Check Out “Soul Mender”, the New EP from Zerodent.

Zerodent, Soul Mender (Almost Ready)

“Soul Mender” cover. Photo credit: Igor Coko.


Zerodent is a four-piece band out of Perth, Australia.  Formed way back in 2015, their excellent self-titled debut came out last year on German label, Alien Snatch! and, lo and forsooth, a new three-track EP, Soul Mender, is upon us…and it is good.

There’s a righteousness inherent in a lot of the best punk, and it’s on full show here.  Mixing classic ℅ ’77 sounds of bands like The Saints and Buzzcocks (the opening riff of the title track reminds of “Harmony In My Head”) with garage, SoCal h/c gnarl and a bit of maximum r&b, the EP is an absolute rush from start to finish.  Vocalist Lee Jenkins spits, snarls and wails, driving the service to completion with the rollicking “This Time” (personal fave, though it’s hard to choose).  Pass the fucking plate.  The only gripe is it’s too short.

Soul Member is out now, via Almost Ready.  You can catch up with all things Zerodent on their fbook, and peruse their catalogue on bandcamp.  Don’t see any tour dates up yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

The Sum of Molly Nilsson’s “Imaginations” are a Revelation

Molly Nilsson, Imaginations (Night School/Dark Skies Association)


“On and on/some things are stopping us from proving them wrong/when they tell you the skies are grey/but looking through a glass of rosé/the skies are clearly pink”

Molly Nilsson is a musician/vocalist/producer originally hailing from Stockholm but now based in Berlin.  Imaginations is her seventh full-length release (to go with a few EPs and singles).

Throwback 80s signifiers abound on Imaginations, but it doesn’t feel derivative.  Rather, it’s an absolutely mesmerizing collection of pop music that’s only ‘indie’ in the sense that it’s likely far too interesting to be played on commercial radio.

Much of 80s popular culture – music, film, video – depicted the accumulation, loss and/or showing off of stuff – status as a means of seduction.  Having lived through it, I know there was depth there for those who sought it out, but such is the collective remembrance that much of what is retained is the Rolex, the Armani suit, the several car garage as the means to whatever end.  Much of what makes Imagination’s use of many of the musical signposts of this indulgence is their contrast when applied to a modern reality derived, in part, from their consequences.  Songs like “Inner Cities”, “Money Never Dreams” and “Think Pink” feel Springsteenian in their uplifting portraiture of the realities of everyday life, but without teetering into mawkish platitude (pay attention, Killers).  Elsewhere, tracks like opener, “Tender Surrender”, “Memory Foam” and “American Express” exude enough Avalon worthy swank and sultriness to make a pro blush.  But where the suavity of the saxy sax and the glassy chords can often ring hollow, marrying it to Nilsson’s at times raw, often wry, lyricism makes it genuine.  Here, the personal is political, either by encouraging a change of perspective on the grey “inner cities of our lives” by “looking through a glass of rosé” (“Think Pink”), or eschewing ‘champagne, caviar and bubble baths’ for “McDonald’s in bed” (“American Express”).

This is what makes Imaginations so enticing – it’s icy, cool-as-fuck pop veneer belying a warmth, a humanity (Book of Love, a personal fave from back when, was brought to mind).  It’s pop music that likely won’t be anywhere near as popular as it should be.  Borrowing from the title of a track from Nilsson’s 2010’s album, Follow the Light, these are songs they won’t be playing on the radio.  But they should, damn it, they should.

Imaginations is out now, courtesy of the fantastic Night School label and Nilsson’s own Dark Skies Association.  Tour dates are up on Nilsson’s fbook page.

Highlights include: “Memory Foam”; “Tender Surrender”; “Think Pink”; “Modern World”.

Obnox Return with a Niggative Approach

Obnox, Niggative Approach (5/30/2017, 12XU)


Obnox is the musical alter ego of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lamont ‘Bim’ Thomas (pictured).  Having released five long-players under this moniker in the last 3 years, the word ‘prolific’ seems apt.  I must admit that new release, Niggative Approach, is the first one I’ve fully sat down with – and now I’m both damn glad I did and in a hurry to dig deeper into the earlier material.

The title might be a wink and a bow to Detroit hardcore godheads Negative Approach (whose singer, John Brannon, makes an appearance on the album’s intro and outro), but the album is far too diverse, dense and interesting to damn with the faint praise of a hyphenated ‘punk’ or other descriptor.  Frankly, there’s so much going on in this record, it can be giddily overwhelming.  Jazz, psych, garage, soul, blues, punk, funk, r&b, hip hop, Beastie Boys, Funkadelic, Rudy Ray Moore, Kid Congo, D’Angelo, Shabazz Palaces, Sun Ra, War, Curtis Mayfield, MF Doom, sky high riffs, heavy funk bass, kick drum grooves, eye of newt and a partridge in a motherfuckin’ pear tree – all this and more await across the album’s 14 tracks (excluding intro-/outro).

I found it best to just strap in, give in, and let it all wash over me, repeated listens bearing ever sweeter fruit.  The spy theme raga of “You”.  The hot, humid synth feel of “Hardcore Matinee”.  The wide lapel groove of “”Beauty Like the Night”.  The diamond amidst the rough of the beautiful “Carmen, I Love You”.  Exhale.

Niggative Approach is out now, on 12XU.  Monitor M. Thomas’ (social media) movements on fbook and the twitt.  No tour dates as yet, but here’s hoping.

Highlights include: “Audio Rot”; “Afro Muffin”; “Carmen, I Love You”; “You”; “Niggative Approach”; “Beauty Like the Night”.

“Typical Girls, Volume 2” is the Comp That Keeps On Giving

Various, Typical Girls, Volume 2 (Emotional Response)

Compilations. “Comps”.  They come with a higher risk/reward factor than your average long-player.  Like soundtracks or anything filed under “V/A”, they can be a veritable goldmine:  a place to unearth new aural treasure; discover heretofore uncharted styles and territories; find a new band worth obsessing over.  For all they promise, though, comps are often fickle beasts.  Lured in by the inclusion of new or unreleased tracks from old favorites, you often find more coal than diamond in the rest.  Disillusioned, you create a playlist of the 3 or 4 good cuts and ignore the rest, cursing the heavens that you’ve been duped …again.  [Ok, that was a bit melodramatic, but it’s the first day following a long weekend]

All of which makes Typical Girls, Volume 2 – named for The Slits’ song and presented by the Emotional Response label as a “global celebration of female fronted bands” – such a satisfying listen.  Where the presence of tracks from bands including Flesh World, The World, Sex Stains and Cold Beat (this last a recent discovery) drew me in, what kept me hooked throughout was an impressively curated group of tracks showing a breadth of styles loosely grouped as ‘indie’, including post-punk, surf, punk, hardcore and straight up rock/roll.  New discoveries that had me running to the interwebs for a back catalogue listening party include:  the dizzying “Space is Bent” by Bent; the punk “La Bamba” of Midnight Snaxxx’s (yes, three exes) “No Time to Spend”; “Vallecas” by Juanita y los Feos, the now defunct – argh! – goth wave precursor to Rata Negra; the Wire-infused “Machine” from Naked Lights; the slinky mud-boogie of Soft Tug’s “Toys are Not for Children”; and the off the leash, old school hardcore of “Eat It“, by Patsy.  While I can’t say that every track here is my new favorite, and should be yours, as well (and, gentle reader, you wouldn’t believe me even if I did), what I can say is that each of these 16 tracks has something great to discover.  Explore.

Typical Girls, Volume 2, is available now from Emotional Response.  Once you’re done purchasing that, take a look through the label’s impressive catalogue (new and back) on bandcamp.  As for the bands, let your fingers do the walking.

Get Lost in “Forgiveness”, by Angel Food

Angel Food, “Forgiveness” (Perennial)


Angel Food is Lillian Marling of Ruby Pins and Ange Duval (aka Angelo Spencer of Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets).  “Forgiveness”, released in February, is taken from their Vacances Cool EP.  It feels like a killer lost boho disco 12”, the kind you find in a second-hand (record) store – sorry – and wonder how you missed it the first time around.  Opening along a hypnotic, skiffling beat, Marling’s whispery, syncopated vocals join together with a percussive, afrobeat feeling guitar line.  As words turn to pants, the track becomes engulfed in a rush of white noise, until the 4:30 mark, and what had been relatively stark reveals a startling beauty.

Vacances Cool is released on Perennial (home, as well, to the brill CC Dust).  The Angel Food bandcamp page has a few upcoming shows listed (on the West Coast of the USofA), so check ‘em out if you can and follow along on fbook and join Ms. Marling on the twitt.  “Forgiveness” also has a video – regardez:

Settle in and Submit to the Debut from Taiwan Housing Project, “Veblen Death Mask”

Taiwan Housing Project, Veblen Death Mask (Kill Rock Stars)

Thorstein Veblen was a late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century economist known for coining the term ‘conspicuous consumption’ (not, sadly, ‘priming the pump’) and lending a name to a “Veblen good”, one whose demand corresponds with its high price – a status symbol.  So, basically, Veblen was an early identifier and critic of the douchebag economy.  Which brings us – hard segue – to Veblen Death Mask, the debut long-player from Philly’s own disrupters, Taiwan Housing Project.  We’ve previously extolled the virtues of this particular project following release of their fantastic self-titled EP in 2015, and Veblen does nothing to mute this adulation.

As a statement of intent/table-setter, you’d be hard pressed to do better than “Salt Sugar Fire”, as Kilynn Lunsford’s multi-tracked, warbled and distorted voice projects the album’s overarching feel of an image deconstructed and rearranged in a room of fun house mirrors.  Threads of punk, no wave, glam, industrial, jazz; Wire, PJ Harvey, Diamanda Galás, Girl Band – core duo Lunsford and guitarist/feedback shaman/dial-up modem impersonator (“Authentic Alien Perfume”) Mark Feehan fleshed out the group with new members and new instruments, including violin, synth and everyone’s new/old fave, spazzy tenor sax grunts.  “Authentic Alien Perfume” is a heady brew of Cramps-y strut over a Peter Gunn rhythm, “Ideal Body Alignment” a fuzzed-up take on Pink Flag-era Wire, dissolving into a cacophonous rush of a chorus.  It’s a stunner from beginning to end, a series of disorientating soundscapes seizing control of the transmission to your TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc., that, despite flirting with the oft-derisively used “arty”, never succumb to self-indulgent wankery.  In fact, a less cruelly bland musical universe, the ‘rip her to shreds’ glam-stomp belter, “Multidimensional Spectrum” would be your go-to summer hit.  Request lines are open.

Veblen Death Mask is available now from Kill Rock Stars.  According to the press release accompanying the album, THP will be on tour in the US in July/August and in Europe in October/November.  In the meantime, you can stalk the band on fbook and the twitt and check the video for the title track, above.

Highlights include:  “Authentic Alien Perfume”, “Multidimensional Spectrum”, “Ideal Body Alignment”, “Eat or Be Eat”.

Revel in the Indie Pop Bliss of “Dream About You”, the New Single from London’s The Fireworks

The Fireworks, “Dream About You” (Shelflife/Opposite Number)

London-based trio The Fireworks recently shared a new 7”, “Dream About You”, the first to feature the vocal stylings of new member Beth Arzy (formerly of Trembling Blue Stars and Aberdeen, amongst others).

The single’s three tracks breeze by in a bit more than 8 minutes but, like real pyrotechnics, need but a moment to make a lasting impression.  Close your eyes and you can still hear the brilliant bass countermelody underpinning the title track’s delirious jangle; feel the drum wallop in the candy-colored psycho closer (see what we did there?), “We’ve Been Wasting Time”.  For my money, middle child “Better Without You Now” is the gem, a droll kiss-off backlit by a shimmering, Murmur-era guitar hook.  Fans of JAMC, early REM, Kinks, Shop Assistants, C86, Manhattan Love Suicides and/or well-constructed melodies, look no further.

The “Dream of You” 7” is available now courtesy of two fantastic labels – namely, Opposite Number (in the UK/EU) and Shelflife (everywhere else). Surveil The Fireworks on fbook the twitt and their site, and peruse their back catalogue on bandcamp.  While you’re at it, have a look at the video for “Dream About You”, which premiered over at The Big Takeover.

Glasgow’s Lush Purr Deliver Lo-fi Beauty on Cuckoo Waltz

Lush Purr, Cuckoo Waltz (Song, by Toad)


Lush Purr are a ‘new to me’ band hailing from Glasgow, and Cuckoo Waltz their debut long-player.  Having described their sound as “[l]ike having a party under the sea”. and quoting Spinal Tap in a recent interview with The List, the band clearly enjoys playing up the goof (song titles such as “(I admit it) I’m a Gardener”, “Jamiroquai at the Karaoke” and “Stuck in a Bog” bear this out).

But, where much similarly “jokey” content often leaves me wanting to run screaming, all I seem to do when listening to Cuckoo Waltz is smile – and I’m not what you’d normally refer to as an “up person” (queue this).  The overarching reason for this is down to a feeling conveyed across the record’s 13 tracks, each of which carry many styles – kitschy pscyh, C86-style indie sha-la-la, early 90s emotive lo-fi (shades of The Pastels, Flatmates, The Wedding Present, on through to newer bands like halfsour or Snail Mail) – but one constant:  beautiful, dreamy melodies.  Seriously, try to get through the floating harmonies of “Suits” without bobbing your head to and fro, a wistful grin smeared across your face – you won’t even know you’re doing it, you dour shit.

As for the submarine soiree, while there is a certain beach-like or surf quality to some songs (see, “Gardener” and, predictably, short intro, “Wave”), this would be beach music for those of us familiar with the shores of more northern climes. Walking along a strand strewn with rocks, sea glass and driftwood, feet sinking into sand more the texture of dark clay than white powder; sea spray and the embracing damp of a rolling fog, nestled in a worn sweater or anorak.  Grab your tipple of choice and settle in.

Originally released on cassette last August on Fuzzkill Records, Cuckoo Waltz now available, digitally and on vinyl, via Song, by Toad.  Stalk Lush Purr on fbook and the twitt, and catch them on their upcoming tour dates.

Institute has a New Album Coming on Sacred Bones, Shares “Powerstation”

Institute, “Powerstation” (Sacred Bones)

Teasing new full-length, Subordination – the follow-up to 2015’s stellar Catharsis – Institute return with last track/first single “Powerstation”.  If you were expecting an homage to the ‘80s supergroup of the same name – all mulleted, bespoke leathered, cocaine-addled, overproduced glam – fear not.  For, despite (cheekily?) opening with a beat straight outta the Glitter vault, this “Powerstation” is all spit and no shine, quickly morphing into a snarling mid-tempo Sabbath riff, vocalist Moses Brown’s delivery evoking a blindfolded captive swinging wildly in the dark.  Sacrificing the jittery post-punk angularity found on much of Catharsis, it feels simultaneously heavier and more tuneful.  It’s a great listen, stoking the fires of anticipation for the new album.

Subordination is due June 2, on Sacred Bones, and can be pre-ordered here.  The band have a few upcoming shows listed on the label’s bandcamp page – including a set as part of a stacked Sacred Bones’ 10th anniversary showcase at Brooklyn Bazaar – here’s hoping for more.

Check Out “Oído Absoluto”, the Debut Full-Length from Madrid’s Rata Negra

Rata Negra, Oído Absoluto (La Vida Es Un Mus, 1/25/2017)


Violeta (bass, lead vocals), Fa (guitar, vocals) and Pablo (drums) make up Madrid-based Rata Negra.  Following 2014’s Corasones EP, the band released their brilliantly confident full-length debut, Oído Absoluto, in January.

I think Oído Absoluto, in english, means something roughly equivalent to ‘perfect pitch’ (or having an ear for music/tone), but I don’t trust online translation and I don’t speak very good Spanish, so apologies if I’ve missed the mark.  In any event, by whatever name (or any other name) the album is a killer set containing elements of skate punk, late 70s punk and new wave, even some surf and power pop, with an opening one-two punch (band manifesto “Ratas”; “Gente”) among the best you’ll hear this year.  Visions of early Blondie (“Aguas Negras”), Buzzcocks (“Ellos Dicen”), and Agent Orange (“Lo Oscuro”) funning about, but with a darker production sheen underscoring lyrical themes of discontentment, alienation and death, surrounded by (actual and metaphorical) rats.  The frustration conveyed through the shout/sung lyrics, and reflected in the stabs of guitar and cracking snares is palpable but unlike, say, the roiling indignation sometimes heard in hardcore, this anger feels more born of desperation; of observing and feeling but seeing no change.  Possibly less visceral, but no less affecting, it should appeal to those who like their punk aggressive and those who like it with smart, tightly-crafted melodies.  Why not both?

Oído Absoluto is out now, through a collaboration with Madrid-based Beat Generation and the great, UK-based La Vida Es Un Mus.  You can worship at the altar of the black rat on fbook, and check out their other releases on bandcamp.

Highlights include: Ratas, Gente, Aguas Negras, Lo Oscuro.