Cover art for Germ House/Far Corners split cassette.
Jeckyl/Hyde, Bowie/Ziggy, Urkel/Urquelle – history is littered with famed alter egos. To this storied list, add Rhode Island-based bands Germ House and Far Corners, musical alter egos conjoined via frontman/guitarist Justin Hubbard.
The bands’ split cassette, released in June on the New York-based Fuzzy Warbles label, is an excellent showcase for Hubbard’s (together, in Far Corners, with co-conspirators Joe Corluka and Dave Dougan) musical stylings. Side Germ House (a project described as both a solo project and “partially fledged live rock outfit”) is an artful indie pop collage recalling, at times, Beck and Devo with its shards of jangle, twitchy post-punk/new wave, garage, and 70s rock (personal fave, “Inside the Room”). Side Far Corners feels an overall heavier and headier endeavor, upping the fuzz and folding in psych, punk/hc and noise (personal fave, “Gold Choice”). Excellent.
Grab a copy of the split cassette here, and catch Germ House live at one or more upcoming dates, which you can find on fbook.
In the latest installment of thegrindinghalt.com‘s ongoing series, “oh crap, we’re behind on a lot of writing”, please enjoy our musings on several of the tracks we’ve been loving these past few weeks (or so…stop judging!). F
Sink Ya Teeth, “Substitutes” (Hey Buffalo)
We love, love, love Sink Ya Teeth, the dynamic duo of Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford. “Substitutes”, their latest dancefloor megablast, is a cowbell- propulsed tour d’angleterre. Hypnotic vocals soar above Detroit techno ‘dugga dugga’ synths and a rough and rugged bass line that reminds a bit of Timezone. The 80s electrofunk influence paired with the insouciant cool of peak Ladytron. Taken from Sink Ya Teeth’s debut album on Hey Buffalo. Divine. De-lovely. Diva voce.
Taken from Sun on the Square, the most recent long-player from long-running dreamy folk-pop group the innocence mission, “Green Bus” is a beguiling new track.Karen Peris’ vocals play like dappled sunlight through an intricate canopy woven by heavily arpeggio’d guitars and lush strings; the overall effect spiritual. Absolutely lovely. Sun On the Square is out now on the veritable Bella Union, Badman Recording (US) and P-Vine Records (JP).
Free Love, “Synchronicity” (Full Ashram)
Free Love – the band formerly known as Happy Meals (we loved their 2014 debut, Apero, via 2016’s glorious Fruit Juice EP) – graced us with “Synchronicity”. Following a detour into trance-like meditiative music, the track – happily, not a The Police cover –sees the duo of Rodden and Cook return to the wellspring of divine, club-friendly new wave/late disco/electric r&b.Rubber bass, squelched keys and breathy vox.Out now on the band’s Full Ashram label.
Totally Mild, “Take Today” (Chapter Music)
“Take Today” features on Her, the latest release from Melbourne’s Totally Mild. Opening with the strummy charm of early Ocean Blue dreampop, vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell’s halcyon lilt incorporates a bit of a Gallic touch, bringing in hints of St. Etienne or the poppier side of Stereolab.A warm embrace of a song, blooming into a veritable endorphin rush of a chorus. “Why wait for a slow decay/take today”. Her is out now on Chapter Music.
Oh Sees, “Overthrown” (Castle Face)
My youngest enjoys the components of a burrito, but not wrapped up together.In a bougie/“we watch a lot of Cooking Channel so I can” reaction to this, we’ve come to refer to this dish as ‘deconstructed’. Queue hard segue to the latest track from John Dwyer’s mighty Oh Sees (f/k/a Thee Oh Sees), “Overthrown”. The track’s raucous, main portion slashes and burns like a deconstructed thrash opus – the parts are there (jigga-jigga guitar, intense vox pitched up to a scream), but freed from a traditional thrash metal tortilla, er, song structure by virtue of a swinging beat and shards of hazy psych. New album, Smote Reverser, was released last week, courtesy of Castle Face.
The Sueves, “Stare” (Goodbye Boozy)
The lastest from Chicago’s The Sueves, who never fail to disappoint. “Stare”, the a-side to new 7” on the Goodbye Boozy label, is another storming slice of razor-sharp, earworm-worthy garage/punk/rock ’n roll. Vocalist Joe Schorgl sounds a particularly incensed Bon Scott, strangled shouts over brutally downstrummed guitars and a watertight rhythm charge. It’s a fantastic follow on to the band’s spring ’18 full-length, R.I.P. Clearance Event.
Fröst, “Record Still Spinning” (Lost Room)
Fröst is the duo of vocalist Johanna Bramli (who also sang with Stereolab offshoot, Imitation Electric Piano) and Fujiya & Miyagi’s Steve Lewis. Taken from their debut long-player, Matters, “Record Still Spinning” is the first taste, and the influence of the principals’ other projects is evident. The heady mix of a steady, motorik beat augmented by urgent driving bass, minimal synths and breathy vocals call to mind the aforementioned bands, as well as Broadcast and Hooverphonic. Matters releases September 28, courtesy of Lost Room.
Exploded View, “Raven Raven” (Sacred Bones)
Exploded View is an intercontinental project comprising Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin. “Raven Raven”, taken from the group’s forthcoming sophomore release, Obey, is a vertiginous slab of shuddering, danceable (read: swaying) psych. The lyrical flow reminds a bit of Suicide’s “Cheree”, though here the watcher has become the watched, the titular bird sitting on Henderson’s shoulder, eyeing her ‘every move’. Obey is due for release September 28, courtesy of Sacred Bones.
Terry is a name whose Nordic meaning is, apparently, ‘like Thor’. Terry is a soft material used to make luxurious towels and bathrobes.Terry is also (and most importantly) a Melbourne-based quartet comprised of musicians from a veritable smorgasbord of excellent Australian indie groups including UV Race, Total Control, Dick Diver and Primo! (and those are just the ones I already know and like – I’ve got to get busy listening to the rest). Following their early EPs and a duo of excellent albums (2016’s Terry HQ and last year’s Remember Terry), the band return with the fantastic, I’m Terry.
I’m Terry retains many hallmarks of the band’s sound – interchanged and/or tandem vocals (one of the men sounds an awful lot like Robyn Hitchcock to me, but forgive me, dear reader, for I know not whether tis Zephyr Pavey or Al Montfort); a Gun Club-esque perversion of country slide – further enhanced and dynamic than on prior releases. The languid cool veneer is also present, as is the band’s knack for wry, observational lyrics – I was reminded of early Go-Go’s tracks like “This Town” for the ability to match this type of language with a kind of gritty pop (see also bands like The Vaselines and The Fall).
This detachment works particularly well when cracks start to form and the band allows itself to indulge in the sneer underneath, as in the full scale rockouts of closer, “For the Field”, and the conclusions to “Bureau” and ‘needs a dance to go along with it’ “The Whip” (the former ultimately cascading into a blissful fade out). Highlights are many, and include the Ballboy-like stream of consciousness vocals on “Carpe Diem”, which sounds like a kind of warped lullaby, and the aforementioned pogofest that is “The Whip” (just try getting that ‘na-na’ chorus out of your head anytime soon). My personal favorite flits, usually alighting upon the hypnotic “Under Reign”, with its sly bassline amplifying the “reek of reason”; calm recitations emboldened by cinematic synthesizer, creaking under the weight of a crazed saxophone solo. Brilliant.
I’m Terry is released August 31, courtesy of the phenomenal Upset the Rhythm label (seriously, in what world does one roster include Terry, Primo!, The Green Child, Gen Pop, Vexx, Sauna Youth, Vital Idles, The World…crazy). Surveil (in a supportive way) Terry’s online movements on instagram and/or the twitt. The band’s upcoming tour dates in the UK and Ireland can be found here.
Thigh Master/Dag, Euro Tour Split EP (Bruit Direct Disques)
We here at tgh stumbled upon Thigh Master, a merryish band from Brisbane, AUS, last year when they released the excellent “BBC” 7” single on 12XU. More recently (February, to be precise – we’re nothing if not punctual), the band released a new, split EP with Dag (also from Brisbane; each band sharing players) in connection with their tour of Europe.
The EP is chock full of woozy jangle of the highest order. Side Thigh Master features personal fave “Exodus”, the track’s gritty, delightfully ramshackle veneer belying some serious chops and a shit-eating grin worthy melodic refrain. Side Dag (a band new to us) is a more languid affair, highlight “Up the Wall” recalling a bit of early REM with its warm melancholy. There’s movement in the tracks and the lyrics – escapes, time passing, perhaps through the open window of a tour van – that make this EP well worth repeated listenings on a long car trip. Or sitting on a couch. You do you.
Spiritualized have announced a new album, And Nothing Hurt, by sharing opening tracks “A Perfect Miracle” and “I’m Your Man”. Herein, I focus on the latter.
“I’m Your Man” builds like a slow-burning lullaby, Stones/Stax/Floyd/gospel excess dropped to earth by the shuffling guile of Pierce’s lyrics. Listening, one imagines a scene: Las Vegas, early summer, 1977. The air, shimmering and oven-like but not quite yet at broil. In the near distance, a jumpsuited Elvis embarks on a spirit walk amidst the desolate barrens outside the desert city. Returning to the Hilton, chastened and mind dutifully expanded, he stuns a crowd of bouffanted housewives by excising the sorry/not sorry of “Always on My Mind” from the setlist, crooning instead…
“I could be …/dependable, on down the line/devoted, all the time/but if you want wasted, loaded/ permanently folded/I’m your man”.
And Nothing Hurt is due September 7, courtesy of Bella Union and Fat Possum. Spiritualized also have a few upcoming tour dates, which can be found here.
Beta Boys are a four-piece punk rock brigade whose current shop is set up in Olympia, WA. Since releasing a cassette demo in 2014, the band has been busy, releasing several singles and EPs on a variety of labels, each showcasing a fantastic blur of early 80s hardcore and death rock.
Their latest 7” single, released in February on Total Punk, just may be their most explosive yet. “Brick Walls” rides in on a Suicidal wave, dashes you on the rocks and continues to churn. There’s more than a hint of the Poison Idea-levels of the musical nihilism you’ve come to expect from the band, the track winding itself ever tighter but without indulging in a full throttle release – it’s more endless circle pit than full-on slam riot. Fear not, though, as catharsis soon come in the form of b-side, “Littered Streets”, with its straight ahead hardcore chug, washed out guitar and peel the paint vocals, yips and yowls that remind me of Blaine from The Accused.
It’s more fully-focused than anything else I’ve heard from Beta Boys, but doesn’t sacrifice their rawness. Anyway, sometimes you just need a punk record whose cover appears to feature Snoopy giving the double bird, right? You know you do. Go pick up a copy via the Beta Boys’ bandcamp.
I’ve had notes going on this for so long (all 4:48 of it…I guess I’m easily distracted), the band in the meantime released a new track, “Laugh/Cry” – billed as the “shortest” on their forthcoming LP, Late Night Acts – and it’s another ripper. Look for that one in August, courtesy of Richmond-based Feel It! Records.
Greenwave Beth is the self-described ‘musical risk’ taken by Charles Rushforth and Will Blackburn, both of whom are also members of a fantastic band named Flowertruck – an opinion I know to be actual and fatual after following the yellow brick road laid by the duo’s track, “Love and Property”.
Where their main band plies their trade in wide-scale indie pop, Greenwave Beth is a more subdued experience.Rushforth’s dramatic croon/yelp – which bears at least a passing resemblance to folks like David Byrne and Edwyn Collins – is here melded to a skeletal, hypnotic synth structure. Over the following two minutes, “Love and Property” gradually adds layers without losing this minimalist charm, Rushforth’s anxious musings on the theme (“doesn’t suit me well/…take it off my hands for me/…I spent it all on you”) building to the dismissive vocal shout, “it’s the thought that counts”.
The track is taken from Greenwave Beth’s forthcoming EP, “People in Agony”, which is due June 8 from Sydney-based Dinosaur City Records. Act now, and you can listen to another excellent track, in the form of “Make Up”. You can/should also follow along with the band on fbook.