Posts Tagged ‘Post-Punk’

Terry – “Take Me To The City”

Al Montfort’s (presumably) incredible case of insomnia pays off to the public with the announcement of a new Terry album on the way. The man can’t sleep, because when would he have time for all this quality writing, recording and playing if his eyes ever drooped? The band’s back with their cowboy shtick in tow and another song that’s packed with a sighed delivery that plays into the lyrical lean on escapism and living life pining for some excitement. While the ten gallon hats and city lights longing don’t quite make this their “Streets of Baltimore,” it’s a buzzing bit of Aussie new wave that’s picking up right where their eponymous LP left off. The video only serves to add to the tongue in cheek winks that seems to inhabit their very DNA, but serious or no, this takes its place on the highly anticipated list for 2017.

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Jowe Head – Cabinet of Curios

Hardly a household handle here in the US, Jowe Head held down tenures in two UK cult favorites – Swell Maps and Television Personalities. On top of his work with those two outlets Head (better known to his mum as Stephen Bird) released several solo albums that sewed up his bent and fractured pop. Cabinet of Curios collects cuts from his his extensive solo career, culling from 1981’s Pincer Movement, 1986’s Strawberry Deutschmark and 1989’s Personal Organizer. Tracks from that first record stand in stark contrast to the brittle post-punk of Swell Maps, though it seems all solo efforts from that band wound up in verdant and unique pastures, Bird just did it with a certain sense of humor that’s missing from some of his contemporaries.

That humor separates the solo work from his longtime run with Television Personalities as well. Though he’d add a touch of experimentation to their catalog, his solo recordings push the needle much further into DIY eccentricities. While sparse bedroom hijinks feel almost pat at this point Jowe Head held down his own territory in the ’80s spanning ground between the shaved and shorn pop of Chris Knox and the clattertrap psychedelics of Deep Freeze Mice. The collection doesn’t limit itself just to early works, however. It cherry picks from bits of his bands The Househunters and Palookas as well, both bands capturing the nervy essence of Jowe Head’s songwriting.

In 2008 Bird started up Jowe Head and the Demi-Monde and continues the project to this day. In fact a good deal of the collection cherry picks the band’s CD-rs and limited releases then throws in a cache of unreleased tracks as gravy. Its unlikely that you’ll find a more complete picture of Jowe Head’s ecstatic world view outside of the 1994 comp Unhinged. For the casual fan of Television Personalities or Swell Maps this might only come as the title might infer, a curio and nothing more. For the true diggers of post-punk oddments and DIY roots, this is a gem with plenty to offer. Every RSD there’s one that slips through the cracks and this year, Jowe Head takes the prize.


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Premiere: Rat Colums – “Blinded By The Shadow”

One of my true faves this year has been Rat Columns’ Candle Power LP on Upset The Rhythm. The band turns in a stark video for the absolute standout, “Blinded By The Shadow. The track eschews much of the album’s propensity for jangle in favor of slinking keys and staid bass line; by the time those melancholy strings kick in, you’re more than hooked. It’s a post-punk gem that calls back on all the right bits of the ’80s for inspiration and proves that West and co are truly hitting a peak with this album. The video is as appropriately dressed down as the track, whitewashed and buttoned up. If you’re still missing out on Rat Columns, take today to right that wrong.


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The Dancing Cigarettes – Dance Dogs Dance

Been meaning to write this one up for a while, but it’s still readily available and while that speaks to the relative shame that the general populace continues to ignore the unsung twitching of this Indiana band, its a good opportunity for you, the lucky listener. The band came together around ’79 and grew in popularity in their hometown of Bloomington, IN and surrounding Midwestern touring routes, though they made their way East from time to time. The band never recorded an album proper at the time, releasing an EP on Gulcher and some compilation tracks, though they were extremely prolific and had plenty of material to fill out a proper release. In the wake of their demise there have actually been a couple of retrospectives, but this LP contains material that eludes both, and serves as a pretty excellent introduction.

Sadly, they began to lose members along the way, though they persisted in some form for almost four years. The recordings here date just post their Gulcher EP and round up unreleased cuts from both studio and live settings in excellent quality and inspired energy. Dance Dogs Dance is a kindred soul to fellow Midwestern jitter-punks Pere Ubu, The Girls and Dow Jones and the Industrials. For anyone looking to up their quotient of chewed aluminum punk, then this is an absolute necessity. It reaches fingers into post-punk, punk and the no wave corners of the late ’70s / early ’80s, but the anxious energy resonates with a resounding pull even today. Get on this one before they’re truly gone.




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Taiwan Housing Project

As I may have mentioned when the first single hit, I’m thoroughly excited for the full bore return of Kilynn Lunsford, she of the sorely overlooked caustic rockers Little Claw. The singer returns with the first full length from Tawian Housing Projet, a sprawling post-punk noise collective she started with ex-Harry Pussy mainstay Mark Feehan. The band also pulls in members of Tyvek, Writhing Squares, Tickley Feather and Dan Melchior’s gang of garage punks. That lineup reads like an RSTB who’s who and as expected the band chews noise-spun frantic panic into a vital stew that dips the listener in a cauldron cradled acid bath of sound and squelch.

Taiwan Housing Project, like Little Claw before them, pulls the same slight of hand shuffle; brutalizing at first blush with dented and demented guitars, clattering percussion and a free jazz hazing ritual of horns, but dig further and the sonic debris disguises some of the most solid pop hooks to find their way crawling out of the post-punk puddle in 2017. Lunsford and Feehan plug straight into a high-functioning wavelength that channels the B-52s if they’d relocated to New England and stapled their house-party punk to Sonic Youth’s tornado of feedback. Atop this ragged and glorious din, Lunsford howls, swoons, gnaws and accuses as if she’s the heir apparent to Poly Styrene’s crown of thorns.

The LP follows on a promising EP from M’lady’s last year, but after hearing Velben Death Mask those tracks seem like preamble to the main event. The record is as bracing, breathless and acerbic as anything you’re likely to hear this year and it’s jockeying heartily for the top spot as one of the best of 2017. In an age that’s more likely than ever to see labels softening their signings to fit into a narrowed view of consumer acceptance and exposure through licensing, it’s reassuring to know that Kill Rock Stars is still out there ignoring commercial appeal in exchange for immortality. This is the kind of record that grows in legend with years to come – a miss it now and kick yourself kind of noise gem that winds up collector’s fodder and fan lore. This is the real thing.




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Feature

One of the best bands to bubble up from the UK underground in the past few years was the high energy DIY outfit Sauna Youth. As luck would have it the band’s Jen Calleja also sports another outfit in the form of Feature. The trio embraces DIY via a feminist punk vantage and they explore the vein of sexism that permeates female musicianship on the whip-smart Banishing Ritual. Baring a few more teeth than Sauna Youth – the record is rooted in pop but not afraid to get down into the din – flaunting noise as a formidable weapon in their arsenal. Popcorn drumbeats start the tempos skittering into motion, but the guitars don’t rush, finding themselves heavily indebted to Cold Wave and Post-punk’s motorik meets elastic tension.

The record has it’s hooks (plenty actually), but it’s more about setting a mood than lingering earworms here. The band drops in bracing and brash to catch your attention and then lays into the listener with a dose of consciousness and a distortion scrub to to strip away the clutter gunking up your life. There’s been a real return to form of ’90s grunge ethos in the past couple of years, heavy blasts of guitar masking nuggets of pop bubbling under the surface. Like their predecessors in Helium, The Muffs, The Wedding Present (during their Albini dalliance) or Elastica they know how to balance pressure, power and pop into a package that’s worth returning to again and again. Another winner this year from UK label Upset The Rhythm!




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School Damage – “Tall Poppies”

This one brings together members of two RSTB faves, Carolyn Hawkins of Chook Race and Jake Robertson of Ausmuteants. The group is self-admittedly going for a Vaselines meets Young Marble Giants sound, which on paper is an excellent idea that could go very wrong in execution. Thankfully the pair has the chops to pull it off pretty much perfectly. “Tall Poppies” hews closer to the Young Marble Giants side of that axis and they capture the stark, edge of electronic/edge of post-punk feelings with a deadpanned swagger that’s studied and superb. The track bodes well for what’s to come on their upcoming full length. If they can extend the exorcism of indie’s rise out of post-punk’s bones then it promises to be an intriguing entry in not only the Australian underground but also a welcome return to a sound that’s been explored far too seldom.




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Dead Sea Apes

Manchester’s Dead Sea apes ignite their latest album with the spirit of dub crossed post-punk, a move that finds them winding down darkened alleys fraught with trembling tension. For the most part they’ve left the droned desert of last year’s Soy Dios behind them, doubling down on their experimental vision of instrumental psych with supple ease. The record takes on a cinematic quality, though thankfully eschewing the current trend of Goblin-esque horror tropes for a more Morricone-meets-Metal-Box vision of stark paranoia. The record can scarcely be parsed into individual tracks, one flowing seamlessly into another and played out in a storyboarded splay, pulsing with anxiety flung into dub plate dizziness.

The band’s always had a high level of musicianship, but in the past they’ve focused their efforts into guitar based visions of psychedelia. Here they put bass front and center crushing the listener with the insistent creep of leaded boots and the feeling of your heart pounding in your ears. When it does rear it’s head though, the guitar bites down with jagged glass teeth as it weaves through the mix metallic and snaking, looking for prey with every movement. It seems that each band is absorbing our current political climate with it’s own bent and Dead Sea Apes have chosen to embody and amplify the dystopian concrete sprawl for all it’s worth.




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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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Rank / Xerox

Circling the complete opposite side of the spectrum from David West’s latest Rat Columns LP, which appeared here earlier in the month, Rank/Xerox dives into the claustrophobic chest pains of post-punk. This EP is a scant four songs but each of them are packed with a sense of paranoia and pain that paints a bleak picture of an artist running from some form of truth, be it internal or external. Rank/Xerox have, in the past, facilitated some of the darkest moments in West’s catalog, barring maybe his work with Total Control. After a rather long hiatus since the band’s 2011 LP, it’s good to see them storming back without any thoughts on softening their approach.

From the title-track opener to the lingering grind of “Deletion” the trio bends bone bitten anxiety into a nervy dance with plenty of threats hidden behind it’s teeth. Jangles to popped veins, West is one of the masters of what makes the underground of the ’80s still vital and worthwhile today. M.Y.T.H. is proof that small packages with no room for error can level just as hard as any full length out there.




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