Posts Tagged ‘New Wave’

Ausmuteants

Ausmuteants third record of mind-flayed punk finds the band just as bracing as they’ve always been, tearing through blistered tempos, mutant squalls and the same blend of new wave weirdness and tenacious bite that’s borne them into RSTB’s hearts time and again. There are plenty who seek to pick up the yoke that was once held high by a nascent DEVO and chewed like glass in the mouths of Chrome, The Screamers or Magazine, but Ausmuteants have rightfully nailed the squirming eye of sci-fi infected punk. Practically every inch of Ausmuteants sounds like its inhabiting the world of Otto Maddox from Repo Man, Crabs from Dead End Drive-in or Rebeca Buck in Tank Girl. They’ve got the pent-up fury and the punch to the throat that gets things started, but what Ausmuteants have really going for them is that syth strain of sci-fi flash that feels like they’d have understood the weirdness and rolled with it.

The band smoothed a bit for Order of Operation but they seem to have gotten their blood boiling again on Band of the Future. The angles are sharper, the synths squirm at the touch and vocalist Jake Robertson is lyrically eviscerating any subject he chooses to lay into. Sure there are some that might scoff at the title Band of the Future, given that the ’70s influences that drive them are so open and apparent. But here’s the thing, when bands like Devo or The Screamers or Chrome brought their apocalyptic punk to the masses, there was genuine worry for a nuclear winter. There was a very real threat of wasteland politics on the rise. I’m not so certain the music of the future isn’t still rooted in this kind of fanged blast of charged punk, ready to bolster unhinged courage in the face of societal breakdown. Seems like there’s an air of apocalypse gathering in the public consciousness once again. If we’re getting closer to that Thunderdome each year, there’s not much else I want blasting from the speakers of my own scrapyard conveyance than a bit of Ausmuteants.



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Ausmuteants – “Music Writers”

Ausmuteants know how to cut to the damn core. Not only do they insist on reminding us why Devo will always be the most badass assassins of the new wave revolution, but they do it while insulting the very cycle of press and regurgitation that prevails in this age of music journalism. Hell, I sympathize completely. Commentary and criticism have gone by the wayside in favor of quick wrist content and onesheet pilfering to ease the speed. You’re getting hard pressed to find an opinion on why songs are good, just a link and a puff of smoke from the label’s copy. But aside from the biting lyricism, “Music Writers” is stacked full of the sci-fi twinge of synth and caffeinated guitars that Ausmuteants have made their own over the last couple of years, and to be truthful, they’ve rarely done it as well as they have here. Its them at their most acerbic and their catchiest. Its the full package. So lap it up.




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Radar Eyes – “Community”

I’m almost a little wary to believe this is the same Radar Eyes that surfaced in 2012 on their eponymous LP. Where once there was a murky garage chug, now the band have blown full on into a jangled ’80s headspace that’s cribbing hard from their Echo and the Bunnymen and Cure collections; none maybe more so than “Community” which seems like it could easily pass for an Echo b-side lost to the winds. The band is nailing the theatrical sweep, the dark crashes of synth and guitar and Anthony Cozzi’s booming vocals find themselves stretching over the top in every sense of the phrase. There’s a strain of XTC winding its way through there as well and, while all these influences don’t necessarily speak to creating an original footprint with their new direction, they’re paying their 80’s homage right. “Community” is a nice bit of jangle n’ jolt that finds itself stuck your head every time.

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Wyatt Blair – “Monday Morning Mess”

The sad demise of Pop Zeus’ Mikey Hodges left the fate of his collaborative LP with Wyatt Blair in permanent stasis, and the fate of Blair himself open ended in the wake of his friends passing. True to form though, Wyatt has picked up the pair’s indomitable vibe and parlayed it into a solo record that has the same lust for power pop as screened through the 80’s dayglo sheen of MTV, nervy new wave excess and an untitled buddy comedy starring John Cusack and Corey Feldman that only exists in my head. Lead off single is chowing down Eddy Money mania while channeling a version of The Kings enamored with The Cars’ syth sound. There’s never a glut of power pop but Blair sends those chills of excitement down your spine, getting it just right along with other crunch pop heroes of today like Barreracudas and Warm Soda. Pair it all up with a grainy video that feeds on the best of the the video vault cliche’s and its hard not to crack a smile for Blair’s double slice of fun. The album’s on the way in August and that’s just in time to crank it for some Summer sendoffs.

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Wymond Miles – Call By Night

On his third solo album for Sacred Bones, Wymond Miles pares back his sound while delving deep into the heart of pain and past with traumas both new and old. The album calls back to Miles’ youth in small working class towns, a side of America that’s been thrust into the light of day harder than ever this year. For those that grew up in the heartland among the flat expanses, endless highways and smell of carbide deeply ingrained into every fiber of life, its a bleak reminder as Miles unfolds a life less charmed in blistering black and white. For Miles, his towns lie further to the West than the rust belt ruts of my own youth. A land of promise from the turn of the century on, offering endless vistas and a life less managed and just as often offering a life less fruitful and quietly suffocating. Its a landscape that was built up high and only had further to fall from grace. Like the American South, the West has its billboard towns and vacation centers but on the other side of any vacation town lie those who’d love nothing more than for their tenure in town to end.

Call By Night touches on war’s human scars and youth’s permanent marks, and in his framing, Miles backs off a touch on the overt touches of Echo and the Bunnymen that have swathed his earlier records. There’s still a grandeur to this one, but its stripped clean and simple, like wire ready to be harnessed to a spark. Miles’ voice is up close and booming in your ears like an accusation. The songs are sparse, not to the point of being empty, but unfettered in a way that gives them a bigger punch when he unlooses his demeanor. The tension is thick, like the wounds never healed, feeling as if he picks at the bandage it might all unravel. And sometimes it does, such as when he burns the world down on the devastating centerpiece “Divided In Two.” He’s been an integral part of Fresh & Only’s dark pop corners and it seems that after his sophomore album he almost packed it in, but as Call By Night can attest, its a good thing he had another one to get out of him. This is Miles at his best and a boon to those souls curled under the covers waiting for the dawn to come each day.

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Omni – “Afterlife”

New cut from this Atlanta trio on Trouble in Mind recalls a welcomed jittery blast of new wave / post-punk dragging the line from ’77 – ’81. Flecked with bits of Televison’s hangover and Robert Quine’s shaky surgeon’s hand, the band seems well versed in their music nerdom. Stapling those post-punk guitars to the safety glass gaze of Devo and Pylon, they’re definitely rumbling down a hallway that I’ve got a soft spot for. The video pays homage in kind with some Commodore 64 vintage graphics that feel out the same angles they’re pinning to the track. This song’s giving me plenty of room for anticipation for the rest of Omni’s full length. Hopes on that the rest has the same jittery jones.

More info HERE.

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Mind Spiders

Mark Ryan’s made plenty a name for himself with his work in Marked Man but as the years wear on he’s building an equal reputation for Mind Spiders. Running on an engine of sneering and searing new wave, propulsive with an evil glint in its eyes, Mind Spiders sit well in company with the twitchy latter day hijinks of Hierophants and Andy Human. Its nice to see the garage boys grabbing keys and chewing tinfoil until the riffs bleed and in the case of Mind Spiders they tend to bleed a disturbing blue-green that hints at something plenty sinister below the surface. The sci-fi vibes run rampant and that’s the way some of the best new wave and post-punk should work, I love a band that gets nerdy for nerdy’s sake while keeping it catchy. There are only eight tracks here but the band leaves you breathless by the time the last track clicks to a close. Its been a good run indeed up to where they stand today but Prosthesis is the strongest set yet from the Spiders.




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Pere Ubu – Elitism For the People

Who would’ve thought one of New Wave’s flashpoints lie in Cleveland, that the heartland held the spark that fanned a blaze? Pere Ubu rose out of the crumbling hull of Rocket From The Tombs, creating over the course of ’75-76 a couple of singles that would catch the ears of Mercury Records, who in turn created the Blank imprint just to get Ubu out to the world. Seems like a dream now, a major label fighting to get fractured art-punk to the masses despite knowing that little commercial success might come of it. The band existed in the same glowing headspace that allowed Devo, Ultravox and Public Image Ltd into the homes of impressionable youths with a glinting, metallic taste of commercialism gnawing at their tongues and the unrelenting itch to buck rock’s bloat nagging like a shirt tag. The band’s debut, included here, was, probably much to Mercury’s dismay, not a pounding commercial success and its probably apparent from the very first piercing tones why. Though it stands as a monument to punk’s lasting impact and acerbic stance to this day.

Mercury did not see it that way and the band were dropped following the record, leading them to Chrysalis, a home of much of the prog rock excess that it would seem they were in direct reaction to, though they’d swing to a much more welcoming roster in the years to come (Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Stiff Little Fingers). There the band took no notice to Mercury’s obvious reaction to their difficult debut and created a record even more unwelcoming in its wake. Dub Housing is often touted as the band’s high water mark and Tom Herman heralds a new generation of bands folding noise into their guitar work here. In turn, David Thomas continues his mission to push the limits of how a frontman can be perceived, peppering the album with his chaotic yelp and driving it towards the edge of its own cliff. The record, again, was not a household staple. As with Mercury, Chrysalis dropped them after just one record.

Fire’s first box of Pere Ubu’s journey contains these two pieces of the puzzle along with The Hearpen singles, those early bits of kindling that brought the fire to life, and a set recorded at Pere Ubu’s peak in 1977 at Max’s Kansas City. The band lives on after this, but not in as deranged circumstances. Though its been said that “there are no inessential Pere Ubu releases” and even the latter catalog has a twisted fire that the label has now documented in a second set. If ever there was a “show your work” example of why Pere Ubu need to be in your life and probably were in the lives of someone you’re listening to, Elitism For The People is the set to put the theory to the test.

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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.

Listen:


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Andy Human & The Reptoids

Great news rains down in the form of Andy Human’s new long player, this time augmented with a cast of other Bay Area freaks kitted out as The Reptoids. The record kicks through the same weird weeds of punk / new wave fodder that Andy Jordan has sunk his teeth into before, but this time all the senses are blown up and working overtime. Chewing on tin foil hooks that rumble through Devo infested jungles, littered with Twinkeyz ticket stubs, Roxy music posters and probably a worn copy of that Ozzie reissue; the eponymous LP is glazed with the kind of technicolor punk that only seemed to exist in b-movies. Splashes of Buckaroo Banzai / Dead End Drive-in / Repo Man chaotic hangover waft in from the irradiated guitar lines and razor sharp sax blasts, sickened keys fight for air with Jordan’s demanding yelps and it feels like ’79 again. That’s the thing about Andy Human, its never felt like a hollow imitation but more of a method study in the sick and warbled fringes of 70’s art-punk and he absolutely nails it on the head once again.


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