Posts Tagged ‘Feel It Records’

The Toms – The 1979 Sessions

Anyone who’s been tumbling down the power pop staircase long enough eventually stumbles on the eponymous album from The Toms. Created by longtime studio vet, Thomas Marolda, the record is as solid as anything under the late ‘70s banner of the genre. Marolda was set to record The Smithereens when the band cancelled and instead he used the gap in his schedule to record the sessions that would wind up on his eponymous debut. Through it wasn’t just the tight tracklist that made the cut, he’d actually spent that lost weekend recording more than three albums worth of material. Some of this has made it onto various expanded CD versions over the years, but the material on The 1979 Sessions marks a round up of the remaining material from the weekend.

Marolda would go on to work behind the desk and in songwriting well into the present, and he’s picked The Toms moniker back up in recent years, but it’s impressive that even the third round cutting floor from the sessions in ’79 remain as packed with hooks as the songs included in this set. The set has landed over at Feel It Records who are finally pressing this lot to LP and giving it a good archival home. If you’ve never dug through The Toms’ original album, by all means start there, but if power pop oddities is your thing, there’s a bit more new blood from the band right here.



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Smarts – “Real Estate Agent”

Another jolt here from Aussie band Smarts and it’s just as fun as the first. The band’s really nailing the Midwest boredom breakers — echoing an era of punk that was caustic yet careening towards sneered and smeared fun. This time around the band ups the pacing past practical and lets the track wobble in and out of control with only the thick blast of horns keeping this one tied to the tracks. “Real Estate Agent” truly chomps down hard on the Geza X and Black Randy vibes they profess a love for, but there’s a bit more of a party atmosphere to what Smarts are laying down, feeling like they might have hit a raucous house party alongside Pylon down about Athens in the ‘80s before a tour of the American rust belt. The band throws a bit of glitter into the eyes of punk purists, blinding the ornery itchers in the process. They don’t take themselves too seriously and like a few of their Geelong peers the feeling makes the hooks hit twice as hard. This one’s coming down from Anti-Fade and Feel It in tandem and believe me the whole thing is a damn delight.


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Smarts – “Cling Wrap”

A defibrillator to the soul from a new Aussie unit (with some familiar names) out of Geelong. Smarts nail nervy, synth-jolted punk to the wall and the first cut off of their upcoming LP Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? is an absolute bumper car wreck of sprinting guitars, gulping at serotonin and slamming into whatever’s in their way. The band brings Anti-Fade helmer Billy Gardner (Cereal Killer, Ausmuteants) back together with his Living Eyes bandmate Mitch Campleman. They round out the crew with Sally Buckley keeping the synths greasy, Anti-Fade regular Jake Robertson (School Damage, Hierophants), and Stella Rennex (Bananagun, Parsnip) on sax. Like Devo knocked up half a speed and bent through wonky wiring, the band is chomping at the squirm-punk pedigree of the loner class of the ‘70s. They’re picking through the garbage of Suburban Laws and Black Randy & The Metrosquad while finding some purchase with the Midwestern glue brigade from Ubu to Dow Jones and on through the anti-social teardowns of The Uranium Club. Somehow the players in this crew are constantly exhuming Geza X, but I think that’s a more of a pet project than a selling point. If they connect it to enough bands one of you listeners is bound to check that lost classic. The LP is split between Anti-Fade in Aus and Feel It for US, and I’d recommend getting it locked on your speakers soon.




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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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The Cowboys – “The Beige Collection”

Bloomington’s garage-soul swelters The Cowboys are back and the carefree flow that was palpable on The Bottom of a Rotten Flower seems to have evaporated overnight as we head into their new LP, Room of Clons. “The Beige Collection” is a dark, brooding introduction to their new LP, driving deep into the night with a hungry riff and the vocals of frontman Keith Harman hovering over the listener with a sinister edge. Seems the rest of the album might return to some of their homegrown punk roots but here, for the moment, The Cowboys are post-punk purveyors of a measured menace that’s hard to shake. The record hits shops and mailboxes alike on April 4th.


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