Posts Tagged ‘Punk’

Sauna Youth – “No Personal Space”

The recent album from Sauna Youth is a welcomed blast of bracing bile that chewed up wage gaps, gig economies, personal space issues and cultural collapse through constant distraction. The band’s ode to a bubble one’s own to have and to hold, “No Personal Space,” is a match-lit highlight of the album and thy give the track a DIY video treatment through lo-budget means, even leaving in the technical difficulties that arose.

The band notes that, “This was filmed in 5 minutes in the Peckham Arch practice space that we wrote the album in and whose electrical interference from the train tracks above features throughout this song. We used an iPhone 5, two iPhone 6s’ and an iPhone 7 using their inferior front cameras and it was edited in the free software Hitfilm Express in a couple of hours. It’s about constriction and liberation and having no personal space.” If you haven’t picked up the LP from Upset The Rhythm, now might be a good time!

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Sauna Youth

Sauna Youth have a handle on the brittle bite of punk that’s long served their country’s history. Their previous LP balanced a crucial clutch of frantic, diesel-paced guitar explosions with caustic hooks. There’s also a thread of art punk that often finds spoken word elements propping up in their work, pushing them out of the standard DIY tenure track. On their third LP they maintain their trajectory, melting away some of the hooks through sheer velocity, but never once letting up on their dedication to the raised hackle wild swing of punk’s fiercest proponents. While there’s not a single as potent as “Transistors” here, the whole package rubs the soul just as raw as anything they’ve brought forth in their catalog.

The album opens with the sucker-punch pounce of “Percentages” and it’s a good indication of the kind of bile and bent aluminum aesthetics the band is pushing to the front on Deaths. The bile in question finds them venting frustration out of multiple channels – the economic impact of sustainable arts and gig economies, political realities that outlive our dumbest estimation, and the daily distractions that threaten to kill our creative core. While the band channels all this into an intense half hour of cranium crunch, the venting of frustrations comes off cathartic more than angry. It’s destructive in the way demolition should be, but they’re smiling while they swing the hammer.

The band still leaves room for a spoken word piece here, which I appreciate, though it does derail the momentum of the album. The choice to forgo streamlined listening for their own indulgences and strange sources of joy seems to be the core of what makes Sauna Youth click. Like a pill that gets stuck in the throat, they’re still hitting the body to full effect, even if the ride’s sometimes uncomfortable. Deaths slots in nicely alongside the rest of this year’s stellar Upset The Rhythm roster, another disjointed slap to the face that’s sorely needed.



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HoT To RoT

Slicing fast and frantic with their debut single, “Kindred,” Melbourne’s HoT To RoT has been one of the most interesting discoveries of 2018. The song picks up the jolted-nerves punk tradition handed down by Au Pairs and X-Ray Spex and runs it through an updated acid bath. Flanking that beast of a song with an additional five to round out their debut, the band doesn’t falter in their construction of a demeanor of menace, creeping unease and bottled fury. While most tracks can’t hope to capture the 12-volt tongue touch of “Kindred” they build an EP that’s nuanced and nimble around that track’s centerpiece.

From the slow slink into “Strangers At Best,” to the disorienting percussive snag and static riffs on “Oxytocin,” the short form collection is a nail-scratch blood letter that keeps from falling to pieces with a veneer of caffeinated cool. The players box up tension that’s constantly unbound by the belt-sander bedlam of Blaise Adamson’s vocals. She’s disenchanted and deadly accurate with her delivery of inflammatory ire. Where many post-punks are riding the groove and looking to twitch anxiously in the corner, HoT To RoT barb their wire-wrought angles with an embattled rage that seems all the more necessary with each passing day on this slog through 2018. Quite a few of their local talent pool seem bound to slow things down to a slacker crawl, but here HoT To RoT are making unrest feel like the only option.



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Midnite Snaxxx – “Let Me Do What I Want”

Since their 2017 record, Chew On This, Oakland’s Midnite Snaxxx have been spitting singles in fits and starts, but the short forms remain their forte. No disrespect to the full length lovers, but the band’s whiplash spirt is best captured between two sides of short attention span snotty punk built for sunshine hijinx. The A-side, “Let Me Do What I Want,” is a denim-vested world beater that’s not content to take no for an answer and isn’t afraid to lob the first volley in food fight fisticuffs. The song might as well stand as a credo for the California combo – loud, fast and brash – it’s a femme punk fuck you to the ruling class, or at the very least, a middle finger to the store manager on the way out of the sliding doors.

They swap to swooning on the flip side, with a tale of love lost that’s captured by only a handful of pictures left to remember the good times. Both halves serve as shades on the band’s West Coast garage punk that feels perfect as a soundtrack to Mod Podge a vision board of your ideal John Waters future. Here’s hoping the band continues their crusade to add up 7”s of plastic pogo punk for the disenchanted and heartbroken.



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Dentist

Well its pretty hard to give leeway to anyone trying to cop the term “Night Swimming” as an album and /or song title at this stage of the game. R.E.M. enshrined the term in their take on adolescent nerves and few could help to dissociate it from their heart wrenching weeper. That said, NJ trio Dentist kickshift the term in the opposite direction of that ‘90s classic. On Night Swimming the band spit-polish garage pop then muddy their footprints on the way out of hanger with a good dose of grunge crunch. The album’s blessed with a fizzy disposition and most of the songs drive hard through caffeinated bounce tempos that are only exacerbated by Emily Bornemann’s helium and heat vocals.

The band is primarily the work of Emily and partner Justin Bornemann and perhaps it’s a couple’s mind-meld gives the band their locked-in immediacy – though shouts to the drummer holding down a good bash while likely pulling the short straw power dynamic in this scenario. While, the album courses along on cotton candy hooks, there’s a hardened heart beating underneath all that sugared froth. There are moments that wink with knowing looks, but the band has a penchant for messy interpersonal tangles that more often than not end in heartache. Lets hope that the tales of betrayal that burrow under the bubblegum are buried in the past, at least for the Bornemanns’ sake.

The band is admittedly at their best when careening around the room in a power pop ping pong that’s infectious, if not laden with a certain nostalgia for the indomitable spirit of youth. Though the band is just as adept at peeling back the curtain on the inevitable hangover that spirit often leaves in its wake. The band proves they can bring down the lights for the hushed “All Is Well (In Hell)” and ominously titled “Owl Doom Pt.2,” each reveling in the murkier side of that coin. It’s a solid effort, that while not necessarily shaking the world’s tree, goes a long way to wrap up love’s bite in a sprightly package of garage glitter that’s pulls plenty of smiles along the way.





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Dumb

Vancouver’s Dumb pull out their deep stack of ‘70s art-punk LPs and mash the best bits together for an album that’s brief but barbed. They plow through the heartpound pop of Wire and the wrinkled hooks of Magazine. They chew the same glass that feeds The Fall, Pere Ubu and early Alternative TV. As many are likely quick to point out, for a band called Dumb, they’re hardly lobbing lager-soaked odes draped in pop punk here. While its hardly easy listening, its plenty catchy and like fellow 2018 angular aficionados Lithics and School Damage the band knows just which pieces of the past still draw blood in the present. They capture the spirit of ’79 ably, though they often aim to emulate more often than elevate. There are moments when they do push the needled forward, smashing an ‘80s Midwest brashness into the vocals of “Party Whip” and giving pause when the sound of chimes ripples through the racket or giving the art crowd some sunshine shake with handclaps on “Ripesnakes.”

On Seeing Green they fuel the need to contort the soul, to break it, bend it, and smash it down on the crooked angles of their guitar lines. There’s unrest inherent in their lyrics, but also the kind of wry smile that would have made their influences proud. It’s a solid record, well versed and subtly catchy. The band trade less in earworms and more in a kind of can’t get that sound taste out of your mouth type of addictiveness. They’re young, and this is all the more impressive for their age and general tenure as a band. They’re aided in their vision by the lacerating production from Jordan Koop, which gives the LP an immediacy that paces their frantic stop-start whiplash. There’s a feeling as the album runs its course that this might only be the beginning, a wild knife slice that’ll settle into some methodical strikes as time wears on for the band. Whether or not they springboard off of the sound they’ve curated on Seeing Green, they’ve left a decent mark with this one.



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Moody Beaches – “Modes”

Moody Beaches debut, Weird Friends is a terse, nailbitten romp through ’90s stomp that’s built on muscular riffs and urgent vocals. The band knocks through a hit list of influences that scoop up Breeders (round about the Pod days), Green River and L7 vibes. The wax finally hit the shelves last week and in turn they release a third track off of the album paired with an occult-themed video that bottles up menace in the track. Definitely recommended if you’re knocking through essential Aussie releases this year.



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GØGGS – “Pre Strike Sweep”

Whew, lotta news today and all of it good. Adding to a busy year with a solo record and collaboration with White Fence already under his belt, the inexhaustible Ty Segall jumps to sideman with GØGGS. The band’s sophomore LP for In The Red comes prefaced with a caustic blast of volume-shredded punk. Frontman Chris Shaw (of Ex-Cult) brings the heat, same as the band’s debut, but this time there’s more than just roadburn riffs. Augmented with some spaced synths, this one comes on like Hawkwind gone hardcore and its a brutal slap to the collective jaw. The full LP drops in September and if its half as full of crushed glass and airplane glue as this track, then we’re all in for a treat.


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Bad Moves – “Spirit FM”

It’s a banner year for DC power pop, that’s for damn sure. With the new album from Flasher already locked on the turntable good news comes down the line that Bad Moves have an LP on the way from the always consistent Don Giovanni Recs. The band, coming off their recent cartoon infamy, hits back hard with a first single that puts its thumb down on the current cultural unrest. Taking to task the hypocritical nature of conformist religions and ingrained beliefs that seem to serve as a means to an end for so many, the song slaps back against those that play lip service to systems while using them to hold others down. Seems especially prescient in an age trying to strip back years of progress and rights for all under the guise of populist politics.

The cut pairs well with a clever video that posits our protagonist as embracing color in a world that’s bent on white washing themselves. Seems that even those onto the virtue can’t help cheating when its convenient and the schism in values breaks the hero down in screams. Heavy subtext or no, the song is an absolute ripper that’s as fun as anything the band have done to date. Its always nice to pair some cultural commentary with the kind of hook you can get lost in, fist raised and pogoing to the pulse.



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Sauna Youth – “Percentages”

UK DIY outfit Sauna Youth are headed back to record store shelves this fall with their latest LP Deaths. The first cut finds the band in bracing, raised hackles punk position – blaring air raid siren riffs undercut with breathless rhythm work. The track feels as if it might burst into flame at any moment. In under a minute twenty-five the band boils the blood and gets listener’s ready to careen into just about anything in their paths. Their last LP, 2015’s Distractions was sorely (almost criminally) overlooked on this side of the Atlantic, so let’s try not to make the same mistake this time around. The record lands on September 7th.



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