Posts Tagged ‘Post-Punk’

Priors – “At Your Leisure”

A blast of jittery, caffeinated post-punk bursts out of Montreal’s fertile scene from Priors. On the latest single from their upcoming sophomore LP, the band bites into the cross-section of punk and New Wave with a rabid fury. They’re careening into view on a wave of anxiety and riding the fizzing angst with reckless skill. They pull from the same fuzz-infected well as their Canadian contemporaries Century Palm, though they fall closer to the erratic pop genius of Ausmuteants on “At Your Leisure.” The band cribs from quite a few of Canada’s punk underdogs, with members of Steve Adamyk Band, Sonic Avenues, New Vogue and The Famines rounding out the lineup. New Pleasure sidles out on punk powerhouse label Slovenly on November 16th.



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BB and the Blips, Tommy and the Commies, Rata Negra, Timmy’s Organism

Its been a packed fall, that follows on a pretty packed 2018 in general when it comes to the volume of releases that have found their way to listeners over the last ten months. With that in mind I’m going to try to increase the visibility on some worthy releases with occasional combo crunched reviews that still allow some depth yet let me move through the inbox faster than my busy schedule normally allows.

Tommy and the Commies – Here Come
First up, Ontario’s Tommie & The Commies crack open a breakneck punk record that’s pulling (almost too close for comfort at some points) right from the playbooks of The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. At only 16 minutes long, the album doesn’t leave a lot of time to catch one’s breath, but this kind of classic punk wasn’t meant for sitting still. It was meant for tossing beer bottles and stray spittle at the torn silhouettes on stage while mashing yer face into the mass of humanity that is the pit. The songs are appropriately nervy, snotty and breathless – never even stopping for a Ramones-worthy 1-2-3-4 to leap into the fray. Lead lugger Tommy Commy’s perfected his Feargal Sharkey impression to the point that its almost torture not to hear the band tear into a cover of “Jump Boys” every time a new track revs up. This one ain’t beating down any new paths, but for those punks who have been missing the glory days, this’ll do to get the pogo pounce out of your system.


BB and the Blips – Shame Job
Swinging the spotlight from Canada to Australia, but keeping the focus on new bands with a classic slant, we arrive at the proper punk burner from BB and the Blips. The band, made up of ex-pats from Housewives, Good Throb and Semi, is nailing down the kind of middle-finger teardowns that made X-Ray Spex and Penatration formative touchstones. The Blips are tackling a ten-track dissection of shame, but they’re hardly stopping long enough to linger on the stomach-sick effects of the emotion. The album blisters by in a growl of guitars and a delirium of helium and heat vocals. As with the Commies, this one feels reverent to another day and age, but they’re pulling it off with conviction and style, so who cares that this brand of gnash-toothed punk has been bought and sold before. Shame Job doesn’t waste a moment and never lets go.


Rata Negra – Justicia Cosmica
Another international jump swings the lens to Madrid, where Rata Negra have been bashing out acerbic post-punk since 2014. Following on the band’s absolute crusher Oido Absoluto the Spanish band continues to mop the floor with most contenders on Justicia Cosmica. The new record seems to lack a bit of the bottom-end grit that marked their previous effort, but it finds them just as frantic and furious as they’ve ever been. Adding some occasional keys to the mix pushes the dial forward on the time circuits here, landing them just a touch into the early ‘80s from where they last left off. Still not taking an ounce of shit, though, the band feels ready to fight via fists or phrases until their dying days. The bass is knotty, the vocals sound as if they could sear the flesh from your skull (at least until the rather wistful “Nada va a Permanecer Dorado” hits) and the guitars are filthy with fuzz. Madrid’s been something of a hotbed for punk and post-punk these days and Rata Negra are leading the charge among the city’s best.

Timmy’s Organism – Survival of the Fiendish
Detroit’s favorite degenerate emissaries are back with a new album and the same oil slick mutant punk in their pockets. Timmy’s Organism has long been a favorite around here and their latest ticks all the same boxes that endeared them to me in the first place. Survival of the Fiendish is sopping up the gutter grease that festers below us while we sleep. Timmy Vulgar is the embodiment of the reasons that parents have been confiscating punk tapes from the dawn of the genre. The album is full of ill will, evil intentions and the kind of oozing riffs that should reduce your speakers to a pile of festering goo. Though, the boys do let themselves evolve. Is that a piano I hear on “Green Grass?” Is that acoustic guitar wafting through “South Shore Train?” Maybe the mutants have softened in their old age. Well, maybe not. There’s still plenty of bile to be had, but the record does show some growth among the Organism’s impulses. After a move through the label ranks – Sacred Bones, In The Red, Third Man – the band graces the spools of Burger and it all seems to make sense. Thanks Baphomet for Timmy’s Organism. They’re perennial solid senders of the evil ooze.



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Comet Gain – “If Not Tomorrow” b/w “I Was More of a Mess Then”

If there’s one thing that can be counted on from Comet Gain, the long running UK jangle-pop hearthrobs, its that any release will be rife with earworms. Furthermore those earworms will burrow their way into your life until they become new favorites. Membership changes, labels change, even styles change – from the upbeat clatter of Réalistes to the polished punk hijinks of catalog highlight Howl of the Lonely Crowd and on down to the bittersweet bliss of Paperback Ghosts – the band always jangles, but they’re willing ping-pong between camps that employ the sound. They’re post-punks with a pop heart, indie rockers with a ’77 punk sneer in their back pockets, and this new single-sized offering is the latest bit of pop-strummin’ goodness from their ranks.

The band’s working up a potpourri of an album for Tapete and “If Not Tomorrow” marks the first peek under the hood. The A-side’s not wholly out of line with their aforementioned 2014 heartbreaker Paperback Ghosts, and its definitely showcasing the band’s autumnal sweet side. The guitar line’s bouncing gently, lapping against the swells of organ and a promise of change from David Feck’s earnest croon. While I prefer my Comet Gain with a bit of the bite, I can’t say no to a hummably good jangler that feels like a lost Go-Betweens outtake. The b-side pops the tempo up and dirties the mix with a bit of fuzz and Sarah Bleach running down the regrets. Its a fine pairing and only whets the appetite for more. If you’re already on board the Comet, this won’t knock you loose. If you’re new to the ride, then maybe take this as inspiration to parse back through one of indie pop’s greatest catalogs.


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Constant Mongrel

Festering beneath the underbelly of Aussie indie, Constant Mongrel has occupied space on RIP Society and Siltbreeze’s roster and now they make a jump to hometown heroes Anti-Fade and Spain’s pounding punk nerve, La Vide Es Un Mus for a joint release. Living In Excellence perches the band at the acerbic edge of post-punk, as one might expect of Siltbreeze alums to say the least. The record’s riddled with a restless twinge that could read as dance-inducing if your idea of dancing swings towards the asymmetrically violent. Taking up the traditions of The Fall and The Screamers, the band prowls through each song with a manic red-eyed intensity that prickles the skin and pummels the base of the skull.

In tandem with their paint-peeler aesthetic, the band’s lyrically lashing into their surroundings. The bulk of Living in Excellence takes on banality’s bite, the rot of religion and the slow slide towards a fascist state in any corner of the world you happen to inhabit. The band’s “Living in Excellence” theme erodes the notion of making anything great at this point, from America to Australia, but the band is weathering it well. They seem fine watching the ship go down, even if it means they get their own shoes wet in the process. They’ll sink with a sneer, taking the piss out of life rafts if it means they get to rankle the rest of the riders.

The band have consistently brought quality grime over the years and they show no signs of letting up now.



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Sextile – “Spun”

Now paired down to a duo, LA’s Sextile have stripped back more than just their stage plot. The new EP pushes post-disco and post-punk down the same staircase, winding up a skin-tight dancefloor freak that’s bound to get sweat in everyone’s drink. They’re searching the same future free bins that have given license to NY’s Future Punx, sharing in their tattered silver lamé take on the synthwave riot. For “Spun,” though, the band push the fader further toward their punk impulses, reveling in the grime of their basest gutter scraping impulses. The song’s swathed in the kind of broken futurist visions that welcomed John Carpenter fans and oozed out of the margins of Cronengerg’s world. While the whole EP tends towards the dancefloor, the band feels more comfortable in the shadows.



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Alien Nosejob

Never one deterred by the constraints of time, Jake Robertson’s packing another band into his repertoire. On top of the already great LP from School Damage this year, not to mention current stints in Hierophants, Ausmuteants, and Drug Sweat, Robertson’s taking the solo approach under the name Alien Nosejob. With a couple of seven-inches under the name already, he’s been honing the sound on the sly, but with Various Fads & Technological Achievements he’s ready to take it wide. The album skews away from his normal niche of wobbly post-punk and nervy flop sweat jitter-punk ala Pere Ubu and MX-80. This time he’s taking a softer approach, or at least a slightly less caustic approach.

Weaving folk – albeit not the campfire coolout variety, think Carl Simmons’ Honeysuckle Tendrils – with new wave notions and synth-pop propulsion, the LP is gulping a little less lightning than usual for Robertson. That’s not to say this is a tame affair, it’s clear that Alien Nosejob’s MO includes dragging the same strange vein of pop that produced R. Stevie Moore, most of the Dark Entries catalog, and the less commercial output of Game Theory. Throw in a dash of the shoestring ‘Zappa with a rhythm box’ sounds of Geza X and you’re starting to get close to what’s at play here. Now while that’s all a lot of discordant pop to throw in the ol’ blender, the outcome winds up rather smooth. Alien Nosejob goes down straight, but the tics around the eyes give away its twinge of madness.

The other outcome here is that with so much stuffed into the sausage skin of Alien Nosejob, there’s sometimes a bit of whiplash between the neon reflections of “Runaway” and the pastoral peace of “Exothermic Reaction.” It all fits together in its reaching for the pop “other,” but there’s a feeling that this album’s catching up on the odds and sods of what’s been hammering at Jake’s skull outside of his last few records. It’s a great match strike, and it seems like Alien Nosejob’s got a freakish concept album in its future (if its meant to have a future). Taken as singular parts, however, there’s quite enough new wave jitter here to pack yer speakers for weeks.



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Dom & The Wizards – “Ana’s Little City”

One of the most consistently enduring Aussie bands around here has been Adelaide’s Wireheads. The band, lead by Dom Trimboli has worked its way through four increasingly discordant bouts of post-punk squall that have set them outside of much of their South Hemi peers. In a bid for tireless presence Dom’s also started a new offshoot of the band, dubbing them Dom & The Wizards. The tracks began as surplus recordings from Lightning Ears, but grew into much more. The band sees original Wireheads engineer/violinist Tom Spall come back into the fold, along with the guitar pyrotechnics of Caitlyn Lesuik and Wireheads mems Liam Kenny and Dan Heath.

The song is closely aligned with Wireheads’ latter day melodic wrangle – catchy, but curdled and hanging on the delightfully dinged vocals of Trimoboli. It’s a shaggy shaker that will find its way out via 7” and precedes an upcoming album. Of the recordings themselves, Dom chimed in, “I really wanted to make some music with Tom Spall again – Tom is some sort of magical-genius cartoon character. He recorded the first Wireheads cassette tape and he played violin in the band in its infancy. It has been a spectacular reunion. Tom connected two four-track cassette recorders together – an Akai and a Tascam. It helped to be able to bounce things back and forth between the two units – it essentially gives you more tracks to use. We had a Space Echo too. Vic’s basement has vibes for miles! Lots of cool gear and stacks of records to listen to in the down time. It was pretty much recorded and mixed on the fly as we went along.”

Check out a first look at the Alex Gordon-Smith directed video for “Ana’s Little City” above and keep an eye out for more madness from Dom & The Wizards soon.

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The Chills

Second winds for bands can always come with a flinch. Will the band capture any of the magic that drew us to them the first time around? Will time twist your favorite songwriter out of view? Age has a funny way of changing the equation, just ask Smiths fans. So, with that idea in mind, when legendary Kiwi-pop forefathers The Chills returned with Silver Bullets after a 19-year hiatus, it was a rush to hear Martin Phillips still walking the lines between heaven and hope. The band was still braiding their jangles into biting hooks, still making lit-pop for the hopeless devotees of earnest intent. They proved that post-punks could grow up without wearing their past like a costume.

Not looking to lose more time, The Chills are back with another addition to their second coming and it’s continuing the quality streak they picked up a couple years back. Stuffed with new wave nods – neon cooled keys, a jumble of jangles and galloping rhythms – the record is a fine companion to Submarine Bells’ massive pop footprint. While age hasn’t pushed the pop scope of The Chills too far off of their original pedestal, there’s a lyrical lash at work here that might not have always been present in the past. Phillips looks back, not in anger, but with a skepticism, ennui and strained sadness. Snow Bound is coming to terms with the hope that a young band held and how short the world fell from those expectations.

The band has often existed as a South-Hemi counterpart to R.E.M. and Echo, albeit with a much more condensed catalog. Along with countrymen The Bats and Aussies the Go-Betweens, they guarded a pop vision that remained timeless while nailing the best hallmarks of the decade in which they surfaced. After decades of leading young bands to the right roads, The Chills are still building new avenues of their own. With Snow Bound, its clear that their legacy is on solid ground.



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Terry

Third time ‘round the track and Terry show no signs of flagging their penchant for bending twang rifled post-punk into an album of essentials. Fulla strums, that don’t blow too breezy and guitar tones that squeeze uneasy, the band pairs their whip-smart pop with a bleak wink at Aussie life and the drudgery that’s unavoidable. Like many these days they’ve got the income gap and the party politic in mind and its not looking good for any of us. Terry at least know that a stomach sick riff and some creeping ambiance can distract from the anemic self-worth of the powers that be.

With each new album, the band seems to dig further into their own warped groove. Al Montfort and Amy Hill have a drinker’s rapport and their vocal swaps and lyrical gang-ups give the record the same loose-knit feel that have long endeared Terry to listeners. That open accessibility pairs well with their brand of itchy hooks, and its not long before the band gets under your skin in the best of ways. They offset their charms with lyrical bites, and half-hug invitations are met with caustic jabs at this mess we’ve collectively found ourselves in. While Terry might not have the answers, they’re down to commiserate and “roast the rich.”

As with quite a few other of their countrymen, Terry’s play on post-punk’ isn’t overstuffed. The band’s economical use of space makes every nuance count. When they deploy the saw of violin or the gentle jingle of bells, its damn well with purpose. In turn, when they flip the pace from laconic to frazzled, every inch of fuzz rattles the listeners down to the ribosomes. I’m Terry is short, but packs a punch and three for three, I’d wager there’s not a Terry release you should do without.




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Rays – “Yesterday’s Faces”

More excellent news from the Bay Area today, as Rays return with a news of an album this winter. The band’s previous album knocked down a lovable corridor of post-punk that was particularly jangle jostled, bringing to mind the curdled pop of The Soft Boys and the brash honesty of Television Personalities. They show no signs of dropping those jangles from their arsenal on the upcoming, You Can Get There From Here, employing the very same tactics that have thrown their South Hemi counterparts in Australia and New Zealand head over heels for the sonics of past, with a laconic lyrical view on the present. On the excellent first single, “Yesterday’s Faces” the band even touches down in OZ to pick at the shaggy licks of The Clean, then welds them to the urgency of Wake in the ’90s.

Allusions to other bands aside, it’s a crackling track that’s balancing the upbeat tangle of strings with a sighed sadness that sticks like a lump in the throat for days gone past. The keys buzz like bar-light neon and Stanley Martinez’ vocals are flecked with a detached disillusionment that gives the track its bite. The band’s debut showed promise and with this track they’re definitely making good on it. Gonna want to keep an ear out for this one when it lands in November.

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