Posts Tagged ‘Post-Punk’

Loose Tooth – “Keep On”

Excited to hear that Melbourne’s Loose Tooth finally have an LP on the way. The trio’s last EP Saturn Returns was a taut indie popper built on the back of post-punk bass lines and a tangle of jangles. Good to hear from the first drops of Keep Up that the LP looks to be more of the same. “Keep On” unrolls with a stately grace, slow and creeping like the best widescreen ‘80s cuts. It maintains the build for the majority of its run until the song boils over with a rush of background vocals and colorful splash of keys, exploding like a shaken soda all over the speakers. The record is out on Milk! Records in August, so stay sharp and keep a lookout when it hits.



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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.


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Parquet Courts

I’ll be honest for as vital and nervy as I found Parquet Courts’ Light Up Gold I strayed over the last few EPs and albums. Human Performance and Sunbathing Animal left me slightly cold and I’d just snoozed over the collaboration with Daniele Luppi. Where Light Up Gold poured out of the speakers rough and ragged, some of the short format offerings felt cut with kid scissors and looking to papercut on purpose. Though the band’s NYC pulse still held strong, they needed another spark on their tinderbox tendencies towards blunt Modern Lovers rubdowns and city life injustices.

Seems like Danger Mouse was just the thing the band needed to right the tiller and his production on Wide Awake gives the band a much-needed car battery to the nipple, shocking their apathy to ire transition into form and grinding their post-punk impulses into just the drug they need to incite the action espoused by their lyrics. Wide Awake is far and away the band’s peak, crackling with an energy that befits the early 30’s epiphany that you’re not the person you want to be and you’re losing time to transition.

In the process of finding their footing they’ve honed their core impulses, this is still a band weaned on VU, The Feelies and the aforementioned Jonathan Richman (so much Richman) but now they’re absorbing eclecticism with the appetite of David Byrne and invoking the erratic execution of early pop Eno. They drop junkyard funk into the mix, they pull tempo turnoffs in mid-song and when they slow things down this time, they pine and preen while captivating rather than blending towards the wildflowers on the wallpaper. For all the clutched pearls that followed the DM production announcement he’s done the boys a solid and kept their trademark angles intact while splashing a good ton of color on the final design.


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Omni – “Sunset Preacher / Confessional”

If anything’s been consistent over the last couple of years it’s been the high-quality output by Atlanta’s Omni. The band’s been chiseling their craggy ‘n cutting vision of post-punk in the shape of Television, Pere Ubu and Magazine over two solid records and they continue that tradition on a double shot for Chunklet. The two tracks sound stamped right out of the sessions for Multi-Task, top shelf bent shakers and not some castoff, b-side fodder – both tracks bend and contort themselves into brilliant foil balls small enough to fit in your speakers.

Hard to pick a favorite here, “Sunset Preacher” launches out of the gate torn and tattered before settling down on a nodder of a bass line and getting itself into a groove punctuated by rat trap explosions of guitar. The flip is knotty in the best ways Omni has proven to be, riding that rubber band bass to the wall and jerking themselves into uncomfortable shapes like the sons of James Chance. If the band is pumping out gems this quality on the singles, I can’t wait to see how the next LP is shaping up.




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School Damage – “Scump Damage 1”

One of last year’s favorite albums around here came from Aussie upstarts School Damage. Featuring members of Ausmuteants and Chook Race, the band captured a kind of woozy, wobbly pop that drew comparisons to The Vaselines and Young Marble Giants. Their simple, yet potent brand of post-punk was full of charms that only get deeper on their new 7” for Upset The Rhythm. The new single works under the concept of four songs about one cat – which on paper sound like it could get real twee, real fast. However, the band maintains their usual off-kilter sensibility pinning Jake Robertson’s tale of Lumpy (aka Scump) to a headrush synth line and enough jangles to stuff your socks. They continue to be top shelf Aussie exports, and this little taste only makes me want more from the band. The single is out on UTR on May 25th.



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Nocturnal Projections – Complete Studio Recordings

Somewhere near the roots of New Zealand post-punk lie the early singles of Nocturnal Projections, eking life into a scene that would blossom within Island’s small scene. Brothers Peter and Graeme Jefferies formed the band in 1981, years before they’d lay down acerbic tracks as This Kind of Punishment. After they parted ways, Graeme would fulfill his destiny in The Cakekitchen and Peter would skew solo, but this was where they began in earnest. After a smattering of bands like Plastic Bags that didn’t catch hold the brothers found a fanbase with Nocturnal Projections’ driving, anthemic sound. Hardly celebrated in their tenure, except by locals who were lucky enough to catch them on stage at their favored haunt, The Lion Tavern, or opening for The Fall and New Order in hometown gigs. They came to further prominence in the ‘90s when European label Raffmond issued much of their collection on CD under the title of their incendiary b-side, “Nerve Ends In The Power Lines.”

That comp, along with the legacy of both This Kind of Punishment and The Cakekitchen, served to bolster the band as a touchpoint for younger post-punk bands, and with good reason. Though the band is often compared to Joy Division, they’re cut from a slightly sunnier cloth, strapping on vocals that touch into Ian McCulloch territory. Their output revels in dark overtones, and an admittedly grimier production than their UK counterparts, while sparring widescreen hooks with propulsive bass. Now, Dais has finally put the band’s three official releases – the Another Year 7” + a S/T 7” and S/T 12” – together onto a collection of complete studio recordings. The collection marks the first time that all three are back on LP since 1983, giving collectors of the rather pricey singles a handy primer on the band’s most lasting works.

In addition, the label has also issued a collection of studio rarities and bonus tracks as a separate LP, which works well, rather than bloating out a release with diehard fodder the two LPs serve as both a toe into the band’s world and a definitive pairing for those who have long sought out the band’s discography. Fans of any of the Jefferies’ projects would do well to jump in here and those with a soft spot for UK post-punk of the same era will find a welcome kinship in the band’s complete works.



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Vintage Crop

Aussie punks Vintage Crop have managed to embrace the same sinewy, elastic brand of rock that endeared their countrymen Eddy Current Suppression Ring to fans the world over. Their first LP for the strikingly consistent Anti-Fade Recs crackles with a sweaty, twitchy, inherently muscular brand of punk that’s aesthetically bumping up against the signposts of post-punk, making this one straddle eras of influence with a vital electricity. They’re still cracking the whip as far as energy, but there’s a supple twang to the guitars here and they weld that to the trampoline bounce of bass and gnashed-teeth gang vocals that feel ripe for the pit.

The record, as with their previous tape, gets some shaping from label-head Billy Gardner (see also: The Living Eyes, Ausmuteants) and official Aussie-quality mastering house Mikey Young. The album bumps elbows and jostles heavily against the more laconic trends down in the South-Hemi way these days, replacing tales of couch life and dead-end jobs with nervy tin-hat assertions about flying saucers and altered reality. Though they do get a good shot in about being too lazy to clean up after themselves (on title track “New Age”), they just give it a jolt of twitchy joints by running the slacker-pop sensibilities through a Mark E. Smith filter.

The record pushes the impulses that pounded out their previous tape to their logical ends, feeling all the more vital and for the extra angles and Mapplethorpe lighting they’ve splashed over the top of New Age. The record feels like the start of something great for the Geelong boys. Hopefully they’ll keep pushing the boundaries further towards post-punk’s creep. Either that or they’ll leave an excellent watershed for us to all to enjoy on its own merits.




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Ganser

Up to this point, Chicago post-punks Ganser have been building up a reputation on the strength of a steady stream of short format singles and EPs. Now, with an album on the way from No Trend, they’re proving that it’s not just a scattershot bit of luck that’s pulled them through. Odd Talk is a caustic record wrapped tight in barbed and rusted guitars, driven hard by a rhythm section that knows how to turn anxious intent into breathless reality. Vocalist Nadia Garafolo whips hard between impassioned shouts, chopped spoken word and slinking coos that fill up the speakers with her lures and attacks in equal measure.

The record’s secret weapon lies in Charlie Landsman’s guitars though, scratching glass one minute, tearing through bone the next. Post-punk lives and dies by the rhythm, but it shines when there’s a guitarist that can draw a bit of blood. The record isn’t looking for pop purchases in any sense, but the brooding songs get under the skin just as easily as if they were bouncing on sing-a-long choruses. Churning anxiety into chewed tin, then polishing the shards to a bitter brilliance, the record stands to raise the band’s profile from Chicago stalwarts to national attention. For those still pulling the velvet curtains hung by Siouxsie or 13th Chime tight, this is a perfect companion to drown out the coming clarity of summer.




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Mod Con

After being charmed and invigorated last week by Mod Con’s “Kidney Auction Blues” its nice to put the song in context alongside the rest of their debut long player for Poison City. Mod Con actually boasts the same lineup of players that grace songwriter Erica Dunn’s previous work as Palm Springs, but they leave their previous shell’s dusty Americana far behind in the rearview. Scratching at a discontented form of post-punk, Dunn and her compatriots use their platform on Modern Convenience to pick at the scars of consumerism, complacency and disillusionment. In the tangles of twine-bound guitar that pump this record along, the band spends their energy wrestling twang into muscular, yet rubbery explosions of tension. Almost every song is hanging on the edge and waiting to tip.

Then there’s Dunn’s voice. Unlike the sonic shock precision of some of her post-punk contemporaries, she seems to be reaching her wit’s end at some point in most every track. She breaks and strains against the mounting pressures she sings about like a hammer on glass. It feels like one more push might just break her, but the heroic act of throttling out one more bone crunching number is worth her pain. The band is taught and at times even tender (“Bad Time At The Hilton”), but whatever the tempo the Dunn’s urgency remains the catalyst that drives Mod Con far past lesser contenders. It’s a crackling debut that puts them forward as key players in not only the Aussie scene, but post-punk at large.




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Moody Beaches – “Guns”

Following up on last year’s installment of the Split Singles club, started last year as a collab between Milk! Records and Bedroom Sucks, the new incarnation sees Poison City Records and Our Golden Friend take up the selector’s duties this year. The open the club up with a split from Bench Press and Moody Beaches. The single comes complete with a pair of videos that see each band work the same color blocked concept with guest spots in each other’s vids. The Bench Press side gives its all, but the winner here is Moody Beaches, a new ‘un that’s making is debut here. The band features members of La Bastard, but eschews their surf sound for a more stripped down post-punk punch. The single is strung up on nimble yet fuzz-rattled bass but shines brilliantly once the infectious shout-along vocals of Anna Lienhop surface along with some chopsaw guitar bliss. Gonna want to hear more from this trio for sure, but this should hold me over for quite a few repeated plays.



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