Posts Tagged ‘Post-Punk’

Uranium Club – “Two Things At Once”

A new entry from the Sup Pop singles club sees RSTB faves Uranium Club getting a shout with a new double shot of gnarled punk madness. The single gives birth to “Two Things at Once (pts 1&2)” and the songs display UC’s knack for tightly wound guitars, narrative insanity, and post-punk the way it was meant to be – experimental as hell, rhythmic and ripped. The first part takes more than a few time shifts before settling into a hypnotic slide-out with their spoken-word cadence dripping off the guitars. The b-side is an instrumental wander through the most serene waters I’ve heard from Uranium Club yet. The song acts as a bit of a coda to the half that precedes it, threading in a bit of the same theme, and easing down into the horizon. I’ve always loved the Sub Pop singles for their willingness to take chances on bands that might not be a hit with their huge audience, though here’s hoping that like Omni, this is one band that might stick around. Then again, both Blues Control and Tyvek are in the ranks of Singles alums, so I won’t hold my breath.




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Bill Direen – A Memory of Others

In the lore of New Zealand rock, Bill Direen is a mythical figure. More than just a songwriter (though he’s a hell of one to be sure) Direen also served as a literary guide at the head of Percutio Magazine and he’s written as extensively on the page as he has in his songs. This new volume from Sophomore Lounge acts as a bit of a musical accompaniment to his life and works. Simon Ogston has directed a documentary about Direen — Bill Direen: A Memory of Others — and this serves as a companion piece to the film. It’s not a soundtrack, since the film itself doesn’t pull strictly from the recorded versions of Bill’s work, but the songs themselves are as integral to getting to know Direen as the film itself.

Direen kicked through several early bands in his youth – forming (the) Vacuum in 1980 along with soon to be members of The Pop Group. His band The Urbs laid the groundwork for The Builders (or Bilders depending what year it is.) The group’s debut Beatin’ Hearts still stands as an essential of pre-Flying Nun primal New Zealand rock and has cemented Direen in the roots of a sound that would continue to expand and explode in and around Christchurch in the years to come. The album, covers his time in The Builders and beyond, but this is no chronological arc. The record skips scattershot between periods and players, giving a three-dimensional picture of Direen’s work.

The songs move from early, fuzz-caked but brilliant pop nuggets to arid and affecting poetry backed by more organic and quieter players. Direen traversed post-punk to folk while making it all seem like one long spectrum. Like the film that portrays him, the album is euphoric and melancholic, hallucinatory and revelatory. Direen’s name should always be among those being discussed in the formation of the Kiwi sound, but more than that, he should be among the best of those seeking to shove pop from its ivory pedestal – a punk in the truest sense of the term. He’s a peddler of pain and a seeker of light. His music and art deserve to be brought to the surface worldwide. I highly recommend checking out Ogston’s film to get some insight into Direen’s arc with some great commentary from a litany of fellow NZ players, and picking up this anthology of South Hemi bedrock.






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Robert Sotelo

Robert Sotelo’s third LP, and his first for skewed pop stable Upset The Rhythm, is both sublimely serene and incessantly itchy. His pop comes on like the warm confines of a sweater that reveals itself to irritate the skin. There’s a squirm to songs like “Mister,” or the title track “Infinite Sprawling” but it doesn’t seem to bother Sotelo. He’s lost in the confines of his mind, locked away from the tether of earthly irritation. The pontifications of Sotelo’s pop are, in fact, comforting. He’s lost like you are. He’s nagged and dogged by the same singularities that give you pause, but he’s confident in his croon and it makes it seem right. But what’s that clanking? It’s off behind the buttery guitars and jangled hooks and it seems to be getting closer. More often than not there’s a buzz, the odd xylophone rhythm, the croak of frogs that sets a track off the path and dipping into the bog on that’s built up around the preserve.

He can cloak a track in amber country hues (“Run”) but it’s still tripping over its own feet and it feels good to know that we’re not alone in our own self-conscious tumble through the cosmos. Rob’s pop falls under the same full-moon sway that past primers like Moon Martin were bound embrace. He’s the outsider, but truthfully, he is all of us. He is dipped in pop, but he’s not comfortable with how deep he’s swum in its waters. His head is spinning with doubt, protracted and distracted. Inside his songs we’re narcotized and enjoying the party, but internally we can’t figure out why that stomach pain is so present, where it came from and what it means. Sotelo’s a master of moods and on Infinite Sprawling he’s captured a corner of the lounge that doesn’t get swept that often. Its’s nice picking through the detritus with him for a while.



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Cat Scan – “Lysol”

Nice little tweaker from L.A. band Cat Scan who have an LP out now on Volar. The band swings wild through the punk and post-punk markers along the tail end of the ‘70s and on into the ‘80s but on “Lysol” they’re stretching the silly putty sound transfer from The B-52’s through to the squeak-pop of We Have a Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It. The track shreds the senses — built on a rubbery bass that seems like it might spill the bounds of its record grove and infect a few other tracks. The hand-off between the male-female vocals gives the track a spark, but like the ‘52s before them, what makes it tick is that they know when to let goofiness grind into catharsis in just the right way. The whole album’s got the spirit of the best ripped-shirt art-party rumblers and its a damn delight. Gonna want to get this one nudged on the volume and tapping at the window panes.



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The Taxidermists

The sophomore LP from Massachusetts duo The Taxidermists takes a different tack than I’d expect from Feeding Tube, but then again, the label is built on not fostering expectations. The Taxidermists trade in a noisy nook of indie that’s got a shelf full of Sonic Youth, Pavement, No Age, and Eric’s Trip – though from a contemporary standpoint they’re landing right in the kinked-tin travels of someone like Omni. The aural twists come quick and, while not frantic, they are certainly anxious. On the contrast the lyrics seem almost nonchalant. They remain unfussed by the din that grows behind them. The band threads noise through their sound, but they’re in search of as many hooks as the next pair. The dynamic gives the record a nature of being at odds with itself. The vocals give way to a need to be liked, while the guitars yell “fuck you for thinking this will be that easy.”

Thorniness aside, the record wraps itself in a sort of classic New England clatter – the kind that would have once been traced back to fountains of shaggy shake a la Fort Apache, where the curdle in their licks would be well appreciated. It’s a pop record for folks who don’t like pop records. They are punks with a heart that heeds noise, noise nerds with a secret diary full of indie pop lyrics. If anything, the true criticism of the record is that it winds up a bit short. They burn bright and tangle hard, but then the record just hits a wall and they skitter off leaving the listener wanting more. Suppose that’s a good thing, but the hurt is real all the same.






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Vision 3D

New ripper out of the great French enclave Six Tonnes de Chair this week. Franco-Belgian band Vision 3D pound through the heart of the punk meets post-punk axis, at times sounding like a French version of the sorely underrated XYX and picking up pieces of X-Ray Spex, and The Adverts along the way. The band careens towards the brutal end of the spectrum, starting off with the sole-English language pleaser “Party” before shaving off the perfunctory pop impulses for the rest of the album. They bang their chords into the concrete looking for maximum crumble on the cranium as they crush joyous punk strums into balls of brittle tin. The effect works best when the two impulses are in direct odds with one another, like the infectious strains of “Fan.” The track finds the band harmonizing in post-Ye-Ye pogo but the guitars saw the strums into shards, sending debris all around the romper room dance party set-up.

The band contains members of short-lived, but fondly remembered garage grippers Thee Marvin Gayes and there’s a similar sense of urgency shared with their predecessors. The record embodies some of the best impulses of punk – namely energy over polish. Far from the cushy rubber snap of punk’s marquee set, the band fuses the caffeinated crash of early Wire with the gutter-gyrations of Delta 5, gleefully smashing through the fixtures in any house show hookup. Lotta charms here if you’re into the kind of albums that feel like they might just be a pale specter of the live show, trying to mop up the sweat and sickness of the body heat explosion that they set off from the stage. While it definitely feels like Visions 3D are meant to be experienced amid the chaos of the crowd, their eponymous LP, given enough volume is a window rattler to be reckoned with. Wrapped up in some choice art by NY maze-master Sean C. Jackson, this one’s worth the import ticket.



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Omni – “Skeleton Key”

Haven’t discussed the new OMNI here yet, but its good to see the Atlanta post-punks make good with a jump to Sub Pop for their latest, Networker. “Skeleton Key” is tightly wound, maybe a bit more sanded than the band sounded the last I left ‘em, but they’re still bending the strings through the wringer. They’re as tight as ever, though, stop-starting their way through the song like studio rats with a penchant for pop preening. The Robert Quine shadow looms large here – a foot in crunched punk and a foot in the sweater set. Oh, but don’t let the smooth taste fool ya, OMNI are still from the streets, and sometimes they find themselves waking up there. The video is simple and saturated and fits the band’s minimal design modes fairly well. Check the clip and line on up for the new platter when it lands in November.



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Anton Newcombe on PIL – Second Edition

The Hidden Gems feature continues to bring out some of the best recommendations, and this time another legend walks through the pages of the piece. Ahead of the debut LP from L’epée, his new collaboration with The Limiñanas and French songwriter Emmaunelle Seigner of Ultra Orange, Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe throws a recommendation into the ring for Gems. It should be no surprise that Newcombe’s got a shelf-full of punk and psych classics to cull from and he gives puts a solid stamp on the US edition of Public Image Ltd.’s Metal Box given the less pricey package and name Second Edition over here. Its taken as a given now that the album is a post-punk canon staple, easily accessible for punk youths looking to expand their soundscapes these days, but keep in mind that Newcombe stumbled into the record on original release in 1980, when word of mouth, record counter recommendations were the best inroads and import prices made purchases more selective. Find out how this one came into Newcombe’s orbit below.

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EXEK – “Unetiquetted”

Aussie noisemakers EXEK are back with a new LP and a move from Superior Viaduct subsidiery W.25th Records to French post-punk outpost SDZ in Europe, Digital Regress in the US and Anti-Fade at home in Australia. The slinking “Unetiquetted” finds the band haunting the halls of a greasier vision of post-punk — dark, damaged, but still riding a groove that’s hard to ignore. The track is shrouded in a detached debauchery, exhaling cold confidence and oozing bile. The accompanying video in turn looks like staging a freaky dance party in the post-credits of ’90 first person players like DOOM. It’s a hypnotic pairing with the band’s strange magic. The new LP lands September 6th.

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Kaputt – “Very Satisfied”

New one coming atcha from Upset The Rhythm and as usual its knocked pop on its ass. Kaputt’s “Very Satisfied” is an ode to the comfort of repetition, the strange calm of the mundane rendered exquisite. The lyrics are betrayed by the music, though as Kaputt are fare from rote. They mangle pop, trip it to the ground and roll it into the funhouse mirror. The post-punk bounce, scratches of horns, and nasal delivery slap a copy of Frankenchrist out of your sweaty paws with a handbag packed with the ‘70s ZE Records roster. The band pairs the song with a grotesque video that comes one like Thanksgiving at Troma Studios. Gonna want strap in and twitch for this one, its just the thing to get you going on a Monday morning.

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