught in the Netsuke’s expressions. The record acts as a journey down the snake’s den, rather than the rabbit hole, winding and weaving through the dark corridors with deft precision and a predatory tension. Its jarring at times but on the whole an engrossing listen that captures the imagination even without the dance.

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Cold Showers

Cold Showers have been knocking singles through the cracked lens of 80’s post-punk for a few years now. They popped up, as so many do, for a short stint on Mexican Summer and they put a single out on Art Fag before moving onto a string of releases with Dais. Now they’ve taken their sun-shrouded sound and worked it into a sophomore album that acts as a love letter to the twin kingdoms of Factory and Creation; bending bare, but crisp beats to the whims of fuzz ballooned shoegaze guitars. They’ve got enough pop sensibility to keep it from going into the goth end of the pool, though I’d imagine that their Cure Fanclub dues are paid in full, and while they’re by no means are they creating summer anthems, there’s a sparkle of catchiness under the surface. The songs on Matter of Choice are clipped and ready for greyer skies and streaks of rain, so perhaps the timing is just perfect to steel yourself away with a copy of Matter of Choice after the swelter dies down and the darkness eats away at the tail end of summer.

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The Intelligence

Lars Finberg kicks out another release under The Intelligence umbrella, and suddenly it does seem like a while since his bracing brand of garage-punk hit the speakers. Three years to be exact, but the interim is washed away under the cutting sneers of The Intelligence’s caustic lyricism and skin crawling, panic laced guitar. Vintage Future may look like a dub session blowback from the cover art but inside the grooves its full bore Finberg, shaky and greased with the kind of nocturnal jitters he’s been adept at wrangling. And that’s not to say that in all that evil sway there aren’t some hooks, there are more than a few that clasp onto your brain and hold for dear life and in tow a few flashes of fang that produce some of their most gnarled and ravaged material yet. Finberg even throws in a few lighter moments but it always seems to return to the barbed attack that makes this one stick.

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Royal Headache

Well I’d be remiss to gloss over Royal Headache’s rise to prominence. Their last album came our way in 2011 via Aussie barometer R.I.P. Society. They’ve since gained prominence through US indie What’s Your Rupture? and with their follow-up they crank down some of the frantic energy that drove their eponymous breakthrough. But that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of heat coming off of High. It’s glossier and more restrained, if only in the production and perhaps the strain on Shogun’s vocal chords. The album still taps into that wellspring of garage-soul that’s equal parts lyrical testifying and hand shred strums. When Royal Headache hit, they hit like a defibrillator, a shock to the system that’s well deserved and well welcomed. The moments when they tend toward slower tempos could be goosed a bit with some simmer, some sense of Sam Cook gone garage vitality, but it here it sometimes lands flat. So it’s the burners that still fuel their fire. But if they begin to find the balance between burn and smolder they’ll get it right. For now High has some great moments when the band lights out for those sweaty moments under the stage lights.

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Herbcraft

Until now Herbcraft has floated in a bubble of serenity and drone float that was fitting of album titles that contained the words “ashram” and “astral.” They traded heady, nod-out jams like currency to a meditative student body, but on Wot Oz they’ve broken through the veil of astral float and plummeted headlong into psych churn like the rest of their catalog was just preamble for the oncoming storm of fuzz guitar and wah-shred to come. And it looks damn good on them. The opener “We’re Gonna Make It” lets on lightly, still tapping that well of ethereal smokescreen but by the time they hit “Fit Ür-Head” they’re running full bore into the torrent and letting the vibe lead the way. The record was born out of a taped warm-up session and its highly informed by an element of unrehearsed looseness but seemingly driven by hands that know just where to tread to divine the tortured pleas of the gods. The band has always been assembled of psychedelic travelers, but they’ve never quite hit the vein like this. Definitely their best look.

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Phylums

A nice stab of garage goop out of Milwaukee, dubya eye. Phylums tackle the garage rock canon, launching through three chord wonders and doubling down on the Nuggets psych touches, swirling organs and some dark clashing guitars find their way into the mix n mire. They tend to brush aside the usual carefree fare of relationships and big dumb fun that often act as fodder for their respective genre, instead delving deeper into an alienation and desperation lyrical cycle that adds a measure of depth to their initially foamy churn. Though it doesn’t get dire by any means, no no, the band turn their dismay at monotony into fun for the whole family and Phylum Phyloid sits well among their Dirtnap peers as a bit of candy pop that crests well out of the speakers of the dodge on summer days. Hell there’s even a ditty about speech therapy. How can you say no to that? More down and dirty punk for the denim set.

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The Woolen Men

Woolen Men hew close to the DIY roots of the American Northwest. They wear a badge of unofficially zoned venue house band on their sleeve, and so it comes as no surprise that their latest rails against the homogenization and white washing of the scrappiness of their hometown of Portland. Though the themes are more than applicable to any number of great American cities these days, as the jagged edges that made them unique are sanded in favor of convenience for the flush class. The band pairs their battle cry with a brittle brand of post-punk dipped in a brew of Wipers’ bluntness and some Chris Knox circa Toy Love grit. They know how to punch urgency into a shape that sticks in your mind, clasped in with hooks that sneak their bleakness in under the radar. They’ve upped the fidelity for Temporary Monument as much as the former looseness fit their style, some clarity is a welcome addition to their canon. The more this one spins, the deeper ingrained it gets. Frankly you should probably be paying attention.



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The Barreracudas

If anyone’s taken up the true mantle of power pop these days, other than perhaps Warm Soda, its Barreracudas. Their debut hit like a wave of nostalgia for warm summer evenings, drive-ins, fast cars and aimless nights with nothing to do but get in trouble with a soundtrack that’s equally unrestrained. They pick up pretty much exactly where they left off on Nocturnal Missions, still bouncing along on taut springs and firing hooks into your life like swift kicks in the ass. Probably no surprise that there’s crossover membership from fellow Atlantans Gentleman Jesse & His Men among the ranks. They’ve got an equally ardent love of the candied pop of the crest of the ’80s but whereas Jesse usually rolls into buttery smooth territory, Barreracudas tend to reach for the outsized glam influences that took hold on the hangover of the ’70s. They were made for the bright lights glinting off of denim rivets and some platform booted stomping on your heart. This one comes via NYC bastion of punk’s bad impulses, OOPS Baby. Which seems like a perfect home for their brand of delinquent punk shenanigans.



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