Posts Tagged ‘Lithics’

Favorite Albums of 2020

Here’s the year end list. I’m not gonna wax on about how this year was rough, we all know it was a shit year and even more so for artists. It was, however, a great year for recorded music, and I had a hard time not making this list about twice as long to show love for all the albums that lifted me this year. I’ve long been against the whole idea of numbered lists, so once again things are presented in quasi-alphabetical style (I always mess one or two up in creating this, but you get the point). I’ve included Bandcamp embeds where they exist, so if you have the means and find something new, please reach out and support the artists here. Looking forward to 2021 as another year that music makes getting through easier.

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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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Lithics

Post-punk in the new age has a pretty wide berth. While many feel free to ascribe the tag, their brand of the brew certainly feels welcoming, eschewing some of the raised hackles tendencies that made uncomfortable seem so appealing. Lithics have spent their tenure embracing the itch of post-punk — the brittle guitar gasp, the rubber-legged rhythms, and the leaden vocals that aim to knock you off your perch. The band’s been building steam through an ace run of labels, hopping from Water Wing to Kill Rock Stars, with a stop at Thrilling Living before they land their barbed attacks at Trouble in Mind for Tower of Age.

The qualities that endeared the band to the curdled masses the first (and second) time around remain in tact. The band still wields a hook with intent to maim and the rhythm is infectious in a clinical sense. While they often conjure up the bare-bulb flicker of minimalist austerity they employ a subversive strain like the best of their forbears. Where Au Pairs and Pere Ubu let discomfort crack the glass on the comfortable life, Lithics pick up the shattered shards and twist them into the wounds their influences left behind. The album festers but somehow you’re drawn in closer. The woolen weight of Lithics cannot be ignored and eventually it gets under the skin to stay.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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Lithics – “Hands”

The heavy hitters of 2020 continue to roll out today with “Hands” from RSTB faves Lithics. The Portland foursome makes a jump from Kill Rock Stars to the ranks of Trouble in Mind for their new LP Tower of Age and the fist listen proves they’re still slicing. There’s never a shortage of post-punk popping up in any given year but little of it can cut like Lithics cut. The band’s got Glaxo Babies in their veins, a dose of Contortions minus the sax blast in their brain, and a vocal veneer that goes toe to toe with Au Pairs for its sheer “no bullshit” approach. Their last album was a reminder why wiry hooks and desert-dry delivery still sand the rough edges off of life in the 2010s. The band wields the hook here like a garrote — tensile and deadly. The track crouches for the first half, but when the band lets the restraints loose, “Hands” unfurls its floodwater riffs with full force. This one’s a crusher for sure. With former Trouble in Minders Omni having left the nest, Lithics slot themselves into the stable nicely as the deadpan dealers with a crushed glass grit. Get familiar. Checkout the video for “Hands” above and pick up the new LP June 5th.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Lithics – “Photograph, You Of”

Following up a biting album for Kill Rock Stars earlier in the year, Lithics waste no time with a follow-up single for SF label Thrilling Living. The first cut traverses similar terrain to the long player, hammered metal guitars lurch and twitch their way through a menacing dance, perching precariously to the edge of mania. There’s an insistent rhythm that underpins this track – dirgey, dogged, and driven. This one hits just as hard if not harder than anything I’ve heard from the band to this point, still oddly hypnotic and catchy in its own way but definitely not looking to soften the impact that those serrated strings pull off with any chewy hooks. Billed as a double-A side, the flip of can only hope to match the open-handed smack that “Photograph, You Of” delivers. 2018 pushes Lithics to the top of the pile of post-punks looking to make good. I suggest you keep an ear on them.



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Lithics

When it comes to post-punk these days, I’m a fan of the brittle, parched-throat approach that’s stuffed with bulbous bass and crimped wire guitars. Stow your smokey-eyed goth crooners, I want those guitars to lacerate and the atmosphere choked to hospital waiting room levels of forced air. Portland’s Lithics serve up just the thing, a satisfying album that’s scoring and snapping hooks off like drywall – rough-edged and choking the listener on their dust. The band is bred on a cocktail of The Contortions, Galaxo-Babies and Au Pairs – hiding rusted hooks in their surgical slice with ill intent. The approach is just enough to let the listener wander close before the sucker punch of Aubrey Hornor’s ball peen hammer vocals knocks them sideways.

Perhaps only labelmates Taiwan Housing Project or British dance diviners Shopping are working in quite such frantic strokes these days. But Lithics, unlike their contemporaries in label parentage or their UK counterparts don’t let on the sly wink that there’s fun to be had. Not that you can’t move to Lithics – you can and should, but they inspire a top-button tamped down, full-body jerk that feels manic and draws looks of concern from other occupants of the mashed mass audience. There’s beauty in their dissonance and order to their entropy but there’s menace in their strings and you best not take them too lightly.

If all this sounds like it’s not fun, then perhaps things are too kush on your side of the couch. Anxious energy throttles the sinews and Lithics know just how to draw it out. They’ve created a perfect conduit for shaking the itch that threatens to catch in the lungs. Lithics know you either face the panic head-on or let it consume you. Your choice I suppose.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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