Posts Tagged ‘Post-Punk’

School Damage – “Meeting Halfway”

School Damage swing in with their second single off of the upcoming A to X and it solidifies this as one of the top tier releases to get excited for this summer. The track’s a Jake-led ripper charging in high on a swell of keys and backup coos. It’s proof positive that the band has wrapped up post-punk and jangle into the perfect pop package for hot weather hi-jinks. Sweetening the pot is an excellent stop-motion video that’s an aesthetic match for the song’s off-kilter pounce. Much respect to the band’s Carolyn Hawkins for the time-intensive process it must have taken to get this together. If this record isn’t on your list of pre-Fall necessities then rectify that immediately. The LP’s out at the end of August on Chapter Music.

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Terry – “Bureau”

Have I been able to contain my excitement over the new Terry LP? Not quite. The band’s on a streak, with two great LPs under their belts already. The third LP shows no signs of flagging as they continue to mine a strain of post-punk peppered with twang and salt n’ honey harmonies that are soothing yet unpolished. The band let loose one of the album’s most ecstatic singles, “The Whip,” a few weeks back and now they follow it up with the cooler-headed “Bureau,” a stunner in its own right. Terry’s strength lies in an ability to push past any of the well-worn ruts of post-punk. They’re embracing the ethos of bands who were set free to run dub and punk and pop together into a caustic clash, but they’re not tied down to the set of stencils that so many modern makers seem to use.

They pair the new song with a grit n’ glare video that’s transportation heavy – grabbing the ‘70s aesthetics and pushing them through a DIY filter. Its all good fun and serves to further the excitement for the Upset The Rhythm release of I’m Terry at the end of the month. If you’re in the UK, they’re even trotting the show out live (lucky bastards) so hit that up to see how these songs shake out in the room.



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Loose Tooth

Melbourne’s Loose Tooth (not to be confused with the Father/Daughter band of the same name) had a promising EP out last year and with their debut for Milk! they more than make good on those promises. The full-length processes knotty post-punk bass lines and breathless jangles, then pastes them to wide-eyed indie pop for a record that’s constantly familiar and endearingly catchy. They’re passing over the threadbare fare that’s been popping up among their countrymen and instead pushing for a more polished sound that’s got its head in the past – think The Passions mixing it up with members Look Blue Go Purple and Close Lobsters – yet still winds up sounding timeless.

The crux of Keep On is the band’s ability to weave starry-eyed delivery with impeccable atmospheres. Snap on a keen use of three-part harmonies that never get syrupy and the makings of a damn fine debut begins to take shape. Their mastery of the moody vs. wistful approach to songwriting serves this up for fans of bedroom fare, with the band pining over an abundance of twisted love throughout the album’s eleven track run. They swerve from that humble pop path, though and the album elevates their love letters into a lush pop sound. There’s something sparkling happening in the details here – a hi-fi rumble, sax squawks, pillowy mounds of reverb. The deeper listeners get into Keep On the more it rewards with rippling subtleties and soft-touch hooks. While its definitely put together well, its not flashy and the band comes out all the better for it. Sadly, I feel that this one won’t get nearly its due on this side of the ocean, but for those paying attention it’s a lovely gem of a record.




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Kelley Stoltz

San Francisco’s secret weapon is slipping out his tenth (!!) album on low key label Banana and Louie. Feels like Stoltz has been a part of this site for the better part if its duration and whether he’s behind the boards (The Love-Birds, Rays, Sandwitches) or working as a studio rat (Thee Oh Sees, Sonny & The Sunsets, The Fresh & Onlys) he’s a welcome name in the credits of any release. More important yet, his own mounting discography is packed full of jangled-nerve post-punk and paisley pools of pop that mark him as not only a conduit for others’ excellent visions, but as a purveyor of his own unique strain of pop psychosis. Natural Causes comes fresh off of last year’s Que Aura. a highlight in the songwriter’s late period catalog. While the short, but sweet, nine-cut album doesn’t quite dig in its heels as hard as last year, there are some moments of pure Stoltz on display here.

The record is valiantly attempting to balance Kelley’s love for light-touch jangles and sunshine shimmy with his weakness for a darker side of the ‘80s. “Decisions Decisions” packs up some of his most shimmering strums, while eschewing the darker threads of post-punk that work their way through his pieces. Similarly, he’s huffing a dose of verdant vapors throughout the handclap-infected shaker, “Are You An Optimist.” The album caps off with one of his most fun tunes in a while, the light-hearted jangler, “Rolling Tambourine” – a barrelhouse romp through 60s’ pop impulses. That’s not to say he’s shed the post-punk pound just yet. There’s a post-disco shiver that runs through “Static Electricity” and he adopts a spaced ominousness for the particularly on the nose “How Psychedelic Of You.” When Stoltz wants to bring on the preening intensity, he’s got you more than covered.

For an artist who has released albums everywhere from Sub Pop to Third Man to Castle Face, this seems to come with desperately little fanfare, which is a damn shame. While he’s got albums that outstrip it in scope and style, there’s a lot to love on Natural Causes and Stoltz never leaves listeners without a few hooks stuck in their heads. There’s some great polish on the album and its clear that Stoltz keeps enough of his studio tricks for his own albums. Don’t let this one slip away in the flood of 2018 albums. Kelley Stoltz remains a modern songwriting workhorse and this small collection does little to tarnish his reputation.



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Lithics – “Photograph, You Of”

Following up a biting album for Kill Rock Stars earlier in the year, Lithics waste no time with a follow-up single for SF label Thrilling Living. The first cut traverses similar terrain to the long player, hammered metal guitars lurch and twitch their way through a menacing dance, perching precariously to the edge of mania. There’s an insistent rhythm that underpins this track – dirgey, dogged, and driven. This one hits just as hard if not harder than anything I’ve heard from the band to this point, still oddly hypnotic and catchy in its own way but definitely not looking to soften the impact that those serrated strings pull off with any chewy hooks. Billed as a double-A side, the flip of can only hope to match the open-handed smack that “Photograph, You Of” delivers. 2018 pushes Lithics to the top of the pile of post-punks looking to make good. I suggest you keep an ear on them.



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Primo!

Never a dull moment rolling out of the Australian scene these days and Primo are testament to that. The trio (recently expanded to a quartet with Amy Hill of Dick Diver) pins down a portion of post-punk that relies on sparse aesthetics, driving bass lines and a dash or two of jangle to get their message through. Their debut, Amici, focuses on rat race drudgery, as referenced cheekily in the band’s business attire on the cover. They posit another world for themselves where accounts receivable is the only option and office blocks spring up like prison walls. But the group knows that every suburb’s got an underground leaning back against that dreaded slide into routine. They churn their unrest into knuckle-cracking percussive snaps, guitar lines itchy as wool on a summer’s day and harmonies that band them together against the ebbing edge of boredom and rote living.

Even with its lyrical lashing of the system and perpetual pining for a life less taupe, the album comes off with a softer impact than many of their post-punk peers. They’re pushing back against the ballast of suburban expectations but the album lands with a collective sigh rather than a defiant scream. Where others are reaching for the acerbic trappings of Young Marble Giants, Bush Tetras or The Slits, Primo take a page out of twee and affix pillowy three-part harmonies to their twitching instrumentals. The approach lures listeners in before setting things straight with their screeds on societal weight.

At a scant twenty-two minutes the record is just a shot over EP territory, but the band makes good time out of their brief spin around the table. They aren’t tearing the system down outright, but they’re here for the rest of us work-a-day nobodies looking to break out of data entry and see who’s coming with us. In a year that’s been pock-marked by post-punk it’s a nice take on the genre that’s helped in no small turn by some excellent hooks and a good dollop of cheeky charm.



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School Damage – “Assimilate”

In further proof that 2018 will be bad on my wallet, good on my ears, Melbourne’s School Damage have a new album on the way. Their sophomore LP for Chapter Music starts off with “Assimilate,” a slightly less bare bones take on their New Wave / Post-Punk bullseye that usually sees them working the wires of Young Marble Giants, Galaxo Babies and Devo into a nervy pile of art punk. The band still cuts Exacto angles out of pristine pop, tacking their guitar shards to staccato beats and pillowy synths that refuse to sit still. This time ‘round though the band is filling up every corner of the composition, fleshing out the edges with a bigger sound that’s a step removed from their brittle, yet charming debut. In particular Carolyn Hawkins (see also: Parsnip, Chook Race) fills the ‘phones to the brim with her barbed accusations and those synths buzz like a wasp’s nest rendered out of cotton candy. Can’t wait for the rest of this one to come tumbling down the line, but for now “Assimilate” and its equally effervescent collage barrage of a video are sating my need for pop wobble today.



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Loose Tooth – “You Say”

Getting genuinely excited for this Loose Tooth debut and I’m damn scuffed no one is talking about the record this side of the world. The band’s next single “You Say” is an even headier pop nug than the first taste of Keep Up. The cut is slightly brittle on the outside with a sinewy bass line knuckling its way through the track, but they open up for a soft gush of pop with those harmonies and a hook that’s all sunshine and swoon. They’re picking up goosebump punk from Cherry Red comps and 80’s indies and giving them new life for a generation ready for a little bounce in their post-punk discard pile. Can’t help feel some Kate Fagan or Holly & The Italians or The Flatbackers in this one, though it might just be that the band has gotten into the same bundle of twitchy pop rocks as those acts. Either way, its shaping ups to be a hell of an album.



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Primo! – “A City Stair”

Primo’s “A City Stair” is a buzzing, taut swath of jangle that’s quickly jumping the band up the list of Melbourne bands that should be on your radar. While the group had me at shaggy Melbourne post-punk, add in a crossover members who’ve spent time in Terry and The Shifters and its a sealed and signed deal. The track rumbles along on Amy Hill’s hungry bass line then takes a few zig zags through breathless guitar, trading jangles and jabs in equal measure. Bringing it home, the track melts down with a organ outro that shades the track nicely for a firm finish. The band’s album, recorded by RSTB fave Al Montfort is an absolute gem. My recommendation is to get on this one quickly. On one of the most solidly satisfying labels going, Upset The Rhythm. If you’re around EU/UK catch the band out, including a date with the always excellent Sauna Youth



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Bodega

BK art punks Bodega’s debut for What’s Your Rupture comes skirting in with tongue firmly planted in cheek and a winking smile that would read as smug if they weren’t also hammering that snark into catchy chunks of culture-soaked catharsis. Ok to be fair it still kinda reads as smug, but the band also lands lyrics like that friend who is brutally honest but also calls out the shit everyone else just lets slide. They lay it out in the opener “How Did This Happen?” a wave of the hand that sweeps aside the romanticism of music or musician as high minded or sacred by the 50-odd years of posturing prior to the song’s creation. The band’s assertion that “this machine it killed the dream of the ‘60s / this machine you know it’s just a guitar” takes the right amount of wind out of every self-important slinger with too much faith in their own cache.

Bodega are bashing out comment box banter with the soul of Tom Tom Club. The band is pushing an agenda of gyrate n’ jerk while their jokes run roughshod over their Brooklyn brethren, because as much as they disdain the older generation they aren’t sparing their own either. Nor should they. They steamroll Instagram vanity under the premise of self-documentation, toxic masculinity, endless cultural one-upsmanship and life under the gig economy. The band walks a pretty fine wire, they’re shooting for ESG boogie and Television tension with the sinking smirk reserved for writing a Live Journal screed the summer after freshman Sociology.

While there’s a sense that in six months the album will hit its expiration date and crumble a bit at the edges, the elasticity of its grooves will save it from the pool filter. In the same way that the ‘80s new wave and post-punk holds up with the sparkling bounce at their core, so too will Endless Scroll serve as a jerk-jointed BK dance inciter with its foot permanently rested in 2018. I’m already looking forward to putting it on my nostalgia playlist. Somehow I feel like the band would find it appropriate.



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