Posts Tagged ‘synth-punk’

Smarts – “Cling Wrap”

A defibrillator to the soul from a new Aussie unit (with some familiar names) out of Geelong. Smarts nail nervy, synth-jolted punk to the wall and the first cut off of their upcoming LP Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? is an absolute bumper car wreck of sprinting guitars, gulping at serotonin and slamming into whatever’s in their way. The band brings Anti-Fade helmer Billy Gardner (Cereal Killer, Ausmuteants) back together with his Living Eyes bandmate Mitch Campleman. They round out the crew with Sally Buckley keeping the synths greasy, Anti-Fade regular Jake Robertson (School Damage, Hierophants), and Stella Rennex (Bananagun, Parsnip) on sax. Like Devo knocked up half a speed and bent through wonky wiring, the band is chomping at the squirm-punk pedigree of the loner class of the ‘70s. They’re picking through the garbage of Suburban Laws and Black Randy & The Metrosquad while finding some purchase with the Midwestern glue brigade from Ubu to Dow Jones and on through the anti-social teardowns of The Uranium Club. Somehow the players in this crew are constantly exhuming Geza X, but I think that’s a more of a pet project than a selling point. If they connect it to enough bands one of you listeners is bound to check that lost classic. The LP is split between Anti-Fade in Aus and Feel It for US, and I’d recommend getting it locked on your speakers soon.




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ES

London quartet Es communicate a caustic brand of post-punk — paint stripped of any excess embellishment and set to rupture the rabble around them. Driven by laser-focused bass lines that don’t play well with their queasy synths, tension threatens to tear each and every track apart before it even reaches the speakers. Add in the vocal drill downs by Maria Cecilia Tedemalm and this record begins to drop a sinister shadow over 2020. The band released an EP a while back on vital underground siphon La Vida Es Un Mus, and their debut, Less of Everything doesn’t let up from the acerbic venom that they laid down in the short form. Guitars recoil from the sun, staggering through disjointed rhythms stricken with angular afflictions gone green around the edges. The drums are driving, but not insistent. The band knows how to play with the knife-edge of uneasiness, creating an environment where at any moment the ground shifts beneath the listener — tempos sideswipe each other, instruments devour one another — but the gleam in their eyes says they’re enjoying the upset.

The band picks at the scabs of the ‘70s, yet that doesn’t mean they don’t share some similarities with their concurrent peers. Shades of Flesh World, Hierophants, Naked on the Vague and even labelmates Sauna Youth (also recorded by Lindsay Corstorphine, behind the boards here) abound. This is dance music for the floor clearers, the kinds who revel in the end of the night noise that DJs seem to employ to get ‘em in the cabs. They seem to enjoy the disjointed dance they create — teeth gnashed but smiling with wicked glee at the corners of their mouths. Upset the Rhythm has a habit of finding the one’s that don’t fit neatly into the boxes genre creates and this year is no different. Es is yet another barbed offering from the label and one well worth sickening the speakers with this week.



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Rubber Blanket – “Rock Today”

So, back in the early Aughts, ‘round about the birth of this blog, Wounded Lion ruled the speakers. The band was acerbic, witty, rough, and weathered in a way that instantly entered their songs into the grander scheme of what made garage and punk work. They merged the past and present visions of what punk could be — they were post-punk in as much as they sanded off the pretense of punk and experimented with form, but you’d be remiss to say they didn’t grind into your glands with a guitar fire that could take any of the tape-hiss competition to task at the time. While Lars Finberg has never flagged in his dominance over the shredded ends of punk and noise (see: A Frames, The Intelligence, Puberty) bandleader Brad Eberhard took a break from the wilds of rock for a while. He and fellow former Lion Jun Ohnuki return with Finberg to scrape the sense from synth and new wave in the same way they did for punk.

Rubber Blanket slashes the tires on the coolness of synth and inflates it with the experimental impulses that fed Fad Gadget and the detached air that surrounded John Foxx. They take away any perceptions of coolness that might have hampered the genre and let their instincts lead them down dark and degraded hallways. On “Rock Today” a rubberized bass swings the track up and down on a parachute of rhythm while Eberhard’s vocals are waxed clean of any swagger. Sax lines blow in with an air-conditioned chill, not flashy but adding a strange comfort to the proceedings. Despite their best efforts, the song does wind up with a certain uneasy coolness, but there’s enough itch that it’ll scare away most synth window shoppers. The band’s debut Our Album lands this Friday from Spacecase.



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Alien Nosejob – “Television Sets”

Excellent news rolling in today from the South Hemi as Alien Nosejob sets up for a new LP with Anti-Fade and Drunken Sailor. The band, led by Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants, School Damage) has been a pretty loose-genre affair, finding inroads in synth, disco and punk but it’s sounding like a combo of the synth and punk strands on this one, leaving the leanings of his disco days behind. “Television Sets” slings into the screen with a driving rhythm and both the guitars and the keys on full-bore fuzz. There are definitely a couple of Ausmuteants overhangs here, but this is less angular than their agenda, letting the teeth sink into the flesh a bit more. I’d definitely recommend hitting this one up and getting it on those wishlists.



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POW!

SF’s POW! pick up the yolk from a generation of sci-fi scanners and jitter-blasted synth punks crawling out of the debris of ’79. The band’s been bubbling under the surface like a boil for years now, but this is the most crystalized and cracked version of their Vaseline-vibed visions yet, conjuring up some real Howard Devoto/ Magazine heat this time around. There’s an uneasiness to Sift, the band’s fourth record for Castle Face, and the band uses that to their advantage, pushing listeners away from any notion of bliss with their infected slink. Aside from the veneer of menace though, the band gives some substance to their doom with sketches of cybernetic chaos and a future ravaged by reliance on mechanical artifice.

Sure, they’re not the first band to slide under the vinyl veil and deify the vile image of dystopian drama via mangled metal riffs and well-oiled synths, but for fans of the aforementioned Magazine, Simply Saucer, Tubeway Army, The Units, or Chrome the band is providing a wormhole from their weirdness to the present day. Byron Blum’s blast furnace of guitar and pitch-perfect vocal warble has this feeling like more than just mere homage. The band’s vomiting oil slick bile and wires all over the turntable like they’ve lived in the muck for years. In the past there was a scrappier sense of, low-fi fizz, but by whittling it away the band has finally arrived at the perfect balance of crisp angles, crushed glass and rampant nihilism that this genre requires to thrive.



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POW! – “Here It Comes”

“Here It Come” is another infected vessel from POW!. The SF synth-punks dredge the shadows for a slinking dirge that crawls from the crevices of the nihilistic neververse. Byron Blum’s guitars vomit twisted coils of wire and chromium tape. The drums are bounced through hammered cardboard and tin and the synths skitter across the headspace like feral androids, crouched and hissing. Fans of Simply Saucer, Chrome and Starter have a new touchstone to scratch at when the band’s upcoming Shift is released, but for now this scrap of hot plastic will have to suffice.

Filling in the origins of “Here It Comes, Blume notes, ”I had the drumbeat in my head and punched it into a sequencer before i would forget it. When we were in the studio, I wanted to do something with it and Tommy gave me the idea for lyrics. He would say ‘ready? Here it comes’ probably every time before he would press the record button. I loved that so much and we made a ditty out of it. It’s about relaxing in space and feeling strength running through my body, ready to face the unknown and whatever is arising in the moment”

You too can face the unknown when the LP seeps out from Castle Face on May 10th.

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U-Bahn

The debut from U-Bahn arrives as a right proper wobbly chunk of New Wave weirdness out of Melbourne. The band, formed by synth savant Zoe Monk and guitarist/engineer Lachlan Kenny, holds nothing back in its dedication to the legacy of jerkin’ jitter-punk in its purest forms. The band’s eponymous LP is a frayed-nerve Booji Boy banquet of toasted-cone freak fritter – chomping down the detritus of DEVO, The Units, Starter, and Magazine then spitting them back as hot plastic pellets of song. There are quite a few that want to genuflect at the alter of Mothersbaugh’s heyday, but to truly don the Dome is to embrace the band’s boundless affection for subverting pop’s principles with a dose of torqued perspective.

U-Bahn aren’t just playing dress up in this regard, they’re swimming in the deep end of squirm rather than just soaking their sound in crushed angles of guitar and Stretch Armstrong bass wiggles. The record’s got an undercurrent of kink and cocked-eye towards technology – going so far as to construct a future funk interlude draped in samples from vintage erotica on “Damp Sheets” and waxing poetic about right swiping their way to ecstasy, placenta, the ruling class, and beta male blues over the rest of the slab.

The record’s both timeless and timely. The recent upswing of band’s embracing the plasticine snap of ‘80s miscreant pop is telling, and I say viva the bellyache bliss of Mind Spiders, Uranium Club, Andy Human & The Reptoids, Future Punx, Alien Nosejob, and Wireheads. Now add U-Bahn to the list. We’re back in an era of larger than life political pinatas, its time for some audible chaos to reign. If that starts with a dose of synth punk sizzle, that’s just fine with me.


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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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