Posts Tagged ‘synth-punk’

Andy Human & The Reptoids

Oakland squirm punks Andy Human & The Reptoids are back with another long player and it’s charging through the hallways ripping down your Duran Duran posters and spray-painting DEVO all over the walls. Human (nee Jordan) has been mining the nerd curdle of the ‘80s for some time now, though Psychic Sidekick might be his most complete vision yet. While they’re a bit more constrained than similar t-zone dropouts like Ausmuteants, Timmy Vulgar, or Hierophants – the band doesn’t scrape the glue-soaked freak centers as often as others – they still know how to inject a good dose of plastic shrapnel into their brand of punk. When they’re at their best they’re echoing high quality discomfort warriors like Twinkeyz and Simply Saucer for next gen of back row miscreants and the new LP rounds up quite a lot of their best.

Guitars thrash, a haze of ionospheric synth static rains down, and Jordan’s nasal vocal puncture is exactly what’s called for to keep the insomniac punks running ‘til dawn. This time ‘round they run their tongues over ten tales railing against mind melt of mundanity like it’s a mission statement. The band liquifies the banal cabal surrounding them in their heat vision hooks – jittering and hopping through tracks with freakish glee. If you’ve been stuck and stranded, at loss for a dose of quasar chaos to get you through the day, then I’d heartily recommend at least one daily dose of Reptoids in yer life.




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Tim & The Boys

At its heart Growing is full of post-punk bile – terse, propulsive and coiled with venom dripping out of every pore. The debut LP from the Sydney three-piece churns stark, caustic notions of alienation, overconsumption of culture, and the dissolution of the status quo. Though, despite biting deep into a helping of barbed wire influences, they manage to make it sound pretty inviting. That’s not to say that this is a plush, hook-laden record – far from it – but the band knows how to turn their crumbled culture ethos into a dizzyingly hypnotic ripper that’s sipping from the same pot as fellow Aussies Ausmuteants, Snake & Friends, Hierophants or US contemporaries Mind Spiders.

The hotplate stynth work and housing-block vocals of the band’s Tim Colier anchor their sound in the kind of raised-hackle, defensive post-punk aesthetics that drove Chrome and Pere Ubu. They’re picking at the bones of old sounds, but curating the kill in a way that makes Growing exhale with some vitality. The band managers to make desperation feel fun – dancing it out to the crumble of culture, lit by the flames of cities run amok. There’s been no lack of dystopian punk of late, but then again it’s beginning to feel like we’re in need of a soundtrack to match the daily feelings of dread and disorientation.

This winds up a worthwhile debut sent clanging out into the ether. For those looking for escape, this might not be the best medicine, but if you’re looking for a reflection of the queasy, nihilistic dance/march we’re embarking on towards the spires of smoke in the distance, then this might be just the ticket. Tim & The Boys won’t cushion the blow, but they’ll at least make the ride entertaining.




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Cave Curse – “Drones (We’re All)”

RSTB fave Bobby Hussy (The Hussy, Fire Heads) has taken a turn through synth-punk territory with Cave Curse, pounding out dystopian grind since the band’s debut single on Volar back in 2015. The latest pins kaleidoscopic keys to a dark, corrosive undercurrent that’s shrouded in evil. “Drones” pulls some real Angry Angles vibes, which is always a good thing in my book. Fraught, frantic and unconcerned for its well-being, the band’s album on FDH breaks form with many of its synth-wave compatriots with bright, bold keys that explode out of the speakers. Check out the premiere for the band’s latest video “Drones (We’re All)” above.

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Mind Spiders

Heading into their fifth record Mind Spiders are dispensing with much of their garage trappings (what little remained) and plunging headlong into full dystopian synth-punk. They’ve long been lingering around the sound but with an embrace of drum pads and prominent placement on those hornet-buzzing keys, their transition is complete. The sound is cold and caustic with just the right strain of dark nihilism pumping through its veins. Though they’d do well to look to fellow synth-punks Ausmuteants for a course in how to make this strain of future punk sound just slightly unhinged, giving it a double dose of wild-eyed prophesying and tin-hat menace.

Furies, it would seem, revolves around a return of the old gods to reign down their displeasure on humanity, doling out their wrath in supernatural waves via synth squelch. Given their old-world inspiration the band could easily start reaching for Iliad inspired lengths. They opt for brevity instead, however, kicking this thing in just over 30 min. It seems the new uprising isn’t spiraling out to prog-rock time tables just yet, though they seem willing to try in the future, if the 8+ minute closer is any indication. All around, another solid offering from a band that’s too often billed as what Mark Ryan did after Marked Men. They’ve long since come into their own and are figuring out how to carve their icy negativity into barbed anthems. Here they’ve come as close as ever to nailing the formula.


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Snapped Ankles – “Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin”

First time I heard this one, I had to double check the credits, make sure this wasn’t an old Tubeway Army or Ultravoxx track lost in the sands of the internet. London’s Snapped Ankles pull hard from the school of post-punk machinations that Gary Numan and John Foxx started, almost to an uncanny degree. But hell, if you’re not going to blaze a trail, at least walk it with confidence, right? That, the band does with a cocked robotic smile. The accompanying clip is a barrage of melted images that pair well with the motorik clockwork of the track, overloading every minute with a caffeinated buzz that throbs in the veins and punches the medula oblongata a few times on the way out of the body. This is a nice throwback to the emotionless arch of synth punk’s architect eyebrow.

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School Damage

Having started strong with the single “Tall Poppies,” Melbourne/Geelong foursome School Damage come even stronger with their first full length for Chapter Music. The album plays well into a type of post-punk that prized catchy swings over a full sound, often feeling ramshackle but giddy in the process. School Damage captures that giddiness bubbling in the pit of the stomach and fashions it into a kind of worming social anxiety come to life through woozy keys and sprinting drums. They find the sweet spot between The Vaselines, Kleenex and, as evidenced by their homage, Aussie footnote The Particles. They capture the austerity, sincerity and don’t give a fuck attitude of those groups and translate it into bubbling pop that’s ’80s in root but frothing with a lyrical sensibility that could only belong to present day. Somehow they make it all coalesce into sweaty charms in a mistmatched print.

There’s a delirious, but fun, edge to their eponymous LP and at its most dizzying it has the effect of riding the tilt-o-whirl on a stomach full of cotton candy. The songs are primarily helmed by Chook Race’s Carolyn Hawkins and as much as she adds to her other home in Chook, she’s clearly found her niche in School Damage. Other vocal duties are headed up by Austmuteants’ Jake Robertson, and I tend to have a hard time divorcing his voice from that group. Though, if Ausmuteants aren’t a heavy fixture in your life then the pair act as nice halves to the quiet cool/geek-rock freakout coin, alternating their turns as the wheel amiably.

Plenty since punk crumbled into even more primitive forms have found success in spare squirming, from Beat Happening and C.O.C.O. to the nervy lo-fi of Bitch Prefect, but there’s something that gives School Damage their own space in the sound. They’re perfectly pinning jangle-pop’s heartfelt bubblegum swing to the anxious bulge of early synth-punk, finding a freedom to explode in both directions at once in any given song. They even find time to slow things down from their Adderall rush to strum out a couple of Vaselines poet-souled ballads. Its a history lesson encapsulated and as a jittery post-punk primer, you couldn’t ask for much more.





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The Staches

Building up a presence in their hometown of Geneva, Switzerland while also picking up quite a bit of steam on jaunts through the EU and US, The Staches have followed on a steady run of singles with a twitchy new album. Recorded in San Francisco by madman auteur Kelley Stoltz, the LP belts together a chugging, writhing brand of post-punk that puts them in nice company with recent releases from Hierophants, Mind Spiders or Ausmuteants. The band excels when they lean on the synths, taking their garage hybrid more towards the sci-fi synth-punk of the late ’70s and early ’80s and elevating them out of any connections to mere fuzz punks. I’ve long had a lean towards the queasy wash of unease played out through this strain of punk and The Staches are finding themselves thrown clean into the churning, slashing, crumpled heart of an anxious fury they battle with to the very end.

The record ropes in standout single “Total Commitment,” a song that jumped out of the crowd earlier in the year on Six Tonnes De Chair Records, and it remains a highlight on the full length as well. Along with “I Don’t Bother” and “Plastic,” the track anchors the second half of the record in a psych drenched echo that, unlike many of their peers, eschews Oh Sees territory to find its own sweaty groove. Placid Faces tumbled out to little fanfare, and late in the year, which is always a tough climb. It is proving to be a tightly wound gem though, and well worth the time on the turntable.

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