Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

ZEEL

This compilation LP culls together an album and bonus single from Boston’s Zeel and the feeling is both familiar and refreshing. The sounds here could easily have sat somewhere between the output of SST and Homestead in the ‘80s, mixing the hard-scrabble rock of Hüsker Dü with the gnarled weirdness of Dinosaur Jr. The band’s more interested in grit that the shiny promise of a hook and I have to respect that. Guitars are rush through stomp box fuzz and through the speakers in graveled saunter. The vocals fight with the amplifier fuzz for dominance, giving equal footing to riff and ramble.

The record makes a great case for a return to the ripped denim and unwashed tee shirt smell of pre-grunge. Every song here is working hard to hit that sweet spot when punk met head on with the wanting touch of the jangled sweat that was brewing in the backroom of college radio stations and stuck between the pages of zines with more passion that direction. They embrace that moment before the tide turned and the Singles soundtrack came and threw the goodwill into the fan, spreading it far and wide through suburban America. Sure, there’s a case to be made that the sounds have been mined, but there’s more probably more to carve out of the rock. This one sits nicely next to Milk Music and early Gun Outfit on your shelf of new rumblers.





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Sweeping Promises

Been sitting with the debut from Boston’s Sweeping Promises for a few weeks now and the record only endears itself harder with each listen. The band’s set the record up to neatly echo a lost generation of punk, post-punk, and New Wave, threading a rhythmic urgency, fluorescent keys, and the velvet right hook of Lira Mondal’s vocals through the speakers. The band recorded the whole LP live to a single mic in the room, which seems like it would flatten things to a lo-fi lump. Yet, while this is by no means a polished album, they use the austerity to their advantage, letting memories of no-frills punk like Kleenex, The Germs, or The Slits act as a blueprint here. Hunger For a Way Out in turn feels like the sonic equivalent of a xeroxed show flyer — instantly inviting, vibrant, and urgent, but not overwrought in any way. They drop into the ranks of newer DIY punks who’ve found space to play within the classic sounds, making it clear that they’re picking up the baton and running forward rather than retreading. Fans of Lithics, Shopping, or Primo, will find a lot to love here.

As I mentioned in my write-up of the band’s single “Falling Forward,” one of the things that really makes the record work are the vocals from Mondal. Despite the rudimentary recording setup, the band’s able to let her voice flex over the top of the elastic energy bubbling below her. Its a shaded delivery, not going into the obvious yelp or affecting the flat delivery that post-punk so often produces. She can attack when needed, letting that high crack fit the fury, but there’s a good amount of Debbie Harry in the DNA here, if only Blondie had gotten wirier rather than more polished in their tenure. Not a lot of debuts drop out this fully formed, and while there’s clearly room to see if the band can apply polish and retain the percolating pulse that Hunger possesses, there’s also a little hope that they retain this ragged glory forever.





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Sweeping Promises – “Falling Forward”

Got a new slice of post-punk simmer today from Boston band Sweeping Promises and it merits coming back to again and again. “Falling Forward’ picks at the scars of Kleenex, Chomp-era Pylon and The Au Pairs while setting the band up as comfortable contemporaries to current wave stunners like Lithics. The Promises are tackling post-punk forms while taking a razor to the fat that can sometimes hamper the genre. I’m always a sucker for a leaner, more sinewy brand of post-punk and “Falling Forward” delivers. Like Lithics, Sweeping Promises keep the guitars sharp and precarious, the bass bulbous and propulsive, but there’s a less parched undercurrent that separates the band from past and present comparisons. The vocals of Lira Mondal push the band into a richer sound that swells around the song. While she nails the pogo-primed yelp, there’s a feeling that the band were flipping Blondie records on the deck just as often as The Fall and that effusive delivery lets the song change like a mood stone depending on the temperature of your day. Hunger For A Way Out is out August 14th.





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Banshee

In an age that bubbles under with rage, someone needs to tap the crack that breaks the damn. The floodwaters don’t always have to be righteous, sometimes they just need to be cathartic. That’s where Boston’s Banshee come in. Livin’ In The Jungle lets the chaos of the current free with the kind of wild abandon that feels counterintuitive of late. The band are huffing the exhaust from the sinewy side of the ‘70s. Their new LP for Feeding Tube/Cardinal Fuzz is knuckle beaten by the animal instincts of The Stooges, The Deviants, and Dead Boys, but they don’t stay down in the dirt for the entirety of their trip. While a primal thrum is at their core, the band stripes the record with a psychedelic smoke that winds itself around these chiseled rhythms. On “Dawn of Man” the band pounds a glam-stomped beat that reverberates to the bone, but they lace it up with ecstatic strings and narcotic gang vocals. In that regard, they take a good couple of swigs off the hippie hell raiser brand that Hawkwind and The Pink Fairies used to stoke their fires.

Beset with howls and the squalls of horns competing to crack the senses, “Savage Man” is hot to the touch, but the band are pretty quick to inject a good ounce of dry ice dampness elsewhere. Biker-psych isn’t a genre that gets too much love these days, and when it does its never with this level of self-awareness and swagger. Simmer the releases of Hoover III and Zig Zags down to their bits and bottle ‘em and its a brew coming close to what Banshee have concocted. The band aren’t afraid to mix their psychedelic metaphors and I respect that. They’re perfectly happy to dip their throat-shredded ozone burners in the mayfair trappings of hippiedom and it works so well. This one has all the earmarks of a record that’s going to get slept on, so I’m urging you not to be among the poor souls left behind. Crack the windows and let this one echo off the second stories around you.



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Joseph Allred

Feeding Tube resumes its breakneck schedule of underground gems with a new release from Boston picker Joseph Allred. The guitarist has been knocking out great tapes for some time, including a few this year on the quietly endearing new imprint Garden Portal recs, but this marks the man’s third LP proper, following up 2016’s Fire & Earth for Scissor Tail. In his tape travels Allred has explored the persona of Poor Faulkner, a lonesome middle-aged man with an inner sadness and outer problem with ghosts of the non-metaphorical variety. Though his works are instrumental, this character’s narrative informs the tangle of strings that Allred weaves over the course of O Meadowlark. The titles tell of a man visted by a bird, coaxed to a wooded cabin in search of an Angel who brings a vision to Poor Faulkner. The album only plays out through his ascension with the promise of that vision to come in a later album.

While the narrative adds a nice color and emotional heft to the stringwork, even without the tale the album is an engrossing listen. Following in the Takoma tradition, Allred’s phrasing knocks between the river rambles of Basho and the Eastern sun salutations that Richard Bishop prefers. He swaps between guitar and banjo with ease, using the latter to rise like the sun in his vignette. Allred’s style is absorbing and it’s hard to escape the web of notes that he weaves. They surround the listener, dancing, dizzying, taunting, coaxing. He pulls the album back from the brink of technical showmanship, careful not to let it become just a flex of talent. Rather he imparts every note with the proper emotional heft to make the tempest of sound a heartbreaking aural journey. If you’re new to Allred’s catalog, this is a nice entry point and here’s hoping that Faulkner’s epiphany warrants a sequel to this stunner.



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Major Stars – “For Today”

Its a great day when Major Stars are back in action. The veteran psych band has been pushing their volume dipped heavy psych for nine albums now and the first taste of their latest for Drag City is a reminder that while there are plenty of new band’s crawling for the mantle, some lone warriors earned it long ago and might be hard to topple. The band has cycled through a few vocalist in the past few years but newcomer Hayley Thompson-King seems fit for the fury that the axis of Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar are pushing behind her. The track is as heavy as anything The Dead Weather have been kicking out these past few years, but without the truly glossy topcoat. Major Stars have always known how to get a bit gritty and dirty, without ever losing volume and impact. This is a good omen of things to come on Motion Set.

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