Posts Tagged ‘Flat Worms’

Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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Flat Worms

There’s something fitting about Flat Worms naming their sophomore album after the last safe space in the world from a human contact perspective, while also naming it after one that’s in dire danger from humanity at large. Antarctica is a brittle, brutal, and quite honestly fair assessment of the predicaments we all find ourselves facing in 2020. Even before the proverbial rug was pulled from the amassed nations of the world, the band found themselves in a pessimistic crouch, uncompromising and unrepentant. Who else to bring these brutalities to fruition, then, but the patron saint of disposition himself, Steve Albini. The veteran producer gives little in the way of softness to the band and, in turn, they give little back. The record is fashioned in the mold of ‘90s rock that seeks to bring on a full body itch like an unwashed wool sweater. Though that doesn’t mean its not without comfort.

There are certainly hooks dug into their disdain, but they wear their frustrations on the surface first and foremost. The fire is warm here, but the smell of lighter fluid makes it unpleasant all the same. The L.A. band has been steadily building their sound over the past few EPs and singles — working up a ferocity that breaks loose on Antarctica. Their debut was lean and lanky, but this one’s put on muscle. The bass thunders but keeps its hips limber. They lay down a bedrock of metal bitten rhythm that traces the tail of the Northwest down a rabbit hole lined with Wipers singles, Mudhoney deep cuts, and Green River nihilism. The leads scream from the strain of feedback and bile. There’s been a revival of ‘90s impulses lately, it was bound to happen, but few of the revivalists have dug into what made the crux of grunge vital like this trio has. With this album Flat Worms find that same match strike that melds the hip-thrust hunger of metal with the careening trajectory of punk. Nostalgia be damned, this one feels like its got a talon in ya, and the twisting is both brutal and glorious all at once.



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Flat Worms – “The Aughts”

This upcoming Flat Worms LP continues to be one of the year’s gnarliest scorchers and that’s only further proven with the release of “The Aughts.” With Steve Albini at the controls the band laid down a single-take topper that’s raw and ravaged and fueled by the crumble of a ruling class long gone. The song is built to break — rumbling tension that blows through the restraints in sickened guitar tones and ball peen drum damage. The band issues a very bare bones video, but it works well with the song’s lean and lithe vision of what rock might be in the rubbled remains of 2020. The band’s full length is coming April 10th on Drag City imprint God? Records. Definitely one to put on the list of necessary pickups.



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Flat Worms – “Market Forces”

Perennial favorite Flat Worms made the jump last year from small indies (Castle Face/Famous Class) to Ty Segall’s GOD? Imprint over at Drag City. Their sound has only widened in the process, shedding the threadbare punk of their early works for a burled and thick thump that comes to a head on “Market Forces.” The album was produced by Segall and Steve Albini and as such carries the studio heft of those two particular poles, soldering the austere ache of Albini’s works with the punk pummel and fuzz cloud rumble the band had been fostering in their come-up alongside. The song shares some of the same appeal that latter day Purling Hiss, pushing aside spindly hooks in favor of a punishing wave of guitar cresting the horizon with each new track. The band smears their Dino Jr. throb with the West Coast fuzz coatings of Meatbodies and the Midwest rumble of Axis: Sova. The album arrives April 10th.



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Flat Worms – “Shouting At The Wall”

Another gas huffer out of L.A’s Flat Worms today. The band’s announced a bump from Castleface to Ty Segall’s imprint God? over at Drag City, and with it the band gets some recording help from the label honcho himself. Like the band’s previously breathless LP for the ‘Face, new track “Shouting At The Wall” is grinding out garage punk riffs that are scraped to the bone by sandpaper guitars and running itself ragged with a widowmaker pace that does their former SF hometown proud. The band’s long been one of the best acts bubbling under the surface of notoriety and its great to see them get a bit of a bump to the big(ger) leagues here with the DC backing. The band is built of members from a rogues gallery of good talent (Thee Oh Sees, Night Shop, Dream Boys) but they’re not holding onto any of their allegianes under the Flat Worms guise. Punk – unfussed, uncluttered and unrestrained – that’s it. With this EP the band stands to knock a few jaws loose from their moorings, and rightly so.



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Flat Worms

L.A. trio Flat Worms start things off right and proper on their first LP with the exhaust-choked grind of “Motorbike”. The standout single gets the record revved for what’s to come, which is full throttle, sandpaper-shorn guitar pop that’s rooted in a bruised and bloodied brand of ’90s alt rumble. Taken as a whole, which is honestly the best way to ingest this puppy, the record is breathless and beating down the highway, sparking adrenaline like so much petrol in the tank. The band knows how to cram a hook into the gnarled arms of middle-American angst and they know how to translate those hooks into songs that leave a mark.

That’s kinda the crux of the record, the band sweats out a mix of influences that all knew how to balance vein-ripped intensity with earworm dynamics. There’s bits of The Wipers’ bombastic shred, Hüsker Dü’s frayed reinterpretation of hardcore’s pounce and Mission of Burma’s grit-toothed whiplash. But, despite being built out of familiar forms, the record still stands tall on its own fuzz-addled foundation. The band tips the hat while proving they belong in the room with their heroes. I know that 2017 is a stuffed year, and we’re all working to pack in the praise on what stands out, but I find it hard to believe that this one is getting passed over. Or maybe I don’t, ha, the zeitgeist wave is cresting in all sorts of oblivious directions. Sometimes the good ones just get lost in the din. Either way, don’t miss this one.




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