Posts Tagged ‘Noise Rock’

Wasted Shirt – “All Is Lost”

Another great single/video from Wasted shirt seeps out into the atmosphere and its an offering at the altar of gnarled noise that won’t be ignored. The duo of Ty Segall and Brian Chippendale is pretty much everything you think that combination would warrant — frantic, frazzled, brutal, and, well, beautiful in a way. Their brand of noise-punk chews glass and spits out the dissolved shards of shape and shake onto the pavement below. There’s something inherently heavy about “All Is Lost.” Its a nihilistic grind through the futile ravages of time in an era when each day seems to bring new horrors. This was a frustrating week on a national level, perhaps nothing can sooth the savage burn like Wasted Shirt right about now.



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Taiwan Housing Project – “Toxic Garbage People”

If you missed out on Taiwan Housing Project’s KRS debut in 2017 then you’re probably not ready for their next slice of noise heaven, but you might as well buckle up and brace anyhow. The band picks up where they dropped the din prior, with singer/guitarist Kilynn Lunsford’s strychnine-laced vocals acting as the centerpiece as she thrashes, lashes, and howls herself hoarse for our benefit on “Toxic Garbage People. The song is propulsive and primed, set to blow at any minute, and that volatile nature gives the band their draw. Lunsford’s previous band, Little Claw, will remain a forever favorite around here, but she’s no less vital and vicious at the helm of THP. The new album, Sub-Language Trustees lands June 21st from NYC’s Ever/Never and it should find its way onto your ‘need’ pile based on this song alone. 2019 has been a good year for music, but it needed a little push towards bile-soaked brilliance.


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Wayne Rogers

Outside of his work with Major Stars, Crystalized Movements and Magic Hour, Wayne Rogers has had a prolific run of records under his own name. These range from acoustic comedowns to toasted cone blues, psych burnouts, and downer rock wallows that feel particularly Northeastern in their approach to the Alt-rock ripple (think Fort Apache and Feeding Tube vibes). While the Stars will always overshadow these, to discount the Rogers’ solo records is to make a major misstep. The Air Below falls squarely into that East Coast downer detour I mentioned previously and comes swinging close to early inklings that Rogers laid down on Ego River and Seven Arms of the Sun, which were both later bound up in the easier to cop CD release Absent Sounds. There’s the same sundried scorch to the guitars with just a touch of wandering shuffle that melts into a jangled haze. The noise is still working its way around, but as a tool, rather than the focus here.

This is Roger’s first solo work since 2008’s Infinite For Now and while it, like most Twisted Village releases, appears out of thin air without its share of the deserved PR fanfare, the record is a great addition to his longstanding stable. His experimental releases are always foaming in the right ways, but these vocal strummers seem to scratch a particular itch. The blast of air from “Bad Idea” is among his best – high octane guitar burn coupled with Rogers’ amiably nasal croon make it feel like the perfect mix of ‘90s record labels reaching further into the underground than was advisable. It echoes the kind of noise-flecked burners that found their way to the airwaves despite themselves and we all wound up better for their hubris. Not so long ago Twisted Village folded without an expectant return date, but with this release, both Rogers and the label come bounding back, reminding us all why they were so vital in the first place.



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Paint Thinner

Invariably when Detroit is thrown down as a geographical pinpoint, thoughts turn to soul, funk, proto-punk, and to the Aughts’ onslaught of garage. More recently, though, with an abundant availability of warehouse space and relatively lower living costs, noise and art-punk have hunkered down in the Motor City as well. Not such a stretch, considering the same has been true of anchor points just south in Columbus and Cleveland, and as a native of Michigan, I can’t think of any better forms to express the pent-up frustrations of six months of frigid climes pinned to the creeping permanence of strip mall sprawl. Its in this climate that Paint Thinner make their move. While the band isdefinitely not garage, they aren’t exactly punks by design either.

The group (which pulls members from Human Eye, Terrible Twos and Frustrations) hovers in the crevices between noise and punk, soaking in the acerbic juices that once fostered Wire’s transition away from streamlined punk strategies and towards something more sinister. There’s a lot of tension at play in the band’s songs – builds that don’t necessarily resolve, a chewing of strings, a twist of discordance that gives the album an overcast pallor. Like Sonic Youth, Royal Trux, and Television before them, though, the band tends to find their best moments in emerging from noise just slightly to play with catchier forms, before lurching back into the churn.

The bulk of The Sea of Pulp, however, raises its head above the noise barrier only to establish forms and then it tugs between the dirge draggin’ modes of the ‘90s and the more introverted dropouts of Slint and their ilk looking to find bliss between the pedals. There are some genuine moments that raise this up, but also a few that lose steam in the pot. In the end the album runs on the unexpected ninety-degree twist, as perhaps most articulated by their admitted influence in Syd Barrett. While Barrett might have been truly lost in his own musical non-sequiturs, Paint Thinner seem to always be eyeing the crowd with raised brows. This makes that unexpected twist, rather expected by the end of the record. Lots to love here, but perhaps it feels like we’ve been down these roads before.



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Gnod

Gnod’s last album was full of righteous indignation, sparked by the toxic fumes of Brexit and Trump, it was a searing manifesto of rebellion that called for bucking the system, underpinned with the kind of noise hurricane that rightly accompanies such sentiments. Their follow-up remains, at least tonally, in line with the pounding rock typhoon they unleased on that album, dipping toes slightly into the caustic post-punk and harsh noise masks they’ve donned before but welling up the same level of intensity that spiked the blood pressure last time ‘round. On Chapel Perilous though, they ditch a great deal of the straight-forward, sonic turpentine execution that marked Just Say No… ‘s beating heart.

This time the band aren’t operating as the first line dissenters, they’re leaning into the chaos that’s become the daily bread. Their intensity and anger is shot through a disorienting prism, bouncing the blindingly heavy hues across an endless web of mirrors via gummy dub touches, clattering repetitious beats and acid bath guitars. There’s still a gnashed tooth, clenched fisted attack but on Chapel Perilous Gnod act as a conduit for the fears that are arising around us seemingly by the moment. The band is plugged straight to the alarmingly quick descent into dystopian ideals that have come one after another these days and they’re just as adrift, still angry but now swinging wildly rather than acting as a battering ram set to topple the gates.

This can be felt most prominently in the gale force opener “Donovan’s Daughters,” a fifteen-minute ripper that builds to cathartic screams of “I don’t know where this is going.” The track shines an x-ray on every panic attack moment had while scrolling through the day, building to boil until the tension can’t hold. Dread’s been a good friend to Gnod over the years but they’ve rarely wielded it as well as they have here. Sandwiched between that opener and the similarly riled “Uncle Frank Says Turn It Down,” the band trades in itchy instrumentals that claw at the base of the skull and the respirator drones of “A Body”. If Just Say No… was a call to arms, this album is a distress call bouncing off the beacons with little hope that anyone’s going to answer.



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Robedoor

Somehow it feels prescient that Robedoor have returned with a load of anxiety crusted psychic fallout in the midst of 2017. What could convey the looming cloud of dread and disgust better than L.A.’s preeminent purveyors of noise rattled knuckle biters? Britt and Alex Brown took a devil’s sojourn of four years between their last noise nugget and New Age Sewage, ostensibly so that Britt could focus on his noise/dance empire of Not Not Fun and 100% Fun, but it seems like old times on the new album.

The record is, well let’s not say cleaned up, but somehow there’s a clarity to their vision of hi-bias distortion paranoia. It’s booming through louder than ever, but while the tape hiss may have tempered, the fountain of filth keeps flowing as steadily as ever. Sickly swaying through a wasteland of rusted metal beats and radiation vibe synths, the record is slightly less evil than they’ve felt in the past, but no less apocalyptic. This time around they seem to be less the purveyors of ritual blood lust and more the reflecting pool of what they see around them. In any year, Robedoor feel like a scream into the abyss, but this year, we’re screaming with them.




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Xetas

Austin’s Xetas have been carving out a gnashed and gnarled existence on 12xU for a couple of releases yet, but The Tower arrives as their most bracing and simultaneously fun album yet. The band toes the line between its hardcore entrenchment and a crack of pop punk simmering just below their veil of noise. The tug and pull between those two forces makes the bulk of The Tower a sweaty good time any any given night. The band’s packed the LP full of songs that push at the seams of their 3-4 min boundaries swollen with a fight that’s admirable in it’s tenacity.

When they spike the aggression into the redline, they’re sincere in their desire to burn down the forces that bind them. They lash out in sandpaper howls and high burn cardio workouts of guitar thrash. But as anyone who grew up with that particular strain of punk propulsion might attest, an entire album stuck on that setting can be as exhausting as it can be cathartic. So it’s with a cocked smile that I have to appreciate Xetas want to slow things down to the anthemic bounce of a Thermals cut to bash out some fun thrash poppers on “The Burden,” “The Jaws” or closer “The Machine.” The Tower serves as a palette cleanser for the mind, shaving off a layer of filth from the week and leaving the listener ready for another ten rounds with the world in the next working week.




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Gnod

Gnod capture the mood of the moment with a scathing album that vacillates between numb noise and outbursts of explosive indignation. A year after their last album, which played up their post-punk side, they choose to go for brutality over nuance and it feels good on them, not to mention aids in the cathartic absorption of the psychic shitstorm that’s swirling closer every day. The opener, “Bodies For Money” is a boot to the neck, a wake up call that lets the listener know that Gnod is ready to get into the noise trenches for this one. Though, it should be pretty self-evident that the band is on the rampage from the moment the sixteen-ton title, JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE rolls off of the tongue.

While the sludge and pummel of noise rock is the roux that gets this album going, they’re not entirely unyielding with regard to adding other elements to the pot. There’s a primal dance that runs through several of the tracks, not so much in the club sense, more along the lines of working oneself into a trance for battle. And by all regards that seems to be where Gnod is headed with this. They’re eschewing subtlety and leaving that road for someone with more patience. It’s evident that they prefer to smack the populace awake and light a few fuses before it’s too late. Gotta find that at least a bit admirable. If you’re looking to soundtrack your civil disobedience, you’d do well to put Gnod on the speakers and let the volume knob fly.




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E

The year’s not over yet, and there are still plenty of captivating releases slipping in around the edges well worth your time. E is the trio of Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull), Jason Sanford (Neptune), and Gavin McCarthy (Karate), creating a cacophonous blast of dark shadowed sound that leans into industrial and post-rock for equal measures of inspiration. The band’s debut is littered with craggy outcroppings of guitar, punctured with the lock n’ pummel drumming and an driven by an overt sense of rhythm on their eponymous record. Zedek has long been a force for experimentation within her career and she brings the same willingness to obscure genre boundaries as the basis of E’s backbone.

Though, as expressed by the band themselves, this isn’t just Zedek’s project. McCarthy provides just as much vocal heft as she does here, taking on a frantic tone giving some explosive performances of his own. There isn’t a track that doesn’t speak to the band’s collaborative appraoach, feeding off of one another over the course of E‘s two sides. Still, its hard to ignore Zedek’s guitar work, equal parts crunched aluminum and fluid mercury, mechanical but never without a beating heart. Post-rock may be a dirty term these days to some, but there’s plenty of life to be found outside of the swaying choruses, verses and strums. E is proving that a cerebral approach still knows how to crush.




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Oneida & Rhys Chatham – “You Get Brighter”

They’ve played together in the past, including a stint at ATP in 2013 but this matchup had yet to put hte magic to tape until now. The union seems like a natural fit, though Chatham expressed doubt prior to their collaboration, but one listen to some of Oneida’s less rock driven material of late (the dub-inflected work on their split with Teeth of the Sea, the extended drone workouts of A List of the Burning Mountains) speaks to a like-minded meeting of innovators. The first track from the collaboration is bracing and brittle, but not so divorced from rock that it doesn’t have a feeling being comfortable on stage in front of a noise-rock crowd. As the track evolves it gathers a more experimental direction, and the notion of having to stay in the rock lane never seems like a given. The song growls and then breaks into a buzzing sea of feedback, chewed glass and wire. Its just the sort of track that I’m looking for with those two names up on the marquee.



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