Posts Tagged ‘Oakland’

Andy Human & The Reptoids

Oakland squirm punks Andy Human & The Reptoids are back with another long player and it’s charging through the hallways ripping down your Duran Duran posters and spray-painting DEVO all over the walls. Human (nee Jordan) has been mining the nerd curdle of the ‘80s for some time now, though Psychic Sidekick might be his most complete vision yet. While they’re a bit more constrained than similar t-zone dropouts like Ausmuteants, Timmy Vulgar, or Hierophants – the band doesn’t scrape the glue-soaked freak centers as often as others – they still know how to inject a good dose of plastic shrapnel into their brand of punk. When they’re at their best they’re echoing high quality discomfort warriors like Twinkeyz and Simply Saucer for next gen of back row miscreants and the new LP rounds up quite a lot of their best.

Guitars thrash, a haze of ionospheric synth static rains down, and Jordan’s nasal vocal puncture is exactly what’s called for to keep the insomniac punks running ‘til dawn. This time ‘round they run their tongues over ten tales railing against mind melt of mundanity like it’s a mission statement. The band liquifies the banal cabal surrounding them in their heat vision hooks – jittering and hopping through tracks with freakish glee. If you’ve been stuck and stranded, at loss for a dose of quasar chaos to get you through the day, then I’d heartily recommend at least one daily dose of Reptoids in yer life.




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Rays

On their previous album Oakland’s Rays merged wiry post-punk with the current wave of Aussie indie that’s been riffling through Flying Nun singles and Go-Betweens B-sides as inspiration. There were bright spots of jangle that jutted through the din last time around, but on You Can Get There From Here the band has embraced their more melodic impulses upfront, giving the album an accessibility they’d sometimes rebuffed in the past. Like fellow West Coasters Massage, they’re clearly dog paddling through the best Aussie upstarts – cherry picking bits of Boomgates, Blank Realm and Terry – while leaning on a double-dose of detergent-core from The Clean and Cleaners From Venus.

The slight scrub-up feels good on them, though they’re not wiping away their grit completely. The record leaves plenty of un-sanded edges that give their sound the same kind of unfussed and genuine weight that their South Hemi counterparts have been cultivating in kitchens and practice spaces over the last few years. So many of those bands have embraced a laconic style that gives the impression each humble hummer has sprung fully formed from idle strums and stream of consciousness divining of the universe’s whims. Likewise, Rays, too, have perfected the art of sounding effortless. There are moments on You Can Get There From Here, that were no doubt fussed over in the writing room, but feel like they dropped out of the sky shaggy, shaky and catchy enough to crush your resistance on first listen.

While the particular strain of pop that burrows out of OZ on a regular basis, peddling curdled sunshine and tarnished hooks is still appealing to a niche base with a hunger for a less pristine pop present, its good to see more US bands adopting the model. Rays are proving to be ones to keep a constant eye on and with You Can Get There From Here, they’ve jumped up in the ranks on the list of 2018’s jangle pop essentials.



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Midnite Snaxxx – “Let Me Do What I Want”

Since their 2017 record, Chew On This, Oakland’s Midnite Snaxxx have been spitting singles in fits and starts, but the short forms remain their forte. No disrespect to the full length lovers, but the band’s whiplash spirt is best captured between two sides of short attention span snotty punk built for sunshine hijinx. The A-side, “Let Me Do What I Want,” is a denim-vested world beater that’s not content to take no for an answer and isn’t afraid to lob the first volley in food fight fisticuffs. The song might as well stand as a credo for the California combo – loud, fast and brash – it’s a femme punk fuck you to the ruling class, or at the very least, a middle finger to the store manager on the way out of the sliding doors.

They swap to swooning on the flip side, with a tale of love lost that’s captured by only a handful of pictures left to remember the good times. Both halves serve as shades on the band’s West Coast garage punk that feels perfect as a soundtrack to Mod Podge a vision board of your ideal John Waters future. Here’s hoping the band continues their crusade to add up 7”s of plastic pogo punk for the disenchanted and heartbroken.



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Odd Hope – “Reasons I Will Not Say”

Been a while since I’ve heard from Odd Hope, the solo project from Tim Tinderholt, but he’s back in fine jangled form on new track “Reasons I Will Not Say”. Still chasing the fading tail of the Sarah Records ghost, Tinderholt again creates a song that’s gently bumping the nostalgia centers of the brain. Full of wistful sighs and softly crying keys, it’s more fleshed out than the first single that he put out a few years back on Fruits & Flowers, a sign that the upcoming LP is shaping up to be a real jangle-pop contender. Produced by Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson, the LP, also on the small SF imprint, is the label’s first full-length proper. If the rest of Tinderholt’s songs shape up as beautifully spare as this, then we’d all better keep an eye out for what’s sure to be a hushed classic in the making.




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The World

There’s been a rash of post-punk creeping up from the gutters these days of the elastic joy ride variety. Jumping off the fertile ground that bands like ESG, Delta 5, A Certain Ratio, Maximum Joy and Au Pairs covered, the new crop has found their way to all the sandblasted bare, jitter-pop, rubber bass touchstones that made the original few so incredibly vital. What most have lacked though is the full commitment to the ’70s mantra and Downtown aesthetic. They found the grit but needed that something extra to push the paradigm to its furthest reaches. In a word, they lacked sax, and more often the paranoia a good squall could induce. The World bring both crashing down on listeners in nail biting giddy rushes that can’t elicit anything but jerking dance motions and flop sweat.

The World’s cheekily named First World Record instantly positions them among a cache of records that push punk towards new heights, absorb the anxious energy of an age and spit it back hard in the face of a populace that needs a good hard smack awake. The record is frantic, but never sloppy. It’s full of crushed aluminum edges that are rough hewn but not foreboding. Like the aforementioned Delta 5 and Maximum Joy before them they inject an vitality and tension into their work that’s incessantly itchy. They hold a cracked phone up as a mirror to a barren society that’s disorganized, disingenuous and quite possibly diseased. Still they do it with a sense of fun that’s positively infectious.

In an overstuffed 2017, this one feels like it could get lost, but its well worth some time between the speaks, jolting your week awake with blasts of horn-donked skronk and plenty of Zoloft-level anxious guitar jolts. This is probably the state of mind you need to be in to escape the misery of this foul year.




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Rays

It’s good to see some RSTB worlds colliding on the debut record from Oakland’s Rays. The band, which cribs members from local acts like Violent Change and Life Stinks, brings together the nervy, popped-vein Maplethorp dregs of ’70s art pop with the shaggy drive of the current crop of incestuous Aussie and New Zealand punks. Drawing on the twitching, uncomfortable vein of punk that spawned bands like Electric Eels, Television and The Fall the band instead imagines those souls coming together on a Brisbane budget, recorded with friends who’ve all found solace in their outsider status and lack of steady employment. It’s relentless in it’s pursuit of the ramshackle charms that drove Flying Nun back catalog and made heroes out of Dunedin’s scrappiest janglers.

That’s not to say that the band comes off as overly derivative. Rays just seem to know the sound they want and they’re taking it with measured strokes. They’re also making it seem effortless in the process. They’ve enlisted a double shot behind the boards, with Kelley Stoltz recording and Mikey Young spit shining it to a scotch taped gloss. Like fellow Trouble In Mind labelmates Omni, they’ve found a way to Polaroid the past with a touch of tape hiss, a bit of bookish devotion to their forebears and some good ol’ frenetic fretwork. The album rides the line between din and divine well, couching bouncy hooks inside gnarled amp fury and crushing paranoid pulses into oddly aloof classics. Something tells me this is going to be the kind of album that’s not loved enough in it’s time but regarded well with 20/20 hindsight.




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