Posts Tagged ‘Punk’

14th Wish – I Gotta Get Rid of You

HoZac has remained one of the most consistent houses unearthing vital punk treasures these days and its in no small part due to their mining of the 1980’s catalog of David Peel’s Orange Records. Peel’s stable included some notable nuggets in among the crust, including early GG Allin, Eddie Criss with Wayne Kramer laying down guitar, and David’s own ramshackle records. This pretty much unknown single by 14th Wish. The band has pretty much zero presence in the punk history books, but this two-sider captured by Peel is a nice slice of chugging punk that’s got a bit of NYC sneer and a good hangover of Modern Lovers running through its hair of the dog delivery.

The A-side’s got a bit more grit in its gut with a fuzztone that’s practically vomiting fuzz but its tempered by not giving into the frantic tempos of the time and that sauntering bass. The vocals by Halo Peace are appropriately nihilistic/caustic and the guitar jags at the end are worth the wait. The label’s pulling some Tapeworm comparisons (I can hear that) but the cut kinda reminds me of the Twinkeyz b-side “Little Joey” with its mid-tempo stomp and finger-in-the-socket guitar shanks. The flip is a bit more staid than this one, but still a lot of fun. Haven’t seen this one knocking down any doors in 2020, but its a good piece of the puzzle in the NYC punk swarm that barreled out of control around the time.




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Naked Roommate

I was always a fan of Oakland post-punks The World, and was ultimately saddened that along with the announcement of the debut from Naked Roommate came the news that they’d ceased to exist. Amber Sermeńo & Andy Jordan of the band continue their exploration of past impulses, however, with their new endeavor. Still teetering on the edge of post-punk and the void, still tethered to the Earth by a rubber-bound ballast of bass, the new band isn’t worlds away from what they’d set to explore in their previous pursuits. Yet, where The World burned hot and insistent, Naked Roommate exists their reclined and refined sibling. It’s easy to see the slide from one to the other. The World triggered their tension via blasts of sax and shards of guitar that were set to slice, let slip a few years further down the post-punk pike and like the punks before them they pick up dub, gutter-spliced dance, and the hangover of pre-public acceptability disco.

With members of Bad Bad, Preening, and Blues Lawyer in tow, the duo create a record that feels reckless in its pursuit of repose. With their credentials it would have been easy to pick at the scabs of punk once again, but the band shows a fascination with ESG’s bare bones debt to dance, Northwest slow-simmer unit C.O.C.O. and the tape-hiss pile-up from the early aughts that was packed with bands like Vibes, Psychic Reality, and LA Vampires. It works together into a record that feels reverent to the past, but not precious enough not to get caught up in recreating anything with any air of accuracy. More than anything, Do The Duvet feels like a few friends having fun and working out a kind of crash-house soundtrack that’s fun and frivolous. It’s not aspiring to knock the moorings out of the world, but sometimes just bringing people together and vibing is a political act.




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Sweeping Promises

Been sitting with the debut from Boston’s Sweeping Promises for a few weeks now and the record only endears itself harder with each listen. The band’s set the record up to neatly echo a lost generation of punk, post-punk, and New Wave, threading a rhythmic urgency, fluorescent keys, and the velvet right hook of Lira Mondal’s vocals through the speakers. The band recorded the whole LP live to a single mic in the room, which seems like it would flatten things to a lo-fi lump. Yet, while this is by no means a polished album, they use the austerity to their advantage, letting memories of no-frills punk like Kleenex, The Germs, or The Slits act as a blueprint here. Hunger For a Way Out in turn feels like the sonic equivalent of a xeroxed show flyer — instantly inviting, vibrant, and urgent, but not overwrought in any way. They drop into the ranks of newer DIY punks who’ve found space to play within the classic sounds, making it clear that they’re picking up the baton and running forward rather than retreading. Fans of Lithics, Shopping, or Primo, will find a lot to love here.

As I mentioned in my write-up of the band’s single “Falling Forward,” one of the things that really makes the record work are the vocals from Mondal. Despite the rudimentary recording setup, the band’s able to let her voice flex over the top of the elastic energy bubbling below her. Its a shaded delivery, not going into the obvious yelp or affecting the flat delivery that post-punk so often produces. She can attack when needed, letting that high crack fit the fury, but there’s a good amount of Debbie Harry in the DNA here, if only Blondie had gotten wirier rather than more polished in their tenure. Not a lot of debuts drop out this fully formed, and while there’s clearly room to see if the band can apply polish and retain the percolating pulse that Hunger possesses, there’s also a little hope that they retain this ragged glory forever.





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The Red Lights – S/T

It’s always nice to get a little more context on rock’s mythical figures. For some, The Gun Club looms large as a totem of punk that refused to fit the format and hew towards any set of agreed upon standards. Their 1980 debut is often seen as the match strike for Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s career, but the unearthing of these demos from The Red Lights give just a touch of context and background to his songwriting. Pierce was West Coast based at the time and writing for Slash Magazine — enamored with reggae and helming a Blondie fan club. With reggae’s looseness and power pop’s pulse he began writing songs and opening some gigs at The Whisky. The Arena, and The Rock Corporation. The five songs here are a far cry from the sweaty, possessed visions of The Gun Club, but Pierce’s persona still comes rippling through.

With an earnest approach that lets all the light of power pop into the picture and occasionally at white reggae bounce that would make even The Police blush, he sketches out the start of a career that would get much deeper and darker quite soon. The voice is undoubtedly the focus. It’s raw, but its Pierce finding his bearings and getting ready to rip a punk hole into blues for us all to enjoy. Lovely to have this archival EP out into the world. Probably one for the collector’s but any punk upstart would do well to see how a career gets going. Split pressing here between In The Red and Spacecase.



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Osees – “Dreary Nonsense”

What kind of year would it be if there wasn’t a new Oh Sees (now it’s Osees, I guess) on the horizon? I wouldn’t know what to do. The tides would be off. At the very least, the axis would slip a few degrees on the ball of dirt and water we ride through the cosmos. The band’s latest, Protean Threat is preceded by the short, but cratered track “Dreary Nonsense.” The cut bursts out of the barrel with a full force blow of guitar and a squirm of keys that’s constantly crushed into new and more uncomfortable positions over the course of the track’s brief tenure on your speakers. It shies away from light, bears its fangs and leaves a light laceration before retreating into the walls of weird once more. From the sounds of things the new LP is bound to let even more blood than they do here. Check out a rehearsal for the LP captured live at Zebulon in March. Protean Threat is out September 18th, naturally from Castleface.




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CB Radio Gorgeous – “Decline”

Chicago’s explosive punks CB Radio Gorgeous knocked out a sweat-soaked cassette on Not Normal a couple of years back and they follow it with a four-shot EP that packs everything that clicks about the band into a short shaker that never lets up. The EP was produced with inspiration from Geza X (Dead Kennedys, Germs, Redd Kross, Black Flag, The Avengers and The Weirdos), seeking to jolt us all back to consciousness again with a West Coast punk breeze. The full EP is breathless and battered, but never ragged but “Decline” in particular puts the bands strengths at the forefront, blending their speed with their heat-sinked hooks. The band’s plucked from the ranks of CCTV, Forced into Femininity, and Negative Scanner but they seem bound to scratch out their own inch with more nods to the Mabuhay Gardens set and Northwest punk belters than their own native streets of Chicago. Get this on the list now and get the volume adjusted to scorch.



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Lewsberg

Dutch quartet Lewsberg will draw constant VU comparisons. Its inevitable, and largely, I don’t think the band is shirking the comparison. While they embrace the sparse, dry confidence of the band in their early days over the course of In This House, its unfair to hang this and this alone on them. They’re picking at quite a few other scars of the ‘60s and ‘70s as well and making it all simmer down to a rather tasty roux of rock that’s unfettered and yet instantly engaging. In the same way that the early aughts fought the rising tide of complexity in rock by embracing the lower rungs of fidelity and bringing the studio home, the band strips away any excess that may have built up in the past decade or so. They chip away production and chisel hooks down to their most primal qualities. They don’t forgo beauty or charm to do it, and that’s where the Velvets come in. The setup is simple, but in something like the swaying jangle of “At Lunch” there’s the same kernel of pop that made “Candy Says” a staple of mixtapes for generation after generation.

Elsewhere, the band falls into the same sonic baskets The Feelies, who were translating these impulses long before them, but still found a way to make the crisp collars of jangle pop feel necessary. The hum of the band’s gears is audible in the mix, but it only endears them further to the listener. The band wields the elastic snap of guitars and the brittle delivery of matter of fact hooks in the same manner that Parquet Courts have made their bedrock, but they soften the edges to make it seem almost effortless. Within the confines of In This House, despite it dredging up all these comparisons, there’s the feeling that the band just organically landed here. They’re unencumbered because they don’t feel the need to dress up the melodies with distraction. They’re straightforward with their songwriting because clutter makes them cringe and less is indeed more. There’s a reason that sounds like this have their own gravitational pull. We’re attracted to the sounds that don’t need us, the records that couldn’t seem to care if you listen or leave and that’s exactly what’s here. Its a record that exists of its own volition. If you engage, all the better, but Lewsberg are going to saw at the raw nerves valley that exists between punk, pop, and poetry all the same.



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Cable Ties

On their sophomore album, and first for US label Merge, Aussies Cable Ties retain the fire in their bellies, but stoke it with a few helpings of melodic pop and a quiet contemplation that may have been missing in the past. Throughout their early singles the band was a sonic jackhammer, tearing through injustice, sexism and classism while spitting in the face of a world that long since turned its back on the youth of today. Their first album refined the point on their knives, and did pretty good job of sharpening the rest of their blades as well. With a wider canvas they spared no one who’d earned their ire, and it quickly became evident that anyone on the receiving end of Jenny McKechnie’s gale force vocal torrents were lucky to get out with only a racing heartbeat and a clutch of psychic scratches. On Far Enough, the band barrels into maturity with the same bile in their throats, but also a good deal of calm contemplation as well. They balance their poles of their personality, and now when McKechnie lays into the full force of her anger, its a payoff that hits the listener with the whiplash force that makes the pummel all that much more powerful.

She picks up the lash from so many punk predecessors, and while there’s definitely a cocktail of Tucker, Hanna, and Styrene as the easy to top notes of the bunch, she and the Ties have taken the full force of progressive punk into their tank and turned out a record that’s much more than the fumes of its fuel. They chum the waters with the brooding calm of “Lani.’ They swallow the constant lump in their throats on the dizzying “Pillow,” — driven by bubbles of bass and vocals that cool to a croon. They’ve even captured the complexity of where we lie in wait at the start of 2020 with “Hope” — a song that brims with doubt and desire. Its a societal push-pull with uncertainty, age, generational distance, and the ideals of activism in the face of mounting evidence that no amount of rivets will stem the tide when the dam bursts.

Woven between these careful shadings lie the paint-peeler anthems that nail the fuckers to the wall, and when we hear the crack of bone on concrete its a satisfying snap indeed. On “Self Made Man,” Sandcastles” and in the titanic swells of “Anger’s Not Enough” the band shows that their fire’s never faded. Where the other songs stoke the coals and let the glow warm the listener, here they prove that those coals can build to a blaze bound to burn. What’s best about Far Enough is that it needs time to settle into the system. Their early singles and debut were instantly gripping, but like the best works this one takes a few runs through before it all locks into place. The builds and crouches become clear, the abrasive progressiveness of “Anger’s Not Enough” snaps into their place on an album that’s not a wild swing at its aggressor, but a patient plan of attack that topples its targets in good time.



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Cold Meat

There’s a time for cool waters and calm heads and there’s a time for the righteous infection of fire-forged punk. Somehow its been time for both in these past couple of weeks, but right about now the latter is feeling pretty apt. Perth scorchers Cold Meat have graduated from their early short-form firestarters to a full length that showcases their pounding, primal, elastic scratch. Built on a foundation of tire-thick rubber riffs, the band kneads and pounds the basics of punk through an emotional and musical ringer. The riffs are meaty and land with enough force to bruise heavily. The bass ricochets around the speaker space with a sinewy menace. While squarely in the mold of punk purveyors like Magazine, X-Ray Spex, or The Adverts, they borrow the alternating current corruption of post-punk terrors — finding common ground with the hot bile invective of The Au Pairs and the writhing discomfort of Pylon.

None of the garments of the past quite fit them, though, and that’s to their credit. They chafe at categorization, but Cold Meat mostly look to take a hammer to the societal mirror and do it with a wicked smile on their face in the process. Doesn’t hurt tat they’ve got the twenty megaton howl of Ashley Ramsey in their corner as well. While the music beneath her squirms in pain, Ramsey rounds up every last inch of sneered and seared animus and hurls it at the listener. I’m a sucker for a voice that packs a versatile volley of grievance, pain, disappointment, and derision and she nails the nuance every time. While I can’t say I levy Andy unsettled scores with ZZ Top and their fanbase as the band seems to, elsewhere Cold Meat seem to bring good reason and welcome harbor to their various picked bones. Its a record of its time — bred on the scraps of the past but fueled with the earned anger of a younger generation left in the cold to fend for itself.



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The Cowboys – “The Beige Collection”

Bloomington’s garage-soul swelters The Cowboys are back and the carefree flow that was palpable on The Bottom of a Rotten Flower seems to have evaporated overnight as we head into their new LP, Room of Clons. “The Beige Collection” is a dark, brooding introduction to their new LP, driving deep into the night with a hungry riff and the vocals of frontman Keith Harman hovering over the listener with a sinister edge. Seems the rest of the album might return to some of their homegrown punk roots but here, for the moment, The Cowboys are post-punk purveyors of a measured menace that’s hard to shake. The record hits shops and mailboxes alike on April 4th.


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